Thursday, November 29, 2012
New Kid in Town
After Brody left Mick started thinking about new measures for improved security for the building. He felt confident that his loft was safe, but what about the rest of the building? If someone was trying to get to Dorothy they could do it in a variety of ways.
Something to consider.
He ran the New Mexico tag and saw that it was registered to Vinton McCullough, in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque. He used Google Earth to check out the address on the registration and saw that it was a valid one, a small ranch house in need of some repairs, judging by the peeling paint and neglected yard. Next, he pulled the driver’s license for Vinton and got a look at him for the first time.
Blond shaggy hair, 6’1, brown eyes, he had a scruffy appearance for the most part although DMV photos were notorious for taking the worst pictures possible. The image also wasn’t terribly clear, but again, given the source excusable. He was 45 years old and single too, a quick search of public records showed. As far as Mick could tell he’d been a life-long resident of New Mexico.
So what was he doing here in Los Angeles? The car he was in wasn’t in the best of shape, by the looks of it as far as Brody could tell. 1995 Honda Civic according to DMV and it seemed to be quite a road trip for such an old car, but you can never tell by looks.
Mick leaned back in the chair and ran his hand over his face, thinking about other sources for information. First he decided to call Logan and see if he could check a few of the traffic cams around here.
“Hey, Logan,” Mick said when the phone was answered. “Does the name Vinton McCullough mean anything to you or Clark?”
He waited while Logan and Clark talked for a moment and knew that neither of them had any idea who he was. “Logan, I’m sending you some info on him, you guys take a look and if it sparks anything let me know. Also, can you check the traffic cams for the area around the loft, approximately, um,” he paused for a moment to check his watch. “Beginning about an hour ago, maybe 2. Not sure how long he was out there. Let Clark look at the picture and see if he’s familiar to either of you. The information I’m sending has the car description and tag number and I’ll also send a copy of his driver’s license.”
“Okay, I’ll let you know what we find out. Do you think it could be the one who attacked Clark?”
“I don’t know, Logan. He was hanging around here and took off when Brody tried to talk to him; makes me suspicious. At any rate, we’re not taking any chances. And tell Clark that I’m changing security here at the apartment building too.”
“I heard, Mick,” Clark said in the background. “You keep her safe for me.”
“You know I will, Clark. I’ll protect her until it’s your watch.” The words were solemnly spoken and acknowledged.
Now, he needed to decide on what to do for the building. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to focus his thoughts. He took his responsibility to protect Dorothy very seriously. He meant it when he said he’d keep her safe, no matter what.
Rose met Dorothy in the lobby, giving her a brief hug to welcome her and help to put her at ease because Rose could see that Dorothy was nervous. Rose wasn’t sure whether it was from being out on her own or fear about what she might discover today.
“Hi, Dorothy! I’m so glad you could come in this afternoon.” She didn’t tell her that Brody had called but she continued to speak as they entered a locked door to get to the private area of the clinic. “I have some news for you that I think you’ll find interesting but first, I’m going to take you to the conference room where you can meet with Jackie. She is anxious to meet you.”
She couldn’t tell if Dorothy was relieved or not; she smiled graciously and followed Rose into a room with a large table, it’s beautiful wooden grain polished to a high shine. Comfortable chairs rimmed it and at one of them sat a lovely young woman, wearing a smile. She stood as the two women walked into the room, and offered her hand to Dorothy.
Rose made the introductions and then quietly excused herself, hoping the two would hit it off. They both needed one another, whether they knew it or not.
Brody found Dorothy’s car in the parking garage at the clinic and then cruised the area, making sure that he didn’t see the Honda lurking anywhere. When he felt comfortable with the situation he called Mick and let him know she was there safely and that he’d stay and make sure she got home safely.
He heard Mick explaining the situation to Beth when she walked in and Brody smiled, knowing that Mick was going to have his hands full with that. He said goodbye and headed into the building to meet with Rose.
Brody really liked Beth’s spirit; she was going to make one helluva vamp and when he got her through her training no one would be able to get the best of her physically. Her passion and fiery attitude would carry her though it all, he had no doubt. She had asked that her friend train with her and Brody was still okay with that, even though Lani was pregnant. She’d learn less physical techniques, but even the basic training was important all the same. It would help her with her pregnancy as well Rose assured him.
He knocked on the door to her office, the internal door that is, not the public entrance. She answered with a smile, a hug and a quick kiss. “Hey there handsome, I’m glad to see you!”
Brody inwardly groaned. “What do you want, Rose. I know that tone of voice, that smile that promises the world! I’ve been there, baby. We’ve been there,” he laughed.
“Do I have to want anything? Honestly, Brody, sometimes you are so off-base. I’m just happy to see you.”
“Um hm. So you say. You saw me last night, and many nights before that. It’s not like you’ve had time to miss me.”
