Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Quick-Fix Wedding

Jock slumped down in the pew and tried to ignore the hollow, gnawing ache in his belly. The fact that he was here, at the wedding of his paternal cousin Amelia’s maternal cousin Amanda, said worlds about how desperate he had been to out of attending the moon-darking ceremony. It was not something that came to wolves naturally, dammit, and he wasn’t going to go along with it!

Of course, nor was he the alpha, which meant having to have a good reason not to attend.

The moon-darking ceremony was his alpha’s invention, an attempt to address the high number of unmated wolves in the pack. In real wolf packs, only the alpha pair mated to keep the population of the pack at sustainable levels. In a world that was hostile to shape shifters, were-packs also had adopted that practice, so they didn’t have packs too big to sustain or, most importantly, to hide. The alpha had decided that in this day and age of birth control and expanding social tolerance, mating lower wolves—but not allowing breeding privileges—was the answer to a different wolf pack problem. Tail chasing.

Since when was chasing tail considered a problem, Jock wondered. So long as there was no unwanted sexual contact and no leaving litters of pups everywhere, who cared if wolves humped willing partners all night every night? It was good, harmless (if not exactly clean) fun.

But no. The alpha wanted his wolves to settle down and pick mates. There weren’t enough females to go around if the mated pairs were strictly male-female, but the alpha hadn’t specified that. He said “non-breeding mating groups”, meaning however you want it, fine, but everyone had to be in a group of some kind. During the moon-darking—why not just say new moon???—everyone had to pick and they were stuck in that mating group until the next new moon. Or, moon-darking, rather. See? Not at all how werewolves work. Besides, he just wasn’t into that stuff. He liked one-on-one long term monogamous relationships. Instead of going to that stupid made-up ceremony, he’d called his cousin Amelia and begged her to invite him to Thanksgiving at her house. She had a wedding to go to and no date, so she was fine with that. He’d get out of being matched up with someone he didn’t really want to sleep with and she wouldn’t have to go to a family wedding with some random guy off the street. Or worse, alone.

So that’s why he was sitting here in the pew of a church in a town he’d never visited before in the company of a cousin he didn’t know very well waiting for a weeding to start. It was late, too. He checked his watch again and then tapped it. It was now almost three and the wedding was supposed to have started at two. He frowned and looked around.

Uh-oh, he thought when he spied a crowd of people spilling out of church nave. No one looked happy, least of all the bride, who’s face was covered with a heavy while veil. He shoulders were scrunched in, though, making it clear that she wasn’t in a good place, emotionally.

“Dearly beloved,” the priest said sonorously at the front. “It would seem we have no groom for this event. Unless anyone else would like to take this fine young lady as his wife, we are going to have to cancel.”

Time seemed to stop. Jock looked at the cringing young woman, whom he could even see properly. He looked down at his cousin Amelia. She was looking back at him, eyes just as wide and shocked as his. He looked back up at the girl and whispered to his cousin, “Is this for real? Did the priest actually just offer her up like day-old bread to anyone who wants her?”

“Um,” Amelia said, chewing on her lip. “Amanda kind of agreed to an arranged marriage. He dad won’t let her inherit unless she’s married by her twenty-fifth birthday.”

“When’s her birthday?” Jock asked, stunned.


He looked at Amelia. She shrugged and then said, “He dad’s a bit of an ass, but the family lawyers checked. It’s all legal and binding. She has to be married by the end of the day or…”

Jock looked at the cringing girl, stunned by how backward that was. Then he had a thought. Married wolves were exempt from the moon-darking ceremony…

Amanda was miserable. She knew it wasn’t going to go as well has her mother had planned. Get a quickie arranged marriage to satisfy her dad’s medieval stipulations. After a year, they’d get a divorce. Sounded simple. Then her asshole father said it had to be a real wedding, not a paperwork one. And that, of course, had freaked out her friend, Pablo, who had agreed to a paper marriage-in-name-only. She was quite possibly the only woman on the planet to be stood up by her best friend at their arranged wedding. And then her maternal uncle, who was a priest and was officiating, solicited a new groom for her from her own wedding guests. Oh, just shoot me now, she though.

