Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks

This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.

Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chapter 44 Planning

Sorry to be late everyone! My mom's 80th birthday was yesterday and I didn't get home until last night.

Chapter 44 Planning

“So, what’s your plan?” Luka inquired. It was weird talking in the pitch blackness, but over the past week or so he’d gotten used to it. He wondered if the real world even existed any longer. He technically knew that it did, but it seemed so far away from this reality that it was scary.

The reality that had changed drastically when he was captured by Shatel. As a cop he’d often seen the gritty, seedy side of humanity but vampires? They were characters in movies and books, creatures of mythical legend and it never for a moment crossed his mind that they could actually be real. And yet - here he was.

Beth St. John was a vampire, but she was far removed from that thing that kept them locked away. He was monstrous, squandering lives, tearing away their humanity in unimaginable ways. How could he ever go back to that pedestrian existence that he’d lived before this revelation that humans were not the only people on the earth?

Would he have the chance?

That remained to be seen but if there was even a tiny chance he was ready for it.

“When Shatel was, um, busy earlier I looked at the bars; did you realize that they aren’t anchored to the wall? They are built into a frame that sits into the wall opening. And, I believe it can be worked loose.”

Luka thought about it for a moment, remembering that she has seemed to be pushing on it a bit earlier. But that still didn’t mean that if they managed to get out of the cell that they could get out of this room. He’d heard the heavy bolt on the other side of the door and knew they’d never be able to break it down. He said as much to Beth.

“You're right, Luka. We have to wait until he comes into the cell. We need the bars pushed out of the way just enough so that I can slip out and into the bathroom. When we got here I saw a wooden plunger in there; if I can get it I can sharpen it on one end to make a stake. When he comes into the cell we can distract him and then I can stake him.”

“And that will kill him?”

“No, but it will paralyze him; he won’t be able to move and we can get out of the cell, lock him in and more importantly, slide the bolt on the door so that he’s trapped down here.”

“Then what happens to him?” Luka had a good idea, but he had to hear her say it.

“Luka, human justice can’t deal with him.”

He nodded, understanding that. “I know,” he said softly, again realizing that the world, the human world wasn’t ready for the knowledge of vampires.

“He won’t be able to move if we stake him?” Henry asked. “At all?”

“It’s sort of like vampire handcuffs. He’ll still be alive, but he’ll be unable to move. It’s the best chance we have to get out of here, guys. We’re running out of time.” She meant for Max and for her.

The need for blood was burning her, she needed it and tomorrow it would be worse, maybe uncontrollable. She’d never felt like this before; she literally felt as if her insides were on fire and nothing, not even the water helped.

“Beth?” Max called out and Beth looked back at her, unaware that she was awake.

Beth moved to her side and lightly stroked the hair off of her burning face. “Hey, you should be resting.”

“The full moon, you told me you have to drink blood then or you won’t survive. Beth, I’m close to dying, I know it. Tomorrow, if we’re still here you need to just drink my blood. Promise me.” When Beth didn’t say anything she repeated the words. “Promise me!”

“Hey, we’ll worry about that tomorrow, okay? For now, you just rest.”

“Beth, no offence but I have a flatter chest than you do; I can get through those bars easier than you can. Let me.”

Beth smiled in silent acknowledgment of Max’s statement. “Max, you don’t need to be up and you can’t see in the dark; I can. I can do it, okay?”

Luka and Henry had listened to the exchange and both wondered about the drinking blood thing. So far Beth hadn’t drank any, but evidently the full moon was special. Could she survive it?

Could they?

Beth turned back to the boys and said, “So, are you guys ready to help me work on these bars?”

“Let’s give it a try,” Luka said and all three went to the far end of the cell, the area he made them all move to when he came in and started pushing and pulling on the frame. Little by little it moved, the scraping sound seeming very loud in the dark. Beth wondered briefly if it was loud enough for Shatel to hear if he was here, in his freezer room. She’d heard him leave several hours ago but hadn’t heard footsteps again and felt sure he wasn’t here right now and time was crucial so she redoubled her efforts. They worked on it together, getting into a rhythm of motion, ignoring the bits of the cinderblocks that fell on them as they made progress.

An hour later they had managed to move the frame about 3 inches. She worried about making it so loose that it wouldn’t stand on its own but right now all she cared about was pushing it aside enough for her to slip through. Max was right, it would be easier for her but she was out of it again Beth could tell.

An hour later the gap was big enough and she slipped through and made a run for the bathroom and grabbed the plunger and pulled the stick out of the suction cup. She slipped back into the cell with it and they worked to push the frame back into the wall. It wasn’t as flush at it had been but hopefully Shatel wouldn’t notice.

“So, how do we sharpen the end of it?” Luka asked.

“The cinderblocks in here are really rough, we’re just going to have to grind it against them. It doesn’t have to have a perfectly sharp point, but the sharper we can make it the better.”

“How long is it, Beth?” Henry asked.

“About um, 2 feet I guess,” she estimated.

“What if we broke it in half? Sometimes when wood breaks like that it sort of splinters on the broken ends; it might make a better point to begin with.”

Beth thought about the suggestion for a moment and decided it was true. They’d have 2 pieces to work with and both would be long enough to work with if it broke fairly evenly. “Okay, that’s a good idea.”

Luka said, “Here, let me.”

Beth handed him the handle and watched as she stood on one end and pulled. It broke nearly in half and Henry was right, one of the pieces especially had a nicely jagged point on one end. “Great idea, Henry. This will be much easier to work with. I’ll work on one end of it, but I think we all need to rest a bit. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day I think.”

Luka handed her one of the pieces and said, “You’re right. Let’s rest.”

Beth curled up by Max and soon she heard the soft snores that told her Henry was sleeping. Luka was still awake though she could tell. She heard him release a long sigh and said, “What’s wrong, Luka?”

“What isn’t?” he whispered.

“We’re okay, and tomorrow we’ll be free.”

“I hope you're right. I just keep thinking about all of …this.”

“About vampires you mean?”

“Yeah, but about a lot of other things too I guess. Are there a lot of vampires, Beth?”

“More than you’d think.” She knew he had questions and thought it was better to let him ask them now.

“Which means?”

“I don’t know about everywhere else but here in LA the number fluctuates a bit around 300 or so.”

“That many? Wow, unbelievable.”

“Yeah, I thought so too, once.”

“How long, have you been, you know?”

“A few months. I was at a cookout on the beach and my throat was slashed. Mick had to turn me.”

“My god, I’m so sorry, Beth.” Thinking of Mick made him thing of Tejada. “When we brought Mick in for the lineup, did Carl know? Does he know now?”

“No, he didn’t. Not until later. What are you going to do about all this, Luka?” She was almost scared to ask; if he didn’t keep the secret they’d kill him she knew.

Luka was quiet; he’d asked himself that question a dozen times since Beth got here. He kept going back to what Carl had said after the Tejada thing - that regardless of whether he’d skipped town or been killed it was a good thing. That taking it to court was only going to get more people killed and still likely wouldn’t garner a conviction. Luka knew that he was right; prosecutors, judges, witnesses all had a way of dying or going missing when Tejada was involved.

Looking at a bigger picture, at vampires as a whole he knew that there wasn’t anything that realistically could be done. Kill them all? Not likely and he was also smart enough to know that you couldn’t put them into the human justice system so he assumed that there was some sort of vampire system to deal with them.

Beth waited and was patient; he had to work things out on his own. If he was determined to out them then he’d sign his own death warrant. She hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

While they were quiet both of them had started working on the stakes, rubbing the ends across the rough cinderblocks in an effort to hone the points a bit more. The scratchy sound was like listening to coarse sandpaper rubbing over wood and it made Beth grimace. Also, she realized that she was beginning to tremble, one of the first signs that she needed to feed on the full moon. Her body was already coursing with hunger but now it would get worse, much worse. Just the scent of their blood was driving her crazy and it was almost impossible to keep her mind off of it, the burning need. For the first time she began to have real doubts about keeping herself under control.

“To live, to exist, do vampires have to kill, Beth?”

“No, they don’t. That’s not to say that some don’t, obviously. Mick and I, the vamps we know buy our blood.”

“Buy it? From where?”

“Some people buy it from morgues and such; we buy ours from a service.”

“A service that provides blood? Do they know what for?”

“Yes, of course. Some people prefer to drink it straight from the vein.”

Luka winced at the thought of that. “People willingly let you drink their blood?”

“Yes. Lots of people actually. They, uh, well they consider the bite pleasurable. It releases endorphins. Sort of a high.” She didn’t tell him it was a sexual high as well.

“Wow. I would have never guessed. So this really isn’t as big of a secret as I would have thought. How do you keep everyone from knowing, Beth. It seems so risky.”

“It is, at times. Just one person who can’t be trusted telling what they know and it would be war, a war that neither side would win.”

“Yes, you apparently have some rather pronounced gifts; the strength, your hearing and sight too.” He let out a long sigh and said, “I won’t tell anyone, Beth. Do I have to sign in blood somewhere?”

She saw a slight smile tweak up the corners of his mouth and knew that he was okay with it all. “Of course. And then there is the monthly donation too!”

He let out a low chuckle and then was quiet again. “What Max said, about you having to drink blood on the full moon. That true?”

“Yes, it is. I’m trying really hard not to think about it. I’m scared, Luka.”

He reached over in the darkness and took her hand and gave it a slight squeeze and then withdrew it. “We’ll get out of here in time, Beth. Whatever it takes.”


“So, tell me about the messages, Mick?” Rose and Mick were in the office at the loft, seated on the couch and Mick leaned his head back for a moment and closed his eyes as he thought of Beth.

“I sort of heard her, when it happened, to begin with. It was like she was in my head and all I could think about was danger. It was enough to alert us and we discovered what had happened. Then other things, like black, which we found out was probably about the black van that they were in. Later on Victorville came to mind, and I couldn’t shake it.” He told her about their connection in Victorville the previous year and she listened to it all silently, actually amazed at how much information Beth was managing to get to him, especially without any training. Some day these two were going to be truly remarkable.

“That’s when I started thinking about silver. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, Rose.”

“Do you think she’s okay? I mean, has he tried to use silver on her?”

“No, I don’t think so. Last night, I wrote her a note and held it so she could see it, I hoped. I mean, she said she could see me, so I took a shot. It worked and I held my hand out to her and I actually felt hers touch mine. It felt slightly warm and was amazing.”

She grinned; these two didn’t need her. Seriously, they’d already surpassed what she would teach them. She told Mick that and he seemed irritated by it.

“No, we need to learn how to refine it more, Rose. We need help.”

“Mick, the first thing I would have taught you both would be to create a physical connection that you could use. You’ve both figured that out. Now it’s a matter of just continuing to do it. It will strengthen as you do. Focus, Mick. Keep her face in your mind and imagine a physical connection between you.”

He felt completely frustrated; he knew she was trying to help but there had to be something else! “What about interpreting the messages, Rose? I don’t know what silver means.”

“Yes, that is puzzling. Do you get any type of image with it?”

“No, but then I didn’t with black either. The thought isn’t terribly focused, just sort of a vague thing.”

“Perhaps later when it’s quiet you can make contact with her again, do another sign. Ask her what is silver?”

“Yes, it’s worth a try,” he said, rubbing his hand down over his face. He was tired; although he’d rested a bit last night he needed his freezer to feel at his best. Problem was, he didn’t think he could sleep in it without her by his side. “We’re pretty bad at this aren’t we? Beth and me I mean.”

