Spent Saturday shopping and watching more of the same; I put together a crock-pot version of Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon, which came out very, very yummy, then because I was feeling tired and lazy just mixed up some boxed mix brownies for dessert (I was going to make cupcakes or a cake, but, as I said, laziness).
Today we got stuff done for Barb's mom then cleaned out the attic room, which had been my office for over ten years and more, so much of the junk contained therein was my junk. I have rid us of a great deal of this junk, but there is a tremendous amount of Very. Important. Stuff. in there that I can't seem to quite shed myself of. I can't find a bag I had in there with a bunch of little scrap-yarn granny squares in it; I was thinking about doing more of them since I have way more scrap yarn now (having finished the Very Large Multicolored afghan I'd been working on). But the room is mostly cleaned out, the old desk hauled to the curb along with the rusty old filing cabinet, and most of what had been in that room is now stacked in the living room, while the main walls have been cleaned and spackled and readied for painting, and I'm sitting with my feet up eating cheese and crackers, and watching Merlin, which I discovered a few weeks ago and find I rather like (although it plays loose and fast with the mythos), although I find that in one episode Arthur is annoying pain in the ass and in the next he's a pretty decent guy and then he's back again being a jerk. But I like Merlin a lot.
This is generally a momentous week for me -- today is the 32nd anniversary of Elvis's death, then Tuesday the 18th will be the 23rd anniversary of my father's death. Friday the 21st will be the 45th anniversary of my birth. Moving into September will be the 6th anniversary of the events which take place in Ring of Fire, and four years since it was finished.
We have the next two days off, wherein we hope to finish the room.
By the time several months had passed, Bonnie was getting used to his comings and goings,
as well as learning his quirks. She'd noticed right away that he tended to turn off the air
conditioning anyplace he had the ability to, and in hotel casinos he always kept his jacket on. He
liked it warm, and that was all right with Bonnie, since she was a born-and-raised Vegas native,
and considered people who relied too heavily on air conditioning to be somewhat lacking in
physical fortitude. He tended to mood swings that rivaled her own at that time of the month, and
she learned to tell when he was brooding, when he was somewhat manic, and when he was
starting to move between those moods. He was definitely mannerly and somewhat uptight in
public, but in private he could be not just lascivious, but sometimes downright perverted. She
found she kind of liked it.
The days had been lovely, with beautiful weather and those wonderful, infrequent visits from
Sean Patrick, re-formed friendships with Joyce and all the girls. They called themselves the
"Better-Than-Wives" club, and rotated whose paid-for house or condo they shared stories in,
serving whatever they felt like and generally having a good time. Bonnie loved having friends
again, her own friends that seemed to like her for herself, although all of them, hands-down, said
she was insane for her relationship with a "youngster" like Sean Patrick.
Today she'd woken up planning to go to Julietta's house, where there would be a "formal"
tea and the afternoon movie, since channel four was showing "Peyton Place" today; but Bonnie
woke up with her throat sore and her nose running, and after calling Julietta, she went back to
bed with a tray of tea and saltines and a book. The tea finished, she'd only nibbled on her
favorite crackers, and the book laid aside, now she just lay there feeling miserable and staring at
the ceiling, wondering how she'd allowed that cobweb to grow in the corner and why her maid,
Anna, hadn't spotted it with her normally keen eyes.
Half asleep, she heard the door open and close and struggled to rise, wondering if Anna had
come on her day off, or if Bonnie herself had forgotten to lock the front door, letting in who
knew what kind of person, but then Sean Patrick appeared at the doorway. "Hey, there, girl," he
said, concern in his voice. She didn't know how he'd known she was sick, but apparently he did.
"You didn't call," she accused, reaching for her bathrobe. "Let me get you something."
Before she could, he was easing her back between the sheets, his hands blessedly cool on her
"You are burning up," he said gently. "Lie back down, now. You don't have to do anything
for me. I'm the one who came unannounced." He tucked the blanket up around her neck, loose
enough so she could move comfortably, then lightly laid his hand on her head again. "Poor baby.
Is there anything I can get for you?"
"I'm okay," she said, giving him a wan smile. "Really, you should have called. If I hadn't
had a cold I might not have been home."
"I'm a big vampire, I could have entertained myself," he replied, smoothing her hair back
from her face. "You hungry?"
"Starve a fever," she replied.
He grinned. "I never can remember if it's starve a cold, feed a fever," he said. "You just stay
there in bed and let me do the taking care of for a change."
"How long are you here for?" she asked.
"Couple of days, at least. Now I'll stay until you're better."
