Thank you Lynn for the wonderful picture! You help to bring the story to life. Also, thank you Lady LaLa, beta extraordinaire and friend!
Chapter 18 The Big Picture
tidied up the living room one more time, fluffing the throw pillows and
then flattening them in turn. Mick watched from the kitchen as he
sipped a glass of fresh A+. She was nervous because Heroku had
requested to speak with her and while Mick could understand her nervous
energy, he had still urged her to just relax. Lot of good it did he
thought as she was rearranging the bowl of green apples.
knock on the door caused her to jump and then push a stray strand of
hair behind her ear. Mick set the empty glass into the sink and ran a
bit of water in it and went to stand with her as she looked at the
viewer to see if it was Heroku.
“It’s going to be fine baby, just relax.”
gave him a faint nod and opened the door, greeting Heroku with a
nervous nod and stepping aside so that he could enter the loft.
stepped in and smiled warmly at the young couple. Beth was very
curious by her scent but she was also a bit afraid and he wondered why?
He supposed it was the situation in general and dismissed it.
was so much he would like to tell her, but he was not free to do so.
He would like to tell her that the thirteen never die, that they have
amazing psychic abilities and that her life, and that of Mick’s, would
be very different than what they had thought perhaps. Instead, he bowed
to her and looked around their home.
The loft where they lived
was a sleek and modern space; it fit Mick’s personality well but he
somehow didn’t see this as being Beth’s style at all. However, looks
could be deceiving he knew.
“Please Heroku, come in and have a seat,” Beth offered. “Would you care for a drink?”
“Thank you Beth, I do not require anything to drink but I will sit down. You are both well?”
- yes, fine. We’re uh, fine.” She followed Heroku into the living room
and sat down on the couch after he had taken a seat across from it.
do you need to speak with Beth privately?” Mick asked since Heroku was
very formal today and while he didn’t want to leave her he felt he had
“No, please Mick, you are most welcome to be here as well.”
Mick said, sitting beside Beth on the couch and taking her hand in his.
Her hand was a bit clammy and he could feel it trembling slightly and
gave it a reassuring squeeze.
Heroku leaned back in the chair,
crossing his legs in an elegant and fluid movement, seemingly very
relaxed. Beth admired that economy of motion, vampire gracefulness at
its best. She wondered if she’d ever feel like she could move like
“Beth, I have spoken with someone from the thirteen. They
will be sending someone eventually to speak with you and to take a
“The thirteen?” she asked, curious.
themselves they are known as the thirteen instead of the Children of
the Moon. There are thirteen of them, the original thirteen.”
“But you said that you aren’t one of them. Why do you refer to them as the thirteen?”
“Habit I suppose. As a guardian I am indulged in certain ways.”
brain was clicking a mile a minute and Mick smiled as he watched her.
No telling what she might ask him he thought as he sat back with a
“So what can you tell me about them? The thirteen I mean.”
very little I’m afraid. They tell their own stories and each story is
unique and different. They are for the most part secluded, although not
all of them live that way. They are varied in their interests, skills
“Such as?” Beth prompted.
“One is a
historian, one a lawyer, one a physician. They have a peacekeeper, an
archivist, and a mother hen. Among others. They meet four times a year
on the solstices and equinoxes. This year it will be December 21.
They will discuss my petition for examination of your attributes at that
“You have to petition these people?” she scoffed. “I’m
not sure I want to be involved with them. It sounds like some sort of
cult to me.”
Heroku smiled inwardly and chose his words
carefully. “In some ways they are that Beth, although not in the usual
way as painted by society. They are the original vampires but I cannot
say more about that. They are a very eclectic society and have rules
that they live by, but not in any rigid way. Each of them lives their
own life, mostly separate from the others. But they are very cohesive
in their thoughts and I must ask you to indulge me in this because they
have much they could teach you. Your life will be enhanced by their
presence in it.”
“So I just put my life on hold and sit back and
wait for another what,” she mentally noted the date, “Another 6 weeks
roughly? What am I supposed to do in the meantime?”
