Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Brothers Everhart Ch. 20 Undead and Unhappy Pt. 1

Pepper Monaghan knew how to get things done quickly and thoroughly; she was very efficient. Regarding the heavy blackout drapes her boss had told her to purchase she'd lucked out and found exactly the size and amount she needed online. Since custom drapes were not needed after all and the company had the ones she ordered in stock they shipped them right away. They were coming via Next Day Air and would arrive today.

As Pepper parked her little car in front of the office building that housed Everhart Financial Services, she considered once again whether she should buy a new car. She'd bought this one used and it was not a looker in the first place. However; Pepper was quite a good mechanic having been taught by her late father. So while it was unimpressive on the outside; under the hood the motor looked and worked like a Swiss watch. She had a certain affection for the bright orange car and just couldn't bring herself to replace it yet.

The packages arrived soon after she got in the office and she checked to make sure they were all there and then piled them up inside Prince's office. He'd been quite specific that she leave them there, telling her that he would have someone come by after hours to pick them up. Of course, in reality, Prince would be the one picking them up, but he had to keep Pepper thinking he was still suffering from a severe case of flu.

After she carried all the packages in Pepper looked around his office and sighed happily. A trace of his expensive and yummy cologne lingered in the air. Pepper tried not to sniff eagerly, but it was hard; frankly, she missed him more than she wanted to admit, even to herself.

After lightly dusting the desk and bookshelves and making sure all was as it should be Pepper locked the door and moved to her own office. There wasn't as much to do right now with Prince gone. It had been necessary to cancel all his appointments for the time being and she couldn't even reschedule them yet because she had no idea when he'd be back to work. His clients were anxious to hear when that would be.

"I'd like to know that myself," Pepper thought as she ate a lonely dinner in her apartment that night. When she'd first moved to Bluewater Village, she'd stayed at an inexpensive motel. Once she'd landed the job with Everhart Financial Services she'd hoped to be able to get a small apartment. Truly impressed and please with her work Prince had given her a raise and a bonus after the first week. This meant she could look at apartments that were a bit nicer. She finally settled on a lovely 2 bedroom, 1-1/2 bath apartment that she was subletting from John Lassiter who, from what she'd learned, was an even bigger name in the financial world than her boss. What was best of all; it had a large garage with plenty of room for her to be able to continue to keep her car in perfect shape.

Prince was, in fact, having a rough time of it but not because of any flu virus. He did not seem to be able to get the knack of biting someone successfully. Meanwhile, he'd had to sneak around the hospital at night and get a few bags of donated blood. It wasn't easy and it wasn't particularly good. Truth to tell, in spite of his previous light-fingered career, he'd felt strangely guilty about taking blood this way. He reasoned that it was donated by humans who meant it for other humans, most of whom were likely to be more deserving than Prince. Nevertheless he was desperate enough to take it.

Just before Prince was bitten by Count Floyd, Prince had been dating a new woman; as usual she was rich and married. Pepper had called her and let he know he would not be around for a while. In fact, she was the second woman he'd taken up with since Katharine Burb's husband had caught them both at Midnight Flows nightclub thereby putting an end to that affair.

Katharine had tried to contact him a few times immediately after the scene at the nightclub but Pepper took care of it as she always did. After one long phone conversation with the woman, though, Pepper had come to his office door and remarked,

"I think she and her husband are going to stay together and try to work it out."

Prince had paused and looked at her, raising one eyebrow; once he broke up with someone they were quickly forgotten and he didn't even like to hear their name much less a status report on them. Pepper looked away quickly; she had a particular yen for him when he did that eyebrow thing; she secretly called it his pirate look.

"I know, I know," she had acknowledged with a tired nod, "But think of it this way, boss; if they stay together, she'll be too busy to call and harass me anymore and he'll be too busy to come over and bust you in the chops."

"BUST me in the chops?" Prince had been incredulous.

Looking back at him again Pepper had then begun to chew on her lower lip, backpedaling, and suddenly Price's eyes had been riveted to her mouth.

"Um," she had fumbled, "I mean he won't be raging in the night planning revenge."

"Yes, well, that's fine...I guess."

Actually he hadn't known what else to say because he knew he needed to back off and not pressure her about her remark. He'd learned that every time she got anxious she unconsciously bit her lip. The problem was that she had these lovely plump lips and when she chewed on them it was extremely distracting to Prince. He didn't know why and he didn't want to find out why.

At any rate, that was the last time Prince had even thought about Katharine and he old man. Until...

...the first night after he was bitten and planned to head downtown to feed. He'd looked out the window because he thought he saw someone out there. It was Katharine's husband Josh Burb and he was muttering to himself and walking back and forth in front of Prince's house as though he were picketing.

"Aha!" Prince thought, "He can just be my first victim. That's what he gets for skulking around here."

He felt a little ashamed since his affair with Josh's wife was the reason that Josh was skulking. Not that ashamed, though.

Sure that he would now automatically be this suave and debonair vampire, Prince greeted him on the sidewalk. It was quite dark and there were hardly any other houses around Prince's home anyway. Josh was just glaring at him but said nothing, so Prince relented,

"Okay, I'm gonna do you a favor; just take it on down the road and we'll let bygones be bygones."

