sat back in his chair in the study, elbows resting on the arms and his
fingers steepled as he thought about a situation that could prove
He was due to go to the guest house in an hour;
right now Clark, Logan and Mick were out at the mall of all places, in
an effort to show Mick that Clark really was ready to reintegrate back
into society. Personally, Josef had no doubts.
Clark had immense
control of himself; even feeding fresh had proved no challenge for him.
Tomorrow morning he'd feed fresh one last time and if all went well
he'd be home again and according to Lani, it would just barely be in
time. Dorothy was ready to have those babies she'd said. Something
about station zero and effacement or things he really knew nothing of -
yet. He hadn't gotten that far in the book yet.
For sure it
scared the hell out of him, what lay ahead. He'd always thought birth
was a fairly normal process; that was before the woman he loved was an
active participant in the process. It was dangerous! And the pictures
of the baby in the womb made him cringe. How did mother or child stand
Lani had gone to Beth's so that they could take a ride in the
new Porsche SUV. Lani had finally quieted about it, and then decided
she loved it. Today had been a rough day which led to the problem that
faced Josef tonight.
Today had been the memorial service for
Lani's father. He'd been cremated, but because of scheduling, the
memorial had just been held. Helena Parker had been front and center,
the grieving widow displaying her loss to the hilt. She had gloried in
the role, it had been apparent to all.
Josef had to commend
Marcus Parker for one thing: he had taken care of his wife's finances
and she'd be wealthy enough to live comfortably-very comfortably. Josef
had gotten those details in advance of the memorial service.
dilemma was how to keep Helena away from Los Angeles and more
specifically, Lani. Possibly a condo in Europe, a place she loved and
so help him, if she kept causing Lani distress it would be the tar pits
for her selfish and egotistical ass.
She'd called frequently, and
it was always upsetting for Lani. Not once (and Josef wouldn't forgive
her for this) had she ever showed even the slightest bit of interest in
how Lani was. Not about her father's death, or about being pregnant.
did take some pleasure in causing Helena a bit of discomfort at the
service and with luck; the calculated risk might pay off in her
departing for Europe quickly.
Josef, Lani and Helena had stood
chatting after the service; Josef and Lani listening as Helena had
lamented how bereft she felt at the loss of her husband. She was
fretting about how she would manage to live (financially) without him.
Since Josef had already heard that she'd be taken care of, he wasn't too
concerned about it.
The truth was, if he had to supplement her 'retirement' somewhere, far, far away he'd have done it without blinking his eye.
sure when the baby is born, Helena, that you'll be thrilled and have
something to occupy your time." Josef watched her carefully because this
gambit might not pay off and the last thing he wanted was her around
her upsetting Lani. The woman didn't have a shred of mother in her;
he'd gotten her nailed correctly on that one.
"The baby? Lani, surely you're not pregnant!"
"Yes, Mother, I am. I told you this a month ago."
"I'm sure you didn't. Are you married yet?"
"No, not yet; sometime in January," Lani replied, keeping it vague.
"Um hm, well, see to it. I can't imagine what people will think if you don't do it quickly."
won't it be a joy to have a grandchild? Imagine little sticky fingers
and mouths coming to grandma for kisses! That's the amazing thing about
the kiddies, they not only leak at both ends but they manage to find
Lani cast Josef a quick sideways glance, barely
managing to keep from laughing; she knew exactly what he was doing. He
only grinned and rocked back on his heels, hands in pockets.
had been sipping her bourbon with a twist and almost choked. The
horror on her face turned it first a vivid red and then paled. Josef
"I know you'll love having our kids for long weekends
at grandma's house! Imagine the fun that bath time and feedings will
give you. They say a person gets more patient with age, so let's face
it, you should be great at that. I plan to put a large birth
announcement in the Times and of course I'll mention "Grandma Helena
Parker" very prominently!"
Lani had to turn away and coughed
briefly as she choked back laughter as her mother sputtered into her
glass. The last thing her mother would want would be for everyone to
remember that she was old enough to be a grandmother. She'd spent good
money on plastic surgeons and spas over the years to keep the effects of
aging at bay.
"How many children?" she asked and Josef heard a quiver in her voice. Fear perhaps or disgust?
pulled Lani close to him and said, "What do you say, honeybunch? How
about at least a half dozen? Would that be enough for you, Grandma?"
took a compulsive gulp of her drink and then gasped as it burned her
throat. "Um, excuse me, please," she said, rushing off.
Josef and Lani both watched with amusement; she didn't speak with them for the rest of the memorial.
