Chapter 46 Discovery
Tango walked into Mick’s loft, his face
grim and everyone knew that another body had been found. A hush fell
over the room and Audrey fought the urge to cry, choking back the
stinging tears that welled up in her eyes. She’d been monitoring the
street cams, looking for signs of the van or Shatel himself but so far
hadn’t had any luck.
Logan and Ishaq, who was working from New
York were constantly checking the global satellites and even Ryder in
South America was staying busy monitoring. They all worked at it
diligently even though it was hard on their eyes and spirits to
constantly find nothing of help.
Dorothy was sitting on the
couch, her feet up as she waited for their dinner to arrive. Lani still
wasn’t home and she was trying hard to not be concerned about that.
Clark and Carl were out canvassing the streets, disguised as street
people and both had a GPS device imbedded into their clothing in hopes
that Shatel wouldn’t see or find it. They kept one another in sight
at all times but didn’t go near one another in case Shatel was watching.
Dorothy was scared that Clark would be captured but when Clark
and Carl volunteered she knew that this was something the vamps couldn’t
do so she just prayed that all would be well. Of course, the fact that
they were both armed with mace and silver bullets made it a bit easier
for Dorothy to take but it was still nerve-wracking.
It was all
amazing, how everyone was working together to find the girls. She knew
that they’d be found, something inside her told her that but the waiting
was really wearing at her emotionally. She just kept remembering that
for the babies sakes she had to stay calm and she did, most of the time.
She watched with interest when Mick, Josef and Tango disappeared into
the office and closed the door and wondered what was going on.
the office Mick took his seat behind the desk and nodded at the other
two to have seats as well. Tango sat heavily, a scruff on his face that
wasn’t worn for effect but rather from the fact that he’d had no time
to shave for a few days. Tango was always very fastidious about his
appearance so it was unusual to see him like this.
“Okay, I want to know just what the hell you two did to piss this guy off!” Mick declared with no preamble. “Spit it out!”
and Josef looked at one another and they both shrugged. “You see,
Mick, that’s kind of the problem. We don’t exactly know. I mean, we
did piss him off once, but to this degree? Doubtful,” Tango said, a
look of true puzzlement on his face.
Josef nodded and both of them were clearly confused. “Honestly, Mick. It happened in 1840 I think?”
He looked at Tango who added, “1841, I believe.”
nodded tersely and continued. “We, Tango and I owned a riverboat, a
floating gambling establishment catering to the wealthy plantation
owners in the Mississippi delta area and let me tell you, there were
lots of them. Shatel LaFleur was from France; he migrated to the states
during the French Revolution, which as you know was a very dangerous
time and place for vamps. Unfortunately, the states were a very
dangerous place for a man of color in those days. Even though he had
papers stating that he was a citizen of France and a free man he was
often hounded by slavers who said he was a runaway.”
only imagine the horror of those times. To be hunted and used solely
for the color of your skin seemed inconceivable, and yet it had
happened. He settled back into his chair, realizing that this story was
going to take some time.
“We often told him that he needed to go
to Canada perhaps or back to France because it was safe there again but
undertaking a sea voyage for a vampire was not something to be taken
lightly, not in those days. So, he stayed and rode The Lady of Mystery
from time to time, whenever he needed a bit of amusement or
companionship most likely. He had money, but like anyone else, he could
always use more and was usually pretty lucky at cards.”
took up the story at that point and said, “We were a legitimate business
and allowed no cheating or swindling on her and Shatel never did.
