Okay, let's get this over with. I don't own Moonlight, never will. Even though Josh is six feet under, I always liked him, and still think Beth treated him badly, stringing him along when she already had his replacement. (Geez, I would have been happy to date Josh.) It's one of the reasons I just could never get into Mick/Beth as a couple. I figured Josh deserved a say, to explain why he put up with everything. This is after Sleeping Beauty but before Love Lasts Forever.
I remember the first time I saw her, just like in some old time movie. She'd just backed into my car, her head whipping around, her mouth narrowing into an adorable 'o'. I just felt like I'd been hit by lightening, but that could have been me slamming against my seatbelt. Not a big fan of pain, but I barely noticed. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I loved her voice, and profanity sounded adorable coming from her.
We were in a parking garage I could fit five of my apartments into, so I'll never figure how we couldn't have avoided each other. Beth said the cutest thing: 'Let an insurance adjuster call it an accident, I call it fate.' She was smiling her million-watt smile, and I was a goner. I was wrapped around Beth's finger from day one. Heck, minute one. If that makes me whipped, then I was whipped and happily whipped at that.
I never thought a woman like Beth would give me a second look. I'm not just talking about the fact she's gorgeous, even though she is. No, I'm talking about the whole package. She's smart, she's gutsy, two doses of vivacious, sexy and she cares. She brings integrity to her job. She's so passionate about her work, she believes in it. These days, with most people, it's all about the bottom line, all about covering their own asses. Not Beth, she's my crusader. Man, she makes my heart skip a beat when she's got a cause.
Sure, I've dated around some, even lived with a girlfriend or two. I'm a romantic not a monk. I'd been happy, and I've definitely grown as a man and boyfriend. I even was in love once or twice. But looking back, they were just the dress rehearsal for the real thing, the real McCoy. I never wanted to the pop the question before, I'll tell you that for nothing.
Okay, so maybe the only reason she went out with me was because she felt bad about my car. Okay, so maybe she slaughtered me at video golf. You think I cared? I was too busy hitting cloud nine. Her laugh was 9 shades of magic, hitting my bloodstream harder than the two shots of whiskey we downed. She handled the booze with a seasoned attitude, not even wincing as it hit her throat. We took a cab home in the wee hours of the morning, kidding around like we'd known each other for years.
Then came the tricky part, walking her to the door. No, I'm not talking about any motor skill difficulties. I was feeling warmed and relaxed by the liquor in my system, but I was steady. No, I'm talking about the classic dilemma for males everywhere. There's no hand-guide for the end of date etiquette, it's every man for himself. I think she knew I was sweating it, and since women in general seem to get sadistic glee out of that kind of thing, she was definitely getting a kick out it, if the gleam in those pretty eyes were any indication. I was trying to figure out if that was a good or bad sign.
"I'd give you my phone number, but you already have it," she told me. The kiss on my cheek was innocent enough, but her lips were like fire against my skin. I was staring at her lips, and I think I forgot to breathe. She grinned, a vixen's grin, and then with a wink she was slipping away, leaving me dazed and hopeful. I wanted to call her right that second, but that'd be too soon. As I walked back to the cab, I was trying to figure out how soon I could call without being too pathetic. Then again, I didn't want to wait too long. She might think I was one of those guys who said they'd call and don't. (Okay, so I did that once or twice in college, but I didn't know what else to say. We're talking about very sensitive girls here.)
The next day dragged. I think I picked up the phone three or four times, debating if I'd waited long enough. All I could think about was her, but I didn't want to scare her off. The problem with dating in the early stages is that's it's exhausting. You're trying to put out all the right signals, trying to read the other person, (whose also trying to make the best impression) going on your gut but trying to use your head. Guys are visual creatures, and yeah, sex is on the brain a lot, but you don't want to be a pig. A lot of guys like playing the field, but I'd be gray by forty if I kept it up.
So, finally, about seven or so, I finally decided I'd tortured myself enough. Wouldn't you know I got her answering machine. "Uh, hey, it's Josh…Uh, you know, Josh Lindsay…" Smooth, I thought. The thing was, I'd pictured actually talking to her, not just dropping a message. It was a whole new ballgame. I hate talking into a machine, my brain always goes blank. "I just wanted to call to…you know…say I had a great time. Oh, wait, I guess I already said that. Um, well…" I was coming up empty. Where was my gift of oration that I had in the courtroom? "Er, I'd like to go out again, with you, I mean, so if you want to…go ahead and call me. You uh, have the phone number. Bye."
