Kats (wildrider) wrote,

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I'm just a lonely rider in a mixed-up world

Gakked from shipperx

1. last movie you watched: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; am right now watching Moonshot on DVR.
2. last book you read: The last book I finished was Beautiful Chaos, a Doctor/Donna adventure -- and apparently the last with Donna, she only got four books (or did I finish the Doctor-only The Eyeless? Maybe the latter.) I'm currently re-reading </i>Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell</i> and Bridge of Birds (it's been so long since I read the latter it's like reading a brand-new book).
4. last restaurant you went to: Egads, I can't remember! It may have been The Pacific Seafood Buffet, for edgedancer's birthday...
5. last sporting event you went to: Been a while, here, too; likely the 2008 Fourth of July Diamondbacks game
6. last time you were sick: Couple of months ago -- I'd actually have to go back in LJ to find out!
7. last pet you acquired: Cuervo, who stomped his way into our lives and stayed.
8. last present you received: Probably flowers & candy on Valentine's Day
9. last present you gave: As a couple, we gave framefolly a necklace Barb made; I gave everyone trinkets when I got back from Vegas.
10. last meme (besides this one) you filled out: The "How many of me?" and the "What Pattern is Your Brain?" memes

Another morning waking to an explosive sinus headache -- between the monsoonal pressure changes and bad air, Phoenix is kicking my ass through my head. I staggered up, took some medication, then went back to bed, blowing off a morning workout, but I took my bag and I DID stop at the gym on the way home and at least did my 45 minutes on the ellipsis. I rock.

The Vampire and Me

Chapter One

Las Vegas is a perfect setting for vice. It's also, sometimes rather surprisingly, a large
community of ordinary people quite apart from the tourists who come to watch the Rat Pack sing
at the Sands and the Dunes hotels or gamble their lives away at any of the flashy casinos.
Ordinary homes and neighborhoods creep into the desert from the central areas, Downtown and
the Strip, tentacles of life pumping blood into the main arteries. They're the people who make
the beds, clean the rooms, guard the coatrooms, cook and serve the meals, and the ones who offer
other entertainment.

Bonnie Michaels was born in Vegas. She'd grown up playing in the heat-soaked streets,
watching her mother in her glamorous gowns and sultry makeup entertain a wide array of men,
but there were always one or two special benefactors who took care of them. The house she'd
grown up in had been provided by "Daddy Davis," who had liked to come on the weekends and
relax with them, taking Momma out to dinner and shows. He pulled Bonnie's ponytails and
teased. She'd liked him a great deal. When he left forever, "Daddy Alan" came. He hadn't been
quite as nice, preferring to believe Momma didn't have any children at all. But he'd stayed
longer, and Momma had been very happy while he'd provided for them.

Bonnie knew nothing of her real daddy, although she knew Momma kept a picture of a
handsome soldier in uniform tucked between her mattress and box springs, along with a faded
blue ribbon and a letter that read only,

"Belgium, 15 December, 1944.

Dear Molly,

I think this is very nearly the end of it all. I don't despair, though, because I think
about you and the wee Bonnie girl and it gives me more strength than you could
possibly imagine. I can hear explosions and smell death but through it all, I know
I have something so important to live for I can't stop fighting for it. If all the
world blows up tomorrow, at least I know I'm loved. I'm going to get some sleep
tonight and I'll write more tomorrow."

Apparently, tomorrow never came. Bonnie didn't know who the soldier was, but once she'd
seen Momma crying over it. It was the only time she'd asked about it, and Momma's reaction
had made sure Bonnie never asked again.

Bonnie always knew, in a way, that Momma was different from the other mothers around.
She heard the whispers and saw the sideways looks, but it never really affected her much until
she turned fifteen and Momma started to train her. How to attract a man, how to interest him,
how to be a proper mistress. How to gain a benefactor, a man who would take care of her but not
for marriage. "Marrying a man is just handing him all your rights," Momma would say with a
sniff, whenever they passed one of Vegas's many wedding chapels. "What you want is all the
benefits of marriage without those foolish entanglements. Like I have with your Daddy Alan."

