Still arguing as Mick pulled the Mercedes into the CVS parking lot, Josef said, "You go."

"Josef, the last time this was a possibility for me, you had to wait until the rabbit died."

Josef's face drew an ironic smile. "If that's the best you can do, you're going. When I was human, a woman's 'courses' stopped, and nine moons later, out popped a wee bairn."

"Fine. I'll go." Damn, old as he felt, ninety-five was little more than a child next to Josef's hundreds of years. Slamming the door on Josef's laugh, Mick set about his task.


Beth sat alone on the balcony, wondering where Josef was. He'd acted so bizarrely, carrying her out to here, snuggling her under a soft throw, and promising he'd be back shortly. That was nearly an hour ago, and as delightful as it was to see the stars, to hear the waves tease the shore, she wanted Josef here to cuddle her. Their future was clear, finally, she and Josef together, one heart beating for two. Until her change, then no hearts beating, but something much deeper, one blood, running through two beings, joined forever by his dark kiss. And Mick, the friend of both their hearts, finding his true love, would be the frosting on the wedding cake. They would all live happily ever after, at last.

Familiar voices followed the close of the suite's heavy door. Josef and Mick, involved in yet another of their short-lived disagreements.

"I think this one," she heard Josef say.

"But this one says, 'before…' Hi Beth, how are you?"

"I'm good, Mick. When did you get here?"

"I called him," Josef said as he turned quickly, purposely blocking her view of the kitchen counter. "Would you like some tea? I got chamomile."

He'd gotten chamomile tea? He'd called Mick? "I want to know what's going on here." She'd have to be blind not to see the defeated look that passed between them. "Now."

"Don't get upset," Mick said, taking her elbow and nudging her toward the living room. Josef followed, a shopping bag from CVS dangling from his hand. Vampires didn't get sick, and she felt just fine. Could it be… toys? Josef had invited Mick down here for a threesome? On their special night?

Okay. Now she was upset. Her worry grew as they took their places on either side of her, serious faces turned toward hers.

"Beth, no matter what happens, I will always love you," Josef began.

"Me, too," Mick added.

"What the hell is going on?" Now she was scared, and her voice trembled as she spoke.

With a sigh, Josef spoke. "You're pregnant."

She laughed, hard and loud. "Uh, guys? I've only had sex with vampires for months now. Yes, I gave up the pill, but you can't procreate, and I'm only a day late."

Josef dumped the contents of the bag on the coffee table. Several pregnancy tests, along with various bottles of specialty vitamins and folic acid, spewed from the bag. "You're pregnant, Beth. I heard it, moving inside you. See for yourself," Josef said gently, handing her one of the boxes.

He'd heard it? Ridiculous. This was ridiculous. It wasn't that she'd never thought of being a mother. On the contrary, loving them had forced her to think about it, often. Never hearing herself called "Mommy" by her own children, never attending PTA meetings, soothing skinned knees, or dancing at their weddings. She believed she knew what she had given up, and accepted it. Now Josef and Mick looked at her with concern, and fear, and suddenly, she knew it was true. "I believe you."

"We'll take a test," Mick said, rising to help her from the sofa.

"I'll take a test. And I can still stand all by myself, Mick. It's been, what two weeks?" Had it? Oh. She grabbed the boxes, knowing that her rapid heartbeat betrayed her as she sped from the room, their voices but murmurs behind the closed bathroom door.

Beth stared at the positive test. Blue was positive on this one, right? It was the fourth she'd taken, the boxes a confused tangle at her feet. The results were all the same. Positive. She was pregnant with a vampire's baby. Josef's baby, or Mick's, she wouldn't know until its birth. She lined the test-sticks up on the vanity, their accusing results damning her bad judgment. She had to be alone. Josef would be mortified at the thought of parenthood, if he weren't already dead, and Mick… She'd already witnessed Mick's pain at learning he wasn't a father. Stress was bad. She should see a doctor, take a vitamin… Get out of here, fast.

The light tap at the door interrupted her thoughts of escaping through the bathroom window. "Are you alright in there?" Mick's concern was palpable.

She swung open the door, their two faces, taut with anticipation, looked at her. She gestured toward the sink. "It's confirmed. If you'll excuse me, I'd like to take a walk on the beach."

Neither said a word as they watched the suite's door close behind her.

"She's leaving," Mick said, his eyes focused as if he could see her path through the door.

Josef shook his head. "No, she's not." With a glance toward the window, he added, "It's past our bedtime. I suggest you call for some ice."


It's a start.