Night Huntress Series

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 Изтрита сцена от At Grave's End

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ПисанеЗаглавие: Изтрита сцена от At Grave's End   Пон Фев 07, 2011 7:49 pm

***

“I must be high.”

I mumbled the words as I waited at Denise’s a week later. She gave me a sympathetic pat.

“You’re right. You must be stoned, cracked, smacked, whatever. I just hope you’re also armed.”

Randy smiled at his wife. “Honey, I’m sure it won’t be that bad. If Cat’s mother agreed to go with her to pick out the material for her dress, then she must have mellowed about their wedding. As for the other lady, Annette, well, she’ll be on her best behavior, no doubt.”

“You must be high,” I amended with a shake of my head. “First of all, my mother’s probably going just so she can ruin everything. Second, the last time that other ‘lady’ was on her best behavior, I came thisclose to killing her.”

Annette had tried to scare me off when we first met by informing me of Bones’s past sexual escapes. Bones had barely spoken to her since. Still, Annette was the first vampire he’d ever made, and I knew their estrangement bothered him. I’d suggested that I could use her advice in picking out my dress, because Annette might be a first-class slut, but she was still the chicest woman I’d ever met. One phone call later and here I was, waiting for her and my mother to arrive. Annette had come all the way from London. My mother was pissed about driving an hour to get to Denise’s.

“She’s here,” I grumbled, hearing a car pull up. I sighed and went to get the door.

“Hello, Annette.”

Champagne colored eyes considered me from a face lightly lined, but still smolderingly attractive. Her strawberry blond hair was arranged in one of those fake messy chignons and she wore a navy blue tailored jacket over matching designer pants.

“I’m going to say this straightaway, Cat. I know it’s because of you that I’m here. Crispin would never have invited me on his own; he’s still too cross with me. In truth, I’m astonished you showed so much maturity as to include me in your human celebrations.”

“Come on in.” I swept my arm in invitation. “Thank you for clearing that up, and I’m glad I impressed you with my grown-up behavior.” There. Didn’t that sound better than fuck off, you condescending bitch.

“This is Denise, my best friend, and her husband Randy,” I continued. “Guys, this is Annette.”

After proper greetings were exchanged, Annette took a seat in the living room. We were waiting for my mother, who was late.

“By the way,” I told Annette. “I have to apologize in advance for all of the terrible things my mother will say.”

“She’s aware of my former relationship with Crispin and disapproves?” Annette didn’t sound like she cared.

I gave a short bark of laughter. “No, all she heard was that you were a vampire. Didn’t Bones tell you about her?”

Annette shrugged. “No.”

I stared at her for a second. “You know, you were right. Bones is still pissed at you, and not just a little. Denise, open the gin.”

“Right after I open my scotch,” she replied.

The sound of a car pulling up tightened my gut. A few minutes later, my mother swept into the room with none of Annette’s gliding grace. Instead, she had a stomping, angry gait that was punctuated by her slamming the front door behind her.

“Is this the latest cold-blooded killer you’ve befriended, Catherine?”

No “hello, how ya doing, nice to see you.” Just straight to the throat and tear. She and vampires had a lot in common.

Annette rose from the couch and extended a hand. “Hello. I am Annette De Witt. I’m afraid Cat never told me your name.”

My mother stared at her hand with revulsion. “My name is Justina, and if you think I’m dumb enough to touch one of you bloodsucking fiends, you’re very mistaken.”

Denise handed me the gin bottle without bothering to include a glass. I ripped the top off and took a long deep pull, and then another. And another.

Annette withdrew her hand and gave me a look of growing awareness. “I see what you mean, Cat. Very well. She’s not the first outraged mortal I’ve encountered.”

“Mom, I let you unleash some steam since you just can’t help yourself, but that’s enough. Now, can you behave long enough to be my mother? Or are you not going to the dress shop with us?”

There was silence as she considered this. Time enough for me to take another drink. Finally, she settled for a muttered curse on all things undead and straightened her shoulders.

“I’m going. Someone has to make certain you look presentable when you go to the altar like a lamb to slaughter.”

“Right,” I said wearily. “Let’s go.”

###

Who had any idea dresses came in such a multitude of colors or materials? I felt lost in a sea of silk, satin, velvet, brocade and lace. We hadn’t even gotten to style yet, and it had been over an hour.

“What about this one?”

Denise held up a bolt of delicate-looking lace. I uncurled myself from underneath a pile of cloth and went to her.

“It’s so soft, Cat, feel it,” she urged.

She was right. Holding it felt like holding spider webs, and the stitching was as intricate as one.

The shop owner, Elise, beamed. “Our most luxurious lace, straight from Italy.”

