The ride home from Mick and Beth's was quiet. When they were almost back at Long Beach Brian started to stir and Robbi kept twisting in her seat to keep an eye on him. He was getting hungry she knew so once they were home she could feed him.
Kevin pulled the Enclave into the
garage after the door opened and even before the door had closed Robbi
was out of the vehicle and pulling Brian out of the car seat. He was
sucking on his fist, a sure sign that he was convinced he was starving
and for the first time all evening she smiled and then kissed him,
murmuring quiet words to soothe him. She inhaled his sweet baby
fragrance deeply, loving the feeling of connection with her son. Kevin
opened the door into the house and she stepped through and headed into
the nursery to change him before she fed him.
"Kevin, can you
warm a bottle for him please?" she called out as she unsnapped his
onesie and pulled the diaper tabs open but left it in place over him
while she reached for a new diaper. She'd quickly learned the lesson
that with little boys as soon as cool air hit them they tended to pee
again and tonight was no different she noticed with a smile.
stood in the doorway, leaning against it as he watched her. He loved
her so much and would do anything for her but she was pushing him out,
slowly, gradually and it hurt so much. He knew that she loved him but
what if in the end that wasn't enough? Tonight was hard, for all of
them and the same way he knew that she loved him he also knew that she
loved Beth. Could she succeed in pushing them all away? She might if
she could and he was determined to not let it happen.
She got the
clean diaper on Brian and slipped him into his pajamas and picked him
up, startled when she saw that Kevin had been watching. It seemed to
Kevin that she held Brian just a bit closer to her as she said, "Oh, I
didn't see you standing there Kevin." She stepped past him and headed
into the kitchen to check on the bottle.
Kevin followed and said, "Hey, I'll take care of this, why don't you go and sit down and I'll bring it in."
a moment he thought she was going to protest and then she turned and
headed into the living room to sit in the rocker. When Kevin walked in
with the bottle she was rocking Brian and singing softly to him. She
glanced up with a smile as Kevin handed her the bottle and for a moment
his heart skipped a beat, so happy to see that smile.
started wiggling when he realized the bottle was ready and she continued
to rock steadily as he drank. "His eyes are so intense, you know?" she
said, watching her sons sweet blue eyes as he drank.
"I know. He has to get that from you," Kevin said.
were quiet while Brian ate and when he was done and had been burped he
was falling asleep in her arms. Kevin stood up and said, "Here, let me
take him into bed okay? Why don't you take a shower and I'll get us
some wine sweetheart?"
She chewed anxiously on her lip, undecided
about what to do but finally did as he suggested. A warm shower would
feel wonderful and it did she thought as she stood under the fine spray.
Thoughts of the conversation with Beth flickered through her mind and
she determinedly pushed them out, not willing to think about them yet.
When she was done she headed into the living room wearing a soft satin
robe, and sat down on the couch as Kevin came in with two glasses of her
favorite white zinfandel. He handed her one of the glasses and then
sat down next to her, sinking into the deep leather cushions with
"So, are you ready to talk about it Robbi? What happened at Beth's?"
looked at him blankly for a moment, trying to decide how to respond.
What Beth had told them was stunning and not in a good way. Robbi could
never in a million years have imagined what Beth told them. Vampires?
Ridiculous. Until she saw the evidence of the teeth. And the eyes,
Beth's intensely blue eyes and Mick's silver ones.
"What is there
to say Kevin?" she said, and then a small, almost hysterical laugh
escaped her and she added, "My best friend and her husband are vampires,
but it's all hush-hush, secret..."
"You know, I'm almost not
surprised. I mean, I didn't really think...but there were definitely
things I didn't understand like Bri's reaction to him and how chilly his
hands always were, even this summer at the cookout at her mom's. And
his friend Josef, he has to be one too because his hands were just as
She looked at him and blinked back tears that made her
eyes glimmer in the low light of the living room. "And Lani knowing
too. They didn't even tell me."
"Sweetheart, how could they? Would you have wanted to know if it hadn't happened to Beth?"
don't know Kev, I only know that they didn't tell me!" she said and the
tears broke then, running silently down her pale cheeks.
closed his eyes for a moment and hesitated before saying the next words.
