Chapter 1 - “Through Sickness & In Health”
[ 5 months earlier ]
I paced back and forth, fixing my tuxedo periodically as I looked in the mirror from every angle possible. I know I looked fine, hell, I looked more than fine…I looked great! But damn I was so full of nerves, if I had a functioning heart, I would have gone into cardiac arrest by now.
“Chill out, you’re making me dizzy.” Eric, my older brother teased as he sat back on the couch without a care in the world.
I wish I could have been so lucky.
“I can’t chill out, I’m getting married!” I smoothed out the edges of my hair in the mirror.
“Then take a deep breath.” He suggested.
“Breathing does nothing for me.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Eric nodded, “How does that work then? You’re always sighing.”
I fixed my tie for the fourth time in the past hour, even though it was perfectly straight and flat. “I’m just used to sighing sometimes E. Some of us walk around with our fangs out twenty four seven, I don’t do that.”
“Not gonna lie, if I was a vampire, I’d totally do that.” He laughed before standing up and placing his hands on my shoulders, shaking me gently. “Relax.”
“Looking fresh, feeling fresh, check me out!” Ryan announced, coming into the room designated for the groomsmen to change in. He spun around and winked at his reflection in the mirror, running a hand through his silky hair. “Oh, it’s not my wedding? My bad.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “Your timing is off.”
He dusted his sleeves off. “My timing is always on. What’s good Eric? He’s nervous huh?”
“Been pacing and fixing himself since he got into the damn thing.” Eric explained.
A soft knock at the door made me jolt again, for no reason. “No chicks allowed!” Ryan yelled, knowing full well that any of the other groomsmen would have had no reason to knock.
“Go get the fucking door.” I complained.
But before anyone could walk over, the door opened gently and I was frozen with astonishment. Literal astonishment as my mother stood there, a beauty in turquoise, her hair in voluptuous curls around her beautiful face. It had been so long since I had felt her presence, seen her close to me, that combined with all the nerves of my big day, I was damn near reduced to tears.
Eric and Ryan both quietly left the room, greeting her as they went by, and she closed the door behind her as she looked up at me once more.
I took a step forward but stopped, as I sensed her body tense up with my movement. “I thought…you wouldn’t come…” I revealed softly. It hurt that she was afraid of me. My own mother. To my surprise, she began to walk towards me, gazing upon me like I was a painting in a gallery.
She placed her hand on my cheek hesitantly, before caressing the side of my face, a smile washing over her features. “Bruno, I thought you would be different.”
I took her hand in my own and kissed it. “I’m not, I’m still me. I just work a little differently, that’s all.” I smiled gently. She moved forward and embraced me tightly and I hugged her back, nestling my face into her soft hair. “Mom, you’re gonna make me cry.”
“You can cry, it’s alright love.” She said.
“No, Ma, I don’t cry like normal anymore.” I admitted. She pulled back and looked up at me curiously. “When I cry…it comes out as…blood.” I said, looking down at the floor.
“Oh…” She said, running her hands over the lapels of my tux. “Well your tux is all white, so we wouldn’t want to ruin that.”
She kissed my cheek before sniffling, “I’m very proud of you, Bruno. I love you very much, and I always will.”
“It’s funny Ma, I thought you didn’t anymore.” I said, blinking back my tears as I put my hands into my pockets.
She frowned at my speculations before replying, “You are my son, I will never stop loving you. I admit, I was afraid to see you. I thought you had become a monster. I never watched you on television or in the papers anymore. Then your sisters showed me your magazine cover with Roxanne, and the pictures inside and I saw that you were still my son, my little Bruno.”
“I’m not so little anymore….” I chuckled.
“I know, I know.” She agreed, “Are you going to be giving me more little Brunos someday?”
I shook my head, “I can’t make children.” I said sadly, “But we’re gonna adopt once our careers wind down a little in the future.”
My mother lit up at the thought of grandchildren. “Oh that will be so nice, I look forward to it. You know, while I was cleaning out the basement about a week ago, I found the old box of your little jumpsuits…”
I covered my face in embarrassment. “Mom, have you seen Roxanne yet? I’m sure she didn’t think you were going to come either.”
