Say You Love Me
The difficult, dangerous and complicated was never just going to go away.
Enjoy :) penni
Beth St John looked around her apartment which was now devoid of furniture. Boxes were stacked up ready for the removalists or the local charity, the walls were bare and the bookshelves empty. They had been home from their honeymoon for a month and she was still packing.
The small apartment in Santa Monica had been the first she had rented on her own. She had always felt at home here revelling in her independence and freedom. It had been the one place she could totally relax and be herself. There were so many memories here that would stay with her forever. Now she was leaving her old life to make new memories with the man she loved more than anything. Beth shook her head still not believing that they were married. The time they spent together in New York, their intimate, very private wedding and the week spent on the road alone with him had been the happiest, most wonderful times of her life.
Beth was sitting on the bedroom floor taping another box destined for charity closed when she heard the door open.
"I'm in here sweetheart," she called before realising Mick would know exactly where she was.
Mick appeared like a vision in his dark coat leaning against the door to the bedroom. Her heart fluttered and her pulse raced as it always did when he was in close proximity.
"Hey," He offered his hand to help her up off the floor giving her a quick hello kiss. "Looks like you've made good progress."
"It's amazing how much I can get done when you aren't around to distract me." Beth grinned at him as she leant in for another kiss. She took another look around and noticed the take out bag and wine bottle sitting on the kitchen counter next to his blood cooler. "Oh, you bought me dinner?"
"Yeah, I thought we could eat together and then I could help you finish up here."
They settled at the counter to have their meal. Mick had bought her a spicy pasta dish that was full of garlic and chilli and tasted delicious. She smiled as Mick poured them both a glass of red into plastic cups.
"I thought you were going over to the compound to see Josef tonight."
"I was but he had to go back to the office. Some big international deal going down or something. I'd rather be here with you anyway."
Beth smiled at him knowingly. They had hardly spent anytime apart since they had married.
"I missed you too. I feel a bit sad about leaving this apartment. This is where we started our future together."
Their future together had started long before that if you believed in fate. Yes it was here where he first told her he loved her and where they had spent their first night together as lovers. Wonderful memories for sure but he had other memories here that he would be glad to leave behind.
He remembered all the times during the early months of their relationship when he had turned up to talk to her, clear up one of their many misunderstandings or to simply satisfy his yearning to spend more time with her only to discover that she wasn't here alone. The night Josh Lindsay had been killed and that awful night Beth had nearly broken things off for good were still very painful to think about. No, he wasn't sorry to get her out of here and settled at the loft permanently where she belonged.
"Mick, you have lived at the loft by yourself for a long time. Did you feel like your sanctuary was being invaded when I started dropping by?"
Mick chuckled thinking about his answer. "I think I was too shocked that you were actually there, especially that first time you showed up at the office."
Beth giggled. "Oh my, I was so sure of myself that night, obnoxious really. You should have called me out on that."
"I was too stunned by how beautiful you were." He had been totally mesmerised by her image on the net and what their brief meeting at the fountain meant or could mean. Then suddenly there she was standing right there in front of him ready and determined to follow a new lead on her story.
Beth closed her eyes as Mick curled some hair that had escaped from her ponytail around her ear. When she opened them he was looking at her in that intense way he had before giving her a lopsided grin.
She brushed her fingers over his cheek, "And now here we are married and everything!"
Mick moved in closer to kiss his wife. "If I had been thinking clearly I never would have let you go meet that sleazy professor all by yourself."
"Right, as if you could have stopped me." Beth chuckled.
Mick gave her a look smiling in agreement. "Why don't we make a reservation at Magnolia for tomorrow night? We can go to Little Birdie for a drink afterwards. I feel like some slow dancing with my wife."
"Sounds wonderful but we promised Josef we would go to his dinner thing."
Mick groaned, he hadn't promised Josef anything. "Is that tomorrow night?"
"You know it is. Come on it's for a good cause and we don't have to stay long. There will be dancing and who knows, you might actually enjoy yourself. We can go to the club afterwards if you want."
Mick nodded at the compromise. "Okay but I know you only want to go because Josef told you some members of the vampire community will be there."
"I'll admit I'm a little curious." Beth lifted the last forkful of linguine to her mouth never taking her eyes from her husband who was watching her.
He rose from his seat to clean up before turning back to Beth. "You know what they say about curiosity."