"Yes, Momma," Bonnie would reply. It wasn't until she was sixteen that she really
understood what it meant.

When she turned eighteen she found her first benefactor and moved permanently out of
Momma's house. He was an older man, who came to Vegas rather regularly, and liked the idea
of a house and a mistress to care for it for the times when he'd visit. Robert was much older than
Bonnie, full of fun and somewhat mischievous, and Bonnie liked him. He made few demands on
her physically, although he enjoyed that part of their arrangement as well, and cared only that she
accompanied him when he wanted her to, she kept his house nice for his visits, and she always
made herself available to him when he needed or wanted her. In exchange he set her up with a
place to live and an generous allowance and Bonnie found herself living the way her mother
wanted her to. In many ways, she enjoyed it a great deal.

Then he died. She found herself staggered by his loss in many ways, the first of which was
the discovery that her house was not her own. His relatives put her out on the street with nothing
but her meager savings, which had given her fair warning not to rely on just the possibility of a
benefactor always being there.

But Bonnie had several things going for her. She had her fancy gowns, her wits, and her
looks, all of which she knew how to use to her advantage. She knew her mother had lost more
than one benefactor and had always bounced back. Bonnie could do the same.

The Sands Hotel and Casino was a grand place, filled to the brim with high-roller tourists
and slack-jawed yokels who came to gawk at Las Vegas and all its glitz. Bonnie knew her way
around a casino, of course, since Robert had been very fond of gambling, and she knew that men
of his calibre tended to congregate around the high stakes areas, baccarat and poker. She had
planned on trying the baccarat room first, just because it was generally higher stakes and she
figured she might as well start at the top, but the poker room was filled with players and
spectators, watching a fairly hot game in the center, and Bonnie found herself attracted to it as

Sitting at the table were six men, including the dealer, playing in grim-faced silence.
Bonnie's eyes slid over each of them appraisingly. The dealer she discounted immediately, for
several reasons; she knew a dealer made good money, but he was a working man, and more
importantly, he was a local. Such entanglements generally led to proposals if a girl wasn't
careful. Bonnie had met other girls like herself who'd made that mistake.

The man to the dealer's right looked like a professional gambler. He played with a blank
face and a lot of money and didn't drink much, keeping his wits sharp. He was probably in his
fifties, and if he were a professional, then it was possible he was also a local, and more, made his
living on the turn of a card. He was definitely out. The next player was much more promising, a
man of obvious means, in a nice suit with the collar undone and a good stack of chips in front of
him. He might have been in his late forties, which was a perfect age, and he didn't look like he
played for anything but fun. Still, Bonnie looked around the rest of the circle.

Across from the dealer was a tall man who didn't look like he was even old enough to be in
the casino. He was smoking and drinking heavily, but his expression was sharp and his stack of
chips was as impressive as the older men. He played with as much cutthroat determination and
cool lack of expression as the professional, but he always had a bright smile for the waitress who
came to freshen drinks. In fact, when Bonnie first saw that smile she sat dazed for a moment,
unable to look further. The smile turned him from middle-attractive to heart-stoppingly
handsome, his youthful face matured by the slightest crinkles at the corners of his enormous eyes,
an expression that was so natural and honest he was suddenly and oddly breathtaking. When
those huge eyes caught her gaze, that smile turned its million-watt power on her. Bonnie's pulse
jumped, her heart in her throat.

Good God, the last thing she needed was to be attracted to some boy, probably on his first
trip to Vegas and spending his father's money. For money he had, and apparently copious
amounts of it. He bet ruthlessly and bluffed without mercy, and he was wearing a well-tailored,
glitzy Western style suit and had a gold pocket watch slung across his vest. There was a heavy
gold ring on his hand with a family crest on it, not unlike the coat-of-arms that Momma used to
have on her wall. His hair was long on top, curly like Dean Martin's hair, and a rich brown that
shone a little in the light, and he wore long Elvis-style sideburns that edged his jaw. He was
drinking whiskey on the rocks and it didn't appear that it had dulled his senses any. Several of
the hands came down to him, the dealer, and the professional, with some pots going one way and
some the other.

