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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Real life is going to be yanking me around for the next few days (has been all week really) so I won't be posting the next chapter until Monday.  It will resume then, no worries everyone! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chapter 24 Dazed and Amazed

Carl woke up Tuesday morning and groaned; his whole body ached in the worst way. He looked down to see that even though he could barely move, he still had an erection. He groaned and tried to roll out of bed carefully to get into a hot and steamy shower in hopes that the aches and kinks would gradually work out.

Since Sunday he had been working out with Kenji daily and that young pup had really been putting the pressure on him. He thought of himself as a fit guy; he ran, pumped some iron and did a little boxing at the gym with other guys from the force but that was nothing compared to what Kenji had him doing and they were still only in the beginning stages. Carl had taken a semester of Karate in college but it was no preparation for this. Kenji never took it easy on him and Carl was looking forward to getting really good at it all and kicking that little bastards balls all the way to Frisco; one of these days - he promised himself that it would happen one of these days.

His body creaked and he groaned as he stepped into the hot shower and set the shower dial to ‘massage’ and let it do its work. The shower helped some but he was still moving like a 90 year old arthritic man.

If he survived the week, meaning that Kenji didn’t kill him he wanted to take Cami away for the weekend; some wonderfully romantic spot so that they could finally be together. At that thought his manhood jumped in appreciation and he did his best to ignore it, which wasn’t easy.

The only teeny, tiny problem with his plan was that he didn’t know where he could take her that would meet her needs. He was sure there must be places out there but they sure weren’t common knowledge, especially to a human. He didn’t want to ask her because he wanted it to be a surprise and it didn’t feel right to go to Heroku and ask for a private place so that Carl could do the wild thing with his daughter.

Beth was a possibility, but she’d get so happy and giddy over it that it would be uncomfortable. Nope, only one answer - Mick. A game plan in mind he finished dressing for work and then gave his friend a call.


Mick was fresh out of the shower himself; Beth hadn’t rested well last night and tonight was the full moon and he felt sure that was why. He had a freshie by the name of Tracy Billings coming this evening and hopefully she’d be okay until then.

She told him that she was going to work, for a few hours anyway. She thought it would help her to stay busy, but he wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. She sipped a glass of A+ slowly and he could tell that she wasn’t feeling great. He had to trust her judgment but he wasn’t comfortable about it at all.

“Beth, are you sure you want to go to work, baby?” You’re kind of jittery, like last month. I don’t think you’re used to this yet.”

“I will get used to it; Heroku said it would get better and I believe him. I’ll be okay for a few hours. What time is the freshie coming?”

“Seven, but maybe I could get it changed to an earlier time? Would that work?”

“I think seven is fine; the full moon isn’t until 10:32 pm, our time so there should be plenty of time.” She looked at the worry that covered his face and said, “Mick, I’m okay, really. A bit jittery but otherwise fine. I’ll be okay!” she declared then leaned up to kiss him goodbye.

He watched her go, trying to believe that it would be okay. She was adapting well and knew her limits, he hoped. A few minutes later he was startled when his phone started buzzing in his pocket. He pulled it out and smiled when he saw it was Carl. He wondered how the big weekend at Heroku’s had gone.

“Hey Carl; what’s going on?”

“I’ve got an idea I need your help on it, Mick. You got a few minutes?”

“Sure. Did everything go okay this past weekend?”

“Yes, very well actually. But this coming weekend I want to take Cami somewhere special, just the two of us.”

“Oh, the romantic getaway, huh? Good idea. And, you are wondering about vamp friendly places I’ll bet?” Mick grinned into the phone knowing that it was definitely a problem for Carl.

“Well, yeah. I mean, where do you go when you’re a … special? Are there places, that have, accommodations, the right kind I mean.?”

“Yes, there are! There’s this little place up north on the PCH, about 4 1/2 hours away, definitely worth the drive. It’s a small bed and breakfast place. They can provide you with what you need. Tell them you’re interested in the Sunset Cottage and that I sent you to them. I took Beth there a while back and she was crazy about the place.” He gave Carl the number and listened to Carl’s many thanks.

“You are a great friend, Mick. I really appreciate your help. I’ll give them a call right away.”

Mick said goodbye, glad to have helped. Now if things only went okay for Beth today.


Lani woke up late Tuesday morning, not having slept much during the night. Thoughts of Josef filled her head and her dreams when she did manage to sleep. She thought about what Mrs. Carter had told her about forgiving and forgetting and Lani realized that she was right. Lani could forgive what he’d done but forgetting it would take awhile.

Not that she wanted to break up with him; she couldn’t, she wouldn’t. Damn him though, why did he think it was okay to do that anyway? Stupid, stupid move. What did he think would have happened if the plan succeeded?

One thing was for sure, it would most likely have torn them apart if it had. Still, she did understand why he felt like doing it. She’d had thoughts of something like that herself, for a long time.

The truth shook her to the core and her stomach revolted. She made a mad dash to the bathroom and sank to the floor in front of the toilet.

How could she have those types of thoughts about her parents?

How indeed?


A quick driver’s license search turned up information for Margaret McFarland and Mick looked at it pensively. He shouldn’t be - he knew that but he couldn’t help himself.

She was alive and apparently still active and happy. She lived in a pricey retirement center in Long Beach and still had an active driver’s license to boot.

He leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his face as he continued to stare at the information on the monitor. She still had that great smile, the smile that had always made him feel on top of the world.

He leaned forward and hit the delete key and walked away from the computer. He couldn’t do it, he knew he shouldn’t. But, he was going to; he had to just catch a glimpse of her. He’d stay hidden, not let her see him of course but just a quick look. He’d allow himself that much. All he wanted was to just see for himself that she was happy.

All the way to Long Beach he repeatedly told himself to stop - go home. But like the moth to the flame he continued on his way. When he found the complex he was amazed at the size of it. As he drove down the long drive he spotted tennis courts that had people lobbing little green balls back and forth and a golf course in the distance as well. He drove up to building 3 and turned the Benz off and sat for a moment, telling himself that it wasn’t too late to turn around and go home.

But he didn’t of course. He was an idiot; what was he going to do, stake out the parking lot until she appeared? How often did she even leave? He put the key into the ignition and started the car but he couldn’t make himself put it into gear and he finally turned it off and pocketed the key. Maybe he’d hear her talking or something in her room. Just a quick listen, that’s what he’d do.

He got out of the car and made his way into the main entrance of building 3. He found 302 immediately and walked slowly past the door, but all was quiet within. When he’d come in the main entrance he could see a courtyard of sorts behind the building and he continued down the hall to a side exit and quickly made his way around the building.

As he came around the corner at the back he saw lots of tables, under shady trees or umbrella’s and groups of people enjoying the day. For November it was pretty warm and he even saw a few people swimming in the pool.

His eyes scanned the different groups and suddenly he heard it - Margie’s laughter and his eyes found her, sitting at a table with four other people apparently playing a card game of some kind.

She was wearing a blue blouse with hibiscus flowers on it and white slacks, along with a pair of Reeboks that looked like she often walked in them. He saw her lay some cards down on the table and declare, “Gin!” with a laugh.

He smiled, he couldn’t help it as he remembered how much she had loved the game. He lifted his sunglasses for a moment as he watched her until she looked up and saw him and then stood up. His heart banged madly in his chest for a moment and he flipped the glasses back down and darted around the building, heading for the parking lot.

Margie stood up, watching the young man turn and all but run away. Something about him was eerily familiar and she frowned, searching her memory for why. She mumbled an apology to her friends and took off quickly to see if she could get another look at him.

As Mick opened the door of the Mercedes he saw Margie round the corner of the building, heading straight for him. He hurriedly sat down and fumbled trying to get the key into the ignition, finally connecting with it and starting the car. As he quickly pulled out of the parking stall he heard her calling out to him.

“Young man? Hello, do I know you?” She waved at him and Mick watched as she grew smaller every second in the rear view mirror. Two blocks down the street he pulled onto a side street and leaned his head against the steering wheel, sucking in several deep breaths.

What the hell were you thinking Mick?

The question repeated in his head all the way home. He knew that he hadn’t been thinking at all.


Beth and Max interviewed the two college students from UCLA. Both were bright and eager, hungry for the opportunity at Buzzwire. They liked them both but the true test would be the screen tests that were going on now. Each one of them were doing two story promos and Beth and Max would review them to see how they looked on camera.

“The camera doesn’t lie you know,” Beth said to Max as they watched the videos being made. “Sometimes they can seem great but the lens doesn’t love them. Sad, but true.”

Max glanced over at Beth who looked paler than yesterday and she seemed a bit jittery too. “After they’re done we’ll have a better idea I guess. Beth, are you feeling alright? You seem a bit off today.”

Beth quickly glanced down, knowing how correct Max was. She decided to just ‘fess up, to some degree anyhow. “Yeah, I’m not really. Stomach’s kind of out of sorts today.”

“Beth, why don’t you go home? We’ll email you the tests and you can review them and then you and I can go over them first thing in the morning, before the staff meeting.”

“You don’t mind? I think that might be a good idea actually.”

“No, don’t mind a bit. Stomach off a bit huh? Maybe a little morning sickness?” her friend teased.

“Sadly, no.” Beth smiled at Max, trying her best to not look too miserable by the words. “Okay then, I guess I’ll head out. See you in the morning Max.”

She quickly gathered her purse out of her office and headed for the door, anxious to get home. She wouldn’t feel any better until she fed but at least she could relax a bit more at home.

Relax? She still had too many damn questions about all this to relax.


Mick and Beth met one another in the parking garage and she could tell immediately that something was wrong. She took his hand in the elevator, entwining her fingers with his and watched him surreptitiously from under the cover of her lashes.

Inside the loft Mick headed directly for the hidden fridge and grabbed a carafe of A+ and poured a tall glass. He held it up to her, silently asking if she wanted any and she shook her head no.

He drank the blood straight down and rinsed the glass out before setting it in the dishwasher. He definitely looked conflicted about something and she knew he wanted to hide away in his office but she was sure he’d feel better if he’d just talk.

“Mick, something’s wrong. Come and tell me, okay?”

A brief look akin to panic washed over his face for a moment and then he came and sat down next to her. She had to hide a smile behind her hand because he looked like he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar and knew he’d be in trouble.

What on earth had he done?

“Whatever it is, you can talk to me about it. I won’t get mad, promise,” she entreated.

He opened his mouth to speak and then shut it quickly, as if thinking better of his words. Finally he said, “I did something really stupid, Beth.”