“Quite the contrary actually. Mick, what you two have managed so far is extraordinary, especially since you’ve not had any training. When she is back and you two work on this together - well, let’s just say that what you will be able to achieve will be mind-blowing.”

“You really believe we’ll get her back?”

“Of course. Remember what I said about her not being able to die? That’s true, although there is one way she can, that we can, that is.”

Mick’s head jerked up sharply at her words. “You said she couldn’t die!”

“The only way she can is by her own choice, Mick. She can choose to die. That’s the only way.”

Mick wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or not but it did make him a bit more confident that they’d get her back safely in this situation. But first they had to find her. He finally nodded and stood up. “Rose, thanks. I appreciate the advice.”

“Of course. If it’s okay Brody and I would like to be a part of the search process. We also have resources and have a computer specialist as well. Perhaps Ishaq and your Logan can work together?”

“Sure, I’ll talk to him,” Mick said, hoping that Logan would be alright about it.

“We also have a helicopter at our disposal, so we can get two of them in the air, with Mr. Kostan’s, if that is okay.”

Mick had to blink back the burning sensation that stung his eyes, so grateful for more help. “Yes, that will be good. Logan is coordinating the search grid so let’s talk to him and he and Ishaq, is that right? They can work on it together.”

“Yes, Ishaq.” She nodded and they walked to the door. “Mick take a few minutes whenever you can to try and focus on her. If she can see you, she’ll know what you're doing and it will be good for both of you.”

“Okay, I will. Thank you so much, Rose.”

Back in the group new plans were made. Brody was also a pilot so he’d be running the second search grid. Logan was more than happy to share information with Ishaq and so the search got a large boost in resources, which made them all happy. Audrey monitored the traffic cams in LA, figuring that sooner or later he’d come back to either dump a body or abduct someone else. They hadn’t spotted him yet, but they would. They had to.

A little while later Mark and Rodney showed up at the door. They had been working on a plan to cover the girl’s disappearance at Buzzwire tomorrow. Mick listened, amazed that he hadn’t even given it a thought but the fewer people who realized that Max and Beth were actually missing, the better.

“We’re just going to say that Beth is with her mom for a few days because she was having a rough time,” Mark said.

Dorothy nodded, agreeing to go along with that. “If any of them try to contact us I’ll cover.”

“Great. We’re going to say that Max is sick and home for a few days. Rodney is going to fill in as editor in chief.”

Mick looked up, surprised. He didn’t know that Rodney had any experience in this field.

Mark saw his shock and added, “Mick, Rodney spent 25 years at the Times. He can handle it and cover well.”

Mick realized he’d never heard Paula and Rodney’s last name but now he knew. “Rodney Hayes? The crime beat?”

“Yep, guilty,” Rodney said. “We can do it for our girls. Let’s just get them home safe.”

“They couldn’t have a better person looking for them, Rodney. Actually the whole team,” Dorothy said, smiling at Mick. “He’s brought her home before and it will happen this time too.”

“I’ve heard about that. I have complete confidence in him.” Rodney looked directly at Mick and Mick could tell that he meant it.

He hoped that he was worthy of their confidence. But he knew in the end he would find her, find them.

He had to.

To be continued…

Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapter 43 The Darkness Within

Shatel drove through the sheets that were cloaked in a silken sheet of darkness, looking for somewhere to hide the van for a bit while he could find his prey. It was getting much harder to find either, thanks to word of mouth by the homeless population and the fact that Tango had Cleaners out everywhere, trying to find him. They’d actually came close a few times but close didn’t really count when all was said and done.

When he finally made contact with his choice, they came willingly, usually. Kindred spirits of a sort you might say. They knew the same abject loneliness that he did; adrift in a world that neither saw them nor wanted them. He’d spent the last 170 years in this life, alone and lonely.

Vamps shunned him because of his scent and humans because of the scars. Both societies can be cruel, even when they don’t intend to be but that wasn’t usually the case - they knew they were cruelly ignoring him. He had no heart left any longer, only the painful memories of a life that hadn’t been like this etched into his head. A time when friends and companionship had made life, even as a vamp worthwhile.

Yes, the homeless accepted what he offered usually - a way out of the hurtful desolation of their existences. He sought that release and knew that when this was done he’d have it but in the meantime the two who brought all this about would pay the price, literally.

Why did he bring St. John into all this? Why? She seemed to be the darling of all who knew her but at first he only saw a way to twist the knife for Kostan and Tango a bit more. He’d had no intention of taking the human female with him but when he saw how much St. John cared for her and tried to protect her he’d brought her along in hopes that she’d be a control measure for the vampire that frankly scared him.

Her eyes! He’d never seen the likes before. They swirled in their beautiful brilliance. They were enticing, almost hypnotic and he felt strangely drawn to her. Yes, she’d tried to use allure on him at first but it hadn’t worked. She was young; probably didn’t know that allure didn’t usually work on other vamps. Especially the way she was pushing it. Subtlety, she sure could use a bit of that.

She was a fighter and he admired that. And he knew that she would go down fighting. Could he really stand to starve her as he planned? He knew that he could because she’d take care of the humans that he couldn’t.

He couldn’t touch the cop or the preacher because they had lives. He hadn’t wanted to take them but both left him no choice. They weren’t ready to leave this earth and he couldn’t be the one to shed their blood. But St. John? She could and would, when the burning hunger got bad enough.

Nineteen down and thirteen left to go. Then he’d find the sweet oblivion he sought.



Dorothy took the news calmly; deceptively so Clark feared. “She’ll be fine; she IS fine,” Dorothy said Sunday morning when he told her.

“Yes, I agree she’ll be fine. Honey, it’s alright to be upset about it, to be worried.”

“Clark, don’t mistake me, I’m plenty worried, but Mick will find her and bring her back. He always finds her, no matter how hard it might seem. We need to go and see him, let him know that we’re there for him.”

“Okay, whatever you want. We’ll go right after breakfast then.”

“Okay, right after breakfast,” she repeated and didn’t say another word.

She was in shock, Clark knew the signs. She’d be okay but she was holding onto her control so hard right now that it worried him. He’d have to watch her carefully because when she gave in to the fear, and she would he knew, it wasn’t going to be easy for any of them.


At the Kostan house Lani wasn’t taking it quite so well. No, not well at all Josef decided as she paced the room with tears streaming down her face.

“Sweetness, you need to calm down now. Mick will find her, we’ll find her. The helicopter is already up, Logan had got it on a schedule of search grids and we are going to find her, I promise.”

She cast him a baleful look as she recognized the placating voice he was using. “Josef, don’t tell me how to act or how to feel. I need to get this out of my system because we’re going over to see Mick and I don’t want him to see me so upset. He’s going to need our strength and I intend to have some for him.”

“Yes, you are right, Lani. I just hate to see you so upset.”

She nodded, acknowledging that he was being honest about it. “I have to call Robbi. She needs to know.”

“Would you like me to get your phone for you?”

“Yes, please.” She grabbed some tissues and blew her nose and then went and splashed water on her face. She had to pull herself together before speaking to Robbi. And Dorothy, she needed to talk to her as well. God, she was probably going crazy.

Josef arrived with her phone with Franklin following with breakfast for her. She looked at it and realized she was actually hungry. The tray held melon, toast and a scrambled egg with some juice. She smiled her gratitude to Franklin and sat down to eat.

When he took the tray away a while later she made the call to Robbi who was as upset as Lani was.

“What do we do, Lani?”

“Stay strong, Robbi. Pray? I don’t know. But we don’t give the bastard who took her the satisfaction of letting this take over our lives!”


Mick awoke from a deep slumber when he heard someone pounding on his door; that someone being Josef. Lani was with him, he recognized from the scent. He sat up and looked around the living room, where he’d slept last night. He hadn’t been able to bear the thought of sleeping in the freezer, their freezer. He’d went upstairs, intending to do it but when he lifted the lid her smell overcame him and he shut it quickly and stood with his hands resting on top of it and his heart thudding irregularly in his chest. The unusual dance that his heart was doing warmed him slightly, a feeling he usually only got after he and Beth had made love.

He’d stared at the freezer and headed back downstairs. Instead of being comforted by the strength of her scent he knew that it would only make him miss her more. He needed to rest because what was ahead of them was going to take all his strength and determination. He would find her, his Beth.

“Just a minute,” he said, coming to his feet and heading for the door. He ran his fingers through the tousled mess of his hair and tugged his Henley into place but he couldn’t do anything about the anguish that was vividly etched across his face.

“Hey,” he said as he opened the door for his friends.

Lani went to him and hugged him tightly. “We’re going to get her back, Mick.”

He nodded and tried to hold himself together. Josef had gone directly to the kitchen and pulled a glass out of the cabinet and then poured O+ from a thermos into it. He’d also carried in his laptop in a bag as well as the small bag that had the thermos in it. The bag held juice and snacks in it too, in case anyone got hungry. Meaning Lani or Dorothy because he knew that Clark and Dorothy would show up here as well. This would be their base of operations most likely.

“Fresh, so drink it up. You’re going to need it.”

Mick nodded silently and drank it down. He shook his head at Josef’s inquiry about more. “Do you guys mind if I take a quick shower?”

“Go ahead. I want to check in with Logan; he and Audrey have the chopper searching grids and we’ll see if they’ve found out anything yet.

They all knew that if anything had been found, however slight it might be that Logan would have let him know but Josef needed something to do, needed to be busy.

Lani straightened the pillows on the couch and realized that Mick had slept there. She could understand that; if something happened to Josef she would have a hard time sleeping in their bed she knew.

Josef set up the laptop computer he’d brought and logged on, bringing up the search grid. The areas that were in gray had already been searched and there weren’t all that many of them so far. It was slow going to be sure.

A few minutes later Mick was back, hair still damp but he felt a bit better. Josef told him what was going on with the search and he listened to it all, thinking about what Beth had managed to tell him but the silver reference still didn’t jibe with anything.

Mick and Josef heard the elevator ding and looked up a moment before someone knocked. Two human scents and four heartbeats only meant one thing and Josef went to answer the door as Mick continued to stare at the computer map of the area they were searching.

He rose to his feet as Dorothy and Clark entered and hugged Dorothy for a moment. She kissed him on the cheek and sat down in a chair across from the couch, one that was easier for her to get up from.

“Dorothy, Clark, would you like some juice or coffee?” Lani asked.

“I’d love some coffee, Lani,” Clark said, already engrossed in the computer map.

“Nothing for me, Lani. I’ll help though,” Dorothy said and joined her in the kitchen as Lani made the coffee.

Dorothy watched Lani as she performed the functions to get the coffee brewing and saw that though she was trying to hide it she was afraid. Dorothy had known her for too many years not to recognize the tight lips and worried brow that Lani was exhibiting.

“Lani, she is going to be okay, sweetheart.”

A lone tear slipped down Lani’s cheek and she tried to nod but the movement was more of a jerk as opposed to a nod. “I called Robbi, so she knows as well.”

“I see.” Dorothy wondered about the wisdom of that because it might be better if fewer people knew about it, but she recognized that Lani had probably needed the comfort from her. “Well, it’s going to be okay; I feel it in here,” she said, indicating her heart.

“I think so too but it’s just so hard waiting, you know?”

“I do indeed. Not my first time at this, but Mick brought her back safely then and he’ll do it again now.”

