Everyone in attendance agreed that my wedding was unforgettable. As it should be, of course. I was pleasantly surprised that my mother and I agreed on so many things during the wedding planning process.
The ceremony itself was truly lovely…
And of course I made a beautiful bride, despite my inexplicable weight gain.
Well. Not so inexplicable, once I gently and beautifully gave birth at the conclusion of our exchange of vows. It was a beautiful wedding all around, though I did worry my newborn sons would draw some of the attention away from me–but they would have to compete with my mother’s short skirt.
Who would’ve thought I could be pregnant–or that I would be able to hide it for so long? I suppose I carried the weight well. Lysander said I had never looked more beautiful.
Becoming a wife and a mother on the very same day…well, better than to become a mother the day before. But as a wife and mother, I simply couldn’t return to that horrid apartment in which Byron and Penny spent far too much time touching each other inappropriately and without shame. It was kind of them to care for the twins in our absence, but Lysander and I would have to take our sons elsewhere at the conclusion of our honeymoon.
As wife, it was my duty to make all important household decisions, and I decided that we would return to the Blackwell estate.
Thaddeus would come along later with the twins, after we had prepared a room for them. (I rather liked shopping for the furniture, even if it wasn’t for me.) But rather than making me feel that everything was as it should be, I felt…strange. Even when Lysander joined me at the front gate.
“I almost never thought we’d return here,” I said. “Especially not as vampiress and husband.”
“We’ve had ourselves quite the journey, haven’t we, Mrs. Lyons?” Lysander said. He’d finally stopped fretting now that Thaddeus had informed us he was on the way.
“It should feel more like home, shouldn’t it?” The house was so very familiar, but I had changed.
He held the door open for me. “Perhaps you need only get reacquainted,” he said. “We’ve been gone for some time.”
The last time we had been here, we had been mistress and butler. I followed him into the kitchen, as I had done so many times over the years. But this time, instead of demanding blood, I sought only my husband’s conversation.
Afterward, I took his advice, returning to my old quarters. The room was darker than I remembered. Lonelier. A dungeon chamber suited for a single vampiress, not a married woman with children.
My phone made the sound of bat wings flapping. A text from Byron and Penny? I’d sent them a lovely gift basket; I don’t know how much more they wanted in the way of gratitude.
Not from the children–from Daya. Apparently she had recently tied the knot in Lucky Palms, of all places, and in a dress that most certainly didn’t approach anywhere near her ankles or even her knees.
Perhaps she’d gotten herself in a bit of trouble, the poor thing. At least this way she’d be married before any gossip could start–if only she’d had a mother with nearly infinite funds still living.
I pretended to sleep, as I had so many times before, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting now that I was married.
Still, I enjoyed my husband coming to find and wake me regardless.
Rather than my bedchamber and servants’ quarters, however, we would together occupy a bedroom on the second floor. Our first night together, in a bedroom that was truly ours, in the home we’d lived in together for years…
But as nice as the feeling of sleeping beside my husband was, something still didn’t feel right. (His body, however, felt excellent as always.)
Seeing Lysander hold his cake-free son did feel right.
Thaddeus had offered to stay, but I felt that we needed some time alone with our children. I could always hire a legion of nannies later.
I had truly married well, in so many ways.
“Would you like to hold Leopold?” Lysander asked. “Father brought extra gloves.” He was always smiling now, my husband, no matter how much filth he had to wade through.
“I think I shall.” I stared at this tiny face, so different now that it was free of icing. I’m not sure how he managed it, but Byron somehow dropped both of my sons into cakes shortly after their calm, peaceful, lovely births. “He doesn’t look much like me, does he?”
“No one could ever hope to be as beautiful as you, Mrs. Lyons. With luck and care, our sons will take after their mother in other ways.”
Yes, I had married very, very well.
I could think of far worse things than raising children with Lysander Lyons, even if I would’ve liked to have waited a bit longer. Nothing in my life had ever been ideal, and yet…this was almost as close to perfection as I could imagine.
And I’d learned so many lessons from raising Byron. He was my “first pancake,” as I once overheard Lysander explain to Penny as he made her breakfast. Benedict and Leopold would turn out far better. If only Byron hadn’t seen fit to promise me his ridiculous, filthy giant stuffed bat as a wedding gift, or as he’d said, “for the baby-cake shower.” The Blackwell family curse wouldn’t haunt my children if I could help it. After all, they were Lyonses now.
Lysander found me out on the balcony later that night.
The town was as dark and quiet as always, but his smile was brighter than I’d ever seen it.
“Miss Bianca, is something troubling you?” The way he said that old name sent a shiver of delight through me, though it was quickly replaced by that strange, unwanted feeling I couldn’t describe.
“None of this feels right,” I whispered.
“I could spend the rest of the night making you feel right, Mrs. Lyons.”
“Lysander.” Although such an offer wasn’t unwelcome, I needed to fix this. “We don’t belong here, not in Forgotten Hollow. I think…” I recalled my parents’ wedding gift. Because they had amassed such a sum saving for my wedding over the centuries, there had been quite a number of them. “We need to move. Someplace brighter, more welcoming. And my parents did buy us an island…”
Lysander gave me a look of concern. “But the boys are vampires, aren’t they? As is their mother.”
“According to Vampires Weekly,” I said, “there’s a highly recommended brand of 1000SPF sunscreen. That should be adequate. I…” I searched for the right words, to try to put my finger on exactly what it was I wanted. “I don’t want them to grow up in darkness and isolation, not like Byron did. They may be vampires, but they’re half-human as well.” The very thought of the twins’ childhood here, away from other children and the rest of their family, pained me deeply.
“…Then move we shall, Mrs. Lyons,” Lysander said softly. “A mother knows best.”
Well, she certainly did know best…after that first pancake.