Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks



This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.



Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chapter 13 A Working Solution

Lynn, thank you for the beautiful pictures in this chapter! Fabulous Dahling...

Chapter 13 A Working Solution

When Mick came home he looked stricken, ashy pale even for a vamp. All Beth could do was go to him and wrap her arms around him and hold him close. He clung tightly to her, not saying a word. When he finally let go she went to get him a generous portion of scotch laced liberally with O-.

Mick shrugged out of his duster and sat down heavily on the couch. He wanted to talk to her, to reassure her that he hadn’t had a hand in it but he conscience wasn’t that clear because he had hated Katrina with a vengeance and it could have been him, it should have been him wielding the torch...

Vampires survived because they had the ability to compartmentalize, to separate the emotion from the action in order to save their race. It wasn’t good to lose that edge but how do you do that when the person you love more than your own life wants something just the opposite? He looked deeply into his soul and knew that he couldn’t separate the hatred for what Katrina had caused Beth from breaking the rules. Since he couldn’t do that he had to walk away. If he’d raised his own hand to Katrina he wouldn’t be able to hide it from Beth and she would hate him for it. Eventually he would have hated himself for it.

But sometimes, this charade of still being ‘human’ was more than he could bear. If he let it go, succumbed to his vampirism where did that leave him? Where did it leave he and Beth? And if he did how could he protect her and eventually the children they would have, one way or another?



OOOOOOOOOOOO



The next day Beth left for her lunch with Max with a lighter heart. She didn’t know for sure what had happened yesterday but she knew that Mick hadn’t had a hand in it. She could sense it in him when he came home and she was more than happy about it. She didn’t ask for details and he offered none.

Beth pulled into the parking lot at Hǎo Chī, excited to see Max and to do it at their favorite Chinese place. Beth could already taste some Kung Pao, extra spicy and her mouth was watering.

Max pulled in right after her and they hugged briefly in the parking lot before heading inside. The chatted amiably while they waited to be seated.

“So Max, what’s going on? Why’d you want to see me?” Beth asked while sipping her tea.

“Can’t I just want to see you because I’ve missed you?” she teased, grinning at her friend. “Actually, that is a big part of the reason but there is something else Beth.”

“So, spill,” Beth said, playing with her chopsticks. Something was up and she could scent excitement rolling off of Max. She was still learning how to discern the differences in scents but this time it was clear.

“Well, Mark and I made a business investment; one I think you’ll appreciate!”

“What?” Beth asked, very curious.

“We bought Buzzwire Beth. We’re going to toss the trash tabloid out and make it like it used to be, when you were there.”

“Wow Max, that’s fabulous. You’ll make it work, I’m sure. But seriously, there always was a bit of a sleazy edge to it!”

“Agreed,” Max said with a grin. “Here’s the thing; we need help Beth. Would you consider coming back to work there? As my Managing Editor?”

“You mean in Maureen’s old job?” The idea thrilled her for sure.

“Yes. You could be on camera whenever you wanted, but mostly you’ll be keeping them all on task. I’ll be heading it as the Editor in Chief.” She grabbed Beth’s hand excitedly. “Beth, we could do this!”

Beth smiled and it lit up her whole face. “Yes, we definitely could! So when is all this happening?”

“Mark and I take possession at 12:01 am on Sunday. But there is so much to do in order to get ready Beth. Do you want to talk with Mick before you commit?”

Beth knew that she would talk to him but doubted if he’d have any objections because he knew that she wanted to go back to work. Since she wasn’t going to be spending a lot of time in front of the camera that should calm Josef’s worries as well. Behind the scenes she could make a huge difference. IF they had the staff to make it work though.

“I will talk with him first but I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be okay with it.”

Max nodded and said, “Wonderful Beth! Unfortunately the reputation for Buzzwire has went into the toilet since Mo died. We’ve lost most of the on air talent and media techs. It’s not going to be easy.”

Beth nodded and asked who was still there, from her time.

“Not many; Christine, the young girl who sort of took over your spot, and Kenny, a camera guy. Maybe a few researchers too. Christine really just doesn’t cut it although Kenny is a great photojournalist.”

