Kats (wildrider) wrote,

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And the radio plays your favorite song

I hate it when I get a craving for something they don't MAKE ANYMORE...

This week one of the contestants on Teen Jeopardy is a NaNoWriMo participant. It was neat listening to her tell Alex all about it.

Barb is away at WriterCon, boo! But hooray, I managed to get a few things done yesterday, and now the weekend is already here! I bought a cute hat yesterday, proving my life is an endless whirl of activity. I also went to the book store with sillymagpie. Whee, Volume 19 of Full Metal Alchemist is out! I'd better take it off my wish list -- this is the time of year when buying things for myself can be treacherous. We also went to Cypress Grill and ate large amounts of Greek food. Yum!

I learned this morning that Obama's a Leo, too. Neat.

Chapter Four

Bonnie woke up slowly, hot and sticky and still entangled in Sean Patrick's arms. Carefully,
so as not to wake him, she wiggled out of his grip and slipped free of the bed. He let out a low
breath and turned over, but didn't wake. He looked about twelve years old, laying there, as he
flung one arm up over his head, except for the light dusting of hair on his chest and armpit. She
shook her head. What in the world was she thinking?

She took a shower and washed her hair, wondering what else he thought he had to tell her
about himself. So far he was a pretty standard man, who loved fast cars and good food, who
liked to stay up all night and sleep all day. In short, a teenager. She went back into the bedroom
and looked at him with fond amusement for a while. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing, letting
him be her benefactor. Doubtless it wouldn't last very long, but she might have some fun with
him. He was sweet, he was rich, and he was very good in bed. She crawled across it toward him,
ruffling his hair with her fingers. "Are you planning to sleep all day?" she whispered.

"Probably," he murmured, rolling over and tucking his arm under his pillow. "Get some
room service, if you want," he continued.

"Come on, get up. Let's do something," she cajoled.

"Go back to sleep, Bonnie," was his reply, a soft smile through his mussed hair, before he
burrowed a little deeper into his pillow. "We'll go out as soon as the sun sets."

"Oh, come on. A little sun won't kill you." She pulled open the curtains. Sean Patrick let
out a yelp of pain as the sunlight hit the bed and he disappeared off the other side in a flurry of
bedclothes. A stream of swearing unlike anything she'd ever heard in her life came from him,
his Texas accent thicker and peppered with Spanish phrases she'd never heard but was pretty
sure they were bad.

After a moment, he emerged in the shadowed area of the room, climbing up and holding up
the blanket between himself and the sun, and said, "Pardon me, Bonnie. I normally don't swear
like that in front of ladies." His voice was strained with pain.

"Boy, when you said you don't like the sun you weren't kidding," she said, pulling the
curtains closed again. Slowly, he lowered the blanket. Bonnie gasped.

His face was halved by what looked like a violently red sunburn, as though that side had been
exposed to the sun for hours rather than moments. It was already blistering, all the way down his
neck and his shoulder, not just a bad sunburn but a bad burn, period. His eyes were welling with
tears of pain and he was panting a little.

"Oh, my God," she breathed. "What the hell?"

Sean Patrick self consciously put his hand up, then, carefully, touched his cheek. He winced.
"Damn," he hissed. "Pardon."

Bonnie closed the distance between them, turning on the lights as she did so. The lamps
gave the room a strangely eerie look, that electric-light-in-the-daylight look even though the
room was submerged in the artificial gloom given by the blackout curtains. Sean Patrick stood
still and let her look closely at his face and arm, wincing a little when she dared to touch the
burned skin. "How does this happen?" she asked.

"I guess there's no better time to tell you than the present," he said, pulling away when she
tried to touch his burned face. "I'm a vampire."

She blinked. "I beg your pardon?" she said, a weird feeling bubbling up inside of her. "You're what?"

"Vampire," he repeated. "Walk-the-night, drink blood, vampire. A little sunlight can indeed
hurt me, as you can see. A lot of sunlight will kill me." He gestured to his face.

