Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks

This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.

Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chapter 16 All I Want For Christmas Is You

Henry opened the door that led out to the balcony slowly, not wanting to startle the young woman who stood gazing out at the city lights, her face a mask of sadness. He walked to her and leaned against the balustrade, his elbows resting on the stone edge.

“I’m truly sorry, Lani. I had no business saying what I did. It’s between you and Josef, what you do in your relationship.”

He watched as she licked her lips and then bit the lower one lightly as if debating how to answer. He felt like a world class jerk for upsetting her.

Still, even in this modern age of living together, he just couldn’t agree with it. A man and woman who create a child owed it to that child to provide the most stable home for it as possible. Old fashioned beliefs, he knew but he could see the love these two shared and he couldn’t help but wonder why she wanted to wait.

There were all kinds of families and the reality was that two parents couldn’t always provide a loving home for a child, together. Differences of all kinds, death, lots of things separated families and sometimes it was okay and sometimes not. No, marriage between two people who were miserable wasn’t right but there was love here, lots of it.

Henry loved children even though he’d not been fortunate enough to have them. After he came home from the war his was dispirited, a walking empty vessel and it took awhile to get straight with himself and then get straight with his creator. Yes, he was a man of God, in whatever vision of that someone believed in. God had many names and faces and he felt that as long as someone had faith, faith in a higher power and faith in themselves they could accomplish anything.

As she remained silent he thought that perhaps those feelings were making him push this young woman into something she wasn’t ready for. Possibly he had interpreted what he saw incorrectly and the love simply wasn’t there? He felt very confused and closed his eyes for a moment, asking for guidance.

Lani continued to remain motionless, almost holding her breath as she thought about her feelings. What did she want? Truly? She wanted Josef, she wanted to marry him, with all her heart. A silent sob broke through and warm, salty tears tracked down her face, glittering as the lights of the city reflected off of them.

“I’m not…Josef, he’s such a good man. He loves me deeply and I know that he would do anything for me. But Henry, I’m just a girl who was spoiled with material things and denied love all my life. I’ve been selfish and egotistical, doing what I wanted because for most of my life no one really gave a damn. Except for Beth and Dorothy and Clark. They were more of a family to me than anything I’d ever known. Even so, I was still an outsider, Henry. Our housekeepers showed more affection for me than my parents did and that doesn’t provide much of an example, you know? I don’t deserve someone as wonderful as Josef. Someday, he’ll wake up and realize that. Forever is a very long time to a vampire.”

“Lani, I know less than nothing about vampires or vampire relationships but I do know genuine love when I see it. It’s those tender looks and awe that someone expresses when they are looking into the eyes of love. It’s almost palpable sometimes, so deep and true that nothing can tear it apart. When a person is lucky enough to find that other person who completes them, who makes them a better person, everyone sees it. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that you and Josef feel that way about one another. But I understand why it’s so scary for you, Lani, I really do. Taking a chance like this is like free-falling over the edge of the highest cliff imaginable and trusting that the other person will be there to gently catch you. Josef will catch you, Lani.”

Josef stood inside the door, listening to their conversation. Should he be ashamed for listening? Maybe but he wasn’t, not one damn bit. He’d lost one love and he wouldn’t lose this one. He was made for Lani, as she was made for him. He opened the door and stepped through, walking straight to her and pulling her tightly into his embrace.

“Lani, I won’t just catch you, I’ll be there with you, all the way. Remember the cliff at the beach house? We did it together and we can do this. If I’m lucky enough to be married to you forever I’ll never regret a moment of it. Not a single second,” he said quietly, his lips lightly brushing hers. “I can handle anything you can throw at me, Sweetness, just give me the chance.”

Her tears started in earnest then and he held her tighter, patting her back like he would a small child. Henry started to move away, to go inside and leave them alone and she saw him and said, “No, please, Henry, don’t go.”

Henry glanced at Josef, waiting to see what he wanted and when he nodded, adding his consent to Lani’s request Henry stood silent for a moment, waiting.

“Henry, I think we have a wedding to plan. Will you marry us?” Lani asked.

“Of course, you tell me the day to be there.”

