Hopefully, the wait for the next chapter won't be so long.....

Fangs or no, Beth felt pretty certain that it would be well worth an attempt to gnaw through her own wrist, to lie in the waiting arms of Morpheus. John was an hour late, and the conversation, never stimulating, had turned to handbags. She couldn't get drunk, she couldn't escape this boredom, and she wondered silently if a massage therapist could work solely on her aching cheeks. Her only consolation was in knowing that Mick was at least as bored as she was.

"Have you got any matches?" Josef asked as he paced Mick's floor. "I know self-immolation is usually reserved for monks, but I can't drain myself, and you refuse to separate my tortured head from my body."

"Imagine how Beth feels. Imagine being there-"

"Oh, I've spent the last hour imagining how many I could drain before their screaming forced me to simply snap their well-groomed necks."

"Not an option for Beth," Mick said.

Josef sighed. "More's the pity. I think I'll be going."

Mick beat him to the door. "You stay put."

Josef shrugged his shoulders and moved to the bottle of whiskey sitting on the counter. "I thought of one positive in all of this."

"You're even less likely to show any mercy when you finally get to play?"

With a nod, Josef settled onto the couch, wishing he'd thought to bring some freshies.

At least she now knew why Julia and Alexis needed her. The other women in their little 'club' were well below dolphins on the mental food chain. Unless your life revolved around Rodeo Drive. There, they were probably the most knowledgeable people on the planet. She would keep them in mind if Buzzwire ever sprang for a clothing budget.

Finally, the doorbell rang, and Julia hurried to answer it.

"Julia, I beg your forgiveness." Beth saw the top of his blond head as he gave a courtly bow to kiss Julia's hand. When he rose to offer his apology to the others, Beth immediately knew the source of their loyalty. He looked like Brad Pitt in 'Troy,' and she briefly wished he wore the tunic and sandals.

"Ahhh. Beth Turner," he said. "What a pleasure to meet you. I'm a dedicated fan of your work. I'm Jonathan Milgram."

Gazing into dark green eyes that searched hers keenly, Beth accepted his offered hand. "I've heard so much about you."

"It's all true," he laughed.


"As long as it was all good. Come, let's get acquainted. Time is short." He led her toward the kitchen as disappointed rumblings followed them.

As charming as Jon was, Beth found it hard to concentrate on his words. The puzzle became far more complicated the instant she met him. He was a vampire, she had no doubt. So why reveal their existence to a bunch of vacuous bimbos who never, ever shut their mouths? Why risk exposure? What had Josef done to this guy?

"…And I understand you have a meeting with the vampire Josef Kostan on Monday?"

She instantly snapped from her puzzle to the conversation at hand. "An interview, yes. But Jon, I'm sorry, I don't believe in vampires. And the meeting is set for 10 a.m. Don't vampires sleep in their coffins all day?"

"Myth." He took her hand, fixing her eyes with a concerned stare. "There are vampires, Beth. Kostan is one of them. Be careful and vigilant. In fact, I should probably accompany you, for your protection. I know how to handle those monsters."

'Then stake yourself, and I'll call Mick,' she thought, wanting badly to extract her hand from his cold grasp. "I'm so sorry. Only my cameraman and I were cleared for the interview. And really, while I appreciate your concern, but there's no danger." It took all her composure not to shudder at his cold appraisal after her last words.

Finally, he relaxed. "You're probably right." He flashed her a brilliant smile, charm oozing from every pore.

She gulped, momentarily wondering if this vampire had the same rule Mick had about vampires and humans.

"Perhaps," he said, fixing her with a seductive gaze, "you might like to have dinner Monday night?"

Beth made a show of checking her schedule, and then smiled up at him. "I'd like that."

He rose, offering his hand in assistance. "Shall we join the others?"

"If I want to keep my friends, I guess we'd better. They've been so anxious to see you."

Mick saw Josef's expression change the instant he heard the man's voice, boredom replaced by fury. Though he kept silent while Jonathan spoke, Josef worried his lip. When finally they heard Beth leave the kitchen to join the rest of the party, his anger forced him from his chair.

"Okay Josef, who is this guy?"

"He certainly wasn't Jonathan Milgram a year ago. I bought his company, split it into expensive pieces, and sold it off at a huge profit. I made money. As did he." He straightened proudly at the memory of a half-billion dollar profit.

"I'm guessing not nearly as much as you did."

With a look that asked if Mick were kidding, he waved his hand in dismissal. "Of course not. My people are brilliant." He paused. "And that petty bastard killed them, and he's going to seduce Beth, if he gets her alone."

"I don't think Beth's that naïve," Mick said, but his expression betrayed him.

"Mick, trust me. Every woman on my staff was charmed. Hell, I was tempted." He drained another glass of whiskey. "Mick, he'll kill her if he finds out she's involved with us."

"Then we'll just have to get to him first."

Thanks for reading. Thanks for reviewing. And thanks for your patience.