The first thing Bonnie wanted to do was deny the existence of vampires, but she remembered
something she'd once overheard Daddy Alan talking about, with men who had come to the house
for the evening. She hadn't been allowed to come down, but she had of course snuck out to
listen to the adults. They had been talking about the theories and forms of magic, speaking in
hushed but intense voices, and she had never forgotten what she had overheard. That magic had
once been widespread, and mages had cast their spells openly, until the church had driven them
and magickal creatures underground, until most people no longer even believed in either magic
nor true mages, much less magickal creatures. Like vampires.

She opened her mouth and whispered, "When I was a little girl, I once overheard a man
talking with my mother's benefactor. I think he was a mage. He was saying," she struggled to
remember exactly what, "he was saying that the movies were," she closed her eyes, going back to that night, as she clung to the back of the chair where she was hiding and listened, breathless, trying to understand the big words the men were using, "perpetuating a myth created by the Hiera Sacra. I didn't understand what he meant, what he was saying. I still don't."

His eyes flashed. "Yeah, that sounds about right. The Hiera Sacra kill vampires, and it's my business to avoid them if I can."

"But that's ridiculous. I've seen you eat ordinary food. I've never seen you drink blood," she

"Just 'cause you haven't seen me feed, doesn't mean I haven't," he replied, a crooked smile
touching the unburned side of his face. "On you, for example."

Bonnie thought about their lovemaking, his mouth on her neck, and she stared at him in
shock. "You didn't."

"Sorry," he replied. "I don't always ask permission first."

She wanted to be furious with him, but wasn't. After all, she didn't feel like she'd been hurt.
In fact, she felt quite good today. "It was awfully good sex," she admitted, which made him
smile, but he winced when his eyes crinkled. "But... a vampire? I mean, okay, the old man said
the movies were wrong. But you--you're not a monster?"

"I hope not. It probably wasn't nice of me to feed on you without asking, first, but," he
shrugged, "I like to feed when I'm having sex. It, um," he was blushing again, which seemed to
make the sunburn hurt again, "enhances the experience."

Bonnie couldn't deny that. "What's the Hiera Sacra?" she asked.

"They're an ancient order of vampire hunters," he replied, and dropped the blanket, tossing it
back onto the bed. "They seek out and destroy vampires wherever and whenever they find us.
I've been out of their sights for a long, long time, and I want to keep it that way. My family,
down in Texas, they take care of me."

"Your family doesn't mind you being a vampire?" She wondered what that would be like.

"My family loves me. They protect me. I protect them," he said that with a fierce expression,
then pressed his hand to his burned face. "I have to put some cool water on this, if you don't

"Of course not. You ought to see what it looks like," she said, following him into the
bathroom, where she got another shock.

"I can't see what it looks like," he said, gesturing toward the mirror where she could see
herself, but not him. He bent over the sink and turned it on. She could see him, she could see
the bones of his spine sticking up when he bent over, she could see the smooth pale brown of his
skin and his hipbones jutting out, but none of it showed in the mirror, just the handle of the
faucet turning itself on and off as he dampened a washcloth floating free in the mirror and held
it against his burned face. "Believe me now?" he asked.

She realized with a start she hadn't, not really. It was as though their conversation had been
nothing more than a theoretical, educational discussion, which had been strictly hypothetical.
But there was nothing hypothetical about his lack of a reflection. "I don't understand," she said.

"This answers all your questions, Bonnie-girl," he said, setting down the floating washcloth
and turning to her. He took her shoulders in his hands and gave her a little shake. "I'm much
older than I look. I'm not planning on getting married any time soon. In fact, I'm fairly certain I
never will. I won't get you pregnant. There's nothing to stand in front of me coming here
whenever the hell I want, and I like the idea of having someone here to meet me so I don't have
to go through the song and dance of hiring the right girl to sleep with when I do come, because
just in case you didn't realize it, that's why I started comin' here in the first place." He was
blushing again when he said it, making a strange, slow throb start at his burned temple. Bonnie
reached up and touched it, carefully, so as not to hurt the angry-looking skin.

