Ben sat taping his pen on the desk blotter as he read the lab from Sacramento; they agreed with the lab here - that the fingerprints were of the same person.
impossible. So what is the answer to it all? Is there an answer he
asked himself because he was beginning to think he was crazy. He
thought back to how all this started and almost wished that he hadn't
followed the leads.
Columbia Law School, 1998
had been there, in his arms just this morning and now, just like that
she was gone. She had slipped from this life as if she were
quicksilver, leaving hope and promise and most of all love behind her in
tattered pieces. The police didn't know what had happened; the blood,
there was so much blood and some of her hair, but nothing else was left
of her. The only thing left behind was his heart and the aching need to
hold her close.
His parents and grandmother had flown to New
York to be with him. They wanted to take him home with them but he had
been equally determined to stay the course, for her, for Michelle.
Eventually his parents left but Margie had stayed with him in the
Manhattan town house and she had proved to be good company.
that time, as he dealt with the loss of Michelle, Margie had told him
the story of her lost love, Mick St. John. They were going to get
married when another woman came between them. Mick and that woman
married a month later and that very night they were both murdered in
their hotel room.
Margie stressed that Herb McFarland changed her
life, for the better actually. He took on the responsibility of the
child that Margie and Mick had created. He loved her through the pain
and the tears until she realized that it was Herb and his love, his
kindness that had washed the pain away. And she told Ben that the same
thing would happen to him as well, he just had to open his heart in
order for love to find a way in.
"It will happen Benjamin, but
you have to look around to spot it. I promise you," she told him,
watching him wince at the thought of new love. "Have I ever lied to
you?" At his negative response she only smiled, understanding how
painful it was for him.
Time, time didn't heal anything
and sure as hell hadn't helped in this situation. And, when he took
over for Josh Lindsey and found the file on Mick St. John he didn't know
what to think.
His mother hated Mick St. John and never
mentioned his name except to curse him for a no good jerk who abandoned
her mother. To her, Herb was her father and Mick St. John didn't
deserve to live. Now, here was another Mick St. John and he looked the
same and had the same fingerprints too. Impossible, just impossible.
He looked at his phone for a moment and finally picked it up and dialed a number.
At the answer of "Detective Davis" he greeted his friend.
Carl, how's it going?" He listened as Carl talked briefly about a case
he was working on and then asked if he could meet him for lunch.
Carl said, genuinely pleased. It had been a month or so since they'd
met for lunch and he was eager to catch up. A little guy bonding never
"Okay then. How about the little dinner down the
street from the courthouse, Pips? Say around 11:30 so we can beat the
"Sounds great Ben. I'll see you there," Carl said,
closing his phone with a smile. He glanced at his watch and realized
he had 2 hours to kill and knew that they would fly by because research
on this case wasn't proving helpful at all. But that was the way with
investigation; sometimes you struck gold and sometimes you struck out.
sat in his office, scouring the internet for any sign of the Children
of the Moon, but none was to be found, under either name. The Qamar-al-atfal
sounded Arabic but he wasn't even sure of that since he couldn't find a
reliable Arabic to English translation program on line.
hadn't talked to Beth yet about what Heroku had told him last night
either. She was asleep by the time he got home and so he didn't wake
her. She had taken to sleeping with a light blanket in the freezer,
even the 39 degree temperature leaving her too chilly. The truth was,
she could probably sleep without the freezer altogether but she wanted
to be next to him.
Royalty? She could be royalty? As in queen or
princess - or what? What consisted of royalty to the Children of the
Moon? Josef didn't know, hell, he had never heard of them. They'd
spoken of it all last night after Heroku left.
you aren't bullshitting me or sugar-coating this the way you did about
the cure are you?" Mick asked, scrutinizing Josef's reaction carefully.
bullshit Mick. I have never, ever heard of them. I've heard Heroku
mention the Brotherhood a time or two but I assumed it was just a
vampire fraternal group or something."
"I need answers Josef; I need to know what all this is. How can I protect her if I don't understand it all?"
you don't need to protect her Mick. Look, I've known Heroku for well
over a hundred years; Tango and I met him in the Sandwich Islands,
otherwise known as Hawaii and I respect the hell out of him. And he is
one very protective bastard too, if he thought for a moment that Beth
was in any danger he'd make sure they couldn't get their hands on her."
are older than him even? Jesus, he's a thousand years old, how can
that be?" Mick got up and poured another two fingers of scotch and
knocked it down before refilling his glass.
"That my friend I do
not know. To my knowledge, vampires as old as Heroku are very few and
far between." He paused for a moment, choosing his next words
carefully. "Even when you don't carry around the guilt or darkness of
your existence, well, the years do wear on you, for some of us anyway. I
can't imagine how you would wrap your head around being that old and
the changes in the world. I hope to find out though," he finished with a
Mick thought that with Beth at his side maybe it
wouldn't be too bad either. He raised his glass up and said, "Here's to
finding out Josef," and tossed the rest of the drink down. He stood up
and said, “I’m heading home now; see if Beth is still awake. You going
to go and crawl into Lani's bed?" he teased.
