Mick was in a good mood when he pulled over in Beth's street. They had tickets for a late concert, and for once they wouldn't meet in the morgue or on a case. Not that it wasn't fun, but lately all of his cases had been a bit close to home, and he started questioning his skills. Tierney had been murdered on his watch, and Jacob had been found almost too late, the kidnapper killing himself before Mick had managed to intervene. Maybe it was Beth distracting him, maybe he tended to get too much emotionally involved.
Tonight was important to him, the first night of normal dating since he'd been human again. He fondly remembered the beach picknick, how easy they were with each other after the first awkward words were spoken. He had assured her of forgiveness for her hard words after Josh's death, but he hadn't been able to answer her unspoken question about how he planned on going further. She had clearly stated that she had feelings for him. Frankly, it had shocked him. They had dropped the subject and just enjoyed each other's company.
Then there was the roof picknick, awkward again because she felt guilty that he lost his humanity for her, and because he still wasn't able to commit to their relationship. He had been retracting again. But he had kissed her, desperately, with passion, when she ran. He wasn't sure it was enough, but still, they were on a way towards each other.
He definitely was jealous every time he saw her with Talbot, and he had the impression she liked that. She teased him about a child called „Elliot", but when she realized he mourned the lost chance of having a family she was very sympathetic. That was another issue that made their relationship complicated and that he wasn't sure how to even talk about.
He had kept her at arm's length, fearing for her safety when bringing her into vampire business, and she kept pushing for more. So they met on neutral ground and did the dating game, as if they hadn't known each other for months.
He knocked at her apartment door exactly at half past 8, and she opened in her robe. She looked great, flushed from the shower and smelling of some flowery shampoo. He contemplated for a moment to remark on that, telling her to just stay like that. But he knew she probably would take him up for the challenge, and he wasn't sure about his ability to keep his hands off.
„Sorry, Mick, I'm almost ready. Get comfortable. Would you like a glass of wine? How was your day?"
He knew she would be true to her word and only take a short time, so he sat down patiently and accepted the wine.
On the coffee table she had placed all the cards and gifts she had gotten for her birthday a short week ago. The bouquet of gardenias he had given her were the center piece of the arrangement, but the necklace was missing. He snooped around a bit, interested in what others had given to her, which showed him something about their personality and about their relation to Beth. Most were from work colleagues, there were books, candles, CDs and body shop products.
The scent of orchids overwhelmed his senses. A side table was carrying a huge bouquet of the finest stems of rosy Phalaenopsis, bound with greenery and an elegant bow. Curious about who would give Beth such a huge bouquet he snatched the card that lay beside it. It contained a poem and a short greeting.
[i] The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
Sam Levinson [/i]
„Happy Birthday, my dear. Please excuse my behaviour the other day. As we are so close to each other, I really try to keep a good relationship to you. Let's take this day for a new start. B. T."
Mick felt the hair on his neck stand up. What had made Ben Talbot send such a letter? And orchids – weren't they saying something like „I'm interested in you romantically"? A bigger bouquet than his gardenias, more expensive too. And the poem. What gave Talbot the guts to talk to Beth about inner beauty? Wasn't it almost an insult when Beth was clearly the most beautiful woman walking this earth? Wasn't the poem a bit over the top, too? And telling her they were close – yeah, a bit too close maybe.
The flowers were a lot more beautiful than the ones Mick had brought her. He had contemplated roses, but deemed them too cliché. Now he regretted that decision. Roses would have outdone orchids any day. And why didn't he think of writing a poem for her, or at least searching for a quote? He had written poetry in his head while thinking of Beth in his freezer, but had never written any of it down. Well, at least he was glad his handwriting wasn't as girly as the one of Talbot. And to write in lilac ink was just wrong. Maybe Talbot was gay. But then again, he wouldn't be interested in Beth.
Mick was seething with anger, his face flushing, then bleaching out completely. His gums were itching for the fangs to come out. Ben wanted to „keep a good relationship"? Did he already have one, then? Did Beth fall for him? He was tall, dark and handsome, kind of Josh's figure. Josh 2.0. Was he Beth's type, then?