She waited for a moment to see if he’d elaborate but he remained silent. Okay, so she was going to have to pry it out of him. Good grief, now she was starting to get nervous.

“Mick, what did you do?” She picked up his hand and stroked her thumb gently over his knuckles and waited for him to speak.

“I - I went to see Margie.” At the startled look on her face he quickly added, “Not to talk to her, just to see if I could, you know, catch a glimpse of her. And she saw me - I don’t know if she recognized me, I mean how could she? But she saw me looking and followed me out to the parking lot. As I pulled away I could hear her calling out to me. It was stupid Beth; rash and foolish.”

Beth almost laughed; she’d known that he would do it. This was so typically Mick. So endearingly Mick. “Mick, it’s okay. I understand and I’m not at all surprised you did it.”

He looked at her, amazed by her reaction. “You don’t understand Beth, she saw me!”

“Obviously she did but Mick, is it realistic that she knew that it was actually the Mick St. John she knew all those years ago? Mick, you just wanted to make sure she really was happy, it’s okay. Do you think she is? Happy I mean?”

“Yeah, she looked happy. It’s a nice place and I’ll tell you something else; for an 85 year old woman she can move really quickly! Surprised the hell out of me.”

“Well good - good for her Mick! That’s wonderful isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said, his words less than a whisper but her vamp hearing picked them up clearly.

“Mick, you can’t change what happened. It sounds as if she had a good and happy life. I heard Ben talking about his grandmother lots of times and he even had a picture of the two of them together in his office. He’s very devoted to her you know.”

“Yeah, maybe enough that when he knows who I am he’ll hate me even more.”

“Maybe, but as they say - love and hate are just two sides of the same coin. Look, the meeting with Catherine went better than you expected and given time I’m sure Ben will come around too.”

Mick put his arm around her and drew her closer. As she settled into the familiar contours of his body he felt her tremble, ever so slightly. “Baby, are you okay?”

“Yes, it’s actually not quite as bad as last time.”

“You know, we could set up the appointment for earlier in the day probably. Waiting so long makes it really hard on you.”

“We’ll have to ask Heroku about that. It would be better than waiting until the evening of the full moon.”

“Okay. Hey, why don’t we stretch out here on the couch for a bit. I’ll put some music on and we can just relax for awhile.”

“Um, sounds good.” She watched as he sorted through the CD’s and finally loaded several into the player. He came back to the couch and laid down, pulling her down next to him. She threw a leg over his and wrapped her arm around his chest as she felt his arm hold her close. She sighed with pleasure. They didn’t do this often enough.

Sentimental Journey came on and he grinned and then kissed her nose. “You know, this is the first blond I ever fell for. I wanted to runaway and marry her!”

She listened, trying to figure out who was singing it. Her watched her nose scrunch up as she listened, obviously unable to tell who it was and he chuckled, a warm sound that almost tickled her face that was lying on his chest.

“Okay, I give up. Who was she and do I have to hunt her down?”

“Doris Day. This came out in 1944 I think and half the guys in the army would have fought me for her.”

Beth giggled and said, “Well, good then. Don’t have to worry about her.”

“Nope.” His fingers played in the silken gold of her hair, combing through the soft strands gently. She was still trembling slightly. “Beth, are you cold baby?”

“No, not really. Anxious maybe.”

“Are you afraid? I won’t let anything happen you know.”

“I do know that. I sort of feel guilty Mick - I feed fresh and you don’t. Mick, you’ve never really told me why.”

He was quiet, pensive even she thought as his whole body stiffened at her question. He’d told her that his whole life had changed when he rescued her but not much else.

“I - that whole part of my life, I was just so different then Beth. I felt - I don’t know - maybe soulless describes it. I didn’t connect with anyone, not emotionally. Josef was a friend, and we partied hard together, but after everything that happened with Coraline I knew that if I wanted to survive this life I had to change. Feeding fresh was a symbol of that lifestyle and so I vowed to walk away from it all.”

“I guess I don’t understand, Mick. Did you hurt those girls or something? If they were willing to give you their blood I don’t understand what the problem was.”

“They all gave willingly. It was a decadent time, in a world full of drugs and what I now realize was desperation. I was looking for something more; something to anchor me to this life and if I hadn’t rescued you, Beth I wouldn’t be here now, I assure you.”

“You mean you would have…” Her breath caught in her throat as she realized what he meant. A tear slipped down her face, tracking over her nose before sliding onto his shirt.

“Yeah, I would have. It hurt, Beth, it just all hurt so damn much. Partying was a momentary high that usually left me feeling like shit the next day, emotionally speaking. Josef gloried in it, but it was too much for me.”

She smiled, understanding what he was saying. Mick was a pretty conventional guy; he wanted the American dream and he’d missed out on that. Things were about as normal now as they ever would be, but at least they had one another to love.

Moonlight Serenade came on, Glenn Miller at his best. She smiled since the song was the one he had chosen for their first dance together as man and wife. “I really do love this song Mick, such good memories.”

“Yeah?” he asked softly. “Me too.” They both heard the elevator ding and caught the scent of human blood. “Well, I guess this is it. Must be Tracy Billings, you dinner tonight Mrs. St. John.”

She sat up and combed fingers through her hair. “Well, let her in Mr. St. John so I can get this over with.”

“You ready, Beth?” His eyes searched her face but she seemed calm and ready. At her nod he headed to the door and opened it as soon as he heard the knock.

The man who was staring at him was tall and blonde. His all American quarterback good looks were a huge surprise to Mick.

Tracy stuck his hand out and said, “Mr. St. John? I’m Tracy Billings.” He stood looking at Mick and for a moment wondered if he had the wrong address.

“Uh, I’m sorry Tracy. Please come in.” He stepped aside and watched as a very male Tracy Billings walked into the room, his step firm and lively. It had never once occurred to him that Tracy was male, not female. Irritation settled around him because he hadn’t specified that it should be a female.

Beth watched the emotions play over her husband’s face and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So she did the only thing she could, she turned her face away for a moment as she stood up to greet Tracy.

“Tracy, hi! Thank you for coming.” She decided to get right down to business because the longer Mick stewed about it the more irritated he would get. “Are you ready?” she asked.

“Sure.” She pointed to the couch and he sat down in the middle and waiting for her.

“Are you left handed or right?” she inquired.

“Right, but it really doesn’t matter,” he said, watching as the husband sat down directly across from them, a scowl on his face. What the hell?

Beth sat down next to him and took his left arm in her hands, scanning it for the vein. She closed her eyes for a moment and started sending out soothing thoughts to both of them. Sports, maybe they’d be comfortable talking about sports. She focused for a moment and finally Tracy asked Mick if he were a baseball fan.

When Mick said he was Tracy said, “I really wanted the Dodgers in it this year, but then I want them in every year. Still, I like the Phillies and didn’t mind them beating the Rays at all.” The talk centered on the World Series games and a few minutes later Beth pulled her fangs out of his arm, sealing the twin wounds.

Tracy looked at her in amazement; she’d only fed a little bit, a couple of minutes at most. “Mrs. St. John, have you had enough? Do you need the other arm?”

“No, I’m fine Tracy,” she told him with a smile. As soon as her fangs sank into his arm the jittery feeling had left her and she felt so much better.

“Um, okay,” he said, standing up. He looked at his arm, at the two small holes that were so tiny as to be almost nonexistent. She really had a delicate bite - he had hardly even known when she bit him.

Mick came around the coffee table and asked, “Do you need any juice or something before you go Tracy?”

“No sir. I had a protein drink before I came up. I’m fine.”

At the door Mick handed him a hundred dollar bill, his tip. “Oh, Mr. St. John, that’s not necessary.”

“I know, but this went really well. And, I enjoyed out conversation, no matter how short it was.”

“Alright then. Thank you.”

Mick shut the door feeling amazingly good. The young man hadn’t shown the slightest bit of arousal and that made it so much better.

Beth watched him, knowing that she should tell him what she’d done and yet she couldn’t. How do you tell someone that you can literally ‘see’ them wherever they are if you want to look and that you can put suggestions into their mind as well? She hated this and she definitely needed help learning to control it all. If she told him he’d feel like she was spying on him and she couldn’t help it.

She needed the 13; she needed guidance to help with these things. She hoped that the help came soon.

To be continued…

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chapter 23 A Little Cuppa

Thank you Lady LaLa and Lynn, as always for all your hard work!

Chapter 23 A Little Cuppa?

Once they all got to bed, Mick and Beth heard Lani tossing restlessly in Beth’s old bed. Beth had to fight herself to keep from going to her, but she let her be, hoping it was the right decision.

Mick told her what had happened with Josef and she could tell how conflicted Mick felt about it all. He was as worried about Josef as she was about Lani.

“Maybe you should go see him Mick? He might not be okay.”

“He made it clear he didn’t want my company Beth. He’s just so damn impulsive, you know? About some things anyway,” he amended.

“Yes, he is but he loves her so much, just as much as she loves him. They are meant to be together Mick, I know they are.”

“Baby, they will be. They both just have to learn to work these kinds of things out.” He gave a small, if rueful, laugh. “We’ve all had our disagreements.”

“Yeah, but with us I know that nothing will ever truly tear us apart. Right now I’m not feeling so sure about these two. God Mick, it’s been a helluva rotten past few days. First Robbi’s news and now this.”

“But Buzzwire was good, right? We haven’t even had a chance to talk about that.”

“Yes, it was better than good Mick. I’m supposed to be back there, I just know it. I have to laugh about one thing though; Steve and Max think I need to get a spray on tan if I’m going to be on camera much. They said I was too pale!” She giggled as she remembered their reactions.

Mick chuckled along with her and then thought of the meeting with Josef and Catherine, which they hadn’t discussed yet either.

“I met Catherine today, Beth, I met my daughter.”

She rolled over and took his face in her hands and exclaimed, “Oh Mick!” She didn’t know whether it was good or bad but she was happy that he had met her.

“She slapped me, right off. The girl has a hell of an arm,” he said, smiling as he remembered.

“How dare she!” Beth exclaimed, suddenly very angry. “You had no control over what happened in the past, you didn’t choose what happened.” Beth was outraged over it all.

“Hey, it’s probably the least of what I deserved, baby. But afterwards, we talked and then when I thought she had been one of Josef’s freshies I sort of threatened to kill him. I’m not doing so well with Josef today.”

“Oh my god, was she?”

