Okay, I was in a weird mood or something when I wrote this baby, but I think it has merit, so decided to post it. I'm pro-Coraline, and although I do love Mick/Coraline, this is just not their time, even if the Mick/Beth thing is totally not my thing. (I've got to admit, the actors have chemistry) But why should be Coraline be lonely? Also, come on, Josef and her may just be friends, but they're also lusty vampires. I've really got to give Anaman credit for this train of thought, because reading the story Back to France got my wheels turning on this subject.

Of course, I own nothing of Moonlight, like you really thought I did. Reviews would be great, so don't be shy.

Close Enough

It wasn't love. Not the romantic kind, maybe not any kind that was healthy or benign. Not even close. But Coraline had never really known a lifestyle that was healthy or benign. She was born and raised in an era where life could be over at 40 if you were lucky, wealth and power notwithstanding. Women were either damned to be bought or rented, depending on your viewpoint. She had opted for the lease option, and had the brand to prove it. But really wives and whores weren't very different when all was said and done, at least not in Coraline's day. All women had a price tag, only one kind got a bigger cage.

She'd been fifteen when she discovered the power a woman could have, provided she knew how to wield it. That power didn't just come from being a good lay; any wench could lift her skirts and spread her legs. What separated Coraline from the poor souls in taverns and street corners was simple. Her mind, her ambition, her instincts. Not all whores were capable of being courtesans. She was no mere hooker; she was the siren of the court. Well, one of them, at any rate.

Escaping life as an ornament of the court had changed Coraline's species, her position in life. She still had her beauty, she still had her wiles, but now she had strength, she had immortality. Systematically, she'd wrecked vengeance on the men who'd used and denounced her, who exploited her through their own hypocrisy. There was no double standard that a man didn't like. That was as true in 2008 as it had been in the early 18th century. They just had to be more politically correct.

Vengeance wasn't justice, but it was close enough.

She liked Josef, then Colin from the moment she'd met him. He'd been an ass, but an incredibly honest one, cocky and ravenous for pleasure and blood, but devoid of hypocrisy that Coraline despised. She'd seen the same ruthlessness, the same twisted quality in him as she did in herself. They'd fell into bed quickly, drunk on pleasure and blood. Along the way, a friendship formed. Not a typical one. They were both selfish and unsentimental by nature, so there were no soulful heart-to-hearts, no words of affection or any drivel of the kind.

They both liked it that way. There was no pretense, both free to be as rotten as whim dictated. Eventually, friendship nudged aside the sexual flavor of their association, but there were so many fish in the sea, why bother? Both liked variety, monogamy or consistency not really their thing. But friendship, acknowledged or not, was far more valuable of an asset, especially if you pissed off the wrong person.

The last time they'd been sexual was 1869. 139 years later, they revived that long discarded side of their relationship. Josef's mouth was on Coraline's, his powerful hands ripping aside her clothes. She was returning the favor, raking her claws along his chest, making him hurt so good. He bit her nipple, making it bleed. A human woman wouldn't have appreciated that, but Coraline had cashed in her human card, and she wasn't looking for anything in the same neighborhood as gentle, she wanted rough and dirty.

Josef wasn't the vampire she craved like blood, he wasn't the vampire that made her blood sing. But he was a trusted, reliable ally. He was a distorted mirror image of herself, something her ex-husband had deluded himself about. Josef was fucking her with his fingers brutally, just the way she liked it. He was making her forget. Maybe it wasn't what she wanted, but it was what she needed. It was close enough.

She was almost as strong as him, and she'd caught him off guard, so it wasn't difficult to throw him across the room, onto the sofa. She was on top of him in the span of a human heartbeat, impaling herself on him the next. He snarled, rebelling at her claim as the alpha in the mating. She hissed back at him. The untrained ear would have missed the hint of playfulness to the sounds, missed the implications. Josef and Coraline had been good naturedly vying for the top spot in their friendship since day one, in and out of the bedroom.

She rode him at a vicious pace, riding that fragile balance between pleasure and pain. Her brain was burned clean, the hallow feeling in her heart temporarily masked. Predators had feelings and emotions, that consumed every bit as much as the righteous, and these two predators had both been consumed all too much in their time. In each other, they found solace. It wasn't healthy, and it sure as hell wasn't benign. It was a lot better.

She lost track of her orgasms, being a female did have its advantages, but Josef wasn't the type to let someone else have all the fun. When he was tired of being patient, he ripped her breast with his fangs, greedily taking her blood. She helped herself to his jugular vein. He came hard seconds before she did, and they both roared their ecstasy. Seconds later, their mutual wounds had healed, as well as the other passion injuries previously inflicted.

"At least you didn't scream Mick's name," Josef observed wickedly.

Two could play at that game. "At least you didn't scream Sara's."

From anyone else, that barb would have cut deep, and Josef would have retaliated violently. But Coraline and Josef's bond was a strange thing. "Touché. Does Mick know you're in LA?"

"Oh, you know Mick." Coraline's voice was an abnormal mix of derisive and affectionate as she separated their bodies, shrugging free of his limbs. "If he doesn't want to deal with something, he's blind and deaf." She dressed leisurely, in a spare set of clothes she'd brought with her. A clever vampiress, she came prepared, especially where Josef was concerned. She'd come here knowing what she wanted. "Helen Keller's too busy exploring the Wonderland of romance with Beth Turner."

