Cat stared at the phone for a minute, reaching for it and then withdrawing her hand several times. Finally, she picked it up and dialed before she had the opportunity to change her mind again.
She listened to it ring twice before it was picked up and for a moment her heart thumped loudly in her chest; she was positive that he'd hear it, even over the phone.
Mick smiled as he listened to the elevated heart rate of his daughter. He knew that she didn't think of herself as such, but deep in his heart he would forever think of her that way. He waited for her to speak and for a moment he thought she might not.
"Uh, hi, Mick. Did I catch you at a bad time?"
"Hello, Catherine. No, this is a good time. How are you?"
"I'm good, good," she said, nervously. "I'm going to be near your place this afternoon and I wondered if it would be a good time to stop and visit you, if you aren't busy that is."
"No, I'm free. I'd like that."
"Great. I'll see you about 2 then?"
"Two it is. Goodbye, Catherine." He heard her murmur goodbye and then the line went silent. He sat his phone down on the desk and wondered what was making her so nervous. Time would tell he decided and wondered if he was going to like whatever was on her mind.
Catherine thought about the call she just made to Mick. This was really none of her business, but she felt she needed to speak up about it. Was it right for her to butt in, to speak her mind? Probably not, but she was going to anyway.
Rose stared at the report that was on her computer. It had been sent to her by Naman, the sort of de facto leader of the 13. They didn't have a leader, exactly but Naman sort of kept track of all of them. He served as a sounding board, in cases where there were disagreements, something that happened rarely, but when it did he was there to mediate. He also gathered information as well and in this case, the information was stunning.
Vampires were dying of an, so far, undetectable disease. Yes, dying…
How could that be? It couldn't possibly be true and yet it was. Several hundred so far, that they knew of, and all so far in Eastern Europe and Asia. The symptoms were pretty cut and dried; in a human they might even be diagnosed and cured. But how did you kill a vampire with a disease when nothing in the form of a disease could do that?
The blood in their bodies was essentially eating itself, thereby starving them. Eventually, it just consumed them and no amount of blood could help, not even returning by another, healthy vampire.
Perhaps the bigger question was, how were they getting the disease? Was it a poisoning agent of some kind and if so, where did it originate? Was it a culling of vampires, a natural end to a cycle of vampirism? Did special blood factors contribute to it, or types of blood? Was it from a specific familial line?
Would it affect the 13 and their descendents? Would it eventually spread though out all vampires? Was it limited to vampires only or were humans susceptible? If they were, health agencies would get involved and vampires might be exposed. If that happened and they were determined to be the point of origin, one way or another there would be what most vampires had long feared, a war.
Rose sat back and frowned, a hundred thoughts racing through her head. She reached for her phone to call Brody. She needed his comfort right now.
Cat knocked on Mick's office door, suddenly aware of her rapidly beating heart and that her palms were sweaty. She wiped them unconsciously on her skirt just as Mick opened the door.
He heard her racing heart and began to feel a bit of alarm himself. When he opened the door she swallowed nervously and licked her lips and gave him a small smile, trying to summon a bit of courage because she was truly nervous about his reactions.
"Catherine, please come in." Mick stepped aside and watched as his daughter entered the room and stood unsure of herself for a moment.
"Have a seat, please. Would you care for a drink?"
She sank down into one of the chairs across from in at the desk. She nodded gratefully at his offer for a drink and crossed her legs as she waited. He couldn't help but notice that she'd not sat on the couch as she had before, so this probably wasn't just a cozy 'getting to know you' chat.
Catherine accepted the scotch gratefully and took a bigger sip than expected and sputtered for moment before she looked up, spotting Mick watching her closely.
"Catherine, what's on your mind?" he finally ventured, as curious at the proverbial cat. Or Travis, fielder's choice.
"Mick, I wanted to talk to you about - about Maeve. Your sister." When she had been taping more segments at Buzzwire Beth had told her about Mick's sister and his reluctance to see her.
Of everything she could have said to him, this might well have been last on his list. In truth, her nervousness had convinced him that she was going to tell him she didn't want him in her life, in any way. No, talking about Maeve was a total surprise.
He quirked an eyebrow upward and finally said, "What about her, Catherine?"
"You…you have to tell her you are still alive, Mick. You can't keep avoiding it."
Beth…Beth had told her, it couldn't have been anyone else.
