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April 15, 2024

Here Comes The Bride, Part 3

By Lydia Manx

As they headed on the freeway back to Renee's house, Jessie began chitchatting about the various wedding dresses they'd seen. That fell flat in the large comfortable car. Renee had absolutely no interest in the conversation; once she got back and told her Master about the evening she knew that there wouldn't be any more trips. At this rate she'd be staked before she'd wear one of those confections shown by the chipper salesclerk at the bridal shop or any other such store. She'd demand that the vampire slaves make her dress. She hadn't been a spun sugar sort of woman; much less had she inexplicably changed into one once she became vampire. Besides, there was a tone to be set, and frou-frou wear wasn't what she wanted. Jessie had found the shop delightful and the saleswoman had fawned appropriately over the pretty perky blonde. Renee didn't much care what she wore and it had shown.

"Fine, then, we won't be talking about the wedding dress. So have you figured out your guest list?" Jessie was getting snippy. Renee bit back a laugh at the look of disappointment Jessie was wearing on her face. The younger vampire must have been under the mistaken impression she was going to chat about how lovely the cream taffy piece of froth had looked against her dead white skin.

"My guest list? When exactly did anyone want my input on this event?" Renee gave in and laughed.

She knew her Master would have the wedding guest list ready for her to rubberstamp her tacit approval. Of course, she would be expected to invite only the strongest and oldest of the acceptable vampires. The werewolf side of the guest list for the wedding wouldn't be handled by the vampires at all, but rather the leaders of the werewolf clan. Not like she had any kind of a list of her own, if the truth were known, but she wasn't sharing that with Jessie. Not to mention that the whole fiasco with YouTube wasn't just going away. She shook her head as Jessie nearly sideswiped a blue and white Mini-Cooper while gesturing and talking at Renee. The Suburban would quite easily crush the bright and shiny toy car without Jessie even realizing it.

"Mistress Renee, surely you are kidding?" The younger vampire was squealing and agitated by the idea of not having guest list in hand. She also used Renee's name which wasn't allowed in the vampire world unless in public and unavoidable. The rules of the vampire family were complex and ironclad, so for Jessie to break one meant she really was freaked out by Renee's answer.

"You don't want to go there, Jessie," Renee said while deciding to twist the knife a bit, "And have you swept your car for bugs lately? Because if not, that slip of the tongue is going to cost you." Renee couldn't resist sniping at the vampire. Jessie wasn't allowed to use Renee's given name but Renee could shout hers from the rooftops because of vampire hierarchy. There was definitely a caste system and formality was just one little part of it all. It was obvious to Renee that Jessie's Master had little control of the vampires beneath him, while Renee's Master was more than likely to carry the rules to the nth degree and punish his vampires thoroughly for any infractions. If she were still at Jessie's vampiric age, she would never have made such a slip.

Jessie and Renee had been put together more than once to quell problems between vampires; Jessie hadn't been part of the YouTube fiasco but was aware of it. Renee bit back a sigh as she didn't have much room to criticize, but she wasn't letting the fledgling know that.

She was more than a little angry at the entire mall trip -- inside and out -- and was still very hungry. The cost of being in the upper levels of the vampire world had begun to wear on her, and Jessie's perky New Age take on vampirism was starting to royally piss her off. Next thing she'd know, Jessie would start claiming she was becoming a Vegan and couldn't possibly drink human blood. Personally she'd rather be staked to true death or beyond rather than give up the lush blood and tantalizing chase.

Unaware of Renee's mental wanderings, Jessie went dead white and stuttered, "I think so."

Smugly, Renee watched her as she mentally replayed the conversation and her word choice, and all the possible repercussions raced rapidly through Jessie's brain. That was nearly worth the lost three hours. And she hadn't forgotten the 'lost boys' addresses either. Maybe she'd beat Jessie to their throats. She did have right of first blood. That was probably one of the only upsides to the evening as far as she could see. For once Jessie kept her mouth shut and let Renee relax for a minute. The scenery wasn't much to talk about and she let her mind wander. The traffic made all the usual ticks and hisses as they clipped along quickly. All she wanted to do was to get home and call for delivery. She was starving.

As they headed down the freeway, Renee's cell phone rang. She was amazed that she hadn't had any calls earlier. But then her Master had probably warned dire consequences if she was interrupted while out shopping. Some things weren't ever to be interrupted no matter how welcome it would have been to her. Looking at the screen, she saw her caller ID further drive that stake home since it was her Master.

Hitting the line open, she reluctantly put the cell phone to her ear saying, "Yes, Sire?" Properly respectful tones, she hoped and she automatically straightened up as if it'd help her hear better. Static and breaks of sound let her know that the cell reception was crap. Sighing in her head, she waited for him to speak. She mentally ran over the past few hours and didn't see that she'd done anything meriting a direct call. The last bit with the car-jacking punks wasn't worthy of any attention; they hadn't fanged in or been arrested by the mall security. And she seriously doubted that the downloads from the cameras in the parking lot at the mall had been accessed yet, but she could be wrong. The wedding between the werewolf and her a major event, despite her passive-aggressive resistance to all the dramas.