“Yes, he is. I worked with him a few times; he’s almost as good as Steve was. Any idea where he is?”

“None; do you have a number for him?”

“I do actually and I’ll give him a call. And Christine, well, she IS a bit raw but that probably has more to do with the type of assignments she received. Hold off on doing anything with her and let’s see if she can handle doing things the right way.”

Max grabbed Beth’s hand in excitement. “The right way, OUR way Beth! We always talked about it and now it’s happening.”

“It’s so exciting Max. Still, it’s going to be hard to bring it back because it really ran into the ground under that jerk Grant. Too many bad stories and retractions doesn’t cut it, as they found out.” Beth pulled a small notebook out of her purse and started jotting down notes.

“We need at least 4 reporters Max and that is cutting it really short but we can build up in time. Finding the talent might be hard so we’d better start researching. Likewise, 4 camera crews including video editors and we need a good content editor, although I can do that for a while. Researchers, we need great one’s because without them we’re left with the type of stories that buried Buzzwire. New group, new outlook - this is going to rock Max!”

“This is exactly why I need you Beth; I couldn’t have done this on my own. Print journalism is so different from this.”

“Yes, it is but you’re going to pick it up quickly. What about staff? Any of those left?”

“Not many.”

“Computer techs? Is Sam still there? And what about the equipment?”

“No one by the name of Sam is on the current roster. The equipment is probably the same as when you left.”

“Sam is actually a Samantha, does that help?”

“No, sorry. Is she that good?”

“Oh yeah. We need her and I know how to find her!”

They agreed to meet again on Friday to see how each had progressed on their lists and plan some promo’s to help bring the audiences back. “Beth, would you consider doing a promo or two for us? They know your face and it would help.”

Beth thought about it for a moment and decided that it would be okay. “Sure, when do we want to have the site back up and running?”

“We’re aiming for a month from now. I want to do internet, print, television, and radio promos so that we can reach as many people as possible.”

“Good. I think we need to get a message board up and running quickly as well so we need Sam back as soon as possible. That will be my number one priority. A few billboards will help too and maybe some advertisements in the local clubs; you know, they generally have walls with that kind of stuff.”

Max frowned for a moment as she made more notes and it occurred to Beth that maybe that was too much for the advertising budget so she asked about it.

“That isn’t a problem Beth. Marks grandmother died and he received a very hefty inheritance. She was such a wonderful person and it hurts that she’s gone but she told Mark to live his dream with this money and so we’re going for it.”

“A doctor’s dream is to run an internet news service?” Beth laughed.

“Well, maybe we’ll have to have a doctor on line program or something but yes, it is because it’s something that we can build together for our future.”

“Lots of media moguls have built huge empires just this way!”

“Very true! Someday we’re going to be building our very own castle!” Max laughed.

Beth raised her glass of iced tea and said, “To the future and success then!”

Their glasses clinked together and both women were excited to see where the future lead them. Both of them saw shining futures.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Carl knocked on the door to Mick’s office and waited for an answer. He had decided on the office as opposed to the apartment because it just felt right. He tugged a bit on his tie and tried to remain cool, all the while thinking about what he was getting ready to do.

Mick opened the door to his office and was a bit shocked to see Carl there as opposed to the other door. It put him on guard instantly and he wondered what was up.

“Carl, come on in,” he invited and added, “Is this official business?”

“Official? No, but it is something very personal Mick. I have some information that you need to know and I’m not sure quite how to go about telling you.”

“You want a drink or something?” Mick asked as he watched Carl take a seat across the desk and shake his head no. Mick sat down and leaned back in the chair and said, “Well, I guess you should just say it then Carl.”

Carl nodded and told the story. “I had lunch with Ben last week and he told me quite a story. His grandmother was engaged to you once Mick. Her name is Margie.”

Mick immediately sat forward and said, “Margie Redmond.” Memories flooded him, happy memories and painful ones that cut deeper than the sharpest knife.

