Chapter 67: Bianca

Was it my imagination, or were horrible, horrible things happening to my body? Horrible things I didn’t specifically request from Mister Chutney-Worthington, who had almost become a distant memory…I’d been dreaming of him quite often as of late. I never wanted to wake from those beautiful, butler-filled dreams (which also occasionally served as wedding cake-topper inspiration).

I especially didn’t want to wake from those dreams when my clothing began to squeeze me most uncomfortably. Had I…after all these centuries…gained weight?

Absolutely not. I refused to consider it for a single heartbeat. And so I used my improperly fitted clothing as yet another shopping opportunity with Penny, at a shop that specifically catered to Modern City Women with refined tastes such as mine.

The vaguely familiar woman who worked there told me that the owner had a penchant for “chicks like us” (clearly she recognized me as another Modern City Woman) and therefore carried a special selection of garments that might suit me–and in my favorite colors, it would seem. This truly was one of my favorite shops in the city, and not only because of the male employee dress code.

It would seem that I had gained weight in certain other areas, as Lysander’s gaze had demonstrated time and time again, so I felt it best to find better support for those as well. My back was aching abominably lately…

When I asked Penny if she’d noticed any of my weight gain, she gave me the strangest look.

“It’d be weirder if you didn’t gain any weight,” she muttered. “You’ll lose it later anyway. Probably.”

What lovely reassurance from a reformed ragamuffin who was now as dear to me as a sister. I offered to buy her new clothing and a good brassiere as well (not that she requires much of one, but Byron seems happy enough). However, she told me that the “experience alone” of shopping with me was enough for her. That was very sweet, but one day I’ll help her understand the point of shopping.

I was glad to get Penny out of the apartment, at any rate. Byron had been stuck to her like a flea on a bat, and Lysander…I would have to have a talk with Lysander when I had more time. He seemed to have developed an almost unhealthy fixation on his younger sister’s private life, but a girl her age needed some privacy and a life separate from her elder sibling. If only planning the wedding didn’t keep me so busy, or make me so very tired…

Everything seemed to be going well enough, at least. Until…until the day Lysander unleashed the curse upon our heads. What had possessed him to touch my phone? Didn’t he respect a woman’s secrets? I rose from my coffin to hear a sinister knock upon the door to the apartment.

I had no patience for his ensuing apologies. “Open the door, Lysander,” I whispered. “If you don’t, they’ll simply find another way in.”

I was relieved that it was only Penny and Byron (the latter of whom was apparently dressed for one of the strange games they seemed to enjoy playing), but I knew my relief couldn’t last for long.

I instructed Byron to follow me to the balcony, uncaring of the sun, though at least the overhang and umbrella provided a measure of protection. Lysander and Penny exchanged looks as we left them behind, but they were better off not knowing the details of the curse for as long as they could remain ignorant. But Byron could no longer remain ignorant, not anymore.

I pointed to a horrific sight on a nearby roof, announcing our doom.

“Be on your guard, Byron,” I whispered. “I hope you always remember everything I’ve done to protect you. I only wanted to keep you safe for all these years…to give you a chance…”

And then the curse was upon us. They were upon us.

“Hey,” Byron said. “Bats in the city.”

But they weren’t bats. They weren’t bats at all.

He was the first to show his true form. It was even worse than the last time…I couldn’t bear to look.

And wherever he was, she was never far behind.

Together, they were the Blackwell family curse.

“My little bumblebee,” Lord Bartholomew Blackwell said. “All grown up and fixing to have little bumblebees of her own. Your mama’s jubblies were even bigger than yours are now, back when you were in her belly.”

“Don’t call me that,” I hissed. “And don’t ever say jubblies in polite company.”

“But you already banned all the fun words, Bummy.”

“Don’t call me that, either.”

“Bee?”

“Never.” The thought made me shudder.

“Oh, I never thought I’d see the day,” Lady Corinne Blackwell said. “Our little girl, already fit to burst. She must be having twins, don’t you think? I wasn’t half this big when I was this far along. I don’t think we could take her in the RV right now–not with the weight limit.”

“I’ll never step foot in that flying metal deathtrap,” I snapped.

“Our girl was always slow to adapt to the changing times,” Lord Bartholomew said.

