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One great mystery

This.

Today I am tired. But I'm on track, more or less; I didn't work out as much as I'd hoped while Barb was gone because I wasn't sleeping well, but today and yesterday I was up and at the gym, right on schedule. I'm hovering between 165 and 170 (up one day, down the next, etc.), so I count that as simply maintaining, which I suppose it is.

In trying to clean out the office room, I find that while I don't use my desk often, I do NEED one to keep Important Stuff in, so I'm going to have to figure something out when we move Barb's desk and the bookcases in there. But I haven't done diddly squat in there all week. I also need a better way to store shoes -- those soft-sided under-the-bed ones they sell at drug stores are okay, but since they ARE soft-sided, when you shove 'em under the bed you might as well have put your shoes in a big cloth bag.


Chapter Five


It took longer than she'd thought it would for everything to be fixed in the house and for
whatever "escrow" was to close. Bonnie lived in the Sands suite after Sean Patrick went back to
Texas, spending the money he'd left her selecting furniture she loved that would suit her new
place, sometimes stopping by and asking questions of the workmen.

People who'd assumed they were a young couple, either just married or just about to be
married, were confused by her being alone, but Bonnie didn't say anything about him to anyone,
just hummed her way through bright days and neon nights, when she didn't have to do anything
for anyone but make her life exactly the way she'd always wanted it. She talked to Sean Patrick
frequently, his cheerful voice making everything even better as he passed on information about
the house-owning process, how the repairs were coming, and generally what he was doing back
on the flatland plains he came from.

It was over a month before keys were put into her hand and she opened the door of her own
house by herself and walked over the threshold. Euphoria gripped her as she finally walked
through the finished, newly-painted rooms in the daylight. For the first time she got to look at
the antique moldings, the bright wallpaper edgings, and oh, that garden. Sean Patrick had made
sure the waterfalls and ponds had been restored, all the trees and flowers placed, beautiful in the
early July sunshine. She strolled the path that curled around the koi pond, already populated with
colorful fish. Inside there was a booklet on how to care for them, as well as which plants needed
what. She touched her roses, her hibiscus, her vinca. It was all hers.

The furniture started arriving within that first week, populating her dream house with her
dream furniture, lovely leather and hardwood, polished to a high shine, and everything smelled so
good! Her dishes were good china, with pink roses edged with gilt, that included a full tea
service and settings for twelve, although she wasn't sure if a vampire would do much formal
entertaining. Still, the main dining room could seat that many at the lovely long table, plus there
was a breakfast nook where she knew she'd be taking most of her solitary meals, although she
hoped, somewhere in the back of her head, that she might end up with at least one good friend
she could invite over.

Bonnie had never wanted nor needed anything more than what she had right here and now,
and she was overwhelmed and delighted and so many emotions she couldn't even give voice to
them all. She found herself in her master bedroom, spinning around with glee. This oversized
bed, suited to her six-foot-four benefactor, was hers unless he wanted to share it with her. This
cedar chest, this wardrobe full of clothes, this beautiful view of Mount Charleston, all of it was
hers because he'd promised her he'd never, ever take it back, and she knew in her heart that Sean
Patrick would always keep his word, no matter what happened.

She was home.

Sean Patrick sent gifts, too, not only a beautiful desk set for the room that would be his
office, but also a massive floor-model console television for the living room and another for his
den, as well as little things he thought she might like; crystal glassware and a matching bar set
with a rolling bar that opened fully for serving drinks; small kitchen appliances like a fancy
blender and a juicer, making her comment to him when he called next, "One might think you
were a drinker." It made him laugh at her.

"Me? Nah, everyone knows I never touch the stuff," he replied, then said, "When I drop by,
make sure it's stocked. You know what I drink."

"I do, indeed," she responded. Before the week was out she made sure to have a fifth of Jack
Daniels in the bar for him, as well as a bottle of Glenlivet for herself and miscellaneous other
liquors, as well as a fully stocked wine cabinet, mostly the semi-sweet German whites he liked
best.

