Monday, December 8, 2014
Dorothy and Rose had settled down to drink their tea on the comfortable couch in the living room; the beautiful blue fireplace cast an inviting glow in the room. Even if it was a gas fireplace, it really was lovely, Dorothy thought.
"Rose, tell me more about Jackie. She said that you helped her after something traumatic. What happened?"
"She'd been shot and kidnapped. Despite that, she managed to escape and found her way to a clinic where I was working."
"Were vampires involved?"
"No, not until me. She had no knowledge of us. It took a year or so before she found out."
"The poor thing, I mean about being shot and kidnapped. Did they catch the person responsible? Didn't she have family to go to?"
"No, they never caught them. Not that authorities didn't know who was responsible, but without any real proof it is hard to do anything. The situation was hard; if she told what she knew there wouldn't be any way the police could protect her. She walked away from her family because she was terrified that if she went back they be targets too."
"I'm betting the vamps could have protected her, but then she didn't know about them at the time. How very sad. Is she still afraid of going home?"
"I guess there is no one to go home to any longer. So she stays with me; she feels safe and we're family, of a sorts. She'll be great working for you, Dorothy. Not only does she know all that I could teach her about medical care but she has also trained with Brody so she's good at protection as well."
"Goodness, I can't thank you enough for recommending her. We're lucky to have found her. I hope she finds someone though, who'll love her so she can have those babies she wants."
"I hope so too, but you never can tell. Well, I think I will leave you now. Remember, Brody is right next door if you need anything."
Dorothy laughed, "Yes, I'm not likely to forget. Clark is going to Skype with me later, after his trip out with Vaygar. Oh, Rose, I hope it goes well. If something happened Clark would never forgive himself."
"Vaygar will make sure that doesn't happen. Not a thing to worry about." Her words were spoken with such certainty that Dorothy didn't doubt them at all.
The women hugged goodbye and Dorothy closed the door and locked it up tightly. Now she just had to wait. She picked the book up and began reading again. Time passes quickly, but sometimes not nearly fast enough she thought.
"Beth, how nice of you to stop by. Won't you come in for some tea? I've just made a fresh pot." Noodle had barked a bit at first and then gradually came a bit closer to inspect Beth. She held out her hand for him to sniff, hoping that he wouldn't be afraid.
"Hi, Noodle. Lani says you are a good boy. You remember Lani?" He perked his ears up at the mention of Lani; he loved Lani because she always shared her cookies with him. Beth smiled at him and he cocked his head, still confused about her strange smell but obviously no longer afraid. "Yes, I'd be happy to. But I really need to talk to you about something; it's important, Mrs. Carter."
"Goodness, is everything alright? Oh my dear, is it Lani? Is she alright?"
"Yes, Lani is just fine. No, it's not that. Perhaps we could sit down with that tea and I'll explain."
Mrs. Carter looked confused and still a bit alarmed. "I must admit dear, that you have me a bit scared. My old heart is about to beat out of my chest."
Beth had been listening to Mrs. Carter's heart and knew that was only partially true. Yes, it was a bit faster than when she'd got there, but certainly not racing. "Well, let's have that tea and I'll explain. You've no reason to be afraid and in fact, I think you'll be very happy at my news."
"Would you like some cookies to go with the tea, Beth? I've got ginger cookies here."
"That sounds delicious. Thank you," she said as Mrs. Carter set the teapot and plate of cookies on the table, followed by the cups and saucers. Beth looked around the room and saw that Lani was right, Mrs. Carter did love purple.
"Now dear, why don't you tell me why you stopped by?"
Beth took a deep breath, trying to choose her words carefully. "Mrs. Carter, Lani told me about your family. Specifically about your brother, Mick. I know you loved him a great deal. Would you be happy to know that he is still alive?"
"Alive? Mick? And where has he been? We looked everywhere for him. Is he still married to the Duvall woman?"
"No, they haven't been married for many years now. Would you like to see Mick? Talk to him, Mrs. Carter?"
"Oh heavens, yes. Where is he? He'd be 86 now. I guess he's probably in a nursing home?" Her eyes regarded Beth speculatively over the rim of her cup. Something in Mrs. Carters words didn't quite ring true; her heart had sped up a bit and she quickly became quite busy placing cookies on plates for them. Suddenly, the picture became a bit clearer for Beth.
Beth grinned, "No, he's not. He's out in the car actually. He was afraid it would be too much of a shock to you, to see him. You see, he hasn't aged. He'll tell you how that is possible." Beth stood up and nodded to the door way, "I'll go and get him." She didn't wait to see the look of sheer surprise on Maeve's face.
At the car Beth said, "Okay. She knows you're alive and she's fine. Come on, Mick. Time to see your sister."
"Yeah, she knows I'm alive but does she know how, Beth? That's the hard part."
"That is for you to tell her, Mick. It will be fine, I promise you. Oh, and take it easy with Noodle. He's still a bit wary. Speak softly to him and keep to yourself. I think he'll come around."
