The ride home was silent, except for the radio playing Bad Moon Rising and Don’t Fear the Reaper.
I pulled up in front of the house and turned off the ignition. When I looked over, Benny wasn’t in the passenger seat. Suddenly, my door opened, giving me a heart attack.
“My lady.” He said with a smile, holding his hand out to me.
I gave him a shy smile and took his hand. “A gentleman in the truest form.” I said as I hopped out of the cab.
He pulled the lever and slid the seat forward, then grabbed my three bags of groceries. “Anythin’ for a pretty girl.”
I shook my head. “You’re silly.” I told him as I took his arm and we walked up my walkway. I unlocked the door and closed it behind Benny. He put the groceries on the counter and started pulling them out of the bag as I put them away. “Lunch?” I asked, looking at the clock.
Then I thought about it for a second. “Well, ok. I’m hungry, so I’m making lunch and you can push yours around the plate.” I said with a smile.
Benny chuckled. “Fair enough.”
I pushed part of my blue hair behind my ears as I poured the whipping cream into a sauce pan.
“Why is your hair blue?” Benny asked.
I turned and smiled at him. “If you’re gonna be weird, might as well be confident.”
He chuckled and just smiled at me. “Suppose that to be true.”
I nodded and turned on the radio. I put some butter and garlic in with the whipping cream, then paused. Could Benny eat garlic? I thought to myself. But he wasn’t really going to eat it, so I guess it didn’t matter anyway. I shrugged to myself and sang to whatever song was on the radio.
“Do you want help, darlin’?” Benny asked, coming to stand near me as I put a pot of water on to boil.
I jumped a little bit, nearly forgetting he was there. “Um. Do you want to grill the chicken?” I asked, out of courtesy. I didn’t think he’d actually want to help.
“Sure. Got a lighter?” He asked.
I raised both eyebrows, slightly surprised at his comment as I pulled one out of my pocket and handed it to him.
He just gave me a look. “Ya got anythin’ else in there?” He asked, eyeing me as he took it from my hand.
I smiled a little bit. “You’re sure as hell not gonna find out.” I told him, turning back to see how the water was doing.
He smiled and I gestured to the back door. Out the door he went and I shook my head at him. “Super handy vampire guy. Usefully dangerous.” I said with a nod to myself. And this got me wondering what would happen after the case was over. After Benny left and the guys left, I’d be back here all by my lonesome.
“Grill’s goin’.” Benny said, coming back into the kitchen.
“Oh, right. Yeah.” I said, suddenly brought back from my thoughts. I pulled a plate out of the cupboard and opened the package of chicken. I seasoned both of them and handed him the plate.
“You alright, darlin’?” He asked.
I nodded, putting the pasta noodles in the boiling water. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” I said with a smile that I hoped didn’t look too fake.
He nodded slowly, but he obviously didn’t believe me. “You wanna talk about it?”
I shrugged. “Ain’t nothin’ to talk about, cowboy.” I said, stirring the noodles.
He just watched me for a minute before he went back out to the grill. About fifteen minutes later, the pasta was done. I went to check on Benny and he looked so at ease at the grill. He flipped the chicken and the fire hissed because of the juice leaking out.
“Enjoyin’ the view?” He asked, turning around to look at me.
I tried not to blush, but I failed miserably. “I uh... just came to check on the chicken.” I said, walking over to him.
“I’m sure you were.” He said with a smirk as he put the chicken on the plate and turned off the grill.
“Thanks for helping. It’s nice to not have to cook by myself.” I told him, taking the plate from him and walking into the house.
“I appreciate any company that doesn’t wear plaid.” Benny said with a smile as he followed me.
I gave a little bit of a laugh. “Well, I hate to disappoint, but there is plaid in my closet.”
He snapped his fingers and I could picture him saying, ‘Aw shucks!’
I moved the chicken from the plate to the cutting board and cut up the one. The other one got put in a bag and put in the fridge. I cut up enough for two meals and went to pull out two pasta bowls.
I dished up noodles and sauce in both bowls before topping them with chicken. Benny took the bowls to the table while I grabbed silverware. We sat down and I started eating. “Ya know, if there’s anything you want to know about me, all you have to do is ask. I keep asking all these questions about you and I don’t think it’s fair.”
