Chapter Seven

"Let me read it."

They were lying on their pastel-colored sheets, sitting up against multi-pastel-colored pillows, with the pastel-colored comforter pulled only to their waists.

Paige wore cotton panties and a tank top, both black. They clashed jarringly with the pastels, frightening the softer tones, ordering them to back off.

Steve wore boxers, dark green and made of a thin flannel. He handed her Peter and Alison's winning entry.

Paige cleared her throat and was about to start when a loud cackle suddenly echoed from the other side of one of their walls. They shot each other a surreptitious glance.

"Thin walls," Steve said.

"Must be," Paige agreed, and she began to read: "Five days a week, I attempt to cram Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Homer down the throats of fourteen-year-olds whose only aspiration is to be like Mike . . ."

"He means Michael Jordan," Steve, the sports columnist, interrupted.

Paige shot him a look. "I've seen the commercial," she said, clearing her throat, continuing: "Five days a week, my life-partner . . .," she looked up from the letter and over at Steve, "Sure you guys didn't go to college in the sixties?"

"Unlike Mark, they don't believe in the institute of marriage."

"I do," Paige said, "For some people." And she did, for some people. She just wasn't sure she believed in it for herself, at this juncture of her life. Though at times she felt Steve could change all that. If he asked.

"And so do I," Steve said, "That's why Alison put us in the honeymoon suite," then motioning at the letter, "Continue."

". . . my life-partner toils as a clog of the big machine, washing and pressing shirts and suits and dresses for lawyers and doctors and politicians and their ilk. And, to be honest, we're both sick to death of it."

She turned to Steve. "That's nice and blunt."

"Those of us who went to college in the late seventies tend to be blunt."

"Those of you who went to college in the late seventies tend to like disco." Paige turned back to the letter: "We need to flee, to run like hell away from crime, the noise, the pollution, the heat. We need out of Florida. And right about now, a ski lodge in Montana sounds like heaven."

Steve watched her as she read. Watched her mouth, her lips as they formed the words. He could live with that mouth forever, he thought. He could live with the whole package.

"To escape the Yuppies in their thousand dollar suits, the armed students who deal crack during study hall . . . to escape our lives, with our lives."

Steve had been thinking a lot about the future recently. He wondered now, how would Paige react? What would she say? Would she say anything at all? Or think perhaps that he was just kidding around?

"We need your ski lodge . . . to give us room to breathe, to create, to procreate, to love and live out our lives in some sort of peaceful fireplace-warmed bliss. Please. It's our only hope, it's our destiny."

Are you, Paige Turner, a part of my destiny, Steve wondered. And what would you say, if I asked you to be my wife?

"And we're going out of our minds here." Paige turned the sheet over. It was blank. "That's it?"

"Huh?" Steve said.

Paige looked into his face. She smiled. "Where were you just now?"

He shook his head, hiding a small smile. "No where."

"Umm." Paige snapped the sheet of paper in her hands. "I can't believe that this, and a hundred dollar entry fee, got them . . .," she was suddenly at a loss for words.

Steve stretched out his arms. "All this." He nodded. "Seems Liana couldn't deny their destiny."

Paige reached over and placed the letter on her nighttable. Then she lay back on her pillows, a dreamy looked clouding her eyes. She was about to comment on destiny, when a strange groaning sound, followed by sharp creaking noises, derailed her train of thought.

It sounded as if it were coming from just outside the door, but really could be coming from anywhere.

"I think this place is haunted," Steve said.

"Lucky for us then that I brought my gun."

"You what?" Steve said.

"Oops," Paige said. "Did I say gun? What I meant to say was, lucky for us we're having . . . fun."

"We're on vacation," Steve said, "Remember?"

"Don't worry," Paige said. "I don't plan on shooting anyone."

"Umm," Steve went.

"My sentiments exactly," Paige said, as she turned on her side, and snuggled close to Steve, putting her head into the crook where his arm was pressed against his rib cage.

"'Night," she said sweetly, closing her eyes.

"'Night?" he said, not anywhere near as sweet, though a hundred times more longingly.

"I told you," she said, opening one eye, sneaking a peek at his face, doing her best to conceal her smile, "no sex in Montana."

"But . . . what about earlier?"

"That was to stop you from singing."

Steve thought about that for a minute. "And now for my rendition of Aerosmith's 'Jamie's Got A Gun.'"

"You go from the Moody Blues to Aerosmith?"

Steve cleared his throat, and began warming up, "Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do."

Paige reached down and slipped a hand into his shorts. She wrapped her fingers around him, and squeezed.

Steve cleared his throat again. The singing ceased immediately. "Um, my mistake," he said, adding, "Slim."

Laughing, Paige slid down under the sheets. She tugged off his shorts, kicked them into a far corner of the bed, down where the pastel-colored sheets were tucked under the edge of the probably pastel-colored mattress. Then she took him into his mouth, in one swoop she swallowed him whole.

Steve gasped, for breath, in ecstasy, and for a life saver to rescue him from the depths of love, of desire, of need, in which he found himself drowning.