She laughed at the expression on his face; he was skeptical and she didn’t blame him in the least. They had been an on again, off again couple for more centuries than she could remember, more on than off in truth. Wherever in the world she was, he was never too far away and she was always happy about that.
When you live for thousands of years, eternity with one person was a sticky proposition at best. None of the 13 had ever married; each other or anyone else. Didn’t mean that they didn’t all have those people in their lives that they loved, it just meant that their creator encouraged different paths for them by the sheer diversity of their personalities and beliefs.
She and Brody loved one another fiercely; it was understood by all the 13. None of the others had ever paired up as she and Brody had, on such a lasting basis, that is. They’d had several children and in fact one of their descendants was right here in this area. The time would come when he would know it and they carried that secret joy with them.
He sank down into her comfortable office chair and pulled her into his lap. A dozen sweet kisses later he again asked her what was up.
She laughed and it sounded delightfully like melodic bells to him. She rested her forehead against his and sighed. “Really, I’m just happy to see you. And glad that Dorothy got here safely.”
He breathed in deeply, taking in the wonderful scent of her. How could she smell like the first blossoms of spring, of innocence and sunshine after so long? And yet she did. The 13 and their descendants had a different scent than most vampires, less decay and more of a rich and lush scent of the very earth itself, fruitful and fertile.
“Do you think the guy you saw is the one that attacked Clark?”
“I don’t know. Impossible to tell. I gave Mick the car and tag info and hopefully he’ll have some answers soon. Right now I’m guessing he’s under fire from his wife,” he chuckled.
“She is a spitfire, isn’t she?”
He laughed out loud and nodded his head. “Don’t be so smug; she didn’t get that from you!”
Rose giggled and nipped at his neck, her teeth blunt so they’d do no more damage other than to …arouse… and she wiggled on his lap when she met her goal.
“Alright, that’s enough! I surrender,” he told her. “But it’s going to have to wait until later, woman! Now, what have you discovered about the lovely Dorothy?”
Her reply caused him to raise his eyebrows. “I’ll be damned! Have you called him?”
“Yep. Guess who’s coming to visit?”
“What do you mean she’s not here, Mick?” Beth asked the question while Mick was talking to Brody. Mick looked at her pointedly, trying to finish his conversation with Brody.
Beth paced the small office, a growl simmering in her gut. She literally saw blood and hurried to the kitchen and poured a tall glass and drank it down in a couple of swallows. That was followed by a couple of deep breaths to get her emotions under control. She looked up as Mick came into the kitchen and she pointed to the carafe of blood and he nodded, feeling tired suddenly.
He explained to her in detail what had happened and she listened quietly, but he could see that she was still pissed. “Look, Beth, we can’t tie her up here. We can’t stay glued to her; we have to find some other way of keeping watch over her. I’m going to talk to Josef later and see if we can get a couple of his guys to help keep her in sight when she leaves. I don’t want her to feel like a prisoner, Beth.”
Beth nodded, knowing he was right but still afraid for her mother. “Where is the picture of the guy?” she asked. Her brow furrowed as she looked at the slightly blurry image and she finally shook her head, realizing that she didn’t know him.
“Look, she’s okay right now and Brody is going to follow her home. We’re going to have to have a talk with her and let her know that we’re going to take some security precautions that will hopefully help her feel a bit more independent and yet keep her safe. Like them or not she’s going to have to live with them.”
Beth knew without a doubt that her mom wouldn’t like them but that was too bad. They were going to keep her safe, one way or the other.
Dorothy smiled at the young woman, not exactly sure where to start. She guessed at the beginning was a good place.
“Rose tells me that you are volunteering here at the clinic but that you’re looking for a regular job?”
“Yes, that’s true. I love what I do here, don’t get me wrong but I’ve been living off of my savings and I’d much prefer not to have to do that,” she said with a wistful smile.
“I can understand that. How long have you known Rose?”
“I met her about 8 years ago. I stumbled into the clinic and literally fell into her. I think she took pity on me and she’s been my hero, ever since. She helped me get back on my feet and got me some basic training and then I got the job with the Hansen’s. They were a wonderful family but they wanted to move back to New York and I kind of like it here. They kids weren’t going to need a nanny for much longer anyway and since I have a house here I decided to stay.”
“You weren’t a live in?”
“No, I wasn’t. I worked full time though,” she said, hoping this wouldn’t hurt her. “Do you want someone to live in?”
“No, actually we don’t.”
“What are you looking for Mrs. Griffin?”
“Please, just call me Dorothy. I guess we’re looking for someone to help out with the twins, housework, that type of thing. I remember chasing around Beth and that was rough, even though my mom helped a lot. Two of them? I don’t know about that!” Dorothy declared with a grin.
