Thank you Lynn for the picture, as always, and La La for keeping me straight and on task!!
Chapter 35 Tension
group watched as Paula slid to the floor, Rodney sinking down with her
in order to catch her before her head hit the floor. Mark immediately
knelt down as well and said, “Max, get my bag!” When she hesitated for a
moment, torn between getting the bag and fear of leaving her mom, he
barked at her, “MAX! My bag - NOW!” Suddenly she ran from the room and
Mark started to focus on Paula.
Rodney was smoothing Paula’s
hair out of her face and quietly repeating her name. Mark checked her
pulse and lifted her eye lids and said, “I think she just fainted.
Rodney, I think she’ll be fine.”
Max returned with the bag and
popped it open, displaying its contents. Mark reached for his
stethoscope and listened to her heart. “Strong and steady. She’s
“Are you sure? She’s never fainted before. Darling, come on, Paula, wake up,” Rodney said, visibly shaking.
dug into the medical bag again and found a vial of something which he
uncorked and held under her nose. Mick and Beth winced at the strong
smell of ammonia that filled the air and Beth coughed a bit, overwhelmed
with the scent.
Paula’s eyes opened and she too began to cough.
Mark capped the bottle and dropped it back into the bag, it’s purpose
having been fulfilled. “Hey, Paula, just lay still for a few minutes,
okay?” Mark said, speaking softly.
Beth looked over at Max who
was trembling, worry and fear clearly written on her face, which had
grown extremely pale. Beth reached for her and grabbed her hand,
holding it tightly as they watched as Mark asked Paula to repeat some
words and move different parts of her body.
“She’s fine,” he declared, smiling at her.
“The hell she is!” Rodney declared. “She doesn’t faint like that!”
was pulling a blood pressure cuff out of the bag and wrapped it around
Paula’s arm, above her protestations. “I’m fine, really.” She looked
at Mick again and a small, wry smile appeared on her face. “You don’t
remember me, do you?”
Rodney looked at Mick and studied his face,
trying to spark a memory. Suddenly it occurred to him what Paula was
referring to. Mick obviously didn’t have a clue about it though.
swept over Mick and Beth by default as he stared at her. Had she been
one of Josef’s freshies? He didn’t remember her at all, or did he?
Something in his memory told him he should remember her. He glanced at
her arms and couldn’t see any scars from fang marks but he had a strong
feeling that this had to do with vampires.
Paula sat up and asked
Max to get her purse from the bedroom. Max was back quickly and handed
it to her mother, as puzzled as Mick, Beth and Mark were. Paula opened
her wallet and pulled a piece of paper out of it that was folded. It
was slightly yellowed and the creases in it well-worn.
probably don’t know this Mick but I’m an artist; drawing has always come
easily to me, portraits especially. I drew this sketch in 1982, after
going to a party with a group of other teenagers. The house was quite
spectacular, it was a glass house, in fact. The odd thing was, there
were vampires there and then suddenly this one guy came and started
yelling at the woman who was hosting the party. Apparently, she was his
wife and then he screamed at us and told us to run if we wanted to
live. I was one of those people Mick. You saved my life.” ** She
handed him the piece of paper and he looked at it, staring at his own
Beth let out a small gasp, her hand covering her mouth in surprise. “Oh my god, Mick.”
looked up at her and then his eyes swept the others faces. Not one of
them seemed in the slightest bit surprised by Paula’s story. He was
stunned and didn’t know what the hell to say.
“They know, Mick.
I’ve told them the story, although I’ve never told anyone else,” she
said, trying to reassure him. “I drew the picture because I never
wanted to forget the face of the man who saved my life.” She smiled at
Mick, hoping he would accept it all.
took the sketch and studied it, taking in the amazing likeness. She
knew that Paula was a gifted artist and she had captured Mick so well.
She looked at her husband, still standing awkwardly at her side and then
carefully folded the picture up and handed it back to Paula. “Mick,
you did a good thing. It’s okay.”
He glanced at her, his mind
still furiously thinking about it all. It was getting to be too much.
Too many people knew the secret and a good portion of them found out
from him, in some way or other. This is so not good, he thought.
all jumped a bit when the door bell rang, heralding the arrival of the
first guests. “Mick, I won’t tell anyone. I swear it. I just want to
say thank you,” Paula said, giving him a small hug while Max and Mark
went to answer the door.
Mick hugged her back but really, all he
wanted to do was get the hell out of there. He needed to think, to
figure all this out.
