I still have a slight sore throat--it's never turned into anything, so I am left assuming that it's just bad allergies. I've bounced between feeling crappy and feeling okay all week; this has left me too groggy most mornings to get up and work out, and then add a strong desire to suck down the Snickers that someone brought to the office and left on the community snack table (I deliberately bought Halloween candy I didn't like for my own desk, but Snickers are a weakness), so I'm stalled. However, I (so far, knock wood) haven't gained anything back. I have two weeks before the cruise. I probably won't make it entirely to my goal, but if I can get a little further in the next two weeks, I'll feel good about myself. But I still baked cookies this evening because, well, I wanted to.
My massage therapist says I am awesomely better. I fell asleep on the table this evening and didn't even feel my foot massage (this is good and bad).
I hope I have a little money come the new year for actual yoga classes, because I'm certain this was very good for me. It's just SO EXPENSIVE!!!
Bonnie and Bobby Ryan were married at the Sands Hotel on October 2. Their quiet ceremony was paid for with O'Connor money, and most of the family came. None of them raised an eyebrow at the sight of Sean Patrick giving her away. Bonnie knew she didn't love Bobby the same way he did her, nor the same way she had loved Sean Patrick, but she did love him, and cared for him; the day he'd asked her to marry him, with a beautiful and modest diamond ring, she'd agreed almost before the words were out of his mouth.
The wedding night was the first time Bobby made love to her. It had been nearly twenty years since Bonnie had been with a human man; Bobby was thicker, heavier than Sean Patrick, and his body was hot next to hers, his skin scorching. He touched her with reverence, as though astounded she was his. Bonnie had somewhere forgotten that men did sweat during sex, and found herself reveling in Bobby's exertion, how hard he worked to please her, and when he shouted out his climax she wrapped her arms around him, kissing him with abandon, and when she said "I love you!" she meant it with all her heart.
It turned out Bobby joining her in the garden during his previous visit hadn't just been good manners. He was possessed of a real green thumb, and loved puttering in the dirt. Somehow he managed to pull from the rocky, alkaline Las Vegas dirt the most beautiful roses her little garden had ever produced. He claimed her bare backyard as his own and soon it was a plush, tropical paradise where they put a table with umbrella and chairs and spent long, happy afternoons with the newspaper or books they both liked to read. Bobby wasn't as wealthy as Sean Patrick in his own right, but his family money gave them a comfortable income. Sean Patrick had signed the house over to her completely, with only a provision in her will that would allow it to pass back to his keeping after her death. Bonnie was happy with that arrangement.
For a few years they continued going to Malibu for Christmas, but Bonnie found she was a little uncomfortable having both Sean Patrick and Bobby in the same room with her, although she couldn't explain why. Eventually she begged off, stating a desire to share the holidays with her new husband alone. She kept up with the children, though, and knew when Matt started boxing on the amateur circuit, and when Seana married, and when Tara won high marks at school and eventually a full scholarship to UCLA. Bonnie never knew when Sean Patrick was in Las Vegas, although she had an idea that Bobby sometimes got together with him for drinks when he was in town.
Letters came regularly from Seana, who had become the image of her mother, if rounder and more matronly than Blythe had ever been. When she and her husband James came to Las Vegas, Bonnie was delighted to welcome them, playing happy grandmother to their son Jimmy, because somewhere in the last few years Las Vegas had become a playground for families, which Bonnie thought sent a bit of a mixed message; still, it was fun to walk the Strip these days, as old hotels were razed to make room for new, the lush tropical Mirage and its child-friendly partner Treasure Island going up across from the Sands and the gloriously elegant Bellagio taking over where the Dunes had once stood. Sometimes she missed the old days, but the excitement and fun of the new Vegas pleased her, and somehow she knew it pleased her vampire, too, even though she hadn’t talked to him in some time.
Life was certainly nothing like Bonnie had ever expected it to turn out. She had more than just her beautiful house and real security, she had a loving husband who was both endlessly wonderful and endlessly exasperating, always underfoot when she was trying to get something done but always there when she needed him for anything, from opening jars to painting the ceiling to simply holding her at night when for no reason at all she found herself crying. He never asked and she was glad because she couldn't have explained it at all.
They had been married nearly twenty years, longer than she’d ever been with Sean Patrick, when a gloriously engraved invitation arrived with a Burbank postmark. Bonnie opened it eagerly, assuming that it was going to be at last announcing Matthias' marriage, that perhaps his estranged fiancee had returned and they'd reconciled, but when she read the golden words on the dark indigo paper she dropped the invitation and stood there, staring at the foyer wall.
"Bonnie? Honey?" Bobby's voice came to her from far away, barely audible through the rushing sound in her ears. She felt him taking something from her fingers, and sort of saw him bend to pick up what she'd dropped. Then she heard him, loud and clear. "Well, I'll be God damned."
