Years after the fact, Finn would say that he proposed to me, but I was almost certain it was the other way around.
I saw no reason for a flower girl in a butler-themed wedding, but our parents insisted (and didn’t bother to secure a tiny butler uniform for her, saying she was “too beautiful” for such a thing).
In the end, I suppose it didn’t matter who proposed to whom.
My love life wasn’t the only thing that was going well–my professional life was similarly fulfilling. Finn was right about the minuscule budget for the early seasons of Winner is Served (a ridiculous name considering that the winner was serving the celebrity for a year, but producers thought it was catchy).
However, I loved working with him.
I had no choice but to ask Leopold to be a judge, considering his butler pedigree and willingness to work for peanuts. I also asked Uncle Byron to be the celebrity in need of a butler–his waning comedy career needed a jump-start. Similarly helpful (and budget-conscious), Finn asked his brother Rhys to be the host.
I’ll admit a small amount of unbrotherly satisfaction in seeing Leopold develop a reputation as the “mean judge” due to his stringent standards, whereas I was viewed as the nicer side of the butler coin. Leopold’s wife Daisy had convinced him that smiling more might change audience perception…
Occasionally, Rhys brought his and Ophelia’s twins (Romeo and Juliet, because of course) to work while my sister was busy writing. I was somewhat surprised that someone like Finn’s brother would marry my sister, but Father always said that there’s a white glove for every hand.
The twins apparently inherited their parents’ theatricality, and unlike myself and Leopold, they were inseparable.
Romeo and Juliet were easily entertained when left with each other. However, not every toddler was so low-maintenance.
Behold, the face of evil:
Finn says I shouldn’t call our little sister evil, despite the fact that Mother and Graham were clearly spoiling Belle rotten. She’d thought our wedding existed solely for her to throw flower petals while everyone watched, and not for two vampires to declare eternal love for each other.
And now she thought Finn belonged to her, refusing to be separated from him under any circumstances…
“Maybe we should put her down for a nap…”
“No naps,” she wailed, as Finn hurried to comfort her. “I’m une princesse. Papa says.”
Ever since Mother and Graham had taken her to Champs Les Sims, she’d started talking like that. Hopefully it was just a phase.
“You’re a princess?” Finn said.
“Finn,” I said, “maybe a little tough love wouldn’t go amiss?”
But Finn was all too easily wrapped around her tiny alabaster finger.
“If you’re a princess,” he said, “does that mean I’m your court jester?” He made a ridiculous face at her.
She stared at him, obviously trying to determine what a court jester might be–and if she wanted one at all. Of course, she wanted everything. “Oui?”
His next reply was incomprehensible thanks to her tiny fingers mauling his beautiful face.
“More,” she demanded. “More!”
“I have a feeling that’ll be a common refrain throughout her life,” I muttered. It was hard to know if this was a good time to bring it up, but between Romeo and Juliet and now Belle… “It’s much too soon to have our own children, isn’t it? With work so busy and all…”
“It’s never too early to talk about it,” Finn said. “Do you want a niece or nephew to play with, Belle?”
“Oui,” she said, because of course she would be denied nothing. Mother said Belle reminded her of me at that age, but I couldn’t see it.
Still, the way Finn doted on her made me feel nostalgic for the way Father had doted on Ophelia, even if I felt a simultaneous pang of jealousy.
Finn smiled at me around Belle’s kicking feet. Luckily, she seemed to be tiring herself out. “We could ask O to be our surrogate,” Finn said. “But I know that might be too awkward…”
Finn and my sister having a baby together, even if their union wasn’t romantic? “No.”
“How about you and Gal–”
“J’aime Gal,” Belle squealed.
“Me too,” Finn said.
This really wasn’t the best time to have a serious conversation about prospective parenthood. “I don’t want our children to be mean,” I said, horrified. That was only part of it–knowing that she was behind Leonidas’s true identity…
“Gal isn’t mean…” He sighed. “I don’t think she’d agree anyhow, not with her acting career finally taking off. And she hated being pregnant with Silas, but she might donate her eggs if we asked…”
Would Daisy and Leopold–no, maybe biological wasn’t the ideal way to go. “Or we could pick a good baby off one of those adoption websites,” I said eagerly. “We can make a list of all the things we want in a baby and filter the search results that way–quiet, humble, intelligent, well-behaved, tidy, good butler potential…and of course I want a son.”
“…I don’t think adoption works that way, Benny.”
“Well, it should,” I huffed. “But…I think I like having you to myself for the foreseeable future anyhow. And we have eternity.”
He smiled back at me. “We do,” he said. “Eternity–and each other.”
Someday, though, I knew we’d both welcome a child into our unbeating hearts…but for now, we were enough.