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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chapter 52 Acceptance

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of when Moonlight first aired.  Below this post is a short bonus post that I wrote for the celebration on Moonlight Forever.  It is perhaps a look into what will be happening in our characters lives in five years.  I hope you will enjoy it!

Many thanks to LaLa for all her help with this chapter!

Chapter 52 Acceptance

Rose studied the results of the tests she had done on both Beth and Lani. Definitely, they were related, but how? It was hard to get accurate DNA results from just testing the two of them, without other family members involved that is. They had approximately a 15% commonality in their DNA epithelials, so they were related but how far back on the family tree was anyone’s guess. Cousins, of some type to be sure, but first, second? Impossible to tell.

She needed to test Dorothy and Lani’s parents in order to have a more complete picture of the situation. Was it from Dorothy’s side of the family or Beth’s father’s? Beth knew nothing about her father at all, not even his name, and her mother wouldn’t talk about it, she said. So, what was Dorothy hiding? Was she hiding anything?

She didn’t want to force Dorothy to talk about something that could be hurtful, that wasn’t her purpose, but she’d like to have a few answers. How could she go about it without causing Dorothy to panic though? She had been invited to the baby shower on Sunday so maybe she could set up a time to test Dorothy. That would be a start, at least.


Lani took a deep breath, awareness washing over her. She was at the beach house and Josef was next to her in the bed. She could hear the waves pounding the shore outside and it was cloudy too, she’d bet. She’d have to open her eyes to tell for sure, though.

First one eye opened and then the other and she found Josef on his side, facing her, his elbow bent as his chin rested in his palm. He was staring at her, a silly grin on his face.

“Do you watch me sleep every morning? It’s rather disconcerting actually.”

“No, not every morning. But you’re just so beautiful I couldn’t help myself this morning.”

She rolled her eyes and realized she hadn’t washed her makeup off last night and she knew her face must be a mess. Well, she’d actually cried a lot of the mascara off but still, it couldn’t be an attractive sight.

“You look fine,” he said, continuing to grin at her. “If fact, I have rarely seen you look more beautiful, Sweetness.”

She laughed and it sounded skeptical even to her. “Whatever. I hope you’ll always be this easy to please.”

He moved down the bed and kissed her tummy and said, “Good morning, baby. I love you and your mommy very much.” Another kiss brought him back up and he kissed her lips, a soft and lingering kiss that melted her.

“You’re not going to be a big ole mushball while I’m pregnant are you?” she teased. Actually, she loved seeing this side of him.

“What’s wrong with mushballs?”

Her arms crept around his neck and she kissed him this time and then smiled against his mouth. “Absolutely nothing, my love. You’d better enjoy the flat tummy while it lasts though because it won’t stay that way much longer.”

His long fingers had continued to stroke her stomach, almost protectively. “I think I can deal with that,” he murmured against her lips.

“And diapers, too?”

“I think we’ll have to hire someone to do that!”

“Not on your life! I don’t want someone else taking care of our child!”

“Okay, okay. Whatever you want.” He pulled his head back and looked at her again and licked his lips for a moment. He was scared actually and he was afraid she’d think he was a fool if he told her.

She watched as some emotion darkened his eyes and knew something was on his mind. “What, Josef?”

“I’m kind of scared actually. Lani, I don’t have a clue how to be a father.”

“What do you mean? You had one, shouldn’t be too hard.”

“Father’s were very much different in my time, Lani.” He told her how boys were raised in his youth and watched as she frowned as she listened.

“How very sad for the children, Josef. Did the girls go away as well?”

“No, ma taught the girls what they would need to know to keep a house running. It was all very complicated actually.”


“The class distinctions were very clearly drawn and depending on where you fell in them dictated where you sat, what you ate, what you wore, everything.”

“Sounds…complicated,” she laughed.

“It was, but my ma kept track of it all. My da was a member of the nobility, so our estate and keep was very large and took a lot of skill to manage.”

“Nobility? Like a duke or something?”

“No, that’s royalty. Nobility were lords and ladies, members of the ruling classes. We owned land and had a village and people that worked it.”

“Your family owned a village? And the people too?”

“No, not the people, Lani. They worked the land and for that they were granted a share of the product. They had houses provided for them, once a week they were allowed to hunt the forest, they could fish the lake at anytime they choose or even fish in the ocean, because our keep and village was next to it.”

“The keep? A forest and a lake? You must have been wealthy.”

“Hm, by those standards as they applied to that time I guess so. Compared to what is considered wealthy now, no, not really.”

“Was it a large village? Were the people there happy?”

He smiled at her curiosity as he looked down at her. He had never in all his years talked about this to anyone before. It was bittersweet to him but in some ways it felt good to talk.

“Yes, I think for the most part they were happy. My da was a good conservator, our villagers had plenty to eat, a day off each week and well-kept houses. That certainly wasn’t true of all villages.”

“Whatever happened to them all? Do you know? Your family I mean.”

She watched a shadow creep across his face for a moment and knew that whatever he was thinking was painful to him. Her fingers traced his jaw for a moment and combed through his hair as she waited for him to speak.

“I don’t know for sure. When Lola came to the village I went with her without looking back. My parents had been pressuring me to marry and I just wasn’t ready. I knew that there had to be more to life. I would have better been suited to a soldier’s life, like my younger brother Ewan, but as the eldest I didn’t have a choice. So I ran. It was over two hundred years before I got back there and of course none of my family was left, not even any descendants as far as I could tell. I actually bought the property around 1910 and visited. The keep is still standing, or parts of it anyway. The small town that was near it has grown and is actually a small city now. I had 5 brothers to keep the family name going but I couldn’t find a single person who was related.”

“You know, nowadays it can sometimes be easier with genealogy programs. You never know, Josef, there could be some out there. Maybe we should do some searching.”

“Hm, I don’t know, Lani. We’ll see. But right now I think we need to search for some breakfast for you and my child because I hear your stomach rumbling!”

She laughed in acknowledgment of his words. “Yes, I think that is a good idea.”

“Do you have anything here to eat?”

“Yep, I stopped and bought a few things on my way here last night.” She hopped out of the bed and shivered. “Yikes, its cold in here!” She pulled on her sweatpants and tee shirt from the night before along with thick socks and slippers.

Josef laughed, not bothered by the chill at all. “Okay, one fire coming up, Sweetness.”

“Does it ever bother you? The cold I mean? Did you get cold before?”

“No, vampires like the cold, Lani,” he laughed. Again the faraway look swept over his face and he added, “I think I probably got cold. Trust me, the keep was built of stone and mortar, not very good for insulation from the cold.”

While Josef started the fire (still without any clothes on and it made it hard for her to concentrate) she toasted bread and made some hot tea, Red Raspberry Pregnancy tea she’d found at the market. It was supposed to taste good and be good for her pregnancy and she hoped so. She was scheduled to see the dietician at the clinic next week to find out more about what she should be eating and so in the meantime she was trying to be cautious.

As she spread chocolate hazelnut spread over her toast, Josef grabbed his breakfast out of the fridge and sat down to drink it. His eyebrows rose as he watched her spread the goo over her bread and couldn’t help remarking, “What is that? It looks like mud!”

“It’s chocolate hazelnut spread, sort of like, um, peanut butter, without the peanuts.”

“So how would that make it like peanut butter?”

“It, oh, forget it,” she laughed. She peeled her banana and took a bite of it, sighing in contentment.

Bananas certainly made her happy, he noted. She rarely went a day without eating one he’d noticed and the chef at the house knew to always have them on hand. They smelled good he had to admit and wondered briefly what they might taste like. He saw her tongue creep out and lick a bit of the muddy goo off of the side of her mouth and decided that she could keep that.

“Lani, how long do you suppose it will take for you to find a dress so we can get married?”

She stopped chewing as her eyebrows rose sharply. Another lick of her lips and she swallowed the bite and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you, me, in front of a priest to get married, Lani.”

“Josef, I’m not marrying you while I’m pregnant!”

“No child of mine is going to be born out of wedlock, Lani!”

She sighed and pushed the not quite empty plate away from her. “Josef, while I don’t want a huge society wedding, I do want a memorable one. Me, the dress of my dreams and you waiting at the end of the aisle for me. A couple of bridesmaids, you know! It takes time to put that together and I’m not walking down that aisle in a maternity wedding gown!”

“Then it’s us and the justice of the peace, but we’re not waiting. It’s important to me, Lani.”

“I get that, Josef, but I’m not giving in on this one.”

“Are you afraid to marry me?”

“No, I’m not but I want to look good in that dress, not waddle down the aisle. I am completely committed to you, Josef but you have to admit, we still need a bit more time to get to know one another.”

“So you can decide that we’re not right for one another?” His insecurities were rising rapidly and he was suddenly very scared he’d lose her by doing something very stupid, like last night’s whopper. “Lani, if you’re afraid after that stupid stunt I did last night, it won’t happen again, I promise.”

She smiled at him and reached for his hand. “No, I’m not, not really. We’re learning how to understand one another. Even as angry as I was last night I knew we’d work it out. We just need to make sure we listen to one another and give the other a chance to respond instead of running away. I’m willing to make a couple of concessions, okay?”

He heard her, and while his part in all of the fiasco stung his conscious a bit he knew she was right. Still, he gritted his teeth at the word concessions because it meant he wasn’t going to get his way.

“Okay, what are they?”

“I’ll give up my place. I practically live with you anyway so there is no reason to keep it. And I’ll set a date for the wedding, today, if you want. Right now even.”

Both ideas made him happy briefly but then the thought of his child being born without him officially on paper as its parent stabbed at his heart. His eyes stung suddenly with tears and he blinked hard to hold them back.