However, this last trip he was hot, very hot and playing against a New
Orleans planter who was terribly short on cash but colossal of ego. He
couldn’t believe that he would lose, especially to a black man. He
came to us and tried to convince us that Shatel was cheating but we knew
that he wasn’t. Still, he had amassed most of the planter’s money and
the only thing he had left to lose was the plantation. When it got that
close we watched carefully and saw that he’d pulled a gun out of his
coat and laid it on his leg, under the table. We knew that if Shatel
won the plantation he’d shoot and we’d have a huge mess on our hands.”
nodded, his eyes focused on that moment in the long-ago past and
continued. “We finally pulled Shatel outside and told him what was
happening. It didn’t go well, to say the least. He didn’t think it
likely that the planter would consider shooting him in cold blood, in
front of witnesses. We tried to convince him that he didn’t need a
plantation and that it would be unlikely that he’d be allowed to keep
it, the laws being what they were. Also, if he were to be shot then
we’d have to explain why he didn’t die after being shot at such close
range. We insisted he had to walk away with the winnings he had and get
off the boat at Natchez, which was only a half a mile away.”
was stubborn, to be sure,” Tango said. “In France, there was no
slavery and people were a bit more accepting of people of color and
Shatel never got it that things were different here. He finally had
enough of our attempts to convince him and started to walk away so we
did the only thing we could think of.”
“And that was?” Mick prompted.
dropped him over the side of the boat. We were only about 50 yards
from the shore and the water wasn’t that deep. You have to remember
that riverboats had a very shallow draft because of the changing river
patterns. We told him as he hit the water that we’d leave his bags at
the dock master in Natchez and went on. We took the winnings he’d
gotten, packed it in his bag and did what we said.”
“And did he pick it up?”
know. We only were there long enough to take on a few new passengers
and supplies for the engine room and galley. An hour at the most and
then we went on our way. That was the last we’d seen of him.”
I can understand that he was angry, but this angry? Not quite the
Shatel we knew. That Shatel would have been more likely to laugh his
ass off about it all. He had a big heart and a hell of a sense of
humor. This Shatel? It’s as confusing to us as it is to you, Mick,”
“Obviously he isn’t laughing his ass off, gentlemen.”
The story didn’t explain any of this, what had prompted Shatel to go
rogue. Mick closed his eyes and ran a hand down his face, tiredness
had seeped into his very soul and he just wanted to find his wife and be
done with it all.
“Look, we know that the story doesn’t help
anything, Mick, but we really are confused too. Nothing explains this
rampage he’s on.”
“Something does. It has to.”
waited nervously in the exam room, her legs hanging over the side of
the padded table she sat on. It was really chilly in here and she was
debating whether to try and find another blanket when Rose came back
into the room.
“Hi, Lani. We’ve got some preliminary results
here. Why don’t you lie back on the table for me please.” She noticed
that Lani was covered in goose bumps as she sat back and swung her legs
up onto the table so Rose pulled a drawer out and got another blanket
for her, unfolding it and laying it across her legs. She moved a
machine that was on wheels over to her and said, “You are a bit anemic,
Lani, but you aren’t a diabetic. Your blood sugar was okay for now.
One of the tests that we’ve run will tell us what the average of it is
over the past 3 months but I expect it to be fine. We’ll find out
“I’m glad to hear that, I’ve been really worried.” She
watched as Rose took out a tube of something and then lifted the paper
gown up a bit to expose Lani’s stomach.
“This is going to be a
bit cold, sorry,” Rose said as she squirted a thin stream of the clear
gel over Lani’s abdomen. Rose turned the machine on and a screen lit up
on it and she showed Lani the instrument she was holding. “This is
called a transducer and I’m going to move it around on your tummy so we
can see what is in there!”
“Oh my gosh, what’s wrong?”
laughed a bit and focused on the machine and then pushed a button that
froze the screen. “See this little spot right here?”
at the spot and turned her head from side to side to try and figure it
out. “That little thing that looks like a cashew? Do I have a tumor?
Do I need surgery?”
Rose laughed again and said, “No. This
little spot will come all on its own, I’d say in about 7 more months.”
She watched as confusion washed over Lani’s face and added, “See this
little bright spot, right here?” she said as she pointed to a place on
the cashew that was brighter than the rest of it. “That is the baby’s
heart, Lani. Beating strongly I must say.”
“Baby? I - can’t be
pregnant. Vampires can’t have babies.” Suddenly she understood, she
was pregnant with Eric’s baby, she had to be. But that baby would be 4
months along and it sure didn’t look big enough for that. She’d had
periods since then too.