"Curiosity gets the reporter the best stories?" she suggested playfully. They smiled at each other and kissed across the kitchen counter.
"Let's get this packing finished so I can get you home."
The black tie dinner dance for The Children of LA Foundation, of which Kostan Industries was a major contributor, was in full swing when they arrived. Josef Kostan watched them walk into the banquet hall hand in hand, big smiles on their faces and looking more in love than ever.
"You're late." He admonished as they walked up to him. Beth blushed knowing he knew the reason for their lack of punctuality. Josef kissed her cheek watching the scowl cross his best friends face. If there were unfamiliar vampires in the room there would be no doubt who she was with. Mick's hand moved to wrap loosely but protectively around Beth's waist.
"We're here now. How are things going?" Mick scanned the room looking to see who was there and if anyone posed a problem.
Not all vamps felt the need to mingle with humans but those in the business of making money couldn't avoid it. They all knew that a personal invitation from Josef Kostan would cost them dearly, however, the possibility of new business opportunities was worth the monetary value of any charitable donation the ultra-successful and very well connected vampire could extract from them.
"You missed the silent auction. I put you down for a few items." Josef smirked indicating a desk set up with an attractive couple who were charged with organising the auction. "You can find out over there what they are."
"Great, thanks." Mick could only imagine what useless items Josef had selected on his behalf and how much money he was up for.
Beth brushed a calming hand over his chest. "It's for the children sweetheart. It's a good cause."
Mick was there under sufferance but Beth had agreed to help Josef spruik for donations after she had researched the many worthwhile programs the Foundation was implementing. Her mother had been passionate about education for children from all walks of life so she was happy to contribute in any way she could in her memory.
"I'm glad you feel that way Beth," Josef interrupted. "I'd like to introduce you to some of the guests. I'm sure you can charm them into donating some of their hard earned money."
He offered his arm, which she took, and led her across the room. Mick watched them from a nearby bar not taking much notice when Patrick Doyle walked up and ordered a large single malt for both of them.
"Doesn't that bother you?" Patrick asked taking in St John's seemingly calm exterior.
The vampire was watching every movement with tight control ready to jump in at the slightest move by any vamp towards his wife. There was really no need since he knew, or was at least acquainted with, most of the vampires present but he couldn't help his need to be alert for any danger.
"Kostan. He's parading Beth around like she is his queen."
Mick smiled. When Josef was in the mood he could switch into the old world vampire persona without blinking. Beth was good at conversing with all types of people and seemed to be holding her own. She looked back at him smiling and mouthed the word wow just as Josef introduced her to another couple.
"If it makes them think Beth is under his protection then it doesn't bother me at all." His need to protect Beth now that she was his wife had escalated but, to his relief, he was much better at controlling it. Beth said it was because their future had been settled and he was more content about what he was. He didn't know if that was true but it seemed like a logical enough explanation.
The two male vamps talked for a while about mutual business interests. Mick had sent a lot of business Patrick's way since he had returned from a huge job in San Francisco, mostly because it involved being away from Beth for extended periods. After a few minutes Pat could see that Mick was distracted so they agreed to meet up another time. He excused himself after greeting Beth briefly when she came back to them. Mick handed her the glass of wine he had ordered for her.
Beth took a sip of the much needed drink. After the introductions Josef had discreetly pointed out which guests were vamps. She still couldn't tell herself and had chided him for being so amused by her lack of intuition considering she spent so much time with one herself. Josef thought that since hiding what they were was imperative to their survival, it was a good thing that someone with her inside knowledge of the community was still so oblivious.
"I always thought those actor types were self-inflated snobs. They have nothing on some of these vamps."
"Most of them are hundreds of years old and come from money Beth. They feel entitled."
She smiled cheekily at him moving in closer to whisper against his ear. "Promise me you won't be like that when you hit triple figures. I might have to break my promise never to leave you."
"I promise." He kissed his mark on her neck then her right hand where she wore her diamond and sapphire wedding ring. He wore his plain wedding band on the chain around his neck.
Josef came back and claimed Beth for further introductions since the first round had been very successful. She was generating a lot of interest amongst mortal and immortal guests alike. Pledges for sizable donations were rolling in across the board which promised to make the evening a great success. Josef was in his element.
Later, Mick was standing by himself at the bar when someone he hadn't seen for years was suddenly in front of him.
"Mick! It's so good to see you."
"Olivia. It's been a while. What are you doing back in LA?"