Bonnie forced herself to look at the rest of the players. A tourist, of the most obvious kind,
who had probably never been to Vegas before and never would come again. The last one of
those sorts who played for enjoyment and didn't worry one way or the other whether he won
since he wasn't betting heavily. She turned her gaze back to her most promising target, trying to
keep from looking again at the handsome boy. When he caught her not-looking at him, he
winked at her, not shifting his real attention from the cards in his hand. Bonnie swallowed and
looked away.

The last thing she needed right now was a distraction from the business at hand, and she
never let herself think that what she did was anything but a business. She curled her legs in close
to her chair and watched the best prospect for her future benefactor, trying to banish all thoughts
of the youngster with the dazzling smile.

When the table changed dealers, the players wordlessly agreed to a break. The tourist folded
and gathered what remained of his chips, while the other men left their belongings while they
rose to stretch. Best Prospect, standing, cut a fine figure. Bonnie nodded to herself as she sized
him up. He had a pretty good face, too.

Then the youngster stood. He'd looked tall while seated; standing, he loomed over every
man there. He was remarkably thin but his shoulders were broad. Bonnie guessed he'd fill out
quite a bit as he got older. He hesitated at the table, his long fingers resting on top of his chips,
and took out his pocket watch, opening it to look at the time.

"Got some kind of appointment there, sonny?" asked Best Prospect. The youngster glanced
up at him.

"Yessir," he said in a slow drawl, something Southern. Bonnie was used to hearing all
manner of accents in her home town. "I ain't missin' Dean Martin tonight."

"Ah, lucky boy," replied Best Prospect. "My wife and I couldn't get tickets."

The youngster grinned and stuck out his hand. "Sean Patrick O'Connor. Been a real
pleasure playin' with you, sir."

"You've got a pretty damned cool head for a kid your age," replied Best Prospect, shaking
the offered hand. "You took the throat out of that guy," he jerked his thumb at the professional
gambler, who was taking the break having a smoke and chatting up one of the showgirls who had
gone fluttering by on their way to the main lounge. "I wasn't expecting that level of play when I
came in here."

O'Connor grinned. "Well, I'm a little older than I look. I've been playing for a while." He
looked at his watch again. "I can sit in a few more hands."

"Damn. I thought maybe we could shed you and I had a chance here," replied Best Prospect,

Bonnie was sorry he hadn't introduced himself. She was curious to know his name. She
kept her eyes on him as the men returned to the game, wondering the best way to approach this
one. Married, that wasn't really a problem, but how happily? A very happily married man was
less likely to want a mistress, but as Momma always said, every man secretly wanted one. Given
the opportunity, would this one bite?

She felt someone watching her and turned. It was O'Connor, his huge brown eyes now
appraising, taking in her figure with rather more than the cheerful gentlemanly demeanor he'd
showed before. The look made her insides a little gooey for a moment, before he noticed she was
looking back and the bedroom eyes abruptly vanished, the expression returning instantly to what
it had been before. Whatever else, he appeared to have been exceptionally well brought up. But
underneath it there was still a pretty randy young man. Bonnie found herself wondering what it
might be like to sleep with a man who wasn't old enough to be her father. Or even older brother.
This O'Connor didn't have a single grey hair or line on his face, other than the laugh lines around
his eyes that showed up when he smiled. And his hands were beautiful, long and fine, man
enough to have had a manicure, the hands of an aristocrat.

How rich was he, anyway?

"Ridiculous, Bonnie," she chided herself under her breath. Momma had always said that
young men were off the radar, because a young man would want marriage and entanglements.
No young man was ready to set himself up a mistress in another city.

The game lasted another hour before O'Connor cashed in. Bonnie tried not to watch him as
he gathered his winnings and exited the poker room. Instead, she refocused her attention on her
prospect, working up in her mind the best way to approach. She waited until he finished his
game play, although it was getting quite late, and didn't exactly follow him to the bar, but aimed
in more or less the same direction.

She found him seated at the bar, paying for a drink rather than sitting at a slot machine to get
a watered-down handout. Bonnie checked her reflection in the mirror behind the bar as she sat
down next to him. "Buy a girl a drink?" she asked softly.