She watched him and saw his pain and suddenly it clicked into place for her, what he was feeling. “Josef, the baby will have your name, on the birth certificate, it will be your child officially and when we get married it won’t matter anymore.”

She was wrong, it would always matter to him but she was trying to ease the situation for him and he finally nodded, swallowing down a lump the size of a baseball. “Alright then. Ten months from today? Will that give you enough time? September 22, 2009?”

“Okay, sounds wonderful.” He didn’t understand, and he was certainly hurting she knew, but he too was trying.

Their future looked wonderful and they had both learned a lesson from it all. The most important thing was that their love and connection got them through it. Love will always find a way.


Friday morning Beth felt at odds. She wanted to go to Buzzwire but she wasn’t quite ready to face everyone yet. She’d have to pretend and convince them all that it had been routine, that her mom had needed a bit of help and she just wasn’t sure she could pull it off yet.

She drove a bit, through the city and finally found what she was looking for, the shelter where Henry worked. She saw the neighborhood was fairly run down and wondered if her car would be safe but at that point she didn’t really care. She parked it and headed into the old brick building and looked around, wondering if Henry was there. It only took her a moment to find him, talking to some people and he smiled when he looked up and saw her standing in the entryway, an unsure look on her face.

“Beth!” he said, wearing a smile as he walked towards her. He offered her his hand and she took it, their eyes meeting in the chilly interior that was dimly lit at best.

“Hi, I uh, I just wanted to see how you are, Henry.”

He sort of shrugged and said, “I just think it’s going to take some time before it fades away, you know? And I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the dark again.”

Beth looked around the dim interior again, a silent question in her eyes.

“We have a pretty limited budget here so we conserve energy every way we can and that includes keeping some of the lights off when not absolutely needed. Would you like to come into my office and have a cup of coffee, Beth? Can you drink coffee?”

“Yes, Henry. Yes, I would.” Beth followed him down a hallway and into a small space not much bigger than a closet. He squeezed in around a file cabinet and settled into a chair behind the desk, indicating a straight-backed wooden chair across from him.

“Tight fit I know, sorry about that.” Next to him on a shelf sat a small coffee maker and he filled two mugs with the steaming black brew and asked if she wanted milk or sugar.

“No, black is perfect, thank you, Henry.”

“So what brings you by, Beth? I know it can’t be avid curiosity.”

“Well, only partly, if I’m honest. I - I just can’t seem to get back into step, you know?”

“I do. Look, I can quote you lots of scripture, Beth, that are meant to be comforting in times like these, but that isn’t what you're here for. Talk to me.”

She nodded, but really wasn’t sure what to say. There was something comforting about seeing him, after all they’d been through, and yet she still didn’t understand her need to be here. “How do we put it behind us, Henry?”

“A good question, and one that Luka asked me just this morning. Would you accept the answer of faith?”

She thought about it for a moment before speaking. “Faith as in what?”

“Faith that we’re okay, that we have the chance to live our lives while others didn’t, horrible as that was. Faith that we can overcome it all, that we can be better people because of our understanding of what happened and who we are. How our strength got us through it all, with a little help from our friends.”

“Didn’t know you were a Beatles fan, Henry,” she told him, smiling for the first time.

He shrugged and said, “Sometimes, Beth you just gotta let it be!”

“You're awful, you know it?”

“I do my best. Time, Beth. It’s going to take time but you have an amazing husband and family. Lean on them a bit and give it a bit of time.”

She wiped a tear away from her face and tried to smile. She wanted to believe him, needed to believe him. “One day at a time, then?”

“One day at a time.” He stood up and so did she. He led her back to the outside door and hugged her briefly before she stepped outside. It was raining lightly and she waved as she made a dash for her car. Henry watched and said a small prayer for her, that she would heal. She’d been so brave and the truth is that more lives would likely have been lost without her. To him she was a genuine heroine and he felt blessed to know her.

Time, they all just needed a bit of time.

To be continued…

Moonlit Memories
“Really, Mick! Why do I have to wear this blindfold? I hate it and it’s messing up my mascara!” Beth said with a laugh.

“So you’re worried about your mascara?”

“Every girl worries about her mascara, Mick. Honestly,” she giggled. She could imagine him rolling his eyes at her statement and giggled a bit more.

“Well, just relax because it will be worth it, promise!”

Actually, she was enjoying the ride. It would be more fun if they were riding the Pacific Coast Highway, the wind brushing against her face and her hair a waving blond curtain as the CD player played some of Mick’s favorite big band sounds.

She’d come to love them actually, although try as hard as she could, she just couldn’t appreciate the jazz he liked. It didn’t make sense to her; there was no anticipation for the next note that would pull it all together because with jazz that rarely happened. Still, he loved it and she did her best to accept it.

Moonlight Serenade was playing right now, the very first song they had danced to after they were married in Las Vegas. What a day that had been, all their family and friends there to celebrate what turned out to be a surprise fairy tale wedding for her, all coordinated by Josef with the help of her mother, Lani and Robbi.

Tonight they weren’t on the highway though. There were stopping at traffic lights and she wondered what people thought of the woman sitting in his car with a blindfold on? She laughed because she knew that it had to startle at least a few people.

The old Mercedes Benz slowed down and they made a turn and before too long they pulled to a stop and he turned the engine off.

“So we’re here? May I take the blindfold off now?”

“Nope! You and your mascara are just going to have to wait a bit longer.”

She heard his car door open and close and before she knew it he was opening hers and taking her hand, guiding her out of the car. Ever the gentleman her Mick was, one of the best things about him.

She loved him so much, this man who was her husband, her mate. They’d been through so much together and their family was strong and secure because of his loving and protective vigilance. No woman could be any luckier than she was. That night at the fountain had been a magical beginning for them. And the magic hadn’t stopped there she noted.

She was soon swept up in his arms and felt his lips move briefly, gently against hers as he chuckled at her surprise. “I can’t let you stumble here so I’ll carry you to our destination.”

The sound of water grew louder with every step he took and she lifted her head, trying to scent the breeze. They were near water, a fountain she was sure judging by the chlorinated scent of it. The breeze was cool and moist against her skin and she smiled, suddenly sure she knew where they were.

“Well, Mr. St. John, we’re at the fountain I believe!”

“You do? Couldn’t fool you! Beth, do you know what day this is?”

“Yes, it’s Friday, September 28th, silly man.”

“And does that date mean anything to you?”

She thought for a moment and then suddenly she knew. It was their anniversary, of sorts. “Five years ago tonight we met, met again, whatever,” she told him in a hushed voice, awed because he’d remembered. Her lips found his and kissed him deeply, longing and desire filling her with an urge to leave this place, no matter how wonderful the memories were. “Mick, take me home. I want to make love to you, NOW!”

In the distance she thought she heard a rustle or twitter of words, she wasn’t sure which and then Mick was chuckling again. “Not the time, baby.” He sat her down on the pavement and whispered, “Beth, take your blindfold off now.”

Off it came and she blinked at the sudden brightness of the lights around them. Standing carefully downwind of her were all their family and friends and tears sprang to her eyes at the joy of sharing this precious moment with them.

“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed as everyone came forward to hug her. Her parents, Logan and Audrey, Josef and Lani, Robbi and Kev, Ben and Jackie, Luka, Colleen, Cami and Carl, Max and Mark, Guillermo and Glenda, Heroku and Rose and a few of the other 13, Brody, Ishaq, Eochiadh and Shinji. Steve was taking video of the moment with some of the others from Buzzwire, catching every breathless moment. Catherine and Maeve stood off to the side, near Rodney and Paula. The children were all that were missing and she later found out they were at Josef's, being watched over by Ryan and Franklin.

Eight children had been born to them all during the last 5 years, two more were one the way and one of them due any day now from the looks of Lani’s burgeoning belly. And who knew, in two days another full moon would grace them with her fruitful glow and maybe there’d be another St. John child soon. The two sets of twins and 4 other children had added the enchanting sound of childhood laughter to this group who were gathered here. Six more people had joined the ‘tribe’ with more likely to in the future.

Life was magical, life was precious, no matter what form it took. Looking at all the people who shared her world she remembered the words she had told Mick once. “Family isn’t only about blood.”

That was truer now than ever before. These people, who gathered in Moonlight were a family. They shared their lives, their love, their pain and they all walked the shimmering moonlit path together. It was clear to her she knew...

There is magic in Moonlight.

The beginning…

Thank you so much Trevor Munson for giving us Moonlight and thank you to all my faithful readers and commentators who make it all worthwhile.


Beautiful banner created by the awesome Moonlightlover60!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chapter 51 Ever the Same

Beth stared at the phone after she’d hung up from the call with Lani. She couldn’t believe that she’d said those things to her, even though they were true. Yes, true. Lani often ran away, but then since Beth knew the secrets of Lani’s past now it made so much more sense.

But what the hell was it with Josef anyway? Not even listening, not letting her tell the whole story? She ought to stake him, the jerk.

Well, she might not stake him but she was sure as hell going to talk to him. How dare he hurt Lani like that! Mick was out on a case and she wasn’t going to sit here and wait for him, she was heading to Josef’s on her own.

Maybe a stake might not be such a bad idea after all!


Lani pulled the car into the garage and waited for the door to close all the way before getting out, one of the things that Rob had taught her. She knew that she should have waited for him or someone else before leaving but she just felt as if she had to get out of there right then. Still, going through this thing with Beth had taught her that things can happen and as she was Josef’s girlfriend, well, things definitely could happen.