"What about what you're keeping from them Robbi? You're angry with
them but do you have any right to be?"
"It's different Kevin."
secret is a secret Robbi. You three, you've shared so much, everything
practically all your lives and now, when the biggest secrets weigh each
of you down, you don't, can't seem to talk. Robbi, you need to open up
"I have time Kev, maybe forever in fact."
shook his head, knowing how much his wife needed to talk to someone
because talking to him didn't help. He felt helpless because he didn't
know how to help her but it was tearing them apart and he wouldn't go
down without a fight. He loved her too much.
men gathered in Josef’s office, seated comfortably and sipping the
libation of their choice. Several of them also enjoyed a fine Cuban
cigar, while Mick and Tango both abstained.
“Before we get
started on the issue with Malcolm, do you have any news on the hunt for
Katrina?” Miguel asked, drawing on the cigar with satisfaction. Josef
always managed to procure the very best and this one was amazing.
and Ryder have followed her trail down South America, through Chile and
then into Paraguay, where she was a week ago. She has since managed to
disappear again but we have a hefty bounty out on her, a million
American dollars, enough to fuel any border guards wet dream, not to
mention the customs agents in South America. The boys think she is
making her way north again because she can’t get a flight or ship out
from the main ports. Logan thinks it’s a good bet that she’ll try to
catch a small boat into the Caribbean and disappear there.”
“I thought they’d confiscated her money and exposed all her alias’?” Miguel stated.
“Every bit of money that they could track to her. Actually, 3.2 million total.”
in the banks that we know of though isn’t it Josef? As far as I can
tell from the books she siphoned off at least 3 million and if you add
interest to that, there is still some money out there that they haven’t
found don’t you think?” Tango said, watching Josef as he stood up and
began pacing back and forth in front of the windows.
called in every marker we have with the banks; I’m sure there are some
of the Arabian banks, maybe in Dubai that won’t cooperate because we
have no investments with them.”
“I might be able to help there. I
know some people who have invested heavily in Dubai. Let me see what I
can do. We’ll need to know what name she’s using though.” Heroku drew
deeply on the cigar, his mind thinking about some of those contacts.
He already had a need to contact them because of Beth so hopefully he
could get some answers.
“Okay, that sounds good Heroku. We’ve
got pictures out everywhere, as well as the reward. Of course, she has
likely changed her looks so the pictures include her with blonde and red
hair, short hair, you name it.”
“We'll get her eventually
Josef,” Tango said. He understood the deep guilt that he still carried
for what happened to Beth St. John. Sooner or later Katrina would be
found and it wouldn’t be pretty, her fate. “What do we have about
“Carl came to Mick and I yesterday with the information
that he has contacted Detective Fiorentino about pursuing the names on
the list. Fiorentino turned him down but Carl feels sure that Malcolm
will try again. He’d like to see if they can’t track down where he is
and alert us. We explained that if it is Malcolm, he is a vamp and a
very dangerous one at that. Heroku, I was wondering about this new
technology that you are installing on the computers at Kostan? It can
immediately tell us where a hacker is at; can that technology be used in
phones? Cell phones?”
Heroku frowned for a moment as he
contemplated what Josef had asked. When they had did the first beta
test on the new system Logan had hacked in, bouncing through a dozen
satellites and the system had him within 3 seconds. Could that be done
to trace phone calls?
“It was not created for that purpose Josef,
but does it have the capability? I’m not sure, but I will talk to my
people and see what they think about it. The idea behind it should make
it possible but can it be made tiny enough to fit into a phone? That
is what I don’t know. If it could be that could ensure that if he calls
we could find him quickly.”
“We decided that Carl should talk to
Luka and get him to sort of string Malcolm along, say he’s considering
the list or whatever it takes so that we can stall for time. Let us
know as soon as you can whether it’s possible. In the meantime Logan is
looking at some other trace technology to see if that would work.”
really don’t get where this guy is coming from,” Miguel said. “He’s
tried this in the past, but what the hell does he actually accomplish if
he succeeds in starting war between the humans and vamps?”
the mystery Miguel. He believes that the vamps will win but I’m not so
sure, at least not now. I think we all know that the day is coming
when humans are going to know and be forced to acknowledge our
existence, that they will all know. I can’t see that being a good thing
at all, but it’s going to happen eventually,” Josef said, a sharp edge
to his voice.