“I wouldn’t say that, hon,” said Lady Corinne. “Here she is all set to raise a baby on her own, without a husband in sight.” She looked at me. “We’d be happy to babysit for you as much as you want, sweetheart. We’re your parents, you know.”

I wish I didn’t know. If the physical resemblance weren’t there… “Why do you keep speaking as though…as though I’m…carrying a child? I would never engage in such–such shameful behavior before marriage. My being pregnant is an absolute impossibility.” I couldn’t look at her, and not only because she was many centuries too old to be wearing shorts that short.

“Sweetie, is that a joke? I could wipe a tear from my eye…our little Blackwell girl finally learning how to tell a joke at almost four hundred…I’d wondered a few times if she wasn’t a Blackwell at all. Well, I reckon she wasn’t until we went and made things legal after she was born…”

I gasped and remembered our audience. “Don’t listen to her,” I told Byron. “Don’t listen to either of them.” For some reason, it was easy to forget him, dressed as he was. “I would never demean myself in such a way. I’d never…I’d never give birth to a bastard.”

Lord Bartholomew sighed. “My little girl’s still got a complex about that, does she? No shame in being born on the wrong side of the blanket. Well, not anymore. Times have changed, bumblebee. And we made things official way back when–you threatened me at fangpoint to see the records yourself when you were about as big as that unicorn over yonder.” He pointed at the stuffed toy that was inexplicably on the balcony–perhaps a present for Penny from Byron. I’d have to teach him how to shop properly for a young woman’s gifts later.

“I’m confused,” Byron said. “Bianca, who are these people?”

“Who’s this handsome ninja?” asked Lady Corinne. “Hon, how long’s it been since we split a ninja?”

“Depends on which way we split him, snugglefangs. Centuries, at least. In the mood for another? I’m game if you are.”

“That is your son,” I snapped.

“That’s our Byron?” Lord Bartholomew asked. “He’s so big now. How’s my favorite little man?”

“I’m sorry,” Byron said. “I don’t remember you at all. I always thought my parents were dead, or maybe on a sailboat…”

“Didn’t you get all our postcards?”

Byron looked to me for support. But how could I possibly support him now? It was too late…I’d tried so hard to divert their attention from him. I’d had all those postcards sent to that faraway shack so he’d never see them, and they’d believe they could visit us both at any time…

I’d specifically chosen to stay in Forgotten Hollow forever because of its strict zoning laws prohibiting recreational vehicles, but I’d made a fatal error. Multiple errors: letting Byron leave, and following him…and not using a more secure password on my phone. How could I have been so careless?

“They must’ve gotten lost in the mail,” I lied.

“Some things never change,” Lord Bartholomew said. “Like the postal service. Carrier pigeons were more reliable, if you ask me.” He grinned at Byron. “No harm done. We’ve got eternity to catch up on everything we missed–got a hug for your papa?”

“I think so,” Byron said. “Since I’m not an orphan.” He would’ve been better off as an orphan.

Their hug sickened me.

“You better have one for your mama too,” Lady Corinne said.

“I do,” Byron said eagerly. “I like hugs. I used to hug Count von Batstein all the time since I didn’t have any parents to hug. Or a girlfriend.”

“Hon, he still has that giant bat we gave him,” she said as she wrapped those shamefully bare arms around poor, corruptible Byron. “Isn’t he just the cutest?”

“Hard to say, but he’s half yours, snugglefangs.”

“Let’s see just how cute he is now. Take off your ninja mask, sweetie.”

Byron listened. To these strangers. He never listened to me right away…and I’d practically raised him myself!

“This is my face,” Byron said. “I hope you like it.”

Lady Corinne squealed. “Oh, hon, would you just look at our son! Isn’t he a handsome devil?”

“The handsomest,” agreed Lord Bartholomew. Byron grinned like an idiot at their shallow praise. “Fill us in on what we’ve missed, my boy.”

Byron proceeded to tell them embarrassing stories about his childhood–stories I would never deign to repeat unless I were blackmailing him. They laughed and patted him on the back as if he were some sort of comedic genius and not a poor, unfortunate victim of the Blackwell family curse. There was nowhere safe to look…even their feet offended me.