She laughed lightly. “I know I’m embarrassing you, sweetheart. I suppose I’ll get out of your hair and let you get prepared for your big day.” She hugged me again. “I love you, Bruno.”
“I love you too Mom.”
“Alright, suck it in bitch.” Robyn said brazenly, yanking at my corset style Dolce & Gabbana wedding dress.
“I gotta be able to say my vows Rih!” I gasped as she made quick work of the ribbons and Swavorski crystal buttons down the back.
“I can’t believe you’re my daughter right now.” My mother said in awe as she fingered a few of my curls and stepped back to look at me.
I was all smiles, “Really?”
“I mean, you’ve always been gorgeous but you in a wedding gown…you look stunning.” She took my hand and helped me off of the footrest. I took care in walking over to the mirror while Robyn and my mother helped with the small train of my dress.
I drew in a quick breath once I saw my reflection. My skin was glowing, my hair pinned up and falling in honey blonde curls around my face. The dress was even more brilliant than when I had first gotten it designed, and I felt…cliche enough, like a Princess.
Then I ruined it all because I started crying.
“Aww honey.” Ashley hurried over to me and held me close while my mother hurriedly grabbed Kleenexes to catch my tears before they could ruin my gorgeous makeup. “You gotta save the tears for later!”
“It’s no use Ash, I’ve been crying off and on for the past week…I just can’t believe this is happening.” I took a couple deep breaths to steady myself.
“You deserve it.”
“Alright, it’s time to get ready to head out, come on girls.” My mother ushered Robyn and Ashley away while my older brother, Don, came in to lead me out behind the large drapes that the wedding planner had set up.
“You look beautiful baby sis.” He whispered with a smile and I nudged him.
“Thanks.” I grinned. I heard the crowd murmuring amongst themselves once the music began playing. The whole area was cut off from Ibiza’s tourist crowd, who still tried to peep around the parameters to see what was going on. Security was heavy, for certain.
As soon as the violins and piano cued up to play “You” by Jesse Powell, I watched the shadows of the bridesmaids and groomsmen began the procession.
“I’m gonna have an anxiety attack, holy shit.” I whispered.
Don tightened his grip on me, “Can you at least wait until you get down the aisle? Don’t go runaway bride on us.”
“No, I’m not running away, I’m just so fucking nervous.”
Don shook his head, “You’re dressed like a princess and still cursing like a sailor, so attractive.”
I narrowed my eyes and looked up at him. “Shut the fuck up before I go Bridezilla on your ass.”
Suddenly, the drapes were pulled open slowly and my brother led me out. Funny, how I can perform in front of a crowd of 70,000+ people and feel right at home, but here in front of fifty or so close friends and family, I’m about to pass out.
I saw Bruno standing at the altar, and when he saw me, he teared up and had to take his hankerchief out to wipe his tears.
“Stop it.” I mouthed to him, trying to stop my tears.
He shrugged helplessly and I felt warm droplets fall down my cheeks powerless to the emotional impact of this moment between us. My brother left me at the altar to my soon-to-be-husband.
The officiator began, “Friends and family, we would like to welcome everyone on this joyous evening in the beautiful city of Ibiza. We would like to thank everyone who has travelled from all over to share this moment in the lives of Peter Hernandez and Roxanne Mays.”
I looked around at all the shining faces who had come in attendance. A lot of people turned out, which meant the world to me. Even Jason nodded to me once I saw him seated next to my mother. He looked so nice all dressed up in a suit. Standing over behind Bruno were all of his Hooligans, who were actually behaving for once! Then I stole a glance over my shoulder at the gorgeous women behind me, my sister and two best friends, and Bruno’s sisters. Robyn winked at me and I returned it before refocusing my attention on the beautiful man standing in front of me.
