Thank you LaLa! You are amazing!
Beth and Cami looked up as the men came into the loft, all of them grim-faced and apparently frustrated.
“Did you find him?” Beth and Cami asked in unison which caused Lani to wake up and take in the scene before her.
Mick pursed his lips until they were nothing but a flat line across his handsome face. “No, we didn’t. No trace at all.”
“No scent, Mick?”
couple of vamp scents, but I think they were there at different times.
Hard to tell because it’s a little humid out there and the city scents
Lani looked at Josef for confirmation and he
said, “Don’t look at me, not my thing. All I scented was a vamp smell,
could have been one or a hundred.”
“Something was rather hinky about one of them though,” Tango said, his British accent even more clipped than usual.
“You mean like not really a vamp?” Beth asked, confused.
“No, it was vampire, certainly. But, muddied I’d say.”
sit down and let me get you guys something to drink,” Beth said, and
Lani stood up to help. The vamps settled on scotch with a blood chaser
and Carl just settled for the scotch, neat. They sat at the table and
tried to talk the situation through, looking to see if one of them
picked up on something the others didn’t.
“Mick you need to take
me to the scene and see if I can pick up on anything else. I know you
want to keep me out of it, but you also know that I have a very keen
nose when it comes to the past,” she said, touching her nose as she
Mick looked at her in consternation. He was tired, they
all were. They had walked and dug into every place they could looking
for clues but there was nothing to be found. “Beth, we covered it all
very carefully, there’s no other clues there, trust me.”
trust you, Mick, and I’m sure there aren’t any physical clues there, but
I might be able to ‘see’ who did it, if it’s Tango and Josef’s guy.”
it’s been 8 hours since the meeting. The scent was almost totally gone
by the time we left there. I really don’t believe that there is
anything left to scent. Honestly.”
She looked at his face, the
tiredness etched into it, and realized he was being honest with her.
She should have gone with them earlier, followed them if necessary. Why
hadn’t she? Beth had fought the instinct to tune in to Mick’s
movements while he was gone. It wasn’t easy at all, when her mate was
in danger she wanted - no, needed to make sure he was okay. It was a
mistake she wouldn’t make again. The boys only club has had their last
meeting she decided.
The group broke up soon after that, heading
home to try and rest before they went any farther. Carl would let them
know what, if anything, the police found. They were going to process
Luka’s car for prints. His phone had been there but his gun was
missing, which seemed odd to them all.
As goodbyes were said, it
was a solemn group that walked away from the loft and caught the lift
down. Mick closed the door and leaned against it and Beth pulled him to
her and held him for a moment. His body was tense, his muscles tightly
bunched and she let him breath in her scent and her love for him.
Gradually he relaxed and they headed upstairs to take a shower before
crawling into the freezer.
Beth hated waiting games and this was
certainly what this was. As she drifted off to rest her mind was still
churning about it all. That rest didn’t come easily to either of them.
sat in her office at home on Saturday morning, trying to focus on
composing questions for the Caldwell deposition scheduled for Monday and
failing at it. It really irritated her because she usually had no
problem at all focusing on business.
But that was before Mick
St. John, a ghost from the past, had made an appearance in her life.
She was still struggling with how she felt about it and she could only
imagine how Benjamin must be feeling about it all.
She’d had a
long talk with Josef about Mick, the struggles he’d faced when he was
turned, the horror his life was for decades. Not that Coraline Duvall
had been the only guilty party in it. Yes, she’d used allure on Mick
and turned him without him knowing about vampires, a horrendous enough
thing on its own to cope with. But Josef had also said that Mick had
been his own worst enemy for a lot of that time too. Up until he’d
saved Beth Turner, when she was four years old. Amazing how a single
event changed his life so much, but it did. He stopped partying,
drinking fresh blood, Josef had said, and switched to buying bagged
blood from the morgue. The thought of which frankly sickened Catherine.