On a warm Monday morning at before the end of July she was reading a romance novel on
the side porch when a truck pulled up and an enormous crate was removed and brought up her
front walk. Bonnie was used to getting deliveries, but she had really no clue at all what it was nor
how it was going to be brought into the house. "Excuse me, what is this?" she asked.

One of the workmen tilted back his ball cap. "Delivery for O'Connor," he said, pulling an
invoice out of his back pocket.

"That's the right place," she admitted, glancing at the side of the truck, which read "Davis &
Davis Music Store." Music? "But what IS it?"

"Piano," was the reply.

"A piano?" Bonnie gasped. "I don't think that crate is going to fit through any of the
doors!"

"Don't worry, miss," said the delivery driver. "We know what to do."

She watched in fascination as the piano a beautiful mahogany upright with mother-of-pearl
inlay and silver trim was unboxed on her lawn and carefully, expertly, moved inside. She had
no clue where to put it, so even though it was just past noon in Las Vegas, making it, she
thought, something around two in the afternoon in San Antonio, she called Sean Patrick.

"Your piano is here," she said when he answered the phone.

"Wonderful! I was thinkin' that good-sized room off the main living area would make a
great music room."

Bonnie considered that a moment, then directed the waiting workmen to move the piano that
way. "All right," she said into the phone.

"You didn't already have plans for that room, did you?"

"I was contemplating a sewing room," she said, then, "but I admit, I don't do that much
sewing."

He chuckled. "There's plenty of space for that, too, honey."

"How do you remember these things? You only saw the house once, in the dark."

"I see pretty well in the dark, remember, and I have a floor plan of the place right in front of
me, anyway."

"Cheater."

"Yeah, right. How does the piano look?"

"It's beautiful, Sean Patrick. But I don't play."

"I do. I'll have tuners come in before I'm up there next," he replied. "Honey, I gotta run.
I'll call you later."

"All right."

Bonnie directed the piano into the corner by the window, turning it so the back was against
the north wall and the light from the west window streamed over the shining keys and inlay. She
already knew to tip delivery men, and had a wallet set aside with cash just for tips, something
Sean Patrick had recommended. When they left, she went back into the new music room and sat
down at the bench which had come with the piano, and placed her fingers on the keys. What
better time than the present? She now owned a piano, why not use it?

Lessons weren't cheap, but they fit very tidily into her budget. She found she enjoyed the
work as she did her exercises and attempted to follow all the instructions her teacher gave. It was
August, and past her sixth lesson, when she heard the door open and Sean Patrick's voice, doing
a fairly credible John Wayne impersonation, say, "Woman of the house! Where's me ta?"

Bonnie slid off the piano bench and hurried through the house to the front entrance, where
Sean Patrick caught her and picked her up so they were eye-to-eye. "What in the world are you
doing here?" she asked, after he finished kissing her.

"I do own the house," he replied, grinning, his eyes crinkling.

"I mean, it's only an hour past sunset. And I didn't even know you were coming. I have no
dinner ready, nothing on "

He glanced down at her capri slacks and soft blouse. "You've got something on," he
interjected.

"I mean something NICE," she said, toying her fingers through his curls. "How did you get
here?"

"I drove," he replied, deliberately teasing. He walked, still holding her off the ground, into
the front room.

"You know what I mean," she said.

He started to kiss her again, languidly, before he finally said, "I misjudged my time. There
was an accident just below Kingman last night and I got stuck for over an hour. I was pulling
into Boulder City just after sunup, and I thought about bulling through, but decided it was
probably better to hole up for the day and get here as soon as it was safe to drive. So here I am,
after a day in a really substandard Boulder City motel "

"Why didn't you find a nice hotel?" she asked.

"Because," he kissed her again, "I pulled into the first place where I could park in the shade, I
paid cash, and I was in a hurry. I didn't want to find someplace nicer. But here I am now. And
I'm mighty hungry." His raised eyebrow told her exactly what he was hungry for. That he'd
made it from Boulder City here in just about an hour said volumes. Bonnie smiled at him and
lifted her lips to his again.

