A/N: Back again. This was a bit of a tough chapter for me, for a lot of reasons—but I guess I always say that, lol.
Thanks so much for reading so far, and see you at the end! :J
Chapter 3: The Wedding
I jerked where I lay and sat bolt upright. For a minute I sat in the darkness, panting, until at last I slowly laid back down, drawing the sheets back up.
Just a dream. A sick, stupid dream.
Without Edythe, my bed was warmer than usual, but still I shivered. What a dream to have, today of all days. But, that was my brain for you—it loved nothing more than to throw a bunch of meaningless details together and spit them back out at me in the most disturbing way possible. Sometimes it was downright diabolical.
Too keyed up to have any hope of getting back to sleep, I rolled out of bed and took a quick shower, quickly getting dressed and heading on downstairs. It was still early, but I wanted to be away from my room, and all lingering thoughts of the nightmare, which kept playing in bits and pieces through the back of my mind.
Having no clue what to do with myself, I did a bit of cleaning in the kitchen, scrubbing down all the counters and sink, though they were all already spotless. When it got late enough, I started in making breakfast, and when Charlie came down he found a stack of pancakes and a pan of eggs waiting for him.
"How was last night?" he asked, as he speared a couple of pancakes onto his plate, and slathered them liberally with maple syrup.
I took a pancake too, though I had no idea if I was going to be able to eat it. I shrugged. "Oh, you know. We went to a few night clubs. Lots of women, lots of drinks. I drank until I passed out. Just your usual night of debauchery before I'm tied down for life."
Charlie chuckled a little as he spooned out some eggs. "What did you really do?"
I started in cutting up my pancake. "Went to see a movie in Port Angeles. Then we went bowling for awhile. Nearly killed someone playing DDR. You might have had to come and arrest me, and we would have had to have a jail wedding."
Charlie grinned. "Bet Edythe would have loved that."
In fact, I had a sneaking suspicion Edythe wouldn't mind. She'd probably say it would make the event more memorable. Or, more likely, she'd just post my bond. Or bribe the judge. Edythe rarely met a problem she couldn't solve.
"So what are you going to do this morning until Archie gets here?"
Archie was coming later to pick me up and take me back to the house, so he could help me get my hair gelled and ready. But that wasn't going to take too long, and as the ceremony wasn't going to be until the afternoon, he wouldn't be coming by until later. Archie would be spending at least a little of the morning doing Edythe's makeup and hair.
"Jessamine and Eleanor just don't understand the fine art of facial enhancement," he had told me, shaking his head sadly. "They might know some of the basics, but the concept of layering is beyond them. Shame, really."
"What, you're some kind of stylist now?" I had asked, though really I was wondering how on earth Archie planned to enhance Edythe's face. There had to be a finite limit to beauty, and Edythe had, far as I was concerned, already reached it.
Archie had tapped his nose mysteriously. "There are a lot of things you don't know about me, dude."
I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first time in history where the best man did the bride's makeup.
I hesitated, considering Charlie's question. What was I going to do with myself until Archie got here? Charlie had taken the day off for the wedding, so chances were, he was going to be hanging around the house, nervous as I was. If I stayed here, that sounded like it was going to be an awkward morning. I almost wished I was the one getting made up—at least it would give me something to do. And when it came down to it, I could probably use it more than Edythe.
"Um, I'm going to go upstairs."
He raised an eyebrow. "And do what?"
"Probably have a meltdown," I admitted. I added in a dark undertone, "She offered me Vegas. I should have taken it when I had the chance."
Charlie grinned. "And denied your mother all the fun? I think the last two days have been some of the best of her life."
It was true. My mom had flown in two days ago, and she'd been having an absolute blast helping Edythe and her sisters with the preparations. Earnest, of course, was overseeing the arrangement of the décor and, given that my mom had gone through an interior design craze a few years back, they had quite a bit to talk about.
"When are you supposed to be picking up Allen's dad again?" I asked, nervous.
"Edythe said three o'clock," he answered.
I nodded. "Okay. Right."
Charlie eyed me warily, like he thought I might really be on the verge of some kind of panic attack. It was stupid, all the attention and formality was only going to be for a few hours, and I'd had months to mentally prepare myself for it—except, I knew I hadn't really used the time to prepare, I'd just kind of tried not to think about that part.
"Well," Charlie said at last. "I'll be in the living room if you need anything." He got up and left his plate by the sink, going in to watch some sports. He didn't know what else to do with himself either.