Was she still his girlfriend, his fiancĂ©? Was he just rejecting what she’d told him or was he rejecting her because she is pregnant and he doesn’t want a child? It was something to think about.

She climbed out of the car and grabbed the bag of groceries that she had picked up; some fruit and yogurt, 9 grain bread and bottled water. With what was already here it would last her until tomorrow when she figured out what she needed to do.

It was chilly inside and she immediately lit the fireplace to start warming the house up and then changed into a pair of sweat pants and a long sleeved tee shirt. She was comfortable at least and when she wrapped an afghan around her and curled up on the couch with her iPod. The world somehow now seemed a bit more peaceful.

She cranked the music up, trying to forget the scene with Josef. Plenty enough time to worry about it later she told herself. She just needed some peace right now.

Peace, that’s just what she needed she thought as she leaned her head back against the pillows and got lost in the music.


Beth drove up the long and winding drive to Josef’s house and with each curve she got a little madder at him for his callous treatment of Lani. Was it up to her to solve Lani’s problems or butt into their lives? No, but he at least needed to know that there was more to the story and if he was smart he’d hear it all before making a judgment.

Men! Honestly, they were pure reactionaries and could never see past what they thought was in front of them. Okay, they didn’t all do that and she had to admit that Josef was usually pretty good at seeing the big picture, but in this case, he should have listened.

Really, if she just turned around right now and let him bungle his way through this on his own it would serve him right. He’d eventually feel like an ass when the child was born looking just like him or something like that.

So okay, maybe she should just leave - let them figure it out on their own. The truth was that she was mad at both of them right now; Lani for not staying and making him listen and Josef for running away from something that he didn’t have all the facts about.

I mean, really she thought, how dumb were they both? This was the biggest thing ever, in either one of their lives and they were both just going to walk away from it and each other?

Nope, I won’t let that happen!

Her thoughts switched back and forth faster than a game of ping pong and she sighed as she pulled up in front of the mansion. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel for a moment as she tried to decide what to do.

As she sat there the door to the house opened and Franklin appeared, standing in the lighted doorway. He looked sad and Beth sighed as she hopped out of the car and went up the steps so she could talk to him.

“Franklin, how is he?”

“Miss Beth, I’m so happy to see you. He is locked into his office. Miss Lani is not at home.”

“Yes, she called me. She’s run off to the beach house, as usual.”

“We presumed as much, Ryan and I. He has left to drive out there to keep an eye on her. Really, she’s quite quick when she decides to be.”

Beth didn’t miss the wry twist to his mouth as he spoke those words. Beth smiled in return and said, “I know. Both of them are fools at times. Well, I guess everyone is.”

He nodded and stepped aside so she could enter into the beautiful marble entryway. Everything gleamed with the loving care that was practiced upon it, guided no doubt by Franklin. Beth knew that under his caring veneer he had a backbone of steel and kept this place running smoothly.

“So, his door is locked? Are you sure?”

“I distinctly heard the lock click into place when he entered the room. I’m not sure he’d open it, even if you requested it.”

“Have you considered breaking it down?”

His eyes opened for a moment before he realized that she was teasing him. “I do believe however that the French doors into his office from the terrace are open. One might find their way in using them.”

“Yes, one might. Now, let me see if I can.” She headed to the back of the house and out the terrace doors from the dining room. Sure enough, the doors to the office were open and she took a deep breath as she stood at the door and looked in at Josef, who was sitting at the desk, arms folded on it and his head lying on them.

She realized suddenly that he was crying, sobbing actually. Suddenly she wasn’t sure what to do.


At first he was outraged that she had lied to him; Lani never lied about anything and yet she was trying to convince him that this baby was his instead of someone else’s. How dare she? She knew he wouldn’t buy that load of shit.

She knew he wouldn’t believe it. But she’d done it anyway. Why? What did she have to gain by doing it?

Had to be Eric’s baby, so that would make her, what? Four months? That couldn’t be right though; he’d have heard the heartbeat long before now and she’d probably be showing some too.

So what did that mean?

She’d cheated on him?

She’d cheated on him!

For a moment blazing anger choked him. He’d kill the bastard, whoever it was. He’d kill her!

No, he could never hurt her; she was his mate. Above all else he believed that. Accept the baby, no matter who’s it was?

Yes, he’d do that because she obviously wanted this child and she was thrilled to be pregnant. She had been so happy earlier and he’d spoiled it.

But he intended to find out who had dared to touch what was his. That bastard would pay in a very painful way.

The tears overcame him then and then they turned into great, wracking sobs that came from deep in his soul. How could she? He loved her so much! Did having a baby mean so much that she was willing to be with someone else?

Did she love that man? Did she love him?

She did love him; he knew her and she was his mate, in both their minds. She wouldn’t cheat on him. She wouldn’t. And, he would have scented it on her, tasted it in her blood. And when could it have happened because they were together every single day.

In all his four hundred years he’d never hurt so much; so damn much.


Beth watched for a moment from the shadows, ashamed of herself to be there. He was torn apart by this and she started to back away, to leave him when he looked up and saw her there, illuminated by the moonlight.

His eyes met hers; his full of pain and hers full of compassion. He said softly, “Beth,” and she was with him in a moment.

She knelt down next to him and said, “Josef, I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t know what to believe.”

“She didn’t cheat on you, Josef and the baby is yours.”

He growled for a moment and repeated that phrase that he had uttered too many times this evening, “Vampires can’t have babies.”

“Yes, and vampires can’t eat food either. Except for special ones, Josef. I can have babies, too.”

“Yes, but you’re one of those descendants,” he said, trying to pull himself together.

“I am. Don’t you think it’s possible that there are others?”

“Of course there are.”

“Josef,” she said, hiding a smile. “Follow the bread crumbs.”

“Lani?” he asked and suddenly his world started rotating again.

“I think it’s possible that you didn’t let her tell you everything earlier.”

He was immediately on his feet and then he pulled her up and pulled her into a tight hug. “I think I need to go and talk to her. I suppose she’s at her beach house?”

“I think you are correct. Go get her, Josef!” she said as he disappeared out the door of the office. She followed and listened as he asked for some blood to be packed for him and then he was gone as soon as he had it.

Franklin saw her standing in the hallway, grinning from ear to ear. “Thank you, Miss Beth.”

“I only pointed him on the path, he figured it out himself.”

That answer was very cryptic to Franklin. He knew that Lani was pregnant but did that answer mean that the child was Josef’s? How could that be?”

“Bye, Franklin,” Beth said with a wave as she left.

He watched her go, completely puzzled. With a shake of his head he locked the door, knowing that Josef wouldn’t be home tonight. Maybe he was just too old but he didn’t have a clue what the hell was going on.

No, not even a small one.


Ever the Same

He drove quickly, glad that the traffic on the coast highway was light, for LA anyway. Half an hour later he pulled into the driveway of the beach house and saw that Ryan was sitting out front, making sure all was well.

He’d done a lot of thinking on that drive; it was still hard to accept that this was his child, but he guessed in time it would all fall into place. Lani would never cheat on him and she wasn’t far enough along for it to be Eric’s child.

So, he was going to be a daddy. Damn, he wasn’t even sure he knew how to do that. His own father had been a typical father of noble blood in a feudal world. They patted you on the head occasionally and most of the time remembered your name, if they didn’t get you confused with one of your siblings. As the oldest child Josef was more recognized than most of them but there had been no strong and nurturing relationship between he and his da. At 10 boys were shipped off to a male relatives home to be a foster son, while they trained to be a squire and taught fighting and strategic skills because one thing was always true - there would be times when you needed them.

Times were different now to be sure. Father’s were invested in their families and involved in their everyday lives. They were soccer coaches and taught them to study hard to get ahead in life and to be responsible citizens. What did he know of most of that? The vampire way of life was vastly different than a humans, leaning more to the ‘cover your own ass so nobody discovers what you are’ philosophy.

Life would change. And as unsettling as it all was he realized that he was happy about it. He and that child would learn together. Maybe that was the way it was supposed to be.

Ryan walked towards the car and Josef rolled the window down. “Everything quiet?” Josef asked.

“Yes. She hasn’t come out of the house.”

Josef nodded and said, “Thanks, Ryan, I’ve got it. Head on home.”

“You got it, boss.” He waved as he walked away and Josef hit the button for the garage door and drove in. As it closed he took a deep unnecessary breath, wondering if he was going to have a fight on his hands when he walked in. He deserved it if he did but he hoped that it would go better than that.

Inside, he sat the cooler with his meals on the table and saw that Lani was in the living room. She had her iPod on and he caught a bit of the tune that was playing.

Just let me hold you while you're falling apart
Just let me hold you and we'll both fall down

Fall on me
Tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you forever in me
Ever the same

He stood still, listening, waiting. She knew that he was there because she took her headphones off. She always knew when he was near her and he guessed he understood why now. She was special, but then she’d always been special to him.

“I was a fool, Lani. I- I don’t blame you if you want to yell at me, but please, can we talk?”

She stood up, the afghan still wrapped tightly about her and held out her arms to him and he walked straight into them before sitting down on the sofa and holding her close to him on his lap.

“You hurt me, Josef. I haven’t cheated on you.”

“I know. I didn’t get it. I do now.”

The only way he would get it is if Beth had talked to him and he confirmed that when she asked. “Do you want to be a father?”

“More than anything. I love you, forever. My life isn’t anything without you. Please, forgive me.”

She nodded and he could scent the hot tears she was shedding. He tilted her face up to his and kissed them away and then suddenly he realized he was crying too and it was impossible to tell whose tears were the ones dampening his silk shirt and it didn’t matter at all. He stood up and carried her into their bedroom and set her down. As he unwrapped the afghan from around her trembling body he realized that she wasn’t so much cold as she was nervous.