They both jumped a bit when there was another knock on the door. Mick answered it and stepped aside, letting in a blond woman and tall, handsome black man.

“Hi, Mick. Are we interrupting?” At Mick’s negative shake of his head she continued, “This is Brody. Brody, Mick St. John.”

The men shook hands and in the age old ritual assessed one another and both liked what they saw. Brody met Mick’s eyes unflinchingly and Mick saw not only compassion in them but strength.


“I’m glad you're here, Rose because I’m really getting confused messages from Beth and I don’t know how to interpret them.”

“I’ll do what I can to help, Mick. You should know though that the training you need was something that needed to be done together, to increase the bond you have. However, that being said the fact that she’s getting through to you at all is amazing and so it might be easier than I think.”

“Come on in and I’ll introduce you to everyone.”

Rose was very interested to meet Beth’s mom and her friend, Lani. Lani was going to be turned according to Beth, sometime after the first of the year. As the men, including Brody looked at the search process and talked strategy Rose went into the kitchen to talk with Dorothy and Lani. She noticed immediately that the younger woman wasn’t feeling well.

“Lani, forgive me but are you feeling well? I’m a doctor and I can’t help but notice that you are very pale.”

Lani glanced down rather sheepishly; she wanted them to worry about Beth, not her. “I’m okay. It’s Beth that is the concern now.”

“Yes, we’re going to get her back, but seriously, why don’t you come to see me in the office tomorrow? Let me run a few tests. You very likely are a bit anemic, judging by your pallor.” And her scent, but a human wouldn’t realize that. Kostan should have though.

“I - okay. Truthfully, Beth was going to call you tomorrow and see if you’d see me. I…well, it’s a little difficult to explain the marks on my neck to my doctor.”

Rose smiled at her and briefly put her arm around the young woman. “Of course it is. Any time tomorrow afternoon will be fine, okay?”

Lani nodded and seemed relieved; so did Dorothy. She looked very healthy and outside of the current stress the pregnancy seemed to be going well and Dorothy confirmed as much as they chatted.

“And twins for you as well. My goodness, you are going to have a lot of action going on.” She looked at Dorothy’s belly for a moment and added, “Another few weeks, I’d guess.”

“That’s what my doctor says but let me tell you, I’m ready anytime!”

“Watch yourself during this stressful situation, Dorothy. Are you having Braxton-Hicks?”

“Yes, often. One of the joys of pregnancy, I guess.”

“Um, indeed. I spoke with Beth recently about her family; whether she is a descendant from you or her father. Did she speak of that with you, if I might ask?”

Dorothy was a bit surprised by how direct Rose was. She reminded her of Beth and not just in attitude. There was something a bit similar in their features as well. “Yes, she did and mentioned a DNA test to find out if it is from me. I’d be glad to do it.”

“If it were you, if you were ever turned you be like Beth, you know.”

“You mean able to eat food?”

“Yes, that and other things. It’s hard to say what all, unless it happened.”

Mick came over and grabbed the thermos of blood and poured another glass. Neither of the human’s in the kitchen flinched or ever acted uncomfortable with it. He stood by the sink and drank it down and told them that so far only 4 grids had been searched.

They all walked back into the living room and saw that they computer had been plugged into the television so the picture was bigger and they could all see it better.

“All they have to go on is that black van, which could be in a garage for all we know. It’s so damn frustrating. These areas here, east of Victorville - that’s where they are searching?” Mick asked as he studied the map. “How do we know they are east?”

“Logan thought he might have picked up another look at the van early this morning. It’s all we got, Mick.” Josef rocked back on his heels, knowing how little they had to go on.

“I just wish I’d hear her again. Maybe she’d give me another clue.”

“I know. Mick, why don’t we go into your office while they continue the search and we’ll talk about the other things you think Beth has been trying to tell you?” Rose told him, seeing that he was getting more upset as he stared at the screen.

He nodded and they two of them headed into the office and closed the door. Rose didn’t know if she could help but she was going to try.


About 5 miles west of Victorville, Shatel was just getting back with his latest victim. Like most of the others, this one had come to him willingly after he’d dumped the other body. Yes, they just wanted peace, a place where they didn’t hurt or weren’t lonely any more. He made the drive home as the sun was coming up and winced as he got out of the van with the body that was still sleeping off the effects of the chloroform. Inside and down the stairs, into his private room for a few minutes, to pull out supplies for the others. He walked back out to the landing and opened the door to the bunker.

Beth was awakened when she heard a door close, from outside on the landing. Shatel must use that other room down here, probably where his freezer was she decided. She heard the bolt slide on this door and the light was flipped on right before she shut her eyes tightly.

Shatel opened the door and entered the room and looked around at them. He had another body over his shoulder, the man apparently unconscious. He pointed to the other end of the cell and they all moved as directed. Luka had told her not to talk to him when he was in there because he was convinced that Shatel would kill her if she did.

Beth wasn’t convinced of that at all and besides, Rose had said she couldn’t die but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t stake her and that wouldn’t help anything. He didn’t need her blood and he seemed a bit intimidated by her too she had noticed. She watched as he carried the body into the cell and then looked at the rest of them as if debating who to choose. His gaze landed on Max and Beth growled, her fangs bared and she noticed that he took a quick step backwards. He finally pointed to the one named Jimmy who grabbed the bucket without a protest.

It was hard, knowing what was going to happen next and knowing that she couldn’t do anything about it. She stayed in the end of the cell, but stood by the bars seemingly to watch what was going to happen.

Actually, what she was doing was checking out the bars themselves. She noticed that they weren’t anchored into the wall but were fastened into a frame. It seemed to fit tightly but she couldn’t see any bolts holding the frame in place. She pushed against it when Shatel was filling his cup and the resulting scrape sounded louder than a drum. The human’s didn’t hear it but she did and Shatel as well as he flipped a quick look over his shoulder but Beth was already back over against the wall.

He left the body to finish draining and went to get them their daily food rations. Beth again went to the bars and wiggled them again, now completely convinced she could work them loose.

When Shatel entered the room again he gave them their water and bananas for the humans. He stared at Beth and she noticed a slight upturn at the corner of his mouth, almost a grin. She stared at him, focusing hard and let her eyes turn and for a moment he stood transfixed, unable to move.

He wanted her to kill them, the ones he couldn’t kill.

“Not going to happen,” she said in vamp tones.

“We’ll see,” he responded.

He left then, the body over his shoulder and the lights went out, leaving them to the darkness once again. Beth grabbed a bottle of the water and the banana and headed over to Max to try and coax her to eat.

As soon as she touched Max she gasped. She was burning up. “Something is wrong,” she said. “Max, Max, come on, wake up. You need to drink some of this water.”

Luka and Henry made their way over to her, following her voice. “What’s wrong?” Henry asked.

“I don’t know. She’s burning up though.”

Henry reached out and felt Max’s forehead. Beth saw him frown in the darkness. “I was a medic during Operation Desert Storm,” he said as he reached for her wrist to take her pulse. He didn’t have a watch so he couldn’t time it but it was rapid, too rapid. That much he was sure about.

“My husband was a medic in the army,” Beth said, worried about her friend.

“The Iraq war?”

Beth smiled briefly which he couldn’t see of course and said, “World War II.” She saw the shocked look on his face for a moment but that faded as he remembered that her husband was a vampire.

“Beth?” Max said, her voice barely a whisper.

“I’m here, Max. You need to drink a bit of water, you’re burning up with a fever.”

“No, my stomach hurts.”

“Max, it’s Henry. Does you have an actual pain or do you mean you just feel sick to your stomach?”

“Both, I think.”

“Max, can you take my hand and put it where it hurts? I’m a medic.”

Max took his hand without fear and laid it on the side of her stomach. Henry gently pushed and she cried out at the pain. He moved his hand around a bit but nowhere else made her cry out like that spot had.

“I think she has a hot appendix.”

“Oh my god. Does that mean that it’s ruptured?”

“I don’t think so, not yet anyway. Once it ruptures, it doesn’t generally hurt as much. But at that point her whole abdomen becomes compromised without antibiotics.”

He moved away from Max and Beth and Luka followed him to the end of the cell. “She’ll die soon after that happens because gangrene will set in.”

She needed out of this cell and quickly. She told them, “Then we’d better get busy because I’m not going to let that happen! I have a plan.”

To be continued…

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chapter 42 Love Always Finds a Way

Malcolm stood in front of Dakota and the ever present, ever clinging Vixen who seemed to do most of the thinking for him. He had to force himself to stand still and not squirm under the scrutiny of their gazes. He waited a full 3 minutes before they chose to speak to him.

“Well, what excuse do you have this time, Malcolm? Or is it Matthew? Which name are you using this time?” Dakota fixed Malcolm with a wintry stare and then flicked an unseen bit of lint off of his arm, disdain written all over his manner.

“Excuse? Try the hard truth, Dakota.”

Vixen sighed and pursed her scarlet lips together, an eyebrow arched to an unbelievable degree. “The real truth or your truth, Malcolm?”

“The only truth. This isn’t the 1790’s, Dakota and the French Revolution. You cannot just whisper witch or vampire and have the people run in panic and revolt. There are now witches everywhere and don’t even get me started on vampires! They love vampires! They read books about them, watch movies and television programs about them. Hell, they think they’re sexy and women drool over the thought of meeting one. The old plans don’t work any longer!”

“You weren’t told to follow the old plans, Malcolm. You were assigned to make the humans suspicious of one another and thus cause fighting amongst themselves.”

“The humans are already fighting amongst themselves and they’re actually pretty good at it. This country fights that country, one god fights another for supremacy, neighbors against neighbors and brother against brother; the list goes on and on,” Malcolm stated with a grimace. “Just leave them alone, they’re getting rid of one another all on their own.”

“We don’t want them to be gotten rid of you imbecile! Where would that leave us? We are a superior race; it is our destiny to rule them because we are stronger, faster and smarter than they are.” Dakota looked down at his fingernails for a moment as if contemplating his next words. “Well, some of us are at any rate.”

Malcolm knew that his cause was lost. They weren’t going to listen to him, that much was clear. He sighed in resignation. “So sorry to have disappointed you, Dakota.”

“Disappointed you say? Sorry? I actually expect little from you and you couldn’t even manage that. You are worthless.”

The words at first pained him and then made his blaze with anger. “If we are so much smarter than the humans how is it that they managed to figure out that the guillotine was the way to kill us before? We couldn’t win against them then and we can’t win against them now!”

“SILENCE! Enough of your whining!” Dakota motioned to two guards who had been waiting in the shadows of the room to come forward. “Stake him and throw him into a cell. We’ll see how three months of depravation suits him!”

Malcolm stared at Dakota with hatred blazing in his eyes. Silently he let the guards escort him out of the room. Three months was a long time to be staked, and while his body won’t move his brain would be active. Lots of time to plan revenge. He was tired of working for the Equalizers, there had to be something better out there.

He’d figure it all out, one way or the other.


Josef came home, reluctant to tell Lani about what had happened. He was very worried about her to begin with because she hadn’t been feeling well. He’d done nothing more than the bite, without drinking blood when they made love but it hadn’t helped. He’d even tried to back away from intimacy with her but she was insistent that they make love often. Something was wrong and he didn’t know what it was.

Her taste was a bit different as well and for the life of him he couldn’t tell exactly what the difference was and that made him worry all the more. He’d suggested that she see her doctor and she’d only sighed and said that maybe she should. But so far she hadn’t made an appointment and he had decided no more sex until she went to get checked out.

