Say You Love Me Chapter 18
The difficult, dangerous and complicated was never just going to go away.
After many months of family health problems I wanted to get back to things that make me happy and give me joy. This is one of those things.
So, here is the next bit. Enjoy :) penni
Beth frowned at the piece of paper tucked under the windscreen wiper of her car. It was another notice from security she couldn't keep leaving her car in the parking garage outside office hours. This time the message carried the threat of the car being impounded and the hefty fine she would have to pay to get it back. She shoved the note in her bag. Was it her fault her over protective vampire husband often insisted on picking her up, even when she had driven herself to work?
After stowing her backpack in the back seat she sat behind the wheel and turned on the radio. She sang along to Madonna's Get into the Groove as she changed her high heels into more comfortable flats. She checked the mirror and looked over her shoulder to reverse out of the space. As she pulled out, a car came out of nowhere and slammed into her. The impact was hard enough to deploy the airbags.
The driver of the other car was at her door before her mind could catch up with what had happened. She put her hand to her head. It hurt. The man was opening the driver's side door apologising profusely. That was odd because she was sure she had locked it.
"I'm so sorry I didn't see you till it was too late. Here let me help you." He pulled her out of her seat and propped her up against the hood.
Beth shook her head to clear it. "I need to call Mick… my husband."
"You really don't look well. I'll take you to the emergency room." The attentive stranger replied giving no indication of having heard what she said.
Beth didn't understand why she couldn't quite concentrate on anything the man was saying to her. She staggered a little feeling unsteady on her feet.
"No, I need to call him."
"Yes, yes, you can call him on way."
"Where's my phone…my bag?" Beth may have felt a little disorientated but she wasn't going anywhere without them.
"They're right here." The man reached into the car and grabbed her phone from the console in the front and her purse from the passenger seat. He held them out for her to take. In the next moment Beth watched wide eyed as the contents rolled and scattered across the concrete floor. The man then crushed her phone with his bare hands and threw it away. She looked back at him in disbelief. He wasn't trying to help her at all.
Her sight was fading fast as she felt herself falling.
Mick St John rode the elevator to the loft going over his plans for the night ahead – a picnic blanket on the roof, candles, champagne, a little jazz, supper for his human wife and some playful making out before things got more serious in the bedroom. A grin spread across his face as he chuckled to himself. His fantasies regarding Beth hadn't varied greatly since that fateful night at the fountain.
He paused when he got to the door. As he walked in, a grinning Josef Kostan was sitting in his usual chair waiting for him.
"I come home from picking up supplies hoping for a quiet evening with Beth, and here you are making yourself comfortable. How did you get in here anyway? I've only just changed all the codes from the last time you broke in."
"Beth isn't here so I let myself in. Is it really breaking in when the occupant is your best buddy?" Josef pondered out loud. "I bought the override code for your system on the dark web. It's amazing what you can buy on that thing."
"Really?" Mick dead panned on the way to the kitchen.
"Really," Josef rose and followed. "Hey, while we are on that subject, I've just upgraded security at the compound to the best retinal scanning system available on the planet. You should consider getting it here."
"I'll think about it." Mick doubted he could afford it or that the vampire standing on the other side of the counter would consider it any kind of deterrent. He poured them a drink from his newly purchased stock and handed a glass to Josef who reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the ever present flask. He offered a hit of fresh from the vein and predictably scowled when he refused.
Josef watched in amusement as Mick proceeded to unpack his groceries. "You making Beth dinner? It's kind of disturbing to me that you know how to do that."
"Well, you have the dark web, I have Google." Mick was momentarily distracted trying to calculate when to start so everything would be ready at the perfect time. This cooking thing was a complicated business.
"Hey, didn't you have a hot date with the free spirited lingerie model tonight? The one you shamelessly bragged at our last poker game was up for anything." Josef looked only slightly amused. "Now what was this one's name again?
"Eden, and it was a bust." Josef made a face.
"So Eden didn't live up to expectations. It's an old story my friend." Mick grinned while he made sure everything he needed to prepare Beth's dinner was on the counter.
"Oh, very clever. Turns out she isn't into role play and not the least bit interested in group. Too bad cos she smells delicious." Josef sighed dramatically. "I really need some fresh blood in the freshie pool and she would have been a nice addition."
