Day one: a song
Day two: a picture
Day three: a book/ebook/fanfic
Day four: a site
Day five: a youtube clip
Day six : a quote
Day seven : whatever tickles your fancy
Currently, I have two favorite books: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke; and Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson. I've mentioned both before; I find the craftsmanship of the former absolutely astounding (plus, I really love the story), while the latter is just seriously smart and really, really, REALLY funny. I admit, I do not know if either is available as an ebook, since I don't have a Kindle and my copies are plain ol' paper.
Bonnie expected things to go back to normal once she was home, but it didn't, not really.
Blythe and Three had become friends, real friends, and a week didn't go by when she didn't
get a call from Blythe, who loved to just chat. Early in May, for Blythe's birthday, the couple
came to Las Vegas. Bonnie, who had been washing dishes, heard an engine in her driveway and
came to check, since she wasn't expecting them this early, was startled to see Three's big
Suburban in the driveway. She tossed the dishtowel onto the foyer table and raced down the
walk to grab Blythe in a tight hug.
"You're early!" she admonished, as Three came around the truck to hug both of them.
"We made good time," replied Three.
"Show me the house," demanded Blythe, after kissing Bonnie on both cheeks.
"Do you have my vampire?" asked Bonnie, peering at the very darkly tinted windows of the
"He's sleeping in the back, bundled up to within an inch of his life," replied Three, opening
the back doors. "Probably in the coma, he hasn't stirred in miles."
Bonnie peered into the back seat. Wide as a Suburban was, the tall vampire was still almost
folded in half, buried under a blanket or two. The windows also had curtains drawn across them.
The entire back of the truck was well outfitted to haul around a vampire during the day. "I guess
he's okay," she said, patting his thin leg through the blanket. She turned to Blythe with a grin.
"It's so good to see you both!" She was enveloped in another warm hug, then she led them into
the house. "I didn't have a chance to clean up. My maid's on vacation."
"I love it!" cried Blythe, spinning around in the living room. "It's so cozy and sweet! No
wonder you love it so much!"
"Right this way." Bonnie led them through the rooms, feeling somewhat as though she were
showing a prince and princess around a quaint little cottage. Still, Blythe seemed to honestly
admire everything, and she gasped with pleasure when Bonnie led them out into the garden.
"It's beautiful! And your roses are to die for, honey!" Blythe wrapped her hands around one
huge blushing pink and inhaled the heady fragrance. Bonnie had chosen all her roses for scent
more than size or color. She beamed at her guests' praise.
"Right nice little place," said Three, his usual laconic self, a soft half-smile on his lips as he
stood in the middle of the garden and looked around, his thumbs hooked in his belt.
"Not what you're used to, right?" asked Bonnie with a smile.
"I can see what my skinny uncle likes about this place," continued Three, as though she'd not
said anything. "It's almost a perfect replica of the ol' Ocee, just on a smaller scale." He looked
around, then his gaze came back to Bonnie's face. "Now, don't be hurt, honey. It was a
compliment. This is home."
Bonnie felt the honest affection in the words like a caress and she couldn't help but smile.
Now it was Bonnie's turn to be the hostess and take them around to see the sights. The couple
stayed with her and Sean Patrick for almost a month. During that time, Bonnie once again felt
like a real wife, except for those odd times when she found herself looking at an oblivious Sean
Patrick, admiring him in the secret safety of her mind, knowing he never looked at her that way.
Blythe loved everything about Las Vegas, including all of Bonnie's less than respectable
"better than wives" group, who might have whispered about what she was doing there, but they
didn't turn down her company, which was always fun and sometimes daring. She led them all
into a Chippendales show, and showed that wives could just as happily stuff dollar bills into male
strippers' jockstraps as mistresses could.
It seemed like far too short a time before the vacation was over. Bonnie wished they could
stay, but Three loaded up his truck anyway, while Blythe packed up more and more of her Vegas
purchases. "I could stay here forever, but I have to admit, I miss Texas, too," she said, handing
her newest suitcase to her husband. She hugged Bonnie tightly. "And I'm going to miss you so
much! I had such fun!"
"I'll miss you, too," Bonnie replied, holding her friend tightly.
"We'll see you at Christmas, you know," said Three, in a tone that meant it was more than an
invitation, it was practically an order.