He glanced sideways at her. "Sorry, honey, I'm not looking to hire a hooker."

His flat insult was delivered in a patronizing tone, as though she were not only completely
beneath him, but beneath even the words he was speaking. She felt them cut her, much more
deeply than they should have, and for a moment she was struck completely dumb. She
swallowed and looked again at herself in the mirror.

Her dress, while somewhat low cut, was a modest rich blue. It was a classic cut, not at all
"mod." Bonnie preferred styles that hearkened back to the late fifties, the cool elegance of the
post-war years. Her long blonde hair was swept back from her face and caught in loose braids
behind her head, where the rest hung loose to her waist. She didn't need to wear a fall, it was all
her own hair. Her makeup was perfect, as fine as any woman here. She wouldn't be out of place
anywhere, and she knew it. Certainly she wasn't thin enough to effect Twiggy's fashions, but
she knew she looked quite good. The insult was making her face hot. She could see high color
in her cheeks. "I beg your pardon?" she managed.

"Come on, sweetie, I saw you checkin' out the guys," her 'best prospect' said in that same
derisive tone. "Move on, sugar. I don't need to pay for it."

"I'll thank you to be a little more polite to the lady," came a slow drawl from over her
shoulder. Bonnie whipped around to see young Mr. O'Connor, a crease between his eyebrows
from his frown as he glared.

"Lady? Shit, kid, you're fooling yourself with that one," was the reply.

O'Connor seemed to move like a blink. He grabbed the other man by the shoulder. "Ain't
no reason for that kind of language in front of ladies," he hissed in a low voice. He sounded
surprisingly menacing for someone so apparently genial. "And if you're so perfect, then what are
you doin' hangin' out in a bar instead of headin' back to your wife, this time of night?"

"Mind your own business, son, if you know what's good for you. You might be one hell of a
poker player, but I'll wipe the floor with you if you can't keep that long nose out of what doesn't
concern you."

"I'm always concerned when it comes to defending a nice lady's honor, you dumb shit," he
paused and glanced at Bonnie. "Pardon me, ma'am."

Her eyes widened. "It's all right, you don't have to protect me. I've been insulted by better
men than him." For all he'd been her best prospect tonight, he was obviously no longer even
worth wiping her shoes on. Especially not when she was wearing high-quality designer boots,
too. She pushed herself to her feet and sneered as convincingly as she could at her former
prospect. "Too bad for you. I'm fantastic," she said, and walked off with as much sex appeal as
she could muster without looking trashy.

Just like Momma had taught her.

Maybe she should have gone to the baccarat tables. A much higher class of gambler, there.
Poker was for the lower mob, and Bonnie knew she should have known better. The worst part
was a full day's wasted. She left the Sands feeling worn out and more than a little bereft, aiming
for the cheap motel she was staying at until she could get her feet back under her.

As frugal as she was living, her money was going to run out on her eventually. The last thing
she wanted was to end up in some seedy motel out on the desert highway away from both Vegas
proper and the Strip. "Paradise," she muttered as she walked the blocks to her hotel, wrapping
her coat tightly around herself to keep away both the chilly night air and any potential assailants.
It was stupid walking by herself, but she had really very little choice. A cab would waste money.

Tomorrow, though. Tomorrow she would find the right one, and she would have a new
benefactor. She couldn't last too long without one.

The next evening Bonnie decided to take on the Dunes, the next classy place, down several
blocks past the Castaways, the Flamingo, and a vast area under construction. She contemplated
trying further up, perhaps the New Frontier or Silver Slipper, but eventually continued on south
to the Dunes, where overflow from the new Aladdin across the street was filling the casino and
the hallways with every kind of prospect, from the best to the worst. It was nearly time to take
whatever she could get.

She stopped at the ladies' room to check her makeup and brush the dust off her dress. She
was wearing a soft yellow tonight, and she was certain she didn't look any more like a hooker
tonight than she had yesterday. It was hard to believe how much the man's words still rankled,
clawing at the back of her mind like a canker. She was not a hooker, not a prostitute. One man,
that was all. Just like any woman, but without the added baggage of a marriage license.