"Bygones?" Josh repeated angrily, "Bygones? I'll tell you about bygones--I--"

Before could go any further Prince reared back and prepared to send a vampire whammy his way. At first it felt right but fizzled. And then died.

Josh looked at him quizzically and asked,


Nothing was happening. Prince shook his hands trying to get sparks to come out as they had earlier and hastily warned Josh,

"Look, I'm only giving you one more chance, buddy. Go home!"

That really was pathetic Prince reflected. Go home? It sounds like I'm ordering the neighbor's dog out of the begonia bed.

"Nope. Not going," Josh replied defiantly.

Giving it one more try Prince aimed his piercing blood red eyes at Josh again, gesturing dramatically with his hands a la Count Floyd,

"Look into my eyes; you are getting sleepy."

Crossing his arms Josh stood there shaking his head,

"So not happening."

"This sucks scissors," Prince muttered to himself.

"Sure does," Josh told him, finally irritating Prince.

Okay, he thought, vampire or not, I've always been able to intimidate anyone I wanted to without any magic tricks. I'm not going to wait around for some vampire spell to work.

He got up in Josh's face, doing his best goodfella impression and growled,

"Either you are going to hit the road, Mr. Burb, or your face is. Repeatedly. Do you understand me?"

Now Josh saw something in Prince's expression that he'd not seen before and suddenly he had an overwhelming desire to go home. And lock the doors and windows.

The rest of the night went the same, unfortunately. At the roller rink Prince ran into a guy he knew slightly so he gave it another shot. At first he thought it was gong to work; sparks shot from his fingers; weird lights like purple St. Elmo's Fire appeared. Then everything stopped; no lights, no magic and the guy was frowning at him and shaking his head. In fact, his hands felt like they were cramping a bit. Maybe he was trying too hard? If he ever saw Count Floyd again. Well, it was lucky he still had some blood bags in reserve in the fridge at home...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Brian Ottomas Ch. 24 It's Raining Kids Pt. 2

Raine's home-schooled art lessons were coming along nicely. She longed to be able to do the kind of paintings her mother and Willow did, but knew that would take time.

When Heath and Willow were eating some leftovers as a snack the next day he said,

"Jamie was asking about you the last time I was over there."

He was referring to his girlfriend Maddie's twin brother.

Willow ignored his remark and asked,

"Want to jam after we eat?"

"Willow. He's a nice guy and I think he really likes you. He's just kind of quiet and a little shy."

"Why are you telling me this? He's a junior, I'm only a freshman. He's too old for me and Momma said I shouldn't think about dating until I'm 15. Besides, I don't want a shy boy."

"Oh, really? You prefer to hang out with your friend Angelo? You really need someone who's laid back and mature, not a kid who likes to sneak out at night and take you with him. Besides, once Jamie gets to know you he talks all the time," then he added in parental tones, "I worry about ya, kid, and he'd be a steadying influence. You'd be safe with Jamie."

"Oh, poo!," Willow huffed, "Angelo is a friend and that's all. You're just trying to sound like you're an adult or something and, anyway, I don't want to be 'steadied'. And I don't want to be 'safe'; I want to have fun. Things are never dull when I'm with Angelo"

"We could double-date," Heath coaxed, "Maddie and I would be there to kind of break the ice and if we did that I know Momma would let you go."

"Wow," Willow smirked, "Maddie must really be on you about this."

Heath frowned since that really was part of the reason he was urging Willow so hard.

"We-ell," she dragged out the word, looking off as if pondering hard. Then she said as though making a magnanimous gesture, "I'll...think about it."

"Oh, just let me know when you're done thinking," Heath said dryly.

"Okay," she said in a perky voice, pretending not to hear his intended sarcasm, "I'll get back to you on that."

Raine was the youngest in the family and Brian always said she was well-rounded she was not only a daddy's girl, but also a mommy's girl. She always came over to hug her daddy before he left to go to Club Dante which he still owned and operated and which had recently become a restaurant that featured karaoke instead of a country-rock bar.

The change to a full service restaurant was with the idea of expanding out, but it had been hard for Brian to make the decision to drop the idea of a live band and feature the karaoke instead. He was a long-time musician and even though he rarely played at his club any more, he sympathized with his house band. But they'd started with just a karaoke night and soon it was their busiest night.  Karaoke was popular and practically no expense compared to a band. Commercially and financially it was the best idea.

He'd found a good chef and they came up with a fairly large menu that emphasized casual dining for the smallish groups of people who usually showed up to do karaoke. Sandwiches and wraps, both hot and cold, enormous old-fashioned burgers, salads, both large and small and various side items like cheese fries, baked mac and cheese casserole, sweet potato fries, homemade barbeque beans, Old Bay fries and hand-battered onion rings were available. A couple of Brian's mothers best recipes were included; Mo Jo Chicken Sandwiches, Muffuletta To Die For and Pastrami Heaven on a Roll proved very popular.

