A big thank you to Lady La La, who keeps me on task and sharp! You are awesome chickie!!
and Ben walked into the Breakwood and spotted Cami waiting for them at
the bar. Her smile lit up her whole face when she spotted them and she
slipped down off of the bar stool with a fluidity that was enough to
make Carl’s breath catch in his throat. She walked straight into his
arms and he held her tightly for a moment, knowing that whatever was
going on in the world right now, his was okay because she was here with
Ben stood by, wishing for a moment that he hadn’t came.
Their embrace was so achingly intimate and yet somehow totally innocent.
The love these two shared was almost painful to watch and yet he
couldn’t look away, mesmerized by the sheer energy it seemed to
He’d felt that way once, when Michelle was in his
life. She fit into his arms perfectly, her warmth and love wrapping
around him tightly like a blanket. Nothing was wrong in the world when
she was in his world. Until she wasn’t.
Columbia Law School, 1998
last semester of school was going to start in a few days and both Ben
and Michelle felt the energy and rush of making sure they were ready hit
them in an enervating wash, the calm before the storm. Both felt that
they weren’t up to this last, final semester.
Well, that wasn’t
true, they were ready, but it really was crunch time. Both of them had
been interning at different law offices the past year and kicking ass
this last semester would ensure that they both graduated with highly
promising careers ahead of them.
Michelle was interning at Blanek
and Myer’s, a well known and expensive firm that specialized in
criminal defense. Right now they were involved in a very public trial
involving a well-known mob boss and things were going exceptionally
well. It looked like he was going to get off and Ben and Michelle had
talked endlessly about the case, among themselves that is.
attorney’s objective was to represent their client and set them free, if
you were a defense attorney that is. Marco ‘Slippery’ DeFazio was as
guilty as they came, but because of errors in the arrest process and the
few credible witness’ the prosecution had who had somehow ‘forgot’ what
they saw, he was going to walk. Good for him, bad for the rival crime
family who had already started to take over his turf.
Michelle who couldn’t handle the thought of that scumbag walking away
scot free. What she had learned was that nothing is written in stone,
legally that is. A case that should have been a sure win for the state
was sinking fast and the two crime families were both gearing up for a
Ben watched it all in a very detached manner. He saw
the flaws in the states case and the mistakes they had made and was
determined to learn from them. Prosecution was going to be his game, he
already knew that, much to his parents dismay who wanted him to join
them in their lucrative criminal defense practice in LA. Instead, Ben,
providing he graduated as expected and passed the bar had already
accepted a junior prosecutor position in Sacramento. It was a good
start, but Michelle hadn’t decided yet what she wanted. The bloom had
already worn off the criminal defense aspect of the job and she was
considering estate law perhaps. Like Ben, she was being courted by
several prestigious firms as well but she would settle in Sacramento
They’d set the date for the wedding already, June 17th
and again, much to his parents consternation instead of being the social
and media event of the decade it was going to be a very small affair.
They would have their own way about it, regardless of how much pressure
Ben’s family exerted.
Michelle had no family left, a few cousins
scattered to the four winds but she’d never been close to them anyway.
She was a bit uncomfortable with the lavish lifestyle of Ben’s parents
but Ben himself was about as far away from all that as was possible.
She really did love Ben’s mom, Catherine who at least respected how hard
Michelle worked in school.
Michelle had done it all on
scholarship, a truly amazing feat. Anyone who could manage a full ride
to Columbia for 4 years and then handle working her way through grad
school deserved Cat’s respect and she gave if freely, proudly even
because Michelle would be a wonderful daughter in law.
that DeFazio was freed the police decided to try and sneak him out
through a side door after dark, in hopes of making the reporters and
everyone else think they’d missed him earlier.
The night was
dark with an almost fetid stench to the air from the sewers far below
the street. It was unaccountably warm and humid for a New York January,
the temps in the high ‘60’s and people were out everywhere enjoying the
weather, even at 10 pm. It was Celia LaFortune’s job, as the leading
defense attorney to accompany DeFazio to the car that would be waiting
for him and Michelle was with her.
The side door opened and
other than a few pedestrians strolling along the sidewalks it looked
clear. They started down the steps to the sidewalk and spotted the car
that was waiting. Ten feet from it, from the freedom he sought DeFazio
was gunned down, as were Celia and two undercover cops. Michelle saw it
all happen, saw the Respirito family sweep out of two vans and grab
DeFazio’s body. Michelle stared in horrified silence when one of the
Respirito boys shot her, two times, eye witnesses would say. She
crumpled and went down hard onto the pavement, her head cracking hard
against it, hard enough that it left a large spot of blood and hair on
it. The shooter, evidently wanting to make sure she was dead, grabbed
her and tossed her into the van along with the cops and Celia’s bodies.
Nothing was left except for the blood spattered sidewalk.
was contacted soon afterwards and literally ran to the courthouse.
Nothing left, not anything except for a few strands of her hair. He
collapsed, sobbing desperately at the loss of her, his soul mate, his
love. Her blood covered his hands, his clothes and he didn’t care
because it was all that was left of her.