“No, they both made that clear, but I guess one of her friends from college was so she knows all about vamps and is actually a friend of Josef’s - in the past anyway. Beth, we’re going to tell Ben on Wednesday night, dinner at Josef’s. Or at least we were.”

Beth understood that dilemma, would Josef still want to, she wondered. “So I’m going to meet my daughter in law, huh?”

“I wouldn’t bring it up like that,” he said but saw the humor in the remark.

“Yes, well it’s probably for the best. She might not be happy knowing that I do wicked things to her daddy!”

“Probably best to keep those things quiet. Speaking of quiet, I don’t hear her rustling around anymore. I hope she’s asleep.”

“Me too,” she said, her voice catching in her throat as she remembered Lani’s hurt.

Mick leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and then another on her lips. “It’s going to be okay Beth. I promise and you know I always keep my promises to you. It’ll be okay even if I have to stake his ass and talk sense into him.”

Beth smiled at those last words and sincerely hoped it didn’t have to go like that. It was her last thought before repose caught her, claiming her in its chilly arms.


Josef drove like a wild man, streaking down the Pacific Coast Highway as fast as the Ferrari would go before rational thought took over and he slowed down. Getting thrown in jail wouldn’t help anything because as he had told Mick, jail wasn’t the vampire’s friend. Eventually he turned around and drove home only to feel a heavy sense of loneliness sweep over him when he cleared the gates.

She wasn’t here; maybe she’d never be here again. Mick had told him that she still loved him, that she just needed time, but what the hell did Mick know anyway? Hell, he’d stalked Beth for over twenty years and pretty much had to be kicked in the ass to finally get together with her. By HIM for god’s sake. Well, Beth had a strong hand in that, too.

Josef was a man on the edge right now, desperate, reckless. He needed…he needed blood. Fresh from the vein. Yes, he needed blood from one of the lovely ladies.

He stormed into the house, yelling for Franklin. “Where the hell are you?”

“Yes sir, what might I get you?” Something was obviously wrong. Ms. Lani wasn’t with him, he noticed. A lover’s quarrel perhaps?

“Bring Crystal to me, NOW!” he demanded when Franklin was slow to act. “I’ll be in my office.”

As he headed to his office he yanked his tie loose and pulled his jacket off, tossing the Armani carelessly onto the arm of a chair and didn’t even bother to pick it up when it slipped to the floor in a heap. He headed straight to the bar and poured a generous tumbler of scotch, swallowing it down rapidly and refilling it. Crystal walked in as the contents of the second glass followed the first.

“Josef?” she said, staring at him. His wild sherry brown eyes pierced her, taking in her attire and clearly he wasn’t pleased.

She was dressed in a tee shirt and flannel pajama bottoms. It was painful to look at her because it was similar to the outfits that Lani wore around the house. His girls - his girls were supposed to be dressed to please, for whenever he wanted them, not looking like a lonely librarian on a Saturday night.

He took a step towards her and she backed up a bit, alarmed at his mood. Something had happened, but what? Where was Lani? A fight perhaps?

Since Lani had come into his life Josef didn’t feed from the girls directly any longer. Lani had made it clear that she understood the need and wouldn’t mind but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Most of the girls were gone now, only 4 of them still here. They gave their blood freely but not by his bite. The women who had left enjoyed the bite and it wasn’t worth it to them without it. They could donate to Red Cross if it was only about the blood.

Crystal had been here longer than any of the others, almost four years, in fact, and when she graduated in May her time would be over here. She liked Josef. He was kind and generous, and since Lani had come here he seemed so happy. Until now.

He came closer to her and she could tell that he was in a dangerous mood. She was wary of what he might do. Drink her blood? Yes that, but what if it wasn’t enough? He was hurting and she wasn’t sure how he would seek his solace.

His eyes silvered as he reached for her arm, admiring the beautiful ribbons of blue that hid just under her translucent skin. He was fascinated by them, enthralled and his fangs ached to pierce her skin, to taste the essence of her.

Crystal was petrified, her body shaking as she watched him. She’d never seen him like this - his silvered orbs wild in their appearance as he stared at her arm. She closed her eyes to him, not able to watch what happened next.

He bit into her arm, fighting to keep the bite gentle so he wouldn’t hurt her. And when the first soothing rush of blood hit his tongue he knew he couldn’t do it. It wasn’t Lani, it wasn’t her blood. He carefully pulled his fangs out and did his best to seal the puncture marks before he looked at her and saw the terror on her face.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry Crystal. I - I didn’t hurt you did I?”

She was staring at her arm, as the tiny marks that were almost invisible. He’d stopped. He’d stopped and hadn’t hurt her. “I’m okay. Josef, what’s wrong?”

He could hear the concern in her voice, even after he’d come close to hurting her. He closed his eyes so that she couldn’t see the stark pain that was etched in them and quickly turned away, his shoulders slumping.

“I’m fine Crystal. I’m so sorry.”

She laid a hand on his shoulder; it was still trembling a bit but she was trying so hard to help him. “I know Josef. I can listen if you need to talk.”

He shook his head no and stepped away, carrying his pain with him. “You can go back to your quarters now. I’ll be okay.”

“Alright. Goodnight then,” she said, turning and walking out of the room, only to find that Franklin was waiting in the hall for her.

“I’ll take care of him,” he said sadly.

“What happened?” she whispered.

“I don’t know. But I’ll take care of him…”


Lani woke up and as soon as she did yesterday’s events rushed into her mind. Josef…betrayal…pain. She lay in the bed and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. A few minutes after seven, time to get up.

Get up? And do what? Go to work and pretend she was fine? She wasn’t fine. Her stomach hurt from all the tension and she had to make a plan. First thing to do was call Heroku and take a few days off of work.

She’d never called in sick before, ever, and if Heroku didn’t quite believe that she was ill he said nothing. He heard the stress in her voice and knew that something wasn’t right.

“Lani, you’ve been working hard for months. Why don’t you take the week off? Just relax a bit. We’ll see you next Monday.” At her faint words of acquiescence she ended the call and sat on the edge of the bed, her head between her knees praying her queasy stomach would calm down.

Eventually she felt better and took a shower before heading downstairs. Beth was in the kitchen, drinking her breakfast and dressed for work. As she rinsed her glass she said, “Good morning Lani. How are you?”

Lani’s pale face told the story even if he words couldn’t. She just shrugged and tried her best to smile. “Thank you so much for letting me stay here last night.”

“What you doing today? Are you going to work?”

“No, I talked to Heroku and I’m actually taking the rest of the week off. I’m going to the beach house for a couple of days I think. I need…I need a bit of peace and solitude, I guess.”

“Do you want to reschedule Thursday night?” The girls had decided to go out Thursday, a long overdue girl’s night.

“No, it’ll do me good I’m sure.” She gathered up her purse and jacket in preparation for leaving. “I’ll be okay Beth.”

“Yeah, I know. Don’t you want some breakfast?”

“No, you know how I get when I’m upset, can’t eat. I’ll get something later.”

Beth nodded, knowing how true that was. When Lani was upset or stressed it was really hard to get her to eat something, her stomach just tied in knots and she just had to ride it out. “Okay, call me later, okay?”

“I will.” She pulled Beth to her for a hug and added, “Tell Mick thank you for me as well. I didn’t intend to impose on you guys like that.”

“You can tell me yourself,” he said as he walked down the stairs. “But you didn’t impose a bit Lani. You’re always welcome here.”

She nodded and tried to not ask the next question but she had to. “Have you talked to him, Mick?”

“Yeah, I have. He’s…hurting Lani, just like you.”

“Don’t’ let him do anything stupid, Mick. I just have to put all this right in my head, you know?”

“I understand Lani. It might help, though, if you let him explain what happened.”

“Yes, it might and I’m going to do that, soon. I can’t give him up and we have to find a way to understand one another on this. I just need time.”

Mick nodded. “I heard you’re driving out to the beach. Drive safely. You know your shadow will be following you?”

“Yes, the ever faithful Rob, probably sitting out in that garage right now waiting on me. He’s going to be really bored out there is all I can say.” A hint of a smile shadowed her face for a brief moment and then was gone. She opened the door and left as Mick watched her head for the elevators. He could only hope that Josef would give her that time that she needed.

When she stepped off the elevator she immediately spotted Rob, waiting for her. He started the car right away, prepared to stay with her this time no matter what. She stopped and looked at him, biting her lower lip in consternation before heading over to him.

“Hey Rob, I’m sorry about yesterday. He - he wasn’t too hard on you was he?”

“No, he wasn’t.” He looked down at the steering wheel, unsure of what else to say.

“Well, I won’t do it again, I promise. I’m heading to my apartment and then to my beach house, just so you know.” It was meant as a reassurance and a peace offering as well.

Rob smiled at her, grateful that there’d be no more stunt driving today. “Okay Lani. I’ll see you there, I guess.”

She nodded and he watched her head to her car to make the drive home. She looked really pale and a bit green around the gills, as the saying goes. He guessed she was hurting pretty badly. Things like this made him wonder if love was really worth it.

Lani’s stop at the apartment was fairly brief. She needed some warm clothes to take with her because she mostly had shorts and tank tops at the beach but this November weather was chilly and she wanted to be prepared. She knew that she needed to stop at a market to grab some food as well and as she drove she thought of another stop she’d like to make and headed towards the hills. Finally she found the house she was looking for and pulled into the driveway, hoping that she wasn’t imposing.

Noodle was in the yard, but when her car came to a stop he disappeared under the picket fence and came out on the other side of it, running for her barking excitedly. He evidently didn’t get too many visitors. She looked over her shoulder and saw that Rob had pulled up along the side of the road and she waved and pointed towards the house to let him know what she was doing since this wasn’t on her agenda.

Mrs. Carter came to the door to see what Noodle was barking at. Lani was bent down, scratching the floppy-haired dog and he was sighing in pleasure. She stood up when she saw Mrs. Carter watching her, a wide smile on her face.

“Why, Lani my dear. Welcome. Do you have time for a cup of tea?”

“I do and I was hoping you’d offer,” she replied, following Mrs. Carter into the house. The elderly woman was wearing lilac colored slacks and a white shirt adorned with small purple flowers. Lani smiled, remembering how she loved purple.

Instead of the kitchen Mrs. Carter led her into the dining room and it had splashes of purple around the room as well. A wooden table and a window seat made the room feel very cozy.


“Now Lani, you just sit yourself down and let me get us some tea!”

“Oh please, let me help!”