Bonnie wasn't sure how he managed to get both of them undressed, but somehow they were
both naked, his long, hard body pressed against hers, exciting her to those extremely pleasant
waves of sensation over and over again. It was nice, sharing their new bed, tangled together in
the sheets, his skin cool and smooth except for his scratchy face since he hadn't shaved before
making his final drive from Boulder City. But even nicer was being with a man who not only
enjoyed sex himself, but obviously enjoyed making the woman enjoy it, as well. Sex with Sean
Patrick was not the "womanly chore" her mother had told her sex was, it was a delicious,
delightful activity that left her wanting more even when she wasn't sure she actually could take
any more. And oh, the feeling when his vampire fangs pierced the skin of her neck! Bonnie
couldn't find words for it. Now that she knew what to expect and when, that strange little pinch
sent floods of pleasure through her, the sharing of her blood, their heightened desire and passion
shared through that blood-bond so she could feel herself with him and the joy he was giving her,
and she knew he could feel the same from her.

It was not a chore in the slightest. She lay in his arms after he was finally sated, absently
rubbing her forehead against his rough jaw.

"Sorry about the sandpaper," he muttered, lightly kissing her on the temple.

"I'm curious how you shave yourself," she replied, tracking a hand over his skinny chest.
She sometimes wondered what he might have looked like, if he'd gotten older than nineteen, if
his muscles would have filled out the promise his bones made. "Considering you can't see
yourself in a mirror."

"I make do," was his lazy response. He stretched, tucked his arm behind his head, and
tightened his grip on her shoulders. "Do you like cats?"

"I've never had a pet," was her answer. She'd adored cats as a child, but her mother always
said men didn't like cats, and she'd never been allowed to have one. Thus far her mother had
never been proved wrong.

"I like cats," he said, disproving her mother in three words. "I like having cats around.
We'll think about it. See if we can find you someone you'd get along with."

Despite his hurry to get here, he seemed not at all inclined to get up and do anything.
Eventually he rose, pulled on his jeans, and went out to the car. In a moment he'd returned with
a gentleman's overnight case, which he carried into the bathroom. He showered and emerged a
half-hour later looking his usual self, his cheeks perfectly smooth and his sideburns even, his
curls slicked back into a semblance of order, still wearing his jeans and a fresh plain blue
western-cut shirt. His feet were bare. Bonnie, long finished dressing and puttering around in the
kitchen, turned when he grabbed her around the waist and looked up at his face. "I may have to
watch you do that," she said, caressing his chin.

He jutted his jaw forward. "You get used to it. As long as my sideburns are even."

"They are," she told him. "Now, what would you like for dinner?"

"Whatever you make is good by me," he responded. "I'm gonna drag in the rest of my junk in
from the car."

Bonnie considered what groceries she had on hand, wishing she had steak or something
actually worth putting in front of him, as he carried in a medium-sized suitcase, an ice chest, and
a guitar case. The first he put into the bedroom, the last he left in the living room, and the ice
chest he carried into the kitchen. In it were several bottles under piles of half-melted ice.
"What's that?" asked Bonnie.

"Blood," was the casual response. "Not as good as fresh, but definitely useful when I can't
get easy access." He opened one of the bottles and tilted it to his lips.

It wasn't as though he were feasting on flesh, or anything gruesome or gory; it looked merely
like he were drinking from a wine bottle. Still, despite having felt him drink blood from her own
body, Bonnie had never really considered what that meant. When he swallowed and lowered the
bottle, his eyes were glowing, and his fangs had extended, altering the shape of his face
somewhat. Still, he smiled at her as he licked his teeth. "I have a friend at a hospital who
supplies me with expired blood that's scheduled to be destroyed. So not only is it loaded with
really disgusting anti-coagulants, it's old. But it keeps me going if I don't have someone to bite
around." He winked.

"What about--" Bonnie gestured to her own neck.