Now, he had to tell her about Beth and he didn’t know how to do that. The two of them were so close and she was going to freak out with worry, no way around it. Josef didn’t even want to think about telling Dorothy and Robbi; Dorothy surely didn’t need the added stress right now.

Franklin greeted Josef in the foyer and immediately knew that something terrible was wrong. “What has happened, Josef?”

Josef pursed his lips, his grim look startling Franklin. “I have to give Lani some bad news, Franklin. Beth has been kidnapped and we’re not really sure where to look for her.”

“Go to Miss Lani, Josef and I’ll bring you a drink.”

“Yes, I will. How is she feeling?”

“She’s very quiet, and pale as well. She did mention that Miss Beth was going to call a friend of hers, a doctor who is a vampire so that she didn’t have to explain, er, the marks on her neck.”

Suddenly, Lani’s reluctance to go to the doctor made sense. But just as the relief of that feeling washed over him he realized that since Beth wasn’t here Lani would have to wait. They needed to find someone else and quickly. Josef couldn’t help but smile a bit at how much Lani had confided in Franklin who had taken on the role of father figure to her; Josef knew that Franklin would fight to the death to protect her, but he certainly hoped it would never come to that.

“Did she eat dinner?”

“Yes, she did. She seemed hungry.”

Josef nodded, a bit relieved. “Is she in the living room?”

“Yes, she is.”

Josef murmured his thanks and headed down the hall. He found Lani curled up on the sofa, an afghan wrapped around her with a book in her lap. She’d evidently been reading when she’d fallen asleep. He decided to carry her up to bed; his drink could wait. He scooped her up in his arms and she snuggled against his neck and he heard a soft, breathy, “Josef…”

As he carried her up the stairs he was thankful that tomorrow was Sunday and she could sleep and rest all day if she liked, if she would and he somehow doubted that she would when she heard about Beth. But still, he hoped that she’d be willing to do just that.

First thing in the morning he was going to get the helicopter up and begin searching, if they had any information at all to go on. Just searching for a black van that might or might not be in a garage somewhere wasn’t going to be of much help. He hoped that Logan might be able to give them some type of coordinates, somewhere to start at least.

At some point during the evening Lani had changed into a nightgown and robe and he removed the robe and slid her into the bed, tucking the covers securely around her.

When he started to walk away she held her hand out and said, “Don’t leave me, please?”

He leaned down and kissed her and murmured, “I’ll be back as soon as I undress, Sweetness. Just close your eyes and rest.”

She nodded and fell immediately back asleep, knowing he’d be in bed and holding her soon.

He stood looking at her even more worried than before. She had been so excited about the party this afternoon but perhaps it had been too much for her? He knew that she’d never have missed it but she was just so worn out that even that little bit of excitement had been too much it seemed.

He headed downstairs and quickly told Franklin the whole story while he drank some fresh A- and chased it with a glass of scotch. Franklin was very upset over the news because he also adored Beth; she and Lani were so happy and lively together and they always brought a smile to his face. He hoped that they would find her quickly.


Mick made the call he’d been dreading and as luck would have it Clark answered the phone; it seemed Dorothy was sleeping because she’d been tired after the party.

Mick heard Clark’s heartbeat speed up and his breathing become harsh as he waited for him to talk. Finally Clark got himself under control and said, “What happens now?”

“We do whatever we have to until we find her, Clark. I know she’s okay because she’s sending me messages.”

“Messages? How?” Clark was thoroughly confused.

“I don’t know, mentally I guess. Rose told us it would be possible, but she never worked with us about it but Beth is doing something because I can feel her at times and I knew when it happened because she told me.”

“Have you talked to Rose to see if she can help more? Maybe we can track her that way.”

“I’ve left a message for Rose and hope to hear from her soon. When are you going to tell Dorothy?”

“In the morning; I won’t wake her up with this news. She’ll be pissed at me but she’s going to need to get every bit of rest she can.”

“Sounds like a good idea. Look, I’ll keep you updated, okay? Every step of the way, Clark.”

“I know you will, Mick. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Clark.”

Clark stared at the phone for a moment, and then hung it up in the cradle. He had almost said, I know you will son. He felt as if Mick was his son in many ways and not just because he was married to Beth whom he considered his daughter. This family was becoming more cohesive and a real family, as it never had been before. He and Logan were once again like brothers, the girls were all together; it was good. No it was amazing and all because of a vampire named Mick St. John, who had brought the family together.

Now they just had to bring Beth home and somehow, deep in his gut he knew that they would.


Audrey and Logan worked feverishly, trying to narrow down the search areas for Beth and Max. They ran through the traffic cams and satellites over and over, looking for a clue as to where the van had disappeared to.

Logan was sure that had skirted Victorville, not gone directly into it but that left a lot of ground to cover. If the van had actually gone into Victorville they surely would have picked it up on the traffic cams. So, did they head farther east or did they head north, via 395? Both ways had lots of desolate landscape, which might be good for moving around without being spotted. Both were desert areas though, rough for a vamp to handle.

They finally settled on using a terra-gazer satellite which gave them the clearest pictures and would be the least likely to focus unwanted attention on them. The terra-gazers were used by scientists to track changing topographical information and could provide fairly clear pictures and the best part was that they were all real time pictures. They would have to search grid by grid; it was slow but if there was a black van that wasn’t parked in a garage they might find it.


They hoped.

Audrey fixed coffee and even Logan drank some; it might not do anything for a vamp but it was comforting for him, the warm brew reminding him of all night study sessions in college.

The boys watched it all with curiosity and then finally curled around one another and slept. If their thoughts could have been interpreted Logan and Audrey would know that the cats thought mom and dad were crazy and that the clickity-clack of the keyboard made a lot of noise. Still, they slept the night away as Audrey and Logan scanned the landscape. At sunrise they realized how much they had missed in their haste to find something at night. Both of them decided to get a few hours rest and come back during day light hours and search some more.

It wasn’t much but at least they felt as if they were doing something.


Beth looked around her, at the cell that held them captive. One of the advantages of vamp vision was that it was easy for her to see in the pitch blackness of the bunker. Max was resting, but she still felt too warm and had only drank a bit of the water and refused to eat any of the apple. Beth had ate it at Max’s insistence and she had but she was already aware that although she could eat human food, her body still wanted the blood and in a few days it would demand it.

Luka had said very little so far; he’d obviously realized she was a vampire too but neither he nor Henry seemed afraid of her. She had a million questions and realized that both of them were still awake and decided now was as good a time as any to ask.

“How often does he come in here?”

“Once a day or so, it seems anyway. Time in here is sort of, well, it’s hard to tell for sure,” Luka said.

“And he always brings some water and food? Is that how you’re surviving?”

“Yes but it’s not usually much. Enough to keep us going, considering that we don’t need a lot of energy because we’re not expending much. Beth, how long have I been here?”

Beth thought about it and answered, “Six days, Luka.”

He nodded in the dark and didn’t realize she could see him. “My estimations were pretty accurate then. Henry has been here a bit longer, almost two weeks then.”

“And others have been brought in and killed, but you two have just been left alone?”


“Any idea why?”

“It’s because we’re different,” Henry said. “We had…lives…I guess. Most of these people were street people; nowhere to go and nothing to do really.”

“How did you both end up here?”

Luka spoke first, saying “I was going to meet someone about a list. Carl and I had been trying to arrange it for awhile and when the call came in Carl wasn’t available so I stupidly went on my own. He found me there and I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I surprised the hell out of him, but then he surprised me too.”

“It was the same for me really. I run the men’s shelter near Hudson Park; I’m the pastor there and I heard a scuffle in the alley and went out to investigate. He got Walden and I both that night.”

“What happened to Walden?”

“The same thing that you saw tonight, a couple of days after we got here. It’s the same thing, over and over.”

“Why do you think he’s targeting street people? It doesn’t make sense.”

“I don’t know. For the most part they are quiet when they get here. Maybe they figure it’s at least a place to sleep now that winter is coming. I’m not really sure, Beth.”

“Somehow guys, we’re going to find a way to end this. I don’t know how yet, but we will find a way.”

All three were silent, thinking about those words and the possibilities they held. Beth settled down on the floor, trying to quiet her mind so she could focus on Mick, on communicating with him. She hoped that practice would make perfect.


Mick settled back on the couch, thinking of Beth. Rose had called and she and Brody would be over in the morning but in the meantime she had told him to just focus on his connection with his mate. He imagined seeing her face, the feel of her in his arms, wrapping himself in the sweet scent of her. He ached to hold her in his arms, safe from all harm.

A thought occurred to him suddenly - that she could see him, wherever he was she had said. Even at this distance he wondered? A new idea came to him and he went to his office and pulled a sheet of paper from the printer and a black marker out of his desk. The words her wrote were simple but he meant them with all his heart.

He went back to the living room and settled back on the couch with the sheet of paper on his chest so that if she saw him she might be able to read his words.

My Beth, I love you. I will find you.


Her mind searched for his and then she saw him, on the couch in the loft. She read his message to her and it brought tears to her eyes as she read his words, his heart.

I love you too, Mick. I love you.

He knew, he felt her. He brought his hand to his lips and kissed his fingertips and held the hand out in front of him, just as he had done in New York, against the taxi window. A tear trickled down his face as he realized he felt warm, the warmth of her love across the miles.

Beth reached her hand out to his, their fingers touching for a magical moment, each warm and secure in their love.

Distance cannot keep two hearts apart that are meant to be together.


To be continued…

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chapter 41 Hidden Away

A/N: I'm sorry for being late today. Real lifes pace is still frenzied and I had to leave home so early this morning that I forgot all about this. SORRY!!! I'm really behind on answering comments but things are going to slow down soon and I will catch up. Thank you for your patience and support and thank you Julia for the reminder!

Chapter 41 Hidden Away

Beth put the key in the starter and said, “Where to?”

“Throw your purse out the window; your friends too.”

Beth let out a frustrated sigh and did as she was told. She’d been hoping he might forget that and that Mick could find her by her cell. No such luck. She glanced over at Max, who was laying limply against the door, her unfocused eyes staring out the front window. Beth continued to send her calming thoughts and decided to see if she could manipulate Shatel.

She closed her mind off for a moment and tried to focus hard before telling him to let them go. It didn’t do anything she realized a moment or two later when she caught his eye in the rear view mirror.

Shatel impatiently stared at her and let his eyes flash silver. He was taken aback when her eyes turned a vibrant, swirling blue in return. He lowered his hooded eyes and tried to figure out what kind of vamp she was because one thing was for sure, she was different.

Beth realized she’d panicked him for a moment with her eyes and decided to use her differences to keep him off balanced, as much as possible anyway. “Hey, where to?” she demanded and heard a low growl from him, as if he was upset she was taking the lead.

“Take I-10 east and head for Victorville. And keep your mouth closed!”

She let her eyes go vamp again and had to bite her lip to keep a smile off her face at his nervous look. She turned the key and the van started up and she pulled slowly out of the parking lot, heading to the I-10 access ramp. Another glance at Max assured her that she was going to stay quiet and so Beth focused on driving and thinking about how to try and let Mick know what was going on.