“I’ll do it,” a deep voice said from somewhere in the middle of the packed pews. She tried to look, but the veil was too thick. All she could see were vague shapes, like ghosts in a fog bank. As she watched, a very large shape seemed to rise above the other moving shapes. Whoever he was, he was very large, Amanda thought. The crowd murmured and her uncle the priest cleared his throat.

“And you are?”

“I’m Amelia’s cousin Jock on her father’s side. Her dad and mine were brothers,” the deep voice replied calmly.

“Do you understand the circumstances involved?” Uncle Frank asked, sounded exactly like the stodgy old priest he was.

“Yeah—uh, yes, sir,” the unseen man said, sounding a bit flustered. “Amelia explained it to me just now. She said her cousin had to be married by the end of the day or her sperm donor was going to deny Amanda her rightful inheritance. I’m not married or planning to get married any time soon.” The hulking shape seemed to shrug as the tittering stopped. Sperm donor, huh? She was going to have to remember that. It fit her father perfectly.

She tried desperately to remember something, anything about Amelia’s cousin. She didn’t think she’d ever met him, though he was Amelia’s last living relative on her dad’s side. She and Amelia shared maternal bonds, so he wouldn’t have been around the family. Just then, she remembered Amelia commenting that her cousin had called up asking if she minded if he visited for Thanksgiving. And so here he was, saving Amanda from her father, if not from total embarrassment.

“You’ll do fine,” Mother said from Amanda’s left side. “Places everyone! Young man, go up to the front of the church. Do you have a ring? Oh wait. Of course you don’t—”

“Well,” he said, sounding very bashful. “I do have my grandmother’s wedding ring. My mom wore it on a chain around her neck and when she died, I started wearing it that way, too. Because it reminded me of her,” he finished lamely. Amanda felt for him. Her family was very intimidating. Not in a bad way, of course, but they were more than a little batty. She didn’t have to actually see them to know they were probably staring at the poor guy intently, polite smiles on their faces and nodding as if bat-shit crazy stuff like this happened every day and was totally unremarkable. Amanda had to admit that she was already starting to like him, sight unseen. But then again, Amelia was one part cousin and one part best friend. Id she brought this Jock to a family wedding, he had to be good people.

He mother grabbed her arm and steered her into place without warning. “Just keep calm, baby,” her mother whispered loudly. “It’ll all be over soon. You’ll have a husband to shut your father up with and then you’ll have the company fair and square.”

“Mamma?” she asked nervously. “What does my groom look like?”


Pat C. said...

This reads like the opening of a really fun novel. Please write the rest of it.

Rebecca Gillan said...

I did finish it, actually. It's not a long story, but it is kind of fun. I'm going to post a chapter every week 'til it's done. Well, going to post the PG parts, anyway. If I can figure out how to format it it'll give the full e-book to our readers as a Christmas present.

Savanna Kougar said...

It does, doesn't it? One can only imagine what will happen with this 'spontaneous' marriage. ~smiles~

Savanna Kougar said...

Okay, just saw your comment, Rebecca, after I wrote mine. Cool idea about posting the PG parts, and offering as a potential present.

Rebecca Gillan said...

My muse still isn't co-operating so I dug this out of my half-finished stories file. It's done, but it's also only 15k words, so I didn't want to submit it. On the up-side, I've gotten almost half of Mooney and Marissa'a story rewritten in first person.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yay! On Mooney and Marissa's story!

Serena Shay said...

Nice! That would be an awesome present for our readers. :) Heck, after a bit of time you could even take it down and self pub it as a Talbot's Peak story. If, of course, that town he's visiting is TP. ;)

Great story, Rebecca.

Rebecca Gillan said...

It's not but being as short as it is, I didn't actually talk about the cheracter's back story much. I could make it related to Talbot's Peak pretty easily, maybe have Jock be a member of the Hancock pack. That nonsense about forcing his lower wolves into non-breeding mating groups sounds just like something Damien Hancock would come up with in an attempt to curtail non-wolfen booty calls.