"But you're so dark," she said, her fingers moving to the skin that wasn't burned, the even,
smooth pale brown. "Your skin, it's not pale or dead-looking. You're tanned."

"Well, first, I'm not dead," he said, smiling a little, "that's part of that Hollywood myth, in
my opinion; and second, it's not a tan, I'm part Indian."

"You are not."

"Oh, that you find harder to believe than me being a vampire?" He chuckled a little, then
reached back and took up the washcloth again. "I am part Indian, on my mother's side. Apache,
to be specific. When I could go out into the sun, I was a lot darker."

"And you're not dead? Or the undead, or whatever it's called?"

"As far as I've ever been able to tell, honey, a vampire is alive, it's just a different sort of life
than human life. I just never bothered to be anything other than myself," he said, walking back to
the bed and sitting on it, cross-legged, his bony knees sticking out. Bonnie followed, curious
enough to want to keep up the discussion, and climbed on the bed next to him, putting both
hands on his long thigh. She was glad that, for all his boniness, there was evidence of a solid
muscle under that smooth skin.

"So how old are you?" she asked.

"My honest real birthday just passed. I turned 103," he replied. "I was born in 1863, not

"So how old were you when you became a vampire?"

"I was nineteen."

Bonnie nodded, grinning. "I just knew you didn't look twenty-six years old. You don't even
look nineteen."

"I know," he laughed with her, his hand covering hers. "It's been rather a trial in the last few
decades. When I really was nineteen it wasn't a big deal, I was considered a man. But then they
made the decision that someone had to be twenty-one to drink or smoke or gamble, and I had to
up my age a little. I doubt I can use that date of birth much longer, and I'll have to get an I.D.
that makes me closer to twenty-one."

"Where do you get a driver's license?"

"There's places," he said, settling in a little more comfortably, "that take care of magickal
creatures. I've actually done very little of it myself, but one of my nephews knows the right

That certainly explained the nephew he'd referred to before. "So it is your real family that
takes care of you?"

"Just like I said." He leaned over to the edge of the bed and picked up his cigarettes.

"How in the world do you smoke so much when you're so easy to burn?"

"I repeat, I've been smoking since I was fourteen, honey," he said. "That's eighty-nine years,
and trust me, it really is habit-forming. Besides, I don't have to worry about cancer or anything,
so why not?" He lit up and blew the smoke away from her. "Tell me your bad habits."

Bonnie laughed. "I bite my fingernails," she displayed her carefully manicured fake nails, "I
daydream, I read terrible books, I watch too much television..."

"Is that a bad habit?" he interrupted.

"I've heard it is," she responded.

"Damn, pardon, that's another one I have. Matter of fact, I think this may be the longest I've
ever been awake without turning it on, pretty much since the second they were invented."

"Oh! You'd remember before there was television!"

"And I can't tell you what I did with my spare time before that," he said, but he was
obviously teasing, so Bonnie stuck her tongue out at him. He leaned back on the pillows, at ease
in his nudity, and tucked one arm behind his head as he crossed his ankles. "Now, then, Bonnie-
girl, now that you have indeed accepted the fact that I am a vampire, do you still mean it? You'll
be my mistress, let me set you up?"

Bonnie studied his half-burned, still cute face. Oh, there was no denying he was an absolute
dream come true. A mature, wealthy man who was also handsome and appeared young, who
might actually like to play as much as anything else, who might enjoy doing more than just
having sex with her, would see her as more than an ornament. A man who would never have a
wife to "find out" about them, who wouldn't use her to buy presents for his wife and kids. "I
said yes," she replied, nodding. "And I mean it. Yes."

"All right, then. Well, down to business," he lit another cigarette as he finished the first,
crushing it out in the ashtray and once again blowing the smoke up at the ceiling. "You'll need a
house, right? Do you know where you'd like to live?"