"No, she's on her
own tonight, and tomorrow night as well. And while I'm thinking about
it, maybe the boys should have a poker night while the girls melt some
plastic. You interested?"
"Yeah, sounds like fun. Who are you inviting?"
Tango, Heroku, if you promise not to ask a hundred questions. Do you
think Logan would play? And maybe I should introduce Carl and Clark to
poker, vampire style?"
"Sure, ask Logan. And the others too. I'll be looking forward to it."
had set it all up and they were meeting at his house at 7. They hadn't
really had a poker night in ages. Heroku had a prior commitment, but
the others all agreed, even Carl and Clark. Mick only hoped he could
keep his mind on the game and stop thinking about Beth and what was
Carl and Ben sat
in a booth at Pips and Carl had to fight not to choke on the bite of
hamburger that was in his mouth. He listened incredulously as Ben told
him about the fingerprints and what the labs had reported. He managed
to swallow the bite down and then took a sip of his tea before speaking.
Ben was watching him closely he noted and he wondered why? Did Ben
know something and was waiting for Carl to give it all away? He decided
to play dumb and see where that took him.
"Ben, that's impossible; you know that, right?"
I know it but it doesn't explain it does it? Two separate, independent
labs gave the same answer. I'm just wondering if the computer screwed
up. Like maybe when the current Mick's fingerprints got put into the
IAFIS computer system they were entered incorrectly. Do you think that
Carl was quiet for a moment, pondering the
possibilities. In the end, he knew that it wasn't possible, that they
would have had to mix up the fingerprints with Mick's from the 1950's
and other than the bloody ones, there weren't any. Still, maybe he
could hold Ben off by using that ploy.
"Sure, anything is possible. Had to be it, just a mix up. No other way to explain it."
was still unsure and very troubled by it all, Carl could tell. Which
made him wonder why Ben was investigating it at all? Was he suspicious
of Mick? He asked the question that he dreaded the answer to. And the
answer just about blew him away.
"So Mick St. John, from 1952 is your grandfather?"
So that makes this Mick St. John a cousin I would suspect. But he is
a dead ringer for my grandfather, that's for sure."
"Your grandmother has pictures of him from that time?"
quite a few. They were close to getting married and loved each other a
lot. When Coraline DuVall entered the picture, well, a month later
they got married and were both killed."
"Wow, quite a story,"
Carl said, finishing the rest of his burger and then wiping his hands on
a flimsy paper napkin that disintegrated as he swiped at the grease.
My grandmother moved on and Herb was the best husband and grandfather
imaginable. My mom can't stand to hear St. John's name but Margie, my
grandmother has fond memories of him actually. She has had a happy and
fulfilling life, what more could she ask for?"
"Not much buddy,"
Carl said, standing up and digging for his wallet. He tossed some
bills onto the table and said, "I gotta get back to work Ben; thanks
for calling me to meet for lunch. I'll talk with you soon and if you
find out anything else, let me know. I'm intrigued."
Ben rose from the booth as well and nodded. "Will do. See you Carl."
So Mick has a daughter AND a grandson. The question is, what if anything did Carl do about this new information?
women met in the food court at the mall, eager to get started shopping.
They decided to hit a couple of stores first and then head into
Benito's Casa for Mexican food for dinner, an idea that Beth heartily
Before they headed off to the shops Lani and Cami
talked with Audrey trying to decide what her fashion sense and taste
was; silently they both decided that she really had very little
experience and so it became a matter of slacks or skirts? What are your
favorite colors and such. Within about 15 minutes they headed off to
the first shop, looking for bargains. Beth and Dorothy were detoured by
Baby Gap and headed in to see what was new.
"It's so hard to
choose things, knowing that at least one of them is a boy. Do we go
with all blue, in case both are boys or what?" Dorothy said as she
looked at sleepers and rompers and other tiny little clothes.
held up a sleeper that was a soft blue with little fluffy sheep on it
and couldn't believe how tiny it was. "Will the baby really fit into
Dorothy laughed and said, "Yes, it certainly will and
in fact that is likely going to be a bit too big. See, on the tag it
tells you how many months and pounds it will fit."
looked at it skeptically; she hadn't got to hold Brian the night before
but he certainly looked bigger than this 'Newborn' size and he wasn't
even a month old yet. Looking at the baby things made her sigh and
Dorothy caught the sound and the look on Beth's face.
know, I think I might not be up to walking all around right now and I
could really use something to drink. Do you mind if we go back to the
food court and grab a drink and then maybe we can catch up with the
Beth's blue eyes deepened for a moment and Dorothy saw
tears sparkling in them and looked away, not wanting to cause her
daughter any more pain. She strongly suspected that things had not gone
well with Robbi last night but she didn't want to pry.
more than happy to get out of the store. She didn't realize how much
being in there would bother her. She felt like some kind of horrible
person because not only was she bothered by the situation with Robbi,
but it was hitting her that she and Mick would never have that child
that they both wanted. She nodded and said, "I think that sounds good
Dorothy sat down and Beth got them both juice slushies and
joined her mother at a small table. "Blueberry, the anti-oxidants are
good for you and they don't add any sugar," she smiled.
