The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World (23/23)


"One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel."
Madam Pompadour in Doctor Who: "The Girl in the Fireplace"

Chapter Twenty-Three, Omega

I walked into the Cullen Manor sometime the next afternoon – without knocking, of course – and headed for the kitchen. Mama Vamp was in there, mixing something by hand and looking very much like a mid-century housewife. I didn't know how she could be happy doing this, but I guess if you've spent the last hundred years or so drinking blood, cooking for werewolves is a novel experience. But whatever, it was her life. She had to do something with it. Her husband was always at one hospital or another and her children were either in school or fighting with each other over the remote, what game to play, or what movie to watch for the eighty-third time. For instance, when I came in this afternoon, Ensign Empath and Muscles-for-Brains had been betting over some international table tennis tournament while using a world map and some very believable army men in the strangest game of War I'd ever seen. Rosalie was knitting again, and Mistress Midget was on the phone with either a French designer or a French stockbroker, or quite possibly both, and was making odd little hand signals to her husband about what moves to make. As for Bella-dona and her husband, presumably they were in their love shack... shacking up. So, yea, being the matron of this household had to get pretty boring fast. But it worked out for me. It gave me cinnamon rolls.

"What'cha making?" I asked, sitting down on one of the bar stools. I glared at my dirt smudged, leaf-entangled reflection in the refrigerator. Stupid vampire propensities for shiny things. Worse then magpies. I'm half surprised they hadn't stolen the keys to the Rabbit yet.

"Waffles," she said, scrambling the eggs, frying the bacon, stirred a pot each of oatmeal and porridge (or maybe it was something else, whatever the difference was between the two) and baked beans; pulled toast of the sparkling titanium toaster, scones and waiting sausages out of the oven, and a pre-prepared plate of some combination fried vegetables, fried rice, and steak, the latter of which she placed in front of me, all while just answering my question. "What kind of syrup do you prefer? I think we have maple, strawberry, blueberry, apple-cinnamon-" She paused when she saw I was looking at her blankly. "You'll have to forgive me," Esme said, putting down the latest tray of whatever and turning down the stove, "it's been a while since I actually made breakfast. When I was human, there weren't nearly as many choices as are available today... I'm afraid I tend to get carried away."

For once, I actually wish Bella was here, so she could tell her vampire-in-law I'd have been happy with a carton of Pop Tarts. But if wishes were fishes, Billy would be a lot happier then he was now. When we'd gone over to his place yesterday afternoon to tell him of Sam and Jake's decision, he'd been almost in tears. Well, maybe not tears, but he distinctly told us that the moment I got pregnant, he wanted to see us both, end of story, and he'd deal with Sam when it came to that. I shudder at the very memory of our conversations with Billy. Though, if the reason I smelled like a dog in heat was because I was...

Oh, yes, just what I always wanted: a rock and a kid and a boyfriend in high school.

Anyhow, Esme looked so sad that I actually felt sorry for her, and I found myself going, "There, there. I'm just a little overwhelmed..." and I'd never seen fried rice for breakfast, but, hell, it was good and soon I was on to the more traditional bacon and eggs.

"I'm glad I can do something for you five. I feel so awful having you live out in the woods when we've plenty of extra rooms here."

I watch her curiously as she cleans up, covered dishes going into the industrial-sized oven to keep warm, pots and pans suddenly becoming clean... "It's okay. Really, it is. We've a great tarp-thing going now, and the boys are all in Wood Shop, so I'm going to get them to build a proper roof and maybe a bunk or something so we don't have to sleep in the mud, but really, it's fine."

And, surprisingly, it was.

"Still, your parents-"

"Are living with it. It's what kids these days do – move out, move in together in huge clumps of humanity in substandard housing, and get low-paying jobs. We're just staying closer to home then usual."

She looked at me curiously, in the way that parents sometimes do, where you know they're thinking, "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" but what she really said was, "I was going to say your mother and Jacob's father can't be pleased with the two of you living together."

I didn't snap something at her for being a tight-laced Victorian, because, honestly, she was and probably wouldn't have seen the insult in it. Instead I said, "Mom's down with it," or, at least, I assumed she was because she hadn't come onto Cullen ground to yell at me, "and Billy is all-but-feeding Jake Viagra. Really, Mrs. Cullen, it's the twenty-first century. It's what people do."

She looked at me sceptically, but let me eat in peace. Half-hour or so later, the boys came back from school, and joined me in the kitchen. "How was it?" I asked perfunctorily, grinning stupidly at Jake, who took the seat next to mine and began eating off my plate. I pushed it his way, and spun the barstool around to look at the others. "Get into any fistfights today?"

"No," they said, each with varying degrees of exasperation.

"Pity. Anyway, Esme left food for you in the oven."

"Thank God she can cook," Embry said, pulling the plate out with his bare hands and proceeding to, also with his bare hands, eat half-a-dozen waffles drenched in maple syrup. I decided right then that it was Sam's dad who'd had the affair that'd ended up with Embry, and a hundred percent not Billy or Young Quil, "or we'd be royally screwed."