"I know the exact house I'd like, but--"

"No buts. Let's go look at it as soon as the sun sets."

"Oh, I doubt you can get a realtor to show you a house after dark," she said, shaking her
head. "Besides, it's been on the market a long time. I'm sure it's too expensive. It's just such a
pretty little house."

"Well, we'll see what I can shake out, here. Let me shower and dress, and we'll go house-
hunting. Because, Bonnie-girl, just in case you hadn't noticed, I've been pursuing you a while
and I've been here on this trip somewhat longer than I meant to be. I need to get home, so the
faster I get you settled, the better. And I'm sorry to do that to you, just when we're gettin'
started, but I promise I'll take another trip before the holidays."

"You know that's what I expect from a benefactor," she replied, glad he was comfortable
with exactly who and what she was. She squeezed his leg. "And your face? Are you going to be
all right?

"I'll heal," he replied, "pretty quickly. Faster if I feed. Fresh blood helps when I hurt
myself." He rolled his eyes, as though this was something he did frequently.

"You need blood?" She ran her fingers along her neck, considering. His eyebrow arched.

"I try not to use the same donor twice a week," he said, then leaned forward and kissed her
on the tip of the nose. "But you're a healthy girl. If I decide you can handle losing another pint,
I'll take you up on that. But in the meantime, you gave last night."

"But it's my fault you're burned," she said.

"Don't worry about me, darlin'." He rose from the bed looking rather like a spider with his
long limbs. He disappeared into the bathroom. After a moment, Bonnie heard the shower come
on. She sat on the bed for a moment, breathing in his scent, which hovered in the air with his
cigarette smoke, then got up and finished getting dressed.

This time she said nothing about his car when he took her to it. In the glare of the lights he'd
parked under, she could see that it really wasn't a nondescript tan, but rather gold in color, and
probably beautiful in the daylight. She gave him directions to the old Vegas neighborhood where
her dream house was, praying softly under her breath that it was still on the market, still for sale,
still seeking that buyer. Of course, she couldn't really expect Sean Patrick to pay for a place like
that, not that it was extravagant, but it would make more sense to put her in a nice townhouse or
condo, someplace a little closer to the Strip, not out here where faux adobe mingled with the real
thing, where the houses remembered that this was the desert, where cactus gardens rubbed
elbows with lush green lawns that couldn't exist here without human intervention.

"Nice area," he commented. "Is there a Catholic church out this way?"

"I think so," she said. "Saint something-or-other."

"That narrows it down," he said with some amount of amusement. "Were you raised to any

"No. I think Momma may have been Methodist or Lutheran or something."

He was still grinning.


"Nothing, nothing. Would you mind coming to Mass with me on a Saturday or Wednesday

"No, I guess not. I've never been to a real church, not that I remember, anyway. Except for a
friend's wedding. I think it was some kind of Christian church, anyway."

His grin split into a delighted chuckle. Bonnie pursed her lips. "Oh, don't worry, honey, I'm
not really laughing at you," he said, "You just make me think about how fragmented Christianity
is, that you don't even know what the churches are called. It's just kinda funny. Kinda cute.
Kinda sad, in a strange way. The whole message was supposed to unite humanity, not push us
further apart. Is that it?" He pointed to the pretty little white hacienda-style home that Bonnie
had dreamed of since she'd been in her teens, walking past here on her way to school and
wishing she could go into the courtyard where she could see the lush gardens, the pretty flowers,
the glorious shade trees, and the trickling waterfalls and fish ponds. Outside the courtyard walls
the lawn was sere desert, a few stately mesquites and creosotes that smelled so delightful in the
rain, with meandering paths of native stone up to the archway that led to a front door of native
wood, braced by copper pegs and a beautiful silver knob and knocker. Bonnie had dared to come
up to the porch once, for Halloween, and peered past the owners to see the front foyer, softly lit,
but no further.