“Nonsense, I was already making the tea my dear.” As if to prove the point the high pitched whistle of the tea kettle could be heard and Mrs. Carter pointed to a chair and said, “Sit down please, dear.”

It only took a few minutes and she returned bearing a tray with cups, the teapot and a small plate with cookies. Lani relaxed and felt at home, comforted in some small way. She helped Mrs. Carter settle the tray and distribute the cups and plates.

After they had their tea poured and cookies on their plates Lani realized she was actually hungry and bit into one of the cookies. It was a snickerdoodle, a cookie that Grace, Beth’s grandmother used to make them.

“Oh, this is delicious. My friend’s grandmother used to make them for us. It brings back some really good memories!”

“Yes, my mother used to make them too; they’re a very old fashioned cookie I think but timeless in their ability to satisfy,” she said with a smile.

“I agree Mrs. Carter.”

“So, Lani, what brings you here today? Is your young man vexing you again?”

“Sadly, yes. I don’t understand men, Mrs. Carter. They do such stupid things sometimes for totally ridiculous reasons.”

Mrs. Carter smiled and her eye took on a very faraway look for a moment. “They do indeed. I know my husband often couldn’t figure out why on earth I was upset about things.” She paused and patted Lani’s hand. “You will work it out, I’m sure. You love him a great deal I think.”

“I do, but I don’t understand him often, though. He’s really hurt me this time. I know that he thought he was doing something good but it wasn’t. It’s so hard to forgive him.”

“Did he harm you Lani?”

Lani looked at her and realized she meant physically hurt her. “Oh no, nothing like that. Something happened in my past and he was trying to, I guess the word is avenge me.”

“The forgiving is easy Lani - it’s the forgetting that is hard. You found out and stopped him?”

“Yes. It was so long ago and is best left in the past.”

“He loves you enough to protect you. That says a lot about him.”

“Yes, it does. He is a good man, an honorable man, Mrs. Carter.”

“Then just love him my dear. Give him your forgiveness and the forgetting will come in time.”

“I miss him. I spent last night with some friends because I knew that he’d want to talk to me and I was so upset that I didn’t even know how to say what I need to say. I still don’t really. But I know that I want to talk to him soon so that we can work this out.”

“That sounds like a fine plan, my dear. You two should get married and have some babies. Babies lift your spirits in ways that we don’t even understand.”

A sad look passed over her face and bit her lower lip to stop the tremble that threatened to break loose. “He can’t have children. But we have friends who do and that will be enough.”

“There are always other ways of having children Lani.”

“Yes and I hope that we’ll consider that. We haven’t even talked about marriage yet.”

“Oh you young folks these days - hop into bed and let the passion carry you away instead of the marriage first.”

Lani gave an embarrassed laugh as a bright red flush swept up her face.

Mrs. Carter laughed out loud and said, “You know Lani, each generation thinks it’s the first to invent sex. It’s an incorrect notion, of course, but we all thought it.”

“I guess that’s true,” Lani said, finishing the tea in her cup. “None of us would be here if that were true.”

“Never be ashamed of the joy you share with your man. Too many women never know that pleasure, I assure you.”

She nodded and wiped her hands and said, “I really must be going. Thank you so much for listening to me.”

Mrs. Carter wrapped her in a warm hug and said, “No, thank you for visiting this lonely old woman.” They walked to the living room where Lani spotted some pictures hanging on the wall that she hadn’t noticed before.

“Is that you?” Lani asked, looking at a beautiful woman, dressed in purple of course.

“Yes, that was me. This was James, my husband. All our friends called him Bug, though. My mom and dad are here, and this was my brother,” Mrs. Carter went on.

Lani scanned each one of the pictures in turn, smiling at the memories the pictures must bring to Mrs. Carter. Until she came to the last one. She stared at it again, her face wore a look of shock.

“This one? Your brother?”

“Yes, wasn’t he handsome? He was killed in 1952. A terrible tragedy.”

To be continued…

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chapter 22 Cuts Like a Knife

Thank you Lady LaLa, beta divine!

Chapter 22 Cuts Like a Knife

Lani made her way to the parking garage and sat down in the Maserati and tried to gather herself. She saw Rob, her faithful shadow, sitting in the darkness in his understated black sedan and thought how boring this job must be.

She needed Beth but this was her first day back at Buzzwire. Lani glanced at her watch and saw that it was a little after three. She didn’t dare sit here much longer because she didn’t know how long Josef’s meeting would go. And as soon as he saw what she’d seen, he’d be after her, which presented another problem: Rob. She had to get away from him.

First things first - call Beth. The phone ran three times and Lani thought she’d get her voice mail but was surprised when Beth answered.

“Hey Lani, what’s going on?”

“I- uh, are you home?”

“Almost, about 10 minutes actually. What’s going on Lani?” Beth heard the distress in Lani’s voice and knew that something had happened.

“I need to talk to you Beth; I can’t go into in now. I’m coming over, if that’s alright?”

“Of course. I’ll see you at the loft. Lani? Drive carefully, please?”

“I will Beth.” She couldn’t stop the small sob that escaped but she quickly hung up the phone and tried to pull herself together. She wouldn’t allow it out now, she had to keep in control until she got to Beth. That’s all, just 20 minutes and she’d be with Beth. But first she had to get out of this parking garage without her shadow.

Two cars were heading down the ramp and Lani started the car and pulled in after them. When they were almost to the gate she hit the accelerator and cut in front of the first car and then pulled out into traffic, almost getting hit by a truck, who slammed on his brakes and honked loudly. She stopped at the stoplight and immediately made a right, which wasn’t the way to Beth’s, but she needed to get out of the area quickly. Two blocks ahead she made another right and then a left, heading towards Santa Monica. At the next light she turned her phone off so that the GPS wouldn’t work and when she thought she was safe she made her way back to Mick and Beth’s loft, staying on side streets and keeping her fingers crossed all the way. Ten minutes later she pulled into the garage at the loft and turned the car off and waited to see if Rob showed up. When it was clear she got out and headed for the elevator, punching the button repeatedly.

When the elevator stopped she stepped out and Beth opened the door for her; Lani walked into her arms and let herself go, the hot tears streaking her face. She had Beth, she had Robbi. She would be okay.


Catherine looked startled after she had slapped Mick; it hadn’t been planned but she felt so angry with him. Her mother had lived through so much pain and humiliation because of him. She couldn’t possibly have held it all back.

She glanced down at her hand that was reddened and stinging, and then quickly stole a glance at his face, the imprint standing out starkly against his pale skin. She turned abruptly and walked around the table, taking a seat, not speaking a word. Josef stood and went to the bar and poured three glasses of scotch and sat them on the table and Cat reached for hers and drank it straight down. Mick was still standing by the door, unsure what to do or say.

“Sit down Mick, have a drink,” Josef prompted and he watched as Mick woodenly moved across the room and sat down, eyes still downcast.

He didn’t blame her, not at all. How could he after what he’d done? He had devastated her mother’s life, her plans and dreams - all because of Coraline. God, sometimes when he thought of her he was so repulsed he couldn’t even imagine what had drawn him to her to begin with, except he knew what it was.

He finally picked up the tumbler of scotch and knocked it back in one swallow and sat the glass down with a resounding thump. The sound the glass made on the mahogany table sounded as loud as a gunshot in the quiet of the room. The only other sound was Catherine’s heartbeat and her breathing, both of which were gradually slowing down. He finally looked up, meeting her eyes and was afraid that he’d find nothing but recrimination in them and instead he thought he saw regret, maybe a bit of sympathy. He wasn’t sure how to handle that, her hatred would be easier to accept.

“Okay, so we have a problem to deal with here. Cat, we haven’t had a chance to get to that yet.”

Josef called her ‘Cat’, a relaxed and informal nickname. Just how the hell did he know her? A low growl emanated from deep within Mick’s chest and he rose to his feet in the blink of an eye and grabbed Josef by the collar, his face a mere breath away from his friend.

“Did you drink from her you bastard? If you’ve ever laid a fang on her you’re dead Josef, I mean it.”

This move wasn’t totally unexpected on Mick’s part; Josef had figured that Mick would react like this. You couldn’t fault his protective traits, that’s for sure, Josef thought. He cleared his throat and said, “No, she has never been a freshie, for me or anyone else so just calm down Mick.”

Mick let him go, still skewering him with a penetrating look, trying to determine if that was the truth. He glanced at Catherine out of the corner of his eye and saw that she watched the whole thing with a bit of shock. Immediately he tucked the vampire away and sat down, looking at Josef for more explanation.

For Catherine’s part, she had at first been alarmed and then amazed by what had just happened. He might not have been around in her life but he was willing to tear into Josef when he thought that his best friend had bitten her? Something to consider, she realized.

Josef looked at his brother from another mother and smiled. “Catherine was a friend of one of my girls back in the early ‘70’s. She was never dinner, I assure you. I did meet them at the old Dark Corners vamp bar, though. Seems her friend Molly had found a way to make tuition money and Cat came along to make sure it was okay.”

Mick looked at Catherine and scowled. “You went to a vampire bar for god’s sake? What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it was dirty old men who were puncturing holes in my friend to get her blood, with needles as opposed to teeth. I was wrong, obviously,” she said dryly.

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing; his daughter had hung out at a vampire bar. His eyes scanned over her again, trying to imagine her in college, what kind of a person she had been. Loyal, apparently, if she had saw fit to follow her friend into that place. His respect for her grew a bit more, he admired loyalty a good deal.

“So, that’s settled then. What do we do about Ben?”

“Ben? What has he got to do with all this?” Catherine asked, confused.

“Oh, well we never really got around to talking about the problem, what with all the violence and threats!” Josef said, wearing that infuriating smirk again.

“Josef, I hated that smirk back when I went to the house and I still hate it. Cut to the chase; what does Benjamin have to do with all this?”

Josef told her of Ben’s discovery and how it had filtered back to Mick and finally him. “So, do we need a trip to the tar pits for Benny boy?” he joked. Mick’s growl and Cat’s scowl made him immediately realize the joke was in poor taste. He cleared his throat again and held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood.”

“We tell him,” Catherine said. “Nothing else to do because I know my son and Carl Davis is right, he won’t back off.”

“Tell him? The whole thing?” Mick asked, suddenly afraid. How would he react?

“Yes, the whole thing Mick. He’s a pretty smart guy and he’ll figure it out if we’re not honest. From what Josef said he knows your fingerprints match the bloody ones. Yes, the truth.”