A freaking vampire apocalypse, he was sure that was what would happen.
As the men ended the meeting Mick pulled Heroku aside. “Heroku, do you have a moment?”
knew exactly what Mick wanted; he wanted answers that he might not be
able to provide but the young vampire was worried about his mate so
Heroku decided to share what he could. “Of course Mick.”
and Miguel were gone already. Josef stood looking out at the city, the
blinking lights of traffic below them flashing as the traffic hurried to
their destinations. He heard Mick ask to speak to Heroku but paid
little attention until he heard Mick’s first question.
"Heroku, who are these Qamar-al-atfal? The Children of the Moon?"
Heroku sat back in the chair and said, "They are very old vampires Mick; the original vampires in fact."
Josef turned around, watching the two men talk. He had never heard of the Children of the Moon.
"The first ones?" Heroku nodded and he continued. "They are still...alive?"
"Yes, they are."
"How old are they? How many of them are there?" The questions rushed into Mick's mind helter skelter. He needed answers.
"They are much, much older than I am Mick. And there are 13 of them."
That's an odd number it seems Heroku. And you're what, a thousand
years old I think? Forgive me, I mean no disrespect Heroku but older
than that is almost unimaginable."
"The number 13 has had great importance and impact, throughout history Mick. And I take no offence."
Josef came and sat down, listening intently now. How could these people have existed and he had never heard of them?
"You're not one of them though, you said the other night. You are a guardian?"
"Yes, I am a guardian, in the Brotherhood of the Moon. I am not one of the Children."
"How can Beth be? You said she could be a descendant of them. Heroku, how can a vampire have a descendant? "
questions are best answered by others Mick. I'm sorry that I cannot
give you more information. Just make sure she drinks fresh on the full
moon Mick. Otherwise, she'll need blood daily, but she can eat regular
food as you've discovered. And Mick, if she is, as I expect, Qamar-al-atfal, you need to understand that she is royalty."
Heroku stood up, quickly followed by a stunned Mick and an extremely curious Josef. "Goodnight gentlemen."
and Josef watched in stunned confusion as the door closed and then
stared at one another. Josef grinned and plopped back down in the
chair. "Damn, the girl is some kind of royalty?" He laughed and
finished, "Didn't see that one coming!
He missed the scowling look that Mick gave him.
held Audrey close and felt her mouth melt against his just as her body
did. The connection between them still thrilled him in a way that he
never experienced before. She completed him although he'd never admit
that to any of the guys because they'd laugh at him.
morning my love," she told him and then went back to resume the kiss.
She felt wonderful this morning and in some ways wondered how that could
be since they'd been up half the night making love.
pulled back and looked at her, smoothing a strand of hair away from her
face. "You are beautiful Audey, so beautiful and I happen to be the
luckiest guy around."
"Well, thank you but I think there are guys
that would insist that they are the luckiest. Still, I appreciate the
thought because I happen to know that I am the luckiest girl!"
the door Logan could hear both of the boys protesting loudly; when they
thought it was time for breakfast they made sure that Logan at least
knew it. He sighed.
Audrey held her head up and sure enough she
caught the faint kitty talk and paws clawing at the door, a sure sign
that the boys were hungry. "Do you think Beth and Mick will want Travis
back?" she asked. She had come to love the little cat a lot and while
she would give him back, she would also gladly keep him. He just had a
way of looking at you as if he understood everything. She had finally
even gave in and bought him that kitty chow that he liked instead of the
Healthy Cat that she preferred for them to eat because Plato would no
longer eat it either.
"I hear you boys," she called out and was rewarded with loud kitty demands and both she and Logan laughed.
"Why don't you get ready for work and I'll go and feed the starving masses," Logan told her with one final kiss.
Are you going to get some freezer time today Logan? You look sort of
tired. I can't wait for the house to be done so that you can have a
freezer at home."