“So you’d want me to work days? Help out so that you could get some rest if you’ve been up all night?”
“Yes and some light housekeeping, errands, things like that. Honestly, I don’t have a firm idea yet because this is all new territory to me. I’ve never had someone help around the house before.”
“That all sounds manageable, Dorothy. Nothing I haven’t done in the past.”
Dorothy nodded and then asked, “And you’re comfortable around, um, vampires?”
Her last word was all but whispered and Jackie reached across the table and gave Dorothy’s hand a slight squeeze. “Yes, I am. I understand about them and have worked with them since I met Rose. I’m going to be turned eventually in fact, but not for a few years I think.”
“Yes. I never want to be a victim again, Dorothy. Never. I’ll take care of myself and that’s one of the ways I can do it.”
“Forgive me, but you seem so young, Jackie. How can you make up your mind so easily?”
“Actually, I’m 33, but I’d still like to have a child of my own before I’m turned, you know?”
“Oh, I understand that. Do you have, I mean, are you in a relationship?”
A sad look passed over her eyes, clouding the soft blue for a moment. “No, I don’t. But I do have hope of one,” she told the older woman softly. “I have hope…”
The room grew quiet for a moment as both women felt the pull of something strong; maybe an understanding or recognition of a past tragedy in each of their lives. Neither knew what the other had faced, but both of them knew that it drew them together.
“Would you like to meet my husband? Via Skype, I mean? I’m sure he’d like to meet you and then we can talk about the details of things.”
“Yes, I’d like that, Dorothy. When would be a good time?”
“I’ll talk to him tonight and get it set up. May I call you then?”
“Yes, absolutely!” Jackie said, excited at the prospect of working for this woman. She gave Dorothy her number and watched as the woman added it to her phone.
“There, done! I’ll talk to you very soon, Jackie!”
“Great. Do you know how to get to Rose’s office from here? If not I’ll show you,” she said and took Dorothy down through the twists and turns of the hallways when Dorothy admitted she didn’t know how to get there.
At the door, before she knocked and told Jackie goodbye and then knocked on the door, her stomach suddenly clenching as apprehension swept over her.
Inside Rose crawled off of Brody’s lap with a final kiss. “Oh dear, her heart has sped up again. She’s so nervous, poor thing. Come on, you need to wait outside for her.”
“Whatever you wish,” Brody said with a grin. “I’ll see you later? Are you going to come work out with Beth, Lani and I?”
“Lani is going to be there too? You bet I’ll be there. See you then.” She watched as Brody disappeared out the private door as she opened the public one.
“Dorothy, come on in. Would you like some juice or water?”
“Maybe some water would be nice actually.”
“Great! Have a seat while I grab a bottle for you.”
Dorothy looked around the comfortable room and took a seat in a well-padded chair that while comfortable, was built with ample support, probably with pregnant women in mind. As she settled into it she took a deep breath, trying to relax.
Rose watched as Dorothy walked across the room and noticed that the babies still hadn’t dropped much. Not yet time but she knew that it had to be hard on Dorothy. She handed her the bottle of water and asked how she was feeling.
“Not bad. I’m so ready though, except for Clark being gone. I refuse to have these babies until he’s home!”
That made Rose smile; if only pregnant mommie’s could dictate that to the little ones who sometimes were very anxious to make an appearance. “Yes, well let’s hope he makes it home soon, then, shall we?”
Dorothy nodded and took a long drink of the chilled water, trying to delay the chat as long as possible.
“How did you like Jackie?” Rose asked, trying to help Dorothy relax a bit.
“She seems very nice; I liked her a great deal. I’m going to arrange for her to meet Clark, via Skype to get his opinion, but I think she’ll work well for us.”
“I can’t speak highly enough about her, Dorothy. She’s very conscientious and dedicated, both extremely valuable qualities.”
“Yes, I agree. She said that in a few years she’s going to be turned.”
“I think she will; she decided a few years ago. I know she wants a child of her own first.”
“So, she’s not a descendant?”
Rose shook her head, a sad smile for a moment played across her face. “No, she’s not so she’ll need to have a child first.”
“Yes, I understand.” Dorothy looked at Rose, her heart pounding so loudly she could easily hear it. It was the elephant in the room and she had to ask.
“Rose, what did the blood work tell you?”
Rose leaned forward, extending her hand across the desk and touched Dorothy’s. It felt a bit chilled and trembled slightly, both giveaways to her emotions.
“Dorothy, you are a descendant. But you’re not one of mine.”
Dorothy’s face blanched starkly white and Rose rushed around the desk, afraid that Dorothy was going to faint. Suddenly, her color rose again and the look of shock was wiped away by curiosity.
“Well then, just who am I a descendant of?”
To be continued…
Posted by Hope at 10:10 AM