“It’s okay, Sweetness. It’s okay,” he said, catching his fingers in the long silken strands of her hair. His mouth found hers and drank her in, joining them in a rush of need and longing.

She was leaning against him, holding on tightly as if she feared her knees would give away and he quickly pulled her clothes off and laid her on the bed. His breath caught as he looked at her, slivers of moonlight shining through the shades and making her body almost glow. The tips of her breasts were hardened buds of desire and he could already scent her need for him. Before she could even catch her breath his clothes had joined hers on the floor, a discarded pile of impediments to their love.

His body covered hers and he drank in the taste of her lips, her passion. Tongues dueled delightfully and no winner nor loser was declared, only the passion that caught them both in greedy hands. His mouth played across her silken skin, lips and tongue paying homage to those places that made her sigh and writhe with need for him.

Neither could control their longing and he seated himself in her and she shivered as she felt him sheathe himself in the liquid heat of her body. Together they moved as one, each delighting in the passionate caresses that would bring them fulfillment. Higher and higher they climbed until both of them were ready to crash and shatter.

He stared at her neck for a moment, eyes fixated on the vein that called to him. His place, his mark.

“Do it. Rose said… said it’s okay,” she panted, ready for him.

He bit, lightly and they came together, their bodies attaining the satisfaction they both sought. He immediately felt remorse for biting her. His child needed her to be healthy and he’d only thought of himself, his need.

He licked and kissed her neck tenderly and then moved down her body, kissing between the valley of her breasts and farther. He paused at her tummy and laid his forehead against it before kissing it lovingly. He laid his cheek upon it and said, “I’m so sorry, Lani. I shouldn’t have bitten you.”

“Of course you should have. Josef, this is part of what lovemaking is to us. Rose said it was okay.” She ran her fingers through his damp curls as she spoke, knowing that they still had things to talk about but that they would work it all out.

Suddenly he stilled, his body stiffening and he cocked his head. That was when he heard it: the beating heart of his child.

His own heart slammed into his chest a time or two as his fingers stroked over the taut flesh of her stomach. He was awed by it, amazed at the life she carried, the life that they had created.

She got it; she knew what had happened. He looked up at her and the moonlight caught the look of wonder on his face, the understanding of it all.

You may need me there
To carry all your weight
But you're no burden I assure
You tide me over
With a warmth I'll not forget
But I can only give you love

Fall on me tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you
Forever in me
Ever the same
Call on me
I'll be there for you and you'll be there for me
Forever it's you
Forever in me
Ever the same

They had made a baby; a new life that was growing, nestled in her body. It might not always be easy but they had one another and together they could do anything.

To be continued…


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 50 Runaway

Chapter 50 Runaway

Beth hung up the phone and they all watched her excitement as she told them the news. “She’s fine! Max is going to be fine!” Tears started streaming down her cheeks, tears that she had been holding back for her friend for days now.

Rose had just called from the clinic and said that they got lucky and there wasn’t much damage when the appendix ruptured and with rest and strong antibiotics she would be just fine. She had also told Beth that she might not be if Beth hadn’t fed her a bit of her blood.

Lani, Dorothy, Audrey, Cami and Robbi, who had arrived an hour earlier all cheered with Beth over the good news. Beth knew that she would rest much better tonight, whenever the men got home. After the Cleaners they went to Josef’s to meet with Carl, Luka and Henry to come up with a story to cover up most of what had happened.

The girls had all made themselves comfortable and had ordered sushi for dinner. The remnants of the feast was sitting on the coffee table, but all in all there wasn’t much left.

“Beth, would it be better for you sweetie if we postponed the shower this weekend? Give you time to get back into the groove of things?” Dorothy asked. The baby shower was scheduled for Sunday and it was already Wednesday, not much time left.

“No, Mom, we’re all ready for it. I don’t want to postpone it. That will help me to get back into the groove, as you say. Seriously, I want to go ahead with it.”

Lani and Robbi both nodded their agreement and for a while the talk centered on that upcoming event. All of them were excited and Robbi told them how much fun Bri was having helping to get ready for the girl party.

“She wants to wear her Barbie tiara and her dress up clothes. I hope she won’t be too much trouble, guys. I can have Kev take her with him and Brian if you think she will be.”

“My goodness NO,” Dorothy exclaimed. “She will be just fine, Robbi. I’d be disappointed if she wasn’t there.”

“Okay, I’m so happy you feel that way. She’d be broken-hearted if I made her leave.”

The talk was interrupted when Mick, Josef, Logan, Carl and Clark walked through the door. Their faces all bore the brunt of the stressful evening but it was all settled now. The trailer would be moved and then set on fire, with the story of Luka and Henry setting the fire in an effort to escape. Their abductor was unfortunately killed in the process and Carl wasn’t asking any questions at all about where they were going to get the body. It would all happen tomorrow and when it did that would mostly finish it all.

Beth shivered with the memories of that place and she was thankful that it was all at an end. Even now, she had to glance around her occasionally to make sure that this was real, being home again. She needed to feel Mick’s arms around her, holding her tightly.

Everyone got ready to leave, heading to their own homes and beds. Beth heard the freezer calling to her or maybe it was Mick’s arms. She hugged and kissed everyone goodbye and when the door shut she wrapped herself around Mick and felt him lift her and carry her to their room.

They both undressed quietly and climbed into the freezer. She loved him and had missed him so badly but she didn’t have the energy to do anything but pull the light blanket up over herself and snuggle into the curve of his arm, happy and safe.

The next time she opened her eyes it was 13 hours later and Mick was already up. She sat up and stretched, feeling amazingly good. She was home.

Then she began to remember what had happened and she had to push it all away. She was safe and so were Max, Luka and Henry. They were all safe now.

Keep telling yourself that, Beth. We’re all safe now.


At the Kostan house Lani was waking up as well. She opened her eyes and found Josef watching her sleep. She laughed and said, “Good morning, my love.”

Josef placed a soft kiss on her lips and murmured, “You are beautiful when you are sleeping, you know that?”

“Yes, because drooling and snoring are so charming!”

“You don’t do either of those things.” His eyes drank her in for a moment and he added, “How do you feel this morning? The past few days have been pretty exciting.”

“No kidding. I feel good though and kind of hungry. I do have to go back and see Rose today though.”

“Why?” he asked, a bit more sharply than he intended.

“She has the results of the other tests she ran.” She bit her lip for a moment, thinking about everything she wanted to tell him and decided that she would tell him about the baby later when they were a bit more alert and relaxed. “She was afraid the other day that I might be diabetic. She ran an immediate test which was okay but she also ran a test that would measure my blood sugar over the past few months. That’s what I want to find out about.”

She was telling him the truth, he could tell from her scent but he also sensed that there was more to it. Still, he went with the flow and bent down and pretended he was going to bite her neck. “That’s why you taste so damn sweet. C’mere, let me get another drink or two!”

He soon had her screaming with laughter as they rolled around on the bed until she finally surrendered with a giggle. “I love you, Josef. You fill my heart and soul with happiness. I am the luckiest woman around.”

The serious tone in her words took him by surprise and he looked at her and said, “Stay there, Sweetness. I’ll be right back!” He slid out of the bed and headed into the dressing room and then was back before she hardly had time to blink. His eyes looked at her, drinking her in and he grinned which made her laugh.

“What is it, Josef. Something is up, I can tell!”

“Lani, something is always up around you!” He glanced down at the part of his body which was indeed up and tried to ignore it. “Things has been a really hard lately and I’ve been wanting to do this and do it right, but I can’t wait any longer.” He took her hand and placed a kiss upon her palm and continued, “Lani, you inspire me to be a better man than I’ve ever been in my long life and you bring more joy and happiness to me than I ever thought possible. Will you marry me?”

Her eyes and mouth all opened wide when he held out a box that had Cartier embossed on it and opened it. Inside was the most beautiful ring she’d ever seen; platinum with a huge round cut diamond in the center with a myriad of smaller diamonds on the band. It took her breath away for a moment and she didn’t know what to say.

“Oh my god, Josef. Yes, yes I’ll marry you! The ring is exquisite by the way,” she said as he slipped it on her finger and kissed it.

Her eyes were sparkling with tears that finally rolled down her cheeks. He kissed them away and said, “So you like it, huh? I did good?”

“You my darling did very good! Oh, Josef, I’m speechless!”

“Well, that’s a first,” he laughed.

“Remember that will you when we’ve been married a hundred years and you want to shut me up - expensive jewelry works wonders,” she teased. “It really is beautiful. Thank you.”

“You're very welcome. I’ll do anything to see you smile like that.”

“How about tonight we just have a quiet dinner here alone?”

“Whatever you want. Truth is, there’s business to take care of today and when it’s done a nice evening with only you will be perfect.”

“Okay, it’s a date,” she told him, kissing him again.

“Is Rob taking you to the doctor?”

She smiled, knowing that if he didn’t he’d just be following her. “Sure, that will be fine. I find him a charming and handsome companion!” She hoped out of the bed and headed to the shower, with Josef following her.

He lightly swatted her bottom and said, “Yes, well just don’t find him too charming. I’d hate to lose him!”

She stuck her tongue out at him and said, “Ah, yes. The tar pits!”

“Hush,” he whispered as they stepped into the shower and he claimed her mouth with his own.

They didn’t do much talking after that but it was a great shower.


Lani walked out of Rose’s office at the clinic in a daze. She was a descendant, just like Beth and she and Beth were related as well. Definitely not sisters but maybe cousins somewhere along the way. She felt stunned by it all.