He smiled a little at me, pushing the noodles around for my benefit, I was sure. “Don’t suppose I can ask ‘bout your mom.” He said.
I paused in my chewing to contemplate this. I finished my mouth full before I replied. “Suppose you can if you’d like. I asked about Andrea.”
He nodded, watching me carefully. “How’d she die?”
I wiped my mouth and stood to get a glass of water. Without thinking, I brought one back to the table for Benny. I didn’t know if he’d drink it or not, but I set it down. “She was a drug dealer. She overdosed on crack.”
His eyes softened. “I’m so sorry.”
I shook my head. “No, don’t be. It’s fine. That’s why we moved around so much. She’d deal out of whatever apartment we were in and then somebody would tell the super and we’d get kicked out. We’d drive until we ran out of money and then we’d get another place.” I told him, taking a sip of my water.
“Bobby was my mother’s brother. I don’t know who my dad is because she told me she went on a week-long bender and pretty much slept with any guy that could get it up.” I said with a shrug. “Bobby was the only person who was ever there for me.”
“Winchesters excluded?” He asked.
I nodded. “John was a good man. Dean’s the spitting image of him. And Sam’s great, but neither of them like talking about anything outside of hunting.” I told him, taking another bite of pasta.
“Must be hard.” Benny said.
I shrugged. “You get used to it. The motels, the people, the monsters, the lack of communication that doesn’t involve silver bullets or salt.”
Benny just nodded. “Thanks for lunch.” He said with a smile.
I shook my head at him. “You’re very welcome.” I told him as I took the last bite of pasta on my plate. “If you’d like, you can crash for a couple hours. I don’t know what your sleeping schedule is or whatever. I don’t go to work for a couple more hours.”
He nodded. “Well I’d appreciate an hour or two.”
I nodded, picking up the two plates. “Give me just a minute and I’ll fix up the spare bedroom.”
“Nah, darlin’. Ya don’t gotta do that.” He told me. “There’s a perfectly good couch in the livin’ room.”
“It’s alright.” I told him, walking around the table and down the hall. He lingered behind me. I drew the inner brown colored curtains to meet in the middle and then the outer cream colored curtains so the room was much darker. “I made this room up so I could just lock myself in and meditate. I know it sounds weird, but it helps sometimes.”
“Thank ya much.” He said with a small smile.
“I’m assuming you’re not to let me out of your sight while I’m outside the house?” I asked, already knowing the answer. I was sure the boys had a full blown talk with him before they left.
“Then I have to be at work at 3. I’ll wake you up about 2:30. Sleep well.” I said, leaning up and giving him a peck on the cheek.
As I turned around and walked down the hall, all I could think about was what an idiot I was. I just kissed a vampire. On the cheek, but still. A vampire, who’s taking a nap in my house, because he’s my protection detail. I shook my head at how crazy it sounded. I should be a writer…
I just wandered around the house for a few hours. I did dishes, put the leftovers away, read a few chapters of a book, and changed into my work clothes. About 2:30, I went into the bedroom to wake Benny up. Whatever dream he was having was a good one. His body glowed a pretty green and red. Passion and love.
I had a flashback to when I used to wake Bobby up after he fell asleep on his desk and he’d draw a gun on me out of instinct. Granted, Benny didn’t have a gun that I was aware of. I took a deep breath and remembered a trick I learned from Bobby’s freak outs.
I leaned down real close to his head. “Benny, it’s time to wake up.” I whispered.
He made a grunting noise but did nothing else.
“Benny. Time to wake up. It’s 2:30.” I whispered a little bit louder.
“Aw darlin’, just come back to bed.” He murmured, rolling over to face me.
I couldn’t help but smile a little bit. “Benny. You have to go to work with me.” I whispered, gently touching his arm.
He sat up with a start, fangs bared.
“I’m so sorry. I was trying to avoid that.” I told him, taking a step back. I could feel my heart beating faster in my chest. I knew he wasn’t going to hurt me, but I’d never been that close to a vamp with drawn fangs.