I sat at the table a minute longer, concentrating on breathing deeply. Edythe, I reminded myself. This was for Edythe.
I got up, tossing out the uneaten pancake and washing the few dishes slowly, before I headed on up to my room. I knew I should do something to try to relax, but I found myself going over to my closet, and pulling out the tuxedo Archie had picked out for me. I carefully unzipped the bag and inspected the material for wrinkles I might need to iron out, but of course, it was flawless. I hadn't asked how much the thing had cost, but I suspected the suit was designer. I wouldn't have been surprised if Charlie would have had to mortgage the house to afford one of these.
I put the suit back carefully in my closet, and paced the length of my room, unable to sit still. My thoughts raced.
I wished I had someone I could call to talk to, even just for a few minutes. It might have soothed my agitation. But pretty much everyone I would have wanted to—Archie, my mom, Edythe—were all involved with the wedding. My mom was probably with Phil at the hotel now, bustling around, getting herself made up and trying to remember anything she might have forgotten. I smiled a little at the thought, then shook my head. I hoped Phil was remembering to tell her to take it easy. Or my new little brother or sister was going to come out just as much a worrier as I was.
Of course, I knew who most of all could have calmed me down and had me laughing and relaxed in about three seconds flat. However, I quickly shook my head—that was just me, being completely self-absorbed again.
I wondered idly where Jules might be now. If, wherever she was, she was all right.
I quickly shook my head. I didn't know why I kept obsessing about this—I knew Jules could take care of herself. If Jules was here, she probably would have laughed and told me I was totally acting like a paranoid mom. She probably would have given me lady points for it, too.
Trying to take my mind off—well, just about everything I was worrying about, which was about everything—I went and sat down on the edge of my bed, picking up the top book from the stack of books I always kept by my nightstand on the way. I used to read a lot, but over the past few months, I really hadn't all that much. When almost every spare minute was spent with Edythe, I didn't really have the time, or the inclination.
I opened the book up to a random page, and my eyes went over the lines a few times before I realized the book I'd grabbed was Frankenstein.
I sighed. And, there was a reminder of something else I particularly didn't want to be thinking about right now.
As my dream last night had so blatantly told me, when it came to my change from human to vampire, I was anxious about more than just most likely not being able to see the people I knew again. A part of me wasn't sure I would still be myself. And from our conversation over Frankenstein, I knew a part of Edythe harbored the same fear. I wasn't sure if she was afraid of being Dr. Frankenstein—the creator of a monster—or if she looked at herself as the monster Frankenstein created, wanting the doctor to create another monster as a mate, a companion. Maybe she saw herself as some fusion of the two.
Either way, she seemed to think there was a possibility that, when I woke up, I wouldn't be the same. Maybe I'd hate what I'd become, or regret everything...or run off. As always with Edythe, I couldn't be sure whether this was a legitimate fear, or if it was what Archie dubbed her manic, overcautious paranoia.
I knew exactly what I wanted right now. I wanted to live out the rest of my existence with Edythe, and I wanted to be a part of her family, a good vampire like the rest of them. But would that desire change when I turned? Would I become a monster that only cared about blood? I wanted to believe that I would still be the same person fundamentally, but I couldn't know that for sure. For all I knew, the me of now would completely cease to exist—maybe the wants of my new self would be so different from who I was now, perhaps he wouldn't feel obligated to live out what I wanted.
Images from the dream played through my mind again, my hands covered in blood, a pile of corpses. I shuddered.
I quickly tossed Frankenstein back on the floor, and picked up another book from the stack.
I was still edgy all morning, and I was relieved when I had to go downstairs and make some lunch for Charlie. This time I didn't bother even trying to put out anything for myself.
"You look a bit green," Charlie noted, eying me. "You sure you're going to be all right?"
"Yeah," I said. "Great. Amazing."
The forced enthusiasm in my voice would have been enough to set anyone's teeth on edge, but he only shrugged. "Well, I'm going to go ahead and get dressed after this." Charlie muttered something indistinct under his breath—Archie had gotten him a custom-designer suit for the occasion, like mine. Getting Charlie to submit to getting the measurements had been a bit of an ordeal, but of course, I thought Archie could talk just about anyone into agreeing to anything if he set his mind to it.
Charlie grumbled about the suit even now, that it was way too fancy and completely wasted on him, but everyone who had seen him in it at the rehearsal couldn't help but comment just how good he looked. Of course, I figured that probably only agitated him even more—he was about as happy about his new suit as I was about my new car. The two of us were so similar sometimes it was a little scary.