Mick knew he had probably missed the signs of her backing off. It had been a while since she'd been teasingly talking about vampire relationships and vampire sex. Maybe she was no longer interested? Maybe she was looking for a way out, retreating from him? Didn't she take a rain check four times until tonight finally she was free?
She had toyed with Josh, too, while clearly falling for Mick. When he remembered how she came on on him when she was high on B.C. he couldn't help the small growl coming out of his chest. Now she was probably tagging Mick along while starting something with Ben. Mick felt betrayed. Again he failed to keep a woman for himself. For Lilah he always had been second best, a substitute for her lost true love, until Ray came back. No, that wasn't entirely true. He had abandoned her, fearing that Ray would hate him otherwise.
Coraline had played his jealousy, inviting other men over and relishing in Mick's violent reaction. It lead to great make-up-sex, but it exhausted him emotionally. Was Beth playing with him, too? Was she testing him by making him jealous?
Mick wondered what he should do. Confront Beth about it? Ask her about Ben? Try harder to make it work? Maybe he should show her how much he loved her, that she was the world to him. He wasn't good with words, and physical contact still held the danger of him losing control. What other way was there?
He lost his thought when she sauntered in, wearing a dream of a dark blue blouse with a low neck line over a black pencil skirt. Her hair was pulled up and her creamy neck was unobstructed. She was wearing his necklace, which immediately put him at ease. He released the growl he had been holding for a while. She giggled at his reaction.
„Does the vampire like this outfit? What do you think of my dress?"
„It's great. Is this how you dress for work?"
She faltered, frowned. „What's up? I bought the blouse just for tonight. You know that I wouldn't dress like that for work. Except for when we raid a club."
He watched her bookcase as if reading the titles would give him an idea how to react. „Sorry. I'm a bit on edge tonight."
„So I see. You've been in a better mood when you came in. Is something wrong?"
„No, not at all. Let's get going."
She grabbed her purse, then hesitated. „Wait a moment. I need to do something first."
She grabbed the orchids and the card and went over to apartment 4. At her knock an elder woman opened. She had a warm smile, beautiful white hair and freckles in her wrinkles.
„Hi, Miss Bedford. I just wanted to congratulate to your birthday before going out."
„Well, thank you, Beth. Oh, what nice flowers! Is the young man behind you part of my present?"
Beth beamed. „No, he's my boyfriend and I'm not sharing. Even when I still feel the need to apologize."
The woman shook her head and smiled. „No, no. It was me who played loud music in the morning while you tried to catch up on sleep."
„But it was me who acted all catty and called you names."
„You were entitled. Now go, I can see you have plans for tonight. Better things to do than chatting to your old neighbor. I will have people over for tea tomorrow. If you're free, come by."
„Thanks, Miss Bedford." Beth waved and turned around, a stunned and silent Mick following her to the car.
When he held the door for her she smiled up at him. „What's up? You're grinning like a fool. Are you having moodswings? Is this what a vampire menopause looks like?"
He grinned some more. „I never realized that you and Ben Talbot have the same initials. And I resemble that remark about menopause."
She laughed. „What the hell made you think of Ben now? I don't want to think about work until Monday morning. Let's celebrate our third date where no murder is involved."
No murder, Mick thought, right. But there could have been one if Ben Talbot was involved. Beth was right, he was a fool. A fool in love. He really should tell her.
Before she could bend down to get into the car he scooped her into his arms, holding her tight. Then he kissed her hard, putting all his love into the pressure of lips on lips, keeping her body close to his. He opened his lips and tasted hers. She was surprised, clearly reluctant at first over the public display they were giving, but soon she started to enjoy it and moaned into the kiss. He moved back to give her room to breathe, but kissed her chin, jaw and neck instead.
Snuggling into her shoulder he whispered into her ear: „That's for upgrading my status to boyfriend. And for not sharing me. By the way, I won't share you either."
She softly laughed, tickling the hair in his neck in the process. „I never knew you were so jealous. Did you think the flowers were for me?"
Ha, busted. She was a reporter, after all. He just shrugged, then he let go of her. „Let's get on our way. We're late already." His good mood was back. Beth would probably tease him about this for a while, but he actually looked forward to it. Maybe he should keep the thought of Ben's girly handwriting. It was a good thought, even if it might not be true.