The fare was not sophisticated but all the food was fresh and homemade; nothing frozen, nothing canned. Even though the bar served any kind of mixed drink, beer and wine, Brian had delicious non-alcoholic fresh fruit coolers available year round along with the usual soft drinks and tea. Peanut Butter cake and Peach Cobbler were the most popular desserts.

MoJo Chicken Sandwich:
Marinated pulled chicken, pineapple,  honey mustard, mayo, hot peppers, shredded lettuce and melted Swiss on grilled flatbread

Pastrami Heaven on a Roll:
Black peppercorn pastrami, turkey breast, cheddar cheese, tomato, sliced yellow onion, deli mustard and herb mayo on a toasted kaiser roll.

Muffuletta To Die For:
Served on a crusty top roll with layers of baked ham, provolone cheese, Genoa-style salami and Swiss cheese, topped with a zesty olive salad. Served with kettle chips.

Meadow now began to work with Brian as the restaurant hostess. Brian hired another woman to hostess on the weekends, though. He'd begun to take Saturdays off, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his assistant manager. Meadow had been begging him to take a little more time,

"The kids are growing up, Brian; Heath goes off to University this fall and Brook and Willow are right behind him, Rocky will be having his birthday. You don't want to miss these last moments of their childhood; we don't want to miss them. And the twins will be glad for any extra time you can give them."

"You're right, sweetheart," he had agreed.

"Besides," Meadow grinned, "it gets really crazy around here on the weekends with every kid in Pleasantview plus our own six monsters. I really need your support."

So Brian had moved in an assistant manager who'd been recommended by his older brother, Dylan, and who soon proved he was more than up to the job. In fact, after a while Brian thought it might be possible to take a day off during the week from time to time.

The three oldest babysat with the three youngest the evenings their parents worked. They actually liked each others company most of the time, besides when their parents were absent things were more relaxed than ever. Rocky thought it was cool that his older sisters and brother didn't really care if he jumped on the furniture, but they DID insist on choosing what would be on TV and on the kids finishing their homework first.

 Saturday morning Brook and Willow came outside to where their father was trimming the bushes--the job was never done--and asked if they could throw a party that afternoon.

Brian laughed,

"You mean all the kids who drop by and congregate here every weekend don't constitute a party?"

"Daddy. We're serious," Willow chided him, "We mean a real party where they all come at once because we invited them."

"How many?"

Brook looked at Willow and Willow nudged her.

"It's just people who have been over here other, of course, and her brother Jamie, Angelo, Karen and Kirstie Burb and Christopher Cooke. Only six. Plus Heath and us," Brook said.

Brian sighed and wiped the sweat starting to appear on his brow,

"Well, it's okay with me; but you'll have to convince your mother."

They rushed off to confront Meadow fully prepared to beg and grovel, but Meadow easily agreed saying,

"I'll grill the burgers, but you girls will have to set up cold drinks and snacks and clean up after the party."

"We will! We will!"

"There's another big bag of chips in the cupboard by the stove, Daddy just bought Coke and Sprite, I think it's still on the counter, and you know where the plastic cups and paper plates are."

Ecstatic, the girls rushed off to follow her orders and call their friends.

The three younger kids were fishing at the little pond out front so they wouldn't be a problem. As soon as their guests arrived Brook took Jamie Candeloro with her to the pool. Kirstie jumped in a moment later. Heath had asked Brook to try to get Jamie and Willow together but Willow stayed out on the front porch playing "Don't Wake the Llama" with Karen and Angelo. Heath and his girl, Maddie, played Mah Jong on the other end of the front porch.

It was getting really hot and, rather than fighting for room in the pool, Raine, Rocky and North turned on the water wiggler.

As evening fell Meadow served up cheeseburgers for everyone including Brian and "the littles" as Brook and Willow referred to Rocky, North and Raine.

 In the background L to R: Angelo, Heath, Karen Burb and Maddie
In the foreground L. to R.: Brook, Jamie, Christopher Cooke and Kirstie Burb

 L. to R.: Rocky, North and Raine

 Background: Brian and "The Littles"
Table on the right L to R: Kirstie, Jamie, Christopher and Brook
Table on the left L. to R: Karen, Maddie, Angelo and Heath

 Meadow, Brian and Willow

The party was a success and the girls gladly cleared the tables after saying goodbye to their guests. Heath took a garbage bag and policed up the yard where paper napkins and empty plastic cups had blown off the tables.

"We should have parties more often," Brook told Willow, "But we need to ask Momma way ahead next time."

"Yeah, maybe we could have some theme parties."

"But what kind of theme?"

"I dunno. Hmm, like maybe a 4th of July party and we could have sparklers and Daddy could get fireworks--" Brook contemplated.

"We're going to Grandma's for 4th of July, remember?" Brook sounded letdown.

Willow was not deterred in the least,

"Don't worry; I'll think of something. Maybe we'll have a labor day picnic or...fall is coming, maybe a harvest theme or there's always Halloween. The point is; we're good at this; we can be our own party planners."

Brook nodded, she knew Willow--and she WOULD think of something. Hopefully nothing that would get them in trouble....