Even if she couldn't live here, she did want to see the inside. "Yes," she said, her heart
beating a little faster. She had still been with Bob when this house had gone on the market, and
he had no interest in moving her from her Strip-convenient condo, the condo that had been taken
from her by his family after his death. "That's the place."

"Nice. What's wrong with it?"

"I don't know," she said, startled by his comment, as he pulled into the driveway and started
to prowl around. "I don't think there's anything wrong."

"House like this doesn't stay on a good market like this unless there's something really
wrong with it," he said, looking in one of the windows under the mesquite tree, "or it's
astronomically priced. Have you asked the price?" He looked up under the front eave, up on the
porch, and at the door.

"No," she admitted. He peered into the courtyard, dark now, the waterfalls silent. Bonnie
had no idea how long the place had been empty. She was starting to get nervous, watching him
poke around. She wasn't sure what he could see, although it was still a little dusky out, it seemed
too dark to her. But he was unabashed by his prying, even when the lights next door flooded on,
and a woman came with a flashlight to peer at Bonnie.

"May I help you?" she said in a cautious voice.

Sean Patrick turned and immediately flashed that smile, which did as it appeared to always
do. The neighbor woman relaxed almost immediately, and Bonnie was glad it was a woman and
not a man who had come to check on what they were doing. "Howdy, ma'am," he said in his
polite way, holding out his hand. "My name's Sean Patrick O'Connor. Is there any chance I
could use your phone?"

The woman obviously wavered between good sense and the instant liking Sean Patrick
tended to engender in people. He saw it and nodded toward the realtor's sign. "I want to call the
realtor while I'm out here, see if he's free."

"Oh, they don't usually come out this time of night."

"He'll come out for me," said Sean Patrick. Even Bonnie was startled by his surety.

"Well..." the woman wavered. "I have a phone near the front door." She looked at Bonnie,
and seemed to relax a little. "All right."

Bonnie wasn't sure how Sean Patrick managed to retain the phone number, since she wasn't
even sure she'd seen him look at the sign, but he dialed the moment the receiver was in his hand.
"Yes," she heard him say, "I'm interested in your property out here on Madison. Nope, I'm here
right now. No, I can't come back tomorrow." He was silent a moment, then, "So how much you
askin' for this place? Shee-oot, you've gotta be shitting me! No wonder no one'll buy it. Hell,
yes," he glanced over at Bonnie and their hostess, "Pardon me, ladies," then back to the phone,
"I'll give you ten thousand, right now, no haggling. Tonight, if you give me a chance to look at it
and I like it." He winked at Bonnie. "I'm serious. I won't be this interested tomorrow night.
Hey, man. It's only seven o'clock. Are you interested in a potential sale? All right, then. I'll be
here." He set down the receiver and turned to thank their hostess extravagantly. "Thank you,
ma'am," he said, taking her hand in both of his and smiling again, widely. "You'll be a mighty
fine neighbor."

She blushed and smiled back, obviously charmed. "I'm glad I could help."

"We'll be hovering around out here for a while, until Mr. Peterson comes around," he said.
"So don't mind us."

"I won't," she said, her eyes never leaving Sean Patrick's face as she closed the door behind

"How did you do that?" asked Bonnie, as soon as they were back on the porch of her dream

"I'm a businessman, Bonnie-girl. I know how to hook 'em and land 'em," he replied,
lighting a cigarette and leaning on the arch of the front porch. "This is a mighty pretty place.
How'd you know about it?"

Bonnie told him about how she'd walked past this house when she'd been in high school,
and how much she'd loved it and yearned to see inside. "I even went out trick-or-treating, and I
was far too old, just so I could see the inside."

He chuckled. "We all have our dreams, Bonnie-girl." He fell silent, staring up at the stars,
which were easily visible out here, beyond the glare of the Strip and the downtown lights. "Real
estate here in Vegas is gonna explode in the next couple of decades," he said after a moment.
"All the desert cities, I think. Los Angeles is already heading that way. My own San Antonio,
even though we're a little more tropical. Phoenix. Vegas. It's gonna happen."

