Josef just won't leave my muse alone. As always, I appreciate feedback and honest critique. Hope you enjoy.

- Laurelin

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Chapter 1

Josef was really starting to regret his agreement to look out for Beth while Mick was in Aspen for the week with his new celebrity client. The caller ID on his cell phone clearly indicated Beth's number and it had hardly been twelve hours since Mick had left town. What could she possibly need already?

"Josef's human-sitting service, Josef speaking. How may I help you?" he said sarcastically. It was fun to try to irritate Beth, and for that matter, Mick as well.

"Hi Josef, it's Beth," she said sounding a little uncertain of herself. Interesting.

"If you hadn't told me, I never would have guessed. I answer my phone that way all the time."

"Oh, right. Um, would you have time after you are done with business for me to come by and talk to you?" Beth was nervous, and Josef was dying to know why. Well, okay, he was already dead, but he loved playing mind games with the living, especially the ones as perky as Mick's girlfriend.

"Everything should be finished here by midnight, unless I have to kill someone in which case it will be later, but assuming all is well I can swing by your place on my way home."

He could almost see Beth nodding on the other end of the line. "Yeah, that would be fine. See you then. Oh, and thank you."

"No need to thank me. I have unfortunately agreed to be at your beckon call for the next week, so really, why wait to get started?" he quipped.

"You don't even know what I want to discuss Josef. You might enjoy it," Beth said in a sultry voice before the line clicked as she hung up.

"Well, now, Miss Turner," he said to his empty office, "just what do you have on your mind?"

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As he parked his Ferrari outside her building, Josef decided to make a conscious effort to keep this professional. He had finally admitted that he was starting to like Beth more than was good for his friendship with Mick. The last time Josef had been here she had asked him to kill someone to protect Mick, which he had done, but her easy acceptance of doing what needed to be done in such a situation gave Josef a new respect for her. She could keep their secret and she was loyal, two qualities he admired very much. Josef looked forward to the day when Mick finally comes to his senses and turns her; she'll make a great vamp. It didn't hurt that she was gorgeous in addition to everything else, though unlike his usual relationships with women in the last fifty years, he found himself able to look up from her breasts long enough to appreciate her mind. A rare thing indeed.

Straightening his tie while waiting for her to answer the door, he heard her heartbeat and the sound of her high heels on the floor even before she opened it. Unprepared was not sufficient to describe how he felt when he saw her standing there in the doorway. Beth's blonde hair was full of soft, loose curls and she was wearing a dark green silk blouse with the top buttons open enough to show a hint of her breasts and a sleek matching skirt slit up to mid-thigh. It wasn't quite formal dinner party wear, but it was breathtaking on her. Enough to convince him that he wished it was a dinner party outfit… for a vampire's idea of dinner at least. The smell of her vanilla shampoo, a hint of perfume, and the underlying scent that was just her was a delicious combination that he wanted more of, but he suddenly remembered that this was supposed to be professional. Looking out for his best friend's girlfriend was his job, not trying to steal her for himself in Mick's absence. Josef hoped that he hadn't been staring open-mouthed as long as he thought he had before recovering enough to meet her nervous eyes.

"Good evening, Beth. Were we going out?" He gestured to her outfit. "You didn't mention that in your call."

"No, no. Please come in," she said as she looked away, her heartbeat betraying her nerves, but a quick scenting of the air reassured him they were alone. "There was a new club downtown that opened tonight, a little more upscale than the usual, and my editor sent me to cover the celebrity scene. I just got home."

The floral motif of her apartment wasn't exactly his taste, but it was nice enough he thought as he looked over her living room and waited for her to let him in on the secret of why he'd been summoned. More importantly, the décor provided a mundane distraction from her in that stunning outfit. "So what can Uncle Josef do for you that is so important I had to postpone my dinner?" Although he was only mildly hungry, he wanted to see Beth's reaction since she was well aware of what was on his menu every night, and he wasn't disappointed when her pulse increased.