Paige couldn't see the look on Steve's -- make that Steve-O's -- face. She didn't even hear him whisper "I love you more than life itself," so involved was she with the task at hand. Paige had always been a believer that if you're going to do something, do it well. And if you enjoy it, all the better.

In fact, she was having such a good time, that she didn't even notice the snow rapidly accumulating on the outside sills of the windows on each side of the bed. The flakes pregnant now with possibilities, wet, sticking, ice. The wind blowing, beginning its howl, just warming up for the long concert ahead.

It was coming down hard.

It was coming fast.

Sort of like Steve.

April 12, 1996

It was supposed to be you . . .

Your Prince couldn't wait another two months. (I new I'd never be able to.) I couldn't wait another two hours. I couldn't stand another moment of watching from afar, knowing that you possessed the secret.

But then, let's face it. You don't make it easy, Paige. No one should look that good.

You were wearing black that night. Always wearing black. Understanding that no princess of mine could ever wear white. We aren't that kind of people.

Sitting at the bar, amongst the losers drowning their sorrows in Budweissers and Gin & Tonics. You had your usual. One beer (a Rolling Rock when it was on the menu, a Michelob when it was not), followed by a diet Coke or two.

Bet you thought I hadn't noticed.

And then he stepped up. So tall, so pious, feigning insecurity, when he reeked of lowest common denominator confidence.

And you became someone else, switched identities. Almost as if I ceased existing. Almost as if Prince Charming had vanished from your thoughts, your life.

Almost as if you didn't care.

At first I wanted to die, to pull myself into a fetal ball and flush myself down one of the Tobacco Road toilets. To forever swirl into the sewers of South Florida with the gator and armadillo carcasses. My dream, my hope, my plan for us, as dead as they.

And then suddenly she was there, Jane Flaherty was there, waiting, wondering if perhaps a message for her had been left at the bar, ordering a second drink. She was so cute, so alone, feeling so dejected . . . and finally, I understood.

It was so brilliant, so thoughtful.

A gift, from you to me.

A cure.

Thank you, very much, my darling.

It wasn't a difficult seduction. But then, Paige, you knew it wouldn't be. What woman can resist a true Prince?

Sweet Jane fell rather fast for the law student line, was quite impressed actually. Especially with the make-believe offers I told her had been piling in from firms on Wall Street, and in Washington, DC. (To be honest, I almost went with the CPA ruse, but changed my mind at the very last second.)

And Jane was quite happy to help me celebrate a perfect score on an exam I told her I took that afternoon. In fact, she seemed flattered that I asked. (As if she didn't know what was going on.)

I followed her back to her place. Separate cars, always separate cars. But then, you're aware of that already, Paige.

There was no doubt as to how much Jane wanted me. I could sense it in her eyes, saw something special there, something magical. I made the drinks, of course. Isn't it incredible how every woman (or at least every redheaded woman) has the ingredients for a Screwdriver at the ready.

Never know when they'll come in handy, I guess.

Jane was radiant. A few sips . . . she was a gulper really. I figured she couldn't wait. We were seated on her sofa, discussing our favorite TV commercials of all time (mine: the Apple Mac commercial that only ran once, during the 1984 Super Bowl. Made me a Mac-user for life.), when the drug kicked in. Her eyes rolled back into her head just as she began describing a Pepsi ad from a few years back, and she slumped sideways, against my shoulder.

I put down my drink, and carried Jane into the bedroom. She had one of those huge California king-sized bed. When I saw it, tears come to my eyes. I wanted to send you a million red roses, never mind just one.

I laid her down, gently. (Prince Charming is nothing if he is not gentle.) Removed her clothes. Jane had on some lovely lingerie. White and silky. The bra a perfect match to the french-cut panties. (I wondered at the time if you helped her pick them out.) I removed them as well, then took out my tools and went to work.

While the hair on her head had just been trimmed (okay, I did a quick touch up), the hair between her legs was long, a little wild. Like a diamond in the rough, a lion in need of taming. Red, so transcendently red, like that in a sunset in one of those early Technicolor motion pictures.

It was such a pleasure to trim. There was something about the buoyancy, the tightness of her curls. I did a fine job, I'll have you know. (I'm sure you'll notice.) The length allowed me to add some depth to my heart . . . Jane's heart . . . your heart.

I placed the rose in her hands, and pressed it between her breasts, pricking her slightly-freckled skin in two places. Her blood, so very crimson against her white skin. Then I administered the second dose of Verenol, a shot into Jane's right arm.

I sat by the edge of the bed, one hand pressed to her jugular, waiting, watching her, no longer cute, but beautiful. Jane Flaherty was exquisite, she was a redheaded Sleeping Beauty, and she died for me.

But, Paige, what happened?

What went wrong?

To say that I was surprised when she didn't wake up, would be such an understatement. I kissed her again and again, crying, wondering . . . was it me?

It wasn't until I returned home, shaken (and honestly stirred, my darling), that I understood.

Jane was my one final victim.

A sacrifice, offered up to a Prince from his Princess.

Thank you, Paige.

It only better prepares me for my lifetime with you.


SNOW BLIND 2004 Gorman Bechard - All Rights Reserved