Thank you Lynn for the great pictures and LaLa for your amazing pen! Also, to Julia who solved a mystery!
Chapter 37 Progress
got home a bit earlier than usual and found that Josef wasn’t home yet
and the house was peacefully quiet. She told Franklin that she was
going to take a shower and he voiced his concern over her tired
“Miss Lani, would you care for a snack before your
shower? Forgive me, but you look quite tired. It might make you feel
better.” He smiled kindly at her and she smiled back at the older man.
He was so caring, always even though he was quiet and never interfered
“I’ll be fine, Franklin, but thank you so much for
asking. I’m sure I’ll feel a bit better after the shower.” She headed
up the stairs, eager to feel the warm water because it was uncommonly
cold for LA in November. The temperature today was in the low ‘40’s and
she felt chilled as well as tired.
She smiled at the tired part
and knew exactly why she felt so wiped out. She and Josef had been up
until 3:00 am and even as tired as she was she acknowledged that it had
been worth it.
As soon as the bedroom door closed behind her she
cast her clothes off, uncharacteristically leaving them where they
dropped. She knew she’d pick them up later as she headed into the
bathroom and turned the taps in the shower on. Soon a steamy mist
filled the room and she pinned her hair up and slipped a shower cap over
it since she’d washed it that morning.
The water felt heavenly
and she leaned against the wall for a moment, letting it wash over her
in a soothing cascade. By the time she finished and had dried off she
realized that Josef was home, in the bedroom. She hurriedly unfastened
her hair, letting it fall freely and slipped her robe on. When she
walked into the bedroom Josef was just pulling his shirt off. She
glanced at the floor and realized he’d picked up her clothes, something
that was unusual for him.
As soon as she stepped out of the
bathroom he caught the clean, sweet scent of the woman he loved but he
also caught a scent of fatigue. Since he was most likely the cause of
that weariness he felt a short-lived momentary pang of guilt and walked
to her and took her in his arms.
“Sweetness, I’m afraid I kept
you up too late last night.” He took her face in both his hands and
kissed her tenderly and felt her arms go around him, pulling him tightly
“Never, Josef, my love. How was your day?” she asked when he broke the kiss.
He smiled at her, the loving smile reserved only for her but she could sense the tension he was hiding, or trying to hide.
“You still haven’t found out anything about the killer, have you?”
and it’s getting harder to conceal. Two bodies have shown up in the
morgue now, same type of death and we can’t keep it out of the news much
longer. Carl and Ben are keeping it as quiet as they can but there are
limits to their abilities. We can’t figure out why he’s doing it or
His whole body was rigid as she ran her hands up
and down his back. “Why don’t you take a shower and when you get back
I’ll rub your shoulders and neck for you?” She kissed each of those
places lightly as she spoke.
“Deal, if you’ll rest while I’m in there. Lani, you really do look tired.”
you got it. Now go!” she said, sitting down on their bed. She watched
him finish undressing, appreciating the firm and sculpted muscles on
his abdomen and his tight ass. God, the man drove her crazy with need.
As he headed to the bathroom he tossed her an engaging smile and a
wink. He knew she wanted him!
“Go!” she said again, laughing.
the door closed she moved up in the bed and closed her eyes. It felt
wonderful and within a few minutes she was sound asleep.
how Josef found her, curled up with the soft sighs of her slumber
sounding like the sweetest music to his ears. He had to stop keeping
her up so late at night, but then again, holding her back when she
wanted him wasn’t always easy. He dropped the towel and slipped his
robe on and lay down beside her. She immediately shifted into his arms,
seeking the embrace of her mate, even in sleep.
For an hour they
rested, Lani sleeping soundly and even Josef managed to doze a bit
until he heard Franklin walking down the hallway. Josef glanced at the
clock and saw that it was almost seven, dinner time. He gently
disengaged her arm from around his waist and went to the door and opened
it as Franklin was walking away.
“I am sorry to disturb you. I was just going to let you know that dinner will be ready in a few minutes.”