She looked uncertain as she paused for a moment, as if considering her answer. "I'm sorry, I wasn't sure if you'd be hungry now. Mick doesn't want me to keep any blood here for him and…"

The distance between them closed as he stepped closer to her, completely unable to resist the urge to push her buttons. Even if it was just for his amusement, he enjoyed her reactions to him, and was curious about just how far Mick had let her into the vampire world on the deeply personal level. Now was his opportunity to find out as Beth backed up until the couch stopped her unconscious retreat. "I don't like that cheap morgue take-out blood anyway. I prefer mine fresh from the vein of a willing, beautiful woman." Screw professionalism, this is way too entertaining. She might be backing away, but her body is saying yes in every other way.

"Good, because that's what I wanted to talk to you about." Beth's voice was shaky but he could hear the sincerity in it; she wasn't just playing his little game, and that detail was what made Josef be the one who backed away next.

"Does Mick know you're doing this?" Josef asked as he sat down on the couch right behind where Beth was standing.

"Doing what? Talking to you?" She tried to cover her reaction, but obviously she wasn't fully aware of the range of non-verbal communication vampires were able to hear. Her arms were first crossed over her chest, then smoothing her skirt and pushing a curl behind her ear as Josef followed every movement with his eyes.

The smile came to his lips unbidden. "Okay, Beth. Why have you invited me here tonight? If you just wanted to talk you could have done that over that new-fangled little device you used to call me earlier. And why are you so nervous? Is it little, old, harmless me?"

"I'm not nervous," Josef raised an eyebrow at her and she backed down from her denial, finally realizing that he could tell. She finally sat down on the opposite side of the sofa as he waited. "I, um, wanted to ask you about, ah, the whole human/vampire sex thing."

This was going to be very amusing. Josef laughed slightly, amazed it took her this long to ask him for advice on this topic. "Mick hasn't told you?"

"He just avoids the subject, like it's somehow unpleasant for him or by talking about it some great hurdle would be removed between us and he's not ready and I honestly don't know if he'll ever be but I need some answers." She looked relieved that she was able to get all of that out in one sentence without the world ending.

Josef sat back and propped his feet up on her coffee table, choosing to ignore her look of outrage at how he was making himself at home. "I'm surprised you haven't asked me before now. I just figured the two of you were ah, working up to the hot, sweaty sex," he said as he raised his eyebrows suggestively as he snapped his human teeth once in her direction.

The effect was not lost on Beth at that moment, and if it were possible, she looked even more nervous than when he had first arrived. "No, we haven't been working up to anything as far as I can tell, and I'm getting damn frustrated about it. I love him, but if this is all there is going to be physically I need to know. He just tells me it's dangerous and I could get hurt, blah, blah, blah, and I get it. But please, Josef, I'm serious about this. Before my mind comes up with any other bizarre possibilities about the types of injuries, I need the actual truth from someone I can trust." There was the fired-up Beth-on-a-mission that he had come to appreciate so much.

Although it was impossible for vampires to get tension headaches, Josef rubbed his right temple and decided how to deal with this discussion without Beth ending up dumping Mick's ass right there and then. His memories from his days as a human were rather vague, but he did remember asking his sire about his same subject. Unfortunately for Beth, he can't just give her the same answer he was given, because that was the night he was turned in the heat of passion.

"Josef?" He snapped out of his trip down memory lane and wondered how long he'd been gone.

"Sorry. Fine. What do you want to know, Beth?" He was doing his best to look innocent.

He was honestly surprised when she didn't pull out her notebook and pen since she had that reporter look to her now. "What's the dangerous part? Are we talking a broken pelvis, too much blood loss, what specifically?"

Resigning himself to the inevitable, he said, "you're correct on both of the above, in addition to the potential for a variety of internal injuries depending on the relative force involved, bleeding internally and from bite wounds, scars from said wounds, other broken bones, concussions. But the one that you'd probably have to worry about most with Mick is the blood loss from a bite or bites, and vampires do bite down during sex, usually close to or at orgasm. It's often necessary for the orgasm in the first place, but it makes it immensely more pleasurable for the vamp, and usually the human if they are so inclined. I have to find myself wondering if you're the kind of woman that would enjoy the biting, given the right circumstances of course. If not, you might want to move on now and save both of you the risk."

