Moon Madness - 5, Copyrightę 2001-2006 By
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"
Vince mounted the crutches to reach the phone in the den, stopping only to grab the brandy decanter from the rough-hewn oak mantle below his antler gunrack where he noticed Anna had returned the dependable Winchester. He poured himself a small glass, sipping the thick concoction with time honored reverence between conversations with the pharmacist and the manager of the local meat processor.
With the business alleviated, Vince asked Moon, "What do you think of our new guest? Kinda throws a new twist to the term outdoorsman, doesn't she, boy?" Moon opened a sleepy eye, yawned and stretched before responding with a meow of agreement and a deliberate move to Vince's lap. Once there, he snuggled down, activated his contented purr mode and stared wistfully into the fire. Vince stroked him softly, warning him not to get too comfortable. He intended to somehow devise a method of showering before Anna returned. He pondered a variety of feasible plans while finishing the brandy, finally deciding to seal the top edge of the cast with the duct tape he used to secure insulation on his water pipes. The hair the tape yanked out on removal would always grow back. The fresh feel of cleanliness would be well worth the painful trade. He laughed aloud with the thought of "no pain, no gain", roused Moon, and sauntered to the bathroom, procuring tape and scissors from the drawer beside the kitchen sink.
The shower progressed without incident and Vince felt like his former self after the final shave.
Anna systematically eliminated the business agenda with executive efficiency and only a small delay at the contest headquarters. Curious onlookers had barraged her with a multitude of questions relating to Vince and the great buck. Others were interested only in the boar. She answered as best she could, but in the interest of time, had to simply leave.
Anna's foray through the department store finished out her gift list, except for Vince. She bought Moon a shallow basket and a goose-down pillow in a pattern that matched the basket Vince kept his ash shovel and poker in beside the fireplace. A catnip stuffed rabbit and a black leather collar sporting a brass plate engraved with his name accented Anna's love for animals. An assortment of tree decorations and lights, plus wrapping paper and ribbon also found a place in her cart of purchases. She bought herself a stylish satin robe with a matching set of sexy, apricot-colored lingerie and a small bottle of her favorite perfume.
Anna stopped at a taxidermist's shop which the official at the weigh-in station for the buck contest had highly recommended for their quality, realistic mounting techniques and spotless record of customer satisfaction. Anna had hoped to have the head mounted by Christmas, but unfortunately, found out that was impossible for a variety of reasons. The shop supplied her with an attractive Christmas card bearing all pertinent information regarding the trophy mount to be presented to the owner in lieu of the finished product. She decided that the newsbearing card would come from "Santa" on Christmas morning and signed it accordingly, stashing the secret in her purse. She swung back by the department store and bought the fleece-lined, leather hunting jacket with the fur-trimmed hood that she had looked at earlier to give to Vince on Christmas Eve to replace the blood-stained, ripped one he had been wearing during the hog hunt.
Satisfied with her choices, Anna steered toward Danny's grandmother's house as fast as conditions permitted to explain Vince's plight, her subsequent change of plans and to secure her traveling luggage. Anna related the tale of the ordeal in a condensed version to save time, but the new sparkle in her eye and a pronounced enthusiasm for life was noticed by those who knew her well. To the surprise of all, she asked them to please call Vince and tell him she would be there shortly after sundown and not to worry.
The Keslers wondered what could possibly have caused such a sudden change of personality in Anna. She was certainly not known for helping any strange man or for being kind or considerate, either! As long as they had known her, she had declared herself to be a totally independent, self-proclaimed, cold-blooded bitch who only tolerated men solely because her position at work demanded it! The reasons for her brash attitude had always been a mystery. No man had ever gotten as far as first base with her. She never dated anyone and always went to company parties and other functions without an escort and always left early. Her obsession with privacy and to be strictly left alone had spawned many speculative rumors about her secret life. Ray called Vince as Anna had requested, adding that he and Anna both were now expected on Christmas Day along with Moon, of course. Vince hung up just as the doorbell rang.
