Chapter 9 The Hard Truth
At three o'clock
Lani went into Josef's office, anxious to get their weekend started. He
was just finishing a call and waved her in when she knocked softly and
poked her head into the room.
He sat the phone down and leaned
back in his chair, a satisfied smile on his face. The jet was landing
in LA in a minutes and Katrina was secure. Tango would be taking over
the watch for the next few days while Josef was with Lani.
Sweetness! How has your day been?" It all sounded so Ozzie and
Harriett when all the while he was planning a very violent and bloody
death for that bitch that caused so much time and expense to be wasted
on her. All that mattered little when compared that if it hadn't been
for the fact that she indirectly caused Beth's death and subsequent
turning. One part of his brain was thinking of one horrible demise
after another while the other part was thinking about loving the night
away with his mate.
Hey, a guy had to have some balance after all.
and the best part is that I'm done with business and ready to head out
of here and slide myself into a teeny, tiny bikini. You like?" she
teased, drawing a fingertip down his nose and then tracing her thumb
over his lips.
"Well, that depends on the bikini!" he laughed
and then watched as she pouted sweetly for a moment. He pulled her down
onto his lap and kissed away the pout and then continued to kiss her
senseless. She was breathless and trembling by the time he was done.
fair Kostan, not fair at all," she grumbled as she slid off of his lap
and smoothed the Vera Wang skirt down over long and curvy legs. She
turned around and bent over and made a display of smoothing her hosiery
before casting a wicked look over her shoulder as she straightened up.
He couldn't see the delighted grin she hid when she saw that his eyes
were practically popping out of his head as he watched her.
absentmindedly hit the intercom button, missing it on the first try and
called Thor. "Has everything been handled today Thor?"
Kostan. You appointment calendar is cleared until Tuesday. The jet
just touched down and all went according to your direction. Tango has
everything under control and told me to tell you to relax."
good Thor. Ms. Parker and I will be leaving shortly then. No
disturbances this weekend unless it is a major emergency - get that?"
course sir. Please have a pleasant weekend," Thor said, going back to
work. He had his training class with Ms. Parker this morning on the new
security system and he had some homework to occupy him. It was quite
an interesting and innovative system; only the most skilled of
individuals would have any success with it. He was one of those people
though he thought with a smile.
dialed the phone and looked at the 'send' key for a moment, trying to
talk herself into making the call. She wanted to but it was so hard; if
she were still human her heart would be pounding crazily. Finally she
punched the key and waited for the call to be answered.
Robbi said. She knew it was Beth from the caller ID but for some reason
she felt uncomfortable acknowledging it until Beth identified herself.
"Hey Robbi. It's Beth. How are you?"
"I'm fine Beth."
Beth took a deep unnecessary breath and got to the point. "I was
wondering if you'd like to go to lunch with me next Wednesday? My
treat, wherever you like." Beth mentally ticked off the seconds while
she waited for her friend to answer.
Robbi was quiet as she
thought about the offer. She missed Beth and she so badly wanted to
catch up with her. It wasn't her fault that she missed Brian's birth
and Robbi understood that now. Still, there was a wall between them
that was in part her doing and she wasn't sure she was ready to breach
it yet. Maybe there was no time like the present she decided.
"Okay, I will. Our favorite sushi place sound good to you?"
Beth grinned into the phone and almost squealed out loud. "Yes, that sounds great. What time works for you?"
"How about 1:00? I'll see if Mom will watch Brianna but I sort of need to keep Brian with me."
that sounds good. I can't wait Robbi," she said and meant it. When
they ended the call a few minutes later she wondered why Robbi didn't
want Brianna to see her; was it the vampire thing? It was a strangely
Next Beth called her mom, excited to let her
know that Robbi had agreed to lunch. The words fairly spilled out, her
happiness bubbling over.
Dorothy loved her daughter sounding so
happy and excited. The situation with Robbi had been weighing heavily
on Dorothy's mind because Robbi had been as much a part of their lives
as Lani had been. Not in the same way because Robbi had a very happy
childhood but the three had been inseparable growing up.
that is wonderful news! I can tell how excited you are about it. How
are you doing otherwise?" The rest of that sentence was left unsaid, are you still upset about the baby? How could she not be? It wasn't like it was going to go away over night.
quieted for a moment, understanding exactly what her mom was asking.