“Josef, I want to wait long enough…”

Josef interrupted, an ache the size of a tennis ball threatening to choke him. “Lani, no more waiting!”

“I want to wait until Clark is back and Dorothy has the babies. I want them both to be at my wedding. Please? It’s important to me.”

He nodded, suddenly understanding what she wanted. “Yes, I agree to that. Maybe a month, then?”

“Yes, a month. I can do that. Henry, do you think your church will be ready for a wedding by then?”

“Well, I’m sure it won’t be done but hopefully we can make it presentable.”

Josef laughed outright then, the thought of so many vampires, who often had phobias about churches, gathered in a church hysterical to him. At both Lani’s and Henry’s quizzical looks he explained and they both laughed as well.

Josef noticed that Lani was shivering and said, “Come on, let’s go in and share the good news!” All three of them went back in and Josef made the announcement to a rambunctious round of applause.

“Why are you waiting a month? Do it now!” Dorothy urged.

“No. Dorothy, it’s important to me that both you and Clark be there on that day. And besides, I have to have a little bit of time to try to find dresses for me and Beth and Robbi.”

Josef grinned from ear to ear, his pose relaxed as he rocked back on his heels as he watched everyone. All the hurt had been swept away; she really did love him and their child would be born into a real family, with two parents who would love it and protect it forever.

Beth and Dorothy were both hugging Lani and then both of them hugged first Josef and then Henry. Even Mick got in on the action and when he walked towards Josef he laughed as Josef said, “Mick, if you hug me I’m going to have to kick your ass!” And then when Mick did it anyway he could only laugh himself, feeling on top of the world as he did.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Wasn’t that the phrase?


“Benjamin!” Cat said when she answered the phone. “What’s going on? Is everything alright?” Ben was more likely to come by to see her at the office instead of calling.

“Sure, everything is great, Mom. How are you and dad?”

“We’re fine. You’re father is in D.C. this week, meeting with some of the group that will be arguing the Morrison case before the Supreme Court in February. Why don’t come over for dinner tonight?”

“Can’t, Mom, but thanks. I’m working on closing arguments for the court on Monday morning. I need to get this done. But…”

“But?” she prompted with a smile.

“I wanted to ask you something. I saw Beth and Mick the other night and she asked me about doing a legal question and answer spot on Buzzwire.” He went on to tell her the details about it all, hoping to hook her into it.

“I think you’d be wonderful, Benjamin! You told her yes didn’t you?”

“Well, no, I couldn’t. Mom, the District Attorney wouldn’t want an ADA handing out legal advice to possible criminals! But, you could. Mom, you’d be perfect for this. You always look good on camera when you're in the news and it might even be good for business,” he teased, hoping he could convince her.

She thought it over for a minute. He had a point, it could be good for the firm and it would be fun as well. “I love the idea, but I’m leaving for England in 3 weeks; I’ll be gone for the winter term. I doubt if they want to wait that long to go into production.”

“No, see that’s the beauty of it. They already have some questions so segments could be pre-taped and when you’re in England, if they can find a media facility there you could even tape a few while you were there. Come on, Mom! You know you want to do this! Give Beth a call!”

“You know, I think I just might. I’m always up for a bit of fun. Sure you don’t mind?”

“Why the hell would I mind?” he laughed. “Hell, you're doing me a favor because I felt terribly guilty turning her down. I know that they are working really hard to make Buzzwire a reliable and respectable news source.”

“Okay, I’ll call her soon. Now, you're sure you’ll have to pass on dinner?”

“Yes, I really do. I’ve got so much to do, Mom.”

“Mick and Beth are coming to dinner tomorrow, remember? Please tell me you haven’t forgotten, Ben.”

“No, I’ll be there. Mick and I had a pretty good chat the other night. It’s getting better.”

“Good. Just give him a chance, Ben. He is a good guy, you know that.”

Ben grimaced. Yes, he knew it but it still sat wrong in his gut. Maybe in time. “I know, Mom. It just sort of freaks me out to hear you supporting him.”

“I’m not really, supporting him that is. But I understand now what happened and why he had no say in it all. I can’t hold that against him. I don’t think of him as my father, Benjamin. No one could ever replace your grandfather in my heart, but Mick deserves a chance to get to know us.”