The officiator continued, “We are gathered here together in the presence of friends and family to celebrate one of life’s greatest relationships — the union between man and woman which we call marriage. Marriage is a sacred covenant, which should be entered into reverently, that husband and wife may give to each other companionship, help and comfort in times of prosperity and adversity. Into this promise, these two persons now desire to enter. The marriage of Peter and Roxanne had called us together because this union touches each one of us. A new family is established in our midst and we celebrate this new relationship with the bride and groom.”
“Will the parents of Peter and Roxanne please stand?” The officiator asked. My mother and Bruno’s mother and father both stood, as requested. “This union brings together different family traditions and cultures in the hope that a new family tree will be strong and fruitful. Theirs is a personal choice and a decision for which they are primarily responsible, yet their life will be enriched by the support of the families from which each comes. Therefore I have this question to propose to you: Bernadette and Peter, and Ruth, do you affirm your continuing support and love to Peter and Roxanne as they grow in their marriage and celebrate with them the decision they have made to choose each other?”
They chorused together in different forms of ‘yes’ and Bruno reached forward to wipe my continuous tears.
“Please join your hands together.” He gestured to Bruno and I, and we held each other’s hands accordingly. “Peter, please repeat after me: I, Peter Hernandez,”
“I, Peter Hernandez,”
“Take you, Roxanne Mays,”
“Take you Roxanne Mays,”
He continued to repeat after the officiator, his eyes locked onto mine. “To be my wedded wife. To have and to hold from this day forward. To love, comfort and honor, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorry, to grow with you in love…as long as we both shall be alive in each other’s lives.”
Nice switch up there at the end buddy, because only one of us is alive right now. I giggled to myself.
The officiator continued, “Do you promise to do this now and forever more?”
Bruno spoke confidently, “I do.”
I went through the same promises until I was asked the same question to which I responded, “I do.”
He explained the significance of the rings and Bruno placed mine upon my finger and I did the same for him, as a token of our love, symbolizing our commitment, and all that beautiful jazz. Before I knew it, we were at the end of our ceremony as the officiator announced,
“Now that Peter and Roxanne have given themselves to each other by solemn vows and the giving and receiving of rings, it is now my honor to announce the two as husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”
Bruno wrapped his arms around me, kissing me deeply as the audience applauded us, whistling and cheering. I held tight onto him, kissing him back until we pulled away simultaneously.
“I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Peter Hernandez!”
The crowd threw rose petals into the air and Bruno took my hand as I held my dress with my other hand and we ran back down the aisle behind the drapes. His supernatural strength came in handy as he picked me up and spun me around in his arms, my heavy dress and all! We kissed again and again and I held him close.
“We did it, we’re married now!” I squealed happily as he set me down.
“You’re all mine babygirl, now and forever. You did an amazing job with the place, I never expected it to look like this, it reminds me of home.” He looked around at the eclectic decor with a smile.
“Then I’ve done my job.” I mused, “We have to change for the reception, hurry up.”
“Attention everyone attention,” Ryan stood up and said into the microphone. I sunk down in my seat and covered my face. “It’s now time for me to be a douche to my best friend, so listen up.”
“You’re a douche every day.” I murmured.
“Bro, do you want me to take it easy on you or not right now?” He shot back at me, and the crowd laughed.
Ryan began his toast, “Where do I begin with this guy…this guy right here…Bruno I always knew you would die first before you settle down with anyone and once again, I was right. I was probably the only person who wasn’t surprised when you came out as a vampire, I mean Heaven didn’t want you and Hell was already playing ‘Just The Way You Are’ on rotation, they had to keep you employed on Earth for more torture.”
More laughter ensued.
I joined in, he was pretty funny, I had to admit. “Is this a roast or a speech?” I asked.
“A little bit of both.” He grinned, “Oh, but I told you back when you were trying to make it…just release ‘Bedroom Bandit’! Just do it, it’ll be a hit!”
“God Ryan no….” I covered my face as he began to sing the worst song I had ever written in my life and everybody, of course, dissolved into hysterics.
“I mean seriously, is that Grammy material or what!?”
“I didn’t know why Roxanne was so infatuated with you when you two first started dating. I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this hot chick could be head over heels for Johnny Bravo hyped up on pixie sticks over here.’”
