Thanks to all who read my other stories. This is dedicated to the cadre of exceptional writers who keep Moonlight alive for those of us who are still addicted.
Here is a continuation of Night Moves and West of the Moon, with the same characters. Lots of romance, drama and blood!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my love for Moonlight.
"Hold still, for goodness sake!" Simone fretted as she tried to pull Josef's bowtie into place. "You'd think after wearing those old-fashioned clothes hundreds of years ago you would be able to tie a tie."
"That's what I had a valet for." Josef grumbled. "You don't think anyone could dress by themselves in those days, do you?"
Simone finally completed the tie to her satisfaction and stepped away to admire the effect. "Well, I'm not a valet, but I think it looks good." Actually, in his tuxedo he looked good all over.
Josef grinned wolfishly and swept her up in his arms. "You're better than a valet, baby." He kissed her cheek carefully, mindful of Simone's hair and makeup. She'd already had to re-do her hair from an earlier passionate encounter and she scolded him that they'd be late.
Josef and Simone were hosting a party honoring Beth's one-year anniversary as a vampire. It had been several weeks since they had eliminated the threat to the blood supply stores and Beth and Guillermo had been busy opening the two donation centers with great fanfare. The student response had been good and they were now supplying the community with fresh, healthy blood. The students were well-compensated and the word was spreading on the campuses. Most of the blood went to the vampire community, but rare blood types were sent to hospitals to be used for human patients.
Simone suggested the party for Beth, and Josef thought it would be a good idea for one of his frequent social events for the tribe. He would be glad to announce that the blood supply problem had been solved and everything was back to normal.
Beth waited downstairs on the sofa, sitting carefully so as not to wrinkle her dress. She'd been ready for Josef's party for 15 minutes, but Mick was still dithering upstairs. Getting up, she went to the kitchen to pour some more A+. She was a little tense about the party, knowing it was to celebrate her re-birthday. It was nice of Josef, and knew it was Simone's idea, but she didn't really want to be the center of attention. She'd done her online newscasts, but she never saw her audience. Tonight she would be the focus and she felt a little shy. Beth swept her hand down the silk of her black dress. It was a halter-top, falling around her curves to just above the knee. She had lost her California tan, but her skin still had a healthy glow, accentuated by her blond hair, which hung in loose curls around her face. Mick loved her hair down, so she obliged him whenever she could.
Finally, she heard stirrings upstairs and Mick came down the open staircase in his tuxedo and her chest contracted at how handsome he was with his long hair brushed back. For a moment time stopped for each of them as he looked at her, smiling. He took her hand and placed a small box in it.
"Happy anniversary, Beth." He said giving her a soft kiss. "You've made the last year the best I can remember." Even though her turning was traumatic he was glad she was with him, saving him from his perpetual hell.
She glanced at the box in her hand. "What's this?"
He cupped her face and gave her a soft kiss. "It's one of your birthday presents. Go ahead, open it."
Beth loved presents and this one was beautifully wrapped. She carefully worked the paper lose and the box revealed a pendant shaped like a stylized cross, a twin of the one Mick always wore. "Mick, this is like yours." She exclaimed.
"I wanted you to have something that's important to me."
"I always thought it must be. Where did you get yours?" She asked, somewhat afraid of the answer.
"During the war, when I was in France." He held the emblem in his fingers. "We were hiding in a cellar in a small village. Some of the locals were there and one of the children had a wound on her arm. I bandaged it up and gave the mother some medicine, as much as I could spare. She gave me the cross. It was pretty beat up but I kept it and brought it back with me. After I was turned, I was packing away my old things and I found it. I had it repaired and reset in white gold with a platinum chain." He shrugged. "I guess I it reminds me of who I used to be and I wanted you to have that part of me."
Beth's eyes were misty. "Mick, you're still that person, the one who would help an injured child or find a kidnapped one. Thank you for telling me. It means so much and I love it." She gave him a small smile. "I never asked you about the necklace because I thought it was something from Coraline."
Mick made a grimace of disgust. "I'd never keep anything of hers."
"Good." She put the box carefully on the coffee table. "I can't wear it with this dress, but I will tomorrow." Then she snaked her arms around his neck, drawing him close. Mick pulled her to him, feeling her melt against him. His mind clouded with lust and he started to nibble on her earlobe.
Beth smirked. "Did you say you had another present for me?" She backed away from him a little.
Mick laughed and nipped her lower lip. "Yes I did, you greedy minx." He was pleased to see her excited, her azure eyes glowing. "I should make you work for it, though." he said, crossing his arms and trying to look severe.
Beth ran her fingers down his cheek, "How about if I promise you a good workout later. I guarantee you'll be happy with your reward."
Mick's fangs showed as he gave her a predatory grin. "I'm sure I will be."