Someone got him home
and friends descended upon his apartment, calling his folks. When
Christian, Catherine and Margie got there 8 hours later he hadn’t moved
from the couch where they laid him.
Freda Moore, Michelle’s best
friend had tried to wash the blood off of Ben’s hands and get him to
change his shirt which was also covered in her blood but he only ignored
her, tear-rimmed eyes staring sightlessly ahead of him. The friends
all kept silent vigil with him until his family got there, appalled at
his state. Eventually his dad and Robert, another friend, simply
unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off of him, slipping a tee shirt over
his head. He let his grandmother wash away the blood on his hands and
they cried together as they watched as the water was turned red with her
blood. Finally they got him into bed and he lay wide awake until a
doctor came and gave him a shot to help him sleep.
It had been 14
hours and he’d not uttered a single word. As he slowly drifted off to
sleep one word caught in his parched throat.
Ben?” Cami repeated softly, casting a concerned look at Carl who shook
his head almost imperceptibly. “Ben? Are you okay?”
back to the present, embarrassed by his lapse of manners. “I’m sorry
Cami, just wool gathering I guess.” He smiled at her confused smile and
added, “An old expression my grandmother often uses. Means basically
that I wasn’t paying attention. I apologize for my bad manners.” He
smiled warmly at her and kissed her cool cheek.
She laughed, a
soft sound that sounded as dainty as she looked. “I’m so happy that you
finally decided to come to dinner with us.”
“It was very kind of Carl to ask.”
hostess let them know that their table was ready and they followed her
to a booth in the back of the restaurant, near a waterfall that lent a
hush over the atmosphere. The booths at Breakwood had high backs on
them, giving privacy to the conversations of their often famous and
privileged guests. The three of them slid into the plush leather seats
and relaxed in comfort.
“Would you like to order drinks now?”
“Yes, please,” Cami said. “I’ll have a Grey Goose martini, dirty.”
hostess jotted it down and looked at Carl and Ben expectantly. “I’ll
have a Guinness please,” Ben said and Carl held up two fingers, signally
he’d take the same.
They made small talk as they perused the
menus, Carl and Ben both deciding on the prime rib for dinner. When
their order was taken Cami said, “Nothing for me. I ate earlier but who
could resist a dinner invitation with these two gorgeous men?” The
waitress nodded in agreement and Ben felt a slow flush creep up his face
as she stared at him.
Finally she said, “I’ll have your soup out in just a few minutes. In the meantime, if you need anything my name is Amanda.”
“Oh, Ben, she likes you! Too bad you can’t scent her, uh, interest,” Cami said and watched Carl laugh at her comment.
“Scent her interest?”
“Um, well yes. Sexual interest that is.”
finally occurred to him exactly what Cami meant and another flush swept
over his features, barely visible in the darkened room - to a human
“You really do have some extraordinary abilities, don’t
you? Uh, people like you I mean,” he said, looking around him and
hoping that no one could discern what he meant.
“Yes, the ‘tribe’, as we sometimes call ourselves, do indeed.
had to smile at the ‘tribe’ connotation. It worked and certainly
seemed easier on the tongue than ‘vampire’ did. Was he really part of a
family that had a vampire in it? Friends as well?
Cami and Carl together and couldn’t see anything sinister about her.
She was demure, soft spoken, quite poised actually and she and Carl
seemed perfect together. Simpatico, Michelle would have said. They
finished one another’s sentences sometimes and when they looked at each
other, well it was almost embarrassing to watch because those looks
sizzled with desire.
The evening proved to be a good one, a happy
one. Cami talked freely of her life and it only got a bit sad when she
talked of the night that Beth was turned. Her best friend Lani had
killed the vamp that did it. As an ADA he should find that wrong but
yet, how could he because look what that woman had done to Beth?
who was curious beyond reason and also loyal to a fault, especially
where Mick was concerned, had essentially been murdered. He and Carl
spoke briefly about the ‘tribe’ and their justice system.
“You have to understand, Ben, our system can’t work for them.”
nodded, hating to admit that it was true but after seeing Emma Monahan
tear apart that office he knew that it was true. “She was, taken care
of, that night?”
“Yes, according to Mick. Their justice moves quickly, Ben. As ours should.”
certainly couldn’t disagree with that but what about the people who
were sent to jail who were actually innocent? He hated to admit that it
happened, but it did. What they needed was a more fool-proof system.
Impossible in these times though.
He thought about the
conversation long into the night and knew that a visit to his mom was in
order. It was no longer just a matter of Mick, estranged grandfather
who was a vampire, but it was a global issue. If word ever got out, and
it would eventually he knew, then there had better be some sort of
thought given to how it should be handled.
Deep thoughts indeed.
And for the first time in years Michelle wasn’t the last thing on his
mind before sleep. No, the thought that maybe it wouldn’t, shouldn’t
matter - vampire or human, we all just wanted to exist.
Carl walked Cami to her car, stopping to place a lingering kiss on her cool lips. “I’ll follow you to your place?”
