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.
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?”
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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
“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
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.
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?”
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…”
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
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
“The human deaths do not guarantee your execution, but destroying a mate bond does.”
is returned, safe and sound, I believe? Tell me, what manner of
vampire is she? Most extraordinary blue eyes, I must admit.”
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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
“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
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.
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?”
you are. They were mistakes, taken because I couldn’t leave them. She
had remarkable restraint, your mate does. I admire that.”
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.”
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?”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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…