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.
To be continued…
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