"So, do I get my other present?" Beth was not to be deterred and watched as Mick pulled out an envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it to her. She opened it to discover two tickets and read them eagerly. "Mick," she breathed. "These are for Wicked, on Broadway. We're going to New York?" He nodded, and she squealed, bouncing on her heels, her hair flying as she jumped on him. "When are we going?"
Mick chuckled, "Next week. Josef is letting us use the jet and I have a hotel lined up. We can see some other shows and do the museums or whatever you want." He was glad she was excited about the trip. He'd promised her they would go back and have a real vacation.
"Oh, Mick, it will be so much fun!" She let go of him, making sure she hadn't mussed his tuxedo—much. "Let's get to Josef's. I want to talk to Simone; we have some shopping to do before the trip."
Mick rolled his eyes in mock defeat. "Just no more shoes, okay?" Her shoes overflowed into his closet and he teased her about it often.
"Oh, please. You know—if the shoe fits, buy it." Beth smirked. "You can never have too many Naughty Monkeys."
After a cool evening ride in the open Benz, Mick and Beth were escorted into the mansion's plush library by Hale.
"Mr. Josef and Miss Simone will be here in a moment." Hale intoned. "And may I take this opportunity to wish you felicitations on your re-birthday, Ms. Turner."
If Beth could have blushed, she would have at the imperious majordomo's comment. "Thank you, Hale." The manservant withdrew and Beth gave Mick an embarrassed smile. "I know it's supposed to be my party, but I hope Josef doesn't go overboard."
Mick took her hand and gave it a squeeze. "Don't worry, sweetheart. We can ask him not to make a big deal."
The door opened and Simone came through, followed by Josef. Simone looked elegant in a strapless silver dress, accented by her sapphire jewelry.
"Beth!" Simone came over to her. "You look beautiful tonight. Happy birthday."
Josef also came over and kissed her hand, not even bothering to glance at Mick. "You are a vision, Beth." he leered up at her over her hand.
Simone snorted, and cuffed him on the shoulder. "Down boy."
Josef grinned, unashamed. "What can I do when there are two gorgeous women in the same room?" He looked at Mick for confirmation as Mick made his way to the bar.
"C'mon, Josef. Quit flirting with Beth and break out the single malt." Mick could tell Josef was in a good mood. Too bad they had the party tonight, Mick would have loved to play some eight ball and take his friend down a notch.
Josef joined Mick at the bar and poured drinks for all of them. He raised his glass to Beth, "Happy birthday to a lovely member of the tribe."
"Thank you." Beth said. "Um, Josef, I appreciate all you're doing, but could you not make it a big deal at the party?"
Josef shook his head and Simone said, "Of course, if that's what you want, Beth." She gave Josef a warning look.
"Thanks," Beth replied, relieved. "I just want to enjoy the party." She turned to Simone. "You know Mick and I are going to New York next week?"
Simone smiled. "Yes, I heard. What are you going to do there?" The women moved away to talk and Mick poured another drink.
"You sure you can afford Beth and New York shopping?" Josef asked with a smirk.
Mick sipped his scotch and looked at Beth fondly. "Whatever she wants, I can afford it. I promised her a trip and the last couple of times we were there it wasn't exactly fun."
Josef's recollections of Sarah and the attempted assassination surfaced and his shoulders slumped a little. Mick saw this and said, "Thanks for the use of the jet. It's much more comfortable than flying commercial."
"Sure, no problem, buddy." Josef pulled himself from his memories. "Why don't you and Beth head into the ballroom. Simone and I have to do the meet and greet thing."
The group made their way out of the room, with Josef and Simone going to the door to welcome the guests. Mick and Beth entered the ballroom which had been festively decorated and was chilled to accommodate the vampires.
Tonight there was a pianist to play first then a band later for dancing. Mick and Beth looked around and to see if anyone they knew had arrived. Beth spotted the female freshies by the warmer clothing they wore against the chill. The refreshment tables against the wall had food as well as blood for the vampires. She was pleased she no longer felt uncomfortable around humans. It was second nature to block out their heartbeats and scent of blood. Mick put his arm around Beth's waist as they wandered around the room.
"Mr. St. John." A male voice interrupted them. They turned to see Gerald Stofsky greeting them with a smile.
"Gerald, how good to see you." Beth responded before Mick could frown. He had been dismissive of the geeky vampire so Beth was being polite for them both. She noted that Gerald seemed different, more assured and there was an elegant brunette vampire at his side.
"I'd like to wish you happy returns on your anniversary day." Gerald said smoothly. "May I introduce Sonora Vargas?"
The introductions were made and Mick even smiled at Sonora.
"We haven't seen you for a while, Gerald. Are you still at the lab?" Beth asked to make conversation.