“Yes, probably. Ben has been trying to track Mick St. John down now for quite awhile and when he came here he found a file, started by Josh that gave him quite a bit of information, as well as what Margie told him.”

“Wh - why would Margie tell him anything?” His heart was hammering in his chest and he wanted to hear what was next and wanted to run as well. “What could it matter?”

“It matters to Ben because Mick St. John is his grandfather.”

He was speechless. Could a vampire have a heart attack? His chest hurt, literally hurt right now and felt as if a band were around it. He leaned back and pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment, trying to calm down.

“I have a grandson? And a...”

“Daughter. Her name is Catherine Ben said. And she isn’t your number one fan Mick, you should know that.”

“How could she be? After what I did to Margie, they must all hate me.”

“I don’t get the feeling that Ben or Margie hate you. He has lunch with her every week I think. Brings her chocolate.”

Mick smiled and Carl could see tears in his eyes. Margie had always loved chocolate. “So she is alive and well?” He could only hope; she was 85 now.

“Apparently. She lives in some retirement community and is quite active I understand. She goes with Ben to Dodgers games from time to time.”

“What brought all this about Carl?”

“Well, here is the problem; since he’s been investigating what happened to you, circa 1952 he’s gathered some information. Sent people to France I think to investigate your wife. The general consensus is that you and she both died on your wedding night, murdered because of all the blood in the room. Then he got to looking at all the handprints and fingerprints in the room and had them sent in for analysis. You can probably guess what happened next Mick.”

“My fingerprints for my PI license turned up.”

Carl nodded. “He sent them to CBI in Sacramento for another verification, but of course the results were the same.”

“Yeah, yeah they would be. What does he think Carl?”

“He thinks that somehow the system, IFAIS got Mick the PI’s prints mixed up with Mick his grandfather. He believes you are actually a cousin but he can’t figure out what happened to Mick 1952 because obviously he didn’t die if he had kids.”

Mick let out a long and deep breath. He was trying to stay focused on what Carl was saying but his head was screaming, you have a daughter, you have a grandson. Ben Talbot is your grandson. All the times he and Josef thought about taking Talbot out because he was asking so many questions, the jealousy he had felt when Talbot was talking to Beth so much. Beth kept saying it was strange because he was always asking about Mick. It all made so much sense to him. Like the first night they had met, at Buzzwire.

“I’m Mick St. John. I’m a private investigator.”
“Right. Yeah, of course. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Good things?”
“No. Not really.”


Of course he wouldn’t have heard good things, especially if Ben’s mother hated him. If Mick 2008 was his supposed grandson and the family thought that Mick 1952 had deserted Margie then they wouldn’t think much good about Mick 2008 either. Later on there was the discussion about where he grew up, where he went to school. It all made so much sense.

“How you doing Mick? You okay? This is a lot to process.”

“Yeah, no shit.” He shook his head as it all began to really sink in. “Do you think he’s going to let the fingerprints go?”

“No, I don’t. He doesn’t understand them to be sure but he thinks there’s more to the story. Mick, he has a notebook with other things in it; pictures of you in the army and some of you being hit by a car and then getting up and walking away. No, he’s curious and he isn’t going to let it go.”

The pictures from Dean Foster; the ones that Beth had finally told him about. “Do you think he knows that I’m an immortal?”

“Not now, but when he runs out of all other explanations where is that going to lead him? I think sooner or later he’s going to approach you about being his cousin and ask for an explanation.”

Mick nodded, knowing that would make sense. “Carl, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this with me.”

“Mick, someday I’m going to join you because I intend to be with Cami forever. The secrets of one are the secrets of all in many ways. How can I help?”

“Just keep me informed while I figure this all out. Do you...you think he could handle knowing the truth?”

“Ben is an upright kind of guy Mick and if he said he would keep the secret he would. But the other problem is your daughter because something tells me that Catherine McFarland Talbot won’t.”

“Catherine McFarland of Talbot and McFarland? I’ve heard of them. They’re in the media a lot.”

“Yes, she uses her maiden name. Christian Talbot and she are partners in the firm.”

