Josef leaned back against the bedroom door, arms crossed across his chest as he watched Lani wrap a huge box that contained Brianna’s birthday gift. The party was tomorrow and Josef was ready to swear that Lani was as excited as Bri probably was.
box was huge; Josef couldn’t see how she was possibly going to get that
Barbie birthday paper all around it. She was frustrated he could tell
as she huffed a breath and a stray strand of soft and silky hair blew
away from her face.
He was one lucky bastard and he admitted it
freely. She was still in his life, his arms, loving him fiercely, even
after his stupid mistake. It was over with now, both the idea and the
distance between them and he was thankful for all that he had.
why don’t you let me help you, Sweetness?” he said, coming over and
helping to hold the box up so she could slide the paper under it. “I’m
sure it’s much easier with two pairs of hands!”
“You think?” she sniped at him, her eyes narrowing speculatively.
had to try hard to hold back a chuckle and look serious. At this point
his job was to provide the muscle and keep his mouth shut, he got it.
But it was really hard…
watched as she tore off a long piece of cellophane tape and it stuck to
a finger; she tried to pull it off and managed to get it mixed into her
hair. He couldn’t stifle the laugh this time and she stared at him for
a moment, her eyes blazing and then she laughed too. He reached over
and pulled the tape out of her hair and said, “What on earth is this
“It’s a princess vanity and chair set, complete
with princess tiara and make up!” she declared. “Every little girl
should get to be a princess in her life. What did you get her?”
head dipped down slightly so she couldn’t see the smile that tweaked up
the corners of his mouth. “Oh, you know, Barbie stuff, like Robbi
suggested,” he finished with a shrug.
She studied his face for a moment and then sat back on her heels. “Need me to wrap this ‘Barbie stuff’ for you?”
no, it’s all taken care of.” His eyes darted around the room,
unwilling to meet hers because he knew he couldn’t keep his face
straight. She brought out the best in him for sure and he’d never in
his life loved and laughed as much as he did with her. “C’mon, let’s
get this beast wrapped and then I think it’s time that we do a little
unwrapping, my love.”
“Um hm,” he said,
reaching over and working the top button of her blouse free in a one
quick movement. He placed a kiss on her neck, on his spot and felt her responding shiver.
we need to take a break from this; you know, think about the best way
to tackle it,” she told him as he popped another button and leaned her
backwards, his mouth moving upwards to capture hers in a delightful
“I think that is a very clever idea,” he agreed, placing another kiss on her mouth.
love you, Josef, always and forever…” she told him as he settled
between her thighs. It was amazing, how the love just grew between
them. Nothing would ever tear them apart.
aren’t we an old married couple!” Beth laughed, setting two glasses of
blood-spiked red wine onto the coffee table while Mick popped a movie in
the player. “That better not be some old war movie, mister. Not if
you want to get lucky tonight!”
He patted his chest with his
fingers and said, “Moi?” At her laugh he added, “I happen to be a very
happily married old man by the way and I’m already lucky Beth.” He sat
down and kissed her lightly and then pushed the start button on the
An old black and white movie started and she read the opening credit. “The Philadelphia Story,” she asked.
You’ll love it, it’s all about a reporter, Jimmy Stewart.” As she
stared at him he added, “Drink your wine baby,” working to keep from
“Oh, Cary Grant. Maybe this one be so bad after all.”
“Hey, he was just a guy. Ask Josef, he knew him,” Mick said, not liking the way she licked her lips as she said his name.
do I not doubt that? After all, he used to mostly stay in with Garbo!”
She pretended immense fascination every time Cary Grant was in the
scene and sighed as often as she could. Mick was growing more
frustrated by the minute she noticed when she started giggling.
“Oh, you young lady are trying to make me jealous! Go ahead, admit it!” he said, finally catching on.
“Moi?” she asked, innocently blinking her blue eyes at him.
“Now, that’s just not nice Beth. Hm, I’ll have to think about this,” he told her, his handsome face pondering the question.