Mick couldn't contain the smile on his lips. If Beth had been there, she would have had something to say about his recruitment policy. "What about the young, up and coming pro tennis player you hooked up with last week?"
"Tournament on the other side of the world which suits me fine. You should see the text messages she sends me. I tell you it's a whole new level of phone sex. That girl is all kinds of crazy."
"You know what they say Josef, there are plenty of freshies in the sea."
"That there is my friend. So, where's Blondie? Is she working late again?"
"Yeah, a big case she's been working on is taking a lot of her time." Mick looked up at his friend. "In fact we had a date last night so we could spend some time together. Coraline was waiting at the door when we got home."
"What did she want? Josef asked, suddenly more interested in the conversation than the cuffs of his shirt sleeve.
"To say goodbye. I thought she would be out of town by now."
"I've managed to master a lot of things in my time Mick but controlling the weather isn't one of them. They'll be out of here as soon as I can swing it.'
Mick nodded and took a swig of his drink. The departure of his ex couldn't come soon enough. "So why are you here?"
"You've been after me for a week to come over so you could show off the house now that the renovations are done. Here I am."
Mick thought of the meal he was making for Beth tonight. He had a little time to spare. He indicated a move to the office. Josef followed with a bottle of Mick's favoured single malt.
Beth reached for her aching head. How long had she been out of it? Who had taken her this time and why? She rolled her eyes despite the seriousness of the situation. She looked around the mostly empty room and saw a brown grocery bag and a large bottle of water sitting on an ornate credenza against the opposite wall.
She rose slowly thinking if her captor had wanted to kill her, she would already be dead. Mick had used that same argument when they had met in Kelly Foster's apartment on their first case together. Killers weren't in the habit of providing food and water either which gave her a modicum of comfort. She checked the door and, of course, it was locked.
"Mick…." She silently cried out into the empty room. He had called to ask what time she would be home so he could have dinner ready. Would he already be looking for her? She didn't know how long she had been there but surely someone at the office would have reported her abandoned car and raised the alarm by now.
Beth noticed a ridge on the top of the credenza and pressed the edge. A door swung open to reveal a number of drawers. Was there anything here that might help her? One by one she pulled open the drawers only to find them empty. She slammed the last drawer closed in frustration and heard something clatter inside. She pulled it out more carefully and was relieved to see what looked like a pen knife. On closer inspection it was the type of corkscrew waiters used in restaurants to open wine bottles. Some kind of logo had been etched on the side but had been worn down with use. She had seen it before but where didn't come to her straight away. She stashed it in her jacket pocket just as the door suddenly swung open. A man, no, a vampire stood in the doorway.
"Ms Turner. I'm sorry we have to meet under these circumstances."
"What do you want?" She looked at him carefully. He was very attractive and his voice was soothing, almost hypnotic.
"Please, have something to eat. I'm afraid I don't know what humans prefer these days."
So, he was a vampire. She was getting better these days at being able to tell the difference.
"No thank you. I'm not hungry."
Faraday looked the young woman over appreciatively. His captive was being cautious but she wasn't as afraid of him as she should be.
"I have to say I'm disappointed you don't know who I am Beth."
"I know what you are." Beth replied as she desperately tried to put the pieces together. The vamp moved closer to her so she was pinned against the credenza. She stubbornly stood her ground as he took in her scent with a long lingering sniff. Despite fighting it with everything she had, her eyes closed and her head tilted slightly. She could feel his breath on her skin and shivered as she imagined his vamped out face.
"So extraordinarily rare and delicious. Perhaps just a taste." He whispered in her ear not quite touching her with his body. A predator toying with its prey.
"Mick will kill you if you touch me." The human's trembling words were enough to make him back off and move across the room.
"Yes, I believe he would. He still may and I would like to leave with my head still firmly attached."
Beth suddenly realised she was looking at Damon Faraday. The logo on the corkscrew belonged to his company Nectar. She had seen it on the personnel file Mick obtained from the Faradays during the Paige Nolan case. She felt her pocket for reassurance. It was comforting to have some kind of weapon to protect herself but it was also foolish to think she could get the better of a somewhat desperate vampire. It was better to stay alive long enough for Mick to find her.
"Then I don't understand what I am doing here. Are you going to tell me what this is about Mr Faraday?"
"Ahhh, very good Ms Turner. A series of unfortunate events has occurred making it impossible for me to leave town without any help. I need you to clear a path for my departure and exact some revenge for all that has been taken from me."
