A/N: I just want to let everyone know I am changing the title of this story to Once Upon a December as of this chapter, so you aren't confused.
When Bonnie woke, she woke with a headache, and lying in an uncomfortable position on the sofa in the parlor, a colorful hand made quilt placed over her body. She slowly sat up, wondering if everything had just been a weird dream, and she'd sleep walked downstairs. Touching the back of her head, she winced, but didn't see any blood on her hand when she looked at it. Suddenly, she started registering the sound of the song 'Twelve Days of Christmas' being played on a piano.
Bonnie slid off the vintage sofa, and started slowly walking out of the parlor, and into the dining room. As she turned a corner, the song got louder, and finally she made it to the doorway of another room, where a man sat at the piano. She eyed him for a moment. He was wearing brown pants, a white long sleeve shirt, and a black vest. He looked dressed almost perfectly for a holiday, and fit the dapper vintage feel of the Inn.
“How is your head?” the man asked, and she remembered his voice from before she passed out.
Her heart beat harder in her chest, but she didn't freak out.
“Sore.” Bonnie replied cautiously.
The man continued to play as he turned partly to look at her. “Understandable. You are, thankfully, not any worse off.” he told her, watching her stand with her hands behind her back. “Which means....you can leave at once. Your things are by the door.”
“Uh, I'm not the trespasser, you are. You leave.” She told him, stepping forward closer to him putting a hand on her hip. He didn't exactly look like the kind of trespasser who would murder her. He was playing the piano. If anything he worked there.
“A man cannot trespass on his own property.” The man said to her, standing up from the piano. He stood a foot taller than her. Her eyes darted along his face for a moment, she could swear she recognized it.
“This Inn belongs to the Salvatore Trust, so you should leave before I call the police.” Bonnie said looking up at him sternly as he placed his own hands behind his back and gave her a completely uninterested look.
They continued looking at each other for several moments, her stern expression, his uncaring and mature expression. This expression quickly turned to slight amusement on his face when suddenly the man rushed forward, picking Bonnie up off the floor, tossing her over his shoulder.
“Hey!” Bonnie yelled, and swung her arms. “Put me down!”
The man quickly carried Bonnie to the front door, opened it, and dropped her onto the snow covered porch. As she was getting up off the floor, the man went inside, closed the door behind him, and locked it. Bonnie growled in frustration, and looked at him through the glass for a moment as he walked away.
She grabbed the door handle and jiggled at it pointless for a second. She saw the man coming to the door again, he unlocked it, opened it, and tossed the quilt she'd been covered in previously right into her face before closing and locking door again before she could do anything about it.
Huffing, Bonnie realize she had her phone, and thankfully it worked. Dialing for the police, she requested the sheriff, whom she knew personally, and stood waiting for them to get there. By the time the police cruiser rolled up the driveway, Bonnie was shivering, wrapped in the blanket, standing straight at the entrance on the bottom of the stairs.
“Bonnie Bennett.” Sheriff Forbes said as she walked over to her briskly. The woman was in her late forties, but her blonde hair which was vibrant, and her brilliant blue eyes matched Caroline Forbes, an associate and sort of friend,of Bonnie's, exactly. Her eyes flickered along the brown skinned woman that was Bonnie.
“Sheriff Forbes, thank you for coming.” Bonnie said trying not to stutter her words. Her breath created a cloud in front of her face.
Liz Forbes smiled softly at Bonnie, and showed her a set of keys to the Inn. “You're very welcome. Can you tell me what is going on here?”
Bonnie nodded as she turned to lead the sheriff up the stairs to the front door. She shivered and scampered as Liz opened the door with her set of keys.
“I heard foot steps...I..c-came downstairs, and heard a voice. But I didn't see him until after I woke up from being hit in the head.” Bonnie told Liz.
“He hit you?” Sheriff Liz asked, ready to write that in the report. “Are you okay?”
Bonnie blinked, and closed the door with her foot. “Oh! No, a vase fell on my head. I'm fine, I'll be great once he gets out of here though.”
Liz stared at her for a long moment, and Bonnie knew what she was explaining seemed strange by the look on the Sheriffs face; but, eventually the Sheriff evaluated the downstairs, and saw nothing. Finally she gave Bonnie her nightstick, and headed up the stairs to check the second, and third floor. When Liz came back down, she had a doubtful look on her face, but it still held sympathy, and bravery.
Bonnie knew that the man had been in the house, and considering he had locked her out, there was no way he would've just went through all that trouble just to high tail it out. He was adament about getting her out, while he stayed in.
“There is no one in this house but you, Ms. Bennett.” The Sheriff assured her, “It was likely just a drifter who came in to get out of the cold and ran out back when he saw me.”
Bonnie looked to the side then back at Liz. “He...He was dressed awfully nice for a drifter. He was wearing a tie.” she told the sheriff skeptically.
“Some do, I will check around the perimeter though.” Sheriff Liz told her, “You should remember to use the alarm system.” She motioned towards the wall with the keypad that was unlocked, even though Bonnie hadn't pushed in the numbers.
