As venue owner, I had the privilege of attending the wedding of one Bianca Lyons (née Blackwell). Despite the sheer predictability of the nearly four hundred-year-old bride, the event itself was far more entertaining than I’d expected. And then there was the added reward of glimpsing the bride at her ripest…
In another man’s arms. She would never be Bianca Straud. She would never be mine.
Not while her husband lived, at any rate, but all humans died. I could wait. In the meantime, I’d responded to an internet advertisement to deal with my own wife’s human warlock stalker; the leering nuisance was likely dead already.
The mother of the bride was another treat–she had a number of things in common with her daughter. Two, to be precise.
I can’t imagine why Bee never wanted me to meet her.
I couldn’t imagine being married to a woman who wanted nothing to do with me so soon after the wedding either, but here I was. She no longer invited me to rehearsals on the rare occasions I attempted to engage her in conversation, finally admitting that she’d “decided to go in a different direction.” What sort of damnable excuse was that? Writing, always writing, for weeks at a time. No time for her husband and former lead actor.
I had to settle for watching her from afar, but she always hid her script from me when I got too close.
Her bed was among the places she didn’t hide it when she wasn’t working on it. Though sometimes I liked to sit there and imagine what it would be like to have a wife who invited me to her bed with a smile. Was Bee in bed with her husband now…?
“Wake up,” Isla said as I dozed in a front-row seat. A worthless seat, without a play to be performed.
She took the seat beside mine. “I need you.” The words went through me me like a stake to the heart.
“For my play,” she said impatiently. “You still want a part, don’t you?”
“You aren’t playing another one of your fae games?”
“I’m trying to put on a performance, Straud.”
“And you still need me?”
“Apparently,” she muttered. “Follow me–we’re having an impromptu dress rehearsal, since you like costumes so much.” She rose from her chair.
I followed. “Of course.” The dressing room had few pleasant memories to offer me. “I hope you aren’t planning to squeeze me into another fairy costume.”
“No,” she said as she guided me into my seat. “I have a different idea for you this time.”
She had a different idea for herself as well, as I soon discovered.
“I must admit,” I said, making no attempt to hide my smirk, “you wore it better.”
“That’s enough out of you, Straud,” she muttered, shifting uncomfortably. “Does your costume fit?”
“It does. Quite well, in fact. You must be intimately familiar with all the finer points of my body.”
“Let’s not go that far.” But she couldn’t hide her smile from me, as small and brief as it was.
“I’m much fonder of this ensemble than the very first you made me wear,” I said as I followed her out of the dressing room. “I think it suits me.”
“It does,” she said softly. “And maybe this one suits me better, too.” Her wings didn’t interfere as she took a seat on the plush red chaise that now served as the centerpiece of the stage.
“Far be it from me to question the costume designer,” I said, “but I don’t feel much like a fae king. Or perhaps I should address the set designer, as we no longer appear to be in an enchanted copse.”
“As I told you, I decided to go in a different direction.”
“And yet you still have need of me,” I said. “Tell me of my new role.”
“You’re an evil vampire lord–and I’m the beautiful fae he’s captured.”
“Quite. All he’s given her is a single tree for company.”
My eyes wandered to the right side of the set. “Better than a bowl of dirt, I suppose.”
“Slightly,” she agreed.
I leaned closer. “And how did this evil vampire lord capture such a creature? Has it been such a trial for her, to find herself in the clutches of the undead?”
“He’s very cunning,” she said slowly. “And…” She hesitated. “At first it was unbearable. She could imagine no worse fate.”
“Her situation improved. Marginally,” she said, holding my gaze. “He’s handsome and charming, in his own way. A pest, but even a pest can show signs of improvement. He saved her, once.”
“Was she very grateful?”
“Fae are rarely grateful,” she scoffed. Her contempt faded, replaced by a soft smile. “But…in this instance, I think she was.”
“Did she marry him?”
“…Yes, I think. For reasons unknown to either the evil vampire lord or the beautiful fae.”
“I like the sound of this play, Isla.”
“I thought you might.” Her fingertips danced across the back of my hand like a playful breeze. “The old play…it wasn’t my story to tell. But this…”
“This is your story,” I whispered. “Our story.”
This time, when I kissed my wife, she returned the kiss with equal passion.
I kissed her again, just to be sure. I wasn’t disappointed.
“But she was still fae,” she said softly between ragged breaths. “And he was still a vampire.”
“That sounds difficult,” I said, slipping to the carpet. “He must need to fight hard to win her affection–and respect.”
Her face nearly matched the shade of her ridiculous costume. “A–a never-ending battle, honestly.”
“This vampire lord…I suspect he enjoys a good, lengthy battle.” I planted a kiss at her ankle.
“Good,” she said in satisfaction. “This is a very long play.”
Rehearsal was off to a very good start, if the lead actress’s noises of approval were any indication. Her costume, regrettably, met with an untimely demise.
There were, however, some small hiccups as rehearsal proceeded. The lead actress rejected the lead actor’s suggestion of restraints or certain positions, as the scene called for “visible signs of intimacy,” among other things.
“Damn it, Straud,” she said. “She’s a fae, not a vampire.”
“It was my understanding that fae are remarkably durable.”
“Durable,” she said. “Not indestructible.”
“The evil vampire lord will strive to keep his evilness within an acceptable range,” I said. “I hope the beautiful fae finds this more to her liking.”
“Better,” she said. “But it wouldn’t kill him to–to slow down.”
“You’re right, my lovely wife. The evil vampire lord is immortal. And the slower pace might prevent his wig from falling off.”
The beautiful fae soon had her revenge, her cruelty on full display, though the vampire lord didn’t mind in the least. They were husband and wife, after all, and forgiveness came easily.
“Isla,” I whispered, after the very lengthy rehearsal had at last concluded. “This evil vampire lord and beautiful fae…do they live happily ever after? I’m no expert on fairy tales.”
Her previous play had been utterly incomprehensible to me, but I thought it best not to mention that now.
“No,” she whispered. “They fight every day. Sometimes they hurt each other. Sometimes they hate each other. But they don’t stay apart for long.”
“Because they love each other and are destined to be together?” So had gone the story of the fae king and his human bride.
“Because they’re idiots. And…because they need each other, maybe. For now.”
This play suited me far better than the last. And by the way Isla fell asleep so easily in an evil vampire lord’s arms, I knew it suited her too.