"If you think kidnapping me is going to make them help you then you assume too much."
"Nice try Beth. Kostan has made it clear to the community that you are under his protection and your St John just loves to play the hero. In fact, I'm counting on it."
"Why cause more trouble for yourself? Mick and Josef won't let you get away with ..."
"There is really nothing more Josef Kostan can do to me and Mick St John merely serves a purpose. Look around Beth. As you can see I am reduced to scrounging around like a feral dog just to survive. That bitch has taken everything from me! They will all pay for their betrayal one way or another."
That bitch? Was he talking about his wife Yvette?
Faraday went to the door and pulled a woman, a young girl really, into the room. The girl ran into Beth's arms and started sobbing.
"Make sure she eats something. I'll be back for both of you soon so don't get any ideas about causing trouble. If you behave Beth, I'll let the little one live. It's totally up to you."
All heads turned towards the entrance of the parking garage as a bright red Ferrari squealed to a halt at the top of the ramp, seemingly ignoring the presence of several police cars with their flashing lights. Detective Carl Davis blew out a breath as he watched Mick St John bound towards him ignoring the uniformed officer who demanded he stay behind the tape. The driver got out of the car and leaned against the hood silently watching and waiting.
Carl waved Mick through while sternly reminding his team they had work to do. He knew how Mick would react and totally sympathised. The phone call to the PI had not been an easy one for either of them but he wasn't about to let this investigation get railroaded. The driver of the luxury car, who he knew was Josef Kostan, looked way too cool, calm and collected given the situation. Kostan looked up from his phone and looked straight at him with a steely glare. He turned his attention back to an angry Mick St John.
"Hey Mick, you and your buddy over there must have broken every road rule there is to get here so fast."
"Do you think I care?" Mick snapped back. Did Carl seriously think he would just sit back and let the LAPD take care of things?
He was fuming at the activity around the Prius disturbing anything he might have been able to pick up from the scene. He only needed a few minutes but there were so many cops around. A police photographer was busy taking pictures. The cops had already taken most of her belongings out of the car. The heels she had worn to work that day were laid out with the other personal items on a plastic sheet nearby. It irritated him they had been touching her stuff.
In the distance Det. Novak was holding a plastic evidence bag containing a cell phone he recognised as Beth's which had been smashed to pieces. There was no way to track her location using her cell. Novak nodded at him in acknowledgement but made no attempt to come and speak to him which suited him just fine.
While Carl was busy talking to a couple of officers, he walked around the car slowly trying to pick up anything that would help him. There was no blood, thank God, and no other scents, human or vampire which was unusual in such a public space. The cops would already have the tapes from the few security cameras on that level. They were pointed towards the elevator so may not have picked up anything from this angle anyway.
He could feel Beth's confusion over what was happening. He concentrated hard to catch a glimpse of her kidnapper but nothing came through other than the impact of the crash and her collapsing against the car.
A flash of something caught his eye. He reached under the back seat and pulled out a used syringe. His Beth was a fighter and would have done everything she could to escape or draw attention to herself. She must have been drugged into compliance. He took a quick sniff and quickly placed it in the inside pocket of his coat just as Carl approached.
"Listen Mick, we are doing everything we can, and right now it is processing the scene. I promise you we will keep you in the loop. I understand you're upset but I don't need you going off on your own on this."
Mick stood with his hands on his hips trying to get his emotions under control and his thoughts in some sort of useful order. If Carl thought this was upset he had no idea what was coming down the line if anything happened to Beth.
"What have you got so far Carl? What about witnesses, security footage, make and plates of the other car, do you have anything at all?"
"As I said, we're on it. Look, I know Beth was working for us and the DA but was she doing anything else, maybe a story, an expose, looking into something that may have ticked someone off?"
Mick's face screwed up at the question. "I don't have any active cases she is helping me with if that's what you mean. If she was working on any kind of story she would have told me."
Carl almost snorted with laughter. "She never told Josh what she was doing either."
Mick's face darkened and he looked as menacing as Carl had ever seen him. He held his nerve as the private investigator got up in his face.
"I'm not Josh, okay. Beth was taken right under the department's nose. You and your guys stay here and waste time playing by the rules. I'm going to find my wife."
He walked away, his coat flapping wildly around his legs.