“Mick, hey dude it’s good to see you!” Steve called out, heading directly for him and grabbing his hand to shake it.
glad to see you,” he replied and if his words lacked any enthusiasm
Steve never noticed. He introduced his fiancé to the group and Beth
couldn’t hold back a smile at Tasha, a model! Steve was coming up in
the world evidently. She was really beautiful and seemed to adore him.
rest of the group slowly trickled in and the party seemed to center
around the margarita machine and the grill in the backyard which Max and
Rodney were manning, along with the help of Steve. Later in the
afternoon Beth was in the staging area of the kitchen, refilling
platters and Mick, Paula and Mark were in the seating area off the
kitchen chatting amicably, although they hadn’t discussed the past
“Mick, you look like a scotch guy to me and I have to tell
you, I can’t stomach another margarita. Would you care for a glass of
Mick grinned and happily accepted the offer. He sipped
the aromatic drink with appreciation and settled back into the
“Mick, I know that you're uncomfortable about
the past, what happened, but I wanted you to know something.” Paula
took a sip of her wine and licked her lips nervously. “When you ran us
out of there that night, I was 19. Rodney and I had had a terrible
fight and I was looking for trouble. I almost found it, until you came
along. What I didn’t know that night was that I was almost 3 months
pregnant with Max. She wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t done that. I am
just so grateful.” She stared at him, her large blue eyes sparkling
with unshed tears. “I’m just so very grateful. Other than Rodney, Max
and Mark I’ve never told anyone what I saw that night. I - I was too
Mick smiled at that, hell, who wouldn’t be. He was
sure he had been like a demon that night because he was so enraged. In
hindsight, he should have killed Leo that night but he wasn’t exactly
“I do believe you Paula, but thank you for affirming that.” He gave a small shrug of his shoulders, not sure what else to say.
I can’t help but be curious, in a medical way that is. Would you
answer a couple of questions for me? Only for me, no one else.”
a way it wasn’t surprising to hear Mark ask that. Doctors obviously
didn’t have a chance to see vamps professionally, he thought wryly. At
all, actually. If it could be helped that is. Questions? What the
“I’ll try to answer them, but you have to understand that some things are just the way they are and I don’t know why.”
enough,” Mark said, leaning forward in the computer chair, resting his
elbows on his knees. “Obviously you need blood to survive? Can you eat
food too?” He gave a quick sideways glance over to Beth who had just
popped a stuffed mushroom cap into her mouth.
Mick saw his eyes
stray to Beth and shook his head with a smile. She was dancing around
the kitchen, humming to a Beach Boys song that was playing on the patio,
happy as could be. “No, I cannot eat food, I can’t taste it or digest
it. Beth can.”
“Do you know why?”
Boy, that was a loaded
question and Mick decided to go with the easiest, simplest answer.
“She’s of a different familial bloodline than I am. Apparently they can
“I see.” Mark still looked puzzled but didn’t probe any
further on that question. “Are there things you can do as a vampire
that you couldn’t as a human?”
“Yes. We have enhanced hearing, sight, smell, and some physical attributes as well, such as strength.”
“Wow, this is fascinating. Seriously.”
romanticize it Mark. To be a vamp you have to die and there is no
going back. I’d give up all the enhanced attributes to be human again
in a minute.” He stared Mark in the eyes, trying to make him realize
how emphatically he felt about it.
They were interrupted when
some of the others came into the kitchen to grab more food to take
outside and somehow they never got around to speaking of it all again.
all left in the late afternoon and luckily no one was too inebriated to
drive home. Mick and Beth left a little later after helping to clean
up the remnants of the afternoon. Their drive home was quiet and Beth
was aware that something was bothering Mick. They needed to have a talk
when they got home and hopefully there would be news about Luka too.
phone rang on his way home from his mom’s house. He saw it was Carl
and frowned for a moment, knowing it couldn’t be good if Carl was
calling on a weekend.
“Hi, Carl, what’s up?”
“I wanted to let you know that Luka Fiorentino disappeared last night. It looks like tribe involvement.”
Ben pursed his lips for a moment in a silent whistle. What the hell did vamps want with Fiorentino?
“Why would they target him?”
that list you had, with all the names on it?” At Ben’s affirmative
Carl told him about Luka being contacted and what had gone on from
“So he went out to meet this guy on his own? Was he crazy?”
“Well, he didn’t know that they were, well, you know.”
“Damn. Have you told our friends?”
“Yes. We all went searching last night, after LAPD got done checking out the area. Nothing really to go on though.”
“So what do we do?”
“Hurry up and wait I guess while the tribe digs deeper into places that we can’t.”
sincerely wished that he knew nothing about the tribe or anything or
anyone related to it but it was too late for that. Like it or not, he
not only had to uphold the law but he had to protect the tribe. Talk
about walking a tightrope.
“Okay. Let me know what happens, will you?”
“Always, buddy. Be talking to you.”
“Yep,” was the only reply Carl got before the line went dead. What a way to ruin a great weekend.
