I was going to seduce Mr. Landon–Orlando.
Ever since that first time I helped him learn about female human anatomy, he seemed afraid of me for some reason.
Maybe he really did think my garden was overgrown…
“I don’t know what to do, Dru,” I said. “Everything was going so well…”
“Me and Sunflower did gross stuff finally,” she said. “And he asked me to marry him, I guess.”
Despite her casual words, I could tell she was excited.
I was happy for my twin, I really was, and yet… I was so jealous. I never would’ve thought Dru would get engaged and do “gross stuff” before me…
“Congratulations,” I said after she elaborated in explicit detail. I hoped I sounded as excited as I should be–Dru deserved all the happiness in the world. “But how’d you get him to do it? The gross stuff…”
A proposal would follow any gross stuff, hopefully.
“I dunno, I guess I was almost-naked around him a lot and he couldn’t take it anymore once he got his wings back.”
I could be almost-naked around Orlando too…
“…I’ll take your hairy mongrel for a walk,” he muttered.
It was really nice of him to help Primrose get some exercise. She seemed a little sad after Batty left–and so did one of her pups, who howled all the time now.
But that didn’t help me with Operation: Chase the Weasel.
Men liked when women cooked for them, didn’t they? I wasn’t the greatest cook, but hopefully Orlando wouldn’t notice…
But he wouldn’t even look at me. “I’ll go–water the plants…”
I knew Orlando was passionate about lawn maintenance, but I wanted him to be more passionate about me.
He’d still sleep over sometimes, but that’s all we did together…sleep. Whenever I tried to grab his weasel, he’d turn around or get up to go to the bathroom…
But one morning, I cornered him.
“Yes?” I could forgive him calling me that, just this once, since I knew it meant he was flustered.
“…Where are your frilly human underthings?”
“I took them off. Do you hate it?”
“Hate your…bare petals?”
“…You won’t even touch me there anymore. And you always run away when I take off too much clothing… Am I ugly, compared to a fae?”
“Of course you are,” he muttered. “You’re a human; a human’s beauty pales beside a fae’s.”
My eyes stung.
“Don’t cry, my little fool,” he said. “I merely…don’t wish to hurt you.”
He coughed. “According to my research, a human female’s first time is a rather messy, painful affair.”
“Oh.” I wanted to laugh–and cry, but for a different reason from before. “You don’t have to worry about that with me, Orlando…”
He freed himself from my leg-prison, turning on me like a wild animal. “And why is that, weasel?”
How could I explain to him that I’d repeatedly used the contents of Grandma Cor’s gift basket–before I burned out all the motors–and wouldn’t feel any pain with him…?
“A female human doesn’t experience any discomfort once she’s married,” I blurted. Two butterflies, one stone…?
“I see,” he said. “Marriage is a foreign concept to the fae, with the rare exception of kings and queens. We have no need for it.”
My heart sank. “Oh…”
He studied my face. “This would…make the mating ritual pleasant for you?”
“It would,” I said quickly. That, at least, was the complete truth.
“Then I shall conduct more research on this ‘marriage’ business.”
“You’re very kind.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “I’m fae.”
But there wasn’t anyone I wanted more.
“I need you to ask Sunflower to send images of my first-choice engagement ring to Orlando in a dream,” I told Dru. “It’s enamel, so it shouldn’t hurt him.”
“Sure,” Dru said. “Then we could have a double wedding or whatever. Since we’re twins, I guess.”
I never thought I’d hear my own sister so excited for a wedding–especially her own. “I’d love that, Dru.”
“Sunflower says we can have a special ceremony in the fae world,” she said. “He can make it safe for us, for just one night. And then we can have a normal wedding with Mom and Dad and the raccoons and everybody else afterwards.”
When Orlando proposed a few days later, I did my best to pretend to be surprised, especially since he seemed so proud of himself… And his proposal wasn’t so much asking that I marry him as it was demanding.
“That is,” he said, “if you wouldn’t prefer to marry a king…”
“You’re the only one for me, Orlando,” I murmured. “I knew ever since I was a little girl.”
“I remember,” he said dryly. “Terrorizing me with your threats of marriage…” He kissed my hand.
I was too smitten to notice him slipping my dream ring on my finger–the wrong finger, but I could forgive him. He was fae, and some human men might have some trouble too…
“I highly doubt Darius could take very good care of you regardless,” he said. “He’s easily distracted and prone to disaster on his own.”