"Renee, my sweet, do you have your dress?" There was a smirk in his voice.

She mentally swore even more. How the hell did he know? She glanced over at Jessie who would be able to hear the conversation quite easily as vampires had exceptional hearing. Renee saw the vampire concentrating on driving and not wincing, so it wasn't like she'd had time to text her own Master much less Renee's. It was the cameras in the mall parking lot. Someone must have been monitoring them live. She hated being wrong. But then that was part of the problem lately -- she'd been making some slight missteps.

"No, Sire. The offerings weren't to my standards." Nicely neutral, Renee thought. Not untrue either, just the thought of yards of satin, lace and silk cocooning her made her shiver, but not in a good way. It was too close to funeral wear for her comfort.

Since her Master didn't outright mention the parking lot with those car-jacking boys, maybe she'd be able to talk him around on the delay of finding a wedding dress without disclosing the possibility that the SUV's license plate had been observed. Jessie tilted her head off towards the side and pretended she wasn't listening to Renee's cell call. The Suburban wasn't that big so Renee well knew every word spoken was easily heard.

"Renee, you only have a few weeks to find the ideal wedding dress. I need you to look picture perfect. This isn't like some high school dance or a society ball, but a marriage of consequences." The unspoken with consequences rang through her mind while his tones were brisk and slightly bitter.

She knew that he'd hoped to personally make an alliance rather than having one of his vampires do the deed. But werewolf females were few, and the males weren't exactly ready to give up the breeding possibility to a vampire. Vampires didn't get pregnant. Werewolves could. That wasn't something spoken about around the table when territory was under discussion. There was always the possibility that the other Master vampires would erroneously interpret the marriage with Renee and a werewolf as her Master losing power. The society of vampires was convoluted and unruly at times. But the arrogance of the Masters was supreme no matter what occurred. She always considered herself middle management, and was not privy to the higher games usually played by the Master Vampires, but now was trapped in the mess.

She heard what he was saying, but didn't know what more he wanted from her. Playing dress up bridal Barbie wasn't her style and it wasn't like she had some true friend showing her what were the ins and outs of planning a major wedding. Jessie wasn't even a real friend, and the younger vampire was only her maid-of-honor by pretty much decree. Besides, she'd never been to a high school dance much less attended that many noteworthy social events requiring her to be dressed up much beyond a little black dress and attitude. She didn't have a clue what he was getting at and wasn't going to ask him for more information at this point. 'Picture perfect' was not something most vampires worried about but it was something the Masters were always weighing, judging and warring over in their own ways.

Dead silence, and she waited for him to say something more. It wasn't like she had a response to his comment about clothing. They continued down the road and Jessie was now worried. She, of course, was overhearing Renee's call and was naturally concerned that she'd screwed up by not helping Renee get a dress. Renee, on the other hand, was still thirsting for a pint or two of hot blood. Her fangs pricked at her lower lip. Silently she willed them back.

Then the call was dropped. Stunned, Renee looked at the screen on her cell phone in utter disbelief. Her Master would never believe it was a cell phone issue, but would assume that she'd hung up on him. She was toast.

It was then that their bumper got briskly tagged from behind.

"What the hell!" Jessie tried to keep from slamming into the vehicle directly in front of them. Honking of horns and various single digit waves greeted her careening amidst the traffic.

Successful, Jessie changed lanes, avoiding smashing the cars in front of her and then they were slammed into again from behind.

"Get us out of here, now!" Renee commanded as yet another slam launched them over two lanes. She wasn't ready to give in, but as she wasn't driving it wasn't like she had much choice. Jessie was trying but failing.

Her cell rang. "What?" Stupidly she bit that out without checking the caller ID screen.

Her heart dropped as her Master vampire asked, "Renee, are you in trouble?"

"Yes, Sire," she tried for subservient, but knew it wasn't working as panic laced her tones and anger danced in her heart.

Another nasty screech of metal punctuated her fears. Jessie wasn't quipping smart-ass comments any more but growling with her fangs fully extended. They were screwed if Jessie didn't find a hole in traffic to get out of the line of fire. The truck on their tail was oversized, well-lifted-beyond-normal-off-roading-usage and naturally it was still hitting them. The wickedly heavy grill was formidable and aiming again to strike their SUV.

Renee was again reminded why she didn't play well with humans. They were so fragile, angry and stupid. Any of those combined spelt true death for a vampire. Another smash of metal on metal and they spun sideways. It wasn't her first car accident but nevertheless all her self-preservation buttons were being pushed. Her blood thirst was getting out of hand as she kept getting jolted in the passenger seat of the Suburban. And she was actually wearing her seatbelt for a change, which was cutting into her like nobody's business. She truly hated cars with all their straps driven by bells and whistles. Give her a horse any day of the week.

To be continued ...

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-01-26
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