Did he know that he needed to? Yes. Did he know that he needed to do it before Josef's wedding? Absolutely. Was he still afraid of what it might do to her? Positively panicked.
He cleared his throat and said, "Um, Catherine, that's kind of personal, you know? I haven't decided what to do yet."
"Haven't decided what to do? Are you crazy? You'd just let her see you, no explanations at Josef's wedding? That is just cruel! I didn't figure you for a coward, Mick!" Her words were rushed and a trifle loud, especially to a vampires ears. He had to focus hard on not wincing at just how loud they were.
"Catherine, this kind of shock might kill her, or - or cause a stroke or something. No, it's dangerous."
Catherine scoffed at his words and then laughed outright. He didn't have a clue at just what a strong woman his sister really was. She didn't know her aunt well but she had met her a number of times. Margie had always made sure that Catherine had knowledge of Mick's family. She had even met his parents before they died. She wouldn't tell him how heartbroken they were about their son; it wouldn't serve any purpose and would only make him feel guiltier about something that truly had been out of his hands.
"I know her, Mick. It will do nothing of the kind."
"You've met her, you know, Maeve?" Somehow that shocked him.
"Yes, mother made sure I knew your family. She wanted me to know my grandparents and my aunt. Maeve will be thrilled to know you are still here, Mick, regardless of the circumstances."
"How could she? She has to hate me."
"Give me a break," Cat said, unable to keep the irritation out of her voice. "It seems that you are the only one that hates you, Mick. Even me, once I understood the situation, I can't hate you. You know that."
Mick digested her words; perhaps she had a point. She didn't hate him any longer although the jury was still out on Ben. Maybe it always would be.
"You think she's healthy enough for this kind of news?"
Again Cat gave a small laugh. "Yes, she will be fine. I'd feel sorry for you if she ever found out and it wasn't you who told her. She would hunt you down, I promise you."
Mick finally smiled. "She'd probably sic that floppy little dog of hers on me. I'll bet he has sharp teeth. For some strange reason though he liked Josef; go figure."
"Josef?" she asked with a grin. "Had to be allure. Noodle doesn't like many men. I guess he likes to be the only rooster in the house, so to speak."
Mick nodded, beginning to think seriously about telling his sister for the first time. He'd give anything to have a relationship with Squeaks again.
"Mick, just tell her. She'll be so happy. She adored you and the fact that they didn't know what happened to you hurt them all so much. Every year on the anniversary of the day you disappeared your mom cried so much. She baked you a lemon cake on your birthday each year as well. You can't tell your mom and dad, but you have the chance to make it right with Maeve. Just do it."
"So you knew my parents as well?" It was like a stake in his heart as he waited for her answer.
"Yes, I knew them. They were wonderful people, Mick. I don't think they ever gave up hope that you'd come home, safe and sound."
He felt tears sting his eyes and he shut them quickly, trying to keep back the pain. If he felt then as he felt now, that family can be told, things might have been different for him. He couldn't change it, that part, but he could make things right with Squeaks.
Cat saw the change in his demeanor immediately. She wouldn't be a top notch attorney if she couldn't read people. He would see her, he'd made his decision. She smiled at him, feeling so much happier.
"So, you're going to talk to her, aren't you?"
"Yes, soon. Thank you, Catherine."
"You know, Mick, you can call me Cat," she teased.
"I think it's just my age, it's more formal I guess. But I'll work on it."
"Good. I have to go now. I've still got a million things to accomplish before I leave for England after Christmas. I'm looking forward to going but getting ready isn't easy. And now 3 months seems like a lifetime, you know?" She didn't add that partly that was because she was enjoying getting to know him but somehow she thought he understood that.
He nodded and rose to his feet when she did. It would be hard to see her go, but he'd do it and hope she'd actually miss him a bit. He knew that he'd miss her.
Lani was in the shower when Josef got home; he immediately scented the sweet honeysuckle shower gel she was using and he inhaled deeply and let his nose lead him into the bathroom as he shed clothing on the way. He stepped into the shower with her, which wasn't a surprise to her because she'd sensed the moment he entered the house.
She turned in the spray of the shower which was at a temp that vamps could appreciate, done out of hopefulness; that being that he'd join her.