I couldn’t wait until Ryan got married someday so I could roast him at his reception, and he was gonna get it good….
“But I finally realized when she Chris Brown’d the hell out of that Harry Potter kid, that she’s just as crazy as you are and you two belong together!”
I glanced over at Roxanne, who sat next to me and was amused with the whole thing. We were both good sports, for sure. “Nah but seriously, congratulations on your marriage. I love you two, and I wish you guys the best of luck in your careers and your relationship, and your future and yadda yadda yadda, let’s eat!”
We all raised our glasses and the DJ spun the feel good music again while everyone started mingling. I sipped my champagne and tried not to make a face when it went down. I knew I couldn’t eat or drink legitimately, but I didn’t have to remind people of it the entire night.
But damn, I still remember how champagne used to taste and right now it tasted like straight dirt. Later on in the night, we cut the cake together and I also had to fake eat that, which tasted even worse than the champagne; but I was just happy to be spending the rest of the late night with the people I loved and my new wife.
At least, until after the reception, while I got ready to wind down for the last hour or two until sunrise and I felt bad. I felt horrible. My stomach was killing me, and I hadn’t had stomach pains in years.
“Hello? Bruno did you hear me?” Roxy waved her hand in front of my face as I sat on the bed, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I looked over at her. “What’s wrong?” She asked.
“Babe, I think I’m sick.”
“Sick? How? Can you even get sick?” She crawled around on the bed to tend to me. “Your fangs are out, should I call Jase?”
Before I could answer, I made a supernatural dash to the toilet and started throwing up all liquids, all blood. I hacked and coughed, while Roxanne caught up to me and knelt next to me, rubbing my back. It helped to have her there, and the vomit eased up after a few more expulsions.
As she grabbed paper towels, I felt a bout of the worst hunger I had ever experienced. It reminded me of when I was first turned, that insatiable thirst that made everything around me amplified so I could find food more easily. “Roxy, you should go babygirl…” I coughed, pushing her away as I closed my eyes tight and tried to ignore her racing pulse.
“Wh-what?! I’m not leaving you like this!” She said adamantly.
“If…if you don’t go, I might hurt you, please.” I begged, standing up and opening the window. The soft sea breeze that floated in from outside didn’t help anything. To my horror, she grabbed me from behind, pressing her vein filled wrist against my sharp laterals, which pierced her skin on contact and I was overcome with my predatory state of mind as I bit down harder and deeper, consumed with the blood that poured down my throat.
The world became a blur around me, I could hear nothing but her pulse and feel nothing but my relief with each pull. I felt her tugging, a struggle I suppose…but it meant nothing to me, I was physically incapable of stopping at this point. Soon, her pulling ceased and she gently plowed her fingers through my hair.
It wasn’t until her pulse slowed that I could force myself to unhinge myself from her wrist. The room came back into focus and I blinked slowly, drowsily, as I saw her leaning against the skin, the skin of her wrist mangled by my sloppy, rushed bite.
“I—I think y-you took…too…much…” She slid down the side of the skin and I lunged out to catch her so her precious head wouldn’t hit the hard floor.
“Baby…I told you to leave….” I had to pierce the thick vein halfway down my forearm and drain my blood between her lips. And Jason wondered why I so vehemently denied what I am! Here on the night of my wedding, I almost killed the love of my life! “I told you to go…”
She drank from me until I heard her pulse return to normal. Her skin healed over anew. A few more seconds of my draining her earlier, and I would have had to turn her.
“I-I’m good…” She laid in my lap, breathing heavily. “I’m still human right?” She forced a smile.
I nodded, admiring her strength. “A hundred percent Grade A human.”
“Yummy.” She giggled sleepily, weakened by her blood loss. “Oh man, I thought I was gonna die….”
“C’mon, I wouldn’t let that happen to you baby….”
“You would turn me?” She asked in surprise.
“Of course I would.” I pushed her hair out of her face. “I’m selfish enough to force you to suffer through this life with me.” I lightly joked.
She smiled, “That’s a good selfishness. I can get with that…”