"He's in love with her." The comment wasn't born out of cruelty, just innate honesty. And maybe fair play, trying to warn her off, but that was up for debate.

"Then I feel sorry for him," Coraline announced evenly. "Love's a bitch."

"Amen to that," Josef agreed with a grimace. She allowed herself a smile at her old friend. They really were so much alike. Maybe that's why Mick was so drawn to the pair of them, and he didn't even know why. "Still, I think blondie's good for him. He's so happy it would be nauseating if a happy Mick wasn't good for my agenda."

"Naturally. Because it's Josef Kostan's world and we're just living in it." Coraline was used to emotional pain, had built up a sort of tolerance to such nagging sensations. The fact Mick was in love with Beth cut like a dull knife, but she was too old and too jaded to agonize over it. Game over, she'd lost. Sometimes, that's just how the dice rolled. Also, the vampiress was shrewd enough to realize that when you walked with eternity, you always had the re-match, if you were patient enough.

"Has a nice ring, doesn't it?" They shared a smirk, and Coraline shook her head. "So, Mick has no idea that you managed to get your ass out of the latest bind?"

"Why? Because he lost so much sleep over it?" Coraline retorted.

"Oh, darling, you wear bitterness so well." Josef patted her butt. Any other vamp would have lost their hand for that. "Did you save your ex-hubby in distress for brownie points?"

Coraline lowered herself onto his desk, slinky and graceful as a jungle cat. "Honestly? A little appreciation would have been nice. I threw myself to the hyenas, Josef. You know I'm not exactly a shrinking violet, but that was as scary as it gets."

"Hyenas." Josef tested that word on his tongue, his sharp eyes calculating. "Apt description. No, I can't say as Mick was knocking himself out with concern. I don't think he's even mentioned you."

"Now there's a shock." She hadn't been expecting anything more, hadn't deluded herself into believing he'd give her a second thought once he had what he wanted. But she knew Mick, and knew their relationship. He could run, but he couldn't hide forever. Sooner or later, she'd be on his mind again.

Josef interrupted her not so sweet train of thought. "So, how'd you come out in one piece?"

A sly expression crept over Coraline's face, one Josef knew well. "It was so predictable it was disappointing. I seduced my grandsire, poured on the tears and the flattery. After two weeks of blowing his mind in bed, all was forgiven."

"Once a courtesan always a courtesan."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Coraline announced blithely. "Lance was so pissed he could barely see straight out of his one good eye. He was all set to dance on my grave."

"Yeah, just watch your back," Josef warned. Even though he'd rather drink silver than admit it, he was worried about her. "Lance isn't one to play nice. He's not an enemy even I'd want to make."

She waved a hand in dismissal. "Let him stew. The bastard's hands are tied as long as dear ol' grandsire is on my side. Even Lance knows better than to tangle with Dominic."

"Either way, leave me out of it," Josef ordered. "I happen to enjoy immortality, and if you go down, I'm not going down with you."

Since self-preservation was at the core of both their natures, Coraline didn't get bent out of shape. If the shoe was on the other foot, she would have taken the exact stance. She just acknowledged his comment with a philosophical shrug and a wink, stepping into her high heels.

"Oh, don't you worry. I'll come out ahead. I always do." She scooped up her shredded outfit, thankful she hadn't worn designer threads when she came over. As good of a lay as he was, Josef wasn't worth that kind of money going down the drain. "Come to Paris, why don't you, Josef? We could have some fun, just like the old days."

"Some of us have companies to run," Josef retorted.

"You're richer than Midas," Coraline pointed out with a knowing smile. "It's not the money, Josef, you know that. You could go a billion in the hole, and it wouldn't put a dint in your stash of gold. You just like the hunt, the thrill of the win." She advanced on him, hips swaying. She ran her slim fingers up his chest, a challenging air about her. "Why don't you try a different playground on for size?"

Roughly grasping her hips and hauling her against him, Josef leaned down until their mouths were inches apart. "Like the old days, huh?"

"If you can keep up…old man." He growled in mock outrage, and unleashed a sexual campaign on her to prove just how good he could keep up. He got his turn at being alpha.

It was almost dawn when Coraline made her exit, invigorated by good old-fashioned sexual afterglow, energized by playing at her own game with an equal. She really hoped Josef came to Paris; let her show him what he was missing with the corporate routine. Freshies were cute, but what was the challenge? It was easier than stealing candy from a baby. And as much as she loved Cynthia, her old friend was more lackey than playmate.

Their evening of fun almost made her forget about the part of her that still ached for Mick, the part of her that wished she could be a woman he could love; or better yet he could love the woman she was. But that was a pipe dream, and Coraline knew the value of those: Zip, nada, squat. And who knows? Maybe one of these days, Mick would find his way back to her arms. Her brief time as Morgan had established he wasn't impervious to her, that he was still hooked on some level.

And in the meantime, Coraline didn't plan on being lonely. She wasn't going to eat her heart out while Mick frolicked with goldilocks. If she couldn't have love, she'd have fun. Maybe it wouldn't make her whole, but it was close enough.