Her mind echoed a derisive laugh at that - drinking any blood should be
enough to sicken her but the thought of what could be in that bagged
blood was just too gross. The disease, the chemicals, you never knew
what was going on with someone’s body. Vampires couldn’t get sick, or
so Josef said, but what if you ingested tainted or poison? Could a vamp
handle that? Did they have any type of filtering system if their liver
didn’t work any longer?
While Josef loved being a vampire, Mick
had a much different feeling about it. Josef said that it wasn’t bad
enough to have to deal with Coraline and the deviant lifestyle she led
but walking away from his family had almost been his undoing.
been okay for a few years apparently. But, as he began to make his way
in his new world and the fights with Coraline grew worse he began to
long for his human family more and more. He grew extremely depressed
which in turn brought out the worst in him - living on the edge of
His behavior became reckless, out of control, even for a
vampire. He would swing back and forth between life with Coraline, which
was at best violent and wild, to fits of uncontrollable partying to try
to shove it all away. The pain of missing everyone, of not having
something or someone solid in his life had worried Josef a lot. He was
afraid at times that Mick might take his own life.
Josef, back in the day and the wild parties at his house. She knew
that she’d never met Mick there, but she couldn’t help but wonder if
Molly ever had. In truth, Cat hadn’t spent that much time there because
school was pretty rough. Molls would talk about evenings playing
topless Twister and other equally silly pursuits. Josef had been
different in those days, Cat realized, much more carefree and up for a
party anytime. But he had also been eminently more dangerous in his
corporeal needs and desire. Partying was great but when it was dinner
time he got right down to it. Nowadays he seemed a bit more polished,
circumspect even. The thought made her smile at his gentlemanly ways.
Deep down inside, she knew that he really was a lord of the manor.
door bell ringing startled her for a moment and she frowned as she
looked at the clock. 10:30 - she’d been working for 2 hours and hadn’t
really gotten anything done.
When she opened the door she found
her son standing there, a haggard, troubled look on his face. “Ben!
Come on in son. What brings you by on a Saturday morning?”
“Hi Mom,” he replied, stepping into the foyer. The house was quiet and he added, “Is dad here?”
“You need to talk to your dad? Is it about a case?”
“No, I um, I actually wanted to talk to you about…things.”
see. Well, your father is at Pebble Beach, playing golf with the
governor and then attending a campaign fund raising banquet this
evening. He won’t be home until tomorrow evening actually. So come and
tell me what is on your mind.”
She led him into the living room
and offered him some coffee which he refused. She suspected that he’d
been drinking a lot of it this morning because he seemed jittery.
Almost as soon as he sat down he was back up again, pacing the room.
Cat watched him for a moment, trying to give him time to gather his
thoughts but it was really hard to see him so out of sorts like this.
Benjamin had had more than his share of bombshells in his life and she hoped that he’d find a way to cope with this newest one.
“Mom, how do you - how are you so complacent about all this? About Mick St. John, I mean?”
“Well, I’m not sure I’m complacent
about it Ben, but I have accepted the reality that he is alive and that
he is a vampire. Think for a moment, which part upsets you the most?
That he is alive, that he is a vampire or the fact that you know him
“I just don’t know. All of it is a shock. I mean,
when I first met him I hated him on sight because just his name reminded
me of the fact that Mick St. John had run out on grandma. I thought he
was probably my cousin and even that didn’t help my antipathy at all.
As I got to know him though I began to admire him, his instincts, maybe
the fact that he saved my ass when Beth and I got captured. I don’t
He sat down again and leaned back against the sofa
cushions and ran his hand through his hair. “Vampires? Well hell, Mom,
I never even imagined such a thing. You certainly never let on, and I
guess I understand that. Alive? If we’d found an old, doddering husk
of a man, that would be one thing but he’s technically younger than I
am, in a way that is.”
“His birthday is Monday, by the way. He’ll be 86.”
“Why in the hell would you even remember that?”
don’t know, I just do. I know that mamma used to get sad on November
16th and I didn’t realize why for many years. I think she couldn’t help
but remember the day, even though she loved my dad with all her heart.”
