Vampire's Wedding (Vampire's Valentine Book Two), p.1
Vampire’s Valentine Book Two
VAMPIRE’S LABYRINTH IS NOW AVAILABLE!
Today was the day. Which day? The greatest day. The highlight of their lives.
They’d fill albums by the hundreds. Frames with poster size depictions would be placed all around their home. Friends of today would spill out to the friends of tomorrow, and social media would be set ablaze with images capturing this position in time.
Michael had dreamed about it. He’d emptied his savings, and spent countless hours organizing what would be surely their greatest memory in time. He could already see himself, sitting down in the family living room, with son Michael Jnr. on one leg, and daughter Tiffany on the other, looking back with him over everything that had happened today.
“Look how happy she is,” Michael would say. “You can see she really loves me.”
Their mother would make some sarcastic joke from the other room, always wanting to show strength rather than compliance in front of the children. But of course, that was all it was. A joke. When they were alone together, there would be no doubting Prudence’s ever-dying love for him. No doubt, whatsoever.
Michael opened his eyes and stirred on the pillow. He had a headache. He was hung over.
He sat up on the side of the bed and retrieved a nearby water bottle, taking a swig. It was ten forty-five am. He was late.
Five minutes later he was dressed and standing in the living room where Brett’s friend Jace was on the floor with two hotties from the club. Apparently a threesome had taken place here. Michael glanced at himself in the reflective glass hanging on the adjacent wall, and realized he was glad not to be living here anymore. Brett’s dry smoker’s cough from down the hall made him shudder.
He pushed the front door open and stepped out to the veranda, fresh sunlight engulfing his presence. There were a few unanswered calls and texts on his phone, but he was very deliberate with who he called first.
The person being his most trusted confident, his best friend and stepsister, Millie.
“Don’t tell me,” she said shortly after she answered. “You just got out of bed.”
“We got back pretty late last night,” Michael said. “But … it’ll be fine. The boys will cover me.”
“That’s if they weren’t out drinking as well.”
“Well, someone will have shown up. It’s … the ceremony isn’t till three. We still have ages… Where are you?”
“I’m at your house, silly.”
“How’s Pru? She okay? Doesn’t seem … like she’s getting cold feet or anything?”
“Not that I can tell. She’s … perhaps more quiet than usual.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“What? I just told you the truth.”
“You need to keep an eye on her,” Michael said. “She sometimes … gets weird about things.”
“Since she got pregnant you mean?”
“Hey – don’t be saying that. It’s a secret between me and Pru. She doesn’t know you know. Nor does … look just don’t say anything about it, alright?”
“And – just to clarify. She’s … she’s always been a bit strange. It’s in her nature.”
“You don’t have to tell me that, bro.”
“Alright. Anyway. I thought I’d just check in with you and everything. I’m going to drive over to the venue now. Make sure everything is going okay. Just promise me you’ll call if something happens with Pru.”
“Nothing’s going to happen. She’s surrounded by everyone here. She won’t … back out.”
“God,” Michael gushed. “It’s a horrible thought.” He swallowed. “But I feel so much better knowing you’re there.”
“Don’t worry, Michael,” Millie said. “I won’t let Prudence out of my sight.”
The morning dragged along. Heat touched the grass. The skyline jittered.
With echoes of her promise to Michael still fresh in her mind, Millie pushed open the car door and stepped out to face the exact coordinates of where she’d tailed Prudence and Christine to. The pair were standing together outside of a garden maze, talking amongst themselves. They obviously weren’t aware they’d been followed.
Millie waited a minute, and then saw them enter the maze.
“What the fuck…” she muttered. She snapped a photo of the maze and sent it to Michael, wondering if he would be able to make sense of it.
He called back immediately.
“What’s this photo you sent me?”
“I just followed Prudence and her friend Christine here.”
“Yeah, I heard you…” he said quietly. “Where are they now?”
“They walked into the maze together.”
“Michael, I can hear you breathing.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just a shock. I thought we were passed this.”
“Prudence had a breakdown a couple of years ago. You probably don’t remember. I tried to keep it as quiet as possible. Even from you.”
“I took her to this place where, well the place you’re at now. She’d had something happen to her there back in high school. I thought it would be fun to go back and have her figure stuff out. But then she started imagining shit that wasn’t there. I caught her … talking to a ghost.”
“Yeah, she’s not all there. But we got her help and the doctor prescribed her counseling and meds. I waited until I was sure she was passed this before I proposed. The final test was to see her reaction when I told her I wanted the wedding on Valentine’s Day. She didn’t have a reaction. Anything above the norm anyway. I thought she’d finally moved on…”
“What does this mean?” Millie demanded. “Are you going to postpone the wedding?”