"No one will come here while the mob owns it," said Bonnie in a hushed voice.

"Take my word for it, Bonnie," he said, grinding out his cigarette under his heel on the
gravel, "Things'll change. Can't really say how. I should buy property along the Strip, too,
while I'm at this. But I'll tell ya, if I spend fourteen grand here, and that's what I'm thinking, it'll
be worth a hundred times that in a few years."

"Fourteen? You told him ten," said Bonnie, immediately disregarding the idea that this
house could ever be worth a hundred and fourteen thousand dollars.

"I see you're not a bargainer," he replied, his teeth flashing white at her in the darkness. "His
asking price was thirty. Thirty! God, Bonnie, there ain't anyone alive right now who could put
that into a single-family house like this right now, even as nice as the yard is. But it's worth
fourteen. So I offered ten. We may end up splitting it between us somewhere. I want to see the
inside first."

A long, sleek dark Cadillac El Dorado idled up behind Sean Patrick's Pontiac and stopped.
A heavyset man with a balding head gleaming in the moonlight stepped out. He was dressed
almost as Western as Sean Patrick himself, with a bolo tie around his neck featuring a scorpion in
lucite and silver ends, shiny black cowboy boots, and a belt buckle even bigger than Sean
Patrick's "lone star." He put on a gigantic smile and extended his hand as he came up the stone
path. "Mr. O'Connor?"

"Mr. Peterson."

Bonnie could see Mr. Peterson sizing Sean Patrick up, taking in his suit, his boots, and his
youthful face. A sly expression flashed in his eyes and his huge fake smile got bigger and even
more fake as they shook hands. "Howdy, there, son. Now what is this about you needing to see
this place after dark?"

"I can't come out here in the daytime, sir," replied Sean Patrick, instantly taking on a
deferential, respectful tone. Bonnie frowned a little, trying to figure him out, but she hung back,
listening, as Mr. Peterson produced the key and opened the front door of her dream house.

"Well, we're fortunate, there's power on," said Mr. Peterson, "for just such an event. You're
a lucky man."

"Always have been, sir," said Sean Patrick.

"Power" amounted to a light that just barely illuminated the front foyer, since apparently the
place completely lacked overhead wiring and would require lamps in every room, but Sean
Patrick seemed to do all right. He prowled through the rooms, poking at things, turning on pipes,
and peering into the gloom. "When was it built?" he asked.

"I believe '48," replied Mr. Peterson. "Solid, some adobe construction."

"It lacks lighting," commented Sean Patrick, "and the pipes sound off, too. There's a lot of
newer houses out in these subdivisions, aren't there?"

"Well, yes, but this one ain't exactly antique," replied Mr. Peterson, obviously taken aback
by Sean Patrick's apparent knowledge of real estate. "If you folks are lookin' to start out with
something reliable, this is your place."

Sean Patrick made a noncommittal sound as he paced out the size of the main family room,
checked the windows, and peered out each of them at the neighborhood view and into the
courtyard. "I'll tell you what, Mr. Peterson," he said, turning and shoving his hands in his
pockets, "I'll stand on that ten thousand offer. You ain't gonna get better tonight."

"But I might get better later. No, sorry, son. The family won't part with it for less than

Bonnie caught the drop in price and saw Sean Patrick's expression changed, a strange combination of youthful innocence and complete blandness, the face that he'd worn at the poker table. She'd seen him bluff his way past a professional, and had a sudden feeling he was going to get this place for the price he wanted.

"How's about we talk about the cracked tile in the bathrooms and those old ponds out in the
courtyard," said Sean Patrick, his tone idle. "Get those fixed up for me and we could talk maybe
twelve." He came up further than she expected.

"Oh, certainly there's gonna be a few improvements before the sale," said Mr. Peterson,
rubbing a hand over his bald spot, "But honest, boy, the best I can get you is eighteen-five."