Rose said they could communicate without words, with training and practice, of which they’d had neither. How did she do it? Focus for sure, but what else? What she didn’t know could make the whole thing fail. Finally she decided to just push all her thoughts out to him and hope that he’d ‘hear’ her. She could ‘see’ that he was with Josef, Logan, Carl and Tango, probably talking about the dead body.


She just kept running those thoughts through her head and hoped for the best. She didn’t have any idea if he heard her or not or even if he could respond if he did. It was a risk she took; it was the only chance they might have and that frightened her a great deal but she’d be damned if she’d let that foul-smelling sorry excuse for a vamp sitting behind her get to her. Nope, not gonna happen.

She saw Mick stiffen and panic hit him; she knew that he knew something was wrong. What she didn’t know is how much of her message he got and what he would do with it.


Josef, Tango, Mick, Logan and Carl were at the Cleaners headquarters debating the situation. About the only thing they could agree on was that they needed to find the rogue vamp and quickly. The Cleaners had taken to doing stake outs but even that hadn’t helped to locate Shatel.

Mick stood up, feeling uneasy for a moment. Suddenly the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and a pin-prick feeling overtook him and made him gasp.

BETH! She was in danger and he pulled in a sharp breath and reached for his phone while the other men stared at him in confusion. He dialed Beth’s number and after ringing a half a dozen times it went to voicemail.

“Mick, what’s wrong?” Logan finally asked because the feeling of alarm Mick was generating was palpable to all of them.

Mick’s head was swimming; pain and confusion overwhelming him and he sank to the floor. “Beth…” he finally gasped. “Beth is in danger. I think Shatel has her.”

“What?” the others chorused, all of them confused. Logan leaned down and put his arm around his sire and said, “Mick, how do you know?”

“I - I heard, I think I heard her in my head. She said danger and Shatel. I’m not imagining it.”

“No, I’m sure you’re not. Where is she?”

“At Buzzwire, last I heard.”

“Okay, let’s start there.”

“I need to call Larry, the guard.”

“That’s a start.” Logan picked up the phone that had fallen to the floor and handed it to him. “Call him and I’m going to track her phone, okay?”

Mick nodded and called Buzzwire while Logan went out the car and grabbed his laptop which had the capabilities he needed. By the time he got back inside Mick had found out that Beth and Max had left the building a half hour before. Mick was waiting for him to check the parking lot to see if her car was still there while Logan booted the laptop up and started the search for Beth’s cell phone.

“Mick?” Larry said. “Her car is still here, but I didn’t see her out there. I called her name out a time or two as well. You want me to call the police?”

“No, I coming over there. I have Carl Davis with me; he’s with LAPD and he’ll take your statement.” Carl nodded and prepared to leave.

“Her phone is still at Buzzwire, Mick. She has to still be there.”

“Or she doesn’t have her phone with her and the only way she wouldn’t is if she couldn’t. Come on, Carl, let’s go.”

“You got it.”

Both men left the building at a run. It was a 20 minute drive to Buzzwire, if traffic was good and it would be the longest 20 minutes of Mick’s life.


As Beth drove along I-10 she remembered the last time she had went to Victorville, when Mick was dying and she’d been so worried about him. Stupid, stubborn man, she’d had to almost hack into her own vein with a nail file to get him to drink from her. It was pretty desolate out that way and she’d couldn’t help but wonder where they were headed and the silent vamp in the back wasn’t saying a word. Neither was Max and Beth wondered for a moment if she were asleep because she wasn’t moving or saying anything.

She focused on the first sign that said Victorville and tried to send that message to Mick along with the interstate and the fact that they were in a black van. She knew he had picked up on her mental SOS because he was driving somewhere again and it looked as if he was heading to Buzzwire. It took a lot of mental energy to ‘see’ him all the time and so she let the visual go and tried to focus on his face and sending him more messages, that she was okay for the moment and the van.

They made the merge with the Barstow Freeway and it became more deserted out and seeing any kind of lights was rare, even headlights. Finally they made a turn off onto US 395 and headed north, skirting Victorville. Shatel was a man of few words, only using the most basic words and simple directions, such as, “turn” and “here”. She didn’t know if he just didn’t like talking or what. Any attempt that she made to communicate with him made him growl, which alarmed Max so finally she just shut up.

From 395 they took a dirt road heading west and traveled about 4 miles before Beth saw an old, silver Airstream trailer sitting alone in the desert. Shatel had her park the van and he immediately took the keys from her. For a moment she considered throwing them out into the desert but realized that probably wouldn’t be wise; it could trap she and Max if this was the only way out of here. She heard a small generator running somewhere near them and knew that at least there was electricity in the trailer.

Max opened her door at Beth’s request and Beth walked around the van, putting her arm around her friends shoulders to help support her. She felt a bit feverish Beth thought but then, they’d been cooped up in the van for a long time and maybe she just needed to move around a bit.

As they stood there for a moment, Max swaying a bit unsteadily on her feet Shatel looked away briefly and Beth used that moment to attack, fully vamping out and knocking Shatel into the dirt and ripping at him with her teeth. The taste of him was putrid and she spat out the blood and flesh as quickly as she bit him. He was stronger than her and managed to roll her over and hit her hard across her face. For a moment Beth thought she was going to black out and she waited for his fangs to descend and him to attack.

Instead he was on his feet quicker than Beth could imagine and was holding Max against him as he sliced a small portion of her neck. Not the vein or artery Beth noticed and whether that was by mistake or plan she didn’t know. She willed Max to drop to the ground as Beth got up and she did but Shatel caught her and growled loudly, making Max whimper.

“I will kill her. Try anything else and she’s dead.”

Beth nodded and walked up to Shatel, eyes and fangs focused on him. He shoved Max towards Beth who grabbed her and then he shoved Beth’s back towards the door and as the girls headed for it Beth couldn’t help but wonder what waited for them inside. She took a deep, unnecessary breath as Shatel reached around her and unlocked the door. As soon as the door opened she wished she hadn’t taken that breath because the stench was overpowering.


On the drive to Buzzwire Mick could still ‘feel’ Beth and that was reassuring. He only hoped that he wasn’t imagining her presence, but he didn’t think so. If they were right Mick was going to need to call Mark and that was one call he didn’t want to make. He hoped that at the most they would find that Beth had been staked, but if that was the case where did that leave Max? Not a thought he wanted to contemplate.

He kept thinking about his time in Victorville for some reason and didn’t know if it was just because it had been such a desperate situation and Beth had saved him or if it was something she was trying to communicate to him. And he kept seeing black and silver, but not together. Damn, he needed some help interpreting all this and knew he was going to call Rose as well. It was too much for him.

When they got to Buzzwire Carl went to talk to Larry and Mick scented the scene and saw the girls come out of the building and being confronted by Shatel. Even in the breezy evening there was still a hint of his stench in the area and it made Mick want to gag. He couldn’t imagine how Beth would cope with being around him.

He saw Max being held and Beth watching, trying to figure out what to do judging by the contemplative look on her face. Finally the girls walked to another area of the parking lot and Mick followed and found both of their purses on the ground. They got into a vehicle and left then, a van he thought.

While Mick was at Buzzwire Logan was making use of satellites to view the parking lot at Buzzwire. Taking the clock backwards he saw figures walking from the building, two of them but there was no way of knowing whether they were actually Beth and Max or not but the timing was right on it.

“How the hell are you doing that?” Tango asked, fascinated by what Logan was doing.

Josef grinned and said, “He’s amazing, isn’t he? That boy can crack anything!”

“Don’t get too cocky, Josef because that isn’t true. And in a few minutes, if I find a vehicle I’m going to have to break into a spy satellite and that ain’t gonna be easy.”

“Oh, well I’m sure you can handle, Logan. Um, without getting caught that is.”

Logan fixed Josef with a burning stare for a moment but otherwise ignored the remark and focused on the parking lot. A third figure appeared and then the three people walked to another area of the parking area and climbed into what looked like a black van. Logan watched as it moved away but couldn’t get an angle on it for a tag. He saw it leave the parking lot and head for what could be I-10 but he lost it there. He reset the timer to real time and saw what had to be Mick and Carl there and gave them a call.

“Mick, they left in a black van; looked like it was heading for I-10.”

“Black? I kept seeing the color black in my head, Logan. Was there any silver on it?”

“Not that I saw, pretty sure it was solid black. I’m going to try to get into a different satellite and see if I can find it on the I-10.”

“Alright. Carl is going to take a statement from Larry and we’re hoping he won’t call in the police. I’m going to call Mark and then we’ll head back to the Cleaners offices. Keep looking, Logan, don’t give up!”

“Not a chance, Mick; after all, she’s my favorite niece! I’m going to find them.”

Mick ended the call and reluctantly called Mark, hating what he was going to have to say to him. When he answered he gave him the facts and listened as Marks heartbeat skipped a few beats and then pounded in his chest. He agreed to come to the Cleaners offices once he got Paula and Rodney to come and stay with the kids and he hoped that would be soon.

Mick and Carl headed back and both of them were quiet on the way, each lost in their own thoughts. When they got back in they found Logan still working on the computer, setting up what he hoped would be a hard to trace trail so he could get into a government satellite.

“I’m relaying it through 6 phantom servers and 13 satellites. They might not be able to trace it at all, but if they do it will still give us a while before they nail us. Hopefully enough time to spot that van. If we can find it on I-10 then we can switch to traffic satellites and camera’s and get a different view which might possibly give us a tag number. Here goes!”


Beth looked around at the spartan furnishings of the trailer and couldn’t figure out where on earth the smell was coming from. Even Max, with her human nose could smell something based on the way she winced and wrinkled her nose. Beth stood in the small room that might pass as a living room since it had a chair in it and raised her eyebrows at Shatel expectantly as if to say what now?

He led the way to a bed that was on a platform at the end of the trailer and lifted it up, revealing a stairway heading down. He motioned with his head for Beth and Max to start down and Beth stood still and said, “It’s a little dark for human eyes.” She stared defiantly at him and he motioned to a switch on the wall and Beth pressed it, lighting the descending steps.

They went down about 25 feet Beth gestimated and looked to be in good repair. There were two doors on the lower landing, one straight ahead and one on the right. She and Max began moving downward and Beth held Max tightly when she felt her trembling and her knees threaten to give out. She just kept reaffirming with allure that it would be okay, that Beth would take care of her.

At the bottom of the landing Shatel stepped around them and unlocked the heavy bolt on the door in front of them and flipped a switch as the door swung open. All Beth had time for was quick glance around as the stench hit her and Max and she saw Max turn green and cover her mouth, trying to hold back a gag and failing.

Beth looked around and saw a bathroom and ran with Max to get to it. At the sight of the mess around the toilet Max retched into the sink which was only a shade cleaner. Beth turned the tap on and thankfully water ran and Beth said, “Splash some on your face, Max. It should make you feel better.”

Shatel was standing in the doorway watching and when it seemed as if Max was done he pointed out the door and Beth’s eyes flashed again, anger rolling off of her and Shatel stepped back, giving her space to walk around him. As they stepped back out into the main room Beth saw a cell on the same side of the room with 4 men inside. Shatel stood by the door, pointing to the opposite end of it and the men silently moved before he opened the door and pointed inside for the women to enter. After they were inside he pointed to one of the men and then at a bucket at the end of the cell, obviously used as a toilet.

For a moment he looked like he might object and then the fight seemed to drain out of him and he grabbed it and carried it into the bathroom. After he’d emptied it he put it back in the cell, all under Shatel’s watchful eye. When he was done he stood staring at Shatel and quicker than the human’s could react Shatel had grabbed him and carried him to a counter on the other side of the room. He came back briefly and locked the door again before going back to the man on the counter.