She was beautiful, charismatic and Mick had seen her often on television. They were a criminal defense firm and always made a big splash in the news because of the people they represented which tended to be rich, conservative clients.

Mick ran his hand through his hair, scraping it off of his face. He needed to think, that much was true. “Okay Carl, I’ll let you know what I decide. I want your name kept out of it though, if we can.”

“I have lunch with him pretty often Mick and he knows that I’m friends with you and Beth as well. He might start questioning me more so we gotta get a game plan made. Let’s talk again in a few days and see what we can figure out, okay?”

“That sounds like a good plan. I’ve got to let Josef know as well.”

“Is Josef, is he like the head vampire or something?”

“He’s...sort of, for the LA area. He’s on the VALA board and helps govern the area vamps. We don’t have any formal type of government Carl, but we still have to have rules and someone has to uphold and enforce them.”

“Yeah, I figured. Okay, I need to get back to work Mick. I’ll be in touch.”

Mick walked him to the door and the men shook hands and their eyes met for a long moment, both acknowledging that this was far from over.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



After Carl left Mick went to his trunk and opened it. He pulled out a folder of old pictures that he had and looked through them as the memories flooded his senses. His mom and dad, his sister Maeve and Roy and Lila. And then he found the one he was looking for; Margie.

God, she was beautiful. His head told him that he needed to let her go but his heart ruled that out. She was alive; she’d lived a happy life apparently. He couldn’t have asked for more for her.

He had a daughter and a grandson. The news was astounding, completely unexpected in fact. He’d had no clue at all that she was pregnant when he left her for Coraline. Another reason to hate that bitch. He’d figured when Lance carried her off that she’d eventually be okay and he hoped that he’d never run across her again but now? Now he’d like to kill her himself.

How did he make this right? There didn’t seem to be a way. He sat on the floor and held the pictures tightly to his chest and let the tears fall and that was where Beth found him.

“Hey! Mick, you’ll never guess what Max wanted,” she said, walking through the loft as she looked for him. When she found him she dropped to her knees and immediately wrapped her arms around him. She didn’t know what was wrong but clearly something was.

“Mick, what’s wrong,” she asked, taking his face in her hands and sweeping her eyes over his handsome features. She saw that he was holding a leather folder that had seen better days and that there were pictures in it. She picked out one of an older couple and scanned it, noticing the dimple on the man’s chin, so much like Mick’s. “These are your parents aren’t they?”

He’d never shown her any pictures from his past before. He had told her that he hadn’t kept much from the past and yet he had these pictures. His head was leaned back against the wall as he tried to get his emotions under control and she just gave him time, staying close to him.

She sat back along the wall with him and he wrapped an arm around her and leaned his head against hers. She continued to look at the photo in her hand and then picked up another of a couple on a porch. The door looked like the door at the Fordham house she realized.

Mick sighed and drew in the comfort that Beth offered. He wasn’t even sure of where to start with it all so he told her what Carl had said. She listened without interrupting him and nodded occasionally.

When he finished she asked, “So Ben is really your grandson?”

“Yeah, he is. I don’t know what to do about it. Even if he would accept me my daughter won’t and Ben is likely to continue pushing for answers. Josef will see that as a threat I think.”

Beth eyes narrowed and vamped out for a moment and she said, “He wouldn’t dare hurt them!”

“I don’t know what he’d do. If he thought they were going to expose us, yes, he would.”

“Well, that isn’t going to happen. Maybe we can just tell Ben and his mom doesn’t have to know?”

“Maybe...” he said but didn’t sound sure about it at all.

Beth’s heart was so happy for him, he had family, a daughter and a grandson, a blood connection and that meant a lot for Mick, especially since they couldn’t have a baby together. He was starting to tear up again and she held out the photo of his parents and asked her to tell her about them.

Image

“My mom and dad, I think this was taken right after they got married. I know I hadn’t been born yet.” He looked at the photo, remembering his parents and thinking they looked so young. He pulled another picture out of the pile and said, “This is Maeve, my sister. I was 8 when she was born; I think this was taken when she was about 20 or so.”

