Fresh out of high school and my life was already over. No I’m not being dramatic (that’s my sister’s trait, not mine) just telling the truth. Ever since my twin sister and I were born with matching vampiric birthmarks my future had been planned out. Promised to the king’s youngest son as soon as I was of age... and guess what. I just reached “of age”.
There were times when I wished my twin sister Janice had been picked instead of me, but I always tried to ignore those thoughts as soon I realized they were there. She was lucky that her birthmark had faded when she was still just a baby. Not that she ever had any trouble with the boys anyway. She was nerdy, she was awkward, but she always got the boys she wanted. It was crazy! And by watching her, I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. A skill I had never myself mastered or even discovered.
My father was just as skilled, but in a different sense. He was the best mixologist in town. So much so that despite owning the ugliest tavern in town we were always busy... when we were open. Which we weren’t today. To my surprise he motioned me over to the bar, pouring me a drink before returning to his chores.
“Liquid courage.” He muttered. “You’ll need it today. Without a doubt Mister Stone will be on his way to see you soon.”
“Actually I’m already here.”
Daddy jumped back in shock, almost falling as the young vampire materialized on the stool next to me, book still in hand. I just fought back a giggle. Tyler Stone, my promised husband, the youngest child (out of around 12 boys and 6 girls) of the head vampire in town. We’d been born only days apart, with him being older then me. Naturally no one had told us of our upcoming marriage until we were teenagers, and he’d taken it far better then I.
He had me in his arms before I realized what was happening.
“You look lovely today, Jessie. You grew up well.”
A light blush colored my cheeks as I smiled. “As did you.” And it was true. I hadn’t seen his since we were both teens, and back then he had been as awkward and dorky as my twin sister. Now... well maybe this marriage business wouldn’t be so bad.
“I’m feeling a bit... peckish, love. Would you mind if I took a sip?”
Thats the line that always brought me back to reality. Even if I fell for Tyler, there was no way he was in love with me. I was just meant to be his first wife of dozens. A tool to feed from and give him children. I couldn’t say no but he still waited for my nod of acceptance before feeding.
I didn’t have to look to feel my father’s disapproving gaze. Not did I have long to wait before hearing his voice. “Mister Stone, I would appreciate it if you held off from... that until you are both married and behind closed doors.
Tyler took a step away from me, smiling at my father in an almost patronizing way. “Of course, Mr. Jacobs. Whatever my future father-in-law wishes.”
I’d known Tyler long enough to see the slight tremble in his arm. He was angry, but he wouldn’t dare attack my father while promised to me. My father knew this, but his words were still foolish. Any of Tyler’s brothers could attack him in his stead. It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived. I’d never have his courage.
But I didn’t need courage to take the heat off my father. Taking Tyler’s hands in mine I drew his attention back to me. “Come on, Ty. Let loose a little. It’s my birthday! Lets go out for dinner or do something romantic. I want to go on at least one real date before we get married.”
He smiled at me, the anger in his eyes completely gone. “I’m afraid we may not have time for dating. Father wants us married soon. He insists I don’t return home with the ring still in my pocket.”
He got down on one knee then and there, my heart almost leaping up into my throat when he pulled out the ring.
“Jessie Jacobs, will you do me the honour of marrying me?”
It took only a few seconds for me to realize the sick feeling in my stomach was from fear, but happiness. A few more seconds to realize the tone in his voice. It wasn’t a command. It was a question. I could say no.
His voice shocked me back to reality. Unable to hide my smile for even a second longer I put my hands on the ring box and slowly shut it. “No Tyler... I can’t. At least not yet. Please understand, it isn’t you. I’m just... too young for this shit.”
“Jessie, I’m not much older. This is the way things are done in this town! If you won’t marry me I can’t guarantee your family will stay safe.”
I wasn’t listening to him. Not really. “Tyler I’m not saying no for good. Just for now. Please understand that I just need to live first.”