“Then I’m glad I have you instead.”
“As you ought to be.” His lips brushed against my forehead.
And then came the night of the Blackwell sisters’ wedding.
“I look stupid,” Dru said. “The stupidest.”
“Pretty,” I corrected her, adjusting the delicate sash at her waist. “The prettiest.”
Dru repaid me by picking a stray flower petal out of my hair. “I dunno why I had to wear a dress.”
“I picked out one that has good mobility for punching,” I said. “Just in case.”
She probably would’ve argued with me more, if it weren’t for the arrival of our bridegrooms.
Orlando’s hands flew to his mouth when he saw me. “You’re as beautiful as a fae,” he said, his words muffled.
“I’m glad you think so.”
This all felt like a dream…I had to touch him, just to make sure it was real.
“I always thought you were the most beautiful man I’d ever seen,” I said. “I’m so glad I get to marry you like this…” His true form was almost too beautiful to look at directly, but I couldn’t tear my gaze away either.
But we only had one night like this.
Together, the four of us ascended the marble steps…
A strange winged man awaited us at the top. “Does the king of the fae wish to marry his queen–and the duke his duchess?”
“We do,” said the king and duke.
Orlando and I went first.
“There isn’t any turning back now,” he said, slipping a ring of woven clovers over my finger. “Once mine, always mine. Will you accept my love, Lyanna?”
I wanted him to promise me the use of his weasel along with his love, but I settled for just the latter.
And then we kissed…
“Gross,” Dru said. “We’re up next, I guess.”
But Orlando spirited me away before we could watch…
I slung my arms around his neck. “Where are you taking me?”
“A place that suits you,” he said, “and this night.”
My dress got caught on a tree somewhere along the way, so by the time we made it there, I was only wearing a sheer slip…
I yawned and closed my eyes. “I’m sleepy…”
“…Too sleepy for a human wedding night mating ritual?”
I stifled a giggle. “Never.”
He brought me inside the most beautiful bedroom I’d ever seen. Almost everything was my favorite color pink.
“It suits you, does it not?”
But he didn’t let me answer before he stripped himself of his fancy coat–and pushed me down on the bed.
“You’re my wife,” he said between kisses, as though the word felt strange on his tongue. “Mine.”
His lips moved against my neck like the feathery edges of a butterfly’s wing. “Then I suppose I shall do my best to please you.”
After all my failed attempts at seduction…after years of pining for him, thinking my love was unrequited…I never expected him to take over like this.
Why did I suddenly feel so shy? This was the night I’d dreamed of for so long… I’d made scrapbooks as a child and Pinterest boards as an adult dedicated to my wedding, and Grandma Cor’s seventh replacement gift basket had helped me with thoughts of my wedding night…
“I never expected a human to taste of anything but dirt and idiocy,” he said. “You’re quite the pleasant surprise…”
“Are you sure you can love me?” I whispered. “Even though I’m a human? There are so many ways I’ll never be like you–or any other fae…”
He looked at me–and laughed. At my wounded expression, he stroked my cheek. “Ridiculous creature,” he said. “I love you precisely because you aren’t fae. No fae would be so generous and ask for nothing in return–or offer so much love without a drop of cruelty.”
He really did kiss my forehead a lot. I hoped he remembered I was a woman now…
Apparently he did–because our remaining clothing didn’t stay on for long…
“Is this what humans call an ‘erogenous zone’?” Someone had obviously swiped one of the ladies’ magazines from Mom’s bathroom before we’d left Fangs Island.
“Oh,” I said. “It might be…”
His lips grazed the inside of my wrist. “And this?”
He spent a lot of time determining what was and wasn’t an “erogenous zone”–and apparently came to the conclusion that my entire body was…
But he seemed a little bit insulted when his touch made me giggle sometimes. I couldn’t help being so ticklish–or maybe it was nervous laughter.
But my nervousness soon melted away…and Operation: Chase the Weasel was an resounding success.
I liked his weasel very much…
I couldn’t believe he was mine. My husband, Orlando.
I was struck by an urge to paint. It had been so long since I felt real inspiration, but now my mind was filled with lilac skin and iridescent wings. I wished I could capture my husband’s beauty–or at least the beauty of this night.
But I was only human…
But tonight, that was enough.