Until the Sun Falls from the Sky(3)

By: Kristen Ashley

The others had gone full on dazzle. Unbelievable amounts of jewels at their necks, wrists, ears, elaborate up-dos with sparkling gems affixed in their hair. Eye catching dresses from wide-skirted, Southern-Belle-on-a-rampage to daringly displayed skin (mostly cleavage and lots of it) to sequined affairs that probably weighed half a ton.

Every single dress, every single jewel, every twisted curl pinned high up on someone’s head screamed pick me!

My dress was satin, snug-fitting at the bodice, waist and hips. It had a long skirt that was cut on the bias and hung beautifully when I was still and swirled softly around my legs with any movement. The dress bared my shoulders, had an empire waist, subtle cleavage where the material covered my breasts under which it was stitched in gathers to the waistline. The same at the back under my shoulder blades, exposing skin at my back, around my shoulders, at my cleavage but nothing too bold.

I wore only the Buchanan family’s ancient, hand-me-down earrings that had an oval ruby surrounded by diamonds set at the base, a larger teardrop ruby dropped from it. I also wore a much larger oval ruby surrounded by diamonds on my right ring finger.

I’d swept my blonde hair back from my face and fixed it in a twisted chignon at the nape of my neck. I’d done it myself and I didn’t think I did half bad.

I looked like I was headed into a Hollywood awards ceremony (at least this was what I told myself).

The rest of the Uninitiated looked like they were no-date girls at a high school prom desperate to be asked to dance.

“Crap,” I muttered so low even my mother didn’t hear me and she would have at least given me a killing look if she did.

Even so, I saw a few men, their eyes still pinned to me (in fact, everyone’s eyes were still pinned to me) smile at my word.

As my mother propelled me down the steps with her hand again at my elbow I reminded myself that I was now amongst vampires. Their senses were heightened to extremes. They could hear better, see better, their senses of smell, taste and touch were vastly more acute and they moved faster.

Or so I’d been told.

And, it was important to note, they didn’t look like Avery. Not one of them did.

They also didn’t look like vampires. At least not what popular culture led us to believe was the look of vampires.

They were not thin and pale and wearing red ribbons around their throats to which a cross was affixed. They also didn’t have mullets and wear rock ‘n’ roll clothes.

They were all varying heights but none of them were less than what you’d describe as tall. They had varying body sizes but none of them were slight or slender, nor were they heavy or obese, they were all muscular and powerful. They had all different eye and hair colors.

The vampire women were the same except the muscular part, but not the powerful part, even if this was a perceived power rather than the physical the men displayed.

Their skin was normal toned, denoting warmth, humanity.

And, lastly, they were all beautiful.

As we hit the bottom step, I controlled my urge to mutter a different, stronger, profanity.

The conversation started buzzing again which was a relief because it meant I’d stopped being the center of attention. This relief was short-lived.

“Lydia.” A man, dark blond, green-eyed, tall, gorgeous, was all of a sudden close.

Wow. My first close encounter with a vampire.

“Cosmo,” my mother whispered, her head tipped back, that strange, slightly sad but very familiar look she usually had in her eyes had melted away. Instead, her eyes were alight and there was a sweet but sultry smile I’d never seen her wear on her lips.

He bent low and kissed the hinge of her jaw. Something about this gesture was so intimate, I turned my eyes away.

Cosmo. I knew that name. My mother had told me the name only days before.

My mother’s vampire.

Oh my God.

“Cosmo, I want you to meet Leah.” I heard my mother say and I turned back.

My mother was in her sixties. She didn’t look it, nowhere near it. But she still looked older than Cosmo who appeared to be no more than thirty-five. She’d been in her twenties when she’d serviced him.

He moved to me and bent in. I froze as his lips touched the hair at my temple then his head dipped further and, mouth at my ear, he murmured, “Leah.”

A trill raced up my spine.

It wasn’t exactly fear; it wasn’t exactly not fear.

Nor was it unpleasant. Not in the slightest.

How weird.

Please, my mind begged, don’t let my mother’s vampire choose me. Please, please, please. That would be both weird and gross. Too gross. Ick!

His head moved away but his body didn’t.

I found my voice and did my utmost to turn it cold and added, for good measure, an icy look on my face when I returned, “Cosmo.”

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