Image

“She’s so beautiful Mick. And she had red hair! Where’d that come from?”

“My mom had red hair; Mary Ellen Donohue. Red Irish through and through with a temper to match; kept my father on his toes, let me tell you,” he said, smiling for the first time as he reminisced about his family.

“So your dad was the quiet one? You take after him don’t you?”

“Yes, he was but actually in my younger years I was a lot like my mom.”

Image

He pulled out two more pictures and handed them to her. “This is Ray and Lila, but you probably saw that picture at the Fordham’s house. And this is Margie,” he said, a wistful tone creeping into his voice.

Image

Beth looked at Margie and the thought came to her that she too was beautiful. How could he have walked away from her for Coraline? But of course she knew the answer to that question; allure. Anger and hatred for Coraline again bubbled up inside her; she’d give anything to take that woman out because of all the hurt she had caused Mick.

It suddenly occurred to her that Mick felt that way about Katrina. He had said very little about what had happened but she knew later that he had left before she was executed because she could taste it in his blood.

“Mick, tell me what happened yesterday, please?”

God, he didn’t want to, but he had to. Both of them were working so hard to keep talking so he said, “I - walked away Beth. Before…well, before Josef executed her. She was a mess; her death was only an afterthought really because there was nothing of Katrina left in her.”

Beth nodded, feeling so proud of Mick and accepting the fact that he didn’t feel proud at all. He’d wanted revenge, justice and the end he’d walked away. Perhaps one day he’d accept that.

“Mick, I understand how hard that was for you. I can’t say anything to make it better for you. Just know that I love you Mick, regardless of what might have happened; nothing you could do would change my feelings for you.”

He nodded, his fingers playing with the spun golden locks of her hair. They sat quietly for a bit, looking at the pictures and chatting about Carl’s revelation. Mick didn’t have any answers yet and Beth didn’t push him because it was something he needed to figure out.

Finally he remembered that she had started to tell him something when she came in. She explained what Max had wanted and he listened with interest.

She needed something to do; they both did and she would love this. “I think you should do it Beth, it will be perfect for you. I know how hard you are trying to deal with everything baby and this will be good for you.”

“I think so too. But we both have so much to do, Max and I. Rounding up employees is going to be very difficult but I’m going to make some calls this afternoon. Why don’t we go and have a snack while I get organized?”

“Will you be upset if I just stay here for a bit longer?”

She leaned over and kissed him softly. “Not at all Mick. Just remember that I’m here when you need to talk more, okay?”

He nodded and smiled at her. “I know. Beth, I love you so much.”

“It’s a good thing buddy because I love you too and I’m not letting go!”





OOOOOOOOOOOO



Josef had worked late Monday, catching up on business but Lani knew that he was upset over what had happened with Katrina and that he was processing it all. He crawled into bed with her Monday night and she could tell that he was exhausted. She held him tightly and they fell asleep soon after.

Tuesday at work brought several complicated problems with the new system as they tried to install it on some of the computers. Lani worked late and Josef waited for her to finish so they could go home. When they walked into the door Franklin was waiting for them and immediately sensed Josef’s mood, which wasn’t good. As Lani and Josef settled into the den he brought a glass of scotch spiked generously with AB+ and Lani a bottle of water which was her usual choice when directly home from work.

“You going to talk about it Josef?” she asked and watched as he lifted an eyebrow in query. “You know exactly what I’m talking about Josef.”

He did and he wanted to talk about it but how did he tell her that he had held the flame thrower on Katrina and that he hated that he had done it? Finally the words just came tumbling out and he watched her face, waiting to see her impatience at his troubled admission.

“Josef, one of the things I love most about you is that you are a man of action; but you are also a man of conscience, whether or not you want people to know it. If it didn’t bother you I would have been upset. You did what had to be done; it’s only to be expected that you have a few regrets about it. I believe that is mostly because you have carried so much guilt about her actions. It’s okay Josef, it really is.”