He shook his head and his teeth shrunk away. “I’m sorry darlin’. Ya startled me.”
“I tried whispering to you, but you told me to come back to bed, so I figured you thought I was part of the dream you were having.” I told him, wringing my hands.
“Not your fault darlin’.” He said, stretching a little bit.
“I’d make a pot of coffee if I knew it’d help.” I said, throwing my thumb over my shoulder.
He shook his head. “Nah darlin’.”
I nodded and just turned and left the room. I went into my bedroom and sat in front of my vanity. I took two hair clips and pinned my bangs away from my face. I put on a little bit of eye liner and tinted Chap Stick before looking myself over.
I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned to see Benny leaning against the door frame like he was holding it up. “Enjoying the view?” I asked, throwing his words back at him.
He smiled and ducked his head a little as I stood up. “What if I am?” He said, lifting his head again.
“I don’t know what I’d say to that.” I told him honestly.
He nodded, moving away from the door frame to let me by. “You look good, darlin’.”
I gave him a little smile. “And I’m just going to work. You should see me gussied up when I go on a date.” I said sarcastically.
“And when was the last time that happened?” He asked.
I thought about it for a minute. “About a year ago.” I told him.
“That’s a while.” He said.
I nodded. “Manageable kind of weird.” I reinstated as I grabbed my purse. I had emptied pretty much everything from my jeans earlier into my purse, as I wasn’t supposed to have half those things on me at work. “But since we’re on the subject of awkward questions; when was the last time you had live blood?” I asked as I picked up my keys and moved towards the door.
Instantly, I could tell I’d picked at a nerve. His aura turned a dirty yellow color; he was upset. “I’m sorry. Sometimes words just fall out of my mouth and I’m as surprised as everybody else at what I say. That was a stupid question.” I told him.
He walked past the threshold and onto the front step as I locked the door. “Purgatory.” He said simply, glancing down the road.
I nodded. I knew this, of course, because of his hesitation. “Well, I actually meant human blood, but that’s an acceptable answer.” I told him, making my way to the truck and climbing in.
When he got into the cab and I turned on the ignition, I wasn’t expecting him to say anything else on the matter.
“The captain of Andrea’s family yacht.” He told me.
I nodded, feeling like I’d ask much too much of him this time. “I shouldn’t have brought it up, I’m sorry.” I told him.
He shrugged. “I did ask about your mom.” He said.
I nodded again. “Yes, you did.”
“So that makes us even.” He said with a weak smile.
“I shouldn’t have brought it up. I’m sorry.” I said. I could almost feel the grief he felt from the other side of the truck cab.
“You’re fine darlin’.” He said, turning to look out the window. “How long ya lived here?”
“Seven months next week. The longest I’ve stayed in one place without leaving.” I told him and he looked over at me. “Bobby’s doesn’t’ count because we left there all the time for jobs.”
Benny nodded. “Ya ever think about settling down? Startin’ a family?”
I couldn’t help it; I laughed. The randomness of his words were hilarious. “A family. Are you serious? The psychic daughter of a crack whore? My kids would be messed up before they were even born.” I said, shaking my head. “My life would almost be easier if I got bit by a werewolf.”
“Why a werewolf?” He asked and I could understand his real question.
“It’s obviously been proven that vampirism can be managed. Granted, you probably hate bagged blood or whatever it is you feed on. But managed. Werewolves don’t have a choice. Once a month you kill whatever’s in front of you and you have no idea when it happened or where you were; who you hurt.” I explained.
He nodded. “Bagged blood is terrible, for the record.” He said with a weak smile.
I nodded. “I can see it being comparable to canned chicken vs. real chicken.”
Benny smiled, showing a little of his white teeth. “Suppose you could say that.” He said as I pulled into the employee parking lot of work.
“Alright, so I think we’ll pretend you’re an old friend from high school and you’re in town for a little while. And you just kind of wanted to hang out with me, but I’m working, so you just want to sit at the bar and drink until my shift’s over. Fair?” I asked, turning to him as I turned off the engine.
He nodded. “However you’d like.”
“You can choke down beer right?” I asked, making a face. I didn’t know how we’d make this work since Benny couldn’t really eat.