“Yes,” she responded breathlessly. “Yes…”
he said, and then he stepped away, reluctant as always to leave her
even for a few minutes. In his car he pulled out his phone and saw that
he had missed a call from Luka. There was also a message from him and
Carl called his voice mail and listened, quickly becoming alarmed at
what he heard.
“Hey Carl, we got
a call from our phantom. He insisted that I meet him at Kimbridge and
Valley View in an hour. If you get this before then I’ll see you there
but I’m heading out on my own. I’ll give you a call when the meeting is
done and catch you up if you don’t make it.”
Was he crazy? Carl realized that the message was from 3 hours ago and
he certainly should have heard from Luka before now. He thought for a
moment and then dialed Luka’s number, but it went to voice mail
eventually. At least it wasn’t off, that was a good thing. He decided
to head to the rendezvous point and see if Luka was still there.
quick call to Cami let her know that he’d be delayed a bit and she was
fine with that. She’d been with Carl long enough by now to know that
things happened and she could tell that he was really worried about
It took Carl almost a half an hour to reach the place for
the meeting. He’d tried repeatedly to call Luka but still didn’t get an
answer. As he approached the intersection he immediately noticed how
dark it was, with no street lights on at all. He spotted Luka’s car up
ahead, parked on Valley View and pulled up behind it. He grabbed his
gun and a flashlight out of the console and stepped out of the car,
moving quickly to Luka’s vehicle. It was empty, although the driver’s
window was down. He tried to call Luka again and heard the phone
ringing and when he opened the door he found it lying on the floor of
He looked around him, peering into the deep shadows but
couldn’t see anything. He went back to his vehicle and placed a call to
dispatch, to see if he’d checked in there. As he hadn’t, Carl brought
them up to speed on what was happening and a black and white unit was
dispatched and headed his way, quickly followed by two more.
searched the area for 2 hours but couldn’t find a trace of Luka.
Carl’s stomach was twisted in knots. He needed to call Mick and Josef
in on this but the cops had to get out of here first. He called Cami
again and let her know what was going on.
“I’m so sorry, Cami.”
“It’s okay, Carl. I’m worried now too. Are you going to call Mick?”
“Yeah, but I can’t until the others are gone from here. Hopefully Mick can pick up on a scent or something.”
“Yeah. Hey, I’ll go ahead and call him, okay? Let him know you’ll be calling him in a little bit.”
“Yes, that sounds good. Cami, I love you.”
“I know. Love you too. Don’t worry about me, okay? I’m fine. Just find Luka.”
The unspoken word, ‘alive’ was added by both of them. Alive, yes, please alive.
Mick hung up the phone with a sharp punch of the button. Beth, sitting next to him had heard the whole conversation.
“Oh, Mick. This isn’t good.”
“No, it’s not. We didn’t think that Shatel had anything to do with Malcolm.”
“Maybe they aren’t connected and this is something else entirely. He might show up safe and sound you know.”
“Maybe, but my gut says that’s not what happened.”
nodded, she felt the same way. She watched as Mick called Josef and
let him know what was going on. Josef in turn called Tango and they
came to the loft to wait for Carl’s call. Lani came with Josef, to keep
When they got the call from Carl Beth fumed as they walked out the door, her eyes burning brightly blue.
“What’s a matter, Beth?”
offense, Lani, but I had been planning to go with them. For heaven’s
sake, I can scent a scene just as good, if not better than Mick. He
knows I won’t go if you’re here.”
“Beth, he didn’t ask me to come along, I just thought I would. Sorry…” she trailed off, pissed at Beth’s attitude.
rolled her eyes, knowing that she’d offended Lani. “Look, Lani, I’m
sorry. I just hate being left out, especially when they try to protect
me because I’m a girl, you know?”
“So you want to go gallivanting off into danger just to prove you're one of the boys?”
“Well, not exactly. It’s just, Mick is always protecting me and I can take care of myself, you know. I have fangs too!”
“Have you ever had to defend yourself with those fangs Beth? Seriously, you’re still a baby in vamp years.”
just wait, you’ll understand soon enough, when Josef turns you. The
guys think that just because they were the first ones in history who
were big enough, mean and strong enough to go out and club something to
death for dinner that we are the weaker sex.”
Lani listened to
Beth’s tirade and had to suppress a smile. Beth had never been one to
hold back when something needed to be explored or done. This was no
different. Still, they boys definitely had themselves a nice little
club going and it irritated her, too.
“Look, let’s just make the
best of it, okay? I know you’re worried about Carl here too. Why don’t
we call Cami and ask her to come over here and we’ll watch a movie
while the boys are out doing whatever it is they do?”
“Okay. You wanna call her?”
agreed and came over quickly. After one movie the girls all tried to
seem interested in another but none of them were. Clock watching seemed
to be the order of the evening and time trickled by slowly. Lani
finally fell asleep at 2 am and Beth and Cami settled in to wait it out.
At 3:40 am the front door opened and all the men came in, grim expressions on their faces.
It apparently hadn’t ended well.
To be continued…