She slept a lot, waking to find him often sitting beside her. He'd turned off the air
conditioner but obligingly turned a fan on her when she complained about the heat. He read to
her, from her book, never once making fun of the steamy romantic passages, his Texas accent
often smoothing out, even taking on new and different accents, as he read dialogue. He could do
more than a passing English dialect, his talent at mimicry not at all surprising, she considered,
when she thought about how good his ear for music was. He played his guitar and sang for her,
and at night he slept in the same bed, but he was obviously waiting until she felt up to it again
before making any advances. She found it a little peculiar that he even owned pajamas, but
apparently, he did.
He wasn't the best cook in the world, but he could make a rather delicious chicken soup.
Apparently he'd made rather a lot of it, because they ate it almost every day until he declared her
well enough to join him in the dining room. When she saw the jars of soup lined up neatly in the
refrigerator, she gasped. "My Lord, how many people did you think you were serving?" she
"Problem with chicken soup is it grows," he replied, grinning. "Besides, I learned to make it
at a ranch where the family alone numbered at least fifteen at any given time, plus ranch hands
and domestics and friends, so we're talkin' sometimes thirty or forty people. This was a small
batch," he looked apologetic, but he still wore that wide "ah shucks" grin that made him so
damned irresistible. Bonnie couldn't help but laugh with him.
"I suppose sometime you'll have to learn to cook something besides soup," she said.
"One of these days," he replied vaguely.
They sat and talked in the living room, mostly about his family, his nephew Matt and Matt's
son. "It's been interesting, having three generations named Matthew," he said. "Before my
brother died, he was Matt; second was Junior, and then Little Matthew came along. When Matt
passed on, Junior took the name, but we still called the third Little Matthew for a long time.
Then when he got to high school he wanted his own name. Can't say I blame him. He wanted to
be called Three, so that's what we call him. That's even how he signs. He got married couple
years back. Pretty woman. No... she's beautiful." He took out his wallet and flipped through the
pictures she'd looked at to one of a tall man with the same general features as Sean Patrick, but a
much longer, plainer face and somewhat heavily-lidded eyes. He was standing with a dusky
woman of breathtaking beauty. Bonnie was studying their faces when the doorbell rang. "I'll get
it," he said, rising and handing her the photograph.
"We were wondering how our invalid is doing," came Julietta's voice from the foyer.
"Come on in. She's sitting up in the living room," came Sean Patrick's voice, as always
deferential towards a woman, his normal charming self. Julietta's expression as she came in the
living room was half bemusement and half envy, her eyes still trying to take in Sean Patrick's
clean-lined profile. She wiggled her eyebrows at Bonnie, a knowing "oh, wow!" look, as Sean
Patrick gallantly offered her one of the armchairs and said, "Can I get you some tea? We only
have two cups here."
"Please," said Julietta.
As soon as Sean Patrick left the room, Julietta leaned forward and gripped Bonnie's hand.
"You ARE crazy!" she whispered, a delighted light in her dark eyes. "He's absolutely delicious!
What in the world were you thinking?"
"You would not believe how many times I told him no, Julietta, but really, when he told me
all his reasoning, I eventually gave in. It's very hard to explain, but--" she left off as Sean
Patrick returned with more tea and cookies, as well as crackers for her.
"Hard to explain what?"
"You," she said, smiling up at him as he handed her the plate of crackers. He already knew
her that well. He sat down and started to munch on chocolate cookies, his eyes crinkled with
delight as he smiled at Julietta. "How I ended up with you."
"I'm persistent," replied Sean Patrick, "and a terrible cook, I'm afraid, or I'd offer you
dinner, as well."
"Oh, don't worry about that," said Julietta, lifting the basket she was carrying, "I was
bringing our shut-in something anyway. We can share. It's roast chicken and all the trimmings."
"You're a lifesaver."
Sean Patrick flirted outrageously with Julietta, speaking Spanish to her, which made her
giggle with girlish delight. After dinner and a bottle of wine he played piano and sang until
Julietta finally, regretfully, said it was time for her to be heading home. "I have had the best
time, mi amor," she said, as he took her hand in both of his and kissed it. She spoke in Spanish
to him, a few words of which Bonnie understood, such as "muy macho hombre" and "venido con
mi," which made him laugh and respond in kind, flirtatious but not at all serious. He winked at
her as she gathered up her basket and left.
"You make women feel good, you realize that, don't you?" said Bonnie when he sat down
next to her on the sofa again, taking her legs onto his lap.
"It's just something that comes naturally, I think," he replied, running his fingers through his
hair and sipping the last of his wine. "I never really try to do all that. Mexican girl, I just
naturally started speaking Spanish to her, she responded, next thing I know, we're acting like
teenagers. I don't think any of it was serious."