Bonnie shook herself, blinked hard several times, and looked again at the marriage invitation Bobby held. "Sean Patrick O'Connor and Della Ardala Kelley request your attendance at the celebration of their wedding, December 26, 2003, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Los Angeles, California. There will be a reception following the ceremony at The Nightmare Saloon in Burbank."
"Who is this Della?" whispered Bonnie. She blinked hard and swallowed. She hadn't thought about Sean Patrick in a long time. She knew, of course she knew, that he'd moved on to other women, but always those "safe" women in the chicken ranches of Nevada where prostitution was legal and he could pay and walk away. But to think there really was a woman, a woman he would actually marry...
"I wonder if she's a vampire. I'm gonna give Matt a call," said Bobby, putting his arm around her shoulders. "Are you all right, honey?”
Bonnie blinked again. Tears were pricking her eyes and she couldn't keep them back as she looked up at her husband. "Yes," she said, knowing she was lying. Bobby chuckled slightly and hugged her, pressing her against his chest. Bonnie wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Why do you put up with me?" she murmured.
"Because I love you," he replied. "And I knew what I was getting when I signed up for this, you know." He bent his head and kissed her hair. Bonnie turned to face him, to catch his kiss on her lips.
"Shall we call Matthias?" she asked.
"I think so," replied Bobby. He didn't let go of her as they walked to the kitchen, where he sat her tenderly at the table and made her a cup of tea before he picked up the phone. Bonnie put honey and milk into her tea and nibbled on the saltines Bobby laid on a plate in front of her. Bobby picked up the phone and punched “three” on the fast dial.
"Cousin Matt. Let me put you on speaker, so you can talk to Bonnie, too," he said, clicking the button.
Matthia's voice had dropped maybe three octaves when he'd hit puberty, and it rumbled out of the phone, "Hey, Bonnie-girl. We've missed you, you know."
"Hello, Matthias, darling," she replied, leaning her elbows on the table.
"I assume," Matthias went on, "you've received an invitation, and that's what I owe the honor of this call?"
"Talk to us, boy. What the hell's going on?" asked Bobby. Bonnie looked affectionately at her husband, as always pleased that he didn't apologize for his somewhat salty mouth.
"Couple months ago vampire slayers came to Burbank. Don't worry, they didn't get him, obviously," Matthias started, "She was one of them. But Sean Patrick figured her out before she figured him out. She just came to the bar to dance, didn’t know who he was. But he picked out Moira's granddaughter from a distance."
Bonnie almost dropped her teacup. "Moira's granddaughter?" she gasped. Pain savaged through her breast, making her throat constrict and her ribcage crush her lungs, forcing all the air out of her body. The bright kitchen dimmed to a dark, grey point.
Matthias' deep voice rumbled on, "Small world syndrome. Anyway, they got on, he changed her mind about him, there was some blood spilled, and she ended up a vampire. He asked her to marry him."
"Slow down there, boy," said Bobby. "The whole story, from the top."
Bonnie listened as Matthias spoke, but she only heard how this woman had gone with Sean Patrick to Las Vegas, and there they had fallen in love; how she had thrown herself in the way when a vampire hunter shot at him and taken the crossbow bolt herself, and how Sean Patrick had made her a vampire to save her life. She tried to swallow the pain that was threatening to strangle her, then leaned against Bobby's hand when he reached out for her. She hadn't seen Sean Patrick in years, had traded him for the best husband any woman could ever have, she shouldn't feel this way.
"I hope we'll see you here," Matthias was finishing.
"We'll sure try, Matt, we'll sure try," said Bobby.
Bonnie could feel her husband's eyes on her and struggled to gain control of herself, to fight back the pain that was constricting her chest, but it was too powerful. The tears that had been threatening to prick her eyes were starting to spill, and she tried to hide them from Bobby. He hung up the phone and gathered her into an embrace. "I'm sorry."
"There's nothing for you to be sorry about, love," he whispered. "He was a big part of your life for a long time."
"You've been a part of my life longer, you know," she replied, snuffling into a napkin. "I should be happy for him, I know better than anyone how much he needs someone to take care of him. I should..." She couldn't hold it back anymore. She burst into tears and buried her face against Bobby's shirt. His thick, strong arms tightened around her. "I can't go," she choked out. "I can't."
"That'll hurt him," said Bobby.
"I know, but it'll hurt him more if I go there and his new wife sees me," said Bonnie. "It wouldn't be right, the mistress going to the wedding, even more than when he took me home to meet his family! No, Bobby. I absolutely cannot go."
He took the napkin from her fingers and wiped her eyes. "All right, honey. We won't go."
"You will go," she said decisively. "And give Sean Patrick my regards. Tell him why I can't come."
