"Beth—change of plans." Josef's voice greeted her as she answered her phone. "Adriana's a little bitter today. So, could you bring over some fresh stuff…bottled of course."
"Sure, Josef," Beth answered, "But what's up? Is Adriana okay?"
"Yeah, she says she feels fine, but I don't want to tax her," Josef said. Beth could hear concern in his voice, but she didn't press it.
"Okay, I'll grab a couple of bottles as I leave work. Then I'll swing by home and pick up Mick. I think he has a couple of cases he's working on today…"
"Sounds good. So, we should expect you around sunrise?"
"Yeah, I'm still pretty sensitive to the sun, so how about a little earlier?" Beth whined.
Josef sighed, "You need to expose yourself, Beth. Otherwise you will never adapt."
Beth made a complaining moan and groaned, "I'll see you at sunrise, Josef." She hung up.
Josef chuckled at his fledgling. She had come a long way in the past couple weeks, but she was still as stubborn as ever, which would have been a problem had anyone else been her sire, but Josef could be just as hard nosed as her when he wanted to.
Josef answered the door to find Beth and Mick standing there. "Took you long enough," Beth grumbled as she hurried into the house to escape the rising run. Josef and Mick shared a knowing grin. Mick handed Josef a grocery bag of flasks and proceeded to remove his hat, glasses and coat.
"Um, thanks," Josef said, taking the bottles to the kitchen. Mick took Beth's coat and hat. She refused to give him her glasses, motioning to the large bay windows that allowed the morning sun to spill into the room. Josef came back from the kitchen and scolded her, "Beth, you have to take the glasses off. It looks suspicious to wear sunglasses indoors."
Beth crossed her arms and pouted. In a flash Beth's glasses were gone and Josef was standing where he had been a second earlier, holding them. Beth gave a small shriek and covered her eyes.
"Beth," Josef said sternly, "Uncover your eyes." Beth shook her head 'No.' "Beth…" Josef voice now had a warning tone to it.
Beth removed her hand and slowly opened her eyes. She blinked a few times and said, "It doesn't hurt that much."
"Of course silly," Josef said. "All the window in this house are made of museum quality UV protection glass. It cost a fortune, but looks wonderful." He grinned, seeing her shocked face.
"Only the best for Josef Konstantin," Beth snarked.
"That's right," Josef said handing her glasses and kissing her on the forehead. Mick smiled at the two of them. Their relationship had become closer since Beth's turning and Mick couldn't be gladder. His best friend and his best girl were quite a pair.
"Where's Adriana?" Beth asked, looking around.
"She's upstairs. She said she was feeling sick. She must be in the bathroom because I can't hear her heartbeat," Josef replied, cocking his head to listen.
"I'll go see if she's alright," Beth said bounding down the hall. Just as she reached the stairs she turned around to face the boys and put her sunglasses back on. She stuck out her tongue at Josef and raced up the stairs. Mick felt Josef bristle, then relax, laughing it off.
"So…I'm guessing you haven't asked her yet. Otherwise she would have been gushing about nothing else from the moment she entered," Josef said.
Mick shifted nervously. "No. She came home in a bad mood. She was frazzled and angry at you for making her come at sunrise. It didn't feel right."
Josef grimaced, "Sorry about that. Can I see the ring?"
Mick pulled out a black velvet box and opened it. Inside there was a thin band ring with the word 'Together' etched into it.
"White gold?" Josef asked.
"No, platinum. I figured it would last longer—no tarnishing."
Josef smiled. "Of course. She's going to wear it for a long time. Nice choice on design, simple, elegant and timeless."
Mick smiled, admiring the ring himself. "You thought of asking Adriana?" he asked.
Josef looked up at Mick and swallowed thickly. He fidgeted with something in his pocket and looked away, out the window. "We're still getting to know each other," he replied.
"Do you think you might?" Mick asked.
Josef just stared out the window.
Beth climbed the stairs. She could smell the repulsing stench of bile as she reached the top. She found Adriana in the bathroom, curled up next to the toilet. She took off the glasses, since there were no windows.
"Hey, are you okay?" Well, obviously not.
Adriana looked up at Beth. She was awfully pale and her eyes looked sunken. "No," she answered. "I can't stop throwing up. I don't know what's wrong with me."
Beth approached Adriana, not sure how to comfort her. Beth was still getting used to human interaction. Adriana, as a half-vamp, was a good stepping-stone, but right now her heartbeat was driving Beth's senses crazy. Good thing I had a late lunch, Beth thought, fighting the urge to sink her fangs into Adriana's neck.
"Don't do it," Adriana warned. "Josef said I tasted bitter. I don't want you to get whatever it is I have."
"But vampires can't get sick," Beth protested.