There was no quick solution to her pain; it wouldn't go away overnight
but it would lessen in time. She was happy with her life now and being
with Mick made up for it all but that didn't mean that she didn't mourn
the loss of being able to have a baby with him. What was amazing to her
was that she had never really thought about kids; there was always so
many things to do with her life. It wasn't until Mick came along and
she understood his hunger and need for a family that it became important
to her. Now the thought of not holding a little one, a shared being of
their creation left her feeling so empty inside.
"I'm dealing with it Mom, it's just going to take time, you know?"
alone isn't going to heal this Beth. You need to share this with Mick.
Did you stop to think that he may be holding this same pain inside
him; that he is keeping it in because he's worried about you? Beth, he
is your husband and has been connected to you in ways I can't even begin
to understand for so many years. You have to know that he feels your
pain and it makes him feel worse. Please Bethy, talk to him."
- I don't know Mom; he'll just feel guilty because whenever I have
regret about anything he thinks it's his fault for being in my life. He
has this stupid notion that if he'd never come into my life that I'd be
happier than I am now."
"Is that possible Beth?"
isn't. He is my life, always has been. Mom, I felt him from my
youngest years after he saved me. I always knew he was there and I knew
when he left here too - when he moved to Seattle. I don't understand
the strength of the connection either but it's there."
"So tell him that."
ride north was wonderful; the air was cool but not chilly, perfect
early October weather along the coast. The water was a blue-gray and
the air held a salty tang to it. The top was down on the Ferrari and
Lani had pulled her hair back into a pony tail and leaned her head back,
delighting in the feel of the sun occasionally playing peek a boo on
her face since it was a mostly cloudy day. The CD player was spinning
an old Beatles album and Josef hummed along as he drove. It sort of
surprised her, that he would be a Beatles fan and it made her smile.
The White Album,
was one of the biggest Beatles albums ever but most of it was pretty
strange Lani thought. She guessed you just had to be there, in the
1960's to appreciate it. Still, one of her all time favorite songs came
on then and she sang along.
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart
cast a sideways glance at her as she sang and couldn't resist smiling
at her. Her eyes were closed as she sang and he could see that she was
very relaxed. He had some things to tell her when they got to the beach
house and he hoped she'd accept it all. They had developed a pattern
of honesty between them and he planned to continue it; she couldn't
survive in his world if he pulled his punches with her. She needed to
know the truth and he intended to give it to her.
What if she couldn't handle it?
refused to believe that she couldn't; she was strong. His mate, his
woman was incredible and a fighter too. It would be okay, he had to
He was worried about the fact that she hadn't
looked out of the peep hole this morning, but it was more than that. He
was placing some security measures around her and he hoped that she'd
accept it. Four hundred years of being a vampire was a lot to carry
around and enemies could literally be anywhere. He was determined that
she not be a causality of it all.
Lani opened her eyes when the
car downshifted to make the turn onto the access road that led to the
beach house. She was pleased to be back because this house was the
beginning of them, their relationship. Granted, their physical
relationship started at her beach house but here was where she finally
opened to him, and he to her. This place was special to them both.
The garage door opened and they pulled in and then it came down and she looked at him, watching her. "What?"
"I love you, okay?"
"I love you too. But something's up Josef. You can't hide it from me."
gave a wry laugh and shook his head. "No, I guess I can't. Before the
fun starts we have a few things to talk about so let's go in, okay?"
sounded so serious and her heart skipped a beat or two; she was
suddenly afraid of what he was going to say to her. "Are you breaking
up with me?" she asked in a tight, panicked voice.
He leaned over
and kissed her lips and then the tip of her nose. "No, you aren't
getting rid of me that easily. Just some things we need to talk about
okay? Nothing to fear. So come on, let's get in the house."
she said still eyeing him warily. He was so serious about it all. He
came around and opened her door and she stepped out while he grabbed
their bags out of the storage behind the seats.