They agreed on dinner on Wednesday evening at Josef’s house. It seemed so simple, so surreal. Mick had spoken to his daughter. Yes, she’d slapped him and he had to admit she had a packed a hell of a wallop. He unconsciously touched his cheek as he remembered the stinging blow.

Still, she’d talked civilly to him; it was a start. Mick bid Josef good bye and headed home. Josef returned to his office and found that his world had crumbled around him.


It took a full half hour to get the whole story out of Lani, or at least for Beth to make sense of it. She had just got Lani some water to sip when Mick came home, immediately scenting Lani’s tears and pain. It was raw and aching and he looked at Beth in question.

With her back to Lani, Beth explained in vamp tones and Mick’s heart sank. Josef could never just let things go. He knew that sooner or later Josef would show up here and he went into the office, waiting for the inevitable.


Josef left his office in a hurry. “Thor, cancel my other appointments for today, tomorrow’s too. I’m going to be out of the office.”

“Yes Mr. Kostan. I’ll get that done immediately.” He watched as Josef left the office in a flying run, frantically stabbing the elevator ‘down’ button over and over in his irritation.

As soon as the door opened Josef stepped inside and called Rob. It rang a few times and Josef growled with impatience when Rob finally answered the call, dreading what was going to happen. He’d probably be out of a job and maybe his life, but damn, she’d just vanished.

“Yes Mr. Kostan?” he asked hesitantly.

“Where is she?”

“I - I don’t know sir. She just vanished. Cut two cars off in the garage and then pulled straight into traffic; she almost got ran over by a truck. Seriously, she could have been killed. Since then I’ve been hunting for her with no luck. She’s not at her apartment and her phone is off so we can’t trace GPS.”

Josef’s first thought was that Rob was going to be visiting the tar pits but then he realized that Lani was a very determined woman and if she’d decided to get away she would have. He couldn’t possibly have caught her. “It’s okay Rob. I’ll take over. Just go on back to the house.” He heard Rob swallow quickly as he realized that Josef wasn’t coming after him - for now anyway.

She’d head to her beach house, he knew that. She loved the solitude there and he’d find her sitting out on the beach, he knew it. Except that when he got there he couldn’t see any lights on. He hit the switch to pull into the garage and saw that her car wasn’t there either.

She wasn’t here. That only left one place: she was with Beth. Mick knew by now, Josef was sure, and he’d likely be mad, thinking that Josef was a fool.

He was a fool - he admitted it to himself. He’d had Ryder start tracking that stuff over a month ago, after she told him about growing up. Vengeance had screamed through him, the need to take care of her a very strong impulse. Then he’d forgotten all about it as they’d began their relationship. Stupid Kostan, very, very stupid!

Her parents were scum, criminal in their actions towards one another and the hurtful neglect and trauma they had put their daughter through. And yet she had turned out so wonderful, so loving and caring. How did that happen?

He knew how. Beth, and Robbi, Dorothy and Clark. They were the ones that made her into the amazing woman she was today. Now he had to win her back, he had to.


Lani and Beth sat on the couch talking quietly. Lani had the afghan wrapped around her and her feet tucked up underneath her, but she was still chilled. Beth turned the fireplace on and remembered how chilly she had often felt here in the loft, before she was turned that is.

“Hey Lani, why don’t you stay here tonight? I’ll get some nice warm sweats out for you and we’ll order some sushi for dinner, okay?”

Lani nodded mutely, momentarily at a loss for words. Josef’s betrayal hurt so much that she didn’t think she’d ever feel okay again.

“I just don’t understand what he was thinking Beth, it makes no sense. No sense at all.”

Beth thought for a moment, her teeth worrying her lower lip. There was a lot she obviously didn’t know about Lani’s childhood and Josef did. It was a touchy subject and hard to broach because it evidently cut deeply with Lani, she’d never revealed it to anyone but Josef, obviously. Beth couldn’t figure out what Josef did or why if she didn’t understand the base problem.

“Lani, why did Josef do that? What does he know about your parents that would make him feel justified in doing something like that?”

Lani stared at the fireplace for a minute with unblinking eyes, she’d never revealed these things before. Maybe now was the time, though. She took a deep breath and told Beth about her childhood, about the beatings her mother took, all so that she could live the privileged lifestyle she evidently loved, enough to suffer for apparently. It was horrifying - to think that Lani had to endure that as a child was beyond her imagination.

Mick listened from the other room and it all became crystal clear to him why Josef had done it. It was wrong, horribly wrong but he understood it. He was surprised that Josef hadn’t taken Marcus out, sent him to the tar pits as soon as he heard the story. Mick had to fight his own protective instincts to keep from finding the bastard himself.

All those years of watching over Beth and there was Lani, suffering in ways he’d never imagined. If only he’d looked around him a bit more.

“Lani, he loves you so much. I think - well, it’s Josef and he was just trying to take care of you.”

“Take care of me? How, by ruining my parents, leaving them destitute so that I end up having to take care of them? I don’t understand at all.”

“He didn’t think about that Lani, he was just thinking of the woman he loved, of his mate. Boys are stupid sometimes, you know? And Josef? Well, he’s so in love with you that he thinks he was protecting you. I know that, so do you Lani.”

Lani nodded. She did know that but it still hurt her a lot. They might not be much, but they were the only parents she had. And as strong as Josef’s feelings were to avenge her, so were hers as strong to protect them.

“Lani, do you still love him? Is it over, sweetie?”

“NO. God no. Beth, I love him so much, he’s my mate. I - I just can’t see him yet. I have to sort this all out in my head. Does that make any sense?”

“Yes, it does. I understand. It doesn’t seem like it right now, but it will get better Lani. I’m here, I’m here for you always.”

Mick heard the elevator moving upwards and knew without a doubt that it was Josef. He opened his desk drawer, staring at the item he’d pulled out earlier. He hoped he wouldn’t need it, but he stuck it in his pocket anyway and opened the office door, waiting for Josef in the hallway.

Beth heard the elevator too and then the office door open and knew that Mick was in the hallway. Lani was too upset to deal with him right now, maybe for a day or two in fact. Beth knew that Mick would handle Josef so she relaxed, asking Lani if she was ready to change so they could order dinner.

“Would you mind if I had a shower first Beth? I’m so cold.”

“Sure sweetie, come on. Let’s go upstairs and we’ll sort everything out.” Beth listened at the door and heard Mick call out to Josef to stop. She hoped he’d listen because he still had a key. This was a great time to get Lani upstairs.

The elevator doors opened and Josef almost tumbled out in his haste to get to the door. He spotted Mick and said, “I know she’s here Mick. Don’t try to stop me.”

“This is not the time Josef. Give her some time brother. She isn’t up to seeing you tonight.”

“I have to explain,” Josef said, running his hand through his hair, leaving it sticking up in spots. “I have to tell her I love her and that I’m sorry.”

“She knows you love her and I can tell you that she loves you too. But this is not the time. Come on, I’ll walk you downstairs.”

“NO! I came to see her and I’m going to. He leaned against Mick’s door, inhaling deeply. “Lani,” he called out, tears streaking his face.

“She’s in the shower Josef; she’s staying here tonight, with Beth. Let’s go.”

“NO. I’m not leaving until I talk to her Mick.” A hint of fang showed and Mick returned the gesture.

“Don’t make me stake you Josef,” he said, pulling the stake out of his pocket. He was fully turned now and he said again, “Give her time brother, she needs time.”

Josef knew that Mick meant business and his shoulders slumped dejectedly. “Mick, I love her. I can’t leave it like this.”

“She’s going to talk to you again, I heard her tell Beth. It’s not over Josef, just give her some space.” He could only hope that was true. He knew that Lani loved him and he felt sure she wasn’t leaving him for good.

Josef turned and walked to the elevator, punching the button quickly, feeling totally disheartened. Mick stepped in after him when the door slid open and silently they rode downwards.

“Hey, how about I hang out at your place tonight? We’ll drink scotch and play some cards, maybe we can get some of the guys to come over.”

“You really think I want to make nice tonight Mick? My goddamn heart is being shredded right now and you fucking what to play cards?” he screamed. “Is that what you think?”

“Josef, calm down man, you’re not doing yourself any good. I’m only trying to help.”

“If you were trying to help you’d let me see her instead of playing the fucking cupid police.” He pushed Mick who went flying across the garage and hit the wall with a loud thump. “You’re not her protector!”

Mick was on his feet in a flash and in Josef’s face. He’d played nice and now he’d had enough. “Tonight I am Josef. Tonight I’M her protector! Go home Josef, just go home.” He turned and walked to the elevator, his steps slow and measured as he waited to see what Josef would do.

A loud sob echoed through the garage and Josef called out, “I’ll never forgive you for this Mick. NEVER!”

Mick turned and looked at his friend, his best friend for over fifty years. “You will Josef, someday you’ll see that I’m right. This is how it’s going to be tonight. I’ll take good care of her brother, I promise.”

“I can’t lose her Mick, she’s everything to me. She lifts me when life is at its worst and makes it all worthwhile. I can’t lose her.” He grabbed Mick and the sobs shook Mick to the core.

“Time, Josef. Time heals, I promise.”

He turned and walked into the elevator, and as the door whisked shut they muffled the sounds of Josef’s sobs but they couldn’t hide his own.

To be continued…



The banner for What My Heart Desires is done and we will officially kick off the new site on Monday, June 4th.  We'll have the new site up and a chapter of the pregnancy diary which will lead us to the birth of our newest little Richland!  Hope you all can stop in and say 'hi'!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chapter 21 Starting Anew

Thank you Lady LaLa for your time and help! And Lynn, as always, thank you for the picture.

Chapter 21 Starting Anew

Mick watched Beth as she hurriedly drank down a glass of O negative in preparation for leaving the loft for her first day back at Buzzwire. They were shooting promo’s today and so she had spent a good amount of time trying to find the perfect outfit for that and carefully applying her makeup.

She rinsed her glass and stopped to kiss Mick goodbye. He held her tight for a long moment and breathed in her excitement and a bit of nervousness too. “You are going to be great Beth. It’ll be like stepping into a pair of really comfortable shoes, it’ll just feel right. Wait and see,” he told her, stealing another kiss.

“I’m a woman, Mick. There’s no such thing as a comfortable pair of shoes, fashionable ones anyway!” she laughed as she grabbed her bag and her laptop and headed out the door.

Mick walked to the door and as she pushed the button for the elevator it opened almost immediately. “I love you!” he called out as she stepped in.