“Drinks I can handle; food not so much.” He said.
“Thank God for small miracles.” I said with a smile. Then I paused. “Can vampires get drunk?”
Benny thought about it. “Don’t suppose I’ve ever drank enough to know.” He said.
“Acceptable answer.” I told him as I slid out of the pickup. Benny met me at the tailgate and I led the way into the employee entrance.
“Hey Viv. Your shift starts in ten.” Gunner, the owner, told me.
“Sure thing Gunner. This is my friend from high school, Benny. He flew in from Louisiana to surprise me. Do you think he could just sit at the bar and drink until my shifts over?” I asked sweetly.
Gunner glanced at Benny. “Gunner Townsend.” He said, despite the fact I just said his name.
“Benny LaFitte.” Benny said, shaking my boss’s hand.
“So you came in to surprise my best waitress?” Gunner asked, standing a bit closer to me than I’d prefer; his hand resting against my hip. I knew the only reason I got the job was because Gunner found me attractive. But it didn’t matter. I was a good waitress and I needed the job.
“I did. Her cousin let me know her uncle died and I thought it best to check up on her.” Benny said with a nod.
“Oh. I didn’t know your uncle died. Do you want the night off?” Gunner asked.
On any other circumstances, I might have taken up on his offer. But he was asking out of pity. I knew for a long time he wanted to be more than my boss, but he wasn’t my type, and I took every chance to tell him this. “No, thanks. Best to keep my mind off it and all that. I’ll show Benny to the bar and get him his first round before I start shift.” I said, making sure to take Benny’s arm and lead him past Gunner.
“Bit protective of ya.” Benny mumbled under his breath.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist. He’s not half the man you are; monster or otherwise.” I told him, sitting him at the bar. “Pick your poison.”
“Miller lite in a bottle.” Benny said, looking around the place.
The décor was meant to mimic a retro 40’s diner and bar. There were booths along the walls of the dining room while there was chrome and red bar stools along the bar. Elvis and pin up girls covered the walls where there weren’t novelty signs. Some read ‘large draft beer 20 cents’ or ‘chili with beans 30 cents.’
My work outfit was even a simple blue knee length dress with cap sleeves. It looked kind of odd when I didn’t have my white apron on, but I made sure to put it on before I grabbed Benny his beer.
I was just glad they didn’t make us wear roller skates.
“Alright. You set for a while?” I asked him.
He nodded and smiled. “Yes ma’am.”
I could feel my cheeks warm up at his words. “Ever the gentleman.” I said quietly, glancing over at the register. Gunner stood at the door behind the register, watching me. I sighed. Tonight was going to be long. “I’ll come check on you every once in a while, but we’re open til midnight, so it’s gonna be a long night.” I told him.
He nodded. “I ain’t got nowhere to be.”
I nodded, glancing back at him.
“He gives you any trouble, ya let me know.” Benny said, barely tossing his head in the direction of the register and I knew he meant Gunner.
I smiled and leaned over the counter so I could whisper to him. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been groped as a waitress. Besides, he gets too handsy and I’ll just shoot him.” I grinned.
“Remind me not to make ya mad.” Benny said, taking a swig of his brew.
“I am a Singer, after all.” I said with a wink as I stood up and went into the back. I got my order book, a handful of pens, and lip gloss to put in my apron. Then I went to the register and changed four dollar bills for quarters and stuck it in my pocket and off I went.
About 7:30, I got to take my dinner break. I put in an order for a bacon cheese burger with a side of fries and coleslaw, and then a salad with ranch dressing. I figured it’d look better if I ordered something for Benny, so he didn’t look like a total boozer sitting at the bar for nine hours.
When Jonny, the cook, put out my order, I clocked out for dinner and took the food out to Benny. I sat next to him, putting the salad in front of him. “How’s the beer?” I asked. If I had counted correctly the last few hours, he was up to beer number seven.
He shrugged, obviously not impressed.
I nodded. “I ordered you food so you didn’t look like a complete boozer.”
He smiled at me as I bit into my hamburger. “So you order me a salad?”
“Well, I wanted a burger and fries. And salad’s don’t cost as much to toss.” I told him, sticking a fork full of lettuce and dressing.
