Beth finished setting the table as her mom came down the stairs. Both Mick and Beth noticed that she seemed more relaxed than she had been for quite awhile. Her smile was wide and happy and Beth sighed in relief.
The news from Rose had obviously made her happy for some reason and that was good.
Mom. Mick made you some homemade tomato soup and I made you a grilled
cheese sandwich, with pepper jack. Hope that’s okay?”
“Oh, sounds wonderful. Mick, surely you didn’t have time to make that while I was showering?”
“No, I actually made it earlier. I hope it’s okay, Dorothy.”
smells wonderful. You really are a good cook, Mick.” She took a small
spoonful of the soup and blew gently on it before tasting it. “Oh my,
this is delicious! You should be a chef, Mick!”
and said, “I’m not sure vamps really make great chefs. I heard about
one in France years ago, at a vineyard, but it’s rare!”
Dorothy ate they talked more about Vaygar and what Rose had said about
Guardians. “She isn’t sure that Josef is going to be all that pleased
“I can see why she said that. He’s a lover, not a
fighter,” Beth declared with a cocky grin. “I’m sure Lani would agree
with that one!” Beth sipped her dinner and added, “Still, Dad as your
Guardian? I can totally see that. As if anything could stop him. What
do you suppose these ‘privileges’ are, the ones that the Guardians
“I don’t know, she wouldn’t share that information. She said it would be disclosed later.”
was wondering the same thing. Frankly, he didn’t need anyone to tell
him he was Beth’s ‘Guardian’. He was - period. A title for it? Seemed
stupid because that was what a vampire did for their mate, protect them.
He was curious about it though and also about the security force that
Rose had mentioned. So even among the old ones there was war? Sounded
like it. Maybe especially among the old ones?
Beth and Mick both
lifted their heads and sniffed the air. Dorothy supposed that they
heard the elevator and were figuring out who was here. She’d watched
them do it often and it fascinated her, how they could scent who was at
their door. It made her wonder about all the things they could scent
and also wonder how they could differentiate so easily as they seemed
Together they stood up and said, “Lani and Josef” as they
headed to the door. Dorothy saw Mick open it and smiled as Lani and
Josef came in.
“Hi, Dorothy,” Lani said walking into the kitchen. “Oh, that soup looks good!”
“Would you like some, Lani?” Mick offered. “There’s plenty left. I made it earlier today.”
“You bet I would.”
smiled indulgently at his mate, thrilled to see her happiness, her joy
in something so simple as a bowl of soup. She’d been eating a little
better the past week or so since she was feeling better. Her cheeks
bloomed with health and that suited him just fine.
He knew that
part of that was because he refused to drink her blood when they made
love, something that was a terrible bone of contention between them.
She seemed to believe that she wasn’t fulfilling her obligations because
he bit himself instead and it made her angry or sad, depending on her
The moods were quick changes it seemed. One minute she was
happy as a clam and the next he knew better than to speak a word. He’d
done a little research on line and found out that was very typical for
pregnancy because of elevated hormone levels and that it was best to
just ignore the mood swings or humor the mommy to be.
Getting the hell out of Dodge worked sometimes too, a strategy that he’d used more than once.
Lani ate Beth told them about Dorothy’s news and Mick watched Josef
carefully when Beth talked about the Guardians. He couldn’t read Josef
all that well at times and this time in particular Josef kept his
feelings cloaked, keeping them to himself but for just a moment Mick
could has sworn he scented a spark of interest from his friend.
and Brody knocked on the door shortly after and the conversation was
only about the coming session. Brody explained to Lani that due to her
pregnancy, she’d be limited in what she could do, although she’d
certainly be observing everything.
“What can I do, Brody?” she asked.
do the warm ups, the stretches and such and learn the basic strategies.
You won’t be allowed to learn the throws or tumbles, anything that
would risk you falling and hurting the baby.”
“Okay, I’m good with that. Actually, I’m excited, whatever I learn. I need exercise!”
you can still exercise while you’re pregnant you know. In fact, as
your physician, I encourage it. Within limits and you’ll learn about
those things this evening. Now, are we ready to go?” Rose asked.
“Yes, we are,” Beth said. “Mick, you have clean-up duty tonight, baby! Sorry,” she said, giving him a quick kiss.
“No problem! Have fun. And Brody, watch her because she’s a daredevil. Just ask her about the broken leg in Seattle!”
left to go next door and Dorothy started to help Mick. “No, go on and
talk to Clark, I’m sure you’re both anxious for that nightly call.
Josef and I are just going to hang out, after I load the dishwasher that
is. Josef, this will only take a minute so pour us a glass of scotch,
Josef nodded tersely and Mick could tell something was
bothering him. They’d have time to talk because Dorothy would be
occupied with Clark for a while.