"Yeah, me too," I said, glancing at the clock. I knew Edythe had made sure I wouldn't have to do anything on purpose for my sake, and that for me to be anywhere near the likely hustle and bustle going on at the Cullen house now was not likely to result in anything good, but still I felt having something to do surely had to be better than this.
I tapped a finger against the table for a minute before I asked, "Hey, do you remember who's supposed to be getting my mom and Phil?"
"I'm sure Edythe has that taken care of."
"Yeah," I said, settling back in my chair from where I'd half moved to get up. "Yeah, I'm sure she does." I paused, then added, "What about Bonnie? Does she have someone to take her?"
"I think she's just coming early with Sarah and Saul Clearwater. It's only half an hour or so that Sarah has to be there ahead of time. Good to see Edythe getting along with some of the girls on the reservation, think Sarah was happy to be included."
"Yeah," I said, nodding. "Sarah and Edythe have really become pretty good friends." I was quiet another minute before I began, "What about—"
Charlie growled a sigh. "I'm going to go get dressed. You're making me nervous, kid. Quit worrying, I'm sure Edythe has it all planned out to the letter."
"Okay," I muttered as he clumped out of the kitchen. I took a deep, steadying breath. Everything was going to be fine. He was right, Edythe would have everything taken care of, and probably more besides. Nothing to be anxious about. I just had to show up and say, I do. Compared to some of the stuff I'd been through—tortured by a crazy vampire and coming face-to-face with another one out for revenge—it wasn't such a big deal.
I kept telling myself that.
"Look in the mirror."
I frowned. "Uh, Archie, I really don't know if that's a good idea."
He sighed dramatically. "Come on, not even for your best man?"
I grumbled a bit in defeat, then turned to glance at the full length mirror Archie had dragged in. Archie had transformed his room into what looked like one of those dressing rooms that movie stars used. Apparently he'd had Edythe in here earlier, and he assured me he'd done a masterwork—which made me a bit scared to see her, honestly. The idea that Archie had somehow made her more beautiful than she normally was was a bit frightening—and potentially dangerous to my health, and that of everyone in the room. Her dimpled smile alone was weapon enough, and I sometimes privately thought it ought to have a safety on it.
I was a little startled by the guy I saw in the mirror. For a second, I didn't recognize him.
I looked...not like I was a match for Edythe, Archie would have had to do an entire face replacement and maybe have me working out at the gym for a few months to even get into the ballpark there, but I didn't quite look like the dweeb I usually did. As long as I didn't move or talk, I sort of imagined that a company president somewhere wouldn't have been totally ashamed to claim me as a son. Strange how expensive, designer clothes and a hairstyle that looked professionally done could make such a difference.
"See," Archie said smugly with a grin. "Aren't you glad you didn't sneak off to Vegas? The look on Edythe's face when she sees you... I'll have to try to get a picture."
"She'll probably laugh," I said, frowning a little at the kind of cool stranger looking back at me from the mirror. "Or she'll think I'm some imposter, and the groom's laying knocked out somewhere in the backroom."
He laughed. "Come on. Jess just arrived with your mom and Phil, and your mom's on her way up to see you. And Charlie's gonna be coming with Reverend Weber a few minutes after that. Get your head in gear. This is happening."
I swallowed. He didn't have to remind me.
It was barely a minute before I heard the light footfalls as someone hurried up the steps, and a moment later there came a knock on the door.
"Beau? Honey, are you there?"
"Yeah, Mom," I called back. "We're here. We're coming out."
We met her out in the hallway, and the moment she saw me, her entire face lit up. She put a hand to my cheek. "Oh, honey, you look so dashing. I can't believe the day is already here—it's just all gone by so fast." She suddenly sniffed and dabbed at her eyes.
"Come on, Mom," I muttered, embarrassed. "Don't cry, you'll smear your makeup."
She sniffed again, then nodded. "I'm so happy for you, sweetheart. I missed you so much when you came to Forks, but I'm so glad you came now. I'm happy you met someone as wonderful as Edythe. I was worried before, when you never dated, I worried that you'd never..." She sniffed again.
I sighed and put an arm lightly around her shoulders. "I was always fine, I just hadn't met the right girl yet." I added, "Try not to get worked up, Mom, you know it's not good for..." I gestured toward her stomach.
She nodded, and her mouth split into another wide smile. "You and Edythe will have to come see us when she's born. I know she's going to absolutely adore her big brother."