“Think about what?”
“About how to punish you, of course!”
“Punish ME? I don’t think so buddy!” Her eyes gleamed the intense blue they had when she turned.
“What are you gonna do about it then?” he teased softly.
Well, I’m going to watch the movie,” she said, laughing at the
surprised look on his face. Then, in a sudden move she was straddling
him and had his shirt off and was kissing his chest, nipping at it
lightly. “Later, that is.”
Later, much later, after their
intermission and the movie they settled back on the couch, both of them
staring at the fire in the now darkened room. Beth sighed, snuggling
into Mick’s secure arms, loving the feel of him, wrapped around her.
“Mick?” she said, her voice hushed in the quiet of the night.
need to tell you some things, things about - well about what I can do.
I haven’t told you before because I, I um, just really didn’t know how
to. But now that Rose is here I need to.”
At the mention of Rose
she felt his body stiffen for a moment. She sent him calming thoughts
and suddenly he laughed and said, “Like that, Beth?” At her puzzled
look he added, “Beth, I know that you can do that, like, calm me and
other people down. Really, I understand about it. I figure it kind of
comes in handy.”
“Yeah, like that, but there are other things
too.” She took a deep breath and said, “Mick, I can see you, no matter
where you are or what you’re doing.”
“Like, ‘see me’, see me? As in a picture in your head?”
nodded, her heart beating rapidly for a moment. “I try not to,
honestly I do, but no matter where you are, if I start thinking about
you I can see you. Mick, I really need the help and the training of the
Children of the Moon. I don’t know how to control some of this stuff.”
digested the information for a moment. He didn’t do anything that he
wouldn’t want her seeing, but if he were working a case, like the
vampire killer right now suppose she saw something and tried to rush in
and rescue him? That wouldn’t be good at all; he’d not only have to get
himself out of danger but her too.
Another thought occurred to
him then - if she could ‘see’ him, would it be possible for him to learn
to ‘see’ her as well? Their connection was so strong he somehow
thought it might be.
“You know, Beth, that is a very personal thing to do and I know you can’t help it. And baby, I’m not upset that you can
do it. You know my secrets, Beth. What I am worried about is you
worrying about me at times and trying to come to my rescue. You know
things get dangerous for me at times. But I can take care of myself.”
“Yes, like when you were shot by Lee Jay,” she said.
“I called Josef and G, they came and took care of me, baby.”
“I know, Mick. I sat in the hallway until they arrived to take care of you.”
eyebrows shot up in surprise. He hadn’t known that. He held her
closer for a moment, knowing that if Josef would have realized it, well,
it might not have been okay. “We’ve got one another’s backs, Beth.
But there has to be a way to control that and maybe we need a code word,
if I really do need help.”
“Mick, I can’t imagine sitting here
and watching some macabre scene in my head where you’re getting your ass
kicked or worse and staying out of the fight!”
“Beth, if you jumped in every time I get my ass kicked you’d probably not get a whole lot else done.”
“I - I just need help with all this Mick. Please, give Rose a chance, for me?”
“Anything for you, Beth. Anything at all.”
morning Brianna was awake at six in the morning, excited for her party
which wasn’t until the afternoon. She snuck into Robbi and Kevin’s
bedroom, laughing as she launched herself into the middle of the bed.
up, it’s my birday,” she giggled. The word birthday sounded more like
‘birdy’ but they both got it. Kevin rolled over and eyed the clock and
“Hey munchkin, it’s still kinda early, you
know?” He looked at Robbi who was laughing, knowing how much Kevin
hated early mornings, especially on the weekends.
“C’mere, birthday girl! Give your momma a birthday hug and kiss!”
Bri crawled up the bed and threw herself into Robbi’s arms, giving her smacking kisses, much to Robbi’s delight.
what about daddy? I think I’m going to have to tickle you since you’re
ignoring me!” Kevin said, wiggling his fingers against her side and
laughing as she squirmed and squealed in happiness. He figured since
there was no going back to sleep he might as well join in the fun.
peeked across the room at Brian who was sleeping soundly in the
bassinette. “That boy could sleep through anything, I swear,” she said.