So, when she was turned she’d be like Beth; she could eat food and maybe have some of the other traits that Beth had, although Rose said it could vary a bit. She would be able to have other babies with Josef as well. She’d have to drink fresh blood on the full moon; the full moon was very important to the lives of the Children of the Moon and would be for her as well. That was when she got pregnant in fact, the first night she and Josef were together, 63 days ago. The night they brought Beth back to LA.

No wonder Beth had instinctively not wanted to drink her blood; it probably wouldn’t have done her any good Rose said.

It was all a lot to get. And a lot to have to tell Josef too.

She stood waiting for the elevator and when the doors opened she found Beth inside, coming from a visit with Max.

“How is she?” Lani asked as they stood and chatted.

“She’s wonderful; recuperating very nicely they say. They kept telling me that but I had to come and see for myself.”

Lani nodded as the elevator stopped on the first floor. “Hey, Beth! How about going and getting some lunch? I - I have some things to tell you.”

Since Lani was coming from Rose’s office a bit of panic clutched at her stomach. She was almost afraid of what Lani might tell her. Was she okay?

Lani saw the fear flutter across Beth’s face and smiled. “I’m okay, Bethy. Really. Let’s have lunch and I’ll tell you what is going on.”

“Good, I’m so glad to hear that. And yes, lunch sounds great. Where to?”

“Our favorite Mexican place?”

“Sounds fantastic.” As they walked outside Beth saw Rob sitting in the shade, waiting patiently for Lani. “What about him?” she asked with a grin.

“I’m sure he’ll follow along. Hey, Rob! Beth and I are going to lunch. I’m going to ride with her, okay?”

He grinned and nodded. “You know where I’ll be,” he teased.

“Right behind us. Yeah, I know!”

The girls laughed and headed to Beth’s car. “He is certainly a very fine looking guy, Lani. Why hasn’t some girl snapped him up already?”

“I don’t know, but he is about the nicest guy you could imagine. I don’t mind having him follow me around at all.”

They were still giggling as they climbed into the Prius and buckled up. The drive to the restaurant only took about 20 minutes and while Beth was dying to know what Lani had to say she refrained from asking. She did notice the sizable rock that decorated Lani’s finger though.

“So?” Beth asked, looking at the ring.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it? He asked me to marry him this morning. Said he couldn’t wait any longer.”

“What, over breakfast?”

“No, we were still in bed.” She laughed as Beth rolled her eyes. “Really, it was much more romantic than it sounds!”

“In that case I don’t want to hear it,” Beth declared as she turned into the restaurant parking lot. “Let’s go and do some tequila shots!”

Lani didn’t have to explain as they walked into the restaurant; she knew that there was plenty of time for that during lunch. Once they were seated though she noticed that Beth was fidgeting, something that wasn’t normal for her at all. Lani watches as she picked at the napkin, moved the salt and pepper around and tapped her fingernails on the tabletop.

“Beth, what’s wrong?”

“I - I just can’t seem to feel comfortable, you know? I mean, I’m home, I’m safe, but it’s still all there in my mind.”

Lani reached her hand across the table and lightly squeezed Beth’s. “I think it might take a while, you know?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” She smiled and said, “Now tell me what Rose said, Lani.”

“I’m okay. A little anemic, as we thought, but there is something else, Beth. I’m pregnant.”

“Oh, my gosh. You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m not and it is NOT Eric’s baby. It’s Josef’s.”

“Lani, vampires can’t have babies!”

“Not most of them, no. But for someone who happens to be a descendant of the 13, it is entirely possible.”

Beth clearly misunderstood what Lani meant when she said, “I guess I’m not following you. Yes, I know that Mick and I can have babies, and we were going to tell everyone when things settled down and…” Suddenly it all clicked into place. “You? You’re a descendant too?”

“Yes, in fact we’re related, somewhere along the way. I’m a descendant of Rose too. She’s done all the testing and it’s definitely true. So, the baby is Josef’s. I’m 63 days along. Wanna see a picture?”

Beth grinned broadly and nodded, taking the picture that Lani held out. “Wow, it looks so tiny!”

“Yes, it does. It happened the night we brought you back from Seattle, on the full moon. Oh Beth, I’m so excited, about it all!”

“Lani, this is wonderful. I imagine that Josef is going to have a bit of a fit about it. Can you imagine Josef changing a diaper?”

“I know! I think he’ll be a great dad though, look at the way he is with Robbi and Kev’s kids and even the cats at Audrey’s. He’ll spoil our kids rotten, I’m sure, but he’s going to be great.”

“I think so too! So, no tequila shots, huh?”

“Not for a few months.”

Beth nodded and took a sip of her water. “Well, here’s to our future, may it be better than the past!”

“Amen to that.”


Lani nervously walked around the house, waiting for Josef to get home. Everything was set for dinner, she’d taken a shower and put on a comfortable pair of jeans and a sweater that Josef liked. He said that they both accentuated her body in all the right places and she figured he might as well enjoy it while he could because before too long, well, things were going to be changing.

As soon as he came home he spied what she was wearing and grinned. “You look fabulous, love. I love your ass in those jeans!” He pulled her to him and ran his hands over her bottom, molding her tightly against him as he nibbled on her neck that was exposed by the cowl neckline of the soft cashmere sweater.

“So glad you are pleased! Hungry?”

He took her wrist and pushed the sweater up a bit and kissed her along her wrist. “Starved,” he declared with a twinkle. “But I’ll make do with whatever has been prepared for us.”

“Well, for you some nice fresh from the vein B+ and for me and salad with a spicy tangerine dressing, grilled shrimp and lime flavored rice. I’m starved so let’s go and eat!”

He was more than pleased that she was eating again. She looked beautiful; the rose was back in her cheeks and her eyes were sparkling once again. Must be the vitamins he guessed.

They ate their respective meals and Josef talked about the solution to explain what had happened. It went well and he thought since Luka and Henry had told their stories and all the evidence matched what they said it would be a done deal. The Chief of Police was expected to make an announcement later to let the public know that the serial killer had been killed in a fiery explosion in the desert but that two intended victims were safe.

Lani nodded as she listened, hoping that it was all done. Everyone’s stress levels were over the top and it was time for peace to reign. She almost rushed through her desert of fresh melon in order to get him into the living room so they could talk.

As she settled onto the sofa Josef poured a glass of scotch for himself and looked at her, his eyes questioning what she wanted.

“Nothing, thank you.”

He shrugged and took a seat next to her. “Now, what did Rose have to tell you?”

They had both agreed to talk about this after dinner and so she said, “Well, I am definitely not diabetic. But, there is something, Josef. I’m pregnant…”

Before she could finish he’d catapulted from his seat and was standing next to the fireplace, staring at her.

“It’s yours Josef,”

“Vampires can’t have kids, Lani.’

“Most vampires, that’s true, but…”

“No buts. Vampires can’t have kids. Period. End. Of. Story.”

Suddenly she knew that he wasn’t going to listen any more. He didn’t want her or the baby. He wouldn’t accept it.

“So the baby is Eric’s?”

“NO. The baby is yours!”

“No, it isn’t. You don’t have to lie to me, Lani.”

“I’m not,” she said, starting to cry. “I’m not…” she repeated, her words trailing off as she watched him leave the room, almost at a run. When she heard the office door down the hall slam shut she buried her face in her hands, the ache in her heart so painful she almost couldn’t breathe. She hadn’t even got to tell him how it was possible. He thought she lied to him.

She stood up and found her coat and purse. She had to get out of here. Franklin stood looking at her sadly; he’d probably heard enough to know what had happened.

“Miss Lani, give him a bit of time, to, to digest the news.”

It was a simple and heartfelt plea from him and Lani could only look at him, at the sadness that was covering his face. She couldn’t say a word to him because she knew that if she did she’d weaken and stay. She finally shook her head and went through the door, closing it behind her. She headed out to the garage and climbed into the Lamborghini. She had to get out of here, get away. At a stop light she called Beth and told her what had happened.

“I’m getting the hell out of here!” she said in explanation as to why she was in the car.

“So that’s it? You’re just leaving?”

“Yes. He doesn’t want me now. He thinks the baby isn’t HIS.”

A silent tear slipped down Lani’s face and she wiped it away quickly, not ready to give in to the tears again. “Vampires can’t have babies, did you forget? He certainly didn’t.”

“Lani give him a break for heaven’s sake, before you just go running off.”

“A break? What about me? Do you have any clue how I feel right now?” She let out a huge, impatient breath and continued, “Hell no you don’t! Mick would support you no matter what, wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t turn his back on you, when you were raw and torn apart because of his reaction when you should be on top of the world.”

“Lani, give him a chance to think about it.”

“NO, he’s had his chance. I’m getting out of here.”

“Just like always huh, Lani? Run away? You’re good at it, you really are. You’ve been running your whole life and right now you can’t even see that you are running away from the man who is the one who can shelter and love you as no one else can. Or maybe that’s it? It is, isn’t it? Things are getting too deep, too personal and you’re doing your usual thing, getting out. You know what Lani? I’m done with it, with watching you do this.” Beth was so angry that she knew she had to get off the phone before she said something she could never take back, if she hadn’t already.

Lani continued to drive, feeling totally and completely alone. Once she got on the coast highway and away from the traffic she started to feel a bit better. She was going to the one place where she always felt comforted.

It was done, finished. She’d have the baby on her own. It would be okay.

Wouldn’t it?