Coming out of the restroom area, she nearly walked into someone going in, who caught her
shoulders before she toppled over backward. "Pardon me, ma'am," said a soft drawl. She
looked up into Sean Patrick O'Connor's gigantic chocolate-brown eyes. That warm, real,
sunshine smile blasted over her with the impact of a freight train when he saw her face. "Well,
we meet again. You followin' me?" He was teasing, his eyes crinkled merrily at the corners. He
was wearing another well-tailored suit, with rhinestones glittering on the shoulders. He looked
like he'd walked off the set of Hee Haw.

"Just luck, I suppose," she said. "Excuse me."

He winked and went on past her. She couldn't help but watch him as he disappeared into the
men's room. How could any woman resist a boy that cute? He must have scads of girlfriends.

The main reason Bonnie had chosen poker last night was because, frankly, baccarat was so
hard for her to understand, and the men who played were even more intense than poker players.
Still, the richest men played baccarat, and sometimes, the loneliest. Daddy Alan had been a
baccarat player. Momma had always gone for the baccarat rooms, back in the days before the
Strip was much of anything but the mobster's playground, the Desert Inn and Bugsy Siegel's

But prospects were slim and Bonnie was hungry. After several hours, boredom and hunger
drove her to the cheap and plentiful food at the buffet. As the host led her to a table, she saw her
cowboy once again, just sitting down. His plate was heaped high with a variety of items. He
glanced up, saw her, and smiled again. He jerked his head toward the seat across from him.
"Will you join me?" he asked, looking briefly at the host.

"If I'm not disturbing you," she replied.

Without comment, the host shifted gears and led her to the occupied table, made a polite
noise, and gestured toward the buffet proper. "Help yourself," he said, and hurried back to seat
the next arrivals.

"I'm here alone, and it looks like you are, too," said O'Connor. He wiped his mouth and his
fingers, reaching across the table. "I'd like to know my dinner guest. I'm Sean Patrick

Bonnie took his hand. "Bonnie Michaels," she replied. His hands were as nice to touch as
they were to look at. Long and fine, with a strong grip, they were cool and dry and his skin was
smooth. "Are you sure I'm not disturbing you?"

"Not at all. Go on, get your dinner and then have a seat. I like to share my meal with a pretty
lady." That smile again. Bonnie went and filled her plate at the carving station, figuring a good
beef dinner would keep her going longer than the vegetables she'd been living on, and returned
to the table.

She dared to look at what her host had filled his plate with. Beef, turkey, and chicken, pasta,
shrimp, and mashed potatoes with copious amounts of gravy, as well as several rolls and a
goodly amount of butter. Well, he was thin as a string, no reason why he shouldn't have a hearty
appetite. He only glanced at her plate as she sat down.

"I know, I could go back again," he said, "but I almost always fill up with too much on the
first trip because I can't make up my mind." He laughed a little and took a drink from the glass
of soda he had in front of him. "Would you like some wine, or anything else, to drink?" he

"Wine would be nice," she admitted, "but I don't know that I can afford it right now. I'm a
little strapped."

"Don't worry about it," he gestured to the waiter who was taking care of drink orders.
"Order anything you like, I'll take care of it."

"Oh, no, I couldn't do that."

"Sure, you can," he disagreed. "My treat." He ordered a full bottle of sparkling Italian wine,
then said, "It goes with everything, sparkling wines. Don't have to worry about what meat you're

She hesitated a moment, then said, "Well, it's very festive. Thank you, Sean."

"Oh, Sean Patrick, please," he said. "I don't think I'd answer if someone called me just plain
Sean. It always catches me up short when folks do that. So. What brings you to the casinos
when you're light of cash? Just enjoy watching the sport?"

"Pretty much," she said, not wanting to tell this mannerly young man what she really did. It
wasn't that she was ashamed of her vocation, it was just that she didn't like the shocked looks
that sometimes crossed people's faces when they found out she was, well, a courtesan; and she
didn't want to drive him away just yet. Eventually he would go, but it was nice to have someone
to talk to at dinner for a change. "How about you? Are you a regular visitor to Las Vegas, or is
this your first time?"

