They both were twittering about something encased in chiffon -- which better not be her -- and someone gasped out how lovely scattering rose petals along the aisle would look. It took all of her willpower to not ask what the hell they were talking about, since that was nothing she was remotely interested in seeing done at her wedding. But since Jessie was her maid-of-honor, (not by her choice but because her Master dictated it be so) and seemed to know about weddings, she couldn't exactly kick her out of the event. Yet. She certainly would try to if given a chance. Jessie hadn't been a vampire very long, a mere forty or so years, and still clung far too strongly to the human traditions. That alone was reason to kick her to the curb. But Renee was being gracious. For now.
"Renee, come over and look at this scrumptious fabric." Jessie was glowing with excitement over some scrap of material.
The clerk nodded and said, "It's to die for and so scrumptious!" The mimicking and repetitive replies were really working Renee's nerves. As a true saleswoman, she had that art down but it wasn't doing anything for Renee. Not her thing in the least and very few humans did much to persuade her of anything. The wedding was over a month away and she didn't see what all the fuss was about at all. One vampire had been telling Jessie how it had taken her a year and a half to get her wedding planned when she was human and a number of other vampires had agreed. The fuss over fabrics and swatches was stupid as far as she was concerned.
With that notion chasing around, it took all of Renee's control to resist telling the moron retail chick what she thought was 'scrumptious,' but Jessie actually caught her stray thoughts of casual carnage enough to jump up like she'd been bitten.
"Or not." Jessie dropped the scrap of fluff and looked at Renee.
"Jessie, I need a break," that was the best Renee could do without fanging out and sucking out a pint or three from the annoyingly chipper clerk. It wasn't like her brain would miss the lack of blood. And she would definitely enjoy the rush. She'd look past the twittering saleswoman's overly polished fa?ade and sup on pure stupid human.
Looking at Renee, the soon-to-be-replaced maid-of-honor -- Jessie -- quickly figured out that the bride vampire wasn't faking it. If they stayed in the shop there would be one clerk short a few pints of blood and her Master would kill her. Vampire rules and traditions always beat humans oddities and wedding preparations aside, there was a higher set of rules in play. For that Renee was truly grateful. Jessie was still standing too close to the clerk and Renee could feel her fangs slipping a bit even with her decades of experience. The stress of the yapping humans, and the close proximity to so much tasty young blooded people were pushing all her buttons.
"Sure, let's head over to the food court." The words escaped Jessie's lips without much forethought and Jessie paled as Renee reconstructed her last sentence and pounced on the words.
"Let's! I think I would like a bite of something." Renee tormented her companion. The saleswoman was seeing her clients walking away without having bought anything and began to flutter behind them, further pushing temptation in Renee's fangs.
Jessie tried to keep from cringing at the glint in Renee's eye. The ignorant clerk quickly handed out lavender business cards to both of them while they departed. Renee tossed hers into the large leather purse Jessie insisted she carry as part of the role of a traditional bride. She didn't give a damn what humans thought of her but Jessie had insisted it was part of the bridal experience. Vampires rarely carried purses in her social set.
The whole deal wasn't something Renee had never experienced before her change; having never been a bride when human, she desperately tried to go with the flow. She did need some help, but what Jessie was pushing her towards was starting to get her nervous. Jessie was too close to humanity for Renee's comfort and the helicopter-like sales clerks made her very hungry. And it definitely wasn't for the dried up pizza and flat soda they served over in the food court. The blood racing beneath the clerk's skin had begun to sing to her. Which was not good.
They cleared the doorway and went back into the main part of the mall. It was a generic mall as far as Renee could tell, one of those kinds filled with vaguely familiar names lining the multi-layered walkways, and some large chain stores anchoring the various ends of the overpriced property. Nothing noteworthy but it was what it was. She just wanted to drain one of the idiots wandering around to the bone. Plaids and stripes called to her like artfully arranged dinner napkins showing off the plated offering. The floral patterned outfits just made her cringe. Usually the blue-haired biddies in the flower covered shifts, shirts, and polyester blends were close enough to death that Renee wasn't sure if their cheap perfume was being used to pre-embalm or to hide that they'd already sipped at death's door.
"Renee, you really don't want to go to the food court, do you?" Jessie was verbally trying to appease her and she knew it. As a more powerful vampire Renee trumped Jessie by quite a few decades and lines of lineage. Both of them were well aware of the protocol, but Renee was stuck letting Jessie lead in the whole bridal bizarre stuff since she didn't have a clue. Apparently Jessie had been married twice before she'd been flipped. Renee wondered exactly how those two marriages had ended. Fangs aside, Jessie seemed pretty soft for a vampire.
"Get serious. I just was sick of hearing how 'sweet' I'd look in chiffon and soft satin. Reminds me a tad too much about a few funerals I've had to attend recently." Renee caught Jessie's gaze and smiled letting a peek of her fang tips peek out to illustrate her point. The reminder of who exactly caused the funerals wasn't lost on Jessie either.
Jessie ducked her head and said, "Yes, Mistress."