He settled back and tipped his glass up, finishing the drink. At her inquiry if he wanted another he shook his head no and let out a deep breath. “I just, I felt the guilt true, but I also felt Beth’s words weighing heavily on me Lani. A few days ago I was full of hatred and vengeance and yesterday all that was left was the hatred, tinged with compassion as I looked at her. Tango had not made it easy on her this past weekend, trying to determine if anyone else was involved. She was a mess Lani, a beaten shell of a person and there was no need for more torture. Mick told Logan she was done and he was right, she was.”

“Why didn’t you let Tango finish her Josef?” she asked softly, her heart breaking for his pain.

“Because I have to do some things myself; if I had done that before we wouldn’t be where we are now. I didn’t do my job and Beth was the causality. The buck has to stop somewhere and I guess it’s with me.”

Both contemplated those words for a few minutes and eventually Josef tackled the other subject that was pressing heavily on his mind. “You want to be turned.” It was a statement and not a question.

“Yes. Maybe not this moment, but eventually yes.”

Josef took a long, unnecessary breath and accepted her words. It had been unspoken between them, although she’d made references from time to time. But now the words had been spoken; the elephant in the room could no longer be ignored.

He didn’t ask why; he knew why she wanted to be turned. They were mates and they both knew it. When was a big question though and could he actually do it was another. After what happened to Sarah he was a bit skittish about it. He actually had a stake in what happened to Lani. Granted, he now knew that what happened with Sarah had nothing to do with anything he’d done but it still hurt him deeply to know that her beautiful and vibrant life had effectively come to an end when he tried to turn her.

“How...how soon Lani?”

“I don’t know really. It’s not like we’re going to have children Josef. I’m not even sure I’d make any kind of a decent mother anyway. Look at the example I had growing up.”

He knew full well that she’d meant her own mother but she also had Dorothy, who was as far as Josef could tell a wonderful mother. “What about Dorothy? Seems you’ve learned a lot from her too?”

“Yes, I did. But children are something that I can live without Josef. We make choices, this is my choice. If we had been able to have children I would have loved to have your baby Josef, but this is how things are. I want to be with you, completely with you, in every way possible.”

He nodded in understanding. “I’m scared Lani; I'm so damned afraid of what could happen.”

“I know,” she said quietly. She held his face in his hands and kissed him tenderly. “We’ll get through it Josef. I’m not leaving you - ever.”



To be continued...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You truly are an amazing writer. When I read your story I feel like I am sitting in the room with them feeling their emotions!! I can't wait for more, as usual!! Thanks!

Hope said...

Hi Anonymous!!

Thank you so much! I guess I'm doing my job properly then, if you feel like you are right there. I always try to bring that clarity to the readers and I'm so happy to know that I've succeeded.

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your comment!!

LaLa said...

I love how things are unfolding. I also appreciate the fact that you don't rush things... but majority of the time, you know me, I want to fast forward through it all and find out what's going on. I'm so anxious to find out what's up with Robbie and those other vamps, the ones like Beth.

Thank you for not putting it all in one chapter, even though its torturing me to know. This is one of those books you pick up and get so involved in that you read until the you finish it and look up and the sun has come up on the next day! I cannot wait until someone picks up your story and continues the Moonlight series. It's bound to happen, hopefully sooner than later. They would be idiots not to.

I'm still reading past chapters just to see if I missed something, some clue or something to Robbie.

You're good, C...

Hope said...

Hey LaLa!!

Wow, you make me blush, seriously. Isn't it amazing how even though this is a faceless, anonymous medium that time and something so simple as a story brings us together and allows us to connect?

If we rush all we get to is the end! That's sad my friend so yeah, I want to drag it out a bit. Just to make you squirm! Okay, not you personally, but I love it when the story unfolds naturally, opening like the petals of a flower so that when you finally get to the inside its all the sweeter!

The answers you seek will start to unfold before too long, some of them anyway. And the others will happen when the time is right but you know I don't leave loose ends around so have faith.

On another note, my computer died a month ago and Gman got me a new one but I lost all my email addy's and such. Can you send me a new one for you?

Thanks so much for hanging with me all these years!