Sean Patrick stuck his tongue into the corner of his mouth and looked up at the walls and the
ceiling. "I like the plaster," he said, "but it sure does need paint. And really, is the place ready
for modern wiring? I mean, hell, pardon me, Bonnie, there's only one outlet in the kitchen.
How's a woman in today's world supposed to deal with that?"

"We can have that looked at," replied Mr. Peterson, and for a second, Bonnie could see him
actually getting desperate. Sean Patrick was obviously giving voice to all the troubles he'd had
with this property, putting him just where Sean Patrick wanted him. Bonnie saw only the briefest
of lilts to Sean Patrick's lips before he turned serious, frowning.

"And come on. Look at that garden. Half the plants are dead and the rest are overgrown.
How long as this place been empty? A year? More?"

"It's only been about nine months," said Mr. Peterson, but he was starting to sweat, and
Bonnie had the idea that Sean Patrick was probably closer to the mark.

"Pull the other one, Mr. Peterson. Sorry, sir, but this place hasn't been home to someone for
a lot longer than you're lettin' on," Sean Patrick continued. "What happened in here? The folks
pass on? Folks think it's haunted?" He was grinning a little as he said that, as though a haunting
might actually be a selling point for him.

"There was an incident," said Mr. Peterson, "but that's all in the past and anything people say
is just superstition, you gotta know that, son."

"I'm not sayin' I believe."

"What kind of incident?" asked Bonnie, speaking up for the first time.

Mr. Peterson darkened a little, his eyes looking everywhere but at them. "A shooting," he
said after a minute. "They say the old man killed his wife and then himself, and they didn't find
the two of 'em for more than a week. It took months just to get the stink outta the place. There,"
he glared a little at Sean Patrick, "happy now?"

"I'll give you fourteen-five, right now," said Sean Patrick, taking his checkbook out of his
jacket. "You think the family will take that deal? Will you get anything better in the next year?"

"You bought yourself a house, son," said Mr. Peterson. The men shook hands. Bonnie felt
her heart leap inside of her, and she didn't care if there had been a murder-suicide here. It was
her dream house, and she would make it her home.

Her own home.

Mr. Peterson started to talk about down payments and financing as he led them out of the
house, but Sean Patrick shook his head. "No, sir, I'm going to write a check flat out for the full
amount," he said. "Soon as you tell me who to make the check out to."

The realtor stared at Sean Patrick. "Beg pardon, son?"

"Full amount. Right here, right now. Close escrow as soon as you can," said Sean Patrick.
"If you want me to fill out all the paperwork tonight, that'll be fine. If you don't want to open
your office tonight, I'll send a man over tomorrow to take care of everything with the check." He
clapped Mr. Peterson on the shoulder. "Don't look so surprised, man. You must have done cash
business before."

"Been a long time, son, I'll admit it," replied Mr. Peterson, still looking flustered. "Are you

"Oh, I'm sure," replied Sean Patrick, taking Bonnie's hand. "But I do want some of that
stuff we talked about taken care of. Get the gardens up, and the tiles fixed, paint, electrical, and I want a full report on the roof, sewer, termite protection, all of that."

"Oh, of course."

Bonnie listened to the further discussions of the men while standing in a haze on the
sidewalk where she'd once stared at the house and dreamed. It was true. He was buying her
THIS house, this wonderful house. It couldn't be true, but it was, it really was. Soon they were
sitting in the realtor's pleasant office, drinking coffee, while Sean Patrick talked on the phone to
someone in Texas and Mr. Peterson busied himself with the paperwork.