"No, we just got back from Japan." He glanced at his companion. We were working on the reactor accident, doing clean up and repair. There were quite a few vamps from all over the world. That's where Sonora and I met."
Sonora continued, "I'm on sabbatical from teaching at MIT. After Japan, Gerry wanted me to see his lab. He's trying to convince me to leave academia and work in the private sector." She smiled at the rocket scientist.
Beth could feel Mick's amusement at Gerald Stofsky having a girlfriend, and quickly said. "That's wonderful. Maybe we could get together while you're in town."
Gerald nodded. "So nice to meet you both." Sonora said and Mick and Beth moved away. Beth squeezed his hand. "Be nice, Mick." She warned.
Mick snorted and looked at her with a grin. "Yes, dear." He couldn't wait to tell Josef about Stofsky. Beth knew what he was thinking. Men are such gossips.
They headed for the refreshment table, and got some scotch. The ballroom was filling up, and Beth noticed that Mick drew the eyes of all the ladies, human and vampire. She wasn't going to let any of them get too close after what happened with Natalya. "Dance with me, Mick." She asked huskily, and they moved to the dance floor.
At the other end of the room, Ben Talbot surveyed the partygoers and was surprised that he knew more than a few faces. He'd been to Josef's last party, but had just found out about vampires so he wasn't paying much attention. Now, several months later he was more comfortable spending time with them. It also helped that he and Megan were on a solid footing with their relationship. He knew he loved the enchanting vampire even though he didn't know where they might end up. She brought something to his life he had been missing and he'd changed. Instead of total focus on his profession he was now looking at other options. He knew he couldn't pursue a political career with Megan at his side as too many questions would be asked that could put her secret in jeopardy. He realized that he didn't really care about eventually being governor. Megan glanced at him from where she was talking with a couple of people and smiled. It was a secret smile, meant just for him. He felt his heart swell, knowing that what they had together.
Ben made his way toward her, taking her arm. She introduced him and he nodded his greeting. "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to steal her away for a dance or two." The band had started to play and many people were dancing. Ben shifted her in his arms and she looked up at him. "Are you having a good time?" She asked softly.
He put his mouth to her ear. "I'm always good with you." He was rewarded with a dazzling smile and Megan nestled closer to his chest as they danced.
Guillermo watched Mick and Beth glide around the floor while he sipped his O-. He was glad everything was finally operating smoothly. The donation centers were open and he was enjoying running them. He liked working in the morgue but it was nice not being tied to an hourly job. Now he had businesses to run and was up for the challenge. He'd never be the mogul that Josef was, but he knew he could be successful. He finished his drink and saw Mick and Beth coming off the dance floor toward him.
"Hi, G." Mick said, shaking his hand. "How are you?" Mick hadn't seen Guillermo since the night they'd chased down and disposed of the renegade vampire that kidnapped Simone.
"Great," Guillermo replied. By consensus, that night wasn't mentioned in front of Beth. "Happy birthday, Beth." Guillermo gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. They had become closer while working on the donation centers and Beth was glad to have him as a friend.
"Thanks." Beth said. "I can't believe its' been a year already."
Guillermo and Beth started to chat about the donation centers, and Mick whispered to her that he'd be back in a few minutes. He went into Josef's library, relishing the tranquility. He didn't especially like crowds which was why he so rarely attended Josef's parties before he was with Beth. He wasn't surprised to see Josef enter quietly a few minutes later.
"Hey, not enjoying the bash?" Josef smirked, heading for the bar.
"It's great, but too many people sometimes." Mick responded, accepting a glass of ancient scotch from Josef.
"Yeah, but it's good to see everybody and do some networking. Keeps the community tight." Josef crooked his eyebrow. "So, you all set for New York? Did Sam fix you up?"
Mick nodded. He'd gone to Josef's goldsmith a few weeks before to have a custom engagement ring made for Beth.
"Gonna pop the question in the Big Apple?" Josef snarked. "Maybe we'll have a double wedding."
"I don't know." Mick admitted. He planned to propose to Beth in New York and he was a little anxious. They loved each other but she was fiercely independent and he wasn't sure if she wanted something traditional like marriage. He wasn't the poster-boy for marital bliss either and it had taken him a long time to want to marry again.
"C'mon Mick," Josef reassured him. "All women like the rings and the pomp of a wedding."
Mick ran his hand through his hair, suddenly uneasy. "I hope so. I don't want to push her, but I need to show her I'm willing to take the next step."
"Then, go for it buddy." Josef finished his drink. "Gotta get back and make sure the party's going well. I'll find blondie and tell her you're on your way."
Mick smiled to himself. He would have to make sure Beth did want to marry him and he would make sure she knew how he felt. He finished his drink and hurried to find her in the ballroom.
Just a start, but hope you enjoyed. Next, more party and we find someone who's pretty unhappy. Thanks for reading!