“See, that’s just it - you had a dad, I had a grandfather!”
we were so fortunate in that. Benjamin, blood may make him my father
but he’ll never be my dad. There is a difference. Frankly, I can’t see
Mick ever trying to take the place of Herb in our lives.”
“Are you going to tell grandma about this?”
don’t see that it would help anything Ben. Her love for Mick is a part
of her past and I think she laid it to rest many years ago. I feel
sure that Mick wouldn’t want to stir up any pain for her. He seems to
be a pretty conscientious kind of guy. Do you think you should tell
Ben knew enough about him to agree with that assessment of
Mick’s character. If things were different, he could really like Mick,
be great friends with him because he admired how hard Mick fought for
what was good and just.
“I can’t, he’ll never be grandpa, as you
said, but maybe someday he’ll be a friend again. I feel almost
protective of him, like he’s vulnerable and that seems pretty far from
the truth actually.”
“I don’t think it’s far from the truth at
all. Physically, he might not be vulnerable but his very life, what he
is makes him vulnerable in this world Ben. For all of them. It’s why I
always kept the secret. Yes, there are very bad vampires out there
that would kill just for the pleasure of it, that DO that very thing,
but we humans are no different. What we have to make sure happens is
that the world is safe for all of us Benjamin. That’s your task.”
“How do we do that Mom? I don’t understand.”
watch, we help when we can. Get to know him Benjamin, learn to
understand who he is, as a man, as a vampire. Then decide how or even
if you want him in your life.”
Ben heard her words and nodded
quietly. He stretched his hands out, realizing that he’d clenched his
fists so tightly that his fingers ached. He let out a long slow breath
and said, “That makes sense. Thank you Mom.”
“You're welcome. Hey, how about some lunch? We can order in some Thai if you like?”
good,” he said and realized that he was hungry. Maybe it would all be
okay. Get to know and understand Mick St. John - it seemed an awkward
task at best but he would try to do it, for everyone’s sake.
punched the end key on her phone and laughed. “Max said the margarita
machine got there a little while ago and they got it all mixed and
running so there will be margaritas a plenty at the party. And, she
stated once again for the record, that if someone is too hung over to
make it to work tomorrow that you are dead meat St. John!”
just trying to make a good impression with the gang. After all, you
have to be stern with them as their boss, but I can be the poor,
long-suffering husband who tries to buy their good will with the
She grinned wickedly as they sipped a glass
of O- before leaving for the party. “Hey, I am going to be one of those
great editors, lots of guidance and I’ll kick their asses when I need
to.” She rinsed out their glasses and set them into the dishwasher. “I
love you Mick St. John!”
He grinned, the crooked one that melted
her heart so easily. The St. John charm still got her and he knew it.
“You really love me huh? Even when I make you stay in the car, as you
“If you're a smart guy you’ll get off of that subject
really quickly.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his
head down for a long and lingering kiss. The feel of his lips moving
over hers sent shivers up her spine. She sighed when the kiss ended and
rested her check against his chest for a moment.
“How much time do we have before we have to be there?” Mick asked, a teasing twinkle in his eyes.
“Not long enough. But don’t forget that thought later on!”
He laughed, knowing that neither of them would forget it. “So, are you all ready for the big day tomorrow?”
as ready as we can be for now. Mick, it’s going so well! Mark has
taped his Ten-Minute Doc pieces for the next few weeks, we have a month
of the cooking segment ready to go and it’s the same for the yoga
morning segments and the afternoon Pilates. We have so much to offer
this time, not just tabloid news. Although, we still have that bit of
sleaze segments at times, just to keep you happy!”
“Have you talked to Ben yet, about the legal segment?”
She frowned for a moment and added, “Somehow it seems like a little
much to do right now. We’re okay for now and when things calm down a
bit I’ll talk to him.”
When they arrived at Max and Marks house
Mick pulled the Benz into the driveway and he looked out at the house in
surprise. It was huge, perched on the side of a mountain and built
with lots of natural stone and wood. The lawn was well-manicured, which
wasn’t really an easy thing to do up in the hills where you ran into
more cactus than grass.