Looking both fascinated and embarrassed at his statement, Beth chose to examine the details of the fabric she was sitting on rather than look at him. The blood rushing to her cheeks coupled with the faint but unmistakable scent of her arousal. Even though he didn't have to, he made a show of scenting the air before continuing.

"So you do want that… good," he smiled knowingly as he spoke, enjoying the effect the discussion was having on her while Beth looked at him in horror, like he could somehow read her mind and he knew her darkest desires. She shut her eyes tight and waited as if somehow she'd wake up any minute out of the nightmare she'd started.

Josef was a little surprised at her embarrassment as this whole discussion was her idea in the first place. "Come on, Beth. You're an adult, and you wanted to talk about this. I'm a vampire, remember? I've seen and done just about everything a man can do with a woman, human or vampire, and probably more than once throughout the centuries. It's not like this is new ground for me, and I honestly don't think you're an innocent virgin. I know that you had to have thought about the biting during sex before you asked me about it. Honestly, I think it will heighten the experience for you as well as Mick, assuming you can get him to quit before there's a problem. Speaking of which, you two had better do this right, because I'm really not interested in picking up the pieces of Mick if he ends up hurting you."

The continued discussion wasn't helping her be any less embarrassed, but she was decidedly interested. "How do I do that? Get him to stop before he takes too much?"

"You'll have to tell him, and he'll have to be mostly full with fresh blood from another human to help his control. The latter is going to be the biggest hurdle, other than maybe getting him to accept that he's going to drink from you during sex. Has he fed from you for pleasure, without the sex?" Beth looked down again as Josef asked. "I mean, when he wasn't dying and when there were no other emergencies?"

"Never," Beth almost whispered her answer. She was both disappointed and embarrassed, but this time not at the sexual content of the discussion. "I asked, I tried to get him to, you know, feed, but he said he didn't want to, not from me." Looking down into her lap, Beth was fidgeting with her nails absentmindedly as she took a deep breath. "Is there something wrong with me, Josef? Could my blood just taste bad and that's why he doesn't want to drink from me? Is he just using the whole danger thing to cover the fact that my blood isn't good enough?"

Tears were pooling in the corners of her eyes when she finally looked up at him and he wanted to stake Mick at that moment for making her feel this way. Mick's desire to protect the woman he loves from harm is one thing, but he was hurting her in an entirely different way by not doing what comes naturally to vampires who are in love with humans. Thankfully, Beth didn't resist when Josef moved over and wrapped his arms around her, letting her head rest on his shoulder as she cried.

"Of course not, Beth. All blood tastes good to a vamp. We may have a preference for one type or gender over another, but blood is always delicious, satisfying, exciting, and always better when it comes straight from a living human. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with your blood, baby. The problem is Mick, not you." He rubbed her back gently with his fingertips, trying to keep his mind focused away from the sound of her blood flowing just under the skin of her neck, which was so close to his mouth.

In between small sobs, Beth asked Josef, "but I have a rare blood type, maybe mine isn't as good as the others. Maybe after the desert he just decided he doesn't want my blood again, and that's why he won't... There has to be something wrong with me."

Josef continued to hold her, reveling in the feel of her supple body against his chest while the lure of her trust found him willing to do anything to show her what she feared wasn't true, now or ever. His eyes were drawn to the pulse in her neck again and he felt his fangs lengthen as he fought to keep his control. Talking about her blood, the drinking of her blood, all surrounding the discussion of sex with her was starting to become overwhelming, and hell, he'd never been one for denying himself the pleasures of the flesh, especially the willing flesh.

Easing Beth gently away from him, he found he wanted to say something more to reassure her, but he just couldn't keep holding her so close without actually biting her. When she looked up at him she was anything but worried at the sight of his descended fangs and pale eyes; her eyes pleaded with him in ways the vampire in him understood, but the man in him remembered his obligations to Mick. Biting his girlfriend and feeding from her was probably not what Mick had in mind when he asked me to take care of her.

"Beth, you can cry on my shoulder as long as we don't talk about your blood and sex and… I…maybe I should go catch a bite to eat, but if you like I can come back in an hour or so." Josef started to stand but Beth's hands pulled him back down.