“I don’t know,” Michael said. “I mean, maybe … maybe she’s just saying goodbye to it. I don’t want to do anything crazy. Maybe … we just sit tight.”
“I don’t think so,” Millie said. “Sounds like I gotta get her out of there.”
“No, Millie, she can’t know I sent you after –”
Millie hang up and tossed her phone in the car.
“Sorry brother,” she said out loud. “Sometimes you can’t hide from the truth. You have to face it head on.”
“Pru! Pru, where are you? Pru! Can you hear me, Pru?”
Millie ran through the maze as fast as she could, trying to navigate in the direction of the cries for help. Eventually she found the path where Christine was shaking part of the maze’s hedge.
“What’s going on?” Millie demanded.
Christine turned, seemingly bewildered, and another person emerged from behind Millie.
“That’s what I would like to know,” the middle aged woman said folding her arms.
“It’s my friend, Pru,” Christine said earnestly. “She was standing here when all of a sudden she was pulled through the hedge.”
“There’s a stone wall behind that, as we just discussed earlier,” the woman said. “I don’t know what game you’re playing –”
“It’s not a game!” Christine protested. “This actually happened! Look at my face. I’m not bullshitting you.”
The woman’s expression faltered.
She turned to Millie. “Did you see what happened?”
“One of you come and help me,” Christine said. “You have to help me get over this wall.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” the woman asserted. “I’ll have someone else come and do it. If your friend is hiding somewhere, I suggest you both make yourself scarce before I come back.”
She stormed off in a hurry.
Millie glanced in her direction a moment, then decided to approach Christine.
“Are you going to help me?” Christine asked.
Millie paused. It seemed she hadn’t been recognized.
“What do you want me to do?” Millie asked.
“Get on one knee and I’ll step on your hands. Help me to see what’s on the other side.”
“Alright,” Millie sighed. “Can you at least take your shoes off?”
Christine complied. Millie then helped her up to the top of the wall.
“Pru?” she called out. “Where the fuck are you? Answer me!”
“Do you see anything?” Millie asked. “Well?”
A moment passed.
“Put me back down,” Christine said.
Millie helped Christine down. She put her shoes back on and then walked past her.
“Where are you going?” Millie demanded.
“I – I have to call the police –”
“Just … just hang on a second.”
Millie caught up and stopped her. “I know who you are. My step brother is Michael.”
“Michael?” Christine stammered. “Michael who Prudence is –”
“I followed you here. He was worried about her. It seems … for good reason.”
“This wasn’t my idea,” Christine said defensively. “I tried to convince her to not –”
“I don’t care about that,” Millie replied. “I mean, I … you seem genuine. But what do you really think happened? Where is she if she’s not on the other side of the wall?”
“This whole thing is freaky,” Christine muttered. “Maybe she found some other hidden part of the maze or … the wall turns like a secret passage or…”
“Michael said Pru had a breakdown here a couple of years ago,” Millie said. “Do you know anything about that?”
Christine shrugged. “She said she saw a guy here. She was looking for him.”
“What guy? Who?”
“She said … she met him here like when we were seventeen or eighteen or something. That’s when we were first here. Then apparently Michael made her come out here years after that. And she saw him again.”
“Michael says she was talking to no one. A ghost.”
“Prudence thinks he’s real. She thinks she didn’t have a breakdown. She said she wanted to know the truth, once and for all.”
Millie looked down at the ground.
“For me, I don’t know what’s the truth, but I think maybe the guy was real, and it was Michael who didn’t want to believe it,” Christine said. “Mind you … he’s probably a serial killer or something. That he would remember Pru years later after seeing her. That woman said a guy who might be him was hanging around here for years. And they heard singing over the wall this morning. But when they went over there was no one there. Maybe … he’s got her. Maybe there’s some false bottom on the ground, and he’s pulled her down with him, where he’s –”
“Fucking hell,” Millie gasped. “Call the cops. Call them right now!”
“I have to go back to the car to –”
“Fuck it, I’ll call them,” Millie said pulling out her phone.
“Call who?” a voice piped up behind them.
They turned around.
It was Prudence.
When Prudence saw the look on the girls’s faces she thought something horrible must have happened. They stared at her gawking a moment, neither able to answer her question.
“Does someone want to tell me what’s going on?” she tried again.
“You disappeared!” Christine exclaimed.
“Into the wall!”