"Yes, you will come," said Blythe.
Bonnie glanced over her shoulder at Sean Patrick, who was standing in the shadows by the
door. He nodded, a slight smile on his lips, and Bonnie felt her heart leap with glee. "I guess I
will!" she agreed.
Sean Patrick didn't go with them, stating he'd fly in later. "It'll take you three days to drive it,
the way you go," he told Three. "I'll fly in a couple days and probably beat you there."
Three calmly told Sean Patrick to do something rude, then winked at Bonnie and Blythe. "I
ain't apologizin' for that," he said.
As soon as Three and Blythe drove away, Sean Patrick caught Bonnie in his arms and picked
her up, kicking the door closed behind them. "About damned time they left," he purred. Bonnie
"They've hardly inhibited us, you know," she managed before he captured her mouth with
his. They spent the next two days in bed, getting up to get food when they were hungry or to use
the bathroom. At the end, Bonnie drove Sean Patrick to the airport and said goodbye to him at
Her house seemed emptier than ever after everyone had gone.
Bonnie had the feeling the rest of the "Better-Than" group whispered about her, wondering if
she really was like them. After all, she didn't have to hide in the shadows; her benefactor's entire
family knew her and accepted her. While they'd loved Blythe nearly as much as she did, they
were keenly aware that Blythe was not one of them, and never could be. She went home to her
husband when she left them, and Bonnie, well, Bonnie was somewhere in the middle; not really
just a mistress, but definitely not a wife.
Days turned into weeks; weeks into months. As time passed, Bonnie found her way along,
living mostly on her own while looking forward to the almost daily phone calls from Blythe,
Sean Patrick's visits, and all the gifts and cards from her friends and almost-family on the Ranch
in Texas. As the years passed, Bonnie found she really didn't miss the girls much; she stayed in
contact with Julietta but the others faded away. She had her house, her music lessons, her garden,
the crafts she took up, and the new friends she met at classes she took in the evenings, friends
who never knew or seemed to care about her "arrangement" with Sean Patrick.
This Thanksgiving, the fourth in her house, she was home alone, waiting by her phone to
hear from the O'Connors on the pending birth of Blythe's first child. Since Blythe was so close to
delivering, Sean Patrick hadn't come for the holidays this year, but Bonnie understood; she'd also
declined the invitation to come back to Texas, knowing Matt wouldn't be happy with that. "I'll
be by the phone," she told Blythe, "just make sure someone calls me as soon as you know
anything." Thanksgiving passed with no news, but Blythe always sounded cheerful, if tired,
when she called.
"I told Matt I wanted you here, but you know the old man," she said one night, her voice a
"You'll do fine, honey," replied Bonnie. "Do you have a name picked out?"
"Are you kidding?" Blythe snorted. "I didn't have a say in that. He's gotta be Matt, of
course! That's the tradition, the first-born son."
"What if it's a girl?" asked Bonnie, giggling a little at Bonnie's tone.
"Ah, in THAT case, I have even less say," replied Blythe, but now she really was laughing.
"Thank you, sugar. You always make me feel so much better. I'll make sure Sean Patrick calls
you first thing we know."
Late Christmas Eve Bonnie sat by herself listening to a tape of Sean Patrick singing
Christmas carols that Blythe had sent her, sipping warm apple cider, and despite expecting the
phone to ring, she still jumped when it did, grabbing the receiver.
"Merry Christmas, darlin'," said Sean Patrick, sounding jovial and more than a little tipsy, of
"Merry Christmas! How is everyone?"
"Blythe just went into labor," he said, "looks like it's gonna be a Christmas baby after all."
"Oh, that's wonderful!" said Bonnie. "Is everything going well?"
"As far as I know. Three took her to town a few minutes ago, and left me to make the phone
calls. So just hang tight, there, honey, while I call the rest of the family, and I'll call you back."
"All right," she said, and let him go. She knew it could be hours before she heard more, and
decided to try and get a little sleep. It only worked a bit, since she was more excited than she
used to be when she was a little girl and Christmas was Santa Claus and early morning presents.
