I'd always enjoyed outdoor work, however this yard is so large, and the three catalpa trees really leave quite a mess on the ground. The hard-shelled beans that are over a foot and a half long, scatter all over. But I go at the whole thing with the idea that while I'm doing this mindless, muscle-challenging job, I can let my mind wander (unlike in my other job).
I've introduced a character in my second vampire novel named Bill. Sabrina, my heroine, has had her life turned upside down in the last book, what with working for vampires using her clairvoyant talents to find a murderer, only to have him ascend as a vampire, then come after her. She's had two master vampires and one regular vampire make romantic overtures toward her. One nearly kills her because of her “overly sweet” blood. She's dating a shape-shifter named Dante, but he is scion to one of the master vampires and when he realizes that things are moving along in ways that he can't compete with, he bows out—not exactly what Sabrina wanted, but they break up.
Sabrina is clearly upset, she has her cry, but needs to go shopping. She doesn't actually care what she looks like, but once she gets to the store she realizes she's scaring the customers and before the manager throws her out, she decides to at least put on some concealer and brush out her hair.
Now at least she can shop without driving people away from her because she no longer looks like someone gave her the keys to her padded cell, she grabs two pints of ice cream, a frozen pizza or two, and before she forgets, she grabs some milk and has to go and buy some cereal—her shifter ate her out of house and home, so she needs to have something in the morning (and not the usual diet of eggs, bacon, or ham etc. that had caused her to gain five pounds already!)
Bill has been asking her out, and she has refused because she was at the time dating Dante (and he was a dog for a while, and before that he'd been a mouse spying on the vampires who may have been behind all the murder and mayhem of the first book). Bill is grandson of the little old lady next door, Mrs. Bench, who also happens to be a witch and medium. She opened up a portal and allowed a magical ring to come through to be placed (magically) on Sabrina's finger. Sabrina is the one and only sibyl, and as the supernatural world is finding this out, she's the object of desire—the prophecy claims she must be mated to a master vampire. However, Bill, who is not a vampire, wants to claim her because he is actually the descendant of nephilim—who were the bi-product of fallen angels and human women mating.
When Sabrina tries to grab a box of cereal—of course on the very top shelf—and can't reach it, who is there but Bill.
Scanning the shelves filled with a million choices of cereals, trying to find one that wouldn't give me gas, yet sounded like something I'd actually enjoy with cold milk in the morning, I opted for a flake kind, instead of the granola kind. I was down to a blueberry crunch thing that boasted it could make me lose five pounds in two weeks—yeah, if that's all I ate—when I simply had to switch hands because the one holding the ice cream was nearly numb. Wish I could numb my emotions like my hand.
I set the milk down on the floor, and had to shift everything frozen into my left hand. Even with gloves on, the cold seeped through and began to numb my fingers. Spying the box of cereal I wanted on the very top shelf, I went up on tip-toes and stretched my right hand. Fingertips just touching the box, I tried to knock it closer to my grasp.
That's when another hand snagged it easily.
Startled, I gasped as I turned to the owner of the large, male hand. I stared into cool blue eyes and as recognition hit me, I found myself unable to utter anything intelligent for a full twenty seconds while he brought the box down, placed it into his cart, and then took the frozen things out of my hand and put them, and the milk in a corner of his cart as well.
“You do know that this store offers carts and baskets for the shopper's use for free, don't you?”
“B-Bill?” I said, my mouth trying to work again. It were as though I'd been holding the ice cream and pizza in my mouth instead. It took me a second or two to get his joke, and I found myself smiling. “Yeah, I-I, um, I didn't think about getting one.” Lame, Sabrina. Lame.
He stood there staring back at me. “By the way, you're welcome.”
“Oh,” I looked down and saw all my things were in his cart. He had a rotisserie chicken, some frozen vegetables a container of salt, bag of sugar and flour and some chocolate chip morsels. I was still suffering from a brain malfunction. “Uh, thanks.”
“Are you alright?” Will be after I snarf down the Chunky Monkey.
“Sure. I'm fine.”
“Yes.” Didn't I seem sure? Maybe it was my hair, and unflattering jeans.
I caught his eyes gleaming, unblinking at me. He seemed to steal my breath away. He looked the antitheses to me; hair laying perfectly, shaven face, pants were pressed, and his sweater was brown, fading to ecru at the bottom. I thought I picked up that Mrs. Bench had knitted it for him.
“Are you ready to check out?” he asked, moving his cart around me because I hadn't moved. It were as though my feet were stuck in cement as I watched him push his cart around me and avoided a head-on with a lady on her cell phone.