"Hey Mick, get back here!" Lieutenant Carl Davis shouted after him. "St John!"
Carl Davis knew it was going to be a very long night.
After a long delay Coraline and Cynthia had boarded the private jet Josef had provided for their use. However, the pilot had just informed them clearance from the control tower was pending due to heavy commercial traffic. It would be some time before they could start their journey. He had suggested a return to the terminal lounge but the offer had been declined. The jet was more luxurious and had everything they needed. There was even a freezer discreetly placed in the back of the aircraft.
Coraline looked over at the only person in the world who loved her unconditionally. She felt a little uneasy about her angry reaction to her friend's plea for her to reconsider helping Damon Faraday. She had always thought Yvette could have made a better match but her oldest friend had stubbornly gone against all her family and friends and married a penniless vamp with a dubious background and little else to recommend him but a penchant for dealing in fine blood types.
Cynthia looked up for a moment and smiled before returning to flicking through a copy of French Vogue.
In regards to her own situation, Cora was displeased she was leaving having made little progress in her plan to reignite her relationship with Mick. Many times in the past she had been able to accomplish a passionate reconciliation with her errant husband. She truly believed she would do so again once Beth was out of the picture. She just had to be patient and make sure she inserted herself into his life as much as he would tolerate. It was not like her to sit back and wait for what she wanted or let others dictate her path but she had little choice and Mick was worth it. He had certainly changed in his attitude towards vampire life and that in itself made him even more attractive. If that was a result of his little human bunny then she would be reaping the rewards long after his pet had ceased to exist.
"I'm sorry Cyn. I've been a little distracted planning the layout for the gallery."
"It is very exciting cherie. You have worked so hard to make it happen. It is sure to be a huge success."
"Yes, why don't we have some champagne to celebrate."
In the short time since Beth and the girl had been thrown together Beth had managed to calm her enough to find out her name, that she hadn't been hurt in any way, that she didn't know where they were or how long she had been there. She had no idea of the plates or what type of car their captor had used to bring her there. Without her cell phone she knew it would be harder for Mick to find her quickly.
The girl's name was Isobel Carter. Issy for short. She was 18 years old and had met the man on a plane on her way to South America. He hadn't hurt her physically but suspected he had been putting something in her food to make her sleep a lot. She had no idea how she got there or why she had been taken.
Beth was very relieved Issy didn't appear to know their captor was a vampire. The thought that Faraday could be feeding on her without the girl realising was strange. Issy had said she had been sleeping most of the time. Giving her drugs to knock her out before he fed so she didn't discover his secret made sense. If Faraday had been as ostracised as he said he was, he wouldn't have access to a ready source of blood elsewhere. Feeding out on the streets would bring too much unwanted attention.
"Beth you're hurt!"
"I'll be okay. It's nothing serious." In fact she was in a fair amount of pain but there were other things to worry about. "I'm so sorry this has happened to you Isobel."
Beth placed her hand on the young girl's shoulder. Hearing Issy's story made her determined to get this girl to safety and back to her family.
"But there are two of us now. We can overpower him when he comes back and get out of here!"
"It's very risky. We don't know who else is around, he may have people right outside the door guarding us. No, it's better to wait for Mick, he will find us. I'ts what he does."
"Who is this Mick person and why would he want to help?" Isobel was getting frantic again and Beth needed to keep her calm.
"Mick is my husband. He is a private investigator I met on a case when I was working for BuzzWire." By the look on the girl's face she had clearly never heard of it. "Oh, it's a local news and entertainment website. Then, when I started working for the LAPD, he was always there for me when I needed him. We fell in love and now we are married."
"Sounds so romantic."
Beth smiled at the pretty young woman. "Yes, it kinda was and very complicated at the time. It's not perfect but we're trying really hard to make it work."
"I don't understand Beth. Why is this guy doing this to us?"
"I'm not sure honey. He has really upset some people and now he is on his own. I think he's just trying to find a way out."
"You know this person!?"
"I know of him through Mick and his business. Look, he said he doesn't want to hurt us and we have to believe that. He hasn't so far has he? We just have to do what he says until Mick comes."
Beth led Issy over to the couch and took off her jacket to make a pillow. "We should have something to eat and try and get some rest. I won't let anyone hurt you, okay?"
Issy nodded. "How can you be so certain Mick will find us Beth?"
"Because he always does."