“I did, I set it before I went to bed I'm sure of it.” Bonnie explained, furrowing her brow, “When I woke up, he was playing the piano.”
Liz chuckled, and shook her head. “Look, set the alarm, and if he gets in again, it'll go off.”
Bonnie sighed, nodded, and watched the Sheriff leave after listening to her talk about how it was a shame her daughter and Bonnie weren't going to be working together anymore, and she was going miss Caroline when she was in Toronto. Finally, Bonnie closed and locked the door, walked over to the alarm system and pushed in the damn code hard, and exact. She listened to it beep indicating that the system was armed.
“Drifter..” she mumbled to herself, and reached behind her head to touch the small bump there. It still hurt, but what was giving her more of a headache was not knowing where the man had went, or why he'd been inside the Inn.
Walking up the stairs, she went into her room, closed the door, locking it with the large key, and then set her phone down on a dresser near the bathroom door. Leaving the blanket that had been wrapped around her on the floor near the bed. She needed to leave later that day to go see Murray and get him back there to do an appraisal. This meant getting dressed and made up.
She locked the bathroom door too, and was grateful she'd placed some clothes and her make up in the bathroom. While refreshing her hair, getting changed into a pair of dark wash jeans, and gray sweater, as well as doing a natural make up look, Bonnie tried to remain calm, and breath. Nothing else bad had happened at the Inn, certainly not any ghosts. What was a a one time intruder? If he actually hurt her, she could defend herself, then sue the hell out of him. Messing with a lawyer was a poor idea, he'd find that out for sure.
When Bonnie was done, she felt a weight lifted off her shoulders. Opening the bathroom door, she planned on getting her heeled boots on, and hitting the road.
“Shit!” Bonnie gasped. In the room leaning his back against one of the tall beams of the canopy bed, was the very same man from before. This time she had time to take in his pitch black hair, and his black and crimson colored tie.
“This is my Inn. I have all of the keys.” he said calmly, lifting a ring of keys, and then lowering them back down to hold his hands together in front of pelvis. “I have no wish to do harm on you. I simply want my solitude, which requires your departure.”
To this, Bonnie responded by rushing forwards, grabbing her phone off the dresser, and moving backwards into the bathroom, slamming the door. Dialing the sheriffs number again, she insisted that there was someone in the Inn, the very same man.
“He has keys to the Inn, I'm serious.” Bonnie relaid how important this was, and much to Liz's liking, the Sheriff agreed to come back.
Fifteen minutes later, Bonnie had her ear up the bathroom door trying to listen. She heard footsteps, then a knock at the bathroom door. She slowly opened the door to see Liz standing there with a thoroughly un-amused look on her face, tossing her set of police keys up and down a few times.
“Downstairs, now.” Liz told her in a stern voice, and Bonnie nodded a little, and followed her quickly down the stairs.
“The alarm did not go off, which means he was still in here when you left.” Bonnie said in an accusing tone, which didn't go over well with the sheriff.
Liz looked at the alarm, “That alarm did not go off when I unlocked the front door, it wasn't armed.” she pointed as she spoke to Bonnie. “I checked everywhere again, there is no one in here. How is your head?”
“It's fine! I'm not hallucinating, there was a man here. He had keys to every room, he keeps saying this is his Inn, and trying to get me to leave!” Bonnie huffed exasperatedly. She was getting tired of this man messing with her, and even tired of not being able to find him, and drag him out when she needed to. Maybe, she was going to have to kick him out herself.
“Well, either he's a ghost, or he's not here anymore, Bonnie. You really should lay down and rest.” Sheriff Liz suggested, teasing her softly, but her eyes showing she was annoyed. Bonnie could understand the feeling.
Bonnie sighed, and watched Liz leave the house for the second time through the side door, and locking the door behind her. She stepped up to the door to watch the sheriff get in her patrol car and drive away. Suddenly she heard the beeping of the alarm system and whipped around with a quick breath.
“I know the alarm code.” The man said, standing at the alarm seemingly from no where, having just put in the code and armed it.
“Are you seriously going to keep appearing, and disappearing?” Bonnie asked him, her head spinning with confusion as she stood two yards away from him.
The man crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall next to the security keypad.
“Are you going to keep calling the Sheriff?” He inquired in return. “I am certain he thinks it is all in your head. Did you hit it too hard?”
“Is this? Are you just in my head?” she asked, though this seemed like a ridiculous concept. The only thing making her dizzy, and agitated was this intruder of a man.
“I don't know, you tell me. It is your head after all.” The mans lips pulled up at the corners as he spoke.
Bonnie took a slow breath and blinked a few times. “I...think you're real.” she said, and nodded, “Yes. You clearly picked me up earlier.”
“True; but, what exactly is real?” He asked, and then turned, walking, and disappearing around the corner into another room.
Bonnie quickly walked after him, her hands in fists at her side. She was beyond frustrated, and starting to think this was a game the universe was playing with her. When she got into the foyer to the front door, he was no where to be found, disappearing. Again.