To be continued…

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Chapter 49 Truth

Mick walked down the final steps and entered the bunker. His eyes gazed over it and he scented what had happened with Shatel. Beth had been very brave - she’d staked him from behind, which wasn’t easy and Luka and Henry had helped. Another sweep of the room told a grisly tale as well, the bucket in the far end of the cell, the blood stained sink, counter and floor that spoke of so many victims. Mick closed his eyes, wanting desperately to shut out the visions that filled his head.

Josef and Tango stood looking at Shatel, lying on the floor with the stake protruding from both front and back. “They got him good, that’s for sure.” Josef rattled the door with the lock and looked around to see if he could see a key somewhere.

“Out of the way,” Mick said, barely able to control his hatred for Shatel. His heart was filled with a repulsion for the vamp that was fueled by his rage. He wanted to kill him, to hurt him as he had hurt Beth and the others. He kicked at the door and the whole frame gave way, falling heavily on Shatel. He reached down and pulled it away without any assistance, the need for retribution scalding his soul.

“You son of a bitch, you took what is mine!” he said and pulled Shatel over to him.

All three of them saw the marks all over him, not to mention the smell of him that was much more noticeable this close.

“What the hell? Where did those come from?” Josef asked, looking at the scars, some oozing a vile smelling substance.

“He wasn’t like that before?” Mick asked, confused. “He was already a vamp then, so how did he get scars?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea. I say we take him back to headquarters and ask him,” Tango said, wiping a bit of the ooze off after sniffing it. He winced as it stung his nose and eyes. “I can’t imagine what that is.”

Mick was torn; he wanted to end it now. But he also wanted answers, as did Josef and Tango. He nodded agreement and turned to head upstairs. If he stayed any longer he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop himself.

Outside he found Beth sitting in the helicopter, as were Carl, Luka, Henry and Brody. Max was stretched out on the floor in back and Beth was talking via computer to her mom at the loft, giving instructions about Max as she sipped a travel mug of blood.

It had been decided that they couldn’t take Max to the regular hospital so instead they were going to take her to the Women’s Clinic which had a surgical unit that could handle the situation. Rose was going to meet the chopper at the heliport and Mark would meet them at the clinic. Carl and Luka were talking strategy of how to cover up what happened and how the situation could be settled with little police involvement.

“I think we’ll need to talk with Josef,” Carl was saying. “This is going to be difficult. Luka, Henry, are you okay with that? We’ll have to keep you under cover for just a bit longer.”

They both nodded, understanding that the vampire connection had to remain hidden and yet the situation had to have a resolution to ease the public’s fears and keep the police department from digging any further. Not a simple solution by any means they all realized.

The two new victims were moved into Josef’s helicopter and given another dose of chloroform to keep them out. They would be taken back to the streets and hopefully wouldn’t remember enough of it all other than to think it was a bad dream. Shatel had been carried out to that chopper as well and both lifted and made for the heliport. Josef would send men back to take care of the van and property, after they decided what needed to be done. Beth sat in the back with Max, holding her hand and sending her soothing thoughts. Mick sat with her, holding onto her as if afraid she’d vanish from him.

Rose was at the heliport, accompanied by an ambulance to get Max to the clinic. She hugged Beth tightly and told her, “We’ll talk very soon, I promise.”

“Yes, please, just take care of Max for me, Rose.”

Josef had thought ahead and had several SUV’s waiting as well to ferry people to their destinations. Carl, Luka and Henry were going to Josef’s house so the men could clean up and later everyone would meet about the situation. Mick and Beth went to the loft, where everyone was waiting to see her.

When she walked into the loft she was immediately aware of how much love there was, love that came from all these people who had worked so hard to find her. On the trip home Mick had told her how Audrey, Logan, Ryder and Ishaq had stayed on the internet, looking at satellites and traffic cams and he told her how Clark and Carl had sat themselves up as decoys too. Tears of gratitude immediately sprung to her eyes as she looked at them all.

“I - I’m just so happy to be here and you all…” She looked at Mick and then ran upstairs, over-whelmed by her emotions.

“She’s tired and really self-conscious about the way she smells. I know, a female thing, right?” he tried to make light of it to them. “Give her a little bit, okay? She’ll be back down.” He heard the shower kick on upstairs and added, “I hear the shower, so let me check on her. Then we can all sit down and welcome her back.”

Upstairs Mick followed a bread-crumb trail of Beth’s clothes and as he gathered up each piece to toss in the hamper he winced as a memory of the events of the past 4 days flashed in his head. What she had been through was terrible, but she’d stayed strong there, so that they others would stay positive. The hunger that she had experienced was the hardest of all for him because he knew how that felt and she had pushed it away. Until Luka, that is.

He’d saved her, Mick knew. Did Luka understand that? Some of the other implications made his heart ache and he tried to clear it out, for Beth’s sake. In the shower he found her sitting on the floor as the water poured over her, knees bent, arms wrapped around them and her forehead resting against them as she sobbed. The tears were for all of them he knew, the victims, everything they had experienced and those who had watched as Shatel murdered them.

Monster, he was a monster. As I once was. He shut his eyes tightly for a moment, letting the pain go and then he quickly undressed and joined her, sitting next to her and pulling her onto his lap.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, much the same as she had done all those years ago as a child and with her face buried in his neck she cried it all out and then sought to gain control of her emotions. He held her tightly and murmured words of love to her, soothing her aching spirit as only he could do. She had been his salvation and now he was hers.

“He’s sick, Mick. In so many ways. I’ve never met someone like him before. He doesn’t have fangs, drinks his blood from a cup. He was just so…cold about it all.”

“No fangs? Are you sure, Beth? Maybe you just didn’t see them.”

“No, he doesn’t have them; I saw him vamped several times. And he was afraid of mine as well.”

Mick mentally scratched his head over that and took note. He was one strange vampire, to be sure. “It’s done now, Beth. You know what is going to happen to him, right?”

She nodded, not sorry about it because of what he’d done but part of her wondered what had made him into the vampire he was. “I tried to attack him, that first night before he took us down into the bunker but he was stronger than I was. And he used Max to make me behave afterwards. He wanted me to kill Luka, Henry and Max too. I think he couldn’t kill them for some reason. Henry thought it was because they weren’t homeless, like the others. He thought that they’d all just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“But you stayed strong, Beth. I’m so proud of you. And Brody is going to train you, baby. You’ll never be in that kind of situation again.”

She nodded and finally began to feel better. They stood up and he washed her hair for her and then her body, much as you would a child. The contact wasn’t sensual but a comforting gesture to help her to feel safe again.

Out of the shower she dried off and wrapped a towel around her hair before they headed into the bedroom to get dressed. She settled on a tee shirt and a low-slung pair of cotton lounging pants and luxuriated in the comfort both items brought her. After she had brushed her hair, she pulled it back into a pony tail even though it was still damp and called it good.

As she brushed her teeth she stared at her reflection in the mirror; she didn’t look that much different really, only tired. Really tired in fact but she had a group of people downstairs that she needed to see and reassure so she resigned herself to being up for a while.

“Beth, I’m going to need to head over to the Cleaners soon. Are you okay with that?”

Her blue eyes flashed iridescent for a moment and he knew it wasn’t from anger because he was leaving but an acknowledgment of what was going to happen. “Go, take him out, Mick. He’s killed enough people.”

Mick nodded and leaned down to kiss her. “I will, baby. I will…”

As they walked down the stairs together all faces turned to her, checking to see if she was okay. They all felt a bit hesitant but she smiled at them and then walked straight into her mother’s arms and held her tightly. The comforting gesture began for Dorothy’s sake but there was no denying the love she felt for her mother and how much she’d missed her these past days. As each person in turn connected with her she felt a bit of strength return to her, their love and faith bolstering her own.

She saw Mick talking to Clark and Logan and then the three of them announced that they were leaving. None of the women questioned why Logan and Clark were going with him; they were family and this is what family did - protect and fight for one another.

Family isn’t always or only about blood and this was one truth that Beth appreciated now more than ever.


Mick walked into the Cleaners headquarters, his long and determined stride making it hard for Logan to keep up with him. Josef and Tango both stared as Clark and Logan followed Mick but neither said a word. They were family and deserved to be here.

Shatel was sitting in the same chair that Emma Monahan had sat in almost 8 months before, with silver cuffs around his wrists. Tango closed the door to curious eyes and the five men stood regarding the prisoner silently. Only Clark was oblivious to the putrid scent that rolled off of him but to Mick, Josef, Tango and Logan it only served to stir their disgust with this man who took so many lives and dared to abduct one of their own as well.

The stake was still in Shatel’s chest and Josef nodded at Mick and said, “Would you like to do the honors?”

Mick nodded grimly, he’d take great pleasure in tugging it out because it was going to hurt like hell. None of them worried about him trying to escape because Shatel was clearly too beaten to run.

Mick pulled slowly and had to twist it upwards as well, to clear a rib. It finally slid out with a whoosh and a fresh rush of rancid smelling blood. Mick closed his eyes and backed away from the stench, which was nauseating.

Shatel’s head dropped for a moment and he instinctively drew in a deep breath, waiting for the flaming heat of torn flesh begin to abate. Likely it would be the last pain he’d feel on this earth and for a moment he savored it, knowing what would be coming soon. Finally he lifted his head, his eyes meeting those of the men who stood before him, vengeance in their hearts. He acknowledged them all with a nod of his head.

“So, William and Lord Tanglewood, we finally meet again.”

Josef and Tango both nodded tightly at his use of the names they had used the last time they met. If any of the men were surprised by this none let it show on their faces.

“Shatel LaFleur, you have committed a crime against another vampire, Michael St. John by taking and attempting to destroy his bond with his mate by separation. What do you have to say?” Tango said the words that echoed harshly in the large room.

