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