"Third time, actually," he replied. "This is my birthday trip."

"Well, happy birthday," she said.

"Thanks. It's actually tomorrow, the sixteenth, but I came up early to catch some of the
shows as well."

"Are you staying at the Sands?"

"Yep. That's where I can watch Dino sing, of course, and anyone else I can catch tickets for.
And I like to play poker, just in case you didn't notice."

"I did," she replied. He poured her wine and some for himself, alternating between the
alcohol and his soda as he talked.

"I live in Texas," he said.

"Ah, that's the accent. I thought it was Southern," she said.

"I like to think there's a distinct difference between plain 'southern' and Texas," he replied
with humorous dignity. "San Antonio, specifically. My family's got a spread down there. I
came up to Vegas the first time last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My ne um, my
cousin and I came up to check it all out. We hear about it down home, of course, and had to see
it for ourselves. Me, I went nuts. So I came back in January and now again."

"That's a lot of trips in six months."

"It's only money," was the offhand remark. He wiped his plate with a roll and set the dish on
the edge of the table. "I'm gonna fill up again. Be right back."

She watched him get back in the buffet line, then turned her attention to her own meal. It
was really very nice, having a meal with someone who was pleasant to talk to, someone close to
her own age. "So what do you like to do, when you're not gambling in Vegas?" she asked him
when he returned, again laden with as much as his plate could hold.

"Me? Oh, I'm just a big kid at heart," he replied with another smile. "I like to read and
watch TV, I love music. I play guitar and piano, like to sing, I collect books and some art. I like
to dance. How about you?"

"What sort of books?" she asked instead of replying to his query.

"Everything," was the response. "My favorites are just a good story, no matter what you call
it. I like science fiction and horror and mysteries, I like history stories and good history books,
you know, stuff that brings the ancient to life. I liked Kennedy's Profiles in Courage, that sort of
thing. I'm reading In Cold Blood now."

Bonnie blinked. She was more of a light romance reader, herself, but she'd heard about
Capote's new book and read some of the controversy in the paper. "You're more of a heavy
reader than I am," she admitted. "I'll bet you're a Hee Haw fan, though."

That made him laugh. "Yes, I watch Hee Haw. I also watch Gunsmoke, of
course I never miss the Dean Martin Show, I like the Wild Wild West,
Hogan's Heroes, Bewitched, Andy Griffith, and I even like Gilligan's
and the Beverly Hillbillies. I'd probably watch TV all day long if I didn't get
tired of sitting in one place too long." He was smiling as he spoke, obviously pleased with the
topic, cheerful about admitting to watching even the worst television on the air. "How about
you, honey? Do you like wasting your mind with the idiot lantern?"

"The idiot lantern?"

"That's the English term for it. A friend of mine back east calls it that," he replied. He
poured himself more wine and sat back, apparently sated for the moment.

"I watch some TV," she admitted. "I don't own one now, but my room came with one."

His eyes narrowed a moment, slightly, and he nodded. "Do you like to dance?"

"I love to dance," she replied before she thought. She didn't want to lead him on, this nice
boy. She couldn't be more than a momentary dinner companion for him. "But I really should get
back to "

"What?" he asked.

Bonnie swallowed. "I have work to do tonight," she said evasively.

"I see. So you can't not watch the gamblers for an evening and sneak off to dance a little?"
he asked. He was leading her somewhere, and Bonnie wasn't sure she should go. She suddenly
wanted to, though. She wanted to dance off with him and forget about her monetary situation
and her mother's training and the fact she had probably only a week or two left before her motel
kicked her out and she would have to turn to real prostitution.

"All right," she said. "Take me dancing. I might as well have a little fun for a little while."

"That's the spirit."

He paid their bill, ignoring her protests, and offered her his arm. "You're out for an evening
with Sean Patrick O'Connor. Feminism be damned, pardon my language, I do not let my lady
pay," he said, in a horribly high-handed old-fashioned manner. Bonnie wanted to get mad at him
for the assumption, but she couldn't. He was smiling too much, he was too pleasant, and she
really didn't mind saving even the small amount the buffet cost.