Beth watched in horror as he used his talon to puncture the artery on the neck and the hold a cup under the stream of blood that was quickly pumping out of the body. A gasp escaped her and she looked around and saw someone shaking his head and making a quiet motion.

That someone was Luka Fiorentino.


“They’ve got all 6 servers, Logan,” Mick said, watching the board light up as the trace was made.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Almost back to where I need to be. Tell me when they hit the sat’s and count them down for me. When they hit 2 let me know because I’ve got to break the connection at that point.” Logan frowned as he searched the screen, looking for the van and he thought he’d caught it. “There, I think that’s it. The time sig is right and it just got on, so it will show up on the traffic cams. I’m getting off the satellites now and switching to traffic cams.”

Carl watched all this in amazement; so much for all the precautions the government took to protect this country. Logan was amazing and kind of scary as well.

Logan predicted the time signatures and then followed the camera’s until one got the van in sight and snapped a picture of the tag, a clear one at that. “Okay, got it!”

“Do you need to me to run it, Logan?” Carl said and then laughed as Logan already had done that. “No, of course you don’t.”

The van was registered to Isaac Vermillion and when they checked the address it turned out to be a vacant lot, not really a surprise to any of them but still a huge disappointment. All of them were frustrated when Mark was shown in a few minutes later, out of his mind with worry.

”Tell me you’ve found them,” he said and Mick saw the look of pain and fear that was reflected in his own eyes.

“No, but we know that they were in a black van and heading east on the I-10, Mark. We’re doing our best.” Mick poured a glass of scotch and handed it to him and Mark knocked it back in one drink.

“What the hell happened, Mick? She went to the press conference because she thought she needed to be there. She hadn’t felt good all day, her stomach had been hurting and she’d been sick once but she wouldn’t stay home.”

Mick explained everything to him, everything they knew about Shatel and the situation, sparing him nothing. Tango and Josef both watched and felt helpless, feeling somehow responsible and yet neither really knowing why.

“So, the rogue vamp you called him? He has actually killed 19 people now and you don’t know for sure who he is, only who you think it is and he might or might not have a grudge against Tango and Josef?”

“That about sums it up,” Tango said tersely. “We’re sure it’s Shatel LaFleur, but we don’t have a clue why he’s doing it.”

“I’ve lost the van,” Logan said, rubbing his hand over his face tiredly. “I’m sorry, but I can’t locate it again. It could have turned off somewhere, out of a camera range, most likely it did.”

“Did it get all the way to Victorville?” Mick asked because he had felt something about Victorville earlier. For the past 30 minutes he hadn’t felt anything from Beth and that worried him but he wasn’t going to say anything in front of Mark.

“I don’t think it made it to Victorville, Mick. I’m going to keep looking but right now I need some O+.”

Tango went to the door and said something to someone and within a few minutes several carafes of blood were delivered into the room.

Mick looked at Mark, waiting to see how he’d react and noticed he didn’t even blink an eye. He was a doctor so blood wasn’t unusual for him but Mick would bet that he’d never seen anyone drink it. As he sipped his glass he thought about Beth and the fact that it was the full moon in a few days and she’d need blood then for sure.

We have to find her before then…we have to.

To be continued…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chapter 40 The Calm Before the Storm

The house was totally put together and Audrey, Dorothy and Beth stood surveying it all proudly. Every bit of glassware and pottery, every knick- knack was in its place and the house was ready for the housewarming and engagement party for Logan and Audrey. The boys had stayed mostly in their kitty tree house or outside during the past week as all the moving, shifting and unpacking was done and their magnanimous contributions were greatly appreciated.


Audrey stood in the foyer, running her fingertips lovingly over the credenza that Mick and Beth had given them. She and Beth had spotted it several months ago on a shopping spree and the old house didn’t have a place for it but it looked wonderful here.

“I can’t believe that you remembered it, Beth. It is so lovely, thank you both so much!” Audrey declared.

Beth grinned at her friend, so happy to see how much Audrey liked the gift. A lot of the furniture that had furnished Audrey’s house had been hand-me-downs from her grandmother and Beth wanted to contribute to their satisfaction of putting their own home together. “I remembered how your eyes lit up when you saw and knew it had to find a home with you, Audrey. And it does look really good here.” She looked around her at the house and saw how much time and care Audrey and Logan had put into getting it ‘just right’.

Beth and Dorothy migrated into the kitchen to check on the finger foods that were being served that afternoon. Dorothy and Clark had offered to have a caterer come in but Audrey didn’t want that so on top of getting settled in the house she had been making various items to serve today. Beth, Dorothy and Lani had all helped as well and now there was enough food to serve an army, especially when you considered how many vamps were here today.

Beth and Dorothy shared a worried glance at Lani who came into the room carrying a large tray of cupcakes she’d made, all by herself. She was very proud of them too but she looked so tired, her makeup barely concealing the dark circles under her eyes.

“Hey, that looks heavy, why isn’t Josef carrying it for you?” Beth asked, rushing to take the tray from her.

“For god’s sake, Beth, it’s cupcakes. I’ve got it. And he’s bringing in a couple of cases of wine to help stock their wine rack, our housewarming gift to them.”

“O-okay. It’s just, you look tired, Lani. Aren’t you sleeping enough?” Beth mentally grinned at the memories of her and Mick’s first months together; most of what they did was between the sheets and she had quite a few days when she was dragging when she went to work. She glanced at Lani again and still felt concern; there was no sparkle in her eyes either. She didn’t feel good and nothing she could say would convince Beth otherwise. Judging by the way that Dorothy was staring at her Beth knew that she agreed.

“Yeah, well, you know how it is; vampires don’t have ‘off switches’! Seriously, I may be a bit run down though.”

“Sweetie, perhaps you should go to the doctor?” Dorothy ventured and watched as a blush crept over Lani’s face.

“Yeah, well that sort of presents a problem, you know? How do I explain the bite marks on my neck to my totally human doctor?”

“Well, you have a point there,” Beth admitted. “Hey, maybe you could go and see Rose? At the Women’s Center, where we’re donating the stuff from the shower?”

“Do you think she’d see me?”

“I’ll bet she will. I’ll give her a call on Monday, okay?”

Lani smiled, and for the first time her face brightened a bit. “Thanks, Beth. I appreciate it. I think I need some vitamins or something.”

“Could be. Do you think you're anemic Lani?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t really take much blood; it’s more about the bite.”

“Yeah, well I’m sure Rose can get it all figured out.”

They were interrupted when Josef and Mick came into the kitchen each carrying a case of wine. Audrey and Logan followed along behind, excited to see what was in the boxes.

When the bottles were pulled out Beth recognized several pricey bottles of wine and smiled, knowing that neither Audrey or Logan realized that they were the good stuff. Still, after they placed the bottles in the rack they both stood back to admire it all.

“Josef and Lani, thank you so much! That rack looks so much better now!”

“You are very welcome, Audrey!” Josef smiled, rocking back on his heels, a sure sign that he had something planned. “Could I speak to both of you? In private?” he asked, watching the puzzled looks on their faces.

Audrey’s heart began pounding; she couldn’t imagine what was wrong but she was sure something must be wrong if he wanted to speak to them in private. She cast a quick glance at Logan who also appeared a bit alarmed.

“Um, okay. How about the office?” Logan asked. At Josef’s nod he headed out of the kitchen, closely followed by Audrey and Josef.

“Well, that’s curious,” Beth commented.

“It’s nothing bad,” Lani said. “In fact, it’s something that Josef has done that makes me love him all the more,” she finished mysteriously.

“What?” Beth asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

“Nope, not my story to tell. If Audrey and Logan want to share, then I guess you’ll find out!” she teased.

Mick looked at Beth, his eyebrow raised in amusement at her inquisitiveness. She fixed him with a ‘look’ that said, ‘spill’ and he raised his hands in surrender and said, “I don’t have a clue, baby.”

“Hm,” she said, looking at Lani again who suddenly seemed very busy sipping some orange juice. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Guess so,” Lani said, but couldn’t resist the smile that spread quickly across her face. He could claim to be a hard ass but she was so glad she knew the real Josef Kostan. Very glad indeed.


Logan walked into the office followed by Audrey and then Josef, who closed the door behind him.

Josef knew he had to get to the issue right away because Audrey’s heart was about to pound out of her chest and Logan looked dangerously pallid, even for a vampire. “Can we sit down?” he asked and saw both of them nod their heads.

Josef took a seat on the sofa in the seating area and Audrey and Logan both did the same. “You can both relax, this isn’t anything bad. In fact, I hope you’ll think it’s good. But, I wanted to tell you in private, not in front of the crowd. If you choose to share this it is perfectly fine with me and if you don’t, that’s fine too.” He looked at them expectantly, waiting for them to acknowledge his words.

“Both of you have proved your loyalty and dedication to our, shall we say, family. Audrey, you have made a huge difference in computer operations at work; you’ve already found two hackers and saved me literally millions of dollars.”

“Josef, that’s the software, I’m just monitoring it,” she protested.

“No, no it’s more than that because you knew exactly how to proceed to catch them live. I can’t thank you enough for it. And Logan, you’ve shown fantastic skill in tracking down Katrina and information that has been critical to family survival. I know that in the future I’ll have a go-to person here that I can always count on. Because of this, I wanted you both to have a good start here in your new home and not have to worry about monetary matters. Clark helped me to talk to suppliers and backers and I have paid off your debts on the house. It’s yours, free and clear.”

Both Audrey and Logan gasped, stunned by what he’d said. Audrey sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly and then licked her lips. “Josef, no, this is too much. I’m just doing my job at work. Thank you, but this is really too much.”

“Yes, it is,” Logan said. Honestly, he couldn’t get any other words out he was so surprised by it all.

Josef smiled and said, “It’s done. You both deserve it and trust me when I say that you’ll both work your butts off in the future so take it. Take it as a gesture of my faith and appreciation, of my gratitude to be able to call you both ‘family’.”

“Josef, I still think it’s too much, but thank you so very much,” Audrey said humbly.

“Yeah, Josef. Anything you need in the future, I’m your man.”

“Yes you are, Logan,” Josef said enigmatically and Logan suddenly thought of The Godfather and wondered for a moment exactly what that meant. ”Well, shall we get back to the festivities?”

“Yes, of course,” Audrey answered, standing up.

“Oh, by the way, Audrey, your ring is lovely.” He looked at it and grinned at Logan. “Did you pick it out yourself?”

“Yes. Well, Mick was with me, but I loved this one.”

“You have great taste, Logan. It is almost as lovely as your beautiful bride-to-be is. Set a date yet?” he asked as they left the room.

“No, we wanted to get settled into the house first. We just want a simple wedding, something small with family.”

“Yes, of course. I do hope I’m included on that list.”

“Absolutely, Josef.”


More guests had arrived while they’d spoken to Josef. Since the afternoon was dubbed as an open house, people could come and go as they pleased, but Audrey hurried off to greet the new guests. Logan wandered into the family room where the bar had been set up. He poured a large glass of tequila and drank it straight down, coughing as it burned on the way down.

Clark watched as Logan drank the glass of tequila; he didn’t normally drink anything but wine or the occasional beer. Logan looked flabbergasted and Clark walked up to him and put his arm around his little brother’s shoulder and gave him a quick squeeze. “You okay, Logan?”

