"A real vampire," she sighed, scraping burnt croissants off her baking sheet with great enthusiasm. Seriously, she was really going at that thing. "Oh, he's so perfect and broody and hot."
"Except for the part where he's ice-cold."
"Oh, it gave me chills when he took me by the hand--"
"Literally. I thought you said he looked sweaty?"
"That was condensation!" She heaved another dreamy sigh, then went back to scrubbing the hell out of her pans. "Oh, he's so handsome and--chiseled."
"Again: literally, with the marble-like hardness."
"I wonder if everything is hard as marble?"
She bent her head and sniffed blissfully at her jacket. "I can still smell where he put his hands on me. He smells like cotton candy!"
"OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH GOD--what?" But I remembered then--in the books, the werewolves (redolent of dog) complain that vampires smell "sickly sweet," which leads to a bunch of romantic-rival territory-marking on Bella, and really, I don't want to contemplate it again right now. (Edward's Actual Vampire Smell As Smelled By Other Actual Vampires is "lilac, honey and sun." Between this and the twinkling, sparklepires were apparently created in a market lab for the clientele of a Claire's Boutique.) The Ellowynes had never mentioned it, but--well, I guess the Ellowynes had never been interested in poor Little Edward, had they? Did Tonner Edward smell sweet? Had they ever gotten close enough to tell?
"Hey--when the big one was talking to you and all, did he smell like anything?"
"I don't really remember--I mean, yeah, there was something kind of sweet, but I assumed that was the candy he was, like, keeping in his pocket to kidnap little kids with."
And yet any similar complaint she had had about The Littlest Edward had vanished. "So... you really don't find the big one the least bit attractive?"
"Ew, no. He's always lurking around hunched over in that stupid jacket he wears all the time, and he's got that hair--"
"Yeah, but... so does your Edward."
"Um, hello, my Edward is hot."
O... kay. Well, I'd been hoping to flip her switch, and apparently we'd flipped it good and proper.
So whatever disdain she felt for Tonner Edward was still going strong (passing by, he stopped in the doorway to glower at her longingly. "Ew, there goes THE CREEPER again," she said). And I could see it in his face: he already knew what had passed between The Littlest Shelfians. There was no way for him not to find out, really--even if he had not spied and eavesdropped on purpose, even if he had minded his own business and covered his super-hearing ears, the mind-signals were coming off The Littlest Edward were way too strong.
Speaking of whom, Little Edward was snarfing down cotton balls as fast as he could go when I checked on him a few minutes later (I made a mental note to add a fresh bag to the grocery list). That was something I hadn't considered--I'd thrown him at Little Bella without stopping to see if his tank was full, so to speak, and then she'd gone and flung herself at him on top of that. Seriously, that was probably the first time he'd even touched a girl's hand. No wonder he'd run like hell when she'd jumped him.
(I also noticed with some interest that Clarice was sulking out behind the pony run.)
And now, here came Tonner Edward. Fantastic.
"Running away already?" he taunted, but there was something raw in his voice. "Maybe your eyes are bigger than your stomach. As they say."
The Littlest Edward threw down his cotton and for a moment I thought they were both going to drop into the Predator Crouch, but instead they strove in thought for a few moments, with a little light snarling thrown in.
"You're not man enough to make her happy," he said aloud; I wondered if he was trying to throw in some extra humiliation by making sure Little Edward knew I was hearing it too.
"She doesn't like you," he said--simply but staunchly.
"Her mind may change when she's left unsatisfied. And I'll be waiting."
Another long moment of glare-off, and Tonner Edward left the scene, confident that he had gotten under his rival's
She got on her hands and knees and peered down at him in bogglement, a puff of flour on her cheek. "You smell like butter," he gasped, clutching the metalwork at the table's edge. "Unsalted?"
"What are you doing?"
"I can't come in--"
"Unless I invite you?" she asked eagerly. I had a feeling he would be getting a lot of invitations from The Littlest Bella.
"No--at all. It's supposed to protect you from--predators. Unfortunately--I am one."
"That's right, the wizard lady--I'll ask her to fix it and then you can come in and I--" A thought arrested her, and it wasn't what I expected: "You can't eat food, can you?" she asked, her disappointment plain.
"I'm not supposed to but I've tasted your shortcake!" he blurted out (I immediately filed this away for future double entendre use). "But I really came to tell you--something important--you're in danger, the Bigger Me is after you, he wants you for himself, I saw it in his mind--"
"I KNEW he was like a child molester or something!"
"And then there's the gypsy, she wants to hurt you if she can--"
"Gah, SERIOUSLY, I had to start that soufflé over like three times--"
"--so you have to be careful--if you have to leave the table, stay with the elves or Miss Cleo if you can, they'll protect you."
"What about you?" she asked, perplexed; it was broad daylight and he obviously wasn't crisping up, so where did he have to go?
"I can't be with you as much as I'd like," he said reluctantly, "but I'll be here as much as I can. If you're ever in trouble--call for me and I'll hear you, I'll come to you. But you have to be on your guard. I'm not always safe for you, but--I'm not the most dangerous thing around."
And, so help me, Our Hero surged forward and kissed her--I wouldn't say "hard," exactly, but pretty emphatically for a clueless little hundred-year-old virgin. And then he fell off the tableshelf.
Rather than climb back up, though, he bid his adieux, the parting and the sweet sorrow and so on, and ran off--leaving me to make excuses for him, since Bella obviously wanted to know what the hell (well, "heck") he had to do that was more important than making out. I checked my watch: ah. Chow time at the Sparklerosa. But it was not my place, I decided, to tell her about the ponies. I mean, God help us all when she did find out--hell, when they found out.
"Well, you know. He's probably got vampire stuff to do. I mean, you know... it might be really hard--it might be really difficult for him to kiss you and all, what with the being tempted by your floral tastyblood. And, you know, he was born in like 1901 or something. He doesn't know how to do modern dating stuff, or... talk to girls at all, really. I mean, you were there; you know."
A sigh of swoony satisfaction: "He's old-fashioned."
"... Yeah. So you gotta give him some time to acclimate."
I went over to the Sparklerosa to check on him, where he would surely be pitching grass to his beloved ponies with a divided heart: the Temporary Ranch Hands of Gondor clapped him on the back and congratulated him on
He saw Tonner Edward approaching and shouted, "I KISSED HER SO SHE'S MINE!"
"Um, THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS--"
Tonner Edward held up one hand (he was clutching at his head with the other): "It's all right."
"No, it's NOT. She's not territory to mark, okay? I am not having that alpha male shit--"
"I know when the field is lost," he said. The Littlest Edward stopped short, mid-bristle. "I can only... wish you two the best. Now, if you don't mind--I have a splitting headache."
But Tonner Edward was never quite the same afterwards.
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