I hung up, letting my head fall in my hands. 'Go ahead and call me?' I think I kicked myself for that ten or fifteen times. She'd probably lose my number as fast as she could, and probably play the message for her friends. They'd think that was hysterical, and I'd be fodder for their entertainment. A group of females in that kind of mood can be vicious, it's like they feed off each other. Beth seemed like a really nice woman, but she definitely had an impish streak, and I might as well have put a big neon target on myself that said: 'Dork.'
Two days went by, and I'd pretty much figured that'd be it. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I picked up the phone, and heard that fabulous voice. "Hey, Josh. This is Beth. You know, Beth Turner." I didn't even care she basically making fun of me. "I got your message, are you up for tonight?"
Later, I asked her why she'd called after that lame message. She gave me that look of hers, that 'I get something you don't get' look, and snuggled into me. "Josh, I've dated a few smooth talkers. There isn't a line they haven't used, they don't miss a trick. I'd gotten kind of burned, and when I met you, I knew I was in good hands. Besides, you're cute when you're lame." Well, whatever worked for her, I wasn't about to argue.
Over the next couple of weeks, we tested the waters. I couldn't keep the goofy grin off my face, couldn't keep the spring out of my step. My colleagues noticed it, and Carl gave me a hard time about it. "Someone's getting lucky," he'd comment. Really, although I was lucky, downright blessed actually, not in the way he was thinking. Sure, Beth had a sensual, mouth-watering quality, and some of the kisses we'd shared left my head spinning and my blood flowing in an inconvenient direction, but in those early days, we didn't cross that line. Honestly? I think I masturbated more in those three weeks than I did in high school, torrid fantasies of Beth a real impediment to a good night's sleep.
But I would have been happy to wait forever for Beth, (okay, maybe not forever) just being around her was a rush. Plus, the wait built up the tension to a delicious pitch, anticipation a sweet thing. I had the fun of watching her move under her clothes, imagining her full breasts, her tight rear, her slim legs. We went on picnics, we went to concerts, she convinced me to try horseback riding, and we saw movies. I never considered myself a love machine or a playboy or anything like that. I don't think I've ever embarrassed myself, and over the years, I acquired some finesse and a lot of patience but sex 101 was hardly my major. But Beth made me want to be the lover every woman dreams of, made me want to thrill her like no one's ever done. It was probably a pipe dream, but I was determined to try.
Eventually, I had my chance. It was a completely spontaneous thing, no pre-mediation, I swear. She'd invited me over to her place for dinner and a movie, Snow White, Tale of Terror, but we didn't even make it past the first five minutes. I think I'd turned to ask her something, or maybe was just enjoying the chance to look at her face. Anyway, suddenly, we were inches apart and her eyes were on me, her lips slightly parted, and I forgot about everything else. There was something inviting and eager in her expression, and I decided just to go for it. I kissed her for all I was worth, trying to make her feel the way she made me feel.
Maybe I should have done something romantic, like sweep her into my arms, saying something poetic as I carried her to bed. That's not how it happened, though. She tasted so good, and she felt even better, I tumbled her back onto the sofa, my hands under her blouse. She was wild and demanding, and I wanted to go slow, but the way she was writhing and moaning under me it was easier said than done. She kept me up half the night, one round bleeding in another. If she'd given me a heart-attack I would have died one happy guy.
The next few months it was like we were in our own world. Maybe she had given me a heart-attack, and I'd gone to heaven. We had all the passion and enthusiasm that comes with new love, where you steal every second you can to be together, ignoring annoying habits and only seeing the best parts, falling into bed like two teenagers, even using your lunch break for afternoon delights. Even work, for the first time in my life, took a backseat. I couldn't get enough of her, in or out of the bedroom.
When did that fade? Sure, that kind of intensity can't last forever; it can't be new and shiny forever. Things are bound to settle down into routine and normalcy. And for a while, it was exactly like that. We had sleep-overs, we took turns cooking dinner, we called to check in when we were late, left little notes for each other, talked about our day. She opened up to me, sharing things with me that she usually kept tucked away. She'd been kidnapped at four, something that wrecked her childhood. I'd like to think, just by listening and trying to help, I made it a little easier.
I loved the life we were starting to build for ourselves. Sure we fought, sure she had quirks that got on my nerves, but that's healthy and normal. It was shaping up to be a beautiful future, before something shifted into a place I didn't even recognize. Was I the problem? I know I'm not exactly Mr. Excitement, and sure, my jokes fall flat sometimes, but I tried to make it up. There was something about that made me want to take care of her, even spoil her. But one day, she started slipping away.
