A/N: It's been over HALF A YEAR since I updated pales I'm SO sorry. But lately school's been very time-consuming or else I would have gotten this up sooner.
A big thanks to Lauren for saying such nice things about my site. Please go visit it! There's a link through my profile. And leave a comment!
And also for those who continue to show interest in this story, thanks! I'll try to get the next chapter up quicker.
Chapter 10: Mother-In-Law
Meryl had known that Knives' mother was very much unlike her son, but what a difference!
When she had come down to dinner alone, at the bottom of the staircase had stood Rem.
She'd looked absolutely beautiful in a flowing white dress that clung to her shoulders, chest, and hips. The tiny train on the back looked difficult to maneuver with, but she did it with both poise and elegance.
Beside her stood Vash and another man she didn't know standing just behind him. The twin wore a white shirt with a black vest and pants. His hair, as she was figuring out, was in it's usual gravity-defying style.
The man behind him wore a priest's outfit, except that the collar was missing from around his neck.
Across from them, on the other side of Rem, stood Millie, dressed in a maid's uniform.
The young vampiress had been extremely nervous about meeting her, but the smile on Rem's face soon extinguished any fear she had. Her eyes had been kind and understanding. Meryl had felt as if this woman could understand everything that she'd been through and sympathize with her plight. It was a comforting thought.
The young lady couldn't help but smile back at her as she descended the stairs.
"A good evening to you, Meryl," the beautiful lady greeted her. Millie curtsied in greeting and the two men bowed. She nodded to them all, the same words that had so angered her when Knives had said them not disturbing her in the least. She knew that Rem, unlike Knives, meant them.
"And to you, as well," she answered back brightly.
Rem fondly grasped Meryl's hand and directed her to the unknown man. "I'd like you to meet someone. This is Vash's personal servant and bodyguard, Nicholas D. Wolfwood."
Meryl curtsied, as was proper. Wolfwood inclined his head, his dark eyes assessing her. She felt a shiver crawl up her spine. This was a man she did not want as her enemy. There was something almost...primal about him. Though, the young woman had to admit to herself, he didn't scare her as much as Knives' servant.
Speaking of the devil...
The vampiress turned and saw that as she'd been making Wolfwood's acquaintance, the very man she'd been thinking of-Legato, was it?-had come in from the dining room.
He cooly regarded her with his yellow eyes. "Yes?" she hesitantly inquired.
Legato gave a curt bow. "The master awaits your presence for supper." Just when her evening had been going so well...
"Splendid," Rem spoke from besides her. "Could you tell him that she will be there shortly? I would like to discuss a matter of importance with her first."
The blue-haired man gave another short bow and departed. Meryl had no idea what her mother-in-law was speaking about, but was nonetheless happy to see the creepy man leave.
"If you'll all excuse us."
Rather quickly Meryl found herself being led into the adjoining parlor, Rem's hand on her back insistent. Once they were through the door, the older woman promptly closed it behind them.
Slowly she moved to look at Knives' bride-to-be. In her eyes Meryl saw a great deal of sadness, but caused from what she had no idea. For several moments they stood there, staring at each other. Finally, not able to take the silence, Meryl asked, "You wanted to speak with me...?"
A sad smile, barely a tilt of the lips, appeared on Rem's face. "Yes, I did." She indicated a nearby chaise that stood nearby. The room appeared to be a parlor, with delicate furnishings and tasteful decorations.
Obediently Meryl sat down on the piece of furniture and watched as the older woman did the same. They faced each other, and Rem reached over and took Meryl's hands in hers. The long-haired woman's eyes were kind and full of understanding.
"You did not join my son by choice, did you?"
Averting her eyes, Knives' bride shook her head.
"It's alright," Rem said softly, giving her hands a tender squeeze. "I know how Knives can be. His hatred is only exceeded by his possessiveness."
Meryl looked up curiously. "His...hatred?" She'd only really been around him for the last week or so, but she had seen no indication of such.
"So you don't know..." The matron bit her lip, an obvious sign that she was nervous. Finally she said, "I don't believe it's my place to tell you. It's best that you see and judge for yourself."
Meryl really wanted to question Rem further, but felt that to do so would put her in a tough spot. The older woman already appeared distressed over telling her that little bit of information.
"But that's not why I called you here." Her face lit up and in spite of everything, Meryl felt her spirits rise as well. "I thought that maybe you might have some questions for me? Something you might need to know?"
The suggestive hint in her words caused a stain of red to color her cheeks.
"Nothing to be shy about, my dear. Every woman goes through this once in their lifetime." Rem laughed. "I can't tell you how nervous I was on my wedding night!"
"Well," Meryl began, "I wanted to ask you about something, but not," she waved one hand feebly, "that."
The young woman shifted in her seat. Adopting the no-nonsense attitude that had helped her earlier with Knives, she said, "Yes. I was hoping you could tell me how I am supposed to act. I know very little of vampire customs," she explained, "and even less of how to act like a lady."
"I did say that I would help you, didn't I?" At Meryl's nod she continued. "But I'm afraid that we do not have the time right now." She let go of the other woman's hands and stood. Meryl did the same. "Dinner is no doubt waiting on our arrival and Vash can get so very hungry," she told the young vampiress with a giggle, leading the way to the door.
Meryl smiled as well, feeling lighter than she had in a long time.