“I guess being a doctor here in LA pays really well, huh?”
know, people think that about our loft too. All a matter of
perspective! Now, help me get all these crudités into the house,
something they’ll never eat because they’ll all be too busy drinking
Again he tossed her that cocky grin and she just
shook her head in mock frustration. “C’mon! You are a very bad
influence, know that?”
“I try,” he said wickedly, quirking an eyebrow upwards.
they waited for the door to be answered she couldn’t help but laugh.
This was one of the best things about Mick, he could always make her
laugh and the thought occurred to her that it hadn’t always been that
way. But it was now and she loved it.
“Mick, Beth, come on in,”
Mark said, holding the door open for them. “We’ll just put this food
into the kitchen. Max is in there, finishing up the other finger
foods.” He headed down a hall and Mick glanced around him as they went.
The house was rustic, the stone and wood from the outside being
an integral part of the interior design. Comfortable furniture that
was sturdy and stylish seemed to be the choice and although it was
completely different from the loft Mick liked it a lot. He remembered
they had a couple of boys and judging by how quiet things were here he
guessed they must be at someone else’s house.
“Paula and Rodney are here too. Beth, do you remember meeting Max’s parents?”
I do. It was at that Achievement in Journalism affair back when we
were at the LA Free Press. How nice that they are here too.”
“Paula has been talking about it non-stop for days now. I swear, I think she’s more invested in Buzzwire than Max is!”
walked into a huge kitchen that had a central island with lots of
copper and wood trim. To the left was a small den type of area that had
a desk with a computer on it as well as a couch and chair. It looked
like a comfortable gathering place for the family and Mick had to admit
it was very inviting. The far wall of the kitchen had sliding glass
doors and lots of windows that looked out on a very large backyard. He
saw a pool with a wrought iron fence around it that had a lock on it and
in the back of the yard was a large play area for the kids, who were
nowhere to be seen.
Max was putting something into the oven and
the whole kitchen smelled wonderful. Beth and Mick sat the bags down on
the counter and Max grinned, hugging first Beth and then Mick in
“We are on our way Elizabeth Turner St. John! We are
taking Buzzwire to places where no one ever thought it could go!” The
two girls hugged one another and both of them jumped up and down in
Mick watched it with interest. He hadn’t
actually known Beth during the LA Free Press days. He’d known she was
working there but he’d stayed away from her. Other than meeting Max and
Mark at the wedding he didn’t really know them. Max was vivacious and
enthusiastic, a good combination to pair with Beth.
anyone can do it I would bet my next paycheck it would be you!” Mark
said, smiling as he looked at his wife. They’d been married young, she
being 22 and he 28, but neither of them had regretted it. The first
baby boy had come along a year later with the second less than a year
later. Beth used to tease them constantly about what causes that, but
they were thrilled to be parents. Now the boys were 4 and 5 and they
were talking about having another one or two now that they were more
settled. Mark had finished his residency two years before and was
well-established in his own practice and life was good for them.
saw the way Mark looked at his wife and understood the deep love and
passion the man felt for his wife. After all, it was how he felt for
Beth. He hoped they’d always be this happy.
Out on the deck
Rodney said, “Looks like Beth and her husband are here. Shall we go
inside, darling?” He held out his hand to his wife who was sitting on a
chaise and smiled.
Lord, but he was still handsome Paula
thought, admiring the deep brown eyes that were made all the more
attractive by the laugh lines that crinkled at the corners when he
smiled or laughed, which was often.
“Okay, if we must! I must
say though that the weather is beautiful today and the sunshine feels
heavenly.” She stood up and she and Rod headed into the house through
the sliding patio doors. As they stepped inside she said, “Beth, how
wonderful to see you again. Marriage agrees with you! And this must be
Mick,” she said, turning her eyes upwards to look at him.
Her face paled and suddenly the world tipped around her before she crumpled to the floor.
Beth looked at Mick with a questioning eye but he was as shocked as she was.
Well, this party was starting to be really interesting.
To be continued…