Both Beth and Mick were lost in thought on the drive home, mulling over what had happened, among other things.
still wanted to talk about being left home Friday night and she had
cooled down a bit and had some perspective on it. Lani had made a valid
point, even if Beth hated to admit it. She’d never been in any type of
physical altercation, human or vamp. Yes, she’d fought back a few
times but would she be able to attack and would she have any clue at all
as to how to fight a vampire or as a vampire?
No. She didn’t
and that was something that they needed to take care of and soon. She
needed defensive and offensive training. Someone had to be able to help
her with it if Mick wouldn’t.
She was also thinking about what
happened with Paula. It had turned out fine, sort of anyway, but that
meant more people who knew the secret. Although, they had known it
anyway, whether Mick was a catalyst for discussion or not. How in the
world did so many people know and yet it remained a secret in this
Mick has similar thoughts and it all felt like the weight
of the world was falling down on him. Family he hadn’t known about with
vampiric connections and now Paula. He thought back to the night at
Coraline’s that he’d found Paula and other teens there. It was the
night that he’d decided that he’d had it with Coraline, for good. He’d
saw her with totally different eyes that night and nothing she could do
would ever change it.
It was a momentous night for both of them
and their future was predicated on it as well. Mick walked away for
good and Coraline made the plans to kidnap a child, which led him to
Beth. Of all the horrible things that Coraline had done, ever, in their
lives together and separate, that was the one thing that made him
change his life and he would be forever grateful for that.
changed Paula’s life as well and for the better too he would admit.
Still, all these years she’d known the secret, carried around that
drawing of him in case she ever saw him again. She’d told her husband,
her daughter and son in law. More and more people knew the secret.
Suddenly, he felt as if he was boxed into a more and more dangerous
place and now Beth was residing there with him.
He’d been here
too long - it was just that simple. Too many people knew, how many more
that he didn’t know about. Maybe it was time to move on?
they got home Beth held his hand in the elevator, silently aware that
something was troubling Mick a great deal. He glanced down at her,
knowing that she could see him in her mind but could she also see what
was in his mind, his heart? For some reason that scared him.
After they got settled at home each with a glass of O+ to sip she asked him point blank what was going on.
think maybe it’s time to leave LA Beth,” he said simply. He heard her
sharp intake of breath and looked away, unable to handle the fire that
burned brightly in her eyes.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“No, I’m not. Too many people know, about me, about us, vamps, because of me.”
“For heaven’s sake Mick, half the women in LA know about Josef! The few that you know are nothing compared to that.”
fought a smile at her words because he knew that she was right.
Finally it crept out and she laughed. He joined her, he had to or he
might very well go crazy.
“Okay, so it’s a bad idea, huh?”
had better ones. Mick, you’ve just been getting hit with a lot lately.
It will get better, together we can accomplish amazing things and we
can certainly withstand a few hundred of your long lost relatives and
past acquaintances.” She gave him a cocky grin and saw him respond with
one of his own.
“Only a few hundred?”
“Okay, so I
exaggerated a bit. But it will be fine. What isn’t so fine is that
fact that I stayed at home the other night and I’m still not okay with
“Beth, I didn’t have any idea what we were walking into.”
know that and I even, reluctantly, accept that. I didn’t have enough
experience to deal with it if there had been problems. But that needs
to change Mick. If I’m going to have your back I need to know how to do
that. I need training Mick. Can we work on that?”
He was taken
aback for a moment. She wanted to be able to help him, protect him?
The knowledge of that melted his heart. Was there anything she wouldn’t
do for him?
Was there anything he wouldn’t do for her? He knew the answer to both of those questions.
was livid! An uncontrollable rage welled up in him and there was no
outlet for it right now. He’d been double-crossed by the cop. The
bastard had let another vamp in on it all and now Malcolm’s plan was
about as useful as ice in the arctic. He didn’t know what the hell was
going on but that when he went to the rendezvous site the cop wasn’t
there but another vamp had been. Both of them probably laughing it up
over it all. When he’d saw another car pull up he’d been tempted to
wait and see what happened but caution made him get out of there
immediately. Calls to Fiorentino’s phone had gone unanswered too so he
wasn’t even going to be able to talk to him.
Vamps were the
rightful rulers of this world - top of the food chain. No doubt about
it and the Equalizers were going to be the ones to make sure it
happened. It could only happen if the humans turned on one another and
so it was time to call in a few other people to make it happen. The
humans had to suspect and fear one another, just like in the French
Revolution. Globally it hadn’t been possible to make it happen then but
now? It could be done with the right catalyst and that was
Yes, that’s what he needed to do, gather the others
and get the information out there. First he’d have to find out exactly
what the hell was going on with the cop though. One thing was for sure,
he was a dead man, one way or another.
To be continued…
**Beth’s Diary, Part 28 - 2