Kendra normally loved weddings. Everything was so pretty and happy, and sometimes there would be fairies in the flower arrangements crying as they watched the ceremony (though that may have just been at Warren and Vanessa’s wedding). Her cousin Bella’s wedding though was just making her feel—what was the word Olivia had used?—oogy. She couldn’t quiet put her finger on why, but it definitely had something to do with how her eighteen-year-old cousin was marrying a venenoblix.
Now, Kendra wasn’t Bracken. She didn’t have a problem with blixes unless they kidnapped or tried to kill her, and then it was a problem with an individual not the entire species. But her cousin, who was a year younger than her and completely human, was getting married to a venenoblix, a venomous blood-drinker that sparkled in the sun (Seth had laughed for hours after they found that out) and whose half-human children tended to kill their mothers with 100% success rates. That knowledge was more than enough to ruin the entire wedding for Kendra, and the ceremony hadn’t even started yet.
She shifted in her seat and took her eyes off the venenoblix groom to look over at her siblings. Seth was sitting next to her, grimacing uncomfortably and trying to undo his tie without Mom noticing from her seat behind him. He’d already managed to mess up his hair, leaving dark strands sticking up every which way and falling into his eyes. He kept looking at something in the forest over the shoulder of the groom’s “father” that Kendra couldn’t see. It probably had something to do with his Shadow Charmer abilities and Kendra hoped he wouldn’t go get into trouble in the middle of the wedding ceremony.
On Seth’s other side, Olivia was surveying the people in the forested area that Bella had chosen as her outdoor wedding venue. Her red hair was twisted out of her face in a complicated updo that she called Babylon circa Samsu-ditāna. She had the telltale confidence of a person who was more than two hundred years old and/or had died more than once (Kendra had met plenty of both) and Kendra was sure that by the end of the night she would have several boys wrapped around her finger. She had already made one boy near the front row turn as red as her dress just by smiling at him. She and Seth had giggled over that while Kendra tried to look disapproving and Bracken rolled his eyes.
“How much longer?” Seth whispered.
Olivia tilted her head, listening to something that Kendra couldn’t hear. “It’s going to be a while. Bracken?”
“I agree,” Bracken said. He put a hand on Kendra’s knee and said imploringly, “I don’t suppose we could leave early if they start late?”
Kendra poked her boyfriend’s chest. “Oh no, mister. You promised me the whole wedding and I’m getting the whole wedding.”
“Except for that one dance you promised me,” Olivia said. “And I may steal you from Kendra permanently since I don’t have a date.”
“Why couldn’t one of your boyfriends come?” Seth asked. “They’re cool.”
“Bracken’s cool,” Olivia said.
Bracken fake pouted. “I’m cool.”
Seth switched languages and spoke in a demon tongue that he’d learned to knowingly make come out of his mouth instead of English. Kendra had learned to do the same with Silvian when she’d spent time in the Fairy Realm.
Olivia replied in a demon language that somehow had roots in Silvian so both Seth and Kendra could understand her. “One: Spike is a vampire who will burst into flames in the sunlight. Even with the round the clock clouds it is best not to risk it. Two: I think Dean might have gotten himself killed again and I would rather you not follow his example. Also we are just friends. And three: It is apocalypse season for everyone. All hands on deck, no time for weddings.”
“Did you breathe once while you were saying that?” Kendra asked.
Olivia grimaced. “Maybe?” she said in English.
Seth pointed out that Jacob’s girlfriend was at the wedding and she was a Slayer. The wolf shapeshifter was sitting with her a few rows in front of them, probably with a dopey lovey-dovey look on his face.
“She got special permission,” Olivia said. “I think Bella will be out soon.”
Sure enough, the tiny, short-haired venenoblix girl who was the groom’s “sister” came bounding out of the nearby house and told everyone to stand up because the bride was on her way. The ceremony went off without a hitch. Seth had managed to hold off on dragging Olivia to investigate whatever it was he saw in the forest until everyone was milling around congratulating the bride and groom and getting ready to head to the reception. They’d come back after a few minutes with Olivia picking black dust out from under her fingernails and Seth grinning like a maniac with hair so messy that a jar of hair gel couldn’t have fixed it. Seth had also lost his tie. Kendra decided to save asking about what they’d fought for after the reception.
After dinner and toasts a dance floor was cleared and classical music put on by one of the groom’s “brothers” who was acting as a DJ. The groom, Edward, took Bella’s hand and they started dancing slowly in the middle of the wooden tiles laid out on the forest floor. After the father/daughter and mother/son dance the floor was open to the guests. Kendra took Bracken’s hand with a smile and dragged him onto the dance floor.
“I should probably go steal Eve away from her admirers,” Bracken said after they’d been dancing for several songs.
Kendra looked for the only bright pop of colour that wasn’t from the grass or leaves and saw Olivia at the bar flirting with a group of three boys. A few feet away, two out of a group of three girls were glaring at her.
“That sounds like a good idea.” They didn’t need those girls starting a fight with Olivia over their boyfriends. That would just be messy.
They headed for the bar, dodging dancers and people in chairs as they went. When they got there, Olivia was giggling at something one of the boys had said and one of the girls glaring at her looked like she wanted to tear Olivia to shreds with her bare hands.
Bracken extended his hand to Olivia. “I believe I promised you a dance.”
Olivia looked at Kendra and raised her eyebrows. It was a gesture that in context meant a combination of “are you sure?” and “but I’m having fun.”
“Go dance,” Kendra said. “You’re making their girlfriends insecure.”
“Fine,” Olivia said. She smiled at Bracken. “Let’s see how many old fuddy-duddies we can scandalize.”
Bracken chuckled and shook his head.