What it boils down to is Mick St. John. No I'm not trying to dump all the blame on his shoulders, although that'd be a lot easier. It's not easy to be rational and fair when you want to punch a guy in his pretty face. The problem was he was Mr. Excitement, Mr. I-can-smell-estrogen-in-blood. The non-caped crusader had it all, murder cases galore, one-liners falling off his lips like they were going out of style, a Benz that I'd give my left arm to drive, and that mysterious, brooding thing that women seemed to eat up. Oh, and he saved Beth's life, acting like it was no big deal. The next thing I know, my girlfriend's saying his name in her sleep. Sure, they were nightmares, or so she said. The sounds you make during a nightmare and sex dream are disturbingly similar.
Things just got worse, no big surprise. She just got sucked into his world. Let's see, she shot a guy to save her big hero, got hurt in the desert, got caught up in a drug bust, and almost got killed by cult followers. That's just the short version, trust me. Me, the voice of reason, couldn't get a word in edge wise. That stubborn, relentless quality that was such a turn-on was now my biggest headache. And Mick St. John seemed to be glued to her hip.
I could put up with a lot. Late hours? Sure, I was no hypocrite, her work ethic was incredible, and I loved it about her. Canceling dates at the last minute? Forgetting things, even important things, I can live with that. Being too tired to have sex, that's fine, I know she's not a 7-11. Life happens. I'm patient, that's something I've worked for. But I'm not a doormat, even though she was starting to treat me like one. A guy can only take so much.
What was hard to take was the way she was messing with my mind, even though I can't believe she meant to. When I'd bring up the fact that there was something going on with her and Mick, more than just good professionalism and friendship she'd duck the topic. The more Beth acted like I was crazy, the worse I felt. But the New York trip, the one I didn't find out about until she was practically out the door, that was the topper. I think she knew I was close to being fed up, because she sure rushed back. I'm surprised her and Mick St. John didn't want to see the sights together, give each other the eye. You know, she probably would have, if ol' reliable hadn't been close to quitting. Enough is enough.
A person might wonder why I put up with it at all. Why didn't I confront her? You know, the whole, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it' route. I thought about it, believe me. Maybe I was scared, okay? If I forced things, what if she walked out on me? I know it's not very macho, but I couldn't picture life without Beth. So I rationalized. This Mick St. John thing was just a phase, something novel. If she really wanted him, she would have left by now. To give myself a little credit, if I'd ever thought they were sleeping together, that would've been it. I might have given her a second chance, if she stopped seeing him completely, agreed to counseling, and was genuinely remorseful. Short of that, it would have been over. I was looking for signs of sexual intimacy between them. I haven't gotten to DA by not being able to read people, and I was looking for sexual afterglow in Beth after being with St. John, but I never saw it. They weren't sleeping together. It might have been cold comfort, but it kept me hanging on.
Besides the fact that he had the hots for my girlfriend, there was something about Mick that bothered me. Before I hired him for a case, finding Leni Hayes, a witness for a high-profile case, I did a basic background check. On the surface, everything checked out, but I dug a little deeper, and found some things that didn't check. I found traces of a Mick St. John that was born in 1922, born and raised in LA, served in WWII, had an honorable discharge in 1945, after that he was a veterinarian and amateur musician. There's a marriage license to Coraline Duvall,1952. After that, both bride and groom disappear off the face of the planet.
Then, ten years later, a Mick St. John (probably the same one) turns out to be a licensed P.I. in Los Angeles. There are no pictures to verify it's the WWII soldier and musician, no direct correlation. In 1972, he bought the lease for an apartment/office in the very same building Beth's buddy has set up shop in. Now, what's really bizarre is guess who is a dead ringer for Mick St. John of 2008? The Mick St. John of 1952…and no record of any children, and his one nephew is named Alfred St. John, and looks nothing like him. The St. John of 1962 there's no picture of, but the three versions have got to be one and the same, it's a pretty simple deduction.
The question was, how? During the last 56 years he hasn't aged a day, there's no getting around that. Something told me Beth had answers, and that pissed me off. What kind of game was she playing? She'd always been reckless, but this was taking it to new extremes. One way or other, I had to unlock St. John's mystery for myself.
In the meantime, I'm not going to give up on Beth. She's my world, and as much as I want to be mad at her, every time she looks at me with those baby blues, I'm lost. She's the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with, I want it all. Mick St. John may be a distraction, but what we have is real, and I'm not letting it go without a fight.