Monday, September 24, 2012
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 fiancé? 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…
Posted by Hope at 9:54 AM