That just further reminded Renee why she was getting married. Damn vampire politics and the World Wide Web. Who knew that nanny cams could be downloaded to YouTube so easily? She did now. As did her Master.
A growl rumbled in her chest.
A shopper ventured too close and heard the sound. Eyes wide she looked at the two vampires.
Ever the comic, Jessie met the scared eyes and quipped, "Sorry I am really hungry."
Nervously chuckling, the blue-haired stout woman turned and walked into the closest shop.
"Wow, Spencer's. I didn't take her for a Goth or metal-head." Jessie was trying to get Renee to relax.
Not to be outwitted Renee replied, "Maybe she's buying a battery operated toy." They both smiled at the idea of the older woman inside the shop. It was a shop filled with an array of sex toys, crude t-shirts, gag gifts of a base nature that appealed well to ten year olds of all sizes along with some other different items not usually found in Sears or Wal-Mart. The average age was mid-teens to early twenties and the seventy something lady was in for a surprise if she hadn't meant to go there. But then, who knew -- maybe she was heading for that store before she ran into them. Still grinning, they shook their heads and tried to blend.
Renee didn't blend well. She'd been a vampire too long. The oversized purse and chatty friend were typical in the mall, but she certainly wasn't. Renee pretty much attracted notice wherever she went. Her demeanor was pure royalty and privilege. The handbag and Jessie distracted her nearly as much as the three-karat rock bouncing around with half-karat 'accents' diamonds dragging down her left ring finger. The platinum band was nearly half an inch of metal. Thankfully her fingers were long enough to sport the ring but it still bugged her. The wedding between her and her fiancé was a treaty between her Master's territory and the clan two states over. It was an arranged marriage. Nothing real. Yet still the ring had been formally presented and she had to accept.
Without discussion they both walked past the Food Court and headed out to the car. Renee was hungry and the mall was proving to be too much of a temptation. She had mistakenly thought she'd be able to come and point to a dress and then go home. The full evening trip wasn't part of her plans, but was intended on being just a simple stop off before her night began without a damn purse on her arm and the engagement ring restricting her movements. The actual timetable for the shopping trip hadn't been discussed; she'd just assumed. Shopping wasn't something she did when alive. The whole mall experience was new to mankind, and she didn't much care for it. She growled as they got to the parking garage where they'd left their car. The vampires had a black Suburban, naturally. It looked like one of the half dozen sitting out scattered about in the lot with a notable exception. The other cars didn't have four teenagers trying to break into them.
"Give me a break," Dropping her smaller purse, Jessie was running towards the youths. She didn't look scary, but Renee had seen her in action and was bemused by her reaction. Renee slowly followed observing that the four teens weren't even reacting to the running figure. Then she saw the smallest of the four spin with a glint clasped in his hand. It wasn't a gun but a blade. That nearly made Renee giggle. These kids were new at the car-jacking scene if they thought anyone would run from a pig sticker like that. She lengthened her stride and caught up with Jessie.
"Get the hell away from our car!" Her voice was strong and she was angry. It was, after all, her Master's car, but nevertheless Jessie would be held accountable for returning it in less that pristine condition. Jessie wasn't stupid enough to risk the punishment. Vampires had centuries to perfect punishment if they felt playful enough to torment one of their fledglings. Jessie had her usefulness so she wouldn't be outright staked and beheaded but she'd wish for a final death if the SUV was stolen. The teens chuckled. They did temporarily stop trying to slim-jim the driver's side window, but their amusement sat poorly with Jessie. Renee didn't quite blame them for their smirks, since Jessie was all of five and half feet tall, wearing light beige Capri pants, lacey white shirt with a pink camisole peaking provocatively out from underneath. The cotton candy shade of lipstick and the long flat ironed blonde hair made her look all of sixteen or seventeen at the most and about as vicious as a guppy. Her voice wasn't exactly commanding, either. She had that unfortunate way of gasp-talking, as though everything she said was either high drama or cloyingly sweet. It dawned on Renee that she really didn't much care for Jessie.
"Oh, look Eddie, we have itty bitty pretty girl type of company," the small one flashing his knife indicated with the tip of the blade. He wasn't but an inch taller than Jessie, but with the backing of his buddies was much more assured than he would have been had the numbers been reversed. Too bad his gangster bravado was mistaken.
"Dickwit, I told you not to use my name." Eddie clipped the back of the kid's head and brought out his own blade. Jessie was now less than an arm's length away and smiling. Sighing, Renee looked around and asked as she neared the party of five, "Cameras not on this evening, boys?"
She nodded towards the three cameras set up on the tops of floodlights aimed at the parking lot. She was suppressing a smile at the stupidity of the attempted break-in of the SUV with all the surveillance. The cameras they could see weren't usually the real ones, but she wasn't going to point out the half dozen other ones trained on the lot. Part of being a long-lived vampire was noticing the real from the fake and never assuming.
Eddie laughed, "No, they are all offline. My boys aren't stupid." He was cocky and assured of his facts. Well, at least the ones pertaining to his worldview. Renee always liked to watch a well-deserved education. Especially when it wasn't hers.
To be continued...