“Live your life; you have no restrictions.”
“Who is coming to check me out?”
do not know as I wasn’t informed of that. I am assuming they will
communicate with one another and determine whom that person will be.
You have no reason to fear them.”
“So if these are the original
vampires why doesn’t anyone know of their existence, except for a rare
few? Why don’t they govern the vampires and lead them?” Mick asked,
“That is not their function; not what their
creation was for. It is not for them to interfere with the lives of
vampires. There will always be bad people, vampires and human alike and
it is not their place to intervene.”
“Well, maybe they should!”
Mick exclaimed. “If they did maybe things like what happened to me
wouldn’t have happened. Maybe monsters like the Duvall’s and others
wouldn’t rampantly create vampires from people who had no wish to be
Heroku looked at Mick sadly; he couldn’t address that
statement, much as he wanted to. The only answers to that would come
from the thirteen. “Mick, I can only tell you that my life has been
enhanced from my knowledge and involvement with them. As Beth’s husband
and sire you will also likely be trained to be a guardian and from that
many changes will come to both of you.”
“Guardians of what?” Mick asked, almost yelling. “You said they don’t really do anything, so what they hell do you guard?”
secrets, the origins. The power of it all Mick. Please trust me.
Wait for them and see what they will tell you.” He stood up, ending the
conversation. “Beth, I must remind you that the full moon is in a few
days. I am happy to offer you Kenji again if you haven’t made other
arrangements. I must take my leave now. If you truly have no wish to
proceed let me know and I’ll inform them. You are not forced to be
involved in all this.” He bowed to Beth again and walked to the front
door, followed closely by Mick.
“If this situation or those
people hurt her in any way Heroku, no one will be able to hold me back.
You should know that.” His words were punctuated by a growl and
fiercely glowing eyes.
Heroku dipped his head in acknowledgment
and to hide a smile. The young one would make an excellent guardian.
When he raised his head his eyes showed only acceptance at Mick’s words.
“Of course. I understand.”
Mick shut the door behind him,
astounded by the conversation they had just had. He sat back down on
the couch with Beth and wrapped an arm around her, wondering what kind
of crazy they were involved in.
Beth had a pensive look on her
face as she contemplated the conversation. She knew instinctively how
different she was, even from Mick. She needed guidance and Mick
probably couldn’t help with the things he had no experience of. She
thought about telling him about her ability to ‘see’ him but decided
against it right now. She was going to tell him eventually but right
now he was seething with anger from the things that Heroku had said.
Right now she concentrated on sending out peaceful vibes and she felt
Mick start to relax next to her. Something else she was good at it
seemed. Heroku hadn’t said but she’d bet that the thirteen had a good
deal of psychic ability. She needed to know how to control it and focus
on the right things and for that she needed their help.
suppose I need to contact Josef to see if we can find a freshie for
you.” Mick tried not to let his unrest over it all get to him but it
“What? A girl?” she teased. At the guilty look on his
face she told him, “It doesn’t matter to me Mick you know. I think you
are more comfortable if I feed from a woman so I’m okay with that.”
Another thought occurred to her and she spoke up, letting her thoughts
be known. “You know Mick, it’s something that I have to do; we can’t
stop it. But it wouldn’t hurt you to feed fresh once a month either.
We’re drinking fresh and that is great but we’re also vampires Mick and
there is no denial of the need for fang on flesh.”
“No, I can’t
Beth…I just can’t. You sound more like Josef every day,” he said,
obviously distressed. “You have to and I accept that. I’ll contact
Josef and make arrangements. I’m sure he knows who I need to set up an
“Okay, but I was sincere Mick; it would do you some good too.” His frown said it all. Well, maybe next month she decided.
and Cami pulled into the drive at Heroku’s house and stopped in front
of the gate. A guard saw Cami and waved them through and as they drove
through the grounds Carl felt as if he were in another place totally.