She pulled Bri to her again and said, “Okay birthday girl, what would
you like for breakfast?”
“Um, pancakes! With chocolate please, mommy?”
chocolate chip pancakes coming up in a little bit. Why don’t you go
back to your room so mommy and daddy can get dressed?”
“’Kay,” she said, toddling out of the room.
“Can you believe she’s four already? Kev, she’s growing up so fast!”
know. She’s beautiful too, just like her mommy!” He nuzzled her neck
and slid a warm hand down the front of her nightshirt, caressing a soft
breast with gentle fingers.
“Kev, she’s expecting pancakes!” Robbi laughed.
“Um, 5 minutes, 10 tops!” he teased. He felt her leaning against him, turning her body to face his.
“Mommy! I’m hungry,” they heard from the other side of the door.
grinned at him. “I’ll give you 30 seconds but that’s about all you're
going to get,” she laughed as she gave him a lingering kiss and slid out
of the bed. “Come on, love of my life. We have a birthday girl to make
“I’m going to take a shower,” Kevin said. “A long, cold
one!” He winked at her as her eyes ate him up, watching him stride
across the room. God, the man still turned her on. She stared in
appreciation at his tight bum, strong and well-muscled back; it took all
her control not to join him.
After she dressed she headed into
the kitchen to find Bri standing with the carton of orange juice between
her feet, spilling it’s fragrant contents all over her clean floor.
“I’s sorry mommy. Wanted juice.” A huge tear rolled down her cheek and Robbi picked her up and hugged her tight.
“It’s okay, Bri. I know it was an accident. Why don’t you go sit down at the table while I clean it up, okay?”
“I wanna help. My mess.”
way Robbi thought. Instead of just having a sticky floor to clean
she’d have a sticky floor and child. “No, Bri, mommy will clean it up.”
Brianna hiccupped out a small sob and the sad look on her small face about broke Robbi’s heart. “Next time, okay sweetie?”
nodded and started chattering about her party later. She was excited
because ‘Miff and Beff’ would be there, as well as Auntie Lani and Uncle
Robbi first wiped up the mess with paper towels and then
pulled out the mop and bucket and washed it once, and then again to
make sure it wouldn’t be a sticky mess later. After that she mixed up
the pancakes, letting Bri help to stir in the chocolate chips and
pecans. By then the floor was dry and Robbi started grilling the
When Kevin entered the room he caught a whiff of the
pancakes and his stomach growled, regardless of how early it was. He
brought out the whipped cream and watched as Robbi sprinkled some
powdered sugar over them. “I’ll grab the milk and juice, honey,” he
said opening the fridge.
“No juice. Um, a small accident this morning,” she told him.
“Oh, okay then, milk it is.”
put two pancakes on Bri’s plate and painted a happy face on them with
whipped cream, bringing a huge smile to the birthday girls face. “Mm,
Kevin cleaned up the kitchen so that Robbi could
take a shower. She saw that Brian was still sleeping which wasn’t
unusual because he didn’t normally wake up until around eight. A quick
glance at the clock told her she might just have enough time for that
shower if she moved fast.
The rest of the morning was taken up
with setting up tables and chairs in the backyard. It was a beautiful
day for November, something Robbi was grateful for. With two other kids
from Bri’s preschool class in attendance it was likely to get loud and
At one o’clock Kevin was getting the grill started when
the guests started arriving. Beth and Mick first, followed by Dorothy
“Look at you!,” Robbi said, eyeing Dorothy’s very rounded belly. “My goodness, it’s not going to be much longer is it?”
“I certainly hope not,” Dorothy said, taking a nearby seat.
“They say twins come early pretty often,” Kevin chimed in from the grill.
what we hear!” Clark said with a grin that both Mick and Kevin echoed.