“Thank you, Franklin. She’s sleeping still but she’ll need to eat too.”
sir. She did seem a bit tired when she came home. Why don’t I bring
dinner up to you? Miss Lani can have her dinner in bed.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea, Franklin. I’ll make sure she eats something.”
nodded and headed back down the hall, his physical appearance belying
the liveliness of his step. He’d been with Josef, one way or another
for over 300 years, give or take a few.
When he first met Josef he had been 17 and a cabin boy on Lola’s ship, Nocte Vita.
Josef had just been turned and still shied away from most of the hands
on the ship. Franklin, already a strapping young man, had taken a
liking to Lola’s newest playmate and brought him pilfered contraband
items from time to time. Things like books and a chess board he’d
managed to liberate from someone. They became fast friends.
years later he saw Josef again in a port in the Bahamas. He’d been
turned by then and was making his way in the vampire world. They
immediately renewed their friendship and whenever Josef and Lola made
port there they visited. Franklin owned a sugar cane plantation by then
and lived a fine planters life. When Josef left Lola he ran into
Franklin in North Carolina again and they’d been together ever since.
had made him more money than he’d ever be able to spend, even as a
vamp, but Franklin was content to make his home with Josef. He’d been
married once but she couldn’t handle the fact that he was a vampire when
it came down to it. Before the marriage she was fine and swore she
wanted to be turned but in the end it was too much for her.
worked for Josef through the years, unnecessarily, but he was a great
companion and knew most of Josef’s secrets. Josef’s urgings to just sit
back and relax were spoken to deaf ears and so life went on. He had
worried about Josef for many a century and was very happy when Miss Lani
came into his life.
Franklin prayed that this time the turning
would go well. The thought of Josef losing another love was almost more
than Franklin could stand.
This time it had to work. It had to…
Across town as Beth walked into the loft her phone rang and she smiled at it, excited to see who the caller was.
“Hi, Rose. How are you this evening?”
smiled at the excitement in Beth’s voice. It had been almost a week
since she’d gotten the results from the tests but a couple of
particularly trying medical cases had kept her from having enough time
to go and speak with her.
“Beth, I was wondering if I might come and speak with you this evening?”
“Yes, of course! Please do. Rose, I have so many questions!”
“And hopefully I’ll have answers for you. Shall we say 7 o’clock?”
“Yes, that would be fine. See you then!”
knew that Mick wasn’t home, her nose told her that. She looked on the
counter and found several offerings from the garden and she inhaled the
spicy aroma of the peppers and other veggies. Farmer Mick had been at
it again and she saw that he’d even washed them for her. She wandered
into his office to see if he’d left her a note and found what she was
looking for. He’d ran to the grocery store and would be home soon and
she wasn’t to touch the veggies because he was making her spaghetti for
Yum! He made
great sauce so she headed up to shower and get ready for her visitor.
By the time she was done she could smell the wonderful concoction he had
going in the dutch oven.
“Ooh, St. John, I swear that smells like heaven! What made you decide to do this?”
He kissed her and grinned, “Just because I love you. Oh, and I needed to use these up soon or they were going to rot!”
“Ah, I see. A matter of necessity! Can’t have your garden going to waste!”
I love that garden! Some day, Mrs. St. John, we are going to have a
house with a real backyard and a big garden in it where I will feed our
A sad look crossed her face and for a moment he felt
bad. They both had accepted that those kids would be adopted and they
were both okay with that. But sometimes, it still hurt.
“Hey, I’m sorry, baby.”
it’s okay. And I like your idea.” She smiled at him and he offered
her a taste of the sauce. She nodded her approval and said, “Hey, Rose
is coming over at seven. I think she has the test results!”
He nodded, happy and a bit scared as well. At least they would know for sure but really, he didn’t have any doubts about it.
“Good, it’s time to know what is going on Beth.”
nodded and watched as he got a pot out and ran water in it to boil the
spaghetti. “What did you find out today? Anything helpful?”
not really. Carl and Ben are trying to keep the information quiet but
if another body turns up in the morgue it’s going to be impossible to
keep it off the radar. We don’t have any idea where the hell this guy
is or why he’s doing this.” He leaned back against the counter and
said, “One nice thing happened today.”