"How about we begin your lessons after the meal?" Rem inquired as she turned the handle. "We could even have Millie assist us."
"That sounds wonderful," Meryl told her sincerely as she stepped into the entry hall.
In companionable silence they crossed the room to the opposite doorway. There two servants obediently opened the doors and then closed them behind the pair.
Inside there was a long, large table made of solid wood, hand-decorated with beautiful scrawling. The chairs were carved in the same fashion and above it all rested a large glass chandelier, lit up by a multitude of candles. A large window covered one wall, while expensive and colorful paintings filled up the rest of the wall space.
Knives was the first of the group to see them. He stood off to the side, by the large window with a beautiful view of the lawn. Outside all was dark, except for a sliver of moonlight that peaked out from behind some clouds.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously at the two women as he sipped from his champagne glass. Meryl, in deference to him being her fiancé, walked up to the man and addressed him. "Good evening, Knives."
In response he lifted another glass that rested on the windowsill and handed it to her. Red liquid sloshed within and Meryl knew that it was blood. She glanced up and found Knives watching her with an attentive stare. It dawned on her that this was a test, something she could choose to overcome herself or he would do it for her.
Well, she wasn't going to let him lead her around anymore. With a determined tilt of her chin she took the glass and forced herself to casually take a sip. Even with her revulsion for what she was doing, Meryl couldn't help but enjoy the taste on her palate.
Even as her stomach turned with disgust, she reminded herself that this was her life now.
Her gaze traveled around the room, over Vash and Wolfwood who were laughing over some unknown joke, to Rem who was conversing with the servant Millie. Maybe she was asking her about their meeting after dinner?
Movement at her side directed her attention back to Knives, who had shifted so that he faced her. One eyebrow rose imperiously. "Are there any problems?"
She blinked. "No..."
He sent her a suspicious glance, but said nothing.
Before Meryl could question his strange behavior she heard Rem's jovial voice, "Alright, everyone. Time for supper."
Vampires they were, but that did not mean they couldn't enjoy food like humans. The substance simply no longer gave them the nutrients they needed to survive.
Everyone seated themselves as was proper. Rem, as the matriarch, sat at the head with Vash on Knives on either side. Wolfwood and Meryl where then beside them. Dinner was a jovial affair, regardless of Knives' refusal to join in the conversation, giving mono-syllable answers when anyone addressed him.
Knowing that the lessons, what she thought of as a way to gain control of her life, would be after
the meal, Meryl gaily watched Vash and Wolfwood fight over the large platters of food. She thought it strange that a servant was allowed to eat with them, Legato stood behind Knives' chair the entire time, but did not voice her question out loud.
Besides, she thought as they dueled with forks over a piece of stake, they were much too enjoyable. So Meryl spent the time eating and watching the two children across the table, interspersed with conversations with Rem. They talked of nothing important, only of Meryl's general background, where she came from, what did she do before Knives changed her.
The table was filled with food and their glasses were full of blood. And from the look of the two men opposite her, it was possible for vampires to have too much of the liquid. Their voices had gotten progressively louder as they imbibed more and more. If she didn't know any better, Meryl could have sworn they were drunk!
The clock read 2:00 a.m. when everyone rose and left the dining room. As they stepped into the hall Rem turned to the men of the group. "Well, gentlemen. If you'll excuse Meryl and I, we'll leave you to your own devices."
The older woman link her arm with Meryl's and steered her toward the parlor they'd used earlier.
The voice demanded attention and both women turned and found that Knives had trailed after them. The other two males were still on the other side of the room, watching the proceedings.
Said man barely gave his mother a glance, but kept his gaze on Meryl. Those blue eyes, so cold and merciless, stared into her own. He did not blink and she had the sudden feeling that he was looking through her. She felt bare and open but couldn't seem to tear her eyes away.
Belatedly her mind realized that he was using whatever power he possessed over her to read her thoughts. Meryl felt herself falling into him until the connection was broken with a sudden and unexpected jolt.
She gasped and fell weakly against the woman at her side. Rem's arms came around her as the young vampiress' body shook from the force of what had just happened.
"Let me go."
The cold chill of those words caused her to look up. In front of her stood Knives but Vash had somehow appeared next to him, and was even now facing off with his brother, one hand grasping the other's forearm. But that last time she'd seen him he'd been across the room. How long had Knives and she been like that...?
"That's enough, Knives." The spiky-haired man let his twin go and stepped back.
"Do not tell me what to do, little brother." Knives sent him an anger-filled glare and then turned his back to him. With sure steps he walked up to them. "Give her to me, mother." His tone and stance dared the older woman to say 'no' to him.
Meryl had no idea what was going on, but at that moment she didn't want to be anywhere near that man. Gathering her courage, and firmly reminding herself that she wasn't going to be pushed around by him any longer, she spoke up.
"No, Knives." He set his frigid gaze on her and Meryl almost forgot what she was going to say. "I have some things to discuss with your mother."
Her tone was defiant and even though Knives kept a bored expression on his face, she could feel the anger in him brimming just beneath the surface. Time stood still as he seemed to mull over his options.
"...very well." His words conveyed victory to her, but his eyes promised retribution for her actions.
He took his leave of them in silence. As Meryl watched him walk up to the stairs to the second floor, she sighed in relief. But in her mind she knew that this was only the beginning.