She kept dozing off and waking up fitfully at every noise that Sinatra made as he jumped up
on the bed and back during his usual nightly wanderings. The morning dawned without news, so
Bonnie fixed herself some eggs, carrying the phone as far as it would go and switching to the
dining room extension when she could get the kitchen phone no further. She didn't care
how anxious it made her look, she snatched up the receiver the second it rang.
"There's another O'Connor boy," said Sean Patrick, sounding sleepy but victorious, as
though he were the father. "Mother and baby boy are doing fine."
"Tell me everything," she demanded.
"Blythe was a real trooper, everything went just like it's supposed to. Doctor said she didn't
have any problems at all and she's sleeping now. Our boy is eight pounds, three ounces,
twenty-two inches long, what hair he's got is actually cotton-white, and we think his eyes are
gonna be plain O'Connor brown."
"There is nothing plain about my son," came Three's voice, also sounding sleepy and
"Hi, Three!" called Bonnie.
"Hey, Bonnie-girl. We have to have you come out again and see the wonder and the glory
that is our first-born," said Three.
"And I take it he's Matthew the Fourth?"
"My son comes fourth to no one," said Three. "His name will be Matthias. Matthias Sean
O'Connor, the first. He can be Matt in his own time, if he wants, to satisfy tradition, but he's
gonna be his own man." The pride in his voice was enormous.
"I'm so happy for you both, Three," said Bonnie.
"Blythe is proud as punch. Just before she dropped off she told me she was starving, so it's a
good thing we have Christmas dinner waiting for us back home. She'll call you as soon as we get
"I'll be here," said Bonnie. "Congratulations again."
"Love ya, sugar." He handed the phone back to Sean Patrick.
"So when will I see you again?" asked Bonnie.
"I think I'll be there for New Year's. Have to ring in nineteen-seventy-one in Vegas."
"You haven't missed a year yet. It'll be our fifth together, you know."
"That's why I have to come," he said. "I'll bring pictures of the baby. See ya in a week,
After the birth of Matthias, pictures came at regular intervals, so Bonnie felt like she was
getting to watch him grow up even from a distance.
Not quite three years after Matthias was born, Blythe had a daughter they named Seana
Patricia, after her uncle, and when she was old enough to make the trip, the whole little family
came back to Las Vegas to visit Bonnie. Motherhood had rounded Blythe quite a bit, but she was
still gloriously beautiful, so much so that men often stopped and turned to look at her when they
went out to restaurants or shows. Matthias proved to be a solid, sturdy toddler with bright honey-
yellow hair and a fiery temper his mother continually tried to keep in control lest he fly into a
tantrum, while Seana was a smiling bundle of joy, and the mirror image of her dusky-faced
Sean Patrick was in one of his moods, and had closed himself in his office again, pretty much
just like he'd done every day since they'd arrived. Blythe sent Three to the store for groceries,
"Since we descended on poor Bonnie without much warning." Bonnie had objected, but Three
took off willingly enough, leaving the two women alone with the kids.
"This makes me the happiest woman in the world," Blythe told Bonnie, catching Matthias as
he hurried past them in the music room and pulling him into a tight hug. "Right, pretty boy?"
"No," demanded Matthias, struggling to get out of his mother's grasp.
"He's wonderful. So is Seana," said Bonnie, holding Seana on her lap, watching with
fascination as the tiny fists gripped at the sides of the bottle Bonnie held, her little red mouth
working furiously on taking in as much formula as she possibly could. "She's just perfect."
"Yes, she is," Blythe agreed. She let go of her son and let him race off to attempt to terrorize
Sinatra, who was smart enough to know to hide from the overactive toddler. "Are you ever
sorry, Bonnie? That you... well, you decided not to have children?"
"I'll tell you the truth," said Bonnie a little wistfully, "I would have been happy to have Sean
Blythe smiled. "I think any woman would, really." She leaned forward, her dark eyes
sparkling with mischief, "I'm just guessing here, but I'm thinkin' he's pretty good in bed."
Bonnie felt her face heat up. Blythe laughed at her blush. "I take that as a validation of my
Bonnie swallowed, then returned her friend's mischievous look. "He is so very good in bed
it staggers the imagination," she said, shifting the baby carefully and glancing down at her,
feeling suddenly wrong about talking about sex in front of her.
"She doesn't understand a single word yet," said Blythe. "Come on, spill. I'd never tell
Three, but I once had fantasies about Sean Patrick. He's got those wonderful hands."