I paused, surprised. "I thought you didn't know if it was a boy or a girl yet."
She waved this away. "Well, no, we don't know yet technically. But like I've told Phil, I have a feeling. I know how you always wanted a little sister."
I blinked, taken aback. But, my mom had always been startlingly perceptive—especially at moments when I was least expecting it.
Of course, I wasn't going to be seeing my little sister. Because by the time she was born, I might want to kill her.
I felt a lump form in my throat. "Sure, Mom," I said, and my voice came out raw and hoarse.
My mom saw my face as I blinked rapidly, and she threw her arms around my neck. "Oh, honey," she sighed. "I'm so happy for you. You're going to be so happy, you won't know what to do."
I wrapped my arms around her tightly in return. "I know," I said, and my voice was steadier this time—because I knew she was right.
As she pulled back, there came a cough from the edge of the stairs, and we both turned to see Charlie standing there, wearing that kind of gruff expression he always had when he was feeling awkward or uncomfortable. "Renée," he muttered. "The others said it was about time we got downstairs and settled in..."
Back at the rehearsal, my mom had been in such a haze of excitement she hadn't had time to notice much of anything outside Edythe and me, and so now she took in my dad in the suit Archie had foisted on him for the first time.
"Charlie!" she exclaimed, eyes wide with such obvious shock that it bordered on insulting. "You look so handsome!"
Charlie picked uncomfortably at his sleeve, looking surly. "These people," he muttered. "They live in a different world from us. They don't wear the same clothes."
My mom recovered, and gave me a smile. "They do have good taste, don't they?" she said admiringly.
"Okay," Archie said, cutting in and putting a hand on my shoulder. "It's time for the two of us to get down there." He turned back to my parents. "You two will meet up with Carine and you'll be going in after us."
Charlie nodded, and I could see him trying not to look apprehensive at all the formalities.
We walked to the head of the staircase, and paused there. I heard music begin down below—Pachelbel's Canon. I knew Royal, easily the best musician in the family besides Edythe, was at the piano.
"Ready, man?" Archie murmured, gripping my shoulder.
I sucked in a deep breath, then slowly let it out again. "As ready as I'm ever going to be."
He grinned. "That's the spirit."
We descended to the room below. I'd already seen what Edythe had done with the main room of the Cullen house—but now that the guests were here, it all seemed to come to life in a completely new way.
White blossoms had been draped in garlands along the banister and all throughout the room, gossamer white ribbons streaming beneath them like tiny glittering waterfalls. Rows of satin-draped seats had been set up on either side of a long aisle lined with still more flowers—all focusing to point at a delicate white arch at the front.
Everything was of the finest quality, but nothing felt the least overdone or extravagant. It was, in every way, tastefully simple, elegant.
I went slowly, concentrating on not tripping over my own two feet as Archie and I made our way down the aisle. Royal was sitting at Edythe's piano, looking like a musical virtuoso in his white suit and perfectly styled blond hair—the kind of guy who stole brides at weddings. The many guests watched us as we entered, but besides my cursory glance at the beginning, I didn't turn to look, just concentrated on my feet.
I came to a stop at the altar. Allen's dad was already there, waiting, the book open in front of him from which he would read our vows. Archie came to stand at my elbow, and I slowly turned around. I didn't look at the crowd, but instead focused my gaze on the spot at the top of the stairs, where she would appear. I stood there, tense, stiff as a board.
"Relax," Archie murmured, too low for anyone else to hear.
I saw my mom enter first with Phil. She beamed hugely at me, before she turned to sit in the first row, Phil taking up the seat on her opposite side. Charlie came along after, looking almost as awkward on his feet as I was, but giving me a quick encouraging half smile before taking another seat in the front row. Carine then was not far behind, and she came up to sit in the front row on the opposite side. Her features were more reserved than my mom's, but I could see the shine in her golden eyes, too.
The music slowly shifted then, flowing seamlessly into a new song. The familiar tones of Wagner's traditional march replaced Pachelbel's Canon. My gaze remained locked on that same spot, and I felt the sweat break out on my palms.
Sarah was the first to appear, a basket of white flower petals over one arm. She beamed out at everyone with obvious excitement, as she took a handful of petals and sent them fluttering down around her, a few catching the clothes of the guests sitting closest to the edge.
When Edythe had asked Sarah if she would be opposed to the idea of playing a part in the wedding, she had been enthusiastic at the thought. She'd volunteered for this job, though she'd gotten so tall over the past summer she almost looked too old for it.
