He left early that morning, while the sky was still wintry black, and disappeared out the door of her little motel room.
She rolled over to his side of the bed, pulling his pillow close to her and inhaling his scent. It smelled like tobacco, like the Canadian cigarettes he smoked too many of, but she held it tightly and when she woke again, she was still holding it.
She jumped up, turned on the heat and went into the shower. She stood under the running water, for how long she did not know. At last she turned the it off, and rubbed herself down with a towel, then grabbed the dryer she had bought and dried her hair.
Was it her imagination, or could she still feel him on her? If she closed her eyes would she remember every touch, every caress of their lovemaking?
I must be going mad, she thought, and pulling on jeans and a heavy sweater she went to see Pattie.
When she came in and sat down, Pattie came over with a large mug of steaming coffee and set it in front of her. "I imagine you need this," and laughed when Bennie smiled wanly. "Do I need to ask how it went?" Pattie asked.
Bennie took a sip of coffee so hot it almost burned her tongue, "I know now that I didn't ask you enough questions, like, is he mature, does he listen when you tell him something."
"So, what did he do?" Pattie sat across from her at the table, "Or, what did you find out?"
Bennie stared at her coffee. "In some ways he's an overgrown teenager who wants his way and doesn't like to be told 'no'. He's very sweet, though, and very persuasive when he wants something. I didn't want to have sex this morning, but it was easier just to give in. I don't want it to be a habit, but I think that is exactly what he hopes."
"Well, don't let him get away with it. His wife spoils him a little, I think. I don't mean to say she's a pushover, because she's not, sometimes she lets him think he runs things because that's important to him."
"Capricorn, he must be a damn Capricorn, always wanting to be in charge because he thinks he knows best. He'd already picked out a wine, decided what we would order, I thought it annoying but kind of sweet. And then, when we went back to the hotel and made love, he dominated that, too. Damn those sneaky, charming, controlling Capricorns. He took me in and I fell for it."
"Well, you're right about that, he is a Capricorn. And he likes to be in charge, likes to know that things are working the way he thinks they should. But now that you know, what are you doing to do?"
Bennie sighed, and Pattie recognized the look on her face. "You've fallen in love with him, haven't you?"
Bennie set her coffee cup carefully down on the table. "Yes, I am in love with him, or I think I might be. Does love at first sight really exist? I don't think I could walk away from him now if I tried." She put her head down on the table, "What have I gotten myself into? I didn't foresee any of this, and I feel a little like a fool, and it's all my fault."
"So, Bennie, what are you going to do?" Pattie felt genuinely sorry for her predicament. The old story of a man who might not deserve the woman who loves him.
"Well, I'm in a bind. No ID, no birth certificate, no social security card, nothing was with me when Drew found me. My nursing license is gone, too. I've got to so something to see if I can replace them, but in the meantime, I need to find a part time job, preferable two of them. I don't want to be completely dependent on Andrew Killian."
"Go into town," urged Pattie, "You can take my car. Just find places where you think you'd like to work and try to convince them to hire you. There's lots of little shops in Woodstock that cater to more than tourists. Maybe you can talk your way into the free clinic and they'll help you recover your license. Show Drew you can take care of yourself, I don't think that's what he's expecting."
Bennie stood up and leaned over the table to hug Pattie, almost knocking over the coffee mugs in the process. The tears came again, tears of gratitude that this woman who didn't know her at all had offered her friendship, just on Drew's word.
"You can do it," Pattie said, "If you really want to, you can do it," and Bennie smiled.
Bennie never remembered what she was dreaming when Drew showed up in the middle of the night. What she did remember was the sound of the key and the door shutting behind him. He set his guitar down and hung his coat up in the closet.
"What the hell are you doing here? What time is it?" She started to sit up, but he pushed her gently down, and stripped the blankets off her. When she began to object, he put his finger over her lips, then removed it to kiss her. He turned on the low watt lamp next to the bed, saying, "I want to see you, he said softly." He kissed her, gently, pulled off her nightgown, and started moving his mouth first to her breasts then her belly.
"Damn your hands," she said to him, "You touch me and I melt."
"Good," he said, and smiled, "That's what I want. I like you soft and yielding, like you were that night in Albany. You don't know how much I desire you, Berengaria.
He teased her with his mouth and his hands, until he wanted her as much as she needed him. He removed his clothes and took her in his arms. She cried out as he brought her closer to climaxing, collapsing on top of her when his body took control.
He was ready to pull out, but she held him close to her until he slipped out of her. They held each other tightly, not ready yet to let go, knowing that would mean he'd be leaving.
"I wish I knew when you were going to show up, life would be easier." She nuzzled her cheek against his chest, and he pressed her tightly to him.
"I don't always know, sweetheart, but when my…"
"No," she said firmly, "Let's make a bargain not to talk about your wife. This place is just for us, not her. I'll start feeling guilty if you mention her. I know you're married, please, let's just leave it at that."
"All right," he said, and understood that this relationship was going to be different. It would have its own language and rules. He wanted to do things like go places with her and take her on gigs, but that would have to be approached with a certain delicacy. With Bump, especially, his drummer and his best friend. Bump liked his wife and Drew knew he would disapprove of this infidelity. If Bump got to know her, though, it might be different, he might even try to steal her away.