Vince felt great after the shower despite his injuries and cut one leg from a pair of jeans for something to wear. He longed for Anna to get back and had called to order her a dozen long-stemmed red roses. He convinced himself to tell her they were in appreciation for her timely rescue, but deep in his heart, he wished only to show his growing affection for her. The manufactured reason would negate the ethical barrier of presenting flowers to a married woman. He paid the delivery boy and added a five dollar tip to compensate for the late order. The lad thanked him and left smiling. Vince hid the roses in the garage where they would stay fresh but not freeze.
Anna made one final stop by a package store, buying a special holiday package containing a variety of sampler bottles of pre-mixed holiday drinks in quantities especially designed for couples. A small pair of crystal glasses decorated with painted holly wreaths and snowflakes was included in the ensemble along with a decorated red candle set in a festive gold holder.
Anna carried two sacks of groceries from the truck to the porch, setting them on the steps while searching her purse for the key Vince had given to her earlier. He and Moon surprised her at the door before she had enough time to locate the key.
Anna smiled and said, "Hell-o Vince, Hi Moon." Moon meowed his greeting. She knealt down to gently rub his ears between her fingertips. Looking him straight in the eyes, Anna playully directed her next question to him in the form of, "And just what are you two victims doing up and about?" She cast a glance of concern up at Vince midway through the request. Before he could answer, Anna shifted voice tones to add, "You look nice, by the way." With a mischievous grin, she tacked on, "Nice pants, too." Vince defended himself and Moon with, "Couldn't be helped. He's not under any restrictions, and I had to clean up." He finished with, "Since this will be our first dinner together, I thought I should look somewhat respectable in the presence of such a lovely lady." Anna replied with, "Actually, I thought you appeared rather appropriate considering your recent brush with death, kind of defiantly rugged like a pioneer trailblazer of sorts. You know, the type of man who would defend his beliefs and his family to the death." Changing her tone she added,"I found your rough look exciting, but I never dreamed how handsome the same man would be in his normal state, and that, Sir Vince, is a compliment of the highest order coming from this damsel!"
Vince didn't quite know how to reply. Strong feelings distorted his honed instincts in a fashion his heart had all but forgotten, so with total sincerity, he confided, "I do believe that's the nicest comment any woman of your status has ever said to me." Anna frankly replied, "The only way I'll believe you is to tell me that you just haven't been anywhere around women for several years!" Vince gazed over her shoulder wistfully down towards the main road where he had discovered Moon before answering with, "Ironically, that is an accurate statement concerning relationships with women." Anna made Vince promise to relate his life story after dinner. He agreed, but only if she was willing to do likewise.
Anna returned to the truck for another load of sacks. Vince politely offered to help when she returned with the sack from the package store. She set the sack on the
counter, jokingly telling him to make them a drink and kindly quit blocking the door. After all, dinner hadn't even been started, and her reputation was on the line. Vince laughed and asked her what she wanted. She told him to take his pick since there was a variety and continued to unload the truck.
Vince filled glasses with ice and poured them a Long Island spiced tea from the selection. Vince slowly sipped the drink while watching Anna's every move. His instincts told him that she was overly adept at adapting to cabin life. In short order, she started the fire in the grill, seasoned fillet mignon steaks, wrapped potatoes for baking and scalded a trio of live lobsters to keep them from crawling off the grate.
Moon had gotten up from Vince's lap only to scrutinize one unfortunate lobster which had managed to reach the edge of the table and fall to the floor before Anna's "death" dip was boiling. When the fire had died into cooking embers, Anna arranged the meal according to individual heat needs and closed the lid, unaware that Vince had been observing from the door. She announced that dinner would be served in precisely one hour.
Vince complimented Anna's natural dexterity on the grill with the statement, "You seem very comfortable with outside cooking. I wouldn't have guessed such from a Florida girl."