I was fortunate I wasn’t pregnant…at least I could return to hiding after the wedding. No child of mine would succumb to the Blackwell family curse.

But as I watched Byron speak to our parents, his face more animated and his smile wider than it had ever been with me, I knew for certain that I’d already lost my brother. It was a different sort of joy from when he was with Penny, but it was joy all the same.

Their laughter sliced through my unbeating heart. They were the ones who belonged with Byron, not me. I was the one who didn’t belong in this family.

And now my little brother would never need me again.

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33 thoughts on “Chapter 67: Bianca

  1. I like the parents! They’re funny! Nice reversal to have the parents who defy all the conventions, while the kid keeps strictly to them. Aw Byron…

    It was cruel of Bianca to divert all the postcards to the shack, but her intentions were good…

    YOU ARE PREGNANT, BIANCA BLACKWELL. Get it together! Everyone knows but you!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so happy you like them! Bianca will have to push that RV off the side of a building herself, I guess. 😉

      And that’s Bianca for you. Being helpful in her dramatic, selfish Bianca way, but at least she tried…? And she’s totally pregnant. Hahaha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On my first reread, and is that Reed and Mina? Wouldn’t expect them to be working anywhere else. Congrats to them then.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Not one meddlesome parent, but two!

    I’m going to be really interested to learn more about Bianca’s history with her parents. While they do seem rather bizarre and irritating (and really, would we have expected anything less? 😛 ) I just wonder what they possibly could have done to her label them a “curse” and hide from them for all these years! I’m definitely super intrigued by these two new characters and eager to find out more!

    Is also really interesting that Bianca has those thoughts at the end about not fitting in with her family and Byron no longer needin her. Admittedly, Byron definitely does seem to take after them more (I am picturing the glorious combo of their dad’s shirt with Byron’s favorite footwear 😛 ). I always enjoy seeing Bianca’s more vulnerable side!

    I have a couple more thoughts that I will save for the thread just for fun 😛

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha, I don’t think anyone has to do much for Bianca to label them a curse or worse~ Bianca is an odd duck. Or maybe a goose in a family of odd ducks.

      Byron definitely takes after his parents far more than Bianca does, LOL. Maybe he’ll even take to wearing socks and flip-flops like his dad…

      You’ll definitely see more of them both in the chapters to come! But not the next one, because that’s how I roll.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Bianca told Graham she was cursed, which interested him, but he never saw any real evidence of it! In one of his recent chapters he mentions the curse in a flashback/daydream, but she actually corrects him and says it’s her family. Same thing, to her. 😉

        Like

    1. Hahaha, Bianca kind of takes normal parent-induced embarrassment and takes it up to eleven, as she does with everything. Hope your parents don’t wear socks with flip-flops and/or cowboy boots and booty shorts in public, at least!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was awesome and totally didn’t disappoint! 😂 The RV said it all….

    I can see why she thinks they are a curse. They were probably the most embarrassing parents a vampire kid could ever ask for. And I can see the Straud’s proper vampire family thinking they were simply scandalous. And being born out of wedlock – that only added to her humiliation- so maybe she sent them off on their silly adventures and moved to Forgotten Hollow where they couldn’t get to her and raised Byron hoping to be rid of them. Then she spent the rest of her life trying to be better than them and prove she was a true vampire.

    Poor Bianca. I understand her so much better now…She thinks having a child without being married will curse the child as she was cursed so no way is she admitting she is pregnant. She’s gonna pop out the kid(s) because it’s taking too long for the wedding preps and ontinuenthe curse!

    Maybe her parents will convince her she is pregnant when no one else could. Looking forward to more of Lord and Lady Blackwell….I don’t think she’s lost Byron. He loves her in the most brotherliest of brotherly ways.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Awwwwww, I love all your thoughts on Bianca and her family! ❤ It's even funnier/more tragic (if there's a difference?) that Graham was an accidental nooboo himself, and his mom never married. If Bianca had worked up the courage to tell him her situation and introduce him to her parents, things might have gone very differently. (Though Graham probably would've gotten along well with her parents…)

      Bianca's Denial is a powerful thing, so dragging the pregnancy admission out of her will be difficult! She wants to believe she's absolutely nothing like her parents and won't repeat their mistakes. (Hmm, I guess this is common for adult children, ha!) But she might have more in common with them than she realizes.