The transducer moved a bit more and Lani
saw the almost pulsing spot of the heartbeat and it made her breath
catch in her throat. A baby, there was a baby right there, growing in
her body. Her baby and Josef’s.
“Rose, how can this be Josef’s baby?”
fever was getting worse; her skin felt almost painfully hot to Beth’s
cool fingers. Henry was bent over her and pressing lightly on her
belly, but it didn’t seem to be hurting Max as much.
“That’s a good sign, yes?” Beth asked, holding an unnecessary breath.
“Not exactly. Probably not,” Henry said with a sigh. “I think it has ruptured which is why it isn’t hurting as much.”
“What does that mean, Henry?”
“It means she could go septic. No, it’s not good.”
was quiet for a moment, lightly chewing her lip. “There might be
something I can do. I mean, I don’t know that it will work but it might
be worth a try.”
“What? You’re not going to turn her into a…a vampire are you?” Luka asked.
wouldn’t be my first choice, no. But a bit of my blood, a few drops
might help her. Our blood has amazing healing properties. It might
help long enough until we can get out of here.” Beth would never turn
her in here; when Max woke up she’d likely be mad for blood and that
wouldn’t be good here in this cell.
Beth could see Henry nodding
his head in the dark. Luka apparently wasn’t sure about it. “It
wouldn’t turn her into a vampire? You’re sure?” he asked.
it wouldn’t. She’d have to lose most of her blood and drink some of
mine. I’m just going to put a few drops in her mouth. It can’t hurt
her and it might help.”
“Max,” Henry called softly. “Did you hear Beth? Would you like to try that?”
“Yes, anything. I’m so hot; help me, Beth.”
Max.” She punctured her finger and watched as blood beaded up on it.
“Max, I want you to suck on my finger, okay?” She placed her finger on
Max’s lips and felt her friend draw the blood from it. After a minute
Beth pulled her finger away and sighed.
“Now what?” Luka asked.
we wait,” was Beth’s reply. The fact that she was totally unsure if
this would even work she decided to keep to herself. It wouldn’t help
Max to hear any doubt in her voice.
Wait, that’s what they had to do.
stepped off the elevator at the loft and knew one of the vamps would
hear it and greet her at the door. She was in such turmoil over the
pregnancy; she was walking on air, but she doubted that Josef would feel
that way. He’d be positive that the baby couldn’t be his, she knew
that. And even if that wasn’t the case, would he want kids? He’d been a
bachelor for so long having kids might not be in his plans.
listened to Rose’s explanation about how this might be possible. The
genetic tests would be back tomorrow and if Rose was right, if she was a
descendant too that made it all possible. Rose had asked many
questions about Lani’s family, if her family was related to Beth’s.
Lani knew exactly what Rose was hinting at, that her father and Beth’s
were the same.
Lani didn’t think so. Her parents were four years
older than Dorothy and were living in New Jersey when Dorothy got
pregnant. They were both attending Princeton, but Lani’s mother had
dropped out when she got pregnant. A hurried wedding and 7 months later
Lani arrived. Her parents never left New Jersey until Lani was 3, when
her father finished grad school and they moved back to California.
Dorothy be related? That would mean that maybe her father wasn’t her
father, or maybe she was adopted. Again, Lani didn’t think that was the
case because Dorothy had been the spitting image of her mother and
Beth’s grandparents were totally devoted to one another.
wasn’t a plausible answer. No, if Lani were a descendant it wasn’t
because she was related to Beth. Still, if she is a descendant, how
cool will that be when she’s turned?
Beth hadn’t told her yet
that she and Mick would be able to have children, but so much had been
happening that she understood that. And now Lani felt horrible about
this news because of Beth. She’d decided to not tell anyone until Beth
was home. She’d be honest with Josef about the anemia and vitamins, but
the rest had to wait until things calmed down a bit.
She hoped it would be soon.
she walked towards the door Josef opened it, having caught her scent.