Josef hoped that it would be enough to keep her away. He decided to
call a friend in France who sold property there; maybe he'd have a few
ideas about places for Helena.
It was either that or the tar pits. Fielder's choice.
and Cami stepped into Heroku's office and saw that Brody and Rose were
with him. "Oh, excuse us, we didn't know that you were occupied,
Heroku," Carl said, a small nod to show his respect to the elder
vampire, as well as Rose and Brody. He and Cami started to leave, only
to be stopped by Heroku.
"No, I have called you to meet with Rose
and Brody, as well as myself. It is an important matter. Please, do
be seated," he told them and then he bowed to them.
started hammering in his chest. He took a deep breath and then focused
on slowing it as he had been taught. As he sat down on the couch it
calmed a bit and he took another deep breath and felt a bit steadier.
we, um, have I done something to offend you, Heroku-san?" He was
positive that he must have; either that or Rose and Brody must have an
objection to his turning.
"No, not at all, Carl. Rose and Brody
would like to share some information with you." At Carl's fleeting look
of panic he added hurriedly, "It is good news, I believe." He smiled at
the young man, hoping to alleviate his fears.
Rose smiled as well and Carl watched her, trying to gauge what she might say.
and Brody both took seats in arm chairs across from the couch and Rose
perched on the arm of Brody's chair and both Carl and Cami noticed as
Brody took Rose's hand and squeezed it gently.
"Carl, we wanted
to tell you that you are one of our descendents." Brody waited for the
news to sink into Carl; he didn't have long to wait.
understand," Carl said, confused by their announcement. Rose and Brody
had kids, together? How was he a descendent? From whom? A hundred
questions filled his head.
"We had a daughter, a long time ago. Well, in human terms, that is. She was your great-great grandmother."
"Was she a vampire?"
"No, she fell in love with a human man and chose that path. She was your Grandmother Carter's grandmother."
"So from my mother's side of the family, then?"
sad that they had watched their daughter choose a mortal life, Cami
thought. Otherwise, this was fantastic news. She smiled at Carl and
said, "This is wonderful, Carl. You'll still be able to do so many
things that I can't."
Which was precisely the issue Carl decided;
he didn't want to be able to do things that Cami couldn't. It didn't
seem fair to him. It was just…wrong, he decided.
"I…I don't know
what to say, I guess. It doesn't seem fair to Cami. I know its
prestigious and all, but I just want to be like she is. I mean no
Rose's eyebrows raised a fraction and Brody
was clearly surprised. No one had ever not wanted to be a descendent;
it was an honor. "I, uh, you can still live your life as a vampire like
Cami, Carl. But you will be different; there is no way of changing
Carl let Brody's words wash over him; so, he didn't have
to be different. Except of course he would be, even if he lived the
life of a normal vampire.
Vampire? Was there such a thing?
Rose began, tentatively. "Think about all of this; there are many
things to consider. As Brody said, you can live a vampire existence,
just like Cami, but you will be different. Our blood assures you of
that. You already have superior physical attributes, just like Brody
does and there will be other things as well. Things you might very well
be happy about. But, that being said, how you live daily is up to
Carl nodded; he felt like he was being a jerk. Most vamps
would be so thankful for this gift and all he was doing was rejecting
it. It wasn't that it didn't make him feel proud to be a descendent of
these two wonderful vamps, it was just that it made him feel guilty to
have the options that Cami didn't.
"So, I guess this makes you my
great-great-great grandparents, huh?" he joked in an effort to lighten
the mood. "Look, I AM proud to have you as my antecedents; I can't
think of two people that would have made me as happy. It's just that it
makes me feel guilty." He looked at Cami and saw that she was ready to
protest and continued, "Cami, I know, I really do that you don't mind
this situation, but it bothers me. I just can't help it."
smiled, a sad smile that clearly showed her understanding of his
feelings. She would never want him to feel guilty over something,
especially not this. It was a reason to celebrate, it was amazing.
She'd known the 13 over the years she'd been a vampire and although she
didn't know any of them well at all, she knew that they were
compassionate and intensely beneficial to the vampire world, whether
other vamps realized it or not and most didn't. Her Carl would be the
same she knew and she also knew she had to make him realize that, accept
"Carl, I see this as a blessing for you, for us. You'll
have attributes that I don't and that will be better for you as a cop.
This will be beneficial, a good thing and cause me a lot less worry.
Really," she told him and her sincerity was palpable, even to him.