“Cut that out!” She yelled, her forehead creasing. Walking to the door, she looked to the side into the living room, sighed when she saw no where in there, and then turned to head forward again. This time she stopped at the photo frame on the wall, with a news paper article and a photo. This time she noticed it wasn't the newspaper article about the Inn being haunted. Instead, the paper said,
MISSING; FEARED DEAD.
Her eyes shifted to the picture, and though in her eyes, and brain she could see the man in the long coat in the picture looked strikingly like the man in the Inn, she shook her head.
“That's impossible.” Bonnie whispered.
“Unfortunately, it's very possible.” Walters voice came from the left of her. When she looked, there he was, in his coat, taking off his gloves. He had come in through the side door. Bonnie without a word, followed him into the dining room. Walter took his coat off, and placed it on the back of one of the chairs.
Bonnie gave him a baffled look. “You knew this would happen, that's why you didn't want me staying here?” she asked, mostly rhetorically.
“I knew it might, or that you might leave.” Walter said matter-of-factually, and turned to face her.
“He wants me to leave.” She said, crossing her arms over her chest.
Walter nodded, and gave her a serious look, but it was also so casual that Bonnie was having a hard time taking anything seriously, and believing it was real. She still had no idea what was actually going on. “You should leave.” he agreed.
“Oh, yeah, and what exactly would I tell my boss? Odd things are happening at Mystic Inn, and I couldn't get it appraised?” Bonnie asked, sarcastically, feeling more and more flustered by the second. “I have a promotion, that counts on me getting this done.”
“Mystic Inn should not be sold.” The mans voice came from behind her, and Bonnie gasped, turning around to see the man walking into the room, again from seemingly nowhere. Cutting slices off with a knife an apple and eating them.
She inhaled deeply. “Okay! Can we please, dial down on the whole scaring Bonnie thing you two seem to have going on?” Bonnie touched her head, “I have a minor head injury, and also, explain to be how he is a ghost.”
Bonnie stepped backwards a little closer to the man. “He doesn't look like one, and...” she turned, reached back, and grabbed one of the mans hands, and pulled it toward holding it in the arm halfway, “...see, you can't touch a ghost.”
The man looked down with an intense look in his sea blue eyes at her holding his wrist. Finally she let go of it when Walter looked at her, and then at the man behind her.
“So, we're telling her then?” the man asked Walter.
“Seems beyond escaping.” Walter said rationally.
Bonnie pursed her lips, “One problem, why would I believe you?” she asked, “I wouldn't for a second.”
She could believe that this man's name was Damon, she could believe he was an intruder, and she could believe he looked a lot like the Damon from the picture, but she could not believe he was a walking, talking, apple eating, peeping tom ghost.
“What do you know about the supernatural?” the man asked, the sound of his knife sliding across the apple was a smooth one.
“At the moment...Damon is not a ghost.” Walter said, waving his hand around, “But, when the clock strikes midnight on December 24th, he will be again.”
Bonnie furrowed her brow, “How does that even work?”
“A curse.” Damon said casually, but in a deeper tone than Walters voice.
“A curse?” Bonnie asked, turning around to face Damon, “You just said 'a curse' out loud and literally meant it.”
Damon put his hands down at this sides. “How exactly would you explain this?”
Bonnie rubbed her forehead lightly, and bit at the inside of her cheek. “Right now I am leaning towards cerebral edema, but I am seriously hoping I'm wrong. Okay, listen, I am not going to deny that there is a striking resemblance between you and the dead guy in the picture; but, there had to be some other explanation. There's just no such thing as ghosts.” She turned her head to look at Damon and Walter in between her talking, and then Damon leaned forward, and extended a hand out to her after putting the knife, and apple down.
“I'll prove it to you.” The dark haired man said to her, with a mischievous and prideful look in his eyes, a slight curve of his pink lips. Bonnie looked at Damon's hand, then at Walter who nodded at her with a small smile himself.
Damon grabbed her hand, and started walking, or more truthfully, pulling Bonnie out of the house via the side door. Bonnie shivered just being outside for a second, but continued to let him pull her around the house. She had a thought for a split second as they were reaching the corner of the Inn that he was taking her there to murder her.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked, but Damon didn't reply. She saw the open gates to the entrance that had been used for carriages, and horses. The pathway beyond the gates was snow covered except for a two small paths that curved around a frozen foundation, and then ended at a large square arch. Supported by six white beams, and surrounded by the forest.
Bonnie breathed heavily and started jogging when Damon was down the pathway to the arch. They stopped just at the arch, and he turned around, still holding her hand.
“I don't understand...” Bonnie spoke breathlessly.
The man just looked into her eyes, his cheeks a little red from the cold, and gave her a devious smile.
Suddenly he step backwards into the arch, still holding her hand as he stepped. On the second step, he was pulled backwards with a rush of colors, and then disappeared entirely like the air had swallowed him whole. Leaving Bonnie to fall backwards and into the snow.