"I need probably around five or six pints a day, depending on what I'm doing," he said,
loading the bottles into her refrigerator. When he turned back, his face had returned to normal.
"Sometimes more. I very often feed less, which drives my family nuts. It's not really good for
me, you see. If I don't feed, then I can't heal properly, I get lethargic, lose my strength, all those
things that happen whenever you starve yourself. The kicker there is I could finish, oh, say,
something like that buffet you saw me at and still starve if I didn't actually feed on human
blood."

"What about animal blood?" she asked. For some reason she felt a little faint, but she wasn't
sure why.

"It's okay. I've survived on it in a pinch, but human blood is better. Stronger. Your blood,"
he caressed her shoulders, "is very strong. You have a lot of fortitude, Bonnie. More than even
you know." He kissed her temple. "What's for dinner?"

"So how do you get fresh human blood? Just from people you know?"

"A pint here or there, nothing more than your body can handle, from friends and family when
they offer," he replied, leaning on the kitchen counter and crossing his bare ankles, tucking his
thumbs into the corners of his jeans pockets, "but if I really need to feed, I'll go out and find
donors, if you will. Muggers, thieves, rapists. I stop 'em, hypnotize 'em, feed, and see if I can
maybe turn 'em around while they're under. Can't save everybody, but at least I do what I can."

"Hypnotize?" she asked.

"It's a vampire thing," he responded. "I'll show you someday. What do you have for
dinner?"

Bonnie wanted to know more about vampires, but Sean Patrick kept steering the
conversation back to everyday normal things, and eventually worked with her to create a
reasonable casserole of macaroni and ground beef, with peas and cheese, not something she
would have normally made for her wealthy benefactor, but apparently a dish he liked quite a bit,
since he ate most of it. Then he opened a bottle of wine, camped out in her recliner, and watched
TV until the sign off, playing his guitar during commercials. Bonnie eventually went to bed
alone, leaving him reading a book while polishing off the last of the wine.

He stayed for four days, basically getting underfoot and doing very little, obviously a man
who was really on vacation. He ate all of the chocolate in the house, most of the cookies, and
drank all of the wine, as well as most of the whiskey she'd bought for him. He played the piano
he'd sent, proving there was a reason for it, as he could play everything from ragtime to classic
symphony. He'd play her any song she asked for, and sing it in that magnificent voice of his. He
apparently knew every song ever written, and could learn anything new after hearing it once or
twice on the radio. He played her cowboy music on the guitar, or Mexican songs that he sang in
his perfect Spanish, and on Saturday night, he dressed up and said, "You can come to Mass with
me if you'd like. Sometimes getting to know folks is as easy as walking into a church."

Bonnie was somewhat doubtful of her reception at any "respectable" place; she knew all too
well exactly how the moral righteous felt about "women like her," and didn't really want to even
try to rub elbows with them. Still, if it made him happy, that was her business, so she wore a
nice dress and entered the Catholic church on his arm, watching in fascination as he dabbled his
fingers in a font of water at the door, made the sign of the cross on his head, heart, and shoulders,
then he bowed toward the somewhat gruesome crucified Christ at the front of the church before
he slid into the pew. "Should I do that?" she whispered.

"You're not Catholic, it's not required," he whispered back, smiling at her mostly with his
eyes. He handed her the missive he'd collected at the front and she read about the church's
activities and the evening's program for the service. The chatter around her seemed casual and
friendly, although everyone was dressed very nicely and there was a very formal solemnity at the
front altar, where robed and smocked men and boys lit candles and carried giant tomes and
massive gold goblets around. The organ gave out a thunderous ovation and everyone stood.

She didn't really follow everything that went on, since it was spoken in a foreign language.
"Latin," Sean Patrick whispered back to her when she timidly asked. It was certainly pretty to
listen to, but she didn't know anything that was being said. She tucked her hair behind her ears
and tried to pay attention, but kept nodding off, missing calls to stand or kneel, and she jumped
when people started to get up and move out of the pews.

"Is it over?"