"Yeah, but I'm a half-vamp so who know how you'll react…" Adriana said.
"Well, Josef seems to be doing fine…" Beth tried to reassure her.
"That's because I've been avoiding him all night. Since he tried to feed on me at twilight…" Adriana looked away. "I've been hiding in here."
Beth approached her, to show that she wasn't afraid, then stopped. Beth blinked and looked at Adriana again. She tilted her head, as if she was listening to something.
Adriana observed Beth nervously. "What is it?" she finally asked.
A smile spread across Beth's face. "Adriana…I think…I think you're pregnant," Beth said.
Adriana's eyes grew wide. Beth stepped closer and closed her eyes, listening intently. "Yeah, I can hear two heartbeats, and there should only be one in this room."
Adriana delicately placed a hand on her stomach and smiled. She looked up at Beth and her eyes gleamed with tears of joy and a wide smile spread across her face.
"Beth…" she tried to hide her joy. "I didn't mean…I don't want you to think…"
Beth smiled and embraced Adriana. "I'm not mad, Adriana. A little jealous, but not mad. I'm very happy for you."
Adriana's smile returned and she hugged Beth back, laughing as tears of joy spilled down her cheeks.
The boys were starting to get nervous. What's keeping them? Is Adriana really sick?.. Mick pondered.
Finally, Beth came bounding down the stairs with Adriana right behind her.
"Adriana's pregnant!" Beth shouted. Josef and Mick stared at Adriana who blushed and tried to hide her smile. In unison Mick and Josef cocked their heads, listen for the tell tale signs of a heartbeat.
They both heard it a faint, fast echoing beat. "But…how?" Mick asked.
Beth rolled her eyes. "Well, when a man loves a woman—"
"I know how, Beth. What I mean is…" Mick trailed off, trying to think of the right way to say it.
"I was human," Josef stated as he approached Adriana. "I was human for two days."
Adriana grinned sheepishly and looked at her feet. Josef smiled and hugged her tenderly. She embraced him back, smiling all the time. Mick clapped a hand on Josef shoulder and said, "Congratulations. You're going to be a father."
"I'm going to be a father…I'm going to be a father…I'm going to be a father…" The blood drained from Josef's face as the realization sunk in. He swayed a little, but continued to smile, weakly.
"You okay there, buddy?" Mick asked, looking at Josef sway.
Josef glared at him, "Mick, I have never fainted. Never. In four hundred years."
Adriana pulled back from the hug and looked him in the eye, trying to judge how he was taking the news. Josef put his hand in his pocket and began to fidget with something. "Adriana, I know we haven't know each other for long, but I really am in love with you. In four hundred years I have never felt this way about anyone else. I know it's probably too soon to ask, but in my day a man took responsibility for his actions so…" Josef dropped to one knee and pulled his ring out of his pocket. "Will you marry me?"
Adriana gulped back tears and nodded 'Yes.' She held out her hand and allowed Josef to slip the ring on, it fit like a dream. She smiled and kissed him. Josef hugged her to him and spun her around with joy. She broke the kiss and laughed.
Mick and Beth watched their friends. Beth had slid one arm around Mick's waist and rested her head on his shoulder. They were still working through Beth's miscarriage, but they were truly happy for their friends.
After Adriana and Josef had shared another kiss, Josef turned to Mick and said, "Your turn."
Beth looked up at Mick to see if he knew what Josef was talking about. Mick had lost a few shades of color and Beth realized what Josef meant. Her eyes grew wide as Mick pulled a box from his pocket.
"Beth…I've been meaning to…I just couldn't find the right words…" Mick took a deep breath and said, "What it all boils down to is this. I love you and I want to be with you for eternity. Will you marry me?" He dropped to one knee and opened the box to show her the ring.
Beth smiled and admired the ring. "Of course, Mick. I love you." Mick slipped the ring onto her finger and stood up. Beth flung her arms around him and kissed him. Mick hugged her back.
Now it was Josef and Adriana's turn to watch their friend's happiness. Mick and Beth broke apart and the two couples shared a smile. Josef approached Beth to congratulate her with a kiss on the cheek and Mick did the same to Adriana.
As he backed away, Mick heard something. "Shhh," he quieted everyone. He bent down towards Adriana and bobbed his head slightly, as if counting. Everyone stared at him. Mick stood up and looked at Josef grinning wickedly. Then he looked to Adriana. "There are two heartbeats. Your having twins."
Everyone looked back at Josef, who now lay on the ground, out cold.
There it is, THE END!! I am taking a week or so off to relax and write my new story!! It will pick up where this left off and there will be another new character introduced.
I want you to know that this is 228 pages in total length!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So now that I finished one… on to the next novel!