Read The Blood Bargain Online

Authors: Macaela Reeves

The Blood Bargain (12 page)

“Evelyn, how do you feel about A line silhouettes?” Her eyebrows wiggled as she asked me, her tone making it sound like a raunchy question. Frankly, I had no earthly idea what alphabet had to do with wedding planning.

“That's fine.” I mumbled, focusing on the carrots on my plate. Fine china of course. We were seated in the Grahams dining room, the opulent space that it was. Big hand carved dining table, velvet covered high back chairs, candelabras and enough
moulding
to fell seven trees. Papa

Graham had claimed the old local judges house as his own toward the beginning. It was just down the street from ours, as was most of the other council residences.

“Wonderful! I know the old shop on the square still has some gowns in storage from when it was a boutique. I will go over and see what we can come up with, you have the perfect figure for that classic style. Now for the groom...” I stole a glance across the table at my intended. He was grinning, nodding like a bobble head as she went on. Not fair, his father hadn.t forced him into

dressing up for the occasion. Zack was lounging against the back of his chair in a blood red muscle tee, shabby jeans and steel toed boots. Everyday fare for Zack. Yes he did look amazing in it. He always looked amazing, there was just no substance under that white smile.

I fidgeted in my seat. Crossing my legs left over right then right over left. The pink dress I snatched from
Zoe.s
closet made me feel vulnerable. It was a fifties inspired piece with a boat neckline and a little belt. I felt it was appropriate considering how I was being treated. I suddenly wished I was back in that farmhouse with Dimitri. Funny that I felt less like a commodity around

one that fed from me than with my family

Thinking of Dimitri. I pictured his ice blue eyes and strong jaw. His muscular frame flexing as he loomed over Zack making him cry like a little girl. Fully fanged and hissing while Zack pleaded. Two words came to mind to describe that. Complete and awesome.

My father nudged me under the table, then shot me a glare which translated to sit still and pay attention.

Then I realized that everyone was staring at me.


I’
m sorry? I was daydreaming.” Which was pretty true.

“It

s alright dear, every bride dreams during her wedding planning.” I smiled and looked at my hands, I doubt most brides dreamt about vampires terrorizing their soon to be husbands.
“Back to the point
hun
, we can’
t
r
eally get our hands on much, but I think we could put together a pumpkin spice bread. Unless you have a different dish in mind?” Dimitri in the kitchen flashed

through my mind.

“Apple Pie?” I asked.

“I suppose, yes I think we can pull that off.”

             
My Dad beamed. “An all American classic choice.”

The rest of the luncheon was full of blah
blah
blahing
about the venue, Graham's yard of course, and a bunch of other crap I could care less about. I only hoped this whole nightmare wrapped up quickly. I had more important places to be.

Like
Smittys
.

I still have no earthly idea what that was about last night. Adam was about as covert as a neon yellow sign. Still his attempt at under the rug had to mean something

was up. Something big.

“Evelyn.” My dad barked at me.

“I’
m sorry what?” Oh I had missed another question.

“Do you want traditional vows or are you going to write your own?” His
eyes narrowed as he asked me, I’
m
sure I was going to get a tongue lashing when we get home for being an airhead.

“Traditional is fine.” I couldn

t think of anything
to say about Zack.

“Awesome choice.” My groom to be reached over and squeezed my hand as he spoke.

“Well that's the last thing I needed.” She slipped her little stack
of papers into a folder. “
Liv
I’
ll come see you later in the week honey
ad
we

ll try on dresses!” The pink
fluffball
hugged me as we got up from the table and continued to further patronize my father and Daddy Graham about our wonderful impending union.

After she left, Dad announced I was free to go for the time being, waving me off like a child who had wondered in on his dinner party. Another little knife in my heart. A year ago he would have never treated me this way. A month ago it wouldn

t have crossed his mind.
Now. Now it was like I wasn’
t even family, just an employee.

That almost hurt worse than losing Mom. Having someone you love leave your life by force was one thing, having someone you love choose to leave you consciously was a different pain. With Mom I knew I always held my place in her heart. With my father....

I didn’
t wait a heartbeat to be line out the door once I was dismissed.

“Hey wait a sec.” He called from behind me, I whirled around.

Zack was following me off the porch.

“Yeah?” I tried to exude the annoyance I felt with him.

“You and I haven.t really talked since
ya.know
.” He pointed back and forth between us. What a way with words he had.

“I.ve been busy being a blood whore in case you.ve forgotten.” I raised my wrist to show him the still healing punctures from the night before. He couldn.t look at the marks, instead he focused on his boots.

“Sorry. I didn.t like it...but Dad said Caius gets his way. It will be over soon, then we can move on.” I had no idea what to say to that, so I nodded.

“So
ahh
...I’
ll see you tomorrow then?” He almost sounded unsure of himself. Funny, I thought someone had to be aware of their self to feel unsure of it.

“Tomorrow it is…”
What should I call him, Zack.
Fiance
?
Jerkface
? It all felt so forced. I couldn.t do a honey or a baby.
“…chief.”