He took a deep breath and released it slowly, lost in thought for a moment. "Okay, what do I need to know, to begin with?"
most important thing is that on full moons, you will always have to
feed fresh; there is no way around it. For us, it is an imperative.
Most of what you'll need to know you will learn in training; the next
one will be in March." Brody told him, waiting for more questions
because he was sure they would follow.
"March? I don't know if I can get off work again so soon. How long does training last?"
"At least a month, Carl. It is extremely important that you have a least the basics."
frowned at Rose's words; it wasn't that he didn't want to go, but you
couldn't just take a month off from the force when you were a cop - it
didn't happen and he voiced his thoughts about that.
what can be worked out at the time, Carl. Let's not worry about it
right now. We're here to help you, when you have more questions or
other issues. And, to welcome you to our family, Carl. We've wanted to
tell you since we got here, but we wanted you to make up your mind
about what you wanted on your own, without our influence."
appreciate that. Right now I'm sort of shocked, you know? As far as
family go, I'm really happy to have you; other than a cousin you are the
only blood relatives I have any longer. That means a lot to me; I was
so close to my grandma and I've missed her so much."
It only took
a moment for everyone to spot the brightness in his eyes, unshed tears
that he was trying to hold back. That, along with the catch in his
throat relieved Rose and Brody's fears about his acceptance.
"Uh, is it okay if I call you Granny and Grampy?" he teased, his eyes sparkling now not only from the tears but from humor.
"Not if you don't want me to kick your butt, kiddo," Brody laughed.
think you could, but you might not always be able to, Grampy!" he
laughed and stood up. Cami rose beside him and they got ready to leave.
"Is it okay if I uh, give you a hug, Rose?"
"Of course; I'd
have been disappointed if you hadn't." She had spoken the truth; this
situation didn't happen very often, finding family. She accepted his
hug with love in her heart for him and hoped that he knew how much she
cared about him.
Carl pulled away finally and didn't bother to
hide the tear that trickled down his cheek. He looked at Brody and
said, "Oh what the hell," and pulled him into a hug as well.
Brody and Heroku watched as Carl and Cami left before speaking. "His
reaction surprised me," Heroku said, still a bit puzzled.
think it's just a reaction to the shock of it all. After he and Cami
discuss it and I'm sure he'll agree that it is a good thing. Still,
we've never had anyone not be thrilled about it all before."
nodded; it was a first for him too. He realized Carl's reluctance came
from his deep love and devotion for his daughter and in the end, Heroku
couldn't find fault with that.
they left Heroku's office Rose and Brody headed to his apartment. When
they arrived Rose told him she was going to check on Dorothy. She
smiled at him as he opened his door and as he watched her walk farther
down the hall and knock on Mick's door he couldn't help the look of love
that washed over his handsome face.
Damn, she was as beautiful
as the day he'd met her, two millennia before. The softly rounded hips
that swayed ever so slightly as she walked, the graceful curve of her
neck; it all still aroused him tremendously.
Of the 13, he and
Rose were the only ones that had been a couple, off and on from the
beginning. Most of them were loners to some degree, or because of the
longevity of their existences they chose not to have relationships of
any kind. Not that there were not sexual encounters because there had
been plenty of them, but even in vampire lives it was difficult to
explain their longevity.
Early on, when they had first been
given the gift they had all felt hopeful that it might unite and bring
prosperity to this world; instead all it brought was division and a dark
and twisted version of the gift that made it unrecognizable as a gift
This ominous perversion of the simple beauty and love of the
gift made them all feel disillusioned and go into hiding. Gradually
they reemerged into earth's cities and populations, keeping their gifts
It was much easier to do than it was for a regular
vampire; they could much more easily hide in plain sight since they
could eat and blend in well. The thing about their secret was that
vampires as a whole scared humans and the gifts that the 13 shared
incensed other vampires, who usually were angered by their existence.
Yes, they led a privileged existence, they understood that but as hard
as they had tried to make others understand that it was a gift, not the
twisted perversion that most vampires existence was, they generally
could find little acceptance. Either way, it didn't inspire too many
relationships with others.
She grinned at him as Beth answered
the door and he saw how her eyes ate him up. He knew that later on
she'd be in his bed and they would share a love and passion that would
take his breath away.
He loved her. And luckily, she loved him as well.
To be continued…
NOTE: I'm so sorry that I have missed answering some comments. Jenn
had surgery a week before Christmas and has had a lot of complications
because of it. That has taken a good deal of my time. I do want to
thank you SO much for taking time to read and comment, you, the readers
make this all worthwhile!