She smiled at him and walked straight into his arms and part of her
wondered if he’d welcome her into his arms when he knew she was pregnant
because she was sure he wouldn’t believe it was his.
at him but her scent was off; she wasn’t totally happy. “Hey,
sweetness, what did the doctor say?” He stepped out into the hall and
closed the door behind him so they would have a bit of privacy.
a bit anemic, which isn’t a surprise. She gave me a bottle of vitamins
and instructions about eating. Lots of green veggies and proteins,
small meals but more of them, that kind of thing. I am okay, Josef.”
heart was racing as she said the words and again her scent betrayed
her. Something was wrong, she was being deceptive. Why? What on earth
could be wrong?
Dinner had been delivered a few minutes before
and Dorothy was in the kitchen, getting dishes and opening food cartons.
Lani walked in and set her purse on the counter and heard the vitamins
in the bottle rattle when she did. Dorothy glanced at the purse and
saw the familiar tell-tale blue bottle that the vitamins came in looked
at Lani, who blushed.
“Don’t, Dorothy. Not now,” she said softly.
Dorothy nodded and pulled Lani to her for a hug and whispered, “I love you, sweetie. It will be okay.”
Lani fought back tears and nodded, holding tightly to Dorothy for a moment.
watched from across the room. The exchange was curious for sure.
Something was up and Lani needed to tell him what it was. He didn’t
like being kept out of the loop and he had a feeling that whatever was
wrong was big.
He had no idea…
An hour later it seemed as if Max’s temperature was coming down and she seemed to be resting a bit more easily.
“Do you think she needs more?” Henry asked.
honestly don’t know. Maybe. I mean, she was so sick and I don’t know
how much she actually got. Maybe a bit more.” The process was repeated
and Beth and Henry continued to bathe her as best they could with cool
“Henry, you seem to be comfortable and familiar with
vampires. May I ask how?” Beth asked as she smoothed Max’s damp and
tangled hair out of her face.
“Yes, I guess I am. Beth, I’ve
been working the streets for 20 years, since I got back from the Kuwait
and you see things, you know? People come into the shelter with marks
on their arms and such.” He shrugged and continued, “They talk, too.
Almost none of them were freaked out about it either. Do I believe that
they are all good? No and I didn’t need Shatel to tell me that, but it
seems that we are all existing together so I say let it be.”
nodded and voiced something that she had been thinking about since
she’d been there. “What do you suppose all those scars are on him?
They’re so creepy and while you can’t smell it, they carry a very acrid
and biting scent. And before he brought us down here I tried to attack
him to get away and bit him and the taste was putrid.”
“I have no
idea and he certainly hasn’t said. As you can tell, he doesn’t talk
and he doesn’t want us to when he’s in here either.”
“Yeah. I think he sleeps in a room that adjoins this one; at least there is another door down here. It makes sense.”
suppose so. Well, I think we’d better get some rest, Beth. We don’t
know when he’ll be back and if he steps foot in here again I want our
plan to work.”
“Me too, Henry. You know, I hate how it happened but I’m really happy I’ve met you.”
He smiled at her in the darkness and nodded. “Me too, Beth. Goodnight.”
dinner Logan and Audrey decided to head home for showers and sleep,
since Ishaq and Ryder were going to be working to cover for them. They
were both tired and needed rest. Lani curled up on the couch to rest
while it was quiet and Dorothy took the bed upstairs. Josef and Mick
took turns in the freezer, catching a bit of rest but Josef finally
curled his body around Lani’s on the couch, unable to rest without her
by his side.
Mick stared out the window in the office, hesitating
to sleep because he was afraid he’d miss a message from Beth. Finally,
he crawled into the freezer for a couple of hours but it wasn’t really
It had been 4 days and all he’d had was a few feelings, messages. He refused to give up.
After everything they’d been through he refused to lose Beth, his Beth now.
Stay strong, Beth. We’re close, I can feel it. I love you.
In her uneasy slumber, in a bunker below the silver trailer Beth sighed and mumbled I love you, Mick in her sleep.
She did, always and forever.
To be continued…