Zack reached out and wrapped his arms around my shoulders, hugging me against his chest. He smelled oh so different than Dimitri, like
honeybar
soap. I could feel his warm skin beneath his thin shirt, the quick beat of
h
is heart. His head bowed to kiss the top of my head.

Then it was over, that awkward moment that reminded me so much of the forced affection to distant frail relatives that parents put us through in our youth. Zack could have very easily have been great uncle George.

From the look in his eye as we parted form, that feeling was totally one sided. Had we not been on the porch in broad daylight I got the idea he would have staked his claim in
a far different fashion, and I’
m not talking about him peeing on my leg. His face was all a glow, plastered with
an
extended grin. He waved at me till I was three houses down.

I took a shower as soon as I got home, wanting to rid myself of the dewy scent of my fate. While I was pulling my jeans on back in my room Zoe poked her head in the door.

“Any idea what happened to my closet?”

“Yeah sorry, that was me.” I threw on a clean t-shirt that had a
pac
-man on it. “
I.ll
clean it up.” I looked at the wrinkled pink dress I had thrown on my bed. “Oh
and I’
ll wash that too. Sorry I borrowed it without asking but you weren

t home.”

“You. Wore. A. Pink. Dress?” Zoe looked at me like I had grown a second head.

“Just following orders.”

“Your Dad went all commando on you?”

“Pretty much.”

“Ouch.” Zoe bit her bottom lip, usually an indicator she was thinking
especially hard. “You know, it’
s
not all bad. Being little miss housewife that is. It makes me happy at least.” Well didn

t that just make me feel insensitive.

“Zoe. I don

t look down on you or your achievements. Those boys are a handful. Not to mention labor without drugs? You should be a saint.” The corner of her mouth turned up ever so slightly.

“Then why are you knocking this so much? Any girl here would love to have him, even though he is a moron.” I giggled, usually Zoe never insulted anyone.

“I guess I

m just
not any girl.” I shrugged. “He’
s just not my guy.”

“He

s going to be. Best accept it early. Maybe you can teach him to shoot.”

“And maybe deadheads can do the cha
cha
.”

Zoe
shot me a frown of ‘get serious’
, but then her poor poker face got the better of her and she grinned. She knew as well as I did how hopeless he was.

“Oh
no maybe I’ll get lucky and he’
ll accidentally shoot me! That will solve everything right?”

In response, I got the middle finger on my way out the door.

On a typical day I would have stayed around to tease her further, but I was far too interested in why Adam wanted me at
Smittys
.

I gave myself a small but meaningful curiosity killed the cat lecture while I walked.

I wonder nowadays, if curiosity killed the cat, did it get back up and start slouching and mewing? Far as I

ve seen this little
deathfest
we lived in was limited to human infected. Not that I

d really had that much direct exposure to other bitten mammals.

I waved at Kurt as I turned onto the main square. Now in his sixties, the retired chemist was teaching some teenagers how to make candles. I had taken the exact same class, or at least a quick and early version of it, years ago.

What was it he said? Light the night to fight with might. Cheesy, but catchy. Furthermore it was true, no one really knew how dark the dark really was until the power went out. Some of the
last stragglers to join us spoke of the nights when the moon light was thin and the sounds of the dead were thick.

Sound does funny things to perception of distance depending on the structure you were in. People eaten alive within an
arm’s length
of survivors, with no way to really gauge the threat, moans echoing in corridors of blackness...

I don’
t know how they managed to sleep at night now.

Smittys
skate shop was on the far corner of the square. The building itself having a distinct 1970.s flare, however the windows were a testament to the long forgotten art of skateboarding. Each of the glass panes were covered with t shirts sporting once famous logos: Element, Blind, Birdhouse, Habitat, Zero. Now it was just nonsense and silly squiggles that blocked out all light

inside. Not that anyone needed to see the countless stacks of boxes inside.
Smittys
had long departed from its original purpose and turned into dry goods storage.

Nobody was hanging around outside so I tried the door. Unlocked. Odd for a warehouse. Not that theft was big anymore, but folks still took precautions on our warehouses.

The inside was dimly lit by candlelight toward the back of the shop.


Liv
, Hi.” Adam gave me a strained smile from his seat upon a cardboard box full of towels from the label.
Smitty
s
skate shop turned warehouse was full of almost a

dozen men. All of them were hunkered down on various boxes with that brooding pissed off look on their face.

I recognized the majority of them from city watch, including Cole. The guy sitting next to Adam was staring at me like I was prime rib and he was coming off a hunger strike. He was one of the few faces I didn.t know. From his size though, he was almost as big as
Shive
. Freaky big.

“What is this?” I spoke slowly. I hoped to the nine hells I hadn.t walked into some sort of beat down. I never thought Adam would be capable of tricking me into something like that.

“Cole filled us in a bit on what happened.” I glanced over at him, he was sitting in the corner with his arms crossed, staring at the floor.

“Okay?” Not following.

“We had four more at the marker again today. Two yesterday.” A red haired meathead from Post 6 chimed in. Ben? Bill? I think it was Ben.

“What the hell?” Immediately I started thinking about our little trip north, had we lead them to junction?

Adam shook his head. “That

s not why we are

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