Five minutes later, with the
dishwasher running quietly in the background Mick settled into the couch
and took a sip of his scotch, feeling the burn slide down his throat
“What do you think of this Vaygar guy?” Josef asked.
think if he can manage to keep an eye on Dorothy more power to him. I
was going to talk to you about getting some security for her but it
sounds like I won’t need to now. And I must admit I’m intrigued about
this training for Guardians.”
Josef scoffed at that. “Who the
hell do these people think they are? They think they can just come in
here and turn our lives upside down?”
“I don’t know, Josef but I
am, as I said, intrigued by it all. I might learn something new, who
knows? Whatever it takes to make Beth and I stronger and safer, I’m up
Josef considered that for a moment. He hadn’t really
thought of it from that angle. Stronger, as individuals and as mates.
That could be worth it all. Suddenly, his foul mood lifted and he
relaxed. Yes, this could be a good thing. “You might be right, Mick!”
He lifted his glass is salute. “To stronger bonds!”
“To stronger bonds,” Mick echoed.
May it be so.
door in Brody’s loft the girls and Brody went through a series of
stretches and warms ups to ensure that their muscles were ready for
action. Beth and Lani both realized many of them were akin to yoga and
commented on it.
“Yes, many are similar and it’s okay to practice
yoga for warming up as well. The moves help to make you flexible as
hell and that’s a good thing, whether you’re fighting or not. So work
on it every day, ladies!” Brody said.
He told them about many of
the defensive moves that the training would involve and which ones Lani
could learn and he and Rose demonstrated some of them as well as a few
The ease of their movements was amazing to watch
but Beth realized that they were long practiced moves which made them
look more like a dance than anything thing else. Finally Brody got Beth
up to work with her while Rose helped Lani with some safe defensive
moves for her to learn.
“Okay, Beth, I want you to attack me. Any way you think will work; come on, give it a try.”
thought about it for a moment, of some of the self defense moves she
and Lani had learned when her friend was still petrified of vampires.
She tried to grab his arm and twist it to bring him to his knees but it
didn’t work, the first or the second time. So, she needed a new move
and thought about it for a moment before trying to kick behind his knee
to throw him off balance but that didn’t work either.
had exceptional strength and balance and she began to realize how
ineffectual any of her moves would be against a vampire. Which pissed
her off, a lot.
She tried to think about where vampires were the
most vulnerable and everything she tried only made matters worse. He
out maneuvered her every single time, if not literally a step ahead of
her at the least able to counter any of her attempts.
fact. Her anger grew into a full rolling boil and she finally ended up
on her butt, almost sputtering because she was so angry.
“A least give me a damn chance,” she growled.
you think an opponent will do that? Let you take a shot? I hate to
tell you this but they won’t. If you’re facing a vampire it’s either
kill or be killed. Sorry, but that’s the truth. You’re not just
looking to disable them and they sure as hell won’t be trying to do that
She stood up with a huff and faced him, looking up into
his brown eyes, her own eyes flashing that deadly, swirling blue. He
was right, she just didn’t want to admit it.
“Your main problem,
Beth was that you didn’t control your anger. That’s your first lesson.
When your anger takes over you get stupid and careless. A vampire out
of control of their emotions is easy to take out. You have to stay in
control, Beth; always in control.”
Control. Yes, she knew the
truth in that. She remembered rushing Shatel, before she and Max were
taken downstairs. He easily evaded her attempts and she realized now
how effortlessly he could have taken her out. Had she been a normal
vampire that is and had he not had other plans for her.
Control. Yes, she’d learn it. She could do it.
Count On Me
Clark grinned at his wife on Skype. “I’ll be damned! A descendant, just like Beth? That’s amazing, Dorie!”
“You’re okay with it? That I’ll be different?”
course I am. Honey, this really is fantastic news. I can’t wait to
start learning about being a Guardian. And to meet this Vaygar guy!”
say’s I’ll like him. Right now I can’t really even picture him. I
asked her if he was some sort of Viking guy, with that name and she
laughed and told me he kind of was. Now, I’m picturing some Hagar the
Horrible type,” she laughed.
“Hey, remember that Halloween party, I think you were 15? I dressed as Hagar? That was fun!”
I do. You spilled your Coke on me so you could feel my boobs. Of
course, you called it sopping up the spilled drink,” she teased.
“Hey, baby, don’t complain. You liked it!”
“I did not!” she laughed. “It was embarrassing!”
“Yeah, well I don’t think that flush that spread across your face was embarrassment, Dorie. I think it was excitement!”
chuckled low and deep, that sound that was almost a growl. Her heart
sped up when she heard it and the pit of her stomach tightened for a
moment as she thought about how much she missed him, needed him.
“You know that I can tell now when you want me?”
“How?” the word was a mere breathy whisper.
“Your heart races, like it is now and when we’re together I’ll be able to scent your need, your desire.”
all vamps do that? Could her daughter scent when she was aroused by
Clark? The thought was beyond embarrassing. Panic kept her quiet,
afraid to speak.
“Dorie, we - we tune it out I guess. That’s
what Mick and Logan say. Personal sounds, scents, that kind of thing.