Pru looked back at the dead end. “Oh. I see now.”
Christine stepped in front of her. “Where did you go?”
“I’ll tell you…” Pru began. Then she looked over at what appeared to be Michael’s step sister Millie. “What’s she doing here?”
Christine followed her gaze.
“I was stalking you,” Millie shrugged.
“Why?” Pru challenged. “Did – did Michael ask you to spy on me?”
“God, he was just worried about you,” Millie replied. “And with good reason, it seems.”
“He should know when to –”
“Shut the fuck up, Prudence,” Millie countered. “I can’t believe you. You disgust me. Putting him through all this bullshit. On your bleeding wedding day of all days. What the fuck are you thinking?”
“Look, I know he’s an idiot. I know he’s set in his ways and he’s not perfect. But you agreed to marry him and since then you’ve just walked all over him.”
“You don’t know the first thing about –”
“I know everything,” Millie declared. “I know more about you and Michael than even he does. Because he’s too in love to see how fucked up you guys are.”
“Can you tone it down, Michael’s step sister?” Christine asked. “That’s not helping.”
“Alright,” Millie grinned. “I’ve got one thing to ask you, and then you can think long and hard about whether you should bother turning up today.”
“Say it,” Prudence spat.
“Who do you love more – Michael, my brother, your fiancé? Or your secret, imaginative – but not so imaginative – mystery man who hides away in mazes on Valentine’s Day?”
Pru opened her mouth. But no answer came.
“That’s what I thought,” Millie said nodding. “Good luck to both of you.”
She stormed off.
“Don’t listen to her,” Christine said with daggers in her eyes. “Let’s just get out of here for now and figure out what we’ll do.”
“What’s the hurry?” Pru asked.
“That woman who runs the maze challenge thing –”
“Over here!” someone called out over the hedge. “Where the old ‘centre’ used to be. Yes, come on…”
Christine grabbed Pru’s hand. “Let’s just get out of here.”
Back at the car where Prudence felt Christine would do the explaining, it was Christine who demanded an explanation from her. “Can we just get out of here?” Pru said anxiously. “I feel like we’re still being spied on.”
“I don’t know where to begin,” Christine said. “I mean, I support you and I’m on your side no matter what. But Pru. You have to start talking.”
“What happened back there! Jesus.”
Pru tossed her hair out of her eyes. “Nothing. I just … found another way around the maze. Sorry you missed me.”
Christine nodded with a thin smile. “I haven’t mentioned it yet, because I thought I’d give you a chance to…”
“What the hell are you wearing?”
Christine grabbed a chunk of the red fabric. “Funny, I thought this was a little whiter before –”
“Oh,” Pru gushed. “Oh shit.”
Christine folded her arms. “Out with it.”
“Well, I was….”
“I was transported to this whole other place.”
“You’re saying you left the maze.”
Pru nodded. “There was sand. The ocean. I could see a forest as well, with mountains behind it.”
Christine did up her seatbelt and started the car. “I thought we were friends, you know.”
Pru grabbed her wrist. “Hey. Listen to me. Hear me out.”<
“It was him. All he’s doing. He’s got … magic of some kind. Said he was a vampire as well. I think … the place I was in … was like some kind of spirit world. I forget what he called it. He … talked at lot. Wants me to be with him. But he also said I was free to choose. And that I can come back any time I want.”
“To the spirit world?”
“And how do you do that?”
“He said … he would leave something for me.”
“Like an object or something. And that I would know what it was when I found it. The object is supposed to help me get back to the place. But only if and once I’ve decided.”
“What are you thinking?” Pru asked.
“I’m thinking where you could have gotten that dress … and just how utterly insane you must be if you’re not telling the truth.”
“I am telling the truth.”
“It’s … it’s … I …”
Pru forced her to look at her. “I’m not crazy. This is real, Christine. This is real.”
Christine leaned back. “I don’t know.”
“Please, believe me.”
There was a long pause.
“If I believe you, what does it mean?” Christine asked. “What are you going to do about this guy? Are you still going to marry Michael? Do you … have feelings for this … vampire?”
Pru nodded. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t marry Michael. Because I still love him. And … shit…”
Pru broke down, her eyes filled with tears.
“And what?” Christine whispered.
“And I’m pregnant.”
She was a lightning rod for emotion. Adrenalin tickled her eyelashes. It swam around her lips.
Millie climbed the steps of the wedding venue and stepped through the open doorway.
A short haired woman with a clipboard was moving in the opposite direction.
“Hi there,” she said. “Can I help you?”