"I know it wasn't. Julietta's too smart to get tangled up with a little boy like you, even if you
are muy macho," she grinned at him. He chuckled. "You know what I'm feeling like I might be
up for?" She teased one bare foot up his arm, then to his chest. He tucked the tip of his tongue
between his teeth as he looked at her, and his eyes started to glow.
"Carry me back to bed and let's see how much energy I have," she replied.
He was slow and methodical and didn't wear her out unduly, but he made sure they both got
to where they wanted to get. Feeling all tingly and happy, Bonnie stretched out, letting her body
float back to the sheets, which needed to be changed, but she could do that later. Sean Patrick
sighed a pleasant, happy sigh and cuddled her close. She knew this was the main reason he
came, but she couldn't help but be happy he was gentleman enough to have stayed by her side
while she was sick, taking care of her. He was just too nice, too nice for words, and certainly too
nice to be real. Which, she knew, was exactly what Julietta would say at the next social
gathering of the "Better-Than-Wives" group.
Who cared? He might be too good to be true, but he was, at least when he was in Las Vegas,
She woke up before sunset, feeling very much her old self and wondering how long he'd stay
now that she was better. He was sleeping beside her, his head tilted slightly away from her so
she could admire the long line of his neck. His hair was messy, falling in his face, his breathing
slow and even. As she watched, she could see there was a slight pulse in his neck, but it took so
long for the next beat she wasn't sure she'd seen it. She already knew his heart didn't beat, but
something obviously moved the blood around in his body. Carefully, she reached out to
smooth his curls away from his forehead, but as light as her touch was, he still woke up instantly,
his eyes opening wide and focusing on her as though he hadn't been asleep at all.
"Howdy," he said. "Watching me sleep?"
"Yeah," she said, still playing with his hair. "You look about twelve when you're sleeping,
He grinned. "I've heard that." He stretched languidly.
"Sean Patrick," she said, her fingers sliding through his curls and lingering on his smooth
forehead, "you never have told me how you ended up becoming a vampire. Did you seek it out?
And how long have you been a vampire?"
He shrugged. "I already told you when," he said.
"That's right. You were nineteen, so it must have been, what, 1882? 1883? But why?
How?" she asked.
"Well, I could tell you," he said, sitting up and reaching for his cigarettes, "or I could show
Bonnie almost pulled away from him, her hands going to protect her neck before she thought.
He laughed at her and bent forward, impulsively, to kiss her on the cheek. "I didn't mean it that
way," he said.
"I'm sorry, it was a knee-jerk reaction," she said a little sheepishly.
"No problem. No, I meant why not take a road trip? You and me haven't been out of Las
Vegas. I could take you there, show you. I haven't been in a while, myself."
"To Texas?" she looked at him in confusion.
"No, darlin'," he said, chuckling again. "Arizona. Tombstone, specifically. To the place
where I became a vampire. Because if you see it, if I go there again, I think it'll be easier to
understand. Maybe for both of us." He rose from bed, stretching again, his long limbs snapping
a little. "Get dressed. If we hit the road in an hour, we can be there before sunrise."
"NOW?" she asked.
"Why not? You're feeling better, and the fresh air will do you good. Besides, it'll be fun."
She guessed that it might be, at that. Hastily she packed a few things in her overnight bag
and called Joyce to make sure she'd not worry about her being gone, and have her look in on
things while Bonnie was gone, including feeding Sinatra, the pretty little lilac-point Siamese cat
he'd brought for her. She wrote a note to Anna about stripping the bed and that Joyce would be
coming by to see to things before she dressed and brushed her hair, then made sure everything
was in place and locked up before they climbed into his oversized car.
As soon as he was freed from the town limits and out on the Boulder Highway, he opened up
the powerful engine and they roared toward Henderson at a rather breathtaking speed, making the
short trip to Hoover Dam even shorter. Since it was past eight in the evening, traffic was very
light at the dam itself, and they raced over it into Arizona swiftly.
"Have you ever had a chance to look at the dam?" Bonnie asked.
"Never," he replied. "I've never been able to cross it during the day. I've stopped a few
times to take a look at the reservoirs, but everything's closed after sundown, so I don't see much
but the lake. It's nice, though. Pretty territory, this. Makes up for what's coming."
"I've never been past the dam. What's the Arizona side like?"
"It's a long, long, flat stretch of desert between the dam and Kingman," he replied. "And
then more beyond that. Arizona's pretty sparsely populated, and it gets a little monotonous
during nighttime drives. That's why I have a tape deck," he shoved a cassette into the deck and
Elvis started singing "Viva Las Vegas."
Bonnie laughed. "You like his movies, right?" she teased.