The smile she gave him could have lit up half of New York City and he almost hated to kiss it away, but he did anyway. He held her close, an arm wrapped securely around her waist just to make sure she didn't lose her footing. When his mouth found hers he felt her melt against him with a sigh.
When he finally pulled away she was breathless. "Hi," she said, wearing a ridiculous grin. "Glad you joined me. I think I feel something that needs some special attention!" Her hand slipped down between their bodies, capturing an aroused Josef and stroking lightly.
His knees felt suddenly weak at her touch. Just a touch, that was all it took from this woman to make him turn into jelly. Or was it Jello? Either way, they didn't have that when he ate food, all he knew was that it wiggled. Or wobbled, much like his knees right now.
He leaned back against the side of the shower as her mouth moved farther down his body, licking lightly at his nipples and then scratching softly with a fingernail, making them ache in a way he was unaccustomed to.
"Sweetness, let's take this to our bed, hm?"
She stood up and leaned against him before smiling in a way that let him know exactly who was in charge at this moment. She whispered in his ear, "I think we're fine here, Josef. I want you as wet as I am." Suddenly she was on her knees and was placing kisses up and down his heated length.
He groaned and let her have her way for a minute and then pulled her up and turned so that her back was to the wall before lifting her and settling her on him. Lani moaned against his shoulder, loving the feel of him as he moved within her. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders a bit tighter but she knew that he'd never drop her, no matter how carried away they got.
The lukewarm spray of the shower was soon forgotten by both of them as they moved as if of one mind, one body. When they were both at the point of ecstasy, he bit his finger and she sucked it into her mouth greedily, licking every bit of blood from it as he bit his shoulder. She clung to him as wave after wave of pleasure swept over her, the warmth of his blood singing through her body. It wasn't the same as when he bit her, but it was a way of keeping them connected.
Slowly they both came down off of the plateau and stood in the misty spray, enjoying the feeling of satisfaction that encompassed them both. The moment ended when Josef heard her stomach growl.
"It seems that something else needs feeding, Sweetness. Let's get you dried off. I believe that Franklin told me that the chef has prepared sushi for dinner tonight. I know you'll like that!
Sushi was a newly added food to their diets; it might be because Josef had insisted because Lani loved it. Maybe not, but since his chef didn't want a one way ticket to the tar pits there it was.
"Um, yummy!" she declared, in a hurry now to get out and get dry. "Come on, Josef! Hurry!"
She quickly was out and dry, pulling on a pair of yoga pants and one of those skimpy little tee shirts that Josef loved her in. Her belly was still flat, but he knew that before too long that wouldn't be the case. He couldn't wait for that day, when he saw the visible proof of his child growing inside her. He figured that made him a bit of a chauvinist, but he didn't give a damn.
They descended the stairs hand-in-hand, both of them smiling like two lovers who were completely besotted with one another, which they were. The headed into the dining room and sat down and almost before she blinked Lani found a glass of ice water with a lime twist set before her quickly followed by a plate with sushi and all the accompaniments. She looked at it and smiled; California roll and spicy tuna, her favorites.
As Franklin smiled at her obvious delight he prepared to leave the room. "Miss Lani, is there anything else I can get for you?"
She shook her head no and then changed her mind. "Yes, Franklin. Can you bring me some grape jelly, please?"
"Of course, Miss Lani." He left the room, a confused look on his face. Still, it wasn't for him to question. He was back in a minute, having had a brief disagreement with the chef over why she wanted it. It was not for Franklin to question why, however, the chef felt he was entitled to an explanation.
Back in the dining room Lani was spreading wasabi liberally over the sushi, her mouth watering in anticipation over it. Josef watched, knowing the pink pieces of ginger would be next. Instead, when Franklin set a small bowl of the gooey, grape condiment on the table she spread that over the wasabi.
Josef smelled the combination of the fish, wasabi and grape jelly and wrinkled his nose. Not that the bait, as he continued to refer to it, was ever pleasing but the odd combination was particularly gross. Surely she wasn't going to eat that?
She was. She did.
"Lani, are you feeling okay?"
"Yes, wonderful. You should know, you were very thorough in feeling me a little while ago," she laughed, popping a bite of the strange combination into her mouth and chewing with a happy sigh.
"This is so good, I should have tried this before," she said as she popped another piece into her mouth.
The bait was bad enough. That grape stuff was worse. It was going to be a long pregnancy he decided.
To be continued…