At the door into
the house he punched in a code and then slid a key card through a slot
and the door opened with a loud click. Lani stepped through closely
followed by Josef who closed and locked the door again behind him.
don't you get us a drink while I take these down to our bedroom?" he
asked. At her nod he disappeared down the stairs and she went to the
bar in the patio room and found a bottle of red wine and poured two
glasses. She found a small paring knife used for cutting lemon's and
pricked her finger, letting a few drops of blood fall into his glass.
She had often seen him add a few drops of blood to his beverage and this
time she wanted it to be hers. She was sucking on the fingertip when
he came back upstairs, immediately catching the scent of her blood.
have you done?" he teased, looking at her finger. A small bead of
blood welled up and he licked it off, stroking his tongue over it
A small shiver of anticipation washed over her; my god,
the things he could do with his mouth. She shook it off finally and
answered, much to his amusement, "I put a few drops of my blood in your
"You don't have to do that Sweetness. I have other fresh
blood here; we're fully stocked for the weekend, food for you and blood
for Mick and Beth and I. Of course, Beth will probably eat food too is
"I wanted it to be my blood," she told him defiantly with a slight lift of her chin.
He nodded and a soft smile crept over his face at her loving gesture. "Okay, so let's sit down and talk Lani."
sat down on the couch and loosened his tie and then unbuttoned the top
button on his shirt. She went to sit on his lap and he shook his head
no and indicated she sit next to him. He needed to keep his senses
about him and with her on his lap that wouldn't happen.
"Lani, this morning when you didn't check who was at your door before you opened it really scared me."
"Funny, you didn't act scared," she told him, a coy smile on her face.
I'm good at multi-tasking! Look, this is serious, okay?" He took a sip
of the wine and her taste filled him, rushing through his senses and
body like wildfire. He took a deep breath and continued, trying to get
her out of his head. "Lani, I'm over 400 years old and there are many
people who would say that I'm a ruthless bastard and at times I'd agree
with them. You see the soft side of me Lani, the man who loves his mate
deeply and it should be that way but there will be times when you'll
see the other side of me; I would kill to protect the people I care
about and have, many times."
She nodded her head, acknowledging
his words. She knew that they had to be true and she said, "Okay. I
love you and it doesn't matter."
He took another long drink,
finishing the wine and sat the glass on the coffee table in front of
them. "I have enemies Lani; brutal, merciless bastards that would use
you against me. They could hurt you, or...or worse and I won't let that
happen. Things in your life are going to have to change a bit. I'll
make sure that it is the least invasive measures I can but I have to
know that you are protected."
"Josef, I lived under Heroku's
protection in Tokyo, after I was attacked. Heroku, like you made sure I
understood the nature of vampires and I get it. He protected Cami and I
both and I was glad to have him protecting me; I will accept yours
because nothing is going to keep me from you Josef. Understand THAT."
he think she was a fighter? Make that a fierce partner in their lives;
he saw that clearly. "Okay then," he said, finally letting himself
relax a bit.
"So what happens?"
"First, I've got a garage
door opener for you, for this house and a gate remote for you for in
town. And keys and I'm going to teach you the alarm codes."
"I already have the code for here," she told him.
you have the code to the safe rooms. It's a different code up here.
I'm having security camera's and heavy duty locking doors installed at
your beach house and the penthouse. It's okay with your landlord at the
penthouse, I already checked." Heroku was the building owner but she
didn't know that. "You must use those camera's, okay? If you aren't
expecting someone and you don't know them, you don't answer the door,
"When we get back to town on Monday
morning you will have a security person watching over you." He saw her
mouth open to protest and he held his hand up to stop her. "You'll
probably never see them Lani, but they will be there always."
"In my apartment?" No way she thought.
but they'll watch the building at night. While you'll probably never
see them they will be able to hear you if you call out so we're going to
establish an emergency word that you can shout if you need help."
"I don't know, we'll figure it out this weekend. Just something that you wouldn't ordinarily say."
sighed, thinking about it all. She could handle it all and in some
ways it wasn't even unexpected. She knew what life would be like with a
vampire in her life; it's just that now instead of fearing them she was
with them. With him and it was exactly where she wanted to be.
"One thing about Monday and then I'm going to
show you something downstairs that we didn't have time for last time you
"So what about Monday," she said with a frown and then remembered that he had told Thor he would see him Tuesday.
drop you off I have business to take care of so I won't likely see you
until that night. I'd like you to stay at my place for a few days
until the security equipment can be installed at your place and until we
make sure that our business on Monday is finished."