“How much is it?” my mother bluntly asked.

Elise rattled off a number that had me dropping the fabric like it had burned me.

“Onto the next one,” I said.

Annette took the lace swath and held it next to my arm, ignoring me. “It’s perfect.” Her tone was brusque. “You’ll look radiant. Crispin means too much to me for me to watch him marry someone who looks like a peasant. Don’t you want to look your best on your wedding day?”

I spoke low so no one but she could hear me. “It costs more than half the cars on the road, are you out of your mind?”

Annette didn’t bother with the same subtlety. “You must be the most ignorant person alive. Don’t you have any idea how much bloody money Crispin has?”

Denise pulled my mother out of harms way, anticipating a brawl at any moment.

“You know, Annette,” I said through gritted teeth, “in the time I’ve spent with Bones, a total of just under a year combined, we never got around to discussing his portfolio. Maybe it’s because I was too busy either fucking him or trying not to get killed, I don’t know which!”

That put a nonplussed look on the shop owner’s face.

Annette pointed at my hand. “That diamond alone is worth millions. The cost of your dress and this wedding won’t even put a dent in Crispin’s funds, so will you stop acting like a child and think about him for a moment?”

A child? “I swear, Annette, if you hadn’t saved Bones’s life two hundred years ago, I’d stake you and wear your blood for a week!”

“Do it, Catherine!” my mother cried. It was the first thing she’d agreed with me on in months.

Elise looked alarmed now. She backed away.

“But,” I continued in a tight tone, “you did save Bones’s life, and according to him, you’ve stood by him loyally throughout the years. I think he more than thanked you by fucking you up one side down the other, but that’s just me.” A horrified gasp came from my mother. She wasn’t as enthused now. “However, Bones has put up with so much from me, I can stand to deal with you. You’re right, Annette, the lace is gorgeous. Elise, we’re taking this one. Now let’s pick a style and get out of here.”

“Catherine!” My mother pulled on my arm, shocked. “This creature and that animal together, how can you tolerate that?”

I was in no mood and let it fly. “Mom, probably every female at my wedding aside from you and Denise will have at one point in time fucked the groom.” Annette gave a shrug in concurrence. “Bones was busy in his years, but as long as he keeps it in his pants from now on, we’re good.”

That was the last straw for Elise. She turned and sprinted for the phone, presumably to call 911.

“Get her, Annette, and make her happier,” I instructed, but Annette had already grabbed Elise.

My mother charged forward. “You are not my daughter if you stand by and let her murder that woman!”

I held her back. “Just watch.”

Annette’s fangs extended and she bit into Elise’s neck. My mother screamed. Thank God we’d chosen to be the last appointment of the day and the store was empty. Annette took a few pulls and then scratched her thumb, pressing the cut to the punctures on Elise’s neck. The wounds closed almost as fast as the cut in Annette’s thumb. Presto, one vampire bite, erased from sight.

Annette stared into Elise’s face with her blazing emerald eyes.

“Your customer’s have decided on a fabric. Your last recollection since giving the price is that the bride accepted it. Now you’re going to help them choose the style. That is all.”

Elise nodded with a contented expression on her face.

Annette’s eyes turned back to their normal color. Once free of their entrapping glow, Elise shook her head and announced she would begin showing the styles.

“Perfect,” I stated. “You all go, we’ll be just a second.”

The three of them went to the other side of the shop, leaving me alone with my mother.

“See, Mom? That’s how easily a vampire can control someone’s mind. Master vampires can do it without even taking blood, and Bones is a Master vampire. He could have changed your attitude problem with him countless times before, but he didn’t. If he were the low-life scum you say he is, why wouldn’t he?”

“Is that why you can’t leave him? God, Catherine, is this how he keeps you under his thrall?”

I scoffed. “That stuff doesn’t work on me, Mom. Believe me, many vamps over the years have tried. I wanted you to see this…so you’d know what might have happened with you and my father. He could have tranced you into believing anything he told you.”

If I’d punched her, she would have looked less stunned. My father was an asshole, no doubt about that, but the two of them had different version about the night I was conceived. She had no idea I’d ever met him, let alone heard his side of that story. My motivation wasn’t to ask what had really happened, but to show my mother that she would have been compelled to believe whatever Max had said. Especially his laughing assertion that all vampires were demons. Max said he told my mother that because he thought it was funny. Yeah, real funny. Made a laugh riot out of my childhood.

Elise was still musing over selections with Denise and Annette, oblivious that she had just been a blood donor to the undead.

“Come on,” I said to my mother. “Let’s go see the styles.”

She gave me a sharp look, but pursed her lips and didn’t say anything else.

***

_________________

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