“Uh, yeah.” I dodged the woman on her cell phone talking to her husband—he wanted some cereal, but he couldn't remember what kind—God, get a life!
I caught up with Bill heading for the checkout lane. He turned to me and made a gesture as he paused the cart before wedging it between the candy and magazine racks that funneled shoppers through the checkout.
“Lady's first,” he said.
“Oh, thanks,” I said and shuffled in front of the cart and began extracting my things out of his cart onto the conveyor belt. If I weren't so cleverly steeling gazes at his pecs underneath the sweater, and the bulge in his pants, I might not have dropped the Ben & Jerry's only to roll away from me. Face hot, I wasn't quick enough to dip and cage it before the woman who was slipping the cashier a check suddenly dipped down and picked it up.
“Oh, I love this stuff. I can eat a whole pint in one sitting,” she gasped, holding it out to me.
“Thanks,” I said as I took the almost mushy carton from her and set it down on the belt.
I heard a snicker and looked to see Bill hiding his face, the lengths of his wavy hair falling out of place as he bent over the cart's handle as he did.
“God, I'm glad I'm so entertaining,” I snarled, ignoring him. What was I doing checking him out, any way? I wanted to slap him. Hard.
“I'm sorry. Are you having a bad day?” he asked, trying to pull a serious face. Damn him and his arrogance.
“Yes. And if you don't mind, I don't wish to talk about it,” I snapped.
“Fine. We won't. I think there's plenty for us to talk about instead.”
. . . a few moments later, Sabrina takes her purchases out to her car . . .
I made my way out to the parking lot, hoping I could get my ice cream and pizza home before they became too mushy. Arms full, I remoted my car open. There wasn't a whole lot of room in my two-seater, but I set my ice cream and pizza on the floor, figuring I could run the air on it, to keep it cold. I had everything figured out, until I sprinted around the front and noticed the car was tilted at an angle. I looked down and saw I had a flat tire.
“You have a flat tire,” the voice made me turn to find Bill, once again, right there.
“Yeah, I see that,” I said and shoved my hand into my purse trying to locate my cell phone.
Bill did a deep knee bend to peer at the tire. “Oh, I see the problem. You ran over someones keys.”
I looked down to where he was pointing. A huge wad of keys were wedged into my tire.
“Shit,” I swore under my breath. “Shit!” I said more loudly an settled my purse on the hood of my car.
“What are you looking for?” Bill asked.
“My cell phone. I've got Road Side Assistance.” I let go a frustrated gasp. “I forgot my cell phone.” Unable to take much more I buried my face in my hands. This day sucks!
“Hey, Sabrina. This isn't a big deal,” Bill said.
I slanted my eyes to him, sucked air through my nose—which sounded filled with mucus, and so appealing. Hands on hips he stared back at me through his cool Oakley sunglasses. The sun glinted off his shades and his expensive large watch.
“What do you mean it isn't a big deal? My ice cream will melt by the time I get someone down here to change it.”
“I'll change it, and we'll put your ice cream and anything else into my car.” He turned hit his remote and a white Escalante honked, lights blinked on. It was a pretty nice looking vehicle and I really couldn't remember seeing it in Mrs. Bench's driveway.
“It might still melt,” I said, moving forward as he opened the back up.
“Not if I put it into the refrigerator.”
“The huh?” I said as he stepped aside and I saw him open up what looked like an ice chest, only I could see that it was a little more than that. I realized as he placed my ice cream, milk and the pizza that it was running off his car's electrical system.
“There,” he said, closing the lid. “Your things will be kept cold while I change the tire.” He pulled off his jacket and laid it inside the front seat.
I gaped at him. “You'll ruin your clothes,” I complained mildly.
He smiled at me with even, white teeth. “It'll be worth it. I haven't told you my price yet.”
“Why don't you have a seat inside my car while I work on this?”
I didn't argue. The wind was really chilly, and I had to stepped up onto the running board to ease into the all white interior. He had gadgets that I didn't know existed on a vehicle. More dials and hoopla than I'd seen in other cars.
The clank of a tire iron turned my attention to Bill's actions as he took out my spare—which was one of those generic things that was a few inches wider than a bicycle tire—and went to work on jacking the little car up. The Solstice looked quite humbled with a tire pulled off it, ten minutes later. Bill's motions keeping me more than entertained, especially since he'd pulled the sweater off and was down to a white tee with a V-neck. I was certainly getting my share of male upper body and bare arms that looked like he pumped iron. I noticed that a few other women who had parked nearby couldn't yank their eyes off Bill any more than I could, so I felt that it wasn't just me.