Quil, who was using eating utensils at the very least, "I dunno. Seth can bake a mean chocolate cake."

Sadly, it was true.

"Werewolves cannot live on chocolate cake alone," Seth broke in with a façade of wisdom; "you need ice cream too."

There was a cheer from my brother and the "Gammas," while I shared an indulgent look with Jake. "They've been like this all day," he told me sadly. "I think I'm having the first case of werewolf migraine ever."

"There are enough drugs in this house to kill an elephant at five paces. I'm sure we can find something to deal with a headache."

"We need to totally have a party." A Pharm Party? Interesting, but...

"Yeah. We've broken away from Sam. We must celebrate by going down to Port Angeles and finding a bar or something that'll let us in." Ah. That kind of party. It was bound to end badly.

"Have you looked in the mirror lately, Embry? I've seen college students who look younger then Seth. We could get in easily – the question is more, why would we want to?"

"Why the hell not? Remember Claire's dad's bachelor party?"

Jake looked at me again, waving his fork as if to say, "See what I have to put up with all day?" I raised my eyebrows to counter - "I have to deal with the leeches – I win."

"God no!" Quil said.

"Well, of course not, we weren't there. But remember how people are still talking about how it was the best party they every had? I say we throw the greatest party known to werewolves."

"I am surrounded by idiots and imbeciles," I sighed. No one but Jake seemed to hear me.

Embry continued, "We can drive up to Seattle and give Jake a proper stag party."

This peaked my interest. And apparently Jake's. "Pardon me?" Once again, I was ignored, looking instead at all thee of them like, "What the hell has gotten into you sheep-bagging wart-scum?" This time, it was by my own brother:

"No! We can't take Jake anywhere were he might imprint upon anyone other then my sister."

"We'll keep him blindfolded all night."

"Yeah, right, like that'll work."

"Okay, so maybe not, but what's the likelihood he'd find his soul-mate at a titty bar?"

"I don't know – he's dating Leah, so I'd say pretty high."

"Why," Jake said rather louder then my curses had been, "do you want to throw me a stag party?"

"One," said Quil, who seemed into the drinking part and less so the naked women part (thank God, for once in his ridiculously long life, that imprints are good for something after all. Even if all they want to do at this point is play dolls with each other), "'cause Karen Ruesoe was flirting with you all through English and you didn't even notice."

"Two," supplied Embry, "Billy has all but sent out wedding invitations for you two, and I half suspect him to pounce on us at school and ask how many times a day we think you two are doing it." The bad part was, I could totally see Billy doing that too. The mercury from all the fish has to have finally turned his mind.

"Ew! Gross!" Seth exclaimed, pushing away his half-eaten plate. "Little brother in the room!"

"I'm in the room," I pointed out. No one, again, seemed to care. I think I'm going to break something now. That crystal bowl looks expensive...

"And three," Jake finished for them, "you just want to have a party."

"I'm going to go look for that Xanex Alice was talking about," I said to no one in particular, and left the boys to their fight. I would have pointed out it was a school night, but I doubt that would have helped any, nor would the fact that bar owners tend to like people to pay for their drinks.

In the living room, Jasper now seemed to control most of Russia and a large swath of outer Mongolia, while Emmett had control over India and northern Africa. Alice was now a third party, destroying both sides from the Americas. I sat next to Rosalie, who was still knitting. "Boys suck," I told her solemnly.

"Tell me something I don't know," she said, purling with practised ease.

I told her my theory about Embry and Sam having the same dad.

"The one thing in life that will never change: the porcine qualities of men."

From the floor, moving his army man with realistic shooting noises into the Ural Mountains, her husband protested, "Babe, don't be that way."

"I also," admitted Jasper, now rolling a pair of sixty-four-sided die, "take great offence at that."

I yawned and played with the end of the blanket she'd already finished. "They want to throw Jake a bachelor party."

This, for some reason, caused Emmett to jump up, scattering many of his pieces and breaking them beneath his bare, bearish feet. "I knew it! I win this round."

"You bet on that too!" I screamed, jumping up so that I was yelling right into his face. And punch him, which, while it hurt, was still satisfying. After betting on when we'd sleep together, they just had to have another bet on this? And for what? Cleaning out the attic this time? "You jerk. For your information, Jake and I are not getting married, it's just this stupid idea they have, and-"

"Leah," Rose broke in.

Angrily, "I know he's your husband and all-"

"Actually, I was just going to offer you one of my knitting needles."

"Oh, thanks," I said with the greatest surprise, and then, turned on Emmett, who was already racing up the stairs. It was only thanks to my supernatural hearing that I heard her, moments later, as I was crawling under a bed after my prey that I heard her say, "No problem, I've February anyway."

And, with that, began the second great Vampire-Lycan battle of our time.

(To the sequel, The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare).