So sorry everyone! I put this in this morning and it saved it as a draft! Bad Hope...
Carl decided to call Mick Saturday morning,
hoping that he didn't disturb him. He had no idea what hours he kept,
but Ben's issue was weighing heavily on his mind.
How would Mick
take the information? Would he be happy to know that he had family or
would it only complicate his life? Now that he understood the concerns
with secrecy for the vampires would it cause more problems? Was he
signing Ben's death warrant by taking the news to Mick? Somehow he
didn't think he would be.
Mick might be as concerned with
keeping the secret as Josef was and sometimes that included taking out
someone who was a threat but he knew that personally Mick wasn't for
killing indiscriminately. Ben was family and that would mean something
to him, Carl was sure.
Carl realized that he had slipped into
'vamp think' very easily. Protect yourself, your loved ones and the
secret. He had a lot at stake now, his relationship with Cami that was
amazing and his own life now that he had sworn to Josef that he'd keep
He didn't know for sure but Josef seemed like the one
in charge in LA. He had that sweet, youthful face and Carl was sure
that he could be equally charming and deadly, as the situation called
for. He also had a hell of a sense of humor and fun. He and Lani
together would be something, that's for sure.
He'd never seen
Lani so happy with someone. The other day at Josef's office she fairly
glowed with happiness. Cami had told her that Josef and Lani were in
love and he was really happy for her. She had spent years running from
love and it seemed like all it took was the right man. Or maybe the
Just like I've found mine. Thoughts of Cami
filled his heart. God he loved her; he'd never known it was possible to
feel so connected to someone and they hadn't even taken the 'big' step
yet, although they were closer to it. Carl spent a long time in cold
showers but it was worth it; she was worth it.
When he looked at
her, at how beautiful she was he found it impossible to think that she
could be so innocent, so without guile. She was a dynamo at her job,
friendly and outgoing but get her up close and she reminded him of a
delicate flower just beginning to open. Her kisses were heady,
intoxicating and it tore him up to leave her when the evenings ended.
He was one lucky son of a bitch and he was also smart enough to know it.
the task at hand, he punched in Mick's number and hit send, waiting for
the call to be answered and it didn't take long.
"Carl, hi," Mick said when he saw who was calling.
Mick. I'd like to talk to you this weekend if I could. I need to
discuss a matter with you that I know you are going to be interested
Mick's eyebrows rose a bit at Carl's cryptic words. "Is it
terribly important Carl? Beth and I are getting ready to head out to
Josef's beach house for the weekend, but we can delay it if needed."
thought about it for a moment; it wasn't an emergency and he was pretty
sure it wouldn't hurt to delay it. "It's not an emergency Mick. Why
don't I talk to you when you get back, okay? Just give me a call."
"Okay, if you're sure it can wait."
no problem. You guys have a good time," Carl said before ending the
call. Truthfully, it took a bit of pressure off and he prepared to
relax a bit himself. He and Cami were going to Shakespeare in the Park
tonight and he was looking forward to it. Snuggling together on a
blanket? Well, it didn't get too much better than that. Not yet
As Mick and Beth
pulled into the driveway at Josef's Beth wore a big smile. She had
enjoyed her stay here last summer and was looking forward to some time
at the pool. She knew it had an awning that covered part of it so she
could hang out at the pool with Lani.
"This is such a great
place! Have you ever been out here before?" she asked and then saw the
slight smirk on her husband's face and laughed. "Let me guess, you and
Josef and freshies back in the day, huh?"
He cast a sideways look
at her and grinned broadly. He could see a bit of jealousy sparking in
her beautiful blue eyes. "Actually, Josef never brings freshies out
here; it's his private space."
"Not even during the '80's 'freshie fests'?"
"Not with me anyway. But that's not to say that I haven't been out here. It's a great place to relax."
scoffed for a second, which continued to amuse Mick. "That it is," she
told him, exasperation ringing in her voice. She didn't believe that
for a moment; something was causing that cheesy grin on his face.
Mick started laughing then, just watching her face. "Beth, I'm serious. I'm just laughing because you're jealous!"
flatter yourself," she told him and then laughed. "Okay, so no wild
parties out here, but something happened, that's for sure."
outrageous, really. Josef is sort of like a bear in his man cave here
is all. But it is still a great place. Now come on, let's go have some
fun and just forget all the tension, okay?"
She grinned and nodded. Fun, relaxation, good company? She couldn't wait.
walked around the house, straightening things up a bit, fluffing a
pillow here, dusting an invisible bit of dust off a table top. Josef
watched her with amusement as she was sort of taking over as mother hen
of the roost.
"You and Mick, you two actually are so much alike, you know that?"
"What do you mean?"
a clean freak you know. Apparently you are too. Or are you just
nervous Sweetness?" He pulled her to him and nuzzled her neck and she
pushed him away.
"Stop that. They - they'll, well, they will know what we've been doing!" she exclaimed, touching her nose.
laughed, a deep belly laugh that rumbled through his chest. "They are
going to know that anyway Lani. The uh, scent lingers you know."
face turned firecracker red as she caught her breath and then hung her
head. He tipped her face up to him and placed a sweet kiss on her lips.
"Lani, trust me, there's going to be a whole lot of that going on this
weekend and we won't be the only ones at it."
"Oh my god Josef, I'm so embarrassed!"
we just sort of tune it out, ignore it. Do you know how many smells
bombard us daily and trust me, many of them don't smell half as great as
sex, I assure you!"
His words made her blush deepen; she knew
that Beth had scented her the morning in Josef's office but the thought
of Mick being able to do it today was totally humiliating for her.
"Lani, human's know when other's have been busy too you know, there are other signs."
"Yes, but we don't smell it Josef!"
it becomes just another scent Lani. You just tune it out, like all the
sounds we hear. Not that big of a deal," he told her, holding her
close against him and kissing the top of her head. "Now, they're here
so let's go and see if they need help with bags or anything, okay?"
here?" her voice had a high pitched squeal to it that hurt his ears.
"Why didn't you tell me Josef?" She ran to the mirror by the door and
smoothed her hair into place and looked to be sure she looked
Josef watched it all with a great deal of amusement;
she was clearly nervous and while he knew their conversation had a lot
to do with it he also thought she was a bit nervous playing hostess
here. It was a perfect place for her to relax into the role and before
long she and Beth would be chatting away like they always did. He
wrapped his arm around her waist and opened the door in time to see Mick
and Beth walking up the path towards them.
Lani's eyes lit up
when she saw her friend and Josef knew it would be okay. Beth dropped
the bag she was carrying and ran straight into her arms as the girls
hugged one another tightly.
"Geez, didn't you two just see each
other on Thursday night?" Josef laughed and then hugged Beth himself as
Lani shyly hugged Mick. "Sorry Mick, you only get a handshake from me!"
for me!" Both men watched the girls head into the house, arm in arm.
Josef laughed and picked up the bag that Beth had dropped and they
entered the house too and carried the bags downstairs to the guest room.
"Lani was really nervous about the visit but she seems fine
now," Josef said. "I had a double freezer installed this week in the
freezer room for you guys, didn't figure that you'd both be comfortable
in that single."
"The way Beth is she'd probably prefer sleeping in the bed. I do not get it Josef; she sleeps with a blanket, in the freezer."
shook his head, puzzled, but not really surprised. "Strange for sure.
Have you heard anything more from Heroku about it all?" At Mick's
negative shake of his head he continued, "In all my years I've never
heard of the Children of the Moon, Mick. I have Ryder working on it now
that Katrina is in custody. I think that Logan is also working on it,
on his own."
"I just don't understand how she can be so different and that no one, outside of Heroku understands why."
Heroku is a bit of a law unto himself and I'm sure the man has more
secrets than we'd ever imagine. What if they are a totally different
genus of vampires Mick?"
"I don't know. Is Heroku different?"
he doesn't eat food, or at least I've never seen him do it. He has
some very powerful attributes, but he's a thousand years old, it's kind
"I guess we can only wait. At least Beth doesn't seem too concerned about it; she seems to be taking it in stride."
"Good. So," Josef asked with a sly wink, "How is the fresh blood treating you boyo?"
laughed and had the good grace to look contrite. "Pretty good Josef. I
hate to admit it but I feel a hell of a lot better and that's saying a
lot because I didn't realize that I was feeling less than optimal to
begin with. Let's go see what those two are up to!"
and followed Mick up the stairs. They found the girls sitting at the
counter drinking orange juice and eating banana muffins. Lani loved
bananas; if she could put them on something she would. He shook his
head at the mystery of it, which he couldn't understand because he
couldn't taste them.
"Hi! 'Bout time you two joined us," Lani
said, hopping down from the stool and reaching for glasses to pour the
men some liquid refreshment. They both accepted their glasses and sat
down with the girls and watched them both devour their snack.
"Don't you just love this place Lani? I had so much fun here this past summer - well, outside for missing Mick that is."
"Did you jump off the cliff?"
"You’re kidding, right? It looks high, but I guess now it's not such a big deal," Beth laughed.
"I highly recommend it actually. It's exciting. A leap of faith. We should all do it!"
we'll see. Seems more like jumping off the deep end I think.
Personally I can't wait to crawl into a bathing suit and lay outside."
"Can you be in the sun still too?" Lani asked, picking a large piece of walnut out of her muffin and popping it into her mouth.
shook her head and said, "No, but I can lie under the awning while you
lay in the sun. It will still be fun. We can put some music on and
just have a good time."
Lani nodded, smiling. "So, what are you boys going to do?"
to over throw the government?" Josef laughed. "I'm sure we'll find
something. You," he said, pointing at Lani, "Don't forget the
sunscreen. By the way, I'm available to help rub it in!"
watched as a deep flush spread over Lani's neck and face and then she
scowled at him. "I don't think so, in fact, I might not ever be needing
that again before long!" she said as she got up to take her plate to
Beth sent Josef a dirty look and took her dishes over
to the sink as well. Mick whispered, "Better watch it, you don't want
to get both of them pissed off at you!"
Lani couldn't hear that
but Beth did and turned to stare at both of them. In vamp tones she
said, "Josef, so help me, don't push it. I'll stake you, I swear to god
I will!" She stared at him intently for a moment and he actually felt
the allure setting in and had to force his eyes away from her. Wow, the
kid really did have quite a gift there.
"Okay momma hen, I promise to behave, mostly anyway. Truce?"
She nodded and opened the dishwasher to load in the dishes and glasses that Lani had rinsed.
task done the girls headed downstairs to put their bathing suits on and
Lani laughed as she thought about Josef staring at her all afternoon
and not being able to do anything about it. She knew he had watched her
out by the pool last time and she intended to enjoy his discomfort all
she could. She slathered sunscreen all over her body except for her
back which she couldn't reach. She carried the bottle and a large towel
upstairs with her and grabbed two bottles of water to take outside.
Beth came up a moment later and both of them headed out to the pool.
"Beth, can you put some sunscreen on my back?" she asked.
rolled her eyes but took the bottle. "I know what you're up to Lani.
Don't tease him too much, okay? He's already got these puppy dog eyes
when he stares at you and I'd hate to see it get any worse."
sighed and said, "I know. I think I look the same way at him. I feel
like I'm a part of him, you know? Like sometimes we may be two people
but our souls are one. It's hard to describe."
"I know exactly
how you feel; it's the way I feel about Mick Lani. When a vampire finds
his or her mate it is forever. Are you really ready for this Lani?
Josef is well, quite a handful I think!"
The blush swept over
Lani again, thinking of things better not said, even between friends.
Beth watched the blush and smiled, turning her head away so that her
friend wouldn't see it. Lani was so happy that it thrilled Beth. She
heartily recommended vampire loving.
"Yes, I am. My feelings,
emotions are almost overwhelming sometimes though. I feel as if I can't
get enough of him Beth. Did you feel that way with Mick?"
"Yes I did. I still do Lani. The thought of being with him forever thrills me in ways I can't even describe."
Lani nodded, understanding completely. "But it's sort of scary Beth, losing myself in him.
Mick said, watching Josef as he stared at Lani as Beth rubbed the
sunscreen on her back. He wore an intense and hungry look and Mick had
to fight to keep from laughing. If the scent in the house, everywhere
in the house for that matter was anything to go by those two couldn't
get enough of one another. He was really happy for Josef.
hadn't realized what a tender and vulnerable heart that Josef had until
he and Beth went to New York and found Josef with Sarah. Fifty years
and you think you know someone and yet that day he learned that nothing
was further from the truth. He saw those same things in Josef now with
Lani and it was great to see.
"Josef? JOSEF?" he asked again.
finally shook himself away from the sight of Lani in that scarlet
bikini and looked at Mick. "What?" he asked, with more of a sharp tone
than he had intended.
"I asked you if you wanted to play a few hands of poker and give the girls a chance to catch up?"
"Yeah, sure...whatever," he agreed, forcing himself to turn away from the patio scene.
don't we go downstairs to do that?" Josef looked at him crossly for a
moment and then nodded. "Of course, if we play for money it would be
better to stay upstairs because I'll win every hand!" Mick laughed.
wouldn't count on it. Let's go," he said, heading down the stairs to
the club room where there was a gaming table as well as a billiard
table. Plenty to do, to keep them occupied. Now, if he could only keep
his mind off that beautiful, sexy, mesmerizing woman of his. He looked
at Mick who was watching him with a smirk; he knew very well what he
was thinking and it didn't make it any better at all.
"Beth said she didn't think Katrina should have to die for what she did," Mick said, looking at his cards.
"She WHAT?" Josef said, laying his cards face down and staring at Mick.
know, I feel the same way. She says that in the end Katrina did her a
favor, forcing me to turn her because Beth thinks that I would have
fought her on it when she was ready."
"Is that true?"
"I don't know, maybe," Mick conceded. "Maybe..."
"Well, I don't care if the bitch is the Easter Bunny and Santa all rolled into one, Monday she dies."
"I'm with you Josef. I can't forgive or forget what she did."
"Just make sure that you want it because she disobeyed an order and not because it forced your hand Mick."
Mick frowned and then nodded. Josef had made his point.
does that mean you want to break up with him Lani?" Beth asked,
suddenly scared of what Lani was telling her. It couldn't be, they were
perfect for one another.
"No, of course not. It's just that
after my history with men, it's hard to not panic. But I just knew
with him, that he was the one, the one I'd waited for. Beth, I don't
think I could make it without him in my life now."
it's supposed to work Lani. Once you find that, nothing else matters.
Hm, looks like the boys have moved away from the windows," Beth laughed.
I thought Josef's eyes were going to pop right out of his head when I
was putting the sunscreen on you!"
"I know," Lani giggled.
laughed and leaned back in the lounge chair. It felt terrific, even
sitting in the shade. It was warm to be sure, but not too bad. She
could take a swim if it got too warm.
"I have missed this so much Lani. Just being with you and relaxing."
"I know, me too. And maybe Robbi will come around eventually."
"Well, she agreed to go to lunch with me on Wednesday, that's a start," Beth told her.
did? That's wonderful! I can't wait to hear all about it. I know she
was upset with you but it sure seems like something else is bothering
"I don't know. Hasn't she said anything to you?"
"No, she doesn't talk to me that much either. You know that Brian's christening is next Sunday?"
Beth frowned, surprised at that. "No, she hasn't told me that."
Wednesday then? Look Beth, give her time, it will be okay. We've been
besties forever, she loves you. Time, just give it time..."
seven o'clock the sun was just dipping into the Pacific. The calm
waters lived up to their name tonight and the golden and orange rays
reflected across it. Josef was explaining the count.
two, three and jump," he told them again and they counted several waves
to take the measure of them. "Alright, every one ready now?"
leaned down and looked as the waves crashed into the rocks below. She
knew she couldn't die but it still was a long way down! "Okay," she
said, still scared.
Lani was next to her and she grabbed her hand
and held tight and the same with Mick on her other side. Josef grabbed
Lani's hand and they counted the wave and then all four jumped.
each broke the surface and then laughed. "Wow, that's all I can say,"
Beth told them all, treading water as the waves headed in.
"This way," Josef told them, heading around the rocks. Around they went and walked up onto the small patch of beach.
made the climb to the top and did it again, just for good measure.
Life was good, whether you looked at it from the vampire or human point
of view. Dear friends made it all worthwhile.
To be continued...