From: Behind Closed Doors
I pulled into Josef's huge circle driveway and parked behind his BMW. His vampire butler, Niles, a butler in his former life as well, let me in with a polite: "Sir. He's expecting you."
I walked back to his home office area, conveniently located near the pool. Josef was pacing back and forth, no doubt impatient for my arrival.
"Mick—you gotta help me; I'm losing my mind here."
"I ain't gonna argue with that—"
"What did Beth say about Simone?"
"Well, Josef, I was in the middle of finding out when you so rudely interrupted me. She says she's sworn to secrecy."
"Remember, when Coraline came back? You swore up and down it was her. You were sounding pretty crazy yourself." His pacing was driving me crazy.
"And, as I recall, you didn't believe me at the time."
"I only bring that up to let you know that that's where my head is now."
I stood deliberately in front of him to make him stop. "I believe you, man. Oliver's threats are real. But you're now approaching panic mode, and that's not like you at all. I'm getting more worried about you than Simone."
Just then, Niles uncharacteristically rushed in. He looked in shock.
"Sir, sorry to interrupt-I think you should come out front right away."
"Is it Simone?"
"No, sir—there's really no way to explain it…"
We brushed past the butler and headed back through the house. As we approached the front door, we heard a loud, metallic crash, and the sound of an engine revving up and speeding down the driveway. Josef opened the door in time for us to see the tail of a tow truck exiting through the gate. Then our attention came back to the unusual delivery on Josef's front lawn.
"What the hell—"
Deeply sunken into the well-manicured grass was a four-by-four-foot cube of red steel and tan leather. With a sense of great foreboding, we walked over to it. Josef squatted down beside the cube and saw, deeply embedded into the metal, a small, yellow shield, and upon it, a rearing black stallion, and the letters "S F". The Ferrari. Or what was left of it.
"Holy shit!" He all but screeched. "That goddamn son-of-a-bitch! I'm gonna kill him! I'm gonna rip his head off and shove it up his ass! I'm gonna suck the bastard dry! I'm gonna disembowel him with my bare hands! I'm—I'm" He was shaking so hard I thought he was going to explode. He was also seriously vamping out. I didn't dare try to comfort him. While he raged away and listed further ways he planned to desecrate Oliver's corpse, I noticed a folded slip of paper, duct-taped to the side of the uh, Ferrari. I opened it up. Neatly printed were these simple words: "Now, we're square."
My lips twitched, and I mashed them quickly together so Josef wouldn't see. Oliver was a bastard, but you had to admire his style. Josef grabbed the paper from me, and began his diatribe all over again.
From Poker Night
"Mick, my man, I think it's time to Christen this baby," Josef said to me, indicating his newly restored office. We both stood a moment, admiring the posh space with its expensive leather chairs and the huge mahogany desk that dominated the room. In colors of blood red and black, it looked like a vampire's hideaway, which, of course, it was.
"It's very cool, Josef. What do you have in mind?"
"Why, a poker game, of course. Let's get the guys together, some of that expensive scotch you like, and a couple of beautiful freshies. What do you say?" I had been spending a lot of time with Beth lately, at the expense of my vamp friends. I guess Josef was feeling a little slighted. Then again, his philosophy had always been that there didn't have to be a good reason for a party. I walked over to the oval conference table and sat experimentally in one of the black leather chairs. "What would Simone think," I asked, deliberately baiting him, "of the freshies, I mean?" I knew the two of them had been hot and heavy lately, since Josef's birthday party a couple weeks ago. Simone wanted to become a vampire, but Josef was still resisting. I knew he had it bad for her, however, and I was pretty sure Simone wouldn't like the idea of him partaking of other freshies.
"Simone and I have an...understanding of sorts."
"Uh-huh," I said, unconvinced.
"At any rate, this is my new office, and I have my own friends, who have their own needs and expect a good time at my place. Simone is just gonna have to deal with it."
"Right. Okay, I'm in."
"But what about Beth?" He asked. Turn about was fair play, I suppose.
"What about Beth? I have nothing to worry about there. I don't plan to utilize any freshies, thank you. I prefer my blood from a plastic bag."