She grinned back at him and said, “Ditto!” as the doors swept shut. The hum faded as the elevator made it’s trip down and he closed the door of the loft, suddenly feeling very alone.

Josef called yesterday and asked him to come to Kostan Industries at 2:30 today for a meeting. Mick wasn’t sure what it was about, but it must be important. Josef wouldn’t tell him anything about it though and Mick finally surrendered with a shrug. He’d know when he got there.

For now, the greenhouse needed some tending. It was amazing how much had survived when they were in Seattle and for almost the last 4 weeks he’d been pruning and weeding and finding out that a lot of it was salvageable. Beth had eaten peppers and tomatoes galore and there were more vegetables ready to harvest in the next few days. He wouldn’t have imagined any of this would be possible when she was turned but it was real: Beth could eat food.

Mick fought the urge, often in fact, to call Heroku and demand answers. He knew more than he was saying and Mick was positive about that. Why he wasn’t telling them all remained to be seen. Mick trusted Heroku and he knew him to be a good and honorable man but he didn’t trust these thirteen, the Children of the Moon, at all. Why was Heroku covering for them?

Why indeed?



Beth pulled into the Buzzwire parking lot and smiled. It felt like coming home and she couldn’t help the mile wide smile she wore as she entered the doors. Inside it looked very different though, whether Max’s doing or Grant’s, she wasn’t sure. She stood and looked at it and decided that whoever did it knew what they were doing. It wasn’t willy-nilly any longer but seemed to be more cohesively organized into areas and that was a plus when you are trying to stay focused and organized.

The old offices along the far wall had all been torn out and turned into the media/technical center, along with research stations. The offices were now to the left, three of them actually. One for Max, one for her and the other into a small studio type set up, complete with blue screen and projection equipment.

Max saw her walk in and immediately went to her, offering her a hug and a big welcome! “Here we are Beth, ready to go! Come on, let’s get you settled into your office and then we’re having a staff meeting, such as it is.

Secretly, Beth was thankful that she didn’t have to use Mo’s old space; it would have been hard to do, so the new office was great. It was large, with plenty of shelves and space galore. A brand new state of the art computer sat waiting for her and she couldn’t wait to try it out.

“It’s great, Max, incredible in fact!”

“So glad you like it. We did a lot of tearing out and rearranging last week, trying to make sense of all this. I hope you’ll find it better space to work in. So far the rest of the staff really like it.”

“I do, it makes so much sense! I’m anxious to see everyone. Shall we get to that staff meeting?”

“We tore out that huge store room and kitchen combo and made a staff war room and a smaller kitchen to go with it. This way we can have meetings daily to see what everyone is working on.”

“Great idea Max! Before, we just sort of all did our own thing, unless Mo gave us an assignment. And when she did it was usually because she was pissed at us.” Beth remembered back to the fashion show she was assigned to after she failed to get the meeting of the hooker and her parents on tape. That had really angered Mo and it had been days until she’d speak to Beth again, until Beth had came up with the BC story.

When she walked in she saw many familiar faces and she greeted them happily and smiled as she met the new ones. Finally Steve stepped out of the corner and hugged her tightly.

“Damn Turner, you look great; married life agrees with you. But don’t you guys ever go outside? You’re way too pale. Gonna take a lot of make up or the camera is going to wash you out!”

Beth grinned and shrugged. “Newlyweds! What can I say?”

Amid the laughter Max stepped up to the front of the room and called all their attention. She discussed the new mission and direction of Buzzwire and talked about different types of assignment and got everyone settled into their roles. Today Beth, Christine and Kelsey were going to work on a few promos so that Sam could get them up and running. They had three weeks and counting until Buzzwire hit the net running and the ripple of excitement in the room was tangible for them all. Finally Max dismissed them all and they scattered quickly, ready to begin work.

Beth and Max went over some ideas for a couple of promos and Beth was ready to shoot her first one. Max turned her head side to side and said, “Steve is right, you are pale, Beth. If you’re going to be on air much you’re going to have to get a spray tan or get outside more.” She smiled and added, “God, I remember those days! Sometimes Mark and I would stay in bed all day and…well, you know!”

“Yeah, I know. Nice, huh?” she laughed.

They headed into the small makeup booth and sorted through the cosmetics that were there. “We’re going to have to go with a bronzer I guess because we can’t use a darker foundation. Hey Steve, what kind of lighting can you use to brighten her skin?”

“Hey, maybe I shouldn’t be doing the promo’s Max? The others can do them as easily as me.”

“They are doing some but I want at least one with you Beth - you were the face of Buzzwire for a while, when it was still good and I want the public to see that the face they loved is back.”

They finally had her makeup done to their liking and they went into the studio where Steve and Kenny were setting up the lighting. After a couple of tests they were happy with it all and Beth was ready for her first run through.

After a couple of practice runs they were ready to roll and Beth plastered a huge smile on and started to speak.

“Hey, have you heard? Buzzwire is back and better than ever! Catch the Buzz! Hard-hitting, reliable news and information, streaming live 24/7. Buzzwire brings it all to you right on your desktop! The Buzz is back and it’s good!”

“Perfect,” Max said, after only 2 takes. “It’s great Beth, short and to the point. We’ll start running it on the message board right away. You are a pro, as always!”

It felt good she decided. Not necessarily being in front of the camera, but having a purpose again. Yes, it definitely felt good!


“Catherine, thank you for coming,” Josef said, shaking her hand. She looked beautiful, but then she’d always been beautiful. Her suit was Dior and her shoes Prada; she was dressed exquisitely. The rust colored suit was perfect for autumn and made the copper highlights in her hair stand out beautifully.

The years had been kind to her, or maybe she just had a good surgeon, who knew. He remembered the first time he’d ever laid eyes on her and it seemed as if she’d changed little.

Catherine thought the same thing about Josef. She knew he wouldn’t age as a vampire but damn, did he have to still look so young and carefree? It was like she was right there, back to where it all began again.


Catherine and Molly approached the dark club quickly, both of them looking around them constantly trying to discern what was in the shadows.

“Are you sure this is the place Molls?”

“Yes, I’ve been here before. Look, I know you don’t want to be here, but I’m telling you, this is the easiest money ever and I’ve got tuition coming up in a couple of months. I can make five hundred bucks here tonight, easily.”

“By letting some Dracula wannabe drink your blood? Really Molls, this is just creepy and it’s dangerous as hell. Look at this place!”

“Wait until you get inside Cat, it’s fantastic.” They approached the doorman who let them in with a slight bow to them. “Now, just follow me. You don’t have to say or do anything!”

Catherine was only coming here because she was worried about Molly. Every month or so she came here and let some creep puncture her arm and take her blood. She had to admit that it paid well, but Cat just couldn’t let her go alone. This place had to be teaming with weirdos.

Inside the club it was luxurious, opulent even. Rich dark woods, with gray suede seating and low-key recessed lighting, it looked like something out of a magazine. They found a table on the right side and when the waitress came they both ordered a Tequila Sunrise. No one bothered to check their ID and Cat found that sort of alarming. Soft music played in the background, something by the Eagles she thought and decided it was fitting considering what they were drinking.

Several men focused their attention on the girls and Cat started to feel very uncomfortable. “Moll, I think we should leave. It’s creepy in here.”

A man sitting about ten feet away smiled as he heard her remark; she had no idea how true that statement was.

Cat noticed him immediately. He was young and very good looking with longish brown hair that was styled well and feathered back from his face. He was dressed in a business suit too, which stood out in this room full of jeans and open necked shirts.

Another man approached them and bowed slightly. He had dark, penetrating eyes that were almost black, at least in this light. Cat took another taste of her drink, sipping it nervously because this guy definitely gave her chills. Luckily he only seemed to have eyes for Molly. Or maybe not a good thing, judging by Molls reaction.

“Well, welcome back young one. Are you selling tonight?”

Molly felt faint. She’d met him here before, the first time she came and he’d hurt her when he drank her blood. Even in the dim light Cat could see that her friend had paled and she said, “Hey Molls, I don’t feel so well. I think we need to leave.” She started to rise and the man looked at her and growled. My god, he growled! She couldn’t believe it!

“Sorry mister, but we’re leaving!” she said and when she stood up he actually pushed her back into her seat. Molly sat there speechless, afraid to say anything. Her heart was pounding furiously and she thought for a moment she might faint.

The good looking man saw and heard it all and before Cat even saw him move he was at their table, pushing the scary man aside. “I’ve already spoken for the young lady Mario. Sorry about that!”

The man called Mario growled and Cat got a good look at his fangs and his eyes that now glowed silver. She was amazed at how authentic his costume was. Their rescuer stood his ground, baring his own fangs and for a half a minute Cat was afraid that there was going to be a fight but Mario finally backed off and skulked across the room to nurse a drink of some kind.

“I’m sorry he frightened you little one. You know him?” their hero asked.

“Yes, the first time I was here, he hurt me.”

“Yet you came back?”

“I need the money. I have tuition due.”

“And you?” he asked, looking at Catherine.

“I’m just along for the ride, nothing else, Batman.”

He was amused at her remark and nodded and opened his wallet, pulling out a thousand dollars and laid it on the table. “May I?” he asked softly.

Molly nodded and he sat down and Cat almost fainted when she saw his fangs, real ones sink into Moll’s arm. Almost as soon as he started drinking her blood she moaned softly and Cat could tell it wasn’t because he was hurting her.

Vampires? Real vampires? Catherine looked around her at the other people in the club and saw this same scenario being played out. Vampires. She couldn’t believe it.

When the man was done Molly was shaking and sighing. He placed a sweet kiss on her arm and said, “My name is Josef Kostan.” He handed her his business card and said, “Call me tomorrow, I have a job for you to help you through college.”

And he did; he’d hired her to be one of his freshies and she lived at his house in the hills. Occasionally Cat would visit her there and each time she was amazed at everything he did for his girls. By the time they both graduated Cat had come to respect and even like Josef a great deal.

“Let’s go to my conference room, shall we? Would you care for some coffee or another beverage?”

At her negative shake of her well-coifed head he told Thor, “Mick will be joining us soon. Send him straight in please.”

Mick? The name was certainly not a favorite of hers but this Mick couldn’t have anything to do with all that.

“I have a tale to tell you Catherine. Please have a seat,” he said as they entered the room. “We have a problem.”

Her left eyebrow rose inquisitively as she sat down in a chair and crossed her long legs. “We? Do tell Josef.”

