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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
“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.”
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?”
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?”
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!”
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.
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.”
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.”
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?”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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
“Come on in and I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
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
“Lani, forgive me but are you feeling well? I’m a doctor and I can’t help but notice that you are very pale.”
glanced down rather sheepishly; she wanted them to worry about Beth,
not her. “I’m okay. It’s Beth that is the concern now.”
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
Rose smiled at her and briefly put her arm around the
young woman. “Of course it is. Any time tomorrow afternoon will be
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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
“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?”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
“My husband was a medic in the army,” Beth said, worried about her friend.
“The Iraq war?”
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.”
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?”
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
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…