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Blood jewel, p.10

Blood Jewel, page 10

 part  #2 of  Vampire Agápe Series


Blood Jewel

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  She turned to Sol and said, “Next.”

  He walked over to her and I watched as she repeated the same steps to pin his smaller purple call lily on his lapel. She patted his chest next to where she just pinned his flower and said, “Now, you look perfect, too.”

  She looked down at her watch and said, “Fifteen minutes until show time, boys. I think it’s safe for you come up.”

  Did she mean safe like we wouldn’t see Chansey before the wedding or safe like the sun wouldn’t light Sol up like a 4th of July firecracker?

  “We’ll be right up. I have one more thing I’d like to do before the wedding,” I lied.

  “Okay, but don’t tarry too long. You don’t want to keep your bride waiting,” Anna warned before she walked out the door.

  I didn’t get the door shut completely before Sol said, “Damn!”

  I turned to look at him with wide eye. “Do you...?”

  “Yes,” he interrupted. “That old lady knows.”

  “No way. She couldn’t possibly know,” I said and I wasn’t sure if I was trying to convince Sol or myself.

  “Would Chansey have told her grandmother?” Sol suggested.

  That wasn’t an option. “No, Chansey wouldn’t have told Anna anything without discussing it with me first. It was simply a coincidence. It has to be.”

  We talked back and forth about whether she knew or whether she didn’t and Sol said, “We can’t sit here pondering if she knows or not. It’s show time and you have a bride waiting for you upstairs,” Sol reminded me.

  “And I couldn’t be more ready.”

  ≈ ≈ ≈

  With a couple of minutes before the ceremony, Sol and I took our places at the top of staircases next to the pastor. I looked around at all of the beautiful decorations around us for the first time and I couldn’t imagine a wedding in October with months of planning being any more beautiful.

  I looked at our guests seated in the chairs on the lawn in front of the house and saw all of my family members. It was undeniable...they were here only because the woman I loved made it possible.

  We chose to have a simple ceremony, so the sound of a lone guitar signaled Chansey’s entrance and I couldn’t wait to see her. I had no idea what her dress looked like or if her hair would be up or flowing down her back.

  I didn’t have much time to imagine how Chansey would look because she gracefully rounded the corner on Grady’s arm and began the walk toward me on one of the staircases. I can only say that my imagination didn’t do my bride justice.

  Her long, dark waves spilled over her shoulders down her back and she wore a simple crystal headband without a veil. Her simple white dress was strapless and she wore the butterfly pendant given to her by her mother. The skirt of her dress flowed loosely to her toes and moved gracefully with each step she took. Her arm was looped through Grady’s for support and she carried a small bouquet of white calla lilies in her free hand.

  I couldn’t take my eyes off Chansey as every step she took brought her closer to being my wife. When she and Grady reached the porch, he kissed Chansey’s cheek and whispered, “I love you, Baby Girl,” in her ear before placing her hand in mine.

  Our eyes met and Chansey gave my hands a reassuring squeeze. I stroked my thumbs across the tops of her hands and I thought I would melt into a puddle on the porch as she smiled at me.

  The pastor briefly spoke about love, faithfulness, marriage and the duties of a husband before he asked me to recite the vows I had written for Chansey.

  “Chansey Rose Leclaire. I once asked for my misplaced heart to no longer wander and I was miraculously led to you. When I saw you for the first time, I found what I didn’t know I had searched for. Until I met you, I only existed in this world and now I live. I live for you because you are the love of my life, the beat of my heart and the air in my lungs. You know the depths of my heart and you love me in spite of what you know and see. I have been entrusted with your life as a gift I don’t deserve and I would freely give my life in place of yours. It is with a happy heart that I choose to take you as my wife for the rest of my days. I love you forever times infinity.”

  The pastor turned to Chansey and briefly spoke about the duties of a wife and then asked her to recite the vows she has written for me.