He smiled at her, that engaging smile he had when he wanted something and that immediately put her on edge. He was a master at control, allure he’d called it so many years ago and she’d seen enough to understand how powerful it could be. She quickly lowered her eyes; if he was trying to get to her she wouldn’t give him the chance.

“Well?” she asked expectantly, rising from the chair and standing to look out the window.

Josef smiled, fully aware of what she was doing and that was fine. If he really wanted to allure her she couldn’t stop him, but he didn’t tell her that. “I have recently had some information that will affect you and I thought you should know it.” He watched as she turned to face him, curiosity clearly written on her face so he continued. “You know from the past that allure is a very powerful type of domination, Cat. In 1952, Mick St. John was going to marry your mother. They were in love, very much, I know.”

“Yes and the bastard ran away with someone else and got himself killed. Can’t say I mourn him particularly, even if he was my father.”

“Yes, well that’s partly true. He did die the night he married Coraline Duvall, but he rose again. She was a vampire and she turned him on their wedding night.”

She started to open her mouth to protest, to tell him she didn’t give a rat’s ass what had happened to him. The a shard of panic struck and she was suddenly afraid of what he would say next.

“She allured him, Cat, and trust me, Coraline is very gifted in control measures. He didn’t have a chance against her. He had no clue that she was a vampire, none at all. I’d met him at their engagement party and told Coraline that he’d never make a good vampire. I have to say that I was somewhat wrong about that, but one thing I can say is that without a doubt he is a good man, a very good man who struggles with this every day.”

“He’s alive? He’s the Mick that is coming here?” Her heart started pounding and she turned to look out the window again, trying to calm herself.

Just then the door opened and Mick walked into the room. “Josef, what the he…” He stopped short as he saw Catherine spin around to look at him, accusation in her eyes. Her eyes, his eyes actually. A little more to the brown side of hazel as opposed to the green of his, but still his eyes. Her nose and mouth were Margie’s though and he knew that if he ever got to see her smile it’d be Margie’s smile too.

He closed the door and took a step into the room, glancing at Josef who sat at the head of the conference table looking like the cat who swallowed the canary, that silly smirk of his shining brightly.

Cat looked at him, this man who was her father, biologically speaking, because Herbert McFarland had been the best dad anyone could ever want. This man in front of her was a phantom, rising from the dead to stand before her looking suddenly sad and afraid. She walked up to him, standing mere inches away from him, raking him from head to toe with her gaze.

She was tall, Mick thought, much taller than her mother so she took after him in that as well. The blazing look in her eyes was hard to face, though, and for a moment his gaze shifted away from her, ashamed of himself, ashamed of the past - his past.

Cat reached out and slapped him, hard. The stinging blow across his face almost knocked him off balance because it was so unexpected.

“That was for my mother!”


Lani walked to Josef’s office, stopping to speak with Thor for a moment. “Is he in there?” she asked. His was the last computer software install she needed to do. In fact, it was her last task here at Kostan Industries. Everyone had been trained and the new system was up and running smoothly.

“He’s in a meeting Ms. Parker. May I help you?”

“No, I just need to get the software installed on his computer, shouldn’t take but a few minutes.”

“Okay. Go ahead. This new set up is great by the way. Sesumi really knows its stuff.”

“Yes they do! And even though I won’t be here any longer Audrey is perfectly qualified to deal with any issues. Much better than me, that’s for sure,” she laughed as she opened the door to the office.

She sat down at the desk and popped the disk in and let it run, completing the install and then was prompted to close the computer down and reboot so the software could set up. She began closing the programs, one by one and when she went to close the email client an email was showing in the ‘view’ pane. She started to close it and then caught her father’s name on it: Marcus Parker.

Her eyes were pulled to it, even though it had nothing to do with her. She read in horror as Ryder outlined where the Parker’s assets were and how they were divided. Ryder then stated what the best plan of attack would be in order to decimate the Parker’s financially.

She reread the email, trying to catch her breath. She thought she might faint because her head was pounding so furiously. How dare he? What gave him the idea that this would be right?

She stood up abruptly and leaned her hands on the desk to steady herself. She took a few deep breaths and walked to the door, stopping to talk to Thor for a moment.

“I’ve done the install Thor. Tell Josef he’ll need to shut the system down and reboot to set up the new software.”

Thor was curious why she hadn’t done that in the first place. “I’d be happy to do that Ms. Parker.”

No, uh, no Thor. Mr. Kostan needs to do it. I’m leaving now.”

Without a backwards glance she headed to the temporary office she had been working out of and grabbed her purse and her jacket. Thor watched her walk quickly to the elevators and push the button, her foot tapping quickly as she waited for the car to get there. As she stepped inside and the door closed Thor frowned, wondering what in the world happened. Finally curiosity got the better of him and he went in and took a look at the computer.

His lips pursed together in a silent whistle as he read what was on the computer screen. He thought sadly of Ms. Parker, whom he liked a lot. He’d bet his next substantial paycheck that they wouldn’t see her again.

To be continued…

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chapter 20 Sealed with a Kiss

Thank you Lynn for the wonderful picture! You help to bring the story to life. Also, thank you Lady LaLa!

Chapter 20 Sealed With a Kiss

Neither Cami or Carl got much sleep that night; they were both very much aware of the other person with only 15 feet and a very thin wall separating them. Cami heard him toss and turn and even get up a couple of times and wander around his room. He stood at one point in front of the wall and she crossed her fingers, hoping that he would open it.

He didn’t. She tried not to be disappointed. She understood that he didn’t want their first time to be here where others could hear them. She wondered why he was so worried about that though. She thought back to her relations with Edmund and they were very quiet, nothing said, only a bit of heavy breathing on his part. At the time she wondered what all the fuss was about. Didn’t seem like there was much to the physical act of love as far as she could tell.

She didn’t really remember how it had felt, not really. It had hurt the first time, that she remembered, and the blood too, but her mother had told her to expect that. From then on there really wasn’t anything memorable. Edmund would kiss her and tell her it was okay for her to find pleasure in the act too and she figured that since it hadn’t hurt any more that it was as good as it could get.

Orgasms? She heard people talking about them all the time but you can’t really miss what you never had she thought. Listening to people talk about sex, whether in person or on television, it was all the same; the pleasure that people shared in the sex act. Orgasms, multiple orgasms, whatever that meant. Everybody could have ‘em, they said, and it was okay to give them to yourself too.

Honestly, this modern century seemed really self-absorbed, particularly when it came to their bodies and sex. She didn’t know what to expect or think about it all.

She did know one thing - when Carl held her and kissed her she felt as if she would swoon from the pleasant feelings that enveloped her and it just seemed like there had to be more to it than that. She really hoped that Carl had read and heard a lot about how to make it happen, that mystical thing called an orgasm.

Had Carl known her thoughts he wouldn’t have laid in his bed alone and to hell with anyone else in the house for that matter. All he knew was he needed to touch her, taste her and melt into her body. Nothing but that would do, he thought, as he shifted positions once again but the damned hard on wouldn’t go away. He tried thinking of every grisly murder case he’d worked, anything to get his mind off of Cami and only ended up feeling disgusted with himself because it didn’t work.

You are one sick puppy Davis. Just go to sleep!


As was their habit the boys woke Logan up Saturday morning by jumping up on his chest. They never pounced on Audey; he was glad of that but without fail they scared the crap out of him. Would he ever get used to it, he wondered.

He opened one eye when he felt warm and smelly kitty breath in his face. Travis was rubbing his cheek against Logan’s bristly chin and Plato was watching it.

“Good morning boys,” he mumbled. “Get down now and I’ll get you some breakfast, okay?” When neither cat moved he added, “I can’t get you food if you don’t move.” The staring contest began.

Audrey opened her eyes and saw what she usually saw in the mornings; the boys demanding breakfast from Logan and as usual they weren’t helping. They ignored him, whether on purpose or not, she couldn’t tell.

“Alright you two, get down NOW!” she said with a wave of her hand. Both cats looked at her and immediately jumped down and sat on the floor, waiting for Logan to get out of bed. “Honestly, Logan, you have to be firm with them. If you don’t make them get down they won’t. And I thought we closed the bedroom door last night?”

He frowned as he looked at it, thinking the same thing. “I guess we didn’t. Unless of course one of our kids is a genius and figured out how to turn the door knob!” he laughed. Travis watched for a moment, looking from Logan to the door and then started licking his paw and washing his face.

“Yes, sure they did, Logan,” Audrey laughed, sliding out of the bed. “Feed the boys and then join me in the shower, okay?” she asked with a wink.

“S-sure,” he stammered. He knew what that meant, Audrey wanted some sweet Logan lovin’ and he wouldn’t argue with that!

An hour later the boys had ate and headed outside for their morning nap in the sunshine and Audrey and Logan lay in the bed, both of them wearing silly grins as they tried to catch their breath.

“Hey Audey, let’s do something special tonight? Okay?”

“Sure. What do you want to do?”

He wasn’t prepared for that question. He might be a genius at computers but at real life he still struggled. Then an idea occurred to him, a great one he thought. “How about we go to the Santa Monica Pier, like we did before? That was a wonderful night,” he told her, as silly grin on his face as he remembered the kisses they’d shared on the beach.

“Oh, Logan, I love that idea!! Yes, let’s do that! In the meantime, it’s Saturday, what shall we do with the day?”

“I don’t know, so far it’s started off pretty good!” he laughed.

“You think so do you?” she giggled, straddling him and then collapsing into laughter as he started to tickle her. They broke apart quickly with four furry feet landed on the bed with a thump.

“Seriously Audey, a good strong lock on the bedroom door at the new house, okay?”

Her kiss was the best answer he got.


In the early afternoon Carl and Cami walked hand-in-hand through the gardens at Heroku’s home, enjoying the peaceful serenity of the grounds. Here and there they heard fountains running, the tinkling sounds of water sounding like gentle music to the couple. Finally they came to a stone bench and they sat down, smiling at one another before Carl captured her lips for a long awaited kiss.

“It went well this morning?”

“Yes. Heroku said I did well. It - it was disturbing though, I must admit.”

“Why, Cami?”

“All these years, Carl, I’ve drank my blood out of a glass. Strangely enough, it seemed normal to me. To bite a person to get it didn’t seem right. Sounds silly, doesn’t it?”

“You’re a vampire, Cami. I’d think it was in your nature to bite.”

“You’d think, but no, it wasn’t. I have to admit that there was a certain hedonistic thrill to it though. I wouldn’t want to do it often.”