Lani and Josef arrived then and Brianna was excited to see how large
the gift from Lani was. Josef had been cryptic about his gift, saying
it would be arriving independently a little later and the whole mystery
gift was putting Lani on edge.
Lani took a seat with the other
women under the patio awning and watched the men, including Josef who
were standing near the grill, beers in hand as Kevin and Clark worked
BBQ magic. Kevin had put up a large canopy over the area to provide a
break from the direct sunlight for their vampire ‘family’ and Lani
couldn’t help but smile at the ordinary look to the scene.
was sleeping peacefully in a pack and play under the awning too; Kevin
had insisted that he needed to be near the men for bonding purposes and
Robbi had laughed and said that was okay but she drew the line at
letting him have a beer. He woke up and Kev handed the spatula to Clark
and picked his son up, talking softly to him.
Brian was such a
happy baby Dorothy noted, healthy and secure, he was smiling for all of
them and all the guys grinned, which made the girls grin as well.
Brianna ran over to where the women were sitting and looked at Dorothy’s
belly and touched it lightly.
“Yes, Brianna,” Dorothy answered, running her fingers through the silky strands of Bri’s hair.
leaned down and placed a kiss on the baby bump and said, “Hi baby!”
before running off again. Two of her preschool friends were here and
they laughed and ran through the yard, finding something new to explore
Bri’s gesture melted Lani’s heart and when she looked
at the men she saw Josef holding Brian. She stared in fascination at
his ease with the little guy.
Beth noticed too and couldn’t keep
a smile off of her face. “It’s like with Travis, you know? Every time
he came over he had some new toy for him and would hold and pet him.
Josef has so much love to give,” she said, holding Lani’s hand for a
moment as she wiped a tear away.
“He’s a natural,” Dorothy commented.
“Yeah, seems strange doesn’t it? But he had 9 siblings when he was growing up.”
And where would that have been, Lani?” reporter Beth asked, realizing
that Lani knew a hell of a lot more than she did. She’d been trying to
get information out of Josef all along and he had remained silent about
Lani laughed and said, “None of your business, nosy
girl!” She knew it was driving Beth crazy not to know the secrets that
Robbi smiled and watched as Josef talked softly to
Brian and couldn’t help saying, “He is a natural. He’d make a great
father.” Suddenly, she realized what she’d said and looked at Lani’s
stricken face apologized.
“It’s okay, Robbi. It’s just how it
is. We both accept it. And, you never know what will happen, there are
other ways of having a child.” She paused for a moment and decided to
tell them about the decision she and Josef had made. “Josef and I have
talked a lot, about marriage and stuff. After the first of the year
he’s going to turn me and we’re getting married. Not sure which will
There was a collective intake of breath as all the women heard what she said. “Lani, are you sure?” Robbi asked.
I am completely sure. I want to, need to be with him forever. It’s my
choice, not his, believe me. If it were up to him, well, let’s just
say it might not happen for a long, long time.”
Beth nodded in understanding. “You have to do what’s right for you Lani. It will be okay.”
looked at the women and said, “Clark wants to be turned too, a year or
so after the babies are born. He’s very sure about it.”
Mom,” Beth said, knowing how the subject scared her. Still, there was
plenty of time to prepare for it and she spoke that aloud.
“Yes, time.” Time to prepare, time to be together forever.
The solemn moment was broken when a delivery was made; Josef’s gift for Brianna.
“You have got to be freakin’ kidding me!” Robbi said as two men carried in the gift. “Josef, are you crazy?”
“Well, some have said, but I just ignore them.”
Kevin had moved over by the gift, completely fascinated by it. “Good thing we have a large yard, huh, honey?”
could only roll her eyes. Finally she surrendered to the curiosity of
the large pink gift, just like everyone else. She had only to look at
the happiness on her daughter face to be won over.
“Hey, what else are uncles for?” Josef asked as he wrapped an arm around Robbi’s shoulder for a moment.
The look in her eyes said it all. He really was a part of the family.
To be continued…