"Please stay. I need to know if it's me, my blood, that's stopping Mick… Please. I don't know who else to go to, Josef. You're the only other vampire I trust." Her wrist was raised up in offering to him as she looked up at him with an expression that was both pleading and needy. The blood was flowing just below the surface and so close, so tempting. But her neck… the skin there was soft, yielding, the blood beneath it just waiting to be freed, and the smell of her skin so enticing.

Beth had not failed to notice Josef staring at the pulse in her neck, and she moved closer to him on the couch as she pulled her hair to the side, moving her head back and away to lay bare her neck for his bite. It could have been a dream, Josef decided, but he just couldn't turn down such a gift, even if it was offered in her desperation to hold onto Mick. Gathering her up in his arms while his eyes never left the pulsations of her blood just under that soft skin, Josef asked only once, "Beth, are you sure about this?"

She had barely gotten out her "yes" before Josef was planting small, delicate kisses up and down the side of her neck, barely grazing the skin with his sharp fangs. How easily she relaxed into his grasp surprised him, convincing him that she would give him more than just a taste of her blood tonight if he chose to press his advantage. Teasing her was making them both more desperate for the bite itself, and Josef didn't intend to make her wait very long even though he was desperately trying to be careful with her.

"Beth, don't struggle, okay? Just relax into it. I've got you," he said in one ragged breath against her skin, not even bothering to raise his head while trying to maintain his control for just another few seconds. His hand came up along her back and he ran his fingers through her silky hair, ready to hold her head in place against him, while the other pulled her entire body up against his. That position would leave no doubt just how attracted to her he was at that moment, but if he scared her with this now he wouldn't be doing himself or Mick any favors. She nestled herself closer into Josef's chest and put her hands around his waist, waiting.

Her complete surrender to him at that moment made him harder than he'd been in years, and he wanted nothing more than to drink his fill from her before tearing away her clothes and taking her body right there, burying himself fully inside her heat. He pulled back slightly and heard Beth whimper, and that small noise sending him over the edge, making him growl low in his throat with a sound that would never be human. In half a second his teeth had pierced her skin and her sweet, hot blood was welling up into his mouth. As he swallowed, he felt as well as heard her moan, he tasted her pleasure in the blood, her desire for him, for the bite, for release. She held her breath at the beginning, but now was starting to take short quick breaths with long whimpering moans as she exhaled. To answer that need, Josef moved his head slightly back and forth, just enough for Beth to feel his teeth move inside her neck and trigger a second round of endorphins for both of them. Her body shook with the pleasure.

Josef knew he needed to stop, and soon. His hunger for blood had been satisfied, even if his appetite for her body had not, and he knew he'd already overstepped the boundary of what his friend would have allowed just by biting her in the first place. Gently raising his mouth from her neck, he continued to hold her still while he licked the few trickles of blood that came from his bite marks as they sealed. The last few drops of her rich, warm essence were all the more delicious because he doubted he'd ever get a chance for another taste of her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her blood, and everything that's right about it. Fangs retracted and his eyes returned to their human appearance, and as he laid Beth back across his lap, her head resting on the back of the sofa, he couldn't help but feel a sense of pride. The expression on her face was one of total bliss, contentment, satiety, as if she'd just had a mind-blowing orgasm, which she had whether she knew it or not, and he was the one who had given her such pleasure. Not Mick, me.

While he'd seen a similar look on the face of other human women before, it was somehow different on Beth. As he watched her rest and recover from the new experience, he worked on his own control, resisting the urge to claim more than just her blood for himself while all the time knowing that she wouldn't make a move to stop him. But not tonight. Not after he fed from her like that. Whether he was willing to admit it to himself or not, he wanted Beth to come to his bed clear-headed and without regrets. She'd have regrets if he took advantage of her now, and for some unknown reason, that actually mattered to him.

Josef had to admit that Mick was a very lucky man to have such a beautiful, intelligent, and responsive woman as his own, just as he was also an idiot to deny her the physical relationship that they'd both enjoy. That boy was going to need a serious talking-to about his immaturity on this subject, assuming that Josef could avoid Mick's wrath for showing Beth what she was missing.