“Also the countless human deaths, hm?” Shatel asked. He was still in pain, always and forever in pain and his thirst was exquisite as well, both of which made his French accent more prominent than either Tango or Josef remembered.

“The human deaths do not guarantee your execution, but destroying a mate bond does.”

“She is returned, safe and sound, I believe? Tell me, what manner of vampire is she? Most extraordinary blue eyes, I must admit.”

Mick took a step towards him, growling and let his fangs show prominently. As Beth had said, he was afraid of them and shrank back into the chair as far as possible. Even though he vamped out and his eyes turned the palest of silver white no fangs appeared. “What happened to your fangs?” Mick asked, disgusted by the cowering man before him.

“I find I can no longer abide them,” Shatel said cryptically.

“What the hell happened to you, Shatel?” Josef asked, tired of the games.

Shatel closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the past rush over him in a torrent of pain and muddy water. His life had ended that night, not physically of course because the vampire blood in him wouldn’t let him die, much as he wanted to. His world would never be the same again and it was time these two understood what had happened and helped to end all the pain for him.

In many ways he understood that they didn’t know or couldn’t have imagined what had happened when they threw him overboard that night. There was even a part of him that knew that they would never have wanted it. They had been friends and if it had simply been a matter of swimming to shore he’d have laughed long and hard about it all.

But it didn’t happen that way.

“You threw me overboard that night and even then I understood it was for the best. Surely nothing good would have happened if I had continued to play that night. But what happened in the water was beyond anything that you or I could have imagined, I am sure.” He looked up at Tango and Josef and for a moment his eyes seemed very sane and very sad. He sighed, before continuing his story.

“The water, it wasn’t very deep and when I touched the bottom I pushed against it, towards the shore, about fifty feet away. It was when I surfaced that it happened. I came up in a nest of water moccasins, many, many of the filthy creatures. They bit me, over and over and I fought them, ripping them off of my body and trying to struggle to the shore. When I finally could stand I stumbled out of the water, the poison of the vipers burning through my body.”

Josef’s gut clenched, imagining the snakes. He hated snakes and the thought of them crawling over him or anyone was almost too much to bear. Shatel saw the revulsion on Josef’s face and nodded.

“Yes, you understand, do you not, William? My vampire blood would not let me die, and the poison had nowhere to go. I had 32 bites, each one filled with deadly venom, deadly to a human of course. For me, it burned me, choked me. I taste it, smell it, it fills my head, my body with its putrid essence and there is no escaping it. If I scratch at the scars the venom is still there. No escape,” he cried for a moment, a solitary tear running slowly down his face.

“No one would accept me after that. The vampires, they couldn’t abide the scent of the vipers on me and the humans ran in fear of the bite marks. I went north, as far as I could go and fed from whatever small animals I could catch, always alone. I had no one.”

Tango and Josef realized the importance to this statement. Many vamps liked the solitude, but Shatel had never been one of them. He enjoyed companionship, of female and males both and moving about in society brought him a great deal of pleasure. This would be like 170 years of solitary confinement to him certainly.

Both of the men now understood how what they had done had changed his life. It didn’t make it okay, but Shatel had evidently gone mad with the loneliness and seclusion forced on him. They remained quiet as he continued.

“It took me most of those years to find you both. I saw a picture of William in a magazine and came to Los Angeles. It was pure luck and then another stroke of luck happened when I saw Lord Tanglewood with you. I formed my plan then. Thirty two victims, one for each bite on my body. Done for you to find, not the police although they did find some. Homeless people, like me who were anchored to no one in this world and as lonely and desperate as I was to leave this life.”

The absurdity of his logic wasn’t lost on any of them. Just because they were homeless didn’t mean they wanted to die.

“I found them and they came to me willingly and were happy when I shed their blood.”

“You son of a bitch, you used allure on them; they didn’t even know what was happening to them!” Mick spat out.

“They knew my friend, they knew. And welcomed it.”

“Why did you take my wife?” It was hard for Mick to even say the words.

“As a means to an end. I needed her to draw William and Lord Tanglewood closer to me and also to take care of a slight problem that I had. However, she failed at her task.”

“He wanted her to kill Luka and Henry as well as Max,” Mick said. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are. They were mistakes, taken because I couldn’t leave them. She had remarkable restraint, your mate does. I admire that.”

“Don’t you talk to me about admiring her; you have no idea how strong she is, how much it hurt her to live through that need for blood.”

“Yes, well, that aside I only accomplished part of what I intended. I did not get all 32 victims but you found me and for that I am grateful. Please, end my life now because I have no spirit left within me.”

“Did you somehow mistakenly think we would let you live? Why did you want us to find the bodies instead of the police, Shatel?”

“Because it is a great expense for the Cleaners to take care of such a mess, is it not? It was just my last way of reminding you of me.”

“You're crazy, you know that?” Logan said, so angry that the hair on his body was standing straight up.

“Why yes, I do. I am ready now. Please, end my life.”

The five men stood looking at one another, mystified by his plea for death. Shatel watched their faces as they struggled with it all. They would never understand how he felt, the desperation that ate at him constantly. He could have ended his own life many times but they caused this and they had to know what they’d done and be the ones to take the responsibility for ending him as they were responsible for ruining him.

“Please?” he asked again and they nodded.

Mick was still incensed with the need for vengeance but he no longer wanted to prolong it. “Just get it over with,” he said and they nodded, willing to go along with his wishes.

“Which would you prefer, Shatel? Beheading or the flames?” Josef asked.

“Both. I want no possibility of failure.”

“You got it,” Mick said, stalking over to him and pulling him to his feet. Someone handed him a sword and Shatel stood calmly before him, unflinchingly meeting his eyes.

“I do apologize for any harm to your mate.” He stood at the ready and at his words anger washed over Mick again and he swung the sword in a fast arc, severing Shatel’s head cleanly. His body crumpled to the floor and Mick stepped away as Shatel’s head made a resounding thump as it hit the floor. Mick discovered he was breathing hard although he didn’t understand why.

Tango stepped forward with a flamethrower and waited for Mick to move farther away. Clark shifted closer to Mick and rested an arm around his shoulders and said, “It’s alright, son. It’s over with.”

Mick nodded and watched as the flames quickly turned Shatel LaFleur to ashes.

It was done. All of them were thankful for that. Maybe life would settle down again.

To be continued…

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chapter 48 Reunion

When they lost the satellite feed Logan and Audrey felt helpless and frustrated. “We can use Google Earth,” Audrey said.

“Yeah, but that’s not a live feed; it’s like, 6 months ago, Audey.” Frustration was making him grumpy, as was not doing anything to help.

“I know, Logan, but we might spot a landmark or something. And if he was living there six months ago we might spot the van parked somewhere. Look, it’s not perfect but it’s worth a try.” She smiled at him and leaned over to kiss him quickly.

He sighed, admitting that she was right. “Okay, let’s give it a try.” They coordinated where each would look and got busy. It was slow going and not very promising, but it was at least something.


Carl and Tango were waiting at the heliport for Mick and Josef. Carl would ride with Mick and Brody and Tango with Josef and Rich. There was a stash of blood tucked away for the vamps and Beth if need be and Carl had a large thermos of coffee with him. Cami had headed over to be with Lani because she was as on-edge as the rest of them and from there the girls were going back to the loft.

It took 15 minutes to get to the outskirts of LA and another 10 to get to the I-15 and 395 junction. From there they headed north, flying one 1/2 mile apart and started working the pattern that Logan had sent to the on-board computers. It was hard and even flying relatively low it was difficult to make out much of what was below them.

They refused to give up now. Mick knew she was close, he could feel her and he kept sending her messages of love and telling her he would find her quickly. He could only hope that she would hear them.


Shatel pulled onto the long path that was nothing more than dirt and potholes, but it at least meant that he was almost home. Hunger was ripping through him; he needed to feed quickly. His need for blood had increased the past few days and he could only assume that it had to do with all the tension he was feeling. He just wanted to get to the end of his chosen actions; he wanted to stand in front of Tango and Josef and tell them of the thing that they had done to him.

The sun was just rising above the horizon and the sky was a clear, crystal blue around him. Out here in the desert it looked as if it went on forever and he had to admit that the endless sea of sand, topped by the sparkling blue sky made an attractive panorama. Up ahead he spotted the silver Airstream, the sun glinting off of it and hurting his eyes. He’d lucked into the property a year ago, considering the bunker was already there. A small, adobe bungalow had been situated atop of it but he’d decided to tear it down and had put the Airstream over it. At the time he wasn’t sure what his plans were and he figured that he could always move on when the time was right.

As he pulled the van to a stop he cast a glance over his shoulder at the two men who were still slumbering. He’d take the old man down first and put him in the cell and then take the punk down and have his meal. He might not be homeless and ready to leave this world but he was going to be a very satisfying meal. Evil in this world must be stopped, however you had to do it.


Beth, Henry and Luka sat waiting; they all had the sense that it wouldn’t be long now. Max slept restlessly and Beth was worried because her fever had spiked again; she was hot and dry to the touch and whatever was happening to her wasn’t good. Beth didn’t want to have to turn her here, it wouldn’t work, she was positive.

She didn’t really know how, for one thing. Yes, Mick had told her and she’d been turned, obviously but the technical aspects of it weren’t something she felt comfortable with at all. And, with two humans in here she was sure that when Max woke up she’d be crazy for blood and how could Beth stop her?

No, they had to get out of here before then. She couldn’t bear the thought of Max dying on her watch.