  “James Curry Brennan. I see your heart when I look into your eyes and it is the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. There is no better find than when we found one another and my heart dances inside my chest for you. You are my intended because I was born to be yours forever. I choose you to be my husband until the end of time because nothing short of eternity will ever do. You are my everything and I love you forever times infinity.”

  The pastor prompted us for the ring ceremony and I reached for the ring Sol handed to me. I slid it onto Chansey’s finger next to her engagement ring as I said, “As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my wife this day and forevermore.”

  Chansey turned to Shelby and reached for the ring she chose for me. She slid it onto my finger and said, “This ring I give to you as a token of my love and devotion. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be as your wife. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours forevermore.

  I felt all of the things a human husband felt when he looked at his human wife, but the pull I felt toward her was nonhuman and supernatural. We were soul mates and I felt my soul call out to hers, begging it to unite as one. I stared into her eyes and I didn’t question if she felt the aching to unite. The answer was on her face and I heard it in the acceleration of her beating heart and rapid increase in her breathing.

  What we were feeling in this moment was a gift from Anteros. It was for a vampire to share with his Agápe and I couldn’t be in more awe of the woman I loved. I was so lost in Chansey and the desperate need I felt to connect with her, I almost didn’t hear the pastor announce, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

  I licked my lips and leaned in to place a feather light kiss on Chansey’s scarlet stained lips because I didn’t think I could take anything more than that, but she surprised me by grabbing the back of my neck and pulling me in for a deep passionate kiss like weren’t standing before a small crowd of friends and family.

  As I feared, our deep kiss intensified the yearning of our souls and they were increasingly restless for one another. Sebastian failed to tell me about this part of the Agápe link, but I understood why. He wanted us to experience this connection without prior knowledge because it was so utterly amazing.

  I thought of how he told me he didn’t want to place expectations on either of us and I wondered what other kind of information he was withholding. I guess I would find out that answer later tonight.

  11 An Old Friend Returns

  “It gives me great pleasure to present to you, Mr. and Mrs. James Curry Brennan.”

  Our friends and family clapped as we turned around and descended the staircase toward the garden behind Anna and Grady’s house. We would have happily skipped the reception part of the wedding, but Anna insisted we couldn’t because we would regret it one day, so we did the traditional wedding things with a photographer and wedding cake to please her.

  Chansey lifted her champagne glass to her lips without taking a drink. She was preoccupied by something in the direction of the front lawn and I asked her, “What has captured your attention so intently?”

  Chansey furrowed her brow. “It’s that man over by the trees. I’m trying to decide what he is doing. At first, I thought he was a tourist looking at the house, but I don’t think that’s it. It’s clear he is watching us and he isn’t trying to be the least bit inconspicuous. Do you know him?”

  I turned in the direction of her concern and saw Madon standing under the trees. If it were possible, I would have had a heart attack right then and there.

  “Curry, do you know him?” Chansey whispered when she saw the stunned look on my face.

  “Yes, I
do. He is an old friend of mine and I’m sure he is just here to wish us his best,” I lied. “Just give me a minute to visit with him and I’ll be right back.”

  “I would love to meet him if he’s a friend of yours,” Chansey said as she lowered her glass to the table.

  “No, we shouldn’t both leave our guests,” I argued and left without giving her the opportunity to try to persuade me differently.

  I walked over to where Sebastian and Solomon were standing and whispered, “I need you to stay with Chansey. Madon is here.”

  I walked out to the line of huge live oak trees along the drive expecting to see Marsala at any moment. I watched Madon for any signal of an attack, but he calmly stood and waited for me to reach him.

  “She said that you were alive. I didn’t want to believe her, but I obviously see that it’s true,” Madon said.

  “Is she here?” I questioned.

  “No, she and Wythe are in New Orleans looking for you and your Agápe. She sent me here so we could cover more ground and find the two of you quicker,” Madon explained. “She’s anxious to kill the girl so she can have you back.”