He smiled at her, one rough thumb brushing her cheek. "I live to do your bidding, honey. But you know he misses you. He always wants to see you when he comes."
Bonnie shook her head. "It wouldn't be right." He smiled a little, making Bonnie close her hands around his and squeeze them both tightly. "You do know I love you, right?"
"I'm reasonably confident of that, Bonnie," he said, smiling. His hazel eyes, so unlike his cousin's, crinkled even more at the corners than they used to do, more than Sean Patrick’s ever would. There was such wonderful age, compassion, and affection in his face, the face she'd come to love so, and she realized with a start she didn't really know what Sean Patrick even looked like anymore.
Impulsively, Bonnie leaned forward and kissed him tenderly. "Thank you for putting up with me."
Bobby kissed her back, caressing her face with his hard, sun-browned hand. "I don't put up with you, darling, I love you. If you don't want to go, then I don't mind, if you don't mind me going off to a wedding in Burbank without you." His tone was teasing. He gripped the back of her neck and pressed his forehead against hers.
Bonnie spent the next two weeks changing her mind back and forth between wanting to go and wanting to avoid the ceremony as much as possible. In the end, she packed an overnight case for Bobby and kissed him goodbye. "Bring back pictures," she told him.
"I will, honey," he told her.
Bonnie called Matthias on Christmas to wish him a happy birthday. "Why aren't you here, Bonnie?" he asked her. "I know he wants to see you. I'd love to see you again, too. It’s been years. I think it was Tara’s graduation, wasn’t it? That was back in ‘97."
"It has been a while, Matthias."
"How many times do I have to tell you to call me Matt?"
"Your granddaddy was Matt to me, I think he always will be," Bonnie replied, laughing. "I still remember you as a little boy, demanding we call you Matt now after he died."
Matthias laughed. "I really do miss you sometimes, Bonnie. You were like a second mama to us, you know that, don't you?"
"I can't be that anymore," said Bonnie. "I just can't. Not with him getting married."
Matthias was silent a few moments. "When I get married I want to see you, Bonnie. Even if he and Della are there."
Bonnie's heart constricted. "I'll come," she said. "You know I'll come. Has Rebecca come back?" she asked.
Matthias laughed, sounding more carefree and relaxed than she'd ever heard him sound. "Nope, Becky's gone forever. I want you to meet Cody, you'll love her. I sure do."
"This time for sure?" she teased, although he sounded like a man in love.
"This time for sure," he responded, with a great deal of heart.
"Happy birthday, Matthias."
"I love ya, Miss Bonnie," he responded. Bonnie blew him a kiss and hung up the phone.
Bobby returned with the promised pictures, which Bonnie looked at hungrily, but what she saw was a young boy she didn't know. It was him, certainly, as always eternally unchanged, but to her eyes he looked like a child, barely old enough to be the groom. She studied his face, tried to remember the dashing man who had swept her off her feet almost forty years ago, but she could hardly reconcile this boy in the snapshots to her memories. "He's... not changed at all," she said.
"Did you expect he would?" asked Bobby.
"You and I did," she replied. She looked at Matthias in the picture, standing proudly next to his uncle. He certainly was everything his mother hard predicted he would be, the handsomest man alive; he certainly had changed. He was tall and broad, his honey hair bleached by the California sun, which had turned his skin a warm pale brown.
"We're human, Bonnie," said Bobby. "He's not."
Bonnie drew a deep breath. "I've always known that, honey, but for some reason, this makes it very real." She reached down to the bottom shelf of a bookcase by the living room door and took out a photo album, flipping through it to a picture of her, Sean Patrick, Three, and Blythe. They were dressed for dinner, formal, and she carefully laid the wedding picture of Sean Patrick and his wife down next to the old snapshot, covering her own picture so she had twin Sean Patricks standing together.
No one could have guessed that more than thirty years had passed since the picture in her album had been taken. Even the Western-style tuxedo he'd worn at his wedding was similar to the suit he'd worn then; it was only when she moved the newer picture and looked at her younger self, long blonde hair swept up and pearls around her throat and in her ears, slim and pretty in her blue gown, was it obvious. Now she was rounded and her long hair was threaded with silver, the sun had worn lines in her face, and Bobby thought she was beautiful. She looked up at him, watching her, and she thought he was beautiful, too, with his grey sideburns and the deep wrinkles around his mouth and eyes. They were growing old together, and their lives were as perfect as human lives could get.
Bonnie tucked the wedding pictures into the album and put it back on the shelf. "Let's go out to dinner," she said, brushing off her hands.
Bobby grinned broadly. "That sounds like just the ticket."
I should get this done here this week, since NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday.
I also have to remember to order my free download of Windows 7, which came with Jonathan here. (Not, to be honest, that I've actually been upset with Vista...)
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