Beth opened the screen door and stepped into the house. Maeve St. John stood in the foyer, waiting to see her big brother. Her hands were clenched and both Mick and Beth scented her nervousness, although there was no fear mixed with it.
She and Mick met one another's eyes and Maeve gulped in a large breath. She walked forward and touched his cheek with trembling fingers. "It can't be!" she exclaimed.
"Its…it's me, Squeaks. It's really me," he told her, watching and listening for any signs of distress in his sister. Instead all he saw was wonder.
She frowned slightly and while she was puzzled, she knew without a doubt that this was Mick, her brother. What she'd been told was true, no denying it. She finally walked to him and put her arms around him to hold him tight. Mick heard her sobs as he scented her tears. Beth stood back, a silly grin on her face. Too bad she didn’t have a camera for this moment.
Finally Maeve stepped back on a smacked him on the arm. She still had a pretty good arm Mick noticed and he grinned for the first time. "How dare you not let me know you were alive before? And our parents grieved for you forever, Michael St. John!"
Inwardly Mick winced; using his formal name meant she was pissed, really pissed. She glared at him angrily and he suddenly felt like he was in for a really rough time. Oddly enough she didn't even mention how he looked and that couldn't be good. Maybe her eyesight wasn't good? That question was answered quickly with her next statement.
"And look at you! You have some explaining to do. In the kitchen, now!" she commanded. When Noodle started to yap she looked at him and said, "Enough, Noodle. Go lay down!" She pointed to the living room and the little dog ran away, presumably to do as told.
As they made their way into the kitchen Beth stole a glance back at the little floppy-haired dog and saw him spying on them as they went into the kitchen. He raised a paw towards her, a move that made her feel bad for the little guy; he felt left out, something that he wasn't used to obviously.
Maeve poured Mick a cup of tea without questioning if he wanted it. As she sat it down in front of him he knew he'd better drink it or else. He watched as Beth dipped a sweet ginger cookie into her tea and took a bite; she obviously relished it and for a moment he felt a bit sad that he couldn't.
"Well, explain yourself," Maeve said, skewering him with a look that meant business.
"I…I know this is going to be hard to accept or even understand, Maeve but when I married Coraline, I didn't know that she was a…a…vampire. She turned me on our wedding night, so I became a vampire too."
He watched her closely and listened to her heartbeat. It held very steady, something that surprised him. Her next words floored him though and it was his heart that sped up when she spoke.
"I know that, Michael! We'd already figured that out. Now, why didn't you contact us?"
Clark was nervous; a bit scared in fact. Vaygar and Logan both thought he was ready to venture into the realm of humans again, and he felt strong, he really did, but what if he went crazy or something? If Vaygar and Logan had to pull him off someone, that would let humans see much more than was safe for all of them.
It was interesting to him to acknowledge how he'd already made a mental shift between the human world and the world of vampires, or immortals. Like him.
Yes, like him.
He was now one of those who walked amongst the night shadows. Well, only figuratively, but they told him that it would be awhile before he could be out in sunlight without it being really uncomfortable if not dangerous.
Still, the reward of doing well and staying in control was being with Dorie again and getting to see his babies being born. Vaygar insisted that would happen and it was the best goal ever, so Clark was going to hold up his end of the bargain.
Their first stop was a walk in the park, literally. There was a concert going on, but they were going to stay far enough away that if there was any sign of him not being able to stay in control Logan and Vaygar could get him out of there in a hurry. If staying on the fringe of the group went well, they'd move closer in. It helped that it was pretty chilly for a Los Angeles night so there would be fewer people out; that was the idea anyway.
They went in Logan's VW, with the top down. Clark sat in the back and he had to admit that the night air felt amazing. It wasn't cold at all to feel the wind rushing past him and just looking at the stars in the sky was a treat all on its own. So many more than he ever saw as a human, even out in the middle of nowhere. Millions more, maybe? He didn't know for sure, but the view was incredible.
As they neared the park he began to feel a bit more anxious; he was sipping from a travel mug of O-, which so far was the flavor he liked best. That thought made him laugh out loud and Logan glanced over his shoulder as they turned into the parking area. He wasn't concerned but he was curious about what had captured Clark's attention. Clark just shrugged, not explaining what he had been thinking about because probably every vampire had similar thoughts at one time or another. Who would have thought that different blood types could taste so different? Not the human Clark, for sure.
In the parking area people were carrying blankets and small coolers with them as they headed to find their favorite spots to watch the concert. Before they got out of the car Vaygar handed Clark a pair of foam earplugs.
"What are these for?" he asked, very curious.
"The sound may be too much for you, so if it is, just put them in and that will help."
Clark nodded; sounds did still sound pretty loud at times, so he might need these he thought as he stuffed them down into the pocket of his jeans. "Thanks, I appreciate you thinking of that; I didn't."
Vaygar nodded and smiled as Logan put the top up on the car and got out, locking it up. "How are you feeling? Ready for this?"
"As I ever will be, I think. A bit nervous I guess."