"All right, then," she agreed, "but I must draw the line somewhere."

"Just don't draw it too soon," was his mild response.

There were still a number of real ballrooms in Las Vegas where people danced, that hadn't
yet turned into rock-and-roll go-go joints. Bonnie didn't really dislike rock music, but she
definitely preferred the older music, the warm strains of Bing Crosby over Crosby, Stills, Nash,
and Young. Sean Patrick guided her to the ballroom and out onto the floor, proving in very few
moves that he was indeed an accomplished dancer, a real dancer, who knew how to waltz and
foxtrot and even samba. He never seemed to get out of breath. His enjoyment and enthusiasm
was invigorating, delightful, and Bonnie could never remember ever having this much fun.

It was well past three in the morning by the time they finally wove their way out of the
ballroom. The casino was still packed, people still coming and going, and they were completely
unnoticeable as they walked out the main front doors. "May I walk you home, Miss Michaels?"
asked Sean Patrick gallantly. Even though she'd tried to avoid telling him anything about
herself, he'd still managed to ascertain she was a Las Vegas native. She knew the town as only a
native could, and he'd figured that out fast.

But to walk her home? "Oh... no," she said, shaking her head. "I can get there myself just

"At this time of night? Pardon me, Miss Michaels, but bull. I'm not letting you walk the
streets by yourself," he said, keeping proprietary hold on her hand, nestled in the crook of his
arm. "Don't worry. I can handle anything that might come up."

"Oh, I don't doubt that, Sean Patrick," she said, although she did wonder about it somewhat.
After all, he didn't exactly look like a fighter. "It's just I know the streets. I don't need an

"Tough. You have one," he said, immoveable as a brick wall. Bonnie bit her tongue, but she
couldn't shake him. She tried to ease her hand away from him. He let it go, but put his arm
around her shoulders, drawing her close against his bony side. They walked up the street to
Sands Boulevard and crossed to the Sands Hotel.

"That's where you're staying, right?" she said, gesturing at the expansive hotel and casino,
the marquee lit up brighter than day, the new tower glittering high above. "You don't have to
walk any further, really. You've already given me an amazing night. It's all right, I can make it
home from here just fine."

He looked sideways down at her. "I'm beginning to think you're trying to get rid of me,
Miss Michaels," he said, one eyebrow arching up high, his hair starting to fall over his eyes.
"What's wrong with me comin' home with you?"

Bonnie drew in a deep breath and tried to come up with an excuse. She couldn't think of
anything, and they walked on past the Sands and away from the flash and dazzle of the Strip.
Beyond it, the township of Paradise was a dingy, dark, and lonely place. Resigned, she led him
to her motel and her room. "I thought you lived in town," he said, his eyes taking in everything
in one sweep. If he was judging, he said nothing.

"I do live here," she said shortly. "Welcome to my home."

His eyebrow had arched again. It wasn't the most glamorous of rooms, certainly, but it
wasn't a dump, either. It was clean, the maid had been there and left everything in its place, her
dresses neat in the closet, her shoes in a tidy line. She wasn't embarrassed, but she did feel a
little strange. "I've had a little bad luck, but I'm hoping to get a more permanent place soon," she

"Hmm," was his noncommittal response. "Well. Thank you for a wonderful evening, Miss
Michaels. I have to be getting back to my own rooms." He bent over her, and she fluttered
inside when his mouth touched hers. It was a soft, gentle kiss, almost as noncommittal as his
voice. His fingers were light on her cheek, and then he straightened up again, his lips smiling,
but his eyes intense and studying. "Hopefully we'll bump into each other again."

Bonnie had no words to say to reply to that one. He touched his forehead to her with a little
nod, then melted away into the darkness.

The new dragons seem to need a LOT more views to grow up... Yikes.

Adopt one today! * Adopt one today! * Adopt one today! * Adopt one today! * Adopt one today!

Tags: blather, chapter one, meme, vampire and me, writing
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