“Yeah.” He poured another drink, this time scotch and tossed it back and wiped away the stinging tears that came to his eyes. “Josef, I…you knew?”

“Yes, I helped him. He was determined to do it Logan and it was a great gift. He did it out of kindness, so just accept it, okay? This way, you and Audrey don’t have a huge debt hanging over your heads. That’s amazing for you both.”

“Shocking actually. I sort of feel as if I’ve received an offer I can’t refuse.”

Clark caught the reference to The Godfather and laughed hard, a long belly laugh that Logan eventually joined. It was interrupted when Carl came in, looking for Mick and Josef.

“Try the patio room. Josef likes the cats.”

Carl nodded solemnly and headed out. “He looks really serious; I think we better see what’s up,” Logan said and followed the detective.

Mick and Josef were both in the patio room, as were Lani, Beth and Cami. Carl looked at the men and they immediately knew that something was up and it wasn’t good.

“Another body?”

“Yes, in the morgue. The Chief of Police is having a press conference in an hour. I have to go.”

Josef was so angry he was ready to explode. Before Carl could leave he was already on the phone with Tango and they all agreed to meet later, after the press conference.

“Mick, I’d better go too. I think I need to be the one to cover the story for Buzzwire.”

Mick nodded, knowing she was right. There were now going to be three bodies known to the police and the public, all with the same MO and it would likely get crazy. He went with her as she found Audrey and said goodbye.

“I’m so sorry to leave so early, Audrey, but I need to be on top of this.”

“Of course, Beth. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Beth nodded and she and Mick headed out to the car. He was going to take her back to the loft so that she could get her car. She was already on the phone with Max, explaining what was going on by the time they pulled out of the driveway.

On her own, Beth swung by to pick up Max who was going to the press conference with her. There was already a mob of reporters there and they had to push through the crowd to get closer. Steve got there a few minutes late with the camera and they were ready to start shooting when the Chief started speaking.

“We don’t know what menacing cold-blooded killer is perpetrating these crimes but I want the citizens of Los Angeles to know that we are going to catch them.”

“Chief, all three victims have been men? Homeless men to be exact?” one of the reporters asked.

“Yes, as far as we know.” He didn’t volunteer that they believed that one of their own could possibly have been taken by the killer as well.

“Have there been any concessions made for the homeless population?”

“We are working with local shelters and churches to make sure that our indigent population has places to shelter. Officers are making the rounds on foot, encouraging these citizens to stay in groups and seek shelter if at all possible.”

A dozen questions later the event was over and Steve had finished getting B roll and they all headed back to Buzzwire to file the story. As soon as they got it up and running Beth sat back, a bit ashamed at how good it had felt to do the story.

“Couldn’t stay away from the camera, huh, Turner?” Steve teased.

“It’s St. John now, remember?” she grinned back at him.

“This girl was always a hound for the blood and gore, let me tell you,” Steve said to Max, who nodded at the remark. Beth had always been a hound for this type of news and she was really good at it too. This time it was hitting really close to home and it was going to take some skill to hopefully keep it from exploding.

“Well, ladies, it’s been fun but I have a very sexy model girlfriend to take out and wine and dine tonight, so I’ll be leaving now.”

“Steve, thanks for being here. I just couldn’t do it without you, okay?” Beth said.

“You got it!” He waved as he headed out the door.

Beth and Max talked for an hour or so longer, going over strategy for the story and both women hoped that there were no more bodies found. Max understood that this was shaking up the vampire community but she also knew that it was going to cause panic in the human community. Not because they thought it was a vampire but just because any serial crime caused fear and a sense of anxiety among them.

By 8:00 the story had been looping for two hours and they decided to call it quits. They said goodnight to Larry, the guard in the reception area (a new safety precaution after Mo had been murdered) and headed out to the parking garage.

As they got closer to the Prius, Beth noticed a foul smell. She lifted her nose, scenting the air and she suddenly realized what it was. “Max, I want you to turn around and run back to the building, right now. And if I don’t make it back there you call Mick, right away!”

“What’s going on Beth?”

“Just go, Max. NOW!”

At the tone of alarm and anger in Beth’s voice, along with her brilliantly blue eyes that seemed to glow she decided to do exactly as Beth said and turned around, ready to run when she was grabbed and something sharp was held to her neck, right over the carotid artery.

“I don’t think she’ll be doing that,” a low, strangely resonant voice told her.

Beth was overwhelmed by the scent and slowly turned around, finding Max being held by a very tall black man with extremely broad shoulders. He was well-muscled she knew and older vamps could be really strong. Still, sometimes fledglings had amazing strength and she weighed the possibility of attacking him. She weighed the pros and cons of trying to attack him for a moment, considering what might happen.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you Mrs. St. John. By the way, your report was very fascinating. You managed to make it sound all so ordinary, not sensational at all. Tango’s group are fools. The bodies are meant for them, not for the public to find.”

Beth stood there, watching as he pressed a bit harder with his talon and a drop of warm, red blood appeared on Max’s neck. She moved a step closer to him and said, “Just let her go. You don’t need her, take me.”

“And what good would you be to me? You’re a vampire, I don’t want your blood.”

It suddenly occurred to her that he was going to take Max and leave her! Beth knew that she couldn’t let that happen. She couldn’t get any closer and the way he was holding onto Max she knew that if she managed to grab her he’d puncture the artery for sure.

“My husband is a friend of Tango and Josef. If you take me you can get to them.”

“I am getting to them. Enough chatter!” He started pulling Max along with him, heading to the other end of the parking lot.

She couldn’t stop them but maybe he’d take her too. Maybe…She didn’t know what she’d do if he would but at some point the opportunity might come up to take him out. She really wished she’d had time to meet Brody, but she’d do the best that she could.

“Look, let me go with you. I - I can help keep her calm.”

“Chloroform does that extremely well.”

“Beth…” Max finally said, panic and terror showing in her eyes.

“Look, she’s really scared. I know that you don’t take women, let me go instead of her or at least with her. Please?” Beth started sending Max calming thoughts, trying to soothe her. She stopped struggling as much, which helped things a lot.

He debated for a moment and then tersely nodded towards the back of the parking garage. Beth started walking and he lead them to a black van, an older model that had no windows in the back of it. Very nondescript, it probably wouldn’t garner much attention with all the other service type of vehicles in the area.

When they got there he tossed her the keys and said, “You drive.” He put a petrified Max in the front passenger seat and he sat on a crate behind the front seats. “If you don’t do exactly what I tell you to do I’ll snap her neck.”

Beth nodded, knowing that he’d do it. “Where to?” were the only words she could muster.

To be continued…

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chapter 39 Discovery

Lynn, thank you so much for the beautiful chapter pictures, as always! You rock my friend!!!
A/N Thank you all so much for your patience this past couple weeks! I had a fantastic visit with Vegas Guy which prompted him to stay longer than originally intended. We've been friends for a long time but seldom have more than a couple of days to visit. The 10 days were wonderful! I now have real internet and I have to admit I'd forgotten what it was like. For the past 3 years my internet had been powered by something called a Tether on my BlackBerry. It was slow but reliable, but the radio went out on it and I had to buy a new phone which brought up the question of whether to buy a new tether or not. The beauty of the tether (if you have an unlimited data plan) is that you have no monthly expense for internet. Once you buy the license that's it. I finally decided to just get regular internet and I'm enjoying the speed, let me tell you! Now, back to our story and it's starting to get a whole lot more intense! Hang onto your hats girls!!

Chapter 39 Discovery

Mick sat at his desk, supposedly catching up on paperwork and building case file but his mind was anywhere but with the task at hand. Beth had called a little while ago, just to say she loved him and life seemed perfect. She was happy, really happy he knew. Buzzwire was back in the groove and Beth and Max both felt great relief that it was going so well. The new content, focusing less on sensational entertainment news and more on new helpful and imaginative ways to improve your life seemed to be a hit with the fans, as was the interactive features of the site. Not that there still wasn’t that touch of sleaze every now and then; their entertainment reporters saw that they got some juicy scoops, but they were always well-researched and accurate - Beth made sure of that. The days of competing with TMZ and Perez Hilton were gone forever.

Max had never mentioned Beth and Mick’s vampires lives, although Beth did catch her eyeing her speculatively from time to time. Perhaps she had questions and she’d ask someday but both of them seemed comfortable with it all.

In the vampire world the dead bodies were still stacking up; so far the Cleaners had found 16 bodies in various areas of the city. Add those to the 2 that had turned up in the morgue and the tribe realized that there was a very serious rogue vamp situation going on. Tango had his cleaning crews constantly searching dark corners of the city looking for bodies and the crews complained constantly about it because the more clean ups they did the more money they made and finding abandoned bodies didn’t pay them at all. Tango and Josef finally began offering them special incentives and bonuses for the bodies and that had helped a good deal.

Mick contemplated the situation with his sister. He wanted to see her more than anything but how could he bring his trouble to her door? So many years had gone by and maybe it was just better for her to believe he really was dead. How did he explain that he’d been here, in the same city with her all these years and hadn’t let her, or his parents know that he was alive?

When his parents had died he’d known about it and had visited their graves often. He knew that Maeve had married but didn’t know her new name and that made it easy for him to lose track of her and after all, wasn’t that for the best?

It was, wasn’t it?

His heart told him that it wasn’t, that perhaps he owed it to her to let her know the truth about him and his life. The thought of introducing her to his Beth was so enticing - she was everything their parents would have wanted for him.

Part of him was scared to see her. Scared to see…the years. The years that she would wear on her face, as Margie had. The years reminding him that he was so different, that human mortality wasn’t an option for him. Did he still want it to be?

Big question.

Would it be worth it, to gain mortality again and give up eternity with Beth? The answer seemed clear to him; crystal clear as it never had before. Even when he’d voluntary given up his (albeit temporary) human existence he knew the answer then, he was just too damn stubborn to admit it. He wanted to be a vamp, he wanted forever with Beth and their children.

Oh, the thought of those babies made his heart sing. It was possible now, all because of the special abilities that Beth had and he didn’t. Everything she could do was amazing; she was going to be one hell of a vamp and while he still had things to teach her she most likely could teach him a lot as well. At first he felt blown away by it all and maybe even a bit envious as well. But the more he considered it the happier he felt about it. Sure, she could do things he never could but they were a team and the stronger each individual was in a team, well, that made the team as a whole much stronger. When you went through eternity, strength was important and the future seemed much happier and safer now.

He did envy one tiny little thing though. He hated to admit it, even to himself but damn, he’d love to eat. He’d taken to cooking for her more and more just because he enjoyed watching her eat. He lived vicariously through watching her face as she ate his pasta sauce, made with vegetables grown in his garden and he saw how much she liked it.

Yep, one tiny thing but that wasn’t so bad was it? It didn’t make him a jerk, not really. He grinned to himself and then laughed. It would all be okay, one way or the other, he believed that. He had to.

The apartment next door was almost ready for Brody to move in and Mick was anxious to meet him. Rose seemed so ordinary, just another vamp but what was this guy like? One thing that puzzled Mick about Rose was that she didn’t have the smell of a really old vamp, like Heroku. He had the aged scent but for his age, especially for his age it wasn’t that strong. Some vamps, even much younger ones had very strong scents.