"I tell ya, Dave, it's a good buy. You know I know my properties. Yeah, it needs some
work, but I have someone living in it already," he winked at Bonnie again, "but I'll need
someone to handle the daylight stuff until escrow closes. Yes, I'm sure I want to pay cash. I
don't need a mortgage when I can start building equity in Vegas right now. I'm positive. It's
going to be one of the places to own property in the Southwest. In the next couple of years I
want to pick up some properties along the Strip, because that is where it's going to really blow.
No, I can't be sure, but you know my hunches. Have I ever steered you wrong? Good. I'll write
the check tonight, so be sure the cash is in my personal account. Yes, I want it on my personal
account, this is not going to be paid with by O'Connor money. It's my investment." He was
silent for a while, listening to something. "You know why," he finally said. "Okay, if Matt's
there, put him on."

Whoever Matt was made Sean Patrick's easy self-confidence change. He sat a little
straighter. "Yes, sir," he said. He glanced sideways at Bonnie, turning away slightly. "I'm
settin' her up now. I know what you said, Matt, but damn it," he mouthed a 'pardon' at her,
looking guilty and contrite, "I need this, and you know it. Please. Don't come down on me until
we talk face-to-face. I do know what I'm doing." His voice lowered, "I'm a grown vampire, and a lot older than you." He sucked his lips in and got a bullheaded expression on his face. "It's my money. I'm not putting any of the family finances in danger, and you'll all thank me when the boom happens like I say it's gonna happen. It did in Los Angeles, and where are we there? That's right. Okay. Thanks." He hung up the phone, then raised his voice so Mr. Peterson could hear, "It's all set. My man will be here in the morning to take care of everything."

Driving back to the Sands, Sean Patrick was chipper. "Now, then, honey, I'll write you a
check and you can go buy your furniture and anything else you need while I'll gone. I'll leave
you my office line back home and if you call most nights, I'll be the one to answer it."

"So what does a vampire do for a living?" she asked, feeling extremely chipper herself. She
didn't know what all of what she'd heard was about, but she didn't care. He'd bought her not
just a house, but the one house in all the world she'd wanted to live in most.

"I told you, I'm a businessman," he replied. "Mostly we deal in real estate, which is part of
what you overheard. I tend to be the gambler, and I've tossed away some money on kinda risky
deals. Some have paid off, others haven't. My nephew ain't all that keen on investing in Las
Vegas. He was iffy about Los Angeles, but I've been proved right about that one. So far. Knock
wood." He smiled at her. "We also have cattle, a number of stock investments, and a lot of other
little things that keep money where it belongs. When I became a vampire, I vowed I'd do
everything I could to make sure the O'Connor family fortune stays a fortune."

"What did it mean, your own money?" she asked.

"I was the oldest son, Bonnie," he replied, his expression turning serious. "When I became a
vampire, and realized what that meant you know, no passing the family legacy from father to
son I gave my inheritance to my little brother, Matthew, to ensure the O'Connor money
continued on, made the dynasty our grandfather wanted from us. That was his son I was talkin'
to, my nephew. He's the head of the O'Connor family now." He saw the expression on her face
and smiled a little, his long fingers curling around his steering wheel a little more tightly. "Yes,
of course he's younger than me. But there's a weird dynamic between me and Matt Jr. Before
he was born, when his daddy was still just a boy, I became a vampire and ran off to Europe for a
long time. When I finally came home, Matt Jr. was a grown man, so I never knew him as a boy,
never watched him grow up. He was on his way to being the head of household already. When
his daddy died, he just naturally took over."

"And you defer to him?" she asked.

"That's the way it is," he replied, but there was a strange, almost resentful look in his eyes
that gave way instantly to regret and a thousand other things she couldn't name and didn't

"How old is Matt Jr.?" she asked, curious.

He thought about it a second. "He'll be seventy-one this year," he replied, as though that
surprised him. "Lord God, how the time does fly." He pulled into the Sands parking lot, then
paused. "Honey, do you want to go over to the Dunes and check out? We can bring your stuff
over here. You can stay in my suite until you move into the house."

That startled her, but it made a certain amount of sense, especially since he was paying for
both now. "All right," she agreed. He reached over and put a hand on her knee. She smiled at

I succeeded in breeding another colored stripey! Whee!

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

Tags: chapter four, vampire and me, writing
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