“What?” she asked, excited by his tone.
came to see me and we talked, really talked. Got to know one another a
bit. It felt so good, Beth. She doesn’t hate me. I’m not so sure
about Ben though. He keeps his distance from me, but maybe in time.”
He shrugged and added the pasta to the boiling water and then set the
timer. “Catherine told me about something that happened in Ben’s past
and he apparently is pretty much a loner now.” He explained about
Michelle and watched as Beth’s face showed her sorrow for him. She was
so happy that she just wanted everyone else to be, too.
she’d eaten her dinner and the dishes were loaded into the dishwasher
they settled down to wait for Rose. Nestled together on the couch, his
arm around her shoulders she realized that her life was amazing and no
matter what Rose might tell her, it could never change this.
was anxious to tell him about his sister and yet a glance at the clock
showed that Rose was due at any time. It would have to wait until after
the visit and that’s all there was to it. She hoped that he’d take it
okay. She kind of thought he would, that there would be a part of him
that would be happy his sister was still alive.
A few minutes
later they heard the elevator ding and knew that Rose was here. Beth
all but ran to the door and her anticipation made Mick smile. She
opened the door before Rose even had the chance to knock.
“Rose! Come in, please. Would you like something to drink?”
smiled at the young one, so exuberant and engaging. She was going to
be a force to be reckoned with one day. “Hi Beth, Mick. Nothing for
me, I’m fine thank you. Shall we sit and chat?”
“Oh, of course. Please, have a seat,” Beth said as she sat back down next to Mick who had risen when Rose walked into the room.
“Well, the test results are back and as we thought, you are a descendant. No real surprise there.”
not really.” Beth drew in a long breath. Knowing it and hearing it
seemed to be two very different things. “Um, do we know who I’m
“Well yes, actually we do. You’re one of my descendants, in fact.”
small laugh of joy bubbled forth from Beth. Somewhere along the way
Rose was her great something or other grandmother. “Wow, I’m so
excited. Do you keep records so we know how it came to be?”
have a historian, Christophe, and he tracks what we know of but, Beth,
there are thousands of descendants and we only discover a very small
number of them. You are the first one we’ve found in over a century.
Unless they're turned we never know. Still, one of your parents has the
gene that is specific to us. Can they be tested?”
“Well, my mom would probably do it but I’ve never met my father.”
see. Well, in the long run it’s not terribly important. I have
something for you.” Rose reached into her bag and pulled out a jewelry
box. “All of us wear these, especially when we’re gathered for the
quarters and on the full moon.”
Beth took the velvet covered box
and opened it, staring in fascination at what was nestled inside. Her
hand covered her mouth as she let out a soft “Oh!”
Mick stared in horror and fixed Rose with a silver-eyed stare. “Is this supposed to be funny?”
Mick it isn’t. She can touch it, it won’t hurt her.” She gave Beth a
reassuring smile and then picked the pendant up out of the box and held
it out to her. “It’s okay, really.”
Beth slowly reached out her hand as Mick stared in anger. “Beth, don’t!”
hand slowly reached for it and then clasped the pendant. “It’s
beautiful.” The silver moon was simple by design and very lovely,
polished and smooth, it felt cool to her touch. And it didn’t burn her,
not a bit.
“It’s okay, Mick. It doesn’t burn me.” Mick could only stare in confusion as his wife admired the pendant.
“You’ll probably feel better if you wear it on the full moons, Beth. We are literally Children of the Moon and it comforts us.”
“So silver isn’t poison to her? What else?” Mick asked, curious now that he saw it wasn’t hurting her.
“Fire won’t destroy her. Actually many vamps are immune to fire, to varying degrees.”
thought back to Lance, that day in the lab and how he’d watched his
hand heal almost instantly. And Coraline, he’d left her staked and
burning and yet she’d survived. Was this how?
“My sire is one of the Duvall’s. They seemed to be resistant to fire. Is this how?”
mentally rolled her eyes, those Duvalls! “I hate to tell you this but
they are descendants, although they don’t know it. We do though because
they are in a familial line that we’ve managed to keep track of. Mick,
you most likely have that same characteristic.” She let him digest the
news for a moment and smiled at his next question.