  I looked toward Chansey and she waved to me from where she stood next to her protective guards.

  I returned her wave and said, “The vampire in you won’t allow you to understand this, but it doesn’t matter that she’s human. I love her with every fiber of my being. My family loves her, too. She is one of us without being like us.”

  I turned back to Madon. “You love Marsala, so I know you are going to understand what I’m about to tell you on some kind of level. I will never allow anyone to harm Chansey. She is my everything. If you bring Marsala here, my family and I will kill all of you.”

  He laughed caustically and said, “I won’t tell her you are here, but it’s not because I’m afraid of you or those you call family. I don’t want you back in our coven. Things have been good since you left and I want to keep it that way.”

  It made little difference to me what his reasoning was; I didn’t trust him to keep his word. Marsala could be very convincing and he was weak when it came to her, so Chansey and I needed to leave quickly.

  “I don’t trust you to keep your word, Madon,” I said.

  “It makes no difference to me if you trust me or not, but you know I don’t want you back. That alone should give you some reassurance.”

  I wanted to ask him about the witch helping Marsala reach me through magic, but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to show my cards, so I chose to not mention it. “Regardless of why you’re doing it, thank you for not leading Marsala to us.”

  “Yeah, whatever. I think we’re done here,” he said and streaked away into the dark.

  I walked toward the garden and Chansey met me before I made it to where our friends and family were in the garden. “Why didn’t you introduce me to your friend?”

  “He was in a big hurry. He just wanted to stop by and wish me his best as he traveled to New Orleans,” I lied.

  Gia sensed the trouble brewing and rescued me. “Chansey, let’s go inside and I’ll help you change out of this dress and get you into what you’re wearing when you leave so you and Curry can get a move on. It’s getting late.”

  Chansey’s thoughts immediately switched in the direction Gia intended and she agreed, “You’re right. It is getting late.”

  I placed a light kiss on Chansey’s lips and said, “I’ll meet you on the front porch when you ready, Mrs. Brennan.”

  “I’ll be there, Mr. Brennan.”

  Sebastian and Sol were immediately by my side for an explanation. “Madon was alone. Marsala and Wythe are still in New Orleans looking for us and he was sent here to rule it out. He says that he isn’t going to tell Marsala about us because he doesn’t want me back in the coven. That part I believe, but I don’t trust him. Marsala can be very persuasive and if he thinks he can please her or score points with her by telling her he found us, he will do it.”

  “It’s a good thing you’re getting ready to leave. You’ll be gone for two weeks and then you’ll be at the new compound. Essentially, she shouldn’t be able to track you, but we’ll stay here for the next couple of weeks to protect Chansey’s grandparent just in the event Madon goes soft and confesses everything to Marsala.”

  “Thank you. I can’t tell you how much that means to me and Chansey.”

  “You’re family and families stick together.”

  Lairah gathered all of the guests and told them to move to the front lawn since we were about to leave and I waited on the porch for Chansey. After several minutes, she stepped out of the front door in a cream fitted linen dress and held up a small bouquet. “Gia says that I have to throw this to the unmarried women before we can leave.”

  I laughed and said, “Gia wants to catch it so she can pretend she is getting married next. It will only be her, Lairah and Shelby vying for the thing and she knows she can take Shelby.”

  “Let her have her fun, Curry. It’s not every day she gets to do this kind of thing.”

  I nodded and said, “You’re right. Throw it in her direction and let’s get out of here.”

  We looked down over the lawn and saw Gia, Lairah and Shelby gathered at the bottom of the staircase waiting to fight for the bouquet. Chansey turned her back to them and said, “Here goes nothing.”

  I watched the fuchsia bouquet fly over Chansey’s head and land directly in Gia’s hands. The small crowd clapped for her and we made our escape down the staircase as birdseed was thrown from every direction.