She got up and walked around in their small cell, restless and full of stress-related energy. For a moment she thought she heard Mick in her head, but how could that be? She’d never heard him before, only seen him. He said he loved her, that he was close. She stood still for a moment, letting the love fill her with hope and returned as much of it as she could.

I’m here Mick, silver trailer. Find us. I love you.


“Silver trailer,” Mick yelled so loudly that it drowned out the sound of the rotors. “Silver trailer. Brody, we’re looking for a silver trailer!”

Brody nodded and grinned, understanding that Mick had gotten another message from Beth. He couldn’t wait to meet this remarkable woman because she sure as hell had some extraordinary clairvoyant gifts. “You got it, Mick.” He radioed the new goal to Rich who was confused.

“Silver trailer? What is that about?”

“Silver trailer,” Josef echoed in the background. “Is this a scavenger hunt?”

“Just do it! Find it!” Mick said, his eyes scanning the desolate sand wash below them. “Find it!” he repeated.

Josef shook his head in frustration, he could only hope that Beth’s message this time was clear because that was the only thing that could explain this.

They had a goal now, to find a silver trailer in a sea of varied colored sand, some of which glittered brightly in the sun.

Easy, right?


Shatel made sure the young guy was still tied securely and lifted the other man up over his shoulder and headed inside the trailer. He didn’t even wince any longer at the stench that emanated from the bunker, he just ignored it as he lifted the platform bed and started down the steps.

They old man stirred a bit and Shatel felt him shifting and held him a bit more securely and sent him thoughts to go back to sleep, in an effort to keep him calm. At the bottom of the stairs he slid the bolt back and turned the light on, which he knew momentarily blinded those inside.

All of them had their eyes shut tightly as they adapted to the brightness and he stood looking at them for a moment. The females were at the end of the cell where he always put the new people and he sighed. St. John was really more trouble than she was worth he decided when he indicated that she move to the far end of the cell and she refused with a shake of her head.

He stared at her for a moment and realized his allure wouldn’t work on her.

Trouble, she was too damn much trouble.


Audrey was staring at something on the monitor, unable to look away. An idea occurred to her as she looked at it and Dorothy saw her stare and came to stand behind her to see what she was watching. Logan noticed too and glanced over at the monitor and froze.

“That’s it, Audey. Silver trailer, not silver trail. You have them. Send the message!”


Mick’s eyes were burning from the intensity of the search and suddenly, in the distance he saw something shimmering in the distance. He blinked his eyes a couple of times and when he looked back it was still there.

“Brody, up ahead, eleven o’clock! We have them!”

Brody and Carl both looked where Mick was indicating and saw it, the sun reflecting off of an old silver Airstream trailer.

“You're right, Mick. I think this is it,” Brody said, changing his heading. He radioed Rich with the information and both choppers headed to the new destination, just as Audrey was sending them coordinates.

“Yeah, Audrey, we just spotted it. We got her!” Mick said, his happiness making his voice break. “Two minutes, we’ll be there!”


Shatel walked closer to the cell in an effort to intimidate Beth, a snarl escaping him. She just looked at him from her place on the floor next to the other human female.

“No, I’m not leaving her, so just bring him on in!” she declared, watching her nemesis closely as she let her eyes flash and swirl. Her mind was sending stay strong thoughts to the men, whose heartbeats had both sped up at Shatel’s approach. Her messages quickly changed to calming ones and gradually their heartbeats returned to normal. She hoped that Shatel hadn’t noticed but she didn’t think he did because he was mentally debating the situation from the look on his face.

He stood, uncertainty showing on his face and as he looked in the cell. Both of the men were in their proper places, obviously not a threat. St. John was sitting with her friend, staring at him insolently and then she looked down, away from his gaze. Was she acknowledging obedience to him or trying to trick him? The man over his shoulder stirred again and he decided to trust her because he had to put this guy down before he came fully awake.

He pulled the key out of his pocket and unlocked the cell and dropped it back securely into his pocket. St. John was looking at her friend, stroking her forehead with a scrap of wet material and seemed well-occupied so he stepped into the cell and past the two women. He laid the man down and turned to walk back to the door when the other two men stepped towards him, blocking his exit.

Shatel laughed; were they really trying to scare him? These mere scraps of humanity with no strength, no way to fight him?

“You're laughing at us?” Luka said, talking loudly to hide the sounds of Beth’s movements. “You think that we can’t win?”

“I know that you cannot. Go back to your corn…”

And that was when Beth drove the stake into his back. It was hard, harder than she’d expected and it glanced off a rib and didn’t go in quite all the way that it should. Would it be enough to take him out?

She pushed again, and twisted and suddenly his body backed onto the stake and then it slid clear of the impediments. She looked up and saw that Henry and Luka had pushed from the front.

Shatel dropped to the ground, his eyes showing his shock and surprise. All three of them stared at him, making sure he couldn’t move.

“You're sure he can’t move, right?” Luka asked.

“Yes, but still, let’s get out of here. He has a van upstairs and we can use it. Henry, can you get the keys out of his pocket? We’ll take them with us.”

Henry nodded and Luka picked up the old man as Beth did the same for Max, who whimpered as she was moved. “Shh, Max. We’re getting out of here now. You’re going to be okay.”

Henry pulled the cell door closed behind them and locked it, pocketing the keys. The final clang of that door was music to all their ears.


Brody circled the trailer, looking for signs of Shatel but he wasn’t to be seen. Mick was ready to jump out when Brody sat the chopper down a hundred yards from the trailer. They could see the other chopped in the distance making a fast approach as Brody shut the rotors down. Mick and Carl were already out the door, Mick with fangs bared and Carl with his gun at the ready, with the right ammunition, of course.

At Mick’s loft they were all going crazy when Brody said they were on the ground. They couldn’t see anything because they didn’t have a sat view. That changed when Ryder cut into their connection.

There before them was a clear view, in real time, of what was happening.

“Ryder, how they hell do you have that?”

“Well, you see, Logan, I have a perpetual hard-on for hacking the military.”

“Ryder! That’s what got you the permanent vacation in South America!”

“Eh, not so permanent and what are they gonna do? They gotta find me first. Look, I’ve got this thing tripped all over the earth but if they get close I’ll have to shut it down quickly, so enjoy while you can!”

“Ryder, thank you,” Dorothy said, holding back a small sob.

Ryder heard the emotion in Beth’s mom’s voice and for a moment felt it himself, before he wondered if she was as much as a looker as her daughter was. He had to laugh at himself, he’d never change and he loved the ladies. Many ladies…

Their attention was back at the scene, where the second chopper was landing. They saw Josef and Tango climb out at a run and Brody joined them. It was sort of like watching the clowns get out of a circus car, only in reverse. The trailer was so tiny and with all of them in there how could there be any room for anyone else?


They headed to the bunker door and Beth stopped, her head cocked as she listened to what was going on above them. She smiled and said, “They found us! Come on, they found us!” She all but ran up the stairs, stopping at the top and called out, “Mick, under the bed!

That’s where he found her and his legs almost gave away as he lifted the platform bed and saw his wife, holding Max in her arms with Luka Fiorentino behind her and two other men he didn’t recognize.

It was better than he’d ever hoped for. His Beth, safe at last.

For a moment they were both speechless, drinking in the other with their eyes. Brody saw what was happening and took Max from Beth’s arms.

“She needs a doctor, call Mark right away. Henry thinks her appendix ruptured a day ago, or well, maybe then. Time, it had little meaning down there.” She was quickly enveloped in Mick’s arms and suddenly the last of the fear and frustration fell away. She laughed and said, “Mick, I love you but I know I smell awful!”

“Don’t care, Beth. I don’t care.” He didn’t try to hide his tears from anyone and the rest of them turned away to give them a moment of privacy.

Carl greeted Luka with a wry smile that was somehow grim at the same time. “Luka, so good to see you alive, man!”

“It’s pretty good to be alive, let me tell you. If it hadn’t been for Beth that might not be the case.” He smiled at Beth who was still holding tightly to Mick.

“Beth, where is Shatel?” Josef finally asked.

“He’s down there,” she indicated the bunker with a nod of her head. “We staked him and locked him up. It’s not very pleasant down there.”

Josef and Tango both nodded grimly, the stench threatening to over-power them. Nonetheless they both headed down the stairs to find Shatel, wishing their vampire noses could be turned off.

Mick finally looked at Luka and Henry, nodding his head. “Luka, good to see you.” He reached for Luka’s hand to shake it and saw the bite marks that were clearly visible. With Max sick, well, she had to drink from someone. Mick’s eyes flickered back to Luka’s who nodded briefly, acknowledging what had happened.

“The secret is safe, Mick. Beth tells me it requires me to sign in blood and a monthly donation.”

It took a moment for Mick to realize that Luka was joking and he gave him a slight, tight smile. “Thank you, Luka.”

“No problem. Let me introduce you to Henry. This is Mick St. John, Beth’s husband and a good guy.”

If Mick’s eyebrow rose a bit at those last words he covered quickly. There was lots more to this story and while he wanted to hear it he had to see Shatel. His eyes wandered to the stairs.

Beth saw her husband’s gaze and knew what he wanted. “Go, it’s okay.”

He nodded and headed down those stairs, trying to keep from gagging. How on earth had they survived this?


On the monitor at the loft the group gathered, watching everything that was happening. Dorothy’s breath caught when Beth walked out into the sunshine, shielding her eyes. Dorothy stifled a cry and her knees threatened to give way to see her daughter, safely out of that place. Clarks arm held her tightly, giving her all the support she needed.

Her prayers had been answered. Beth was coming home.

To be continued…