“Mom, has it occurred to you that he might want to tell grandma?”

“It did, but I also know that he’s scared to death to tell her and doesn’t want to upset her. I also think he’s still very ashamed about what happened with her.”

“Mom, it would be terrible if he told her.”

“I guess you're right. I know you're right actually but I also know that if I were her I’d want to know. Wouldn’t you? If you found out that Michele was still alive wouldn’t you want to know?”

A momentary pain clutched at his heart and he closed his eyes tightly as thoughts of Michele flowed through his head. He could even still smell her perfume, something fresh and lightly floral. Yes, he’d want to know, but it was so different with his grandmother. She was much older and the information might be damaging to her.

“Yes, Mom. I’d want to know but we both know that won’t happen.”

“I know, son.” Both of them were quiet for a moment and she regretted mentioning Michele to him. It seemed that he’d never get over her and her heart ached for him so badly. “See you tomorrow night then?”

“Yes, Mom. I’ll be there.”


All I Want For Christmas Is You

December 24th, 1978

Dorothy and Clark sat on the front porch of Dorothy’s house, peering up at the stars that seemed to shimmer in the blue-black sky. The air was chilly and crisp, especially for LA and their breaths turned into misty puffs of air. Both of them were wrapped up in jackets and Clark had his arm around her shoulders, but that had nothing to do with the temperature.

He leaned down and kissed her lightly, his lips a mere whisper against hers. “Our first Christmas together, as a couple I mean.” He held her hand and traced over her fingers with his thumb, the soft skin on her fingers fascinating him, so different than his own calloused ones.

She gave a small laugh and said, “You’d better not let my mom hear that. The cavalry will be out that door and sitting between us before you can bat an eye.”

“Hell, Dorothy, I want to shout it from the roof. I don’t care who knows it. I know what they expect of us; I’m not going to do anything that will screw up our futures.”

The future was one of his favorite subjects. He painted it easily, picturing it all in his head. He’d graduate and spend a couple of years in the army, to learn some skills and get money for college. She’d finish high school and go to college so she could be a teacher. After they’d both graduated from college they’d get married. It all seemed so simple, at least to him.

He was going into the army; he was leaving her! There would be women in the army and she knew that they’d be after him. Who wouldn’t be? He’d miss her, sure, but she knew he’d forget her for some glamorous girl, someone who was mature, experienced; she didn’t have a single doubt about it.

It was a sore subject for them and one they both tried to avoid. Clark knew how he felt about her and he also knew that there wasn’t anyone who could take his focus away from him, not about her or school or anything else. He hoped in time she’d see that too - that they were made for one another.

A movement in the sky caught her attention and she said, “Look, a shooting star!” She closed her eyes quickly and made a wish. When she opened them Clark was looking at her, a deeply penetrating look that she didn’t quite understand. “What?” she asked.

“You’re beautiful, Dorothy.” He glanced away and cleared his throat, unable to hold his emotions in check. She was beautiful, she was perfect. The only girl in the world for him. “Hey,” he finally said. “Are you ready to open your present?”

“Tonight? On Christmas Eve?”

“Yes, on Christmas Eve. Our families open gifts on Christmas Day, but this will be our time, Dorie.” He handed her a small box that he’d obviously wrapped himself and she had to fight back a grin. It sort of looked like Charlie Brown had wrapped it but it didn’t really matter, it was from him.

“Oh, it’s pretty, Clark. Let me go in and get yours, okay?”

She came back soon with a neatly wrapped box and handed it to him. The beauty of the wrapping made him laugh. It was ironic in a way; he’d worked so hard to make it pretty for her and instead it was a mess. And here was her gift to him, all the seams straight and tidy with a pretty little bow on top.

“Why are you laughing?” she asked, puzzled, trying not to feel hurt. She’d worked hard on wrapping that present just so! Not to mention how long she’d saved babysitting money to buy the gift for him.

“It’s great, Dorie! Really…it’s just, look at it. It’s perfectly wrapped and mine looks like I did it blindfolded! I worked so hard on it and it’s, well, it’s pretty pathetic!”

“It is not, Clark! It’s beautiful and I love it!” A small white lie was okay. Wasn’t it?