“I think we’ve left Los Angeles,” he joked.
“You have no idea,”
Cami answered, looking around her. She had seen it all many times and
enjoyed the lush growth of trees and flowers, fountains and small hidden
rock sculptures in the gardens. It was very relaxing to walk through
the grounds and she agreed that it felt like an entirely different
The drive twisted and wound through the grounds until
finally the house was exposed and Carl thought it looked like a perfect
Japanese post card. “Wow, I’m impressed. Right here in LA!”
“Yes, it’s almost as nice as the house outside of Tokyo.”
slipped her a sideways glance and shook his head in amazement. “That
must really be something.” This house was in the hills, an hour outside
of LA and seemed very removed from the hustle of town.
she told him as he pulled the car to a stop in front of the house. As
soon as he stopped the car and turned the ignition off a man dressed in a
suit appeared to open his door, an unexpected gesture that momentarily
startled Carl since he didn’t even see where they guy came from.
thanks,” he mumbled and headed around the car to open Cami’s door for
her, reaching a hand towards her to assist her out of the car. “The
bags are in the trunk,” he said when he realized the guy was preparing
to move the car.
“Of course Mr. Davis.” He popped the trunk open
and pulled the two cases out and added, “Someone will come out to get
your bags and put them in your room. Please feel free to head into the
house.” With that he was gone with the car around the side of the
The house was large and definitely looked as if it was
sitting in Japan as opposed to Los Angeles. It had the Asian style
peaked roofs and seemed to sprawl to some degree but the landscape
disguised that a good deal. As they approached the porch the front door
was open and they stepped through and Carl immediately felt as if he
had stepped into another world. Cami had told him that he would need to
remove his shoes and that slippers would be provided so he slipped his
loafers off and smiled when a small Japanese woman of indeterminate age
handed him a pair of comfortable looking slippers.
Cami bowed to
her and the woman did the same in response before bowing to Carl. He
hurriedly returned the gesture, not sure if he was supposed to or not
but it seemed to be an honorary thing.
“Konbanw, Akimi,” Cami greeted the woman with a smile.
“Youkoso irasshai mashita,” Akimi said as she welcomed them to Heroku’s home.
walked into the room, dressed in the Japanese fashion of a kimono,
which Carl found out was worn by men as well as women. Heroku held his
hand out in greeting to Carl and again welcomed them to his house.
“Please, let Akimi show you to your rooms and then come downstairs for
Upstairs Akimi led them each to rooms that were next door
to one another. Inside the room Carl looked around him in appreciation.
It was an unadorned room for the most part, very simple and ultimately
relaxing he decided. He picked up his bag and sat it on the low bed
and unzipped it and almost jumped as the wall behind it moved and Cami
stood smiling at him, which quickly turned to a laugh as she realized
how she had startled him.
“Wow,” he said, shaking his head in surprise.
“Yes, convenient isn’t it? Actually, you’ll find that many walls in Japanese homes slide aside, to open up the rooms.”
inspected the wall that was really more of a sliding door and realized
that the ‘wall’ was actually more like a heavy paper material. “Not
much privacy here I guess,” he joked, thinking that obviously you could
probably hear everything through these walls. It’s a wonder that
Japanese parents ever had any children because the kids would know
exactly what Momma and Daddy were doing. That would take getting used
to for sure.
“Come on, let’s head downstairs,” she told him, holding out a cool hand for him to grasp.
looked around him suddenly feeling out of place, like he was visiting a
foreign country and he realized not only did he not know the language
he also didn’t know the customs. “Cami, is there anything else I need
to know? I’m feeling a bit confused right now.”
She leaned up
and wrapped her arms around him before kissing him longingly and
sweetly. “You are fine. Heroku doesn’t expect you to know the customs.
Some you will pick up and others you won’t. I’ve told you all the
important things to remember but even if you forget something it’s okay.
Are you ready?”
Carl followed Cami downstairs to a room that
looked much like a dining room except that the table was low to the
ground and cushions were placed around it. Heroku immediately stood to
welcome them and bid them to be seated.