      Plenty more of Lord and Lady Blackwell in the future!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Omg! It’s so great to finally meet the Blackwell Family Curse (™ Bianca)

    I love them so hard, they are like two wonderful pieces of the Byron puzzle with their “splitting” and booty shorts and socks with flip flops and hawaiian shirts and RV (omg the RV).
    LOL, poor, poor Bianca, er “bumblebee” (rofl), who is most *definitely not* a bastard and *definitely not* pregnant; ironically, I feel like she is actually weird enough to fit in with that family, the weird just manifested itself in a different way with her, and it’s a shame she she feels so excluded!

    I loved seeing Reed and Mina again! Sometimes I wonder what they’re up to (shh, I have a life ok? I promise #LIES)

    Byron was an absolute RIOT in this: “This is my face,” Byron said. “I hope you like it.”
    And so eager/delighted to find that he did indeed have hugs for his parents!

    I loved that subtle line about how Bianca had sort of forgotten he was standing there (because ninja costume of course), but I really, really just want to give her a big hug and tell it it’ll all be okay, maybe pet her hairs a bit? ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ❤ ❤ ❤ I know people were debating its existence after the first 500 times Bianca mentioned it…the truth finally comes out?

      LOL, there's definitely a lot of Lord and Lady Blackwell in Byron. And maybe more in Bianca than she'd like to admit. Her own special spin on weird. I know I went through a lot of my life swearing up and down I was nothing like my parents…and now I can see plenty–both good and bad.

      You are Reed and Mina's number one fan, I'm pretty sure! ROFL. They still pop up sometimes when I need 'em, like the Birdsong brothers…

      Of course Byron has hugs for his parents. He has hugs for everyone. ❤

      LOL, you caught my silly ninja joke. I'm as bad as Byron. Worse, even. 😦 I'll pass on your hugs and hairs pets!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg, yes! With the being like our parents; deny deny deny! Not that I’m socially awkward and tell inappropriate jokes, NOPE.

        Reed and Mina were my first ship of the series, I can never forget my love for them!! Also, Reed is like Saul-lite (so long as he doesn’t speak) so, YEAH.

        I want a Byron hug 😭

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh! *grins*

    Bianca’s denial about everything from being a “modern city woman” to a “definitely not pregnant woman” is absolutely delicious. I can’t even find it in me to be frustrated with her. It just makes me laugh- and feel a little pity- but mostly just laugh.

    THE CURSE IS UPON US… a curse that seems mostly harmless. Lol isn’t it just like Bianca to make a big deal about “little things” and then make no deal at all about, I don’t know, the BABY growing inside of her.

    Ha! So well done. I am not disappointed. The curse does, in fact, live. 🙂 Let’s see how detrimental it can be.

    P.S. Their parents… ehem,forgive me. I mean the curse is absolutely hilarious! I love them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s 100% Bianca, rofl. She has interesting priorities that make sense only to Bianca. Laughter is definitely preferable to frustration, so I’m glad her nonsense makes you laugh instead of pull your hair out.

      See, I told you to have faith in me…! I can only string you along for so long, right? LOL! The Curse was lurking among us all this time… (In fact I have a bunch of screenshots of them photo-bombing various scenes that I couldn’t use in the story. They’re almost as bad as Thaddeus for that!)

      I was worried about the Curse being a disappointment, so I’m happy to hear that wasn’t the case for you. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. SOCKS AND FLIPFLOPS

    No wonder she said her parents were a curse 😂 And wow, I called it when I said they might be relatives–Wasn’t expecting them to be weird PARENTS though, what a wonderful surprise they’re all fine. …Though Bianca obviously doesn’t find that wonderful at all 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, no, Bianca would probably be happier if they were convenient piles of ash tucked away in some cobweb-covered urns somewhere…

      Some people expected relatives–or even a parent–but I don’t think anyone expected *both* parents! Too much for Bianca to bear…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh. That was actually a hard chapter to like. I’m amazed at how much like Byron they are…and how much like Bianca, and not in the physical appearances category but in the world-bending powers of believe in the impossible. But my heart goes out to Bianca. Don’t worry, like Isla, you’lll find you’re still needed after all.

    Liked by 1 person

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