Anna burst out laughing and explained, "Oh, I only work there. I grew up in a big log cabin near the coastline of Maine. After my parents could no longer take the harsh winters, they decided to move to the Florida keys and gave me the cabin when I got my master's degree in animal science. I spend my vacations up there. Actually, had I not met you, I would be there now."
Anna took a sip of her drink, stared out the window and continued in a wistful tone. "Your place here reminds me of home with the snow and ice, but without the cold loneliness. I feel so warm and comfortable around you and Moon. There is love and harmony here, much like when I was at home with my parents, only something is different which I can't seem to put my finger on." She turned back to face Vince, an additional sparkle in her eyes, finishing the confession with, "You had best be careful Sir Vince, for the variation may be you! If that proves to be the case, I don't wish to be held accountable for the actions of a deprived woman!"
Justifiably, Anna could not believe what her own ears had just heard her mouth say and immediately apologized to Vince, conveniently blaming the outburst on the drink. Quickly glancing at the clock, she took advantage of the opportunity to turn the steaks to avoid an immediate reply from Vince.
Outside, Anna silently scolded herself for losing control of her normally self-tailored actions. An emotional upheaval tore at the very bricks of the wall she had so carefully built around her heart through the years. Salty tears trickled over her high cheekbones when her disorganized thoughts convinced her lonely heart that she had just made a fool of herself in front of the only man in her entire life whom she now painfully realized she had fallen in love with at first sight! She felt as though she had known Vince all her life. Moon had captured her heart through his publicity in the newspapers, long before she had ever met him. Love came easily for Anna concerning animals, but men she had always regarded as a serious threat.
As Anna wondered how she could have possibly let the situation progress to the present point, Moon meowed his presence and rubbed affectionately against her leg as if
in an effort to comfort her in this brief period of personal despair. He had somehow sensed in his unique ways of human understanding that something was troubling her and followed her outside. Vince trailed behind Moon but stopped several feet behind when he turned to Vince with his look that said, "I can handle this better without your help." Moon had never been wrong before, so Vince respected his decision without question.
Anna closed the lid on the grill and picked Moon up without turning to notice Vince, propped awkwardly on his crutches, in the shadows near the door. Sniffing slightly, partly from the cold air, but coupled with the incessant burn of guilt, she snuggled her face into his warm fur and softly asked him, "You don't miss anything, do you? I suppose you are aware that I've inadvertently fallen in love with you and Vince, so please help me with some of that extraordinary feline talent you are so famous for. I've never been in love before. It is no fun by yourself. Is there some strange reason for Vince to avoid my affections? What is wrong with me? Surely, love can't be like a job where one has to have experience. What will it take for Vince to love me as I do him?"
In answer to Anna's barrage of perplexing questions, Moon abruptly ceased his contented purring, twisting his head around to inspect the hand which had been lightly caressing his head. Satisfied, he transfixed Anna's eyes with his as a momentary, apologetic gesture to capture her undivided attention before carefully hooking one of his long canines under the wedding ring on her finger and tugging gently in a futile effort to remove it.
Astonished at Moon's timely revelation and his unique way of relating his protective attitude of Vince's feelings, Anna's oversight became crystal clear in an instant. Both Vince and Moon thought she was married! She struggled to remove the ring herself, telling Moon amid new tears of joy, "That's it, isn't it? You both thought I was married! Well, I'm proudly telling you that absolutely nothing could be further from the truth. That ring was only a clever deception to keep men from hitting on me! I've worn it ever since my mother passed away and it simply became a fixture that never crossed my mind. I've got to tell Vince."
Anna deposited Moon back on the snow, spun around and ran headlong into Vince's open arms as he sidestepped from the shadows. The force toppled Vince backwards into the
snow with Anna landing on top of him where their lips locked in the form of that first, passionate kiss of true love with their bodies melded so tightly together that the heat of their combined passion threatened to literally melt the snow beneath them!