Sarah had to be unlike just about anyone I'd ever met. I wouldn't be surprised if she was the first werewolf to ever participate in a vampire wedding.
Behind Sarah came Eleanor and Jessamine, both in bridesmaid dresses of deep cerulean blue. Jessamine looked solemn for the occasion, but Eleanor grinned around at everyone, and gave me a wink I was sure no one failed to miss. They both came to a stop beside the altar, and turned to face the stairs.
I closed my eyes for just a second, and took a deep, steadying breath—before I opened them again, and focused my gaze once again at the top of the staircase. I counted the seconds—before at last she appeared, and I felt my breath catch in my throat.
A gossamer white veil hung in front of Edythe's face, hiding it from my view, and she carried an elaborate bouquet in front of her. The white dress she wore was the same as the room—simple, but elegant, with a hint of the early nineteen hundreds in the design of the lace. Earnest was, of course, at her side, one extended arm linked through hers. His smile was wide, shining with overwhelming warmth and pride.
They walked slowly, Edythe pacing each step with perfect rhythm to the sound of the music. In a moment they were before us, and came to a stop. Jessamine and Eleanor stepped forward to draw back Edythe's veil, then retreated a few steps away.
I stared down into her face, and for a moment, I couldn't breathe.
Edythe had never before looked so heartbreakingly beautiful as she did now—Archie had outdone himself. But it was more than just skill with a makeup brush. I had never before seen her so radiant—her deep, golden eyes so alight with purest joy.
I felt all the vague worries that had been bouncing around my head for months slowly drift away. Suddenly, absolutely everything made sense. I knew what I was going to have to do, to give up—but it was all absolutely worth it.
I realized I was supposed to hold out my hand, and I did. I couldn't look away from her eyes, and I didn't.
Earnest took Edythe's hand and, very gently, placed it in mine. My fingers curled around hers, and the cool touch of her skin against mine was familiar—and wonderful beyond description. My heart swelled in my chest, until I thought it was going to burst.
Reverend Weber read out the vows, all the simple, traditional words that had been spoken at a thousand, thousand weddings. Edythe and I had only requested one change—to substitute the line "til death do us part" for "as long as we both shall live."
The minister turned to Edythe first, asking the question that had been asked so many times. Her eyes the color of honey gazed deep into mine and she never once looked away, as if she were as trapped in the spell of this moment as I was.
"I do," she said softly, but fervently.
When it was my turn, my voice came out low, almost rough with emotion. "I do."
Mr. Weber declared us husband and wife. Very carefully, I took her face in my hands. For a moment I could only gaze down into her golden eyes, incredulous that this was really happening, that this beautiful, talented and, most of all, good, kind, and giving girl had really chosen me.
I pressed my lips to hers, gently at first, then stronger. I felt her arms around my neck, the bouquet somewhere at my shoulder, holding me tightly. When she pulled back, her golden eyes were shining.
The crowd erupted in applause, and I blinked, surprised—I'd forgotten they were there. Edythe's free hand still holding mine, she turned to face our family and friends, and so did I, though my gaze lingered on her a moment longer.
Our families surged forward and soon we were standing in the midst of a thick crowd. My mom was crying as she hugged me, blubbering out her congratulations, and I saw my dad hanging back a little, sniffing and not looking much more composed himself. People were hugging us and congratulating us all around, and I felt both the soft, warm embraces of my human friends, and the cooler ones of my new family.
One hug was different from the others—Sarah Clearwater's arm was scorching as she threw it around my neck, then clapped me on the back. Standing in for her missing sister.
She grinned. "Congrats, Beau," she said in my ear, so I would hear her voice over the insanely loud babble all around.
"Thanks," I murmured back. "Glad you were here." I didn't add what I would have liked to—that, selfish as it might be, I wished her sister could have been here, too.
Sarah pulled away then, to make room for others. However, perhaps she read what I was thinking because, as she went, I thought I saw a flicker of some unspoken emotion in her eyes.
A/N: And, it's finally official. How many books have we been waiting now?
The wedding here was not quite as elaborate as Bella's, mainly because I felt like Edythe being more in control of her own wedding wouldn't be quite as prone to extremes as Alice. (And because I figured Edythe would be more sensitive to not scaring Beau out of his mind than Alice was to Bella.)
Thanks so much for reading! If you have a moment, let me know what you thought, and hope to see you next time!