They say you learn to filter it all. It’s our business, honey. How we
feel about one another, how much we want one another. Forget about
them, only think about us.”
This wasn’t going to be easy, knowing
now what the others could do. She could only hope the time would come
soon when she would be like them. Feeling so vulnerable was really
She switched the subject to Jackie and told him all about her.
“So you really like her?”
I do, Clark. I think she’ll be perfect. But I told her I wanted to
talk to you first and set up a Skype meeting with you. Is that okay?
Do you want to meet her?”
“Yeah, I’d like that. Anytime you want, Dorie. Set it up and I’ll be here.”
“Okay, maybe this weekend sometime.”
I talked to Scotty this afternoon. The church project is going to be
great; it wasn’t in quite as bad of shape as I’d imagined. Before too
long Henry is going to have a really nice place to work in. I have to
say I’m excited about it.”
“Clark that’s wonderful. He’s such a
nice guy. He’s coming to dinner tomorrow night, along with Josef and
Lani and Luka. I think we’ll have a nice evening.”
“Have fun, honey. God, I miss you girl.”
“God, I miss you boy,” she echoed.
“All my heart, all my love, Dorie.”
“Forever yours, Clark.”
Both of them felt choked up with emotion. Their goodbyes were quiet, almost painful.
“Not much longer, Dorie. I’ll be home soon. I promise. You can count on me.”
“I know. Until then, remember how much I love you.”
Josef came alert in the night, aware that Lani was awake, softly calling his name.
“Sweetness, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Damn it, did she overdo it at Brody’s earlier?
“Yes, I’m fine but I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying hard but I can’t get it out of my head.”
“It? What is ‘it’?
“Pistachio fudge ice cream. Josef, I have to have some. Please.”
“You want me to go downstairs and get you some?” he said, preparing to get up.
“No, I mean, we don’t have any. I ate it for breakfast this morning. The little gourmet shop on Quinton sells it.”
I doubt if the shop is open at,” he leaned up on his elbow so he could
see the clock glowing in the darkened room. “At 2:48 am. Can it wait
until morning? I’ll buy you all you want then.”
“I can’t sleep, Josef. It’s driving me crazy!”
this was what craving’s were? He’d read about them on line. He was
getting a real education on the pregnancy web sites. “You want me to go
and try to find it somewhere else, Lani?”
“Please. Do you mind, Josef?”
smiled at her indulgently, even though she couldn’t see him. “I don’t
mind; after all, I am a night person,” he laughed. He slid out of bed
and headed to the closet so that he could dress. Afterwards he said,
“Now, you just stay tucked into the bed and I’ll be home before you know
“Okay. I love you, Josef.”
“I’m counting on that. Love you too, Sweetness. Back soon!”
last words he decided, two hours later. He’d been to 4 all night
supermarkets, an all night frozen yogurt place and countless convenience
stores. Not a single one of them had pistachio fudge ice cream.
Finally, at Ralphs, a stocker suggested that he buy the pistachio ice
cream they had and a jar of hot fudge sauce to pour over it.
understand mister. My wife had all sorts of crazy cravings when she was
pregnant. One night she wanted crab dip and vanilla wafers.” The guy
shuddered at the memory. “Gross, but she ate ever bit of it.”
nodded sympathetically; he didn’t know what either of those things
tasted like but they were obviously a strange combination. “Well,
thanks for the suggestion, I appreciate it,” he said with a wave as he
headed to the checkout.
Outside as he walked to his car a couple
of young thugs jumped out from behind a car and demanded his wallet and
what was in the sack. He stared at them for a moment, irritated as
He smiled at them, letting them see his fangs glinting in
the dim lighting of the parking lot. “You really wanna try? Come on,
let’s see what you got.” He added a loud growl and watched as one of
them peed his pants and then bolted, the second one following behind.
He unlocked the door and sat in the car, and for a moment he felt tired,
Fifteen minutes later he pulled into the garage
and headed into the house. He stopped in the kitchen and scooped some
of the green goo into a bowl and poured some of the brown goo on top of
it. He looked at it and wondered if there was enough of the fudge on
it. Maybe there should be as much fudge as ice cream? He poured more
of it on top, until barely any green could be seen. Still wondering he
tipped the jar up and scooped the remainder of it out into the bowl.
that right? He sniffed at it, easily recognizing the scent of
chocolate, one of Lani’s favorite foods. He was sure she’d love it.
he opened the door and stepped into the bedroom only to be greeted by
the soft sounds of Lani’s breathing. She was asleep. He stepped closer
to her and looked down.
Yep, she was asleep! Did he wake her?
Nah, let her sleep he decided. He sat the bowl on the night table and
pulled his clothes off, letting them fall where they may. In the bed he
slid between the sheets and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
“I love you, Lani.”
“Love you too,” she said as she snuggled into his arms, cravings gone.
He smiled and held her close. Life was getting better every day.
To be continued…