Sitting astride Vince in the snow, Anna said, "I'm sorry for knocking you down, but most of all for not explaining about the ring sooner." Vince, laughing, told her, "Don't worry about it. You now have the sole rights to sit on me anytime your heart desires." Lightly tracing the smooth curve of her thighs up to her waist, he added,
"I can't think of a single thing I would rather have touching my body than yours. I've been admiring it ever since I first laid eyes on you! Positively beaming, Anna confided, "You know, Sir Vince, that you may never get rid of me, now." He kissed her tenderly and said, "I never intended to! As a matter of fact, I think you just qualified for that hot bath and the total body massage you mentioned before, at your convenience of course, m'lady. Right now, I think we deserve a celebration drink." Playfully, Anna teased him, saying, "Now that I've finally gotten close to you, I'm not real sure I want to let you up! Have you ever made love in the snow?" Vince answered the question with another, "Have you?" She answered with, "I've never made love anywhere!"
Leaving Vince wondering, Anna got up and offered her hand to help him back to his feet and the cumbersome crutches. Moon had already returned back inside to the warmth of the fireplace.
Anna set the table inside and slipped out to the truck to get the bottle of expensive champagne she traditionally brought to Christmas gatherings with the Keslers. She handed the corked bottle to Vince, asking him to do the honor of its opening while she got supper from the grill. The bottle had been chilled to perfection in the cold truck. Vince popped the cork, a wisp of carbon dioxide vapor following its exit. He poured the champagne into the decorated glasses from Anna's holiday party ensemble and allowed Moon to sniff his glass to merely satisfy his insatiable curiosity. Moon snorted his disdain for the drink and expressed his choice of milk by politely parking himself beside the refrigerator. Vince hobbled over and poured him a bowl, setting it on the small bar-type counter separating the den from the kitchen.
Anna emerged through the back door with a steaming platter, its contents grilled to perfection and sporting a slight hint of hickory smoke flavoring. She set the hot pan in the center of the table on top of a folded dishtowel as insulation from the heat.
Vince placed Moon upon the counter beside his milk and handed Anna her glass while he proposed the toast, "To the fairest maiden to have ever graced this house. May her pleasures be abundant, her tribulations few and her life long and ultimately fulfilling." They clinked their glasses together in traditional fashion and then simultaneously touched Moon's bowl as well. Their eyes never broke contact during the drink that ensued. Anna held up her hand stating, "My turn, unless Master Moon would care to propose one." Moon kept right on lapping up milk as Anna refilled the glasses with one hand and stroked him with the other, her eyes reflecting a brief immersion into the realm of serious thought.
Smiling again, Anna reverently raised the crystal glass, looking first at Moon, then shifting her gaze back to Vince. She cleared her throat and paused for a split second to edit her thoughts into polished form. Finally, she began, "To the perfect coalition of an extraordinary man and an equally amazing animal, the man choosing not to dominate, but to loyally befriend and trust; the animal not relinquishing his wild heritage, but against powerful instincts, has likewise freely chosen to aid his human counterpart in valiant endeavors with an uncanny perception for human emotions, concepts and principles intermingled with primal instincts tempered by the timeless scale of evolution and the basic needs of mutual survival! I stand in humble awe and adoration of this liaison obviously ordained by powers beyond the normal parameters of human comprehension. Unknowingly, they have released my true inner being from a self-imposed prison of mistrust, thereby opening my soul to the joys of love and companionship. In gratitude, I salute you both."
***NOTICE*** I sincerely ThanK You for your interest/time in reading my Moon Madness Novel I *Hope* you Enjoyed it! Please pass it on to you friends. I'd be honored if you would send me an email when you've read the entire book with your honest opinion,......whether good or bad. ThanX,.......LKH
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Author's Note: Feel free to copy/paste the text contained herein to build your personal copy of "MOON Madness". As this is COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL by ME, the ORIGINAL AUTHOR, please DO NOT copy for UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION in any form or fashion. "ALL RIGHTS RETAINED & RESERVED" by Larry K. Hockman! Please don't hesitate to E-Mail me for permission to use my works in the classroom, etc. ThanX for Visitin'! I hope you enjoyed the story and pass it on to your friends. LKH
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