"Okay, but I'm going to need some things from my place to do that. And what is the business on Monday?"
stop by your place on the way home. And the business," he hesitated, a
frown marring his face as he debated whether she was up to hearing it.
She looked at him expectantly and he decided to just tell her because
she deserved to know. "We caught Katrina, the woman who was the head
cleaner before Tango. She was flown into LA this afternoon."
came to her of exactly who Katrina was. "The woman who was supposed to
execute Kelly and didn't." The woman that she had killed instead after
she attacked Beth.
"Yes. Logan and Ryder tracked her down in Haiti and brought her back here today. Monday we're going to take care of her."
take care of her I assume you mean execute her? I hope you aren't nice
about it, the bitch. I don't suppose you'll let me help?"
thought of Lani being involved in it scared him, surprised him and
almost made him smile. No, he had not underestimated his fiery mate at
all. "No, we'll have it covered Sweetness."
"You're going to hurt her first aren't you?" she asked, knowing it was true.
"We are going to make sure that no one else is working with her, even though we feel sure that we've caught everyone."
he meant. Whatever they did, it wouldn't be enough. She nodded,
satisfied. She finished her wine and said, "So what do you have to show
He stood up and held his hand out to her. She
took it and followed him downstairs and this time headed left, instead
of to the right where her bedroom had been before. She smiled, she was
staying in his room with him and tingles ran up and down her spine.
led her into the bedroom and then into a large closet filled with
clothes for him. On the back wall was something that looked like a
digital thermostat and he punched some numbers into it and said, "I need
your thumb, please?" he asked with a grin.
He pressed her thumb
onto a blank part of the readout and then entered more numbers, which he
divulged as he punched them in. The door panel slid open and his
freezer room was displayed. It had low lighting that sprung to life as
they entered and she saw his freezer for the first time. High tech
looking, much like the one he had bought for Mick and Beth except it was
obviously only big enough to accommodate one person. He led her around
it and they found another control box on the opposite wall. He did the
same thing with her thumb and when the panel opened this time it led
into a dark passageway. Her eyebrows rose in surprise.
seal off the safe room from the rest of the house you have to have an
escape route and this is it. It leads down to the cliffs by the beach.
The opening there is hidden among the rocks, but you can easily open it
if you need to."'
"Wow, it's all so James Bond!" she said, taking it all in.
laughed and said, "Just covering all the bases Lani. Come on," he
said, closing the panel and heading back out to the bedroom. "Let's get
changed and enjoy our weekend, shall we?"
"Um, sounds wonderful. I think I'm hungry and then maybe we can take a moonlight swim? Since the pool is heated?"
you going to wear one of those tiny little bikini's you brought?" His
sherry brown eyes regarded her with a hint of passion in them.
I don't think so," she whispered. Her arms entwined around his neck
and his head came down so that his lips could capture hers, drinking her
in. The kiss was deep and thorough and her knees gave away so he
picked her up and carried her to the bed.
She watched him
undress, her gray eyes watching the fluidity and elegance of his
movements. She caught her breath, feeling the greedy fingers of passion
spreading like wildfire through her body.
He came to her, his
naked body proud and aroused as he slowly undressed her. Lips and
fingers explored every delicious inch of her. His mouth seemed to be
everywhere at once, her mouth, the sensitive skin under her breasts,
circling her navel, buried in the wet heat of her body. Her body
trembled wildly at her release as Josef sought her mouth again, delving
deeply into its recesses with his tongue.
Breathlessly she whispered, "I love you Josef. Don't stop loving me."
Lani. You are mine, only MINE," he stated with a fierce growl. His
eyes silvered over as he sank into the drenched folds of her body,
shuddering as he tried to control his need for her.
"Let go Love," she whispered, sensing what he was holding back. "Show me Josef, show me how much you want me!"
needed no further urging and the two became one as the fever overtook
them both. Two bodies, one mind and neither could tell where one of
them left off and the other started. Together they found that place
where sweet release came and afterwards they clung to each other
tightly, trying to catch their breaths.
They stared into one another's eyes, each seeing the love and devotion of the other and both knew that it would last forever.
To be continued...C