"Understandably. Clark, you've surpassed all expectations I've had for you, and I'm sure your sire would agree with me. You handled drinking fresh without a single problem, you've been training hard and learning defensive techniques incredibly quick; this should go quite well, I believe. We wouldn't have brought you here if Logan and I didn't think you were ready. Now, come on, let's walk a bit. At the first sign you are feeling uncomfortable all you have to do is say so."
Logan nodded in agreement with Vaygar. The past couple of days working with him had been great; not that Mick hadn't been an excellent and patient sire because as far as Logan was concerned he had been the best and an example to live up to. But, Logan agreed with Vaygar that they had to get Clark ready, sooner than later and so he'd bowed to the older vamps guidance and here they were, giving Clark his first chance to walk though humankind. And somehow, Logan knew that Clark was going to do just fine.
As the moved away from the car they fell into step right behind a group of laughing humans who were obviously excited about the upcoming event. Clark inhaled, scenting their blood but didn't feel in slightest bit drawn to it. He breathed in and out once, feeling relieved and relaxed.
They circled along the fringes of the groups of happy concert goers and as they got closer to the stage, the sound grew louder and Clark put the ear plugs in. He saw Logan wince and knew that his sire wished for a pair of his own. Vaygar smiled to himself as he saw Logan cringe a couple of times; unfortunately he'd only brought along one pair.
After a half an hour they sat down to listen to the band play, surrounded by people. It was apparent that Clark was fine among humanity and all three of them enjoyed the concert; an older rock band that they all liked.
When the concert was over they walked back to the car among the throngs of humans and they chatted easily about the concert and the songs that were playing. It had actually been a very enjoyable evening.
"So, when do I get sprung?" Clark asked, hoping that he could go home immediately. He was disappointed at his answer.
"Another time to feed fresh tomorrow, Clark and then tomorrow evening another outing with humans. If that all goes well, and I expect it will, then we can get you home."
At least another day; it seemed like forever. He decided it was tantamount to being a kid and waiting for Christmas each year. It was going to take forever.
Mick stared incredulously at his sister, not sure whether to be shocked or doubt her sanity. "What do you mean you figured that out already? How could you have?"
Maeve smiled and for a moment took a bit of satisfaction in his reaction. Beth, she noted, didn't seem surprised at all.
Almost comically, Beth sat sipping her tea as her eyes scanned back and forth between brother and sister, an eyebrow quirked upward in amusement. Mick was thoroughly freaked out by this admission from Maeve and Beth was enjoying his reaction a good deal. True, it was very sad that all these years were wasted, but it was hard for Mick to shed the 'I'm a monster' idea he'd carried around in his head and soul for so many years. She hoped that this would be the final layer that would unravel his views on being a vamp and let him start enjoying his existence. When she'd realized earlier by Maeve's demeanor that she knew the secret it made her intensely curious, but she knew that Mick had to be there to hear the story so she'd gone and fetched him in.
"Margie told me, told us."
Mick choked on his tea and it brought a few tears to his eyes as he sputtered when it went up his nose.
Damn! Again, Beth so wished she had a camera handy. These types of moments only happen once. She had to laugh at herself, always the reporter! She knew that was being a little mean, but honestly, what she was learning was that there was no such thing as vampires - being a secret that is. It seemed that practically everyone knew.
Maeve handed Mick some napkins and patted his hand. "Do you remember Jimmie Jacoby? From your band?" At Mick's nod she continued, "Well, he was a vampire. That apparently is how your band got that gig at Coraline Duvalls. Of course, you didn't know he was one, he told us later, and Coraline took care to never let you see him afterwards. After the news about your death he went to see Coraline, but she wouldn't let you see him. He began to worry that you hadn't been turned, that she had killed you. So he started watching that glass house where she lived, in hopes of seeing you. When he finally did he relaxed about it, to some degree. That's when he saw Margie and she was pregnant with Catherine. She was seeing Herb by then but she missed you so badly and was inconsolable about your death. So he told her the truth, Mick. She accepted it and later told me, hoping that I would at least find consolation in the fact that you hadn't been killed. Jimmie had not told anyone where this glass house was, although we did eventually find out through the police department. By then it was deeded to a Cynthia Davis. We stayed away, hoping that you'd come to see us. Eventually I told mama and papa and it did make them feel better to know that you weren't dead, but none of us could understand why you wouldn't let us know. Mick, papa was very angry with you because of that."
Mick was stunned; he wasn't sure what part upset him more, the fact that Jimmie was a vampire, that Margie and his family knew or that he might have still had relationships had Coraline not kept him from them. And she had, he knew, just like she'd kept Jimmie from him. All those years, he'd secluded himself from his family because Coraline told him that was the way it had to be, that his existence would bring danger to them. He knew that wasn't the truth any longer; too many people knew. That wasn't a good thing but he might have had a relationship with them, after awhile that is. And to know that his father had been so angry with him, that he had died being angry hurt Mick deeper than anything else ever had.
He cried in earnest this time; he shed tears for what might have been, for the gift of his sister and her obvious love for him even after the hurt he had caused them all.
Life doesn't always take the path you expect it to, but if you just look around you might find that it takes you where you need to be.
To be continued…
Posted by Hope at 11:10 AM