"Musician's hands," agreed Bonnie. It occurred to her suddenly that she was with a friend
that she could confide everything about Sean Patrick, including the blood-drinking. She talked in
an excited, slightly hushed voice, delighting in the high color on Blythe's cheeks and feeling her
own blood stirring wildly at the memories.
Blythe let out a sigh. "Ah, I knew it. There, I can live a little vicariously through you." She
reached out both hands, pressing them to Bonnie's knees. "You're in love with him, aren't you?"
she asked, her tone tender.
Bonnie started to deny it, just as she always denied it to herself, but tears stung her eyes and
her throat closed up as she looked at her earnest, dear friend, and found herself whispering, "I
"It's all right, sugar. I can't imagine not loving Sean Patrick, damn him. He's the kind of
guy every girl dreams about but doesn't really exist, you know? But no one can have him. He's
all cuddly and sweet as pie and so easy-to-touch, but he still keeps his distance. But he's so
capable of love, so warm and giving, I was so glad he found someone like you, but he just
refused to take that next step."
"I made him promise he wouldn't," said Bonnie. "That's what I wanted, Blythe. I'm a
mistress. That's what I was raised to be. I know how to make a married man happy away from
home. Sean Patrick knew that, and that's what he wanted. A woman he could come to when he
needed sex, and in exchange, I got security. He's given me everything he ever promised to give
me. I can't ask for more. I know he can't give it to me." She wiped her cheeks hastily, annoyed
and surprised at her tears.
Blythe moved over and wrapped her arms around Bonnie. "It's all right, sugar. You
need to let it out. Why don't you tell him?"
"I don't want to ruin things. They're good the way they are," said Bonnie. "As long as he's
willing to give me some of himself, then that's all I can expect. I know he doesn't really have
anyone else. At least..."
"No one he ever sees. Just a picture and a memory," said Blythe.
"You've seen the inside of his watch, haven't you?"
It clicked instantly. That was Moira, the pretty woman whose sepia-toned face smiled out of
the inside cover of Sean Patrick's pocket watch. If he had loved her back in the thirties, she must
be nearly seventy now. How long had it been since he had seen her? Had touched her? He no
longer had that woman, but he had Bonnie. Was there any chance at all...? She bent her head,
her eyes closing on a fierce headache. "I know who she is. And she's why he won't fall in love
again," she said. "He can't risk his heart falling in love with someone who'll grow old and die,
when he never will."
Blythe said nothing, but rested her forehead against the side of Bonnie's head, rocking her
and Seana back and forth.
"Do you know what set him off this time?" Bonnie asked, stroking Seana's soft hair.
Blythe was silent a few moments, then she said, softly, "He got a letter from England a few
days ago. He wouldn't tell us what it was about."
Moira, thought Bonnie. She blinked a few times. "I have everything I want," she repeated.
Blythe hugged her a little tighter. "You just keep on tellin' yourself that, sugar."
Love was a strange thing. Bonnie knew she was right, it was better to have Sean Patrick as
things were than not at all, and telling him flat out how she felt would ruin everything. It would
hurt him, and she couldn't do that to him. Leave well enough alone, and it would be better than
Another holiday season, another year, and there was another O'Connor, as Blythe delivered
another daughter, whom they named Tara. A few months after Bonnie got the joyous news, Sean
Patrick arrived without warning in the middle of the morning, having braved the sunlight to get
to her place. He was in a foul mood, and after a brief and cursory kiss for her, he stamped
through the house to his office where he slammed the door so the dishes rattled, not even giving
her the chance to chide him for the dangerously bad sunburn he'd gotten on his face, which was
already blistered and peeling like lizard skin.
It was hours before he emerged, during which time she could hear his voice raised on the
phone, occasionally shouting, and heard fragments of the conversation. She guessed he was
yelling at Matt and perhaps being yelled at in return, and his mood only got darker as the day
It was only later, laying in bed, that Bonnie dared to ask him what was happening.