God, he hoped his wasn’t that bad. He couldn’t tell and while no one ever said it was bad he almost cringed as he wondered. That thought took him back to the rogue vamp. The scent of him was acrid, almost putrid but not from decay. There was something else contributing to his scent and it was driving them all crazy trying to determine what it was. Hopefully they’d find out before he killed a dozen more people.



“Surely you can’t possibly be surprised that he fucked it all up as usual can you darling?” Vixen said, running her blood red fingertips over her companions back. She watched, mesmerized as the muscles flexed and tensed at her teasing strokes.

“Just once, can’t he get bloody well get something right? He’s worthless.” Dakota sighed as the fingernails scratched a bit harder on his back and he heard her purr and then felt her rake her fangs down his back, drawing blood. A warm tingle spread through his body and he turned over and watched as her eyes lit up at the sight of his desire.


Vixen’s eyes shimmered to silver and she let out a droll laugh; whether over Malcolm’s incompetence or his arousal he wasn’t sure. After several centuries together he still couldn’t read her worth a damn but that didn’t matter when he was planted between her long and limber legs, listening to her beg him for more, for everything he could give her.

She rolled over to lay on her back, her legs spread in invitation as a scarlet fingernail scraped over an aroused nipple. His mouth watered as he recognized the reckless desire that slipped over her like a sensual sheath. He knew they wouldn’t be discussing Malcolm or his fate again this night and that was fine with him.

In a move that was so quick a human wouldn’t have seen it he was inside her, buried deeply in the liquid heat that drove him mad with desire. His fangs ached to bite her, to suckle at those tender places on her body that made her writhe with need.

Malcolm? Malcolm who?


Mick looked up as he heard the elevator ding and inhaled. An almost panicked look spread over his face when he realized who his guest was. He went to the door and looked at the monitor and watched as his guest stood outside the door, shifting from foot to foot as he hesitated before knocking.

Mick felt the same way himself. He had dreaded this meeting but he’d also knew that sooner or later the bridge had to be crossed. He wanted it to be crossed but for the life of him he couldn’t see how this would ever be okay. Mick heard Ben’s heartbeat speed up, a sure sign that Ben was as nervous as he was right before he knocked on the door.

Mick opened the door and stood staring at his grandson; his grandson. He wanted to smile and pull him into an embrace because it was his grandson, and yet…he couldn’t.

“Hey, Ben, come on in,” Mick said, stepping aside and watching as Ben reluctantly stepped into the doorway, looking around him, possibly looking for Beth. “Mick,” was all he managed to get out, his throat suddenly parched and tight.

“Um, would you like a drink, Ben?”

Ben stood by the door, as if hesitant to walk into the living room. For a moment Mick thought he was going to leave but his footsteps carried him into the living room instead. “Coffee, I guess?”

“Sure, I can do that. Have a seat and I’ll make some.”

Ben looked into the living room, at the sofa and then the dining room table. He opted for the table and chairs and sat down as Mick busied himself with the coffee maker. When the machine started to heat and brew the coffee he sat down at the table, across from Ben and waited to see what his grandson had on his mind.

Ben sat looking at Mick; he wouldn’t allow himself to think of him as his grandfather, he couldn’t allow it he knew; he had a grandfather. Mick looked at him calmly, watching him, as if waiting for a cue as to how to proceed. Ben knew the conversation had to start somewhere and his next words came out in a rush.

“I heard from Carl that more bodies have been found. You, um, your…people still don’t, haven’t found this guy?”

A safe subject and a good way to start as far as Mick was concerned. “No, we haven’t had any luck yet. We think we know who it is but he is well-hidden.”

“Carl thinks he’s the one that took Luka. It’s sort of a difficult tightrope for Carl to walk because the department is looking hard for him. Mick, if they find this guy before you do, well, you understand that there is only so much that Carl and I can cover up?”

Mick nodded tersely, well aware of that. A small gurgle from the coffee maker told him that the coffee was ready and he stood up and said, “Yes, we are aware of that. I think the coffee is ready, Ben. How do you take it?”

“Black will be fine, Mick.” He watched as Mick moved across the room and around the counter to pull a mug out of the cupboard. A single cup Ben noticed. He knew that Beth drank coffee still, ate food. Perhaps Mick didn’t, or couldn’t?

Mick sat the cup down in front of Ben and then sat across from him as Ben picked up the cup and held it as if his hands were cold. Could be, it was a comfortable temp in here for vampires but humans no doubt found it a bit cool. Mick got up again and turned on the fireplace and Ben watched as the flames danced and glowed in the small tiled recess.

“You don’t drink coffee?” Ben finally asked, his curiosity over coming him.

Mick smiled; undoubtedly he’d seen Beth drinking one of her many cups of coffee. “No, I don’t. I can’t taste it so there’s not much point in it. We can drink liquids if we want though.”

Ben nodded, remembering seeing Mick drink wine at the wedding. He’d also ate cake there and he asked about that at well.

“That was more of a case of subterfuge actually. Most of it was on my face and very little in my mouth, Ben. I can’t digest food, although Beth can.”

“Why is that? I mean, how can that be?”

“How come I can’t digest food or how come Beth can?”

“Well, both I guess.”

“Vampires typically can’t digest food and we can’t taste it either. However, Beth comes from a different familial line than I do and so she can both taste food and digest it. It was a surprise to me.”

Ben nodded and took a sip of the coffee, which was really good. “So, you actually die, when you become a vampire? Or maybe I shouldn’t ask? I’m sorry if it’s too personal, Mick.”

“No, it’s okay; you’re family, Ben.” As soon as he said it he wanted to take it back because Ben’s face blanched and then bloomed brightly red. He watched, sure that Ben was going to rush out of the loft but he got his emotions under control and stayed the course.

It finally occurred to Mick that Ben was waiting for an answer to his question. “Yes, your body technically dies, although we aren’t really dead afterwards, as you can see.”

“What then? I don’t understand.”

“We’re…undead…I guess is a better word for it. We function as a human in many ways, to some extent. But there are differences too, such as our, um, diet. We also have some special abilities as well; different vamps have different ones.”

Ben nodded, thinking about the differences between Mick and Beth. God, she was his grandmother! He was suddenly glad he hadn’t ever asked her out, although he never really wanted to because Michelle was never really far out of his heart or mind.

Ben finished his coffee and sat the mug down, twisting it around on the table in a nervous gesture. “I’m trying to get used to all…this, Mick. It’s still just such a shock.”

Mick smiled again and nodded. “I know it is, Ben. Give it time and eventually it will become more comfortable I think. However you want this relationship to go, I’ll be okay with that. If it’s nothing more that casual acquaintances, I’ll accept that too. I’m letting you decide what you want. No pressure, no hurry.”

Ben nodded and then stood up in preparation to leave. His mom had told him that Mick would handle it like this but it just seemed so surrealistic. “I need to go now. Let me know if you find out anything, will you?”

“Of course, Ben. I’m glad you stopped by. Feel free to do it again, anytime.” Mick walked Ben to the door and opened it, watching him walk out and head for the elevator. After Ben had punched the button Mick closed the door and closed his eyes for a moment, replaying the visit.

It hadn’t gone as well as the visit with Cat, but it hadn’t gone as badly as it could have. It was enough for now, a relatively stable base to grow from. He hoped so anyway.


They heard the bolt slide on the door, which meant that he was coming. Luka quickly shut his eyes tightly because after hours of inky blackness even closed eyes stung when the sudden blinding lights came on.

You learned certain things here: when he was in the room, keep your eyes down and your mouth closed. A sure way to have him drag you out of the cell was to open your mouth and try to talk to him.

The only way out of this cell was death and Luka was hoping that he could out last his opponent, but what then?

When the sting of his eyes began to lessen he opened them a bit and glanced sideways at Henry who still had his eyes shut. Luka watched as another guy was carried into the room and he hastily lowered his eyes as the jail cell was unlocked.

He growled and pointed to the far end of the cell and he and Henry and the other guy all moved to the far end while the new guy was carried in. He was still out of it, not stirring as he was dumped in a heap on the cement floor.

The other guy, the one Luka thought of as the silent one, had never said a word in the past four days he’d been here locked up defiantly stared at him, his chin tilted upwards in a flagrant message. Fuck you, he seemed to say and their captor pointed to the slop bucket. The silent one’s fate had been sealed. He stood wordlessly and grabbed it, marching it out of the cell and managing to spill a bit on their captor, who growled again.

This was the door out of here; when it was your turn to carry the bucket then your next stop was the counter on the other side of the room and death. Luka and Henry remained silent as the bucket was emptied in the bathroom and then carried back into the cell. The silent one then disobeyed again by sitting down and refusing to move when he pointed to the counter. A negative shake of his head brought the wrath of hell down on him it seemed when monstrous growls erupted from deep in their captor’s chest and the silent one was yanked to his feet and carried to the counter and thrown upon it, his head tilted back into an attached sink.

He still didn’t speak; he didn’t beg or plead or cry as others had, only eyed his captor with cold eyes. Perhaps he wanted this doorway out of here; waiting until your time wore on a person; Luka and Henry knew that for a fact.

A quick slice of a claw across his neck and the ruby-red blood poured from his neck. A cup was held underneath the steady flow that drained into a sink and when it was full their captor lifted it to his lips and drank it down. He sat the cup down and looked at Luka and Henry, his slight grin revealing blood stained lips and teeth. But that wasn’t the worst part of it all.

No, that was his eyes. Silvery and glittering white orbs that sent chills down Luka’s spine.

He was monstrous.

Despite the fact that he knew he was still alive he’d decided that he was in hell anyway. Hell on earth that is. If there was such a place then surely this bunker qualified. Luka didn’t know where it was, but he was pretty sure that was what it is. No windows, it was about 25 feet long and about 18 or so wide. Their cell ran about 20 feet down one side and had the obligatory bars that keep them incarcerated when he wasn’t here. There was a bathroom next to the cell but of course they weren’t allowed to use it. The bucket didn’t fill up too often because they didn’t get that much to eat or drink, but he did feed them and give them a bottle of water every day. Maybe a piece of fruit or some bread, something simple but it was better than nothing and Luka ate it, regardless because he wanted to keep his strength up. He intended to get out of here and somehow he would.

After the blood had mostly drained from the silent one’s body it was hoisted up over his shoulder and carried out. The bolt slid shut and the lights went out and Luka was surprised to discover he’d been holding his breath.

“How many is that, do you know?” Luka asked.

“I’m not sure, 15, 16 maybe. I don’t know how many before I came.”

“Why do you suppose he hasn’t taken us?”

“We’re not like the others,” was Henry’s reply.

Luka nodded in agreement in the blackness, even though Henry couldn’t see it. The others were mostly street people; homeless wanderers that happened into the wrong place at the wrong time. He and Henry, they’d had lives.

Luka thought he’d been here for a week; Henry thought he’d been here for two but who could tell for sure? Time seemed to stand still in there, in their cell. Talking helped to pass the time but some of what Henry had shared had turned Luka’s world upside down.

He was a vampire; that’s what Henry said.

“He doesn’t have any fangs,” Luka had countered.

“His eyes! They are a dead giveaway. I don’t know about the fangs.”

“What about those marks all over him? They look like bites.”

“Don’t know about them either. But he’s one of them to be sure.”

The only thing Luka was sure of was that things couldn’t get worse; until they did of course. A few days later they had two new guests to share their cell. Women, the first that had been in here.

The worst part of it was that he recognized one of them.

To be continued…