"Yeah, I will I promise." He stood up and reached for a robe to slip on.
"Hey, don't forget that tonight is the night that I'm going shopping with the girls."
"Oh yeah, I did forget. Are you having dinner there too?"
"Yes, Lani and I."
"And Beth too, don't forget."
"Um, I had forgot. Strange, isn't it?"
sort of freaks me out, you know? I've spent hours the past two days
trying to find information about vampires that can eat food. Outside of
weird vampire lore that is totally fiction I can't find anything."
laughed as she laid out her work clothes before getting into the
shower. "Logan, what did you expect to find on the internet anyway?
It's all about fake vampires for heaven's sake," she told him.
all of it. You'd be surprised at how much is real information, written
by vampires who trade on the fact that humans will think it's all fake.
We need a vamp wiki, that only vamps can get access to. Have to talk
to Ryder about that one. But he's never heard of that either and let me
tell you, that dude knows a LOT!"
"Okay, if you say so. Now go
and feed the boys before the pull the door off the hinges," she told him
as both the cats had their paws under the door trying desperately to
pull it open. Of course, being cats they didn't realize that it opened
in, not out. Thank god for that Logan thought. Next thing he knew
they'd figure out how to turn the doorknob. He was going to be sure
that the new house had a lock on the bedroom door, that was for sure.
opened the door and both cats jumped back, as if suddenly feeling
guilty for being caught but of course, they were cats and couldn't
possibly think that Logan assured himself. "Okay you two, for heaven's
sake, just hold on for a minute!"
He headed into the kitchen
with both cats dancing around his feet; they almost succeeded in
tripping him once and he growled at them, causing them to back off a
bit. He pulled out the bag of kitty chow and got the scoop out so he
could give them their morning ration of the crunchy food. He and Audrey
had given up feeding them in separate dishes weeks ago because the only
ate from the same dish. Worked for Logan, one less dish to fill and
While they were eating he headed into the office and booted
the computer up, looking for emails from Ryder who was currently two
hours ahead of him. He found only one this morning which included a
picture of someone that could definitely be Katrina, with short red hair
boarding a fishing vessel heading out of Venezuela and heading to the
Caribbean. She couldn't catch a commercial ride, he was pretty sure
because they had every port, terminal, every nook and cranny covered in
South and Central America. She had to get out of there and this was
about the only way to do it. The picture was clear and they got the
name and port of registration off of it so that would help. Ryder was
sending out some contact info to see if they could track it further and
figure out where it was headed.
He heard Audey turn the water off
in the shower and decided he'd catch a quick one himself before he left
to go home for some freezer sack time. If he didn't get at least a few
hours every day in the frozen bliss he really didn't feel so great. He
remembered Beth saying the other night that she couldn't handle the
serious cold, something else that puzzled him a good deal.
kind of a vampire was she anyway? She could eat food, didn't need sub
zero temps in fact couldn't handle them? Weird. He and Ryder really
did need to get busy on the vampire wiki and soon.
He started to
roll the chair backwards and Travis let out a howl before jumping on the
desk in front of the monitor. Logan knew he hadn't roll over him but
had only bumped him and damn, the cat could get in the ways sometimes.
He reached over to pet Travis and said, "Hey buddy, I'm sorry. You
scared the shit out of me though. You okay?"
Travis turned to look at him and Logan almost fell out of his chair.
eyes Travis! What the hell?" he said, backing away from the cat.
Those eyes, blue, like Beth's. Was he a vampire after all?
watched the vivid blue of the wallpaper on the monitor for a moment,
lightly pawing the screen as it reflected off his eyes. When the
screensaver kicked on, displaying photos of the boys and the family he
meowed softly and jumped down into the chair that Logan had just
vacated. He enjoyed the still warm seat and circled until he found the
perfect spot and settled down. A minute later Plato came in and jumped
up into the chair too. Both cats settled down for a brief early morning
nap before they'd go outside to take a mid morning nap in the cool
grass with a nice sunbeam warming them.
Hey, it was a rough life but someone had to do it.
To be continued...