"I do," he said, "especially this one. Not only do I also love Las Vegas, but I like lookin' at
Ann-Margret." He winked at her, saucy, and hit the gas a little harder, taking them speeding off
south across the desert. She glanced at the speedometer and wasn't sure, but thought they were
doing something like a hundred miles an hour, so she just hung on and enjoyed watching what
she could see of the scenery whipping blurrily past.
"Don't you worry about speeding tickets?" she asked.
"Yes, of course," he responded, "but I have a pretty good eye for what's lying ahead of me, at
least on these flat desert roads. I do have a few, of course; I have to be careful or Sean Patrick
the Third will find himself with a suspended license."
"I take it this has happened before?"
He grinned a little, a wicked look of boyish mischief. "Well, yeah," he said. "I do like to
They sped through the tiny town of Kingman, Arizona, and onto Route 66, taking them east
and then to a deserted turnoff that headed south through the darkness, dotted with darker lumps
of pinon pines and creosote bushes, before they passed through a scattering of lights called
Wikieup and speed into the skeletal stands of Joshua trees. "I love Joshua trees," said Bonnie.
"I've never seen one up close."
"Want to look at one?" he asked.
"Don't we have a time table?" she replied.
"Well, if we cut it too close, we can always stop for the day in Tucson," he said with a shrug.
He pulled off the highway and drove a little into the desert, until they reached a stand of Joshua
trees that seemed to reach all the way to the sky when she was under them, looking up at the sky
and the spiny, beautiful branches.
"Wow," she breathed. "I never dreamed they were this big."
"Pretty impressive," he said, standing next to her with his thumbs hooked in his belt. "I
never really stop to admire the scenery in these parts, myself, since I never get to see it in the
daytime. Mighty pretty." He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and hugged her as they
walked a little ways over the sand, picking their way carefully around the trees and shrubs.
He excused himself and disappeared around one of the trees, coming back zipping up his jeans.
"Sorry about that."
"Vampires are people, too," she said. "I hope you don't mind if I wait until we make the
"Sure. We can get a soda there if there's anything open," he said.
"I should have packed up your cooler," she replied, when they made it back to the highway
and the car. "Not that you gave me a lot of time."
"Well, you'll enjoy this," he said. "A road trip is always fun, even in the middle of the
"At least with you," she said with a smile as she got back in the car. He chuckled, closing
the door for her before coming around to his own side. He slid back into the driver's seat and
started up the powerful engine. "You're going to need blood. Your bottles were all empty."
"I'll feed, I promise," he replied. Bonnie shot him a searching look, but he didn't seem to be
putting her off. She'd make sure he did once they stopped. They raced off south, through the
small town of Wickenburg, where they found a little gas station open. Sean Patrick had the
engine filled up and bought them a couple of Cokes, since that was the only thing the sleepy
attendant had to hand. Then, with Bonnie keeping watch, he hypnotized the clerk and fed as she
directed him to, and they left the man dozing over his counter none the wiser, but with a smile for
both of them.
"There, that wasn't so hard," she said as the car roared on south to Phoenix. He just smiled a
"I only did it 'cause I noticed their security camera wasn't working," he replied. "A good
place this time of night is a truckstop. I catch drivers as they're getting ready to sleep for the
night, and that way I know they won't be on the road for at least a few hours, give 'em a chance to
They continued on, passing miles of cute little motels in each of the small towns that filled
the large valley, from Phoenix to Tempe to Mesa and through Apache Junction, before the
road opened up again before them and carried them on through the Sonoran desert, between
ranges of high mountains.
The sky started to lighten when they passed through the tallest mountains yet, and Sean
Patrick pulled into the parking lot of a large hotel. "I'm gonna stop while it's still dark enough
for me to chose where I want to stay," he said with a weary smile.
They checked in as "Mr. and Mrs. O'Connor" and were shown to a suite, of course, with no
one in the entire hotel looking askance at them. Bonnie liked the feeling of legitimacy, liked the
fact that no one here knew any different. To them she was a lady, and she had to admit, she
enjoyed that feeling. She held Sean Patrick's hand when they walked into the suite. He swirled
her around as though at a dance and caught her in his arms.
"You like, pretty lady?"
"I like," she answered. He drew her close and started to kiss her. They made love while the
sun rose, then slept through the day, emerging for dinner just before sunset. After an excellent
meal at the hotel's restaurant, they hit the road again.