“You’re afraid you could come to like it?”

Her head tilted down and her toe scuffed at the rock deck below them. “I…maybe. I know I’m a vampire but that seems so- so base, you know?”

Carl smiled, hoping that she wouldn’t catch it. She was a vampire and so would he be eventually. He didn’t know how she felt really but he would someday. Right now there was no frame of reference.

“Cami, I can’t pretend to truly understand that yet, but someday I will. Just know that I love you and accept you regardless, okay?”

“Yes, I know that. Carl, how is your family going to accept this?”

He stared ahead for a moment, his eyes focusing on some long distant thing or place that she didn’t understand. They’d never really talked about his family but she assumed he must have one.

“No one left but a couple of cousins now and I’m not really close to them. All my close family are dead,” he told her and his voice cracked for a moment as he spoke.

She wished she’d never asked him because whatever the story was it hurt him. “I’m sorry Carl, I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No, it’s okay. I’ve been meaning to tell you we just, well the moment never seemed right. Now is a good time; it’s time to let it all go.”

She nodded and sat motionless, listening to his steady breathing as he organized his thoughts. “My dad was a Viet Nam vet, fought in the Tet Offensive and survived, something that was a miracle in itself. Over 4,000 Americans and their Allies were killed and almost 20,000 wounded, my dad being one of them, and that’s not even including the South Vietnamese losses. It was devastating and yet the American Politicos said it was a turning point for us, that victory was assured because of it all. Yeah, like that happened,” he said, looking at Cami for a moment.

She reached out and touched his face for a moment and smiled, encouraging him to talk. He sighed and continued, wanting to get it all out. “My dad, when he came home was a changed man my mom always said. I wasn’t born then so I don’t really know. My brother Theodore, Teddy, was born in 1970, almost a year after dad got home. I wasn’t born until 1978. Teddy idolized my dad, I remember that, but not much else because my dad took his own life in 1982; I barely remember him. But Teddy always wanted to be just like dad and vowed to join the army after he graduated. Did too, in 1988 and all was well until the Gulf War. Teddy was sent to Kuwait in March of 1990. Two weeks later he and his platoon crossed over to Iraq and their caravan was attacked by Scud missiles; they were all killed.”

She saw a tear slip down his face and she tenderly brushed it away. Carl grabbed her hand and kissed it and held on tightly. “Mom was never right after that. I was almost 14 by then and while I didn’t understand a lot when my dad died, I did when Teddy was killed. Mom and I moved into my grandmother’s house because mom could no longer cope with life. She was never the same after that. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was 16 and died right before I started college. I didn’t know it when Teddy died but he left his government insurance policy to mom to use to send me to college, and she did. When she died that and her money was what enabled me to go to school for 4 years and not have to try to work all the way through it. In my sophomore year my grandma died. I’d gone down to San Diego for the weekend to see her and she seemed just fine. The next morning I got up saw her out on the porch, sitting in her rocking chair. It was her favorite thing to do, morning and evening everyone could always find Ms. Lillie out on the porch, rocking away. Except that morning she wasn’t rocking. By the time I found her she’d been dead about an hour. Died peacefully, sitting there in the cool morning air. I know that’s exactly what she wanted.”

“So much death, Carl. I’m so sorry.” It occurred to her that maybe he wanted to become a vampire to escape all that himself, but she knew that wasn’t really the reason. He couldn’t change his past and living forever wouldn’t change it either.

“It’s just how life is, Cami. People die, all the time. It hurts, it hurts so damn bad but we can’t change it; we have to find a way to go on, to become stronger and learn our lessons on how to be better people.”

“Or vampires?”

“Maybe, possibly I guess. There’s good and bad of both. Each of us chooses our own course in life; so far I’ve chosen to fight the bad guys, to make the world a bit safer. Now I’m changing my destiny; by being a vampire I’ll not only get to share forever with you, but I’ll have other abilities to fight the bad guys with, Cami.”

“That’s really important to you isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. The bad guys are getting ahead and it has to stop. I’m going to be one bad ass vampire that is going to help.”

The only answer she had for him was a loving kiss. It was enough.


When the housekeeper had told Catherine that Josef Kostan was on the line she was a bit surprised. No, correction, make it shocked. They’d seen one another off and on during the years at various social events, the last time at the dedication of the sports complex at her alma mater, Hearst College. It had been amazing to see him, like the 30 odd years had slipped away. He didn’t look a bit different except back in 1972 his hair had been longer. Still the same boyish good looks and charm though.

“Josef, this is a surprise,” she said and heard him chuckle on the other end of the line. “I don’t know whether to be delighted or afraid.”

The chuckle grew a bit louder and he said, “Which would make you happier?”

“Oh, I’m not touching that one! So, why are you calling me?”

“I need to have a meeting with you Catherine; it’s important and it’s not something that we can discuss over the phone.”

Her eyebrows rose in alarm. “Are you in need of my legal services Josef?” She was positive he had a crack team of lawyers at his finger tips.

“No, but this is personal. What’s your schedule like on Monday? Any time you are available, I’ll make it work.”

Now she was afraid and her heartbeat started beating wildly. If she would have thought about it she would have remembered that he could hear it but she didn’t. “Hold on for a moment, let me check my PDA.” She was quiet for a few minutes and he could hear the stylus moving on the screen. “How about 2:00 Josef; will that work?”

“Yes, 2:00 pm my office, in the conference room. I’ll see you there Catherine.”

She heard the line go dead and felt shaken to the core. She didn’t know what was going on and now she’d have to wait 2 days to find out. Whatever was wrong she hoped that it didn’t bring trouble to her door.



Logan and Audrey parked and made their way to the pier which was pretty quiet on this Saturday evening in late October. It was a cool night which most likely accounted for the lack of crowds but it was okay, Audrey was bundled up in a warm denim jacket and he was wearing a sports coat of all things. It made her smile to see him, fussing over his hair at the house as they got ready to go.

The boys had looked at them with interest as they got ready to leave and Logan was sure that Travis was pissed by the look on his cute little feline face. “Tough luck, buddy,” Logan said in vamp tones and Travis’ ears laid back. He knew exactly what Logan had said.

Logan threaded his fingers through Audrey’s as they strolled along the pier, wandering in and out of the arcades and shops. His left hand kept patting his jacket pocket to make sure the ring was still securely there, something he was worried about. Better to worry about the ring than what he was going to do.

Would she say yes? She would, wouldn’t she?

What if she didn’t?

He bought her a hot dog and a coke for dinner and they stood at the railing overlooking the waves as they made the race for the shoreline. There was a light breeze which kicked up the waves a bit, making them look foamy and luminous in the moonlight.

“You know what?” she asked, smiling at him as she threw her trash into a receptacle. “I think I’d like some cotton candy!”

“One cotton candy for the lady, coming up! Pink or purple?”

“Pink I think,” she said with a laugh at the silly rhyme. She watched him pay for the treat and they found an empty bench and sat down so she could eat the spun sugar confection.

A huge smile lit up her face at the first bite and she giggled. “It doesn’t matter how old I get, I still love this stuff.”

“Um, I remember it too.” He pulled a small bit of it off the paper cone and popped it into his mouth. He felt it quickly dissolve on his tongue but couldn’t taste it at all.

“Can’t taste it, huh?”

“Nope, not even the sweetness. No big deal. O positive tastes better than cotton candy any ole day,” he joked.

She laughed and poked him in the ribs. “I guess I’ll find out someday, huh?”

His eyes opened wide, in surprise. He’d always supposed that she would be turned someday but this was the first actual mention of it. “I- uh, yeah, I guess,” he said softly.

Audrey could see how uncomfortable he was and let it pass for now. Right now they were taking steps to build a life together and that was enough for her. “Hey, I’m going to restroom and wash up and then how about taking me for a spin on the Ferris wheel?”

His eyes brightened; this was exactly what he wanted, this was his moment. “Okay, I’ll go and buy our tickets Audey. See you there!”

She stepped into the restroom and he hurried over the guy running the Ferris wheel and bought the tickets. “Hey, I’m gonna ask my girl to marry me up there. Can you give us a couple of minutes topside?”

The guy looked at the young man with a wide grin. It wasn’t exactly an unique place to propose and he’d seen it a few times over his 20 years of running the big wheel, but he had a kind heart and said, “Sure. Slow night, shouldn’t be a problem. And I think your young lady is heading this way. She sure is a pretty one. Congratulations!”

“Hi,” she said as she walked up the steps to the platform.

The man fastened them into the car and set the lock in place before stepping back and giving the lever a gentle push. It stopped soon after to let someone off and to take on two new passengers but the four of them were the only riders. The cars made a couple of rotations and as the swept past the operator the second time he gave Logan a wink.

Their car stopped up top and they heard him call out, “Just a little problem here folks; I’ll get you moving in a minute or so!”

The other couple were locked in an embrace and likely didn’t even know they were stopped. Audrey looked around her, at the lights below and the ocean with the moon hanging over it. She sighed and leaned against Logan, loving being next to him.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” she asked.

“Yes, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

She blushed as she realized he was referring to her. Her small face dipped downwards, a bit embarrassed. She wasn’t beautiful, she knew that but a part of her thrilled to the knowledge that he thought so. Logan, her love.

“Audey, I love you so much. I never thought I’d find someone like you. Someone who would see me for who I am and still love me. I’m such a geek, a nerd, and yet here you are paying no attention to that.”

“Logan, I’m kinda the same way, you know. My past has isolated me in many ways and I never thought I’d find someone to love me and understand me as well. I guess we’re both lucky.”

“You are my world Audey, my life. I can’t imagine forever without you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the velvet covered box and opened it, showing her the ring.

Her eyes sparkled with delight when she saw the ring and she knew that right now was the moment she had waited for; it seemed like forever to her.

“Audey, will you marry me? Be my mate forever?”

Tears started running down her face and Logan had a moment of panic. She hated the ring, she hated him. He was a fool.

“Yes, Logan. YES!” she exclaimed loudly and threw her arms around him, kissing him crazily. Her hand was shaking badly while he put the ring on her finger. It looked beautiful and he kissed it and then her palm gently, rejoicing in the happiest moment of his life.

The operator watched the young couple up top. Well, the young man had done well apparently. He pulled the lever and the wheel started moving again. He let it circle a few extra times and he couldn’t hold back a smile every time they passed him; he felt a little bit like cupid tonight.

It was a good feeling!

To be continued…