As Carl sat he heard his
knee pop and knew that his vampire companions had heard it as well. Too
many years of running 3-5 miles a day and rigorous exercise had taken
its toll but it was too late to worry about it now. He watched as two
Japanese women entered the room each carrying a tray bearing various
accoutrements for tea as well as a plate of small items that might be
cookies he decided. They sat it on the table and took seats on the
cushions, on their knees he noticed.
“Carl, this is Yumi and Gia
who will be performing the tea ceremony for us. It is a tradition in
Japanese households and this one is meant to welcome you. The tea
ceremony is very old and associated formally with the Buddhist
Carl watched the graceful movements of the process; a cake of green tea called matcha was placed into the chawan (tea bowl) and blended with steaming water using a whisk type instrument called a chasen. It was added to individual tea bowls and served after it was blessed by Heroku.
plate of confections was placed before Carl and he smiled and bowed his
head to thank Yumi. She blushed prettily which meant that she wasn’t
vampire, something that surprised him. After the tea was served both
Yumi and Gia left the room, allowing the three some privacy.
asked Cami to tell the history of the tea ceremony and she did so with
ease. This was clearly a tradition she was familiar and comfortable
with. In fact she seemed totally at ease in this house and Carl
realized it was because she spent a good deal of time here, or in
similar places in Tokyo.
After the tea was finished and Carl had
eaten his confections which were strangely delicious, a combination of
sweet and savory and very appealing Heroku asked Cami to excuse them as
he rose to his feet and asked Carl to accompany him to the gardens.
ducked her head in acknowledgment and didn’t look concerned at all so
Carl tried to relax as they strolled through the grounds. They were
laid out well, twisting and turning past fountains and statuary which
made the garden seem secluded and much larger than it actually was. The
scents of various flowers filled the air and Carl caught the sounds of
various birds as they sang and chirped in the trees and vegetation.
was cool outside, being up in the hills and late October it was to be
expected. Finally they came to a bench near a fountain shaped like a
lotus blossom and Heroku took a seat and invited Carl to join him.
Well, this was it Carl knew. Whatever was on Heroku’s mind would be spoken of now.
“Carl, it is time to speak of the future -specifically your future regarding Camille.”
this was the ‘what are your intentions to my daughter’ conversation.
Carl respected that; he knew that Cami thought of Heroku as a father so
he relaxed a bit. When he addressed Heroku it was in the honorary
“Heroku-san, I love Camille very much. I have every intention of taking care of her and being with her - forever.”
looked down briefly, as slight frown crossing his face. This was what
he wanted to hear from the young man but did he understand the
ramifications of forever, truly understand?
“You wish to be turned?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You understand that there is no road back Carl? You can only move forward and accept all that comes your way.”
do understand that Heroku-san. Camille and I have spoken of it, of my
desire to join her. However, we have never discussed the actual
“Hai, I understand.” Heroku paused for a moment as if
gathering his thoughts. “I do not believe that Camille’s tender heart
could allow her to do this. Turning, the vampires bite is a birth, a
path to a different existence, but it is also a mortal death. When the
time comes I will turn you Carl; Camille will be with you to support
those needs that I cannot perform. You will feel very emotional and
your body will require frequent connection with her.”
thought about that and it finally occurred to him that Heroku was
speaking of sex - that newly turned vampires had a strong need for
sexual connection with their mates. “I understand Heroku-san. I would
be greatly honored if you would be my sire.” He bowed his head slightly
“Carl, to survive in our world you must be a warrior.
You are a fit and active man but I will train you in the ancient way of
the samurai and martial arts. Camille must always be protected. We
will start this training before you are turned because that will
interrupt your training processes.”
“I would feel very grateful and will accept and master all that you can teach me.”