They both took small sips and nodded approvingly. "This is good."
sipped again and nodded; she wanted to tell her mom about Robbi but she
didn't want to upset her. Finally, the story came tumbling out and
Dorothy reached across the table to grasp Beth's hand in support.
"I don't know how to make it better Mom and now we've told them the truth; suppose they tell other people?"
"Is that your real worry about it sweetheart or are you afraid that you and Robbi are never going to mend the friendship?"
guess that's, that's the real problem. I could feel this wall around
her and I couldn't get through it. She knows we weren't lying and still
it didn't seem to matter to her. She's just so closed off."
"Maybe there are other things going on that you are not aware of Beth; did you think of that?"
shrugged; the thought hadn't really occurred to her. Maybe Robbi did
have something else going on and she just felt like she couldn't share.
"I wanted to badly to hold Brian but I knew somehow that she wouldn't
have let me, even before she knew I was a vampire."
The look of
pain flashed in her eyes again and Dorothy had to ask a question that
she would rather avoid. "Bethy, does it bother you now that Clark and I
are having a baby? Well two babies?"
Beth understood her
mother's hesitance and said immediately, "NO Mom, I'm so happy for you
and I intend to be a very involved big sister. But sometimes, like in
the store back there I just, I remember that Mick and I will never have
one of our own and it hurts. I don't regret being turned Mom; I get
eternity with Mick but, you know, I..." she said, hastily wiping a tear
away and too choked up to say anything else.
Dorothy had been
wondering for a while now if that would bother Beth. Before she was
turned she had been looking forward to the possibility of having a baby
and now that wouldn't ever happen. It hurt Dorothy too, but Beth was
sitting here with her now and the casualty of that was the inability to
have a baby. It had been a trade off of sorts and it couldn't be
"I, I can't even tell Mick how I feel because he'll
feel even more guilty for turning me, even though I would have died if
he hadn't. He hates that he brought me into his life at all sometimes
and this would only make it worse Mom. I didn't realize how much I
wanted that baby until the possibility was taken away from me." She was
doing her best to hold back more tears but they came anyway, rolling
slowly down her cheeks, making people stare at her.
reached into her purse and brought out a small pack of tissues and
offered one to Beth before taking one for herself. Her heart was
breaking for her daughter and she had no answers. She watched as Beth
dried her eyes and then jumped slightly when her phone beeped, signaling
a text message.
She read it quickly and said, "That was Lani,
they'll meet us at the restaurant in about 5 minutes. Are you ready? I
feel like a margarita."
"Sure, let's go. You can have one for me
too," Dorothy said and watched as the corner of Beth's mouth quirked
upward slightly in a smile.
Beth and Dorothy got there first and
got a table while they waited for the girls. While they waited Beth
spotted a familiar face across the room.
"Beth!" Max exclaimed, happy to see her friend. "Haven't seen you since the wedding, you look wonderful!"
Beth hugged Max and smiled at her. "Thank you. Married life does agree with me. How are you and Mark and the boys?"
I'm so happy to run into you. Can you meet me for lunch next week? I
need to discuss something with you and I think you'll like it!"
cloak and dagger stuff huh?" Beth teased. "Sure, how about Tuesday, at
our favorite Chinese place, near the LA Free Press?"
it." She hugged Beth again and said, "Okay, I really have to run but
I'll see you Tuesday, say around 1, maybe miss some of the lunch rush?"
grinned and nodded and watched as Max headed out the door, a couple of
girlfriends with her. Must be girl bonding day she laughed.
When the girls arrived they were all carrying more bags than seemed possible.
"Wow, you've only been out there an hour! Is there anything left in the stores?"
but it's doubtful. We got some really cute stuff," Lani told them,
trying to shove the bags and garment bags behind them.
do you like what you bought?" Dorothy asked. Audrey was such a sweet
girl and shy as well. It did her good to get out like this.
"Yes, I love it. And thanks to Lani and Cami I now sort of understand what my style is!"
"Awesome," Beth chimed in, trying to shift her mood. "I'm in the mood for a grande margarita, who's with me?"
but Dorothy was up to the task; she settled for bottled water. All the
girls were chattering happily and Audrey pulled a few items out of the
bags to show them. One outfit, a sleek pantsuit in a deep rose color
was beautiful and Dorothy knew it would look lovely on her. It had a
short, fitted jacket and straight legged slacks that was beautifully
tailored and she'd bought accessories to go with it. "Audrey, that will
look beautiful on you!"
She blushed and looked around her
happily. A year ago her life had been so empty, so lonely. Now she had
friends, family really and a wonderful man who loved her. She felt as
if she was the luckiest girl in the whole world. Sometimes she felt as
if she could barely breath she was so happy.
The round of
margarita's arrived, along with an endless basket of chips and salsa.
Beth partook of it all, which still amazed them all except for her. She
ordered chicken enchiladas with liquid fire queso for dinner and
finished it. Dorothy groaned, knowing that she would be up half if not
all night if she ate that. Still, when she looked at Beth she had to
remind herself that she was actually a vampire now because this was so
Was something wrong with her daughter? Her secret fear was that something was but there were no answers.
At least not yet.
To be continued...