"Just passing through and thought I would stop by and say hello. Catch up with some old friends for old time's sake. I know how much you despise these things so I didn't know if you would still be here. I'm so glad you are."
Mick removed the hand the woman had placed on his chest. He looked around for Beth who was across the room talking to an older human couple. They were listening to her in rapt attention as she outlined some of the Foundation's most successful programs. She finally met his gaze and smiled at him with raised eyebrows questioning who he was with before returning to her sales pitch.
Olivia smiled sweetly at him following his gaze back to a blonde human. THE blonde human. Beth Turner. The way Gabrielle had described her she had expected Medusa herself. She only had to look at Mick to confirm that the rumours were true. Mick St John was in love with a human.
"I heard you had found someone. She's lovely Mick."
"Yeah, she is." Mick looked back at the beautiful vamp catching the sad look that momentarily crossed her face. "Oh, I'm sorry Liv."
"Don't be. We were always better friends." She swallowed her disappointment. "Where did you meet her?"
Olivia didn't know about his long past with Beth so he improvised. "At a crime scene. She was a reporter doing a story that had a possible connection to the community."
Olivia laughed out loud. "Oh, I bet Josef loved that."
"He didn't at first. They got to know each other and somehow they have managed to become very close."
"Really? I can see she makes you very happy." Beth was looking over at them wondering who she was. "Is she the jealous type?"
"Beth is more the curious type. She knows she doesn't have any reason to be jealous."
Olivia stepped away a little realising she was standing too close to him and those words had been directed at her. Beth walked over and took her place next to her husband. In a very natural movement Mick put his arm around her pulling her closer. The two women smiled at each other then looked awkwardly at Mick waiting for an introduction.
"Beth… this is Olivia."
"It's nice to meet you Olivia." Beth smiled wide checking out the beautiful woman in front of her.
The woman could have been a model or an actress going by her looks and the expensive designer dress she wore. She was young, tall, thin, had a perfect smile and long, thick, shampoo commercial hair. Her expertly made up eyes were large pools the colour of melted chocolate rimmed with long dark lashes. She obviously had some kind of history with her husband judging by the way she was looking at him. Mick didn't seem overly anxious about meeting this woman. Was she vampire or one of Josef's freshies?
"Actually it's Ava now. I changed my name when I relocated to Chicago."
Beth caught the look the stunning woman threw Mick. The conversation stalled and Beth looked to Mick to keep things from getting even more awkward than they already were.
"Olivia, sorry Ava, worked as a Cleaner here in LA a while back."
"Oh, so you would have worked closely with Claudia then?"
Mick smirked at Beth's clever tactic. It was the perfect way for her to leave no doubt in any vamp's mind that she was included in their inner circle. Not surprisingly, Ava was shocked that the human would address her old boss by name. She looked over at Mick who shrugged his shoulders slightly.
Beth was putting the facts together as Mick and Ava talked politely about what she had been doing since moving to Chicago. The woman was a vampire and a Cleaner who Mick had known as Olivia. She had some kind of relationship with Mick. Was it business or personal or both?
"I'd better get going. I'm catching up with some old friends while I'm in town." Ava explained for Beth's benefit. "It was nice to meet you Beth."
"You too Ava."
"Take care of yourself Mick." Ava left with one last long look and smile at Mick.
"Nice name dropping sweetheart. I think she got the message."
"I saw the way she was looking at you Mick. She didn't come here to catch up with friends at all. She came here looking for you."
Mick couldn't deny that seemed to be the case but he wanted to reassure her that she had nothing to worry about.
"There is no reason for you to be jealous sweetheart." He watched her eyes blaze with emotion, mostly jealousy but a little anger as well.
"I'm not jealous!" Beth held up two fingers and shoved them into his chest because she obviously was jealous and her darling husband was a hypocrite. "I have two words for you. Ben Talbot and I didn't sleep with him."
Mick took a breath. "Okay, okay. I admit I was very jealous and out of line from the moment I met him."
"You bet you were." Beth muttered angrily. "People are starting to leave. I have to go and check all my pledges came in." She moved away from him but Mick followed grabbing her hand.
"Beth…Olivia and I were friends." His wife glared at him. "Okay, it was more than that but it was never anything serious. If you want me to tell you about it I will."
Beth looked at him for a long moment. Jealousy was such an ugly emotion. She didn't want to be that kind of wife. She was definitely curious but she really didn't want to hear about his romantic history with another woman. Not right now anyway.