"Shouldn't be more than four more hours," he said cheerfully. "Boy, it's been a long time
since I've been in Tombstone. Last time I went I rode in on a horse. I hear it's quite a tourist
attraction these days." They left Tucson on the newly completed Interstate 10, which claimed
they were heading east although it really seemed to angle pretty nearly south. Sean Patrick
continued to drive at around a hundred miles an hour, singing along with the Beatles and Elvis
and Hank Williams, whoever came up on his eclectic mixes of music on the tape deck. When
they turned south at Benson, Bonnie watched as the desert gave way to lovely, lush
cottonwood-lined streams and lowland valleys. They drove through tiny little picturesque towns
and over beautiful streams, then up and onto the highland desert.
"This is it," said Sean Patrick, starting to slow down. He pointed to a rounded hill that stood
all alone, away from the town which sparkled a little in the night beyond, and slowed to turn into
a gravel drive that led up to a small building and a fenced cemetery that looked lost and lonely
there on its hill. "Boot Hill," he said. "That fence wasn't always there. I guess they put it up as
a tourist thing. I wonder if they're open after sundown."
"It's too late tonight," she said.
"But it's a cemetery, a real one. There must be an open gate," said Sean Patrick. "They
don't close cemeteries."
"They do sometimes," said Bonnie. "Let's find a hotel. We can really see the town
tomorrow. I'm sure things are open in the early evening."
"You're probably right. Let's see what's available for us to stay in tonight."
He drove them down into the town itself, searching what seemed to be the main street for
both parking and for a hotel he wanted, his eyes searching the street as though he was expecting
something specific. Finally he found a parking spot and said, "Come on. We'll walk."
"What are you looking for?"
"I'm looking for the hotel where I became a vampire," he said. "It was the Grand Hotel.
This is Allen Street... Yes, there's the Occidental Saloon... I was playing poker there that night.
There's a B and B."
"We should probably make sure there's a room available before you drag in our luggage,"
Bonnie said, taking his hand before he could open the trunk.
"Good point. These little places sometimes need reservations," said Sean Patrick. He gave
her hand a squeeze and they went into the little house that had been converted into a bed and
breakfast. Despite the hour, there was a pleasant-faced woman at the front desk, who smiled
warmly at them when they entered.
"Hello," she said, "Welcome."
"Evening," said Sean Patrick, returning the smile. "Got any rooms available, ma'am?"
"We have, actually," she replied, taking his offered hand, her smile growing more genuine
and less "welcoming visitors" desk-clerkish. "Welcome to Tombstone. Have you been before?"
"Been a long time for me," said Sean Patrick, taking out his wallet.
"I've never been before," replied Bonnie.
"Well, there's lots to do and see around these parts," said the woman, taking Sean Patrick's
credit card and signing them in as "Mr. and Mrs. O'Connor." "Hope you enjoy your stay."
"Thank you, ma'am. What is there to do after dark?" asked Sean Patrick.
"There's a few things that stay open pretty late," she replied, thinking about it, as she
gathered up fliers from a stand behind her. "There's a couple of the saloons, of course."
"Oh, that hasn't been an operating saloon in some time, honey," she looked at him. "Before
"Well, I was reading about Wyatt Earp," he said without batting an eye.
"There are a few things still around from then, but the O.K. Corral is only open during the
day. I'm not sure how late the Birdcage is open."
"Well, we shall just have to see," said Sean Patrick. "Thank you, ma'am."
"Follow me, kids."
She led them up a narrow flight of stairs to a nice set of rooms, a living room with a tiny
kitchenette and a bedroom under a sloping roof. Everything was clean and pretty, with old-
fashioned furniture and floral wallpaper. "This is beautiful!" said Bonnie, happily touching the
velvet of the old sofa that faced a tiny fireplace.
"We do try to keep it as authentic as possible. Tourists like the Old West feel."
"Looks good to me," said Sean Patrick, smothering a little grin. "But I'll bet that indoor
plumbing in the bathroom isn't too authentic."
She laughed with them. "Have a good night, dears. If you need anything, just ring the desk.
I'm Mrs. Brennen."
"Thanks, ma'am." Sean Patrick closed the door behind Mrs. Brennen and turned to look at
Bonnie, his eyes grinning. "It's a reasonable recreation, actually. They did a pretty good job. It
looks just like a room from my time. Just a little larger and more comfortable. And indoor
"I never thought about that. You used to have to go to an outhouse, didn't you?"
"Oh, yeah," he replied. "I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved the advent of
indoor plumbing. Not to mention the real improvements that have been made since! Hey, let's
go get our luggage then cruise down the main streets and see what is open."
"It's cold out there," Bonnie protested.
"Wear a sweater. It's not even midnight yet. We have a lot of night ahead of us. And if
Tombstone really emulates the 'old west,' honey, then there'll be drinking and poker playing
somewhere all night."