"No," he whispered, putting his hands over hers. "I take communion. Those of us to do will
go out this side, up the main aisle, receive, and then come back on the outside aisles. Just sit
tight, let folks through who need to, and I'll be right back." He rose in his turn and slid out to
stand in the line that formed. Bonnie watched the priest hold up the big gold goblet, make
gestures, and place circles on the tongues of each person who stood before him, then they'd take
a drink from the cup. Her religious education had been absolutely nothing, so she understood
none of this. All she knew were a few Bible stories from books she'd checked out of the library
and the fact that Catholic priests couldn't get married. Or be benefactors, the one thing her
mother told her about this particular denomination. It didn't seem as exuberant or fun as the
hand-clapping services one saw sometimes in movies or on TV. No, this was formal and
dignified and deeply serious. As each person received their circle and swallow from the cup,
they shuffled back to their pew, where most crossed themselves again and knelt to pray.

At least the kneeling benches were padded, in a reasonably comfortable leather. The pews,
on the other hand, were not. Sean Patrick made his way back to her side, lowered the kneeling
bench, and bowed his head. In his hands he clutched a string of beads, of the sort she'd seen in
movies at the waists of nuns. A couple of people here had them. She didn't want to interrupt his
prayers, so she waited until he'd moved the beads through his fingers once, then twice, then
finally he crossed himself and sat back on the pew, just as the last people were receiving their
circles and returning to their seats.

"What is that?" she asked, daring to reach out to touch the beads.

"My rosary," he replied, and handed the strand to her.

It was heavier than she expected, the beads felt smooth in her fingers, the gold thick.
She flipped over the large medallion that connected the circle to a single strand which ended in a
large gold crucifix and read engraved there, "Sean Patrick Timothy Titus O'Connor, 1876."

"How many middle names do you have?" she whispered.

He grinned. "I'll explain later."

The service seemed to be winding down. The priest spoke in English, giving out a message
of love and peace, whereupon everyone in the pews started to turn and shake hands with their
neighbors, or brief kisses, saying "Love and peace be with you." She found herself shaking
hands with people she didn't know, and Sean Patrick kissed her lightly after he'd turned from
shaking hands with the people on his side.

Then it was over. The priest and all the others on the altar filed out with a banner and some
candles, and the people in the pews slowed followed. Sean Patrick took her hand and headed
out, pausing as the others did to one again bow to the altar. "What is that?" she whispered.

"We always genuflect before entering and after exiting the pew," he replied. There was a
line waiting to exit the church, most people stopping to shake hands with the priest and tell him
"lovely service" while hearing "so pleased you could come" in reply. Bonnie smiled warmly as
the priest gripped her hand in his, made an appropriate comment, then made a very blessed
escape into the parking lot.

"You didn't enjoy yourself much," commented Sean Patrick as he opened the car door for
her.

"The music was nice," she said. "I thought there'd be more of that."

"Depends on who leads the service, how much singing there is. I like more music, myself.
Some more progressive congregations do things a little differently. This one's pretty formal. I
haven't heard a mass in Latin in awhile. Back home it's in Spanish." He stretched out in his
driver's seat, his bones popping as he did so, and he gave out a contented sigh. "Let's go home. I
won't make you come anymore if you don't want to."

"I think it was interesting," she replied, "and it certainly gave you pleasure."

"It gives me peace, which might be the same thing, at that," he said.




Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
framefolly
Aug. 7th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
I died laughing when I followed your link. And then I had to revive myself so I could die laughing some more.

> "Rusk Montana", "Heron Alibi" or "Ermine Dayglo."

PRICELESS!
wildrider
Aug. 7th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
You know what's really funny? My first "novel" (hand-written on a spiral pad back in high school) pretty much followed every step to the letter! *blush*
sillymagpie
Aug. 7th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
::snicker:: That link was hilarious, especially the parts about the wizards who can never do anything useful. And the Pure Warrior Maiden who's too scary to marry and has to die because no one ever has sex in fantasy novels. LOL.
wildrider
Aug. 7th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
See above response to framefolly... *g*

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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