“But the only way to find that out is to try it isn’t it?”
so! But it’s something to keep in mind. There are thirteen of us and
each of our familial lines has different gifts. Part of my linage is
mental abilities. Beth, you are going to be amazed at some of the
things you can do and Mick, as her partner you’ll likely be involved in
some of that. Beth, with training you’ll be able to communicate with
Mick mentally and maybe, just maybe he’ll be able to do the same with
you. You both have a very strong bond and that will help.”
Beth glanced at Mick and saw the amazed look on his face. “Together we can do this?”
“Most likely, especially once you start training. Something else, Beth. You cannot die. Ever.”
“You mean that I can’t lose my head?”
“No. It can’t happen. It won’t happen.”
“How can that be?”
just is. It’s part of the gift. You have so much to learn. I’d like
you to begin on the Winter Solstice. You’ll need to come to our
sanctuary for it. You as well, Mick because you have a great deal to
“I can’t come then. My mom is pregnant, due at the end of December and I need to be here. I’m sorry.”
“I understand that. March at the Equinox will be fine then. And try not to get pregnant before then.”
“Pregnant?” Mick and Beth said together. “That’s possible?”
“Of course. You’re here aren’t you?”
“But how? I mean, Mick is a vampire too.”
part of what makes you special is a gene that only we carry. I won’t
go into the technical aspects of it now, but you’ll learn more in March.
Your body knows exactly what to do with his sperm and it will do it,
trust me. But you can only get pregnant on the full moons though. No
Beth was holding tightly to Mick’s hand and both of
them had tears in their eyes. He leaned down and kissed her, smiling
into her beautiful eyes. “A baby!”
“I love this part of my life!” Rose exclaimed. “Yes, a baby, a dozen of them if you want.”
“I just can’t believe it. I mean, we wanted a child so badly before I was turned. Rose, this is the best news ever.”
so happy you think so. Now, some of the things you’ll do in March will
involve intense physical training, for both of you. Do you work out
“Yes, we do and I’m glad you brought that up. I want to begin to learn how to defend myself right away.”
that’s great, Beth. I’ll contact Brody, he’s our peacekeeper and
physical trainer. I’ll get him to come here and begin if that’s okay?”
“Yes, but how can someone be a peacekeeper and a physical trainer at once?”
“If he does the training right the peacekeeping is a piece of cake!”
“I have a friend who’s going to be turned in January. Can she learn with me?”
I don’t see why not.” Rose stood up, happy with the meeting. “I’ll
talk to Brody and see how quickly he can get here. I’ll need to find
somewhere for him to stay and where you can work out.”
came to Mick and he spoke up. “I own the building, actually we own it.
The apartment next door is vacant. We’ve been trying to decide whether
to expand into it but he can stay there and we can create a good size
work out area.”
“Hey, that sounds good.” She smiled at both of
them and added, “Well, young ones, I’m leaving now. Remember, NO babies
until you get through all your training. You can practice all you like
but not on the full moons!”
They both laughed and walked her to
the door and neither one was hesitant to hug her goodbye. As the door
closed they both laughed again like teenagers.
“Race you upstairs?” Beth teased.
were other people here, but he didn’t know how many. A few he guessed.
He heard them talking occasionally in the inky blackness. He hadn’t
said anything, even when someone had touched him and asked him his name.
He wasn’t sure where they were but there wasn’t even a tiny bit
of light anywhere to be seen here. He heard someone shuffle by and he
pulled his legs to him tightly so they wouldn’t trip. He heard that
person relieving themselves into some type of receptacle but there was
no flush which accounted for the smell.
The smell…god, the smell
was horrific. He felt like all his senses were amped up and he didn’t
understand why. Unwashed bodies, vomit, waste, it was overwhelming.
body shuffled past and he stretched his legs out once more. At some
point he slept again and awoke with a start when someone said, “Cover
A half a second later blinding lights came on and even with his eyes closed they burned him.
God, what was this place?
To be continued…