“Okay. Well, I promise what’s inside is better. Go ahead, open it.”

“You too!” As he shook his head she said, “Together?”


They both pulled the wrapping paper off and opened the boxes inside. Dorothy opened a small, velvet covered box and saw a delicate necklace inside. A small Austrian crystal hung on a finely detailed silver chain. Her small ‘Oh’ of pleasure was music to his ears.

“Do you really like it?”

“I love it, Clark. Help me, please?”

He fastened it around her neck, his fingers fumbling a bit with the clasp but it was finally secured and all he could do was stare at it as the moon caught the brilliant fire in it and made it sparkle. He gazed at it, laying against her delicate skin in the open collar of her jacket. “Wow,” was all he could say.

“You, now! You were supposed to open yours when I opened mine,” she teased.

His box wasn’t terribly large but it was kind of heavy. He couldn’t imagine what was in it as he tore the last bit of wrapping paper off of it. When he opened the box his eyes opened wide and he let out a loud whoop of happiness.

“Dorie, it’s fantastic! Thank you so much!” He stared at the chrome-plated Los Angeles Rams gear shift knob. It was shaped like a football helmet with the Rams logo on it. “I’ve wanted this ever since I got my car!”

“I know. You really like it?”

“Oh, Dorie, it’s perfect. Thank you!”

He’d yelled so loud that it brought Dorothy’s parents out to see what was going on. They stood at the door and saw Dorothy grinning. “He liked it!” she laughed. He dad had helped her pick it out.

“No, I love it, Dorie! I can’t wait to put in on!”

“Look, Mama, look at the necklace he got me!”

Grace had already spied the necklace, the light of the moon reflected off of it making it easy to see. “It’s lovely, Dorothy. Clark, you have good taste.”

Grace knew what the gift was because Shelly had helped Clark pick it out. It was perfect for a young girl, not too flashy or ostentatious. Still, it was jewelry, but it could have been a ring so this was better. One of these days it would be a ring, she had no doubt.

A long while; she hoped that wouldn’t happen for a long time yet. But it would happen; she knew it.

“It’s getting really chilly out here. Why don’t you two come in and I’ll fix some cocoa?”

“Sure. Thank you Mrs. Turner.”

They headed inside and Dorothy stood in front of the mirror in the foyer to admire the necklace. “Oh, it really is beautiful.” She sighed with pleasure as she looked at it, touching it lightly. “It really sparkles!”

“Like your eyes.” Clark stood behind her and their eyes met in the mirror and for a moment they were both lost in the others gaze.

“I really do love it. Thank you, Clark.” She turned to him and mindful of her father in the living room with a full view of the foyer she kissed him on the cheek. She wished she was brave enough to actually kiss him, on the lips but she just couldn’t.

He hugged her briefly, uncomfortable with the scrutiny of her father as well but he had to hug her. “Do you suppose that cocoa is done?”

“I don’t know. I’ll go check! Come on, you can help with the marshmallows!”

That evening, their first Christmas Eve together they both became a bit more aware that they were growing, as individuals and as a couple. Clark was dead sure where their future lie and Dorothy had wished that it be true. That their love would last forever.

Now, thirty years later Dorothy knew that the wish had come true. She was staring out the window of the bedroom, looking at the few stars that were visible. She fingered the crystal as she remembered that night. Every Christmas Eve since then she’d worn the necklace, even the years they hadn’t been together. It wasn’t Christmas ever yet, that was a few weeks away but she’d needed the comfort of the necklace. She remembered the wish she’d made on that shooting star that year; it was the same one she’d made on every shooting star she’d ever seen. Now it was coming true.

They would be together forever. No, it wasn’t Christmas Eve yet, but she knew that some way, some how they’d be together that night. Like that very first year, this year too would be a beginning for them. A beginning to forever…

To be continued…

Authors Note:  I just want to take the time to wish you all the best of holidays!  May your life be filled with love and happiness always.  Thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to read this story!



mum said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Cyndy. And thanks for sharing your gift with us the whole year through! Blessings! mum (Sherri)

Hope said...

Thank you so much Sherri!! It's wonderful to have such loyal readers that I consider friends!