He got up and put on his shirt, then turned on the heat. "Want a fire, babe?" he asked, and she nodded. She giggled softly as she watched him as he built a fire in the iron fireplace, half naked, hoping he didn't burn himself.
Soon the fire was burning, and he opened his guitar case and began to play for her. The first songs were some of his band's and she thought it a shame that they had gotten so close to the top, and then saw it all fall apart. It was something that happened, though, and she was glad for him that he still was able to do what he loved, play music.
He had a beautiful tenor voice, and she thought it a shame that more people were not able to hear it. Maybe if I succeed, she thought, maybe I can save him from that early death. And then what, she told herself sternly, would you be able to leave him? What if you could find your way back where you belong, would you want to? Do you want to spend the rest of your life loving a man you can't have? There was only one answer to that question, "I don't know."
The spell of his music was sending her into a gentle slumber. She was only vaguely aware of his pulling the covers over her, then dressing and picking up his guitar and kissing her goodbye.
"Good night, sweet angel," he said tenderly and kissed her forehead and her lips. He closed the door behind him softly, and she was not even aware that he'd gone.
The next day she borrowed Pattie's car and drove into Woodstock. She'd made a list of the places she wanted to try, and at the top of the list was a used bookshop. The sign in the window read simply "Used Books" in fanciful lettering. She let herself in the door, hearing the ringing of the bell that let the owner know they had customers. She smiled at the proprietor, but said nothing, knowing exactly what she needed, only not knowing where to find it.
Fortunately, the signs for the different categories of books were arranged in strict alphabetical order. Astrology was near the front, but "occult" was close to the back. It made sense, she thought, a reader or buyer of occult books would want more privacy.
She ran her fingers along the book spines, reading each title as she did so. Damn, there was so sign of an antique book with a worn leather cover that looked like it had come from an old attic that someone had forgotten about.
She remembered the book well. The pages seemed to be blank until she wished to find out about a certain subject. When she thought of "love spells", pages of love spells appeared. Then money, and a list of spells to obtain money. "Confidence," "Allure," all appeared seemingly on demand.
The owner of the bookstore got a strange smile on his face when she asked how much the book cost. "Would you take twenty?" she asked, knowing the book was probably worth far more. He took the twenty out of her hand and wrapped the book carefully in brown paper.
"Be careful," he said, "Remember the saying, 'be careful what you wish for.' And I don't do returns or make exchanges." She nodded and left the shop in a hurry, in case he changed his mind.
She lit candles and put on some old CD's she hadn't listened to in a long time, when she suddenly heard Drew's voice singing. Funny, she hadn't realized she had something by him, but she was enchanted by his voice and the quality of the songs he sang. Hadn't he died young, way before his time? And suddenly she knew why she had found the book.
She picked up from where she had left it when she came it. She unwrapped it and began thumbing through the pages. "How do you save someone's life" got no response. "How do you help someone change their life" also drew a blank.
Finally, she had it, "How do you go back in time to save someone from themselves?" The books pages began to flip back and forth, until at last it opened, the letters to the spell written in gold.
She went to her altar, not intending to do anything more than read the spell out loud, but the book had other ideas. As she uttered the last line, a whirlwind sprang up and sucked her into it. Everything went black until she found herself awake and freezing on his son's headstone.
"Can I help you?" said a high woman's voice. Bennie jumped, then exhaled loudly, "You shouldn't come up on people from behind, you scared me." Probably wondering if I'm going to steal something, she thought.
The girl had light brown hair, neatly braided. She had been that girl once, and known a dozen like her.
"Sorry," the girl said sullenly, "I was just trying to help."
"Well, there is something you can help me with, are you hiring right now? I'm looking for a part-time job. I've worked in high school and college libraries when I was in school. This place obviously doesn't use the Dewey-Decimal system, but I'm a great organizer. I'm not looking to make a lot of money, this just seems like a place I'd like to work."
"Well, one of the girls is leaving, so we'd have an opening. Leave your name and phone number with me so the store manager can call you if something does come up."
She left her information but didn't buy anything. She headed back to Pattie's, not wanting to keep the car for too long, though she got the feeling Pattie might not mind if she did.
"Any luck?" Pattie was always cheerful. Here she was, a former band girlfriend, and she was eking out a living running a cheap motel. She didn't seem to mind, though, Pattie seemed able to rise above anything.
"Well, maybe the used book store. I didn't try the clinic, I'll save it for another day. Personally, I think a used bookstore might be fun."
"Had a visitor lately?" How did Pattie know, but Pattie seemed to know everything?
"He showed up in the middle of the night, is that a habit with him? No wonder he kept a key for himself. He made love to me, then serenaded me. I must have fallen asleep, because I don't remember him leaving."
"Welcome to 'musician hours', my dear. This won't be the first time he shows up at a late hour. Just get used to it and enjoy the ride. I thought I heard him leave early this morning, now I know it wasn't my imagination. You'll be treated to a lot of these late-night visits, I'm afraid, but eventually you won't mind."
"I already don't mind, but it bothers me that I don't." She sighed loudly, "I wasn't ready for this, you know, but it's so easy to love him. I just hope he loves me, too."
"He probably does," said Pattie carefully, "Or he's getting there. He's a complicated person. When you first meet him, you don't realize it. He seems sweet and gentle and happy, but there's more to him. Be careful, and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself, he'll respect you more. Just be careful, Bennie, if not, you'll wind up with a broken heart."