"As you may have guessed, honey, I'm having a little disagreement with Junior," he said
softly, running his hands through his hair. In the last few months it had gotten longer, he was
letting it grow over his ears, and his sideburns were thick. She wasn't sure if he were emulating
Elvis or if there were some other new country singer he liked that she didn't know about,
although she had noticed all the fellows on "Hee Haw" were wearing their hair long and their
"A little disagreement?" she teased lightly, touching her fingers to his face. It made him
smile slightly, bending his head to rest it against hers.
"Okay, a gigantic one. We had a pretty flat-out knock-down fight and I had to walk out of
there before it came to actual blows, because I wasn't going to hit an old man. Junior's a strong
man, but I'm a vampire, and I'd have probably put him through a wall."
"I'm moving away from Texas," he said, his voice a little hoarse.
"What? But you love Texas!"
"I love the O'Connor Ranch, darlin', and I always will. Part of my heart will always rest
there. But the plain truth is we're too prominent. Too important. And it's way too noticeable
that young Sean Patrick never, ever changes. It's to protect them and me that I leave. Besides,
every year more and more of the lands are being annexed by San Antonio. There's a condo
complex where I used to ride with my brothers and an office building going up where the old
post office was in our town. Our town's gone, now, and the city's spreading out. Junior is
holding out, but I'm guessing it's not going to be long before the family really starts to disperse,
and we accept San Antonio's offer."
"To make the main house a museum, and the remaining lands a state park. It's really the
only way to save it. Progress is bound to take it all otherwise. I couldn't bear seein' that land
plowed under, them trees torn down, and my family dug up and moved to a state cemetery."
He sounded so sad as he spoke, so defeated, Bonnie wanted to cry with him. Instead, she
pulled him close into a tight hug and held him as silent tears rolled down his cheeks. He was
seeing the end of an era only he'd lived all the way through. Progress could never be stopped,
but usually, the founders didn't live to see the ending. "Where will you go?" she asked, for a
moment hoping the answer was here, that he would come to be with her, always, and she'd never
have to say goodbye to him again.
But instead he said, "Los Angeles. Burbank. I've already found a place. I'm gonna open a
bar. Someplace I can play and sing music I like for people who enjoy it with me."
"Yes, ma'am. I think I'll like it."
Bonnie stared at him. "Are you nuts?"
"I've been talking to folks, honey. I chose L.A. because it's a big, big city, and I'd be able to
hide in plain sight there. No one would know me or care if they did notice I never age. Besides,
it's a good business right now, country bars. Country music is pretty popular. I'm pretty sure I
won't get it open in time for the Bicentennial, but I'll be out in Burbank by then. I've already
started construction on the building. It was a beatnik club and wine bar back in the fifties and
then spent a few years as a go-go joint in the sixties, and it's been empty for years, but now it's
gonna house the best country music I can afford to put in there. And maybe folks will like to
listen to me singing a little, too." He smiled his real smile this time, wide and cheerful, with the
corners of his eyes crinkling, "It's really the only way I can justify standing up in front of an
audience to sing, you know, outside of church."
"It sounds crazy, but you know what? I think if anyone can do it, you can," said Bonnie,
quelling the disappointment in his choice of cities to live and hide in. Las Vegas was also big
and boisterous and didn't care what its neighbors did, as long as they dressed well and tried not
to drive drunk if they had long distances to go. He knew that, and still chose Los Angeles.
It was as though he were deliberately keeping her at arm's length, even as he pulled her close
and held her tightly against his chest. "It's a tough choice for me, Bonnie. Do you know
something? I've never lived alone. It's a challenge."
That was maybe it, she thought, combing her fingers through his long, soft hair, enjoying it
even more than she had when it was short and crisp with pomade. Maybe he just wanted to take
that challenge for himself, not that he was trying to keep away from her. "I can't believe that
your family doesn't have enough money to keep that ranch intact."
"Oh, we could probably keep the house and the immediate property. Money has a lot of
power, yep, but encroaching civilization has a much louder voice. That's still part of the joy of
livin' in this country, isn't it? Sure, we might keep the house, but the wider lands, the pastures
and fields we keep getting hit with zoning variations and a whole lot of other real estate stuff.
The horses and cattle would have to go, and I just don't think we could continue with our way of
life in just a plain millionare's mansion, because that's what it would end up being. A house
with a big lawn, all needing care. But it's a working ranch, and all our hands couldn't just hang
up boots and spurs and become butlers and gardeners full time." He sighed, leaning against her.