It is decided then. Tonight I will begin to teach Camille of the
vampire’s bite, a skill I have long neglected as she had no desire to
learn. That was a mistake on my part and I will remedy it. You will
both learn the ways of the vampire kiss together and it will be an
enjoyable lesson, I promise you.” For the first time Heroku smiled and
it made his eyes sparkle.
Carl not only respected this man, but he liked him as well. Life from here on would take on a new meaning entirely.
walked up the stairs, thinking over the lesson she had just experienced
with Heroku. He was a patient and kind instructor and she’d made good
progress but tomorrow would be the test because she had to actually feed
fresh for the first time and the thought still scared her.
had learned that the fang in skin was actually very pleasant and she had
also learned that when a vampire bit their mate in sex that it wasn’t
really about drinking a lot of their blood, only enough to satisfy the
need for connection. She knew it would be amazing. One part of the
conversation still had her brain on overdrive though.
“Father, is it this bite that mates us?”
“It is a part of it, my daughter. When he asks for your blood in return and drinks, then you are mated in the vampire way.”
“You mean when he is a vampire too?”
necessarily. When humans have met their vampire mate they
instinctively crave the connection of the blood. He will ask, you
should not worry of such things.”
So Carl would ask to drink her
blood? She thought of that for a moment as she entered her room. The
thought of that made her feel strangely warm and tingly; a feeling she
wasn’t used to. Mates? They would be mates…
She prepared to
shower, achingly aware that Carl lay on the other side of the thin wall.
He wasn’t asleep because she heard soft rustlings as he moved in the
bed. She closed her eyes and scented the air and the pure sexual need
of him was apparent even with her inexperience. She hurried into the
shower, trying to clear her head.
Carl had heard Cami come into
her room and wondered how her lesson had gone with Heroku. God, he
needed her so badly. He wanted her and couldn’t wait to show her just
how much. He stood up by the bed and slipped a robe on over his naked
body and stood next to the sliding wall. He heard the shower going and
knew that she was only 20 feet away from him. His arms ached to wrap
around her tiny body and hold her close. He leaned his forehead against
the solid wood frame and placed a hand on the panel, wishing it were
Cami stepped out of the shower and hurriedly dried off.
She was drawn to the wall and suddenly knew that Carl was just on the
other side of it. She could hear his rapid heartbeat and the shaky
breaths he was trying to control. She slid the panel open and looked
into his beautiful brown eyes before pulling his mouth down for a kiss.
Carl was startled to be dreaming of her one moment and in her arms the
next he didn’t let it stop him. His tongue traced her lips gently
asking for entrance into the sweetness of her mouth and she opened
herself to him like the most precious flower. He drank her nectar
hungrily, every satisfying stroke of his tongue weakening him a bit
Finally he drew back, trying to catch his breath and it
suddenly occurred to him that she didn’t have anything on. Her body was
illuminated by the faint moonlight streaming in the windows and he
caught the puckered pink petals of her nipples and his mouth went dry as
he ached to taste them.
“Cami, we can’t do this here, not like this,” he told her, kissing her again, even though he knew he shouldn’t.
Carl. I want you, I need you!” She felt his heated length peeking
through his parted robe and she grasped him with her small hand,
thrilling to the velvety softness of his skin.
He pulled his
mouth from hers and it left him feeling so alone, bereft of what he
needed most and then stepped back away from her. “Cami, I feel the same
way, but not here,” he told her, thinking of the paper-thin walls.
“When we make love, girl, I don’t want to have to be thinking about who
can hear us. I just can’t here Cami.”
She smiled and reached out
a finger and traced his beautiful lips. She did understand that, but
she wanted him so. “Can we just lie together, for just a little bit?”
if I get you in that bed we aren’t likely to come up for air for
awhile. No, we can’t. You go and get in that freezer of yours and
let’s just get through the rest of this weekend, okay? But very soon
Camille, you are mine,” he told her, placing a quick kiss on her lips
and then stepped back.
She nodded and looked sad. It was the
last thing he saw as he slid the wall closed, hating the fact that she
wasn’t in his arms.
To be continued…