When finished, I had a wheel on my Solstice, but it looked ridiculous. Bill returned the jack and tire iron back inside my tiny trunk. He rolled my damaged tire to the back of his Escalante, lifted it inside, and shut the hatch.
Slapping the dirt from his hands he stepped back around as I slid out of his nice Cadillac.
“I've got a place in DeKalb I can take this to and they'll fix it right up.”
“Okay,” I said feeling my stomach somersault a little. “What do I owe you?”
“My choice,” he added. “Tell you what. We'll get these groceries home, then, I'll drive us to the tire place, and while they fix it, we'll go to lunch. I know a nice place, just a block or so down from it.” So I would have to pay for lunch on top of getting the tire fixed. The tire, once fixed, would have to go back on the car. Somehow. I presumed he was willing to do this as well, but I couldn't ask at this point. He had gone to great trouble to help me. I would have been slightly suspicious that he'd deflated the tire, if it hadn't been for the wad of keys stuck into the tire.
I had no choice. He had my tire, and he'd changed the wheel so that I could at least get home. Plus, he had my ice cream. He drove a hard bargain.
Fifteen minutes later, I pulled into my drive with Bill pulling up behind me. I jogged back to retrieve my groceries from his cooler.
“I'll pick you up,” Bill said as he handed me my bags.
“Okay, give me a few minutes to change.”
“You? I'm the one who got dirty.”
“Right.” I lifted my hand in surrender and walked toward my house.
There were times when I felt that chance meetings were merely that, but this one had all the earmarks of someone messing with kismet. But then again, the keys in my tire proved beyond the shadow of the doubt that Bill could not have done this on purpose just to get me to go out with him. Unless he could jam a set of keys into a tire, I had no case. He'd won lunch fair and square.
On the way to town Bill tells her a little bit about himself. His parents live in Monaco, and his father is an ambassador. He's staying with Mrs. Bench for now, because he had to find her.
“So, she's your maternal grandmother?” I asked.
“And does your mother have magical abilities, too?”
“Actually, she did.”
“My father re-married. My birth mother died.”
“Oh. I'm sorry.” Da-a-mn. “So, you're name is Robert Gannon, your parents live in Europe, and your other name is Belphegon after some ancient society, or something. And you speak to Fallen Angels.”
I got the response I was hoping for. His shoulders tightened and he slipped a finger of his free hand between his even white teeth. Slipping it out, he said, “So, you've figured out that he was a Fallen Angel? How do you know this?”
“I'm not on the hot seat, today, you are.” I waited as he stopped at a light and we paused in action, inside as well as outside.
He let out a breath. “What do you know about the Fallen Ones?”
I shrugged. “I could probably find out on-line, but I'm not a computer geek, so enlighten me.”
“My father's line is progeny from the Fallen Angels.” He glanced over to take in my expression. I kept a blank look in place. The light changed and he made his left hand turn, heading into the larger town. “Our lineage have been on the look out for the sibyl.”
“And you've found me,” I said. “So, now what?”
He looked over at me. “You honestly don't know?”
He sped around a semi in the left lane of a four-lane, eased up on the gas and we coasted through the derelict end of town. He ran a hand over his jaw. Nerves. Definitely. He let go a heavy sigh. “This isn't how it's supposed to go,” he said finally.
“What do you mean?”
“I'm trying to take you out. I'm trying to get to know you and you get to know me. I'm trying to date you, like any respectful guy would do.”
“Okay. So, you want to go out with me. Then what?”
“Well, you know,” he said, shrugging. “We date for a while, maybe a few months. I propose and we get married and have kids.”
I'm not sure if my eyes popped out, or if my mouth dropped to my lap, but something definitely went boing.
“Wow. You definitely don't know the intricacies of dating, do you?”
He glanced at me. “I'm sorry?”
“You just told me that you intend to ask me to marry you, have kids and settle down.”
“Right. That's how it's done. I assume that's the correct procedure, unless things have changed?”
“No. No. You've got it pretty well down. Although some people have been doing it backwards for a while.”
“How so?” he asked. He's kidding, right?
“Uh, some are having the kids and then getting married,” I said.
“Yeah. You sure you haven't been hiding in a cave for a few decades?”
“No. But, just so you know? I'm a virgin.”
I hit the window switch, let the window down, and leaned toward the opening to feel the cool air on my hot face. “How could you be a virgin?” I asked, gazing at him with renewed interest.
“I've been keeping myself for you.”
He turned into a tire shop. The conversation had stopped, and I sooo wanted to get back to it.
(end of chapter)