"I've known for a long time that the city might creep close enough to take a lot of the land, but I
never imagined that people would have the power to complain, 'all those cows stink! Get rid of
them!' and actually win the fight, when they knowingly bought or built a house close to a
working cattle ranch. We weren't just there first, it's only because we sold or leased parts of our
property that they have a house there in the first place. If we were further out we could stave off
the inevitable for a while longer, but it's gonna happen, and we might as well bend with the wind
rather than stand tall and get broken down."
Bonnie voiced her thought, "Why not get a place here?"
"Oh, I thought about it, honey. I really did. The main reason I chose L.A. for a music bar is
that's actually where some of the new sounds are coming from, up around Bakersfield and so
forth. Vegas has its own style of entertainment and while I'd bet there are some good country
bars, and may be in the future, it's where people come to listen to your kind of music," he
grinned, tilting his head so his eyes sparkled at her. "Not cowboy music."
Bonnie hugged him. He seemed to gain a little energy, either from teasing or from finally
getting all of this off his chest, but he rolled her back on the bed and started to kiss her. After
their lovemaking left the sheets in a big tangle around them, Bonnie struggled out from under
him and dragged the blankets up on the bed since he got cold so easily and she was starting to
shiver as the cool air dried the sweat on her body. "Your fight with Matt was more than just
about real estate," she said after a moment, resting comfortably in his arms again.
He was quiet for a while before he finally let out a long sigh and replied, "Yeah, it was. He
thinks sometimes that his position as head of the family means he's my boss, and he forgets
sometimes that I'm not only older than him, I'm my own person and I'm not there to be shoved
around. I'm not one of the kids."
His jaw jutted out stubbornly, ironically making him look like a recalcitrant child, and
Bonnie chuckled. "I'm not!" he protested, a little weakly. "Look, he's been on me ever since I
bought this place for you. He watches all my business transactions, he keeps tabs on my inflow
and outflow hell, pardon, he's the head of the family, but I've always been the one trusted with
handling the money! The world's getting smaller, honey, and I can handle that from Los Angeles
just as well as I could in San Antonio, just like I do when I'm here. And I told him, if he thinks he
can do a better job, if he thinks I'm so frivolous and emotional instead of rational, then he can
just take the reins and I'd stop messing with the O'Connor money and he could just leave me
mine, but oh, that gave him pause." He drew a deep breath and took his own sweet time letting it
"Honey, I don't want to talk about it anymore," he said at length. "I think I'd like to have a
good time while I'm here. Besides, it won't happen for a while. I'll keep my eye on things and
we may save the house and a good part of the property, after all. I just don't think it'll be much
of a ranch once those fields are gone."
Bonnie hugged him again. "All right, then. I suppose we're seeing Elvis tonight, since
"You bet we are," he replied, the thought of seeing his favorite singer making his eyes
brighten, as always. Bonnie figured that would be a good way of distracting him from his
troubles. Sean Patrick hadn't missed a show at the Las Vegas Hilton since Elvis started
performing there a few years ago, when it was still the International, if he was in town during any
of the performance runs. Sometimes they'd sit through both shows, Sean Patrick's gaze never
leaving the stage, drinking in every aspect, not just Elvis himself, but the orchestra and the band
and the singers and the arrangements. He memorized everything that had anything to do with
music and filed it somewhere in his head, always able to sing it himself as soon as he could get to
his piano or his guitar. It didn't matter to him when Elvis put on weight or dropped the pounds
again or looked tired, as long as he sang, that was enough for Sean Patrick. Bonnie wasn't sure
how he managed to always get tickets for those shows, and she never asked. She just enjoyed the
Yesterday we went to framefolly's place, where we had marvelous beef stew and salad. I used my new "giant cupcake" pan to make a giant cupcake cake and it came out well -- I used a Cake Mix Doctor recipe and made marscapone cheese frosting. It's a Cake of Mighty Density (there's a lot left). framefolly took some pictures, since it came out cute. Then we watched Once More With Feeling (singing along, of course!) and had a talk about the troubles with Season Six and Seven post OMWF. I guess, in a way, that no matter our continued complaints, Joss Whedon wins, since after all these years, we're still talking about it...
Yay, no work tomorrow!