Monday, February 9, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Scandalous Luncheon

Chapter 6: In Which I Cease Being a Spinster

When I first left my niece after our fight, as I mentioned before, I had no firm plan of action. Although it was not hard to find a den of iniquity in New Orleans on a Saturday morning, that sort of entertainment was not what I was looking for. I did want to shock the proprietous denizens of Abernathie, but, unlike my niece, I was not willing to commit myself to the seamier side of life to do this. What I was looking for I wasn’t certain. I only knew that I would know when I found the perfect past time, for I would be doing it already. As I walked the streets, people cast sideways glances at me, and I heard snatches of conversation. I looked neat as a primrose, I knew that, but perhaps my running the streets alone made some commentary among the more conservative of them.

I decided I should review my actions. Certainly I would never return to Abigail, but where and with whom would I stay while I decided in what direction to take my life? Father Stewart couldn’t take me in. He was a lodger himself, and having a woman about wouldn’t be conducive to his chosen post. None of my other acquaintances in New Orleans were oddly enough, citizens of the city, excepting Marie LaVeau, and she was having problems of her own. Besides, I could not visualize Marie LaVeau taking time out of her life and death struggle with the vampires to find me a place to stay. Not a very practical idea. Well, maybe the vampires would take me in. I shuddered at the very thought.

I was not totally penniless, but to do anything on my own for a long term would require I wire Melrose for money. This I would not do. He would give me part of my trust money, a tidy sum, but he would also try and talk some sense into me, as he would put it. And I was beginning to consider my actions foolish. I had exploded half-cocked, a foolish, uncalculated move. But even if I were willing to swallow my pride and return to Abigail, two more thoughts prevented me from doing so. Firstly, I truly did feel my life was a waste and I needed to change it. Secondly, the vampires could only harm the ones I loved through me. Perhaps after this affair was cleared up, I might swallow my pride and return, but the wandering I had decided to take would be safest for all concerned. Except me

My stomach growled. The roll I had discarded across the room had done me very little good on the nutritional side of the survival issue, and I was regretting my rash action of tossing breakfast aside. Remember, if you ever find yourself about to leave home in the effort of starting life anew, don’t forget to eat a healthy breakfast. This action will save you bodily distress until around maybe 3:00.

I stopped in front of a restaurant, a relatively stylish establishment where I’d eaten before, but could not eat now, for I only had 2 cents with me. I felt much like a street urchin, gazing through the window at the sumptuous repasts being brought to the patrons. After a minute of such torture, I decided to scoot away before someone came to shoo me off. I started towards a less reputable part of the city, where I hoped I could purchase some gumbo and a little bread at a small price.

His hand fell heavily on my shoulder. As I didn’t hear him approach, he startled me. I turned and found myself facing one of the most exquisitely sculpted men I’d ever seen. He was extraordinarily fair, and for a moment, I had a mad notion that he was undead. I stepped backward, and then I scolded myself. How could I have possibly thought this man a vampire? His skin was tan as though he had spent time in the tropics. His gray and wondrous eyes made me feel safe, like all my problems had been solved.

“Can I help you with something?” His voice was kind.


“But you were looking at me? Through the window?”

“Oh no,” I protested. “I was,” here I was embarrassed, “I was looking at the food.”

His eyes became concerned and their edges crinkled, making my insides flutter. “Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Oh, heavens no!” Once again, I felt compelled to tell him the truth. “Well, yes, but I can’t afford to eat here. I was just on my way to—”

“No.” He placed a guiding hand firmly on my arm and led me into the restaurant. “You will eat with me.”

I didn’t protest. He was a captivating companion performing a spontaneous, courteous deed, just like many a rich benefactor from the serial novels I enjoyed reading. Forget that we’d been hardly introduced. Having lunch with this man was bold and scandalous, yet not too shocking or dangerous. At least I thought so at the time. If only Abernathie could see me now!

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