As Olivia and Bracken walked away, the boys Olivia had been flirting with finally seemed to realize that their girlfriends were standing an arm’s length away and hurried to shower them with excuses and apologies. Kendra sighed and asked the bartender for the glass of water. Human boys were...enigmas. She was glad that they weren’t trying to flirt with her even though she and Olivia had the same face, but she didn’t know why they would risk flirting with Olivia with their girlfriends right there to begin with. Olivia would probably say something about humans not standing a chance against her years of experience, but that didn’t excuse stupidity.
Kendra sipped her water and sighed again. Doing damage control for Olivia was not how she wanted to spend the rest of the night. She just had to hope that her sister chose her next targets a little more carefully. And that she didn’t actually end up seducing anyone. And that they didn’t go back to the hotel if she did seduce someone. Dad would be apoplectic if he caught Olivia in bed with anyone. He seemed to think that Kendra, Olivia and Seth were still kids. Mom harboured no such illusions. She would just be annoyed that Olivia hadn’t taken it somewhere else.
The air behind Kendra grew cold. She turned around not too quickly and saw the one venenoblix man who wasn’t part of the Cullen family walking towards the bar at human speed. Kendra hesitated, quickly going over her options. Unlike Seth and Olivia, her powers were subtle. She wouldn’t be able to set the venenoblix on fire or behead him with a sword made of shadows. There also wasn’t any offensive magic that she could do quickly. Fairy magic wasn’t like the dark magic Olivia used or the witchcraft of some of their allies. Kendra used the few seconds she had before the venenoblix got to the bar to whisper the preparation for the veil Bracken’s sister Midge had taught her into her glass. If she spilled the water left in the glass on herself it would make her totally invisible, scent and all. That would allow her to get away if she needed to escape. She was pretty sure that this venenoblix, a so-called “vegetarian”, wouldn’t cause trouble in the middle of a crowd of humans, but not being prepared could get her killed.
“Scotch, if you please,” the venenoblix said to the bartender. “Just a finger, I have to drive tonight.” That was a bald-faced lie.
The bartender poured barely enough amber liquid to cover the bottom of the glass that he pushed towards the venenoblix. The venenoblix picked up the drink that he wouldn’t be able to drink without vomiting it up in a few hours and turned to Kendra with a smile that didn’t look right on his beautiful face.
“I’m Eleazar,” the venenoblix said.
Kendra tightened her hands around her glass, trying to avoid a handshake. Eleazar was the one who could sense what other people’s powers were. Olivia had set up a bunch of spells before they came to Forks to make all of them (even Bracken) seem like normal humans even to venenoblix powers, but Kendra wasn’t going to risk them failing due to skin to skin contact. “Kendra.”
Eleazar nodded. “I know. I was talking to your sister earlier. She is...exuberant.”
Kendra chuckled. “Yeah, that’s one way to describe Olivia.” She searched the dance floor for silver and red. As she expected, Bracken and Olivia were in the middle of it, though they seemed to be waltzing to the pop song that was playing rather than doing some thousand year old dance that involved full body gyrating, flowing hand and arm movements, and dancing close enough together to make Warren blush (unlike at Warren and Vanessa’s wedding). “I hope what you heard was all good.”
“Nothing but praise,” Eleazar said. “Though that was mostly when talking about your boyfriend.”
“No surprise there.” Olivia got along better with Bracken than Kendra most days, though Kendra was trying to repair the relationship that had broken when they were in diapers and blown up spectacularly just before the demon prison had been opened. Kendra smiled, trying to show that she was making a joke. “I think everyone in my family likes my boyfriend more than me.”
Eleazar’s laugh was just as out of place as his smile. Stone was not supposed to laugh, no matter how beautiful a human form it was carved into. “I suppose that is a good thing?”
Kendra nodded. Then, just in case Eleazar was tempted to ask for whys and hows about her, Olivia and Bracken, she changed the subject. “You’re the groom’s family, right?”
Eleazar replied in the affirmative. “Edward is a good man.”
Sure he was. Jumping immediately to his defense wasn’t a sign of Edward being extremely likely to murder his new bride on their wedding night or anything like that. Or maybe Eleazar was trying to soften the blow of the fake funeral that Kendra had heard was being planned, one that hopefully wasn’t going to end up being a real funeral.
“I’m sure he is,” Kendra said. “But if he hurts Bella I will beat him to death with a shovel.” A magic shovel that had been cursed by any witches she could get a hold of before Olivia decided to cut out the middleman and just set Edward on fire. Or maybe she would just see if there was a magic sword she could borrow.
The song ended. Kendra flashed Eleazar a winning smile and walked towards the dance floor. She was going to steal her boyfriend back from Olivia and not talk to any more venenoblixes for the rest of the night. She could feel Eleazar staring after her, but despite the chill she didn’t turn back. Dead bride walking or not (and didn’t that sound like something Olivia would say?), she was going to enjoy this wedding as much as possible. Olivia was right, it was apocalypse season. This might be the only time they got to relax for the next few months.
“What was that about?” Bracken asked when Kendra reached him and Olivia.
Kendra handed Olivia her glass of water. “Nothing important.”
“The magic says differently,” Olivia murmured. The water in the glass glowed red for a split second as she broke Kendra’s invisibility spell. “Do I need to kill anyone?”
“Nope,” Kendra said.
Olivia sighed. “Good.” She drained the glass just as Kendra was reaching out to take it back. “You guys have fun. I’m going to see what Seth is up to.”
“Try not to destroy anything,” Bracken said.
Olivia grinned. “No promises.”
Kendra and Bracken watched her walk away.
“If anything starts burning, we don’t know what happened,” Bracken said.
“Agreed.” Kendra took his hand. “Let’s dance.”