"No, I think I'm good."
"Don't be mad sweetheart. Olivia didn't know about us and now she does. You're the one who wants to keep our marriage a secret. You can't have it both ways."
Mick took Beth in his arms trying to soothe her jealousy knowing he would feel the same if their positions were reversed.
"I'll meet you back here in thirty?"
Beth nodded agreeing that was enough time. She kissed him quickly and left still feeling irritated and annoyed about her lack of control when it came to her emotions.
Mick walked over to Josef who was waiting for him back at the bar with a drink that had more than a few drops of blood in it.
"I saw you and Beth talking to Ava. Is everything okay?"
"It will be." Mick replied confidently.
"Good. I need to talk to you."
"Can't it wait?" Mick's eyes followed Beth as she made her way around the room.
"No and can you pay attention when I am talking to you. I promise you, nothing is going to happen to her."
"Sorry," Mick replied apologetically. "What's so important that can't wait till tomorrow?"
"Damon Faraday. He's in some kind of trouble. I thought you could look into it."
"What kind of trouble?"
"I have no idea. That is what I need you for Detective Mick."
Faraday certainly wasn't any friend so Mick wasn't inclined to help him out. He hadn't forgotten the stunt the arrogant vamp pulled putting his scent all over Beth without her knowing so that she would come home to him with another vamp's scent on her. Damon and Yvette Faraday, the snobbish vampire couple with the open marriage could sort out their own problems.
"Wait, Yvette put you up to this didn't she?" Mick laughed out loud. "You sleep with his wife and so someone else gets to tidy up his mess?"
Josef looked embarrassed but only for a second. "It's nothing to do with that. She is worried that he is destroying their business. Yvette has worked hard for years to make Nectar the success it is, put her heart and soul into it and I would hate to see her lose everything. I told her I would try and find out what he was up to."
"Financial wheeling and dealing is your area of expertise. You have a building full of financial gurus. Why can't they do it?"
"Idiots with money are still idiots Mick. Damon is reckless and Yvette thinks he is getting into something risky and dangerous. He always has been a loose cannon."
Mick looked away sighing heavily. "What do you expect me to do?"
"Make discreet enquiries. If he is desperate enough to take stupid risks he could become a problem for all of us."
Josef was being very serious which meant that Mick had little choice but to acquiesce to the request. Still, he wasn't going to give in that easily.
"Get me something more concrete to go on and I'll consider it."
Mick and Beth were making their escape when Josef caught up with them.
"Are you two leaving already? The dancing hasn't started yet."
"I think Beth has donated enough free labour to the cause tonight."
"Don't listen to him Josef, I enjoyed it. If I can do anything else to help, please let me know okay?"
"That is very gracious of you Beth. You certainly helped make this evening a rousing success. Are you sure you won't stay? As a patron I can't leave yet and I could use the company."
Mick could see that Beth was feeling sorry for Josef and his sad puppy dog face so he jumped in before she caved. "We're heading over to Little Birdie for a nightcap. Are you ready to go sweetheart?"
"I just need to get my coat." She fished her ticket out of her purse and handed it to the waiting attendant.
"I may join you later once things are wrapped up here. We can make a night of it."
Josef didn't miss Mick's annoyance at him for inviting himself along. "Oh, you have a date? Please forgive me, of course you want to be alone."
"Yeah we do."
Josef ignored Mick's heated look. "Beth, I hear you are going back to work at the DA's office."
"I'm starting Monday but it's not directly with the DA. I'll be with Carl Davis and his team mostly, at least till the new ADA arrives and decides how he wants things to work."
"Davis? I'm sure they will be glad to have you back on board Beth. You two solved a lot of cases for them."He looked over at Mick silently reminding him not to get too personally involved with particular members of the police department.
"Hey, don't look at me. I have a job. I'm staying right out of it this time."
Beth snuggled into his side smiling teasingly at him right along with Josef. Mick could never stay out of anything when there was even the slightest chance that she could be in danger.
"Yeah right Mick. They get Blondie, they get you. At least try and stay in the background a bit more this time, for all our sakes."
Mick helped Beth on with her coat. While her back was to them he spoke to Josef in vampire tones so she couldn't hear.
"The new ADA's name is Andrew Rochford. Check him out will you."
"I'm already on it. Let's hope this one doesn't have a thing for blondes."