“And you’re gonna eat off my plate?” He asked, amused.
“Well, yeah. Whatcha gonna do about it, Cajun?” I asked with a smile.
He just grinned, taking a drink of his beer. “Don’t suppose I can do anything about it here.”
“Are you attempting to flirt with me, Mr. LaFitte?” I asked.
“Why? Is it workin’?” He asked with a little bit of a grin.
“Maybe.” I told him honestly before I took another bite of my burger. “Are you enjoying your stay at Casa de Diner?”
“Diner house?” He asked, not looking impressed.
“I’m surprised you knew that.” I told him, dredging three fries in ketchup. “Answer the question and quit giving me crap.” I joked, mock nudging him.
He smiled. “It ain’t bad. Food’s terrible.” He said, mocking serious. He wouldn’t know, he hadn’t even had a bite of my fries.
I shook my head. “Well, I’m sorry about that Mr. LaFitte. There’s a McDonald’s about forty-five miles north, if you’d prefer.” I said with a little smile.
He looked as if he was actually contemplating my suggestion. “I dunno. The food’s awful, but doubt I’d find much better company then I’m keepin’ right now.”
I just looked at him and faked a stunned look. “Was… was that a compliment? From you?”
He smiled, giving me a chuckle or two to hold onto. “It was indeed.” He said.
I smiled and shook my head. “You’re not bad company yourself. Ya know, for a freak.” I said.
His eyes widened only slightly at my remark. “I’m a freak? You’ve got blue hair and a truck that needs a step ladder to get into.”
“Hey now. No being mean to my baby boy. You’re at least four inches taller than me and I get into it just fine, thank you.” I told him, taking the last bite of my burger.
Benny smiled. “Ok, fine. I hate that dress.”
I couldn’t help but grin at his attempt. Not that he was trying all that hard, but it still humored me. “Well me too, bucko. You’re not very good at this insult thing, are ya?”
He smirked. “Nah. I never was one to make fun of a lady.”
“Oh, sure. Go and be all sweet. Thanks for making me feel like a jackass.” I said with an eye roll I didn’t mean.
Benny leaned into me, making me instinctively lean closer to hear what he had to say. “Ain’t nothin’ you could ever say to make me change, neither.”
I gave him a little bit of a sideways smile. “I really doubt that, Cajun.”
He gave me a little bit of a funny look, but didn’t lean away. “I’m serious.”
“Me too.” I said, giving him a peck on the cheek for the second time today; partly for my benefit, partly for Gunner’s benefit, since he hadn’t taken his eyes off me since I sat down to eat dinner.
“You want me to talk to him?” Benny asked, sitting up normally, but keeping his voice low.
I shook my head, forking a bite of salad. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
“What if I want to handle it?” He asked, looking over at me.
I couldn’t help but feel confused. “Why would you want to handle it?”
Benny looked momentarily conflicted. “Ain’t nobody should treat ya like that.”
I put my hand on his. “A gentleman in the truest form of the word.” I told him. I kissed his forehead as I stood up. “I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll tell Jonny you liked your salad.” I said, picking up our dishes.
I took them into the kitchen, despite the fact Gunner still wouldn’t stop looking at me. I set the plates in the back for the dish washer kid to get to.
“How’s your friend enjoying the area so far?” Gunner asked, not even trying to hide the contempt I could see radiating off him.
“Pretty well, thanks. He said he’s considering buying a house. I told him that was utter nonsense. If he wanted to live around here, he could rent out my spare bedroom.” I said with a little bit of a smile, as if I couldn’t hear an ounce of the distain in his words.
He looked almost rigid. “Really? Living in the area?”
“Yeah. I told him I was sure if that’s what he wanted, I could find him work somewhere.” I said. “Well, look at the time. If you’ll excuse me, duty calls.” And without an answer, I moved around him to the time clock. I clocked in and went out to the bar. I wordlessly gave Benny another beer and he glowed this bright green and orange mixture.I’d have to remember to ask him about it later, but a family of four just came through the door, so I waited until they sat down in my section to grab three adult menus and a kid’s menu.