"Sure, you do. Beth not fulfilling her freshie duties?"
I hesitated. This was still a sensitive subject for me. Beth and I hadn't slept together since our first time two weeks before, back when I lost control and bit her, nearly killing her from the blood loss.
"I don't want to hurt her, Josef. I've been meaning to ask your advice on that." I didn't have anyone else to ask. His ear-to-ear grin didn't help me feel comfortable about asking him, though.
"Mick, Mick, Mick. Mind over matter. If she doesn't mind, it doesn't matter."
"Oh, that's hilarious, and so helpful, too. I'm the one who minds here. She's more to me than a feed bag. I feel like I'm using her and endangering her at the same time. Not a feeling conducive to good sex."
"Hey, it's never been a problem for me." I guess he could see how upsetting this truly was to me. "Look, I know this is all going back to you wanting to be something you're not-or what you're not anymore. Until you finally accept that you're a vampire, you're going to keep having these issues." I knew he was right. But one more taste of humanity a couple months ago, with Coraline's "cure", had made me want to be human again more than anything, almost as much as I wanted Beth. And with Beth in my life now, I felt more aware of what I had lost, of what Coraline had taken from me.
"So, is that your only advice?" I knew I sounded bitter and angry. Then again, I was, but not really at Josef. He sat down across from me.
"Okay, here's my advice. Before Sarah knew I was a vampire, I had to do my best to hide it from her. It wasn't easy, believe me. She figured it out though, eventually, when I lost control myself. I guess when you're that into someone, it's more difficult to fight it. But at first, I just...held my breath and counted."
"You're kidding me, right? How far did you count, because I don't want her to lose interest right in the middle of things."
He laughed. "You'll know. It worked, up to a point. Then she saw me turn and that was the end of my little secret. She didn't seem to care-after she got over the shock, I mean. But Beth knows what you are. Have you asked her if this is a big deal to her?"
"We've been kind of avoiding the subject, which is not something Beth is used to doing, believe me. Okay, I'm the one avoiding it. I'm sure she's starting to think I don't want her in that way anymore."
"I kinda doubt that. But it's not going to go away, Mick. The elephant in the room and all that. You are still so 1950's about so many things. I mean, it's sweet and endearing and all, but Beth is a modern woman. I'd hate to see you screw this up because of your Leave it to Beaver hang-ups."
I really wanted to slug him about now. It sucked that he knew me so well. "Fine," I finally said. "I'll talk to her about it. Then, I'll practice holding my breath."
"Atta boy! Now, about our poker game..."
From: A Little Water Nookie
After I hung up with Beth, I speed-dialed Josef. If he was working from the office today, he probably wouldn't care if we used the pool at his house. I knew, however, that he wouldn't let me have it easily.
"Hey, Mick. Why the hell do we live in LA? I know it's not for the cool ocean breezes."
"It must be the fast cars and faster women," I told him.
"Well, I'm glad we can partake of those things at night, because a vampire wasn't meant to survive in this hostile environment."
"So, are you working from home today?"
"I wish I hadn't had to leave the house. No, I'm stuck in the office, having to put out a few fires my screw-up board members started. Why, did you need something?"
Okay, I thought, here goes. "Can Beth and I borrow your pool?"
A silent beat, then: "Hmmm…some skinny-dipping with the human, eh? A little water nookie? A little Blue Lagoon in the backyard? The underwater mambo?"
"Is that a yes or a no?"
"Wait—I'm not done."
"Go ahead, Josef, get it all out of your system…"
"Doing the breast stroke? Watching the submarine races? Launching the torpedo? Searching for Moby Dick? Diving for pearls and shucking the oyster? Doing the soak and poke? Parting the pink sea? Driving the flesh boat to Tuna Town? Spearing the-"
"Okay, Josef," I tried to get out between guffaws of laughter. "Stop!"
We were both laughing hysterically by then. I wiped my eyes, and held my stomach.
Josef recovered first. "Sure man, it's at your disposal. I'll let Niles know you're com—I mean, that you'll be there."
"Thanks, Josef. I'm so glad I called."
"Anything for the good of humanity."
I had to recover a few minutes before I could call Beth back with the good news.