  The black luxury rental car was waiting for us in the drive and Chansey stopped to say goodbye to Anna and Grady as we made our way through the crowd to the car.

  Anna pulled me close for a hug and said, “Curry, tonight is a lunar eclipse. You know eclipses bring on strange things sometimes, so take care of my girl. ”

  She let go of me and moved on to Chansey. She grabbed each side of her face and whispered, “Don’t forget how babies are made. You may think it won’t happen to you, but it only takes one time.”

  “Granna, I’ve known where babies come from for a long time and I promise you that you don’t have anything to worry about,” Chansey whispered.

  Anna kissed Chansey’s forehead and said, “I’m not worried, Baby. I’m just reminding you so you don’t have an “oops” because you didn’t think it could happen to you. You’re not the exception to the rule,” she warned.

  Chansey looked at me and then back at her grandmother. “Okay, Granna. We’ve got it covered and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

  We got in the car and Chansey waved as I pulled away from the house onto the road ahead of us. When we were out of the drive, she looked at me and asked, “What in the hell was that all about? Granna acts like she knows, but then says something totally off the wall to make you think she doesn’t know.”

  I was relieved to hear Chansey’s surprise at Anna’s words because it reassured me that she had not told her about us. “Sol and I thought the same thing earlier today. Before the wedding, she came down to help us with our boutonnieres. She told me that you were born especially for me and she knew that I would never allow you to be harmed. It was a little weird.”

  “That is weird. Especially when you combine it with that lunar eclipse comment,” Chansey agreed.

  It was puzzling why Anna would say something about such an important event in the world of vampires. “I thought Anna might be on to us when she mentioned the lunar eclipse, but I changed my mind when she started talking about babies. If she knew anything about us then she wouldn’t have brought that up because she would have known it wasn’t a possibility. I think the eclipse comment was a coincidence. Even humans think strange things happen when there is an eclipse.”

  “Did you know there was an eclipse tonight?” she asked.

  I hadn’t observed or kept up with eclipses since the day I escaped Marsala. “No, I quit keeping up with them a long time ago.”

  “Is it a coincidence that w
e got married on the night of a lunar eclipse without realizing it?”

  “Coincidence or not, I want no part of it or its supernatural event. Tonight is about you and me and nothing else. The best thing to do is stay inside and pretend we don’t know a thing about it.”

  She reached over and placed her hand on my leg. “I can’t wait to get to wherever you’re taking me. I wish we were there right now.”

  I put my hand on top of hers. “I knew it was going to be late when we left from the wedding, so I booked something close for tonight and we’re catching a flight in the morning to somewhere you are going to love.”

  Chansey squeezed my fingers and said, “No, you chose to book a place we could get to fast because you knew you wouldn’t want to wait any longer either.”

  “Maybe,” I laughed.

  “Maybe?” Chansey asked in an unconvinced tone. “I don’t think so, Baby. Definitely is more like it. How much longer until we get to where we’re staying?”

  “About 45 minutes, I guess.”

  “Wow. You couldn’t even wait a whole hour.” she laughed.

  “I’m not really sure I can wait another minute if we keep talking about it, so I’m changing the subject until we get there.”

  12 Wedding Night

  I turned into the driveway of the Bed and Breakfast and parked the rental car under the awning. I waited for some show of excitement from Chansey, but she was silent and it sent up a red flag for me. “This is it. What do you think?”

  Chansey looked at the house and then back at me and softly said, “It’s a beautiful house.”

  She looked disappointed, which disappointed me, and I didn’t understand why. “What’s wrong, Love?”

  “Nothing is wrong,” she lied and we both knew it.

  I reached for her face and stroked my thumb down her cheek. “There is something wrong. You were so happy until we got here.”

  She dropped her eyes to her clasped hands and watched her fingers as they played games in her lap. “It’s beautiful, but it’s a Bed and Breakfast. We won’t have much privacy with the owners and other guests so close.”

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