Chapter 13 Graveyard Glam
Inever expected that I'd have a "girls' night" with Mrs. Sterling. Becky-always a given. My mom-when we both were in good moods.My aunt Libby-when I'd visit her inHipsterville .But Mrs. Sterling?The mother of my true love? I couldn't have dreamed of this night, even with my outlandish overactive imagination. And it was about to take place.
I had to wonder what her motives might be. Was she trying to get the scoop on how I really felt about Alexander? Or was this a chance to get the scoop on me?
Either way, I didn't care. I was preparing to go out with the most fabulous, ghoulish mom on the planet. Everything was working out after all. I got to meet Alexander's parents, have some adult vampire Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter,time, and would soon get lull reign of the Mansion again.
I parked my bike at the Mansion's gate at dusk and knocked on the door. Instead of being greeted by Alexander, Jameson bid me welcome.
"Hello, Miss Raven. Mrs. Sterling is looking forward to your visit. If you'll wait in the parlor room, she will be with you shortly."
I was leafing throughRomanian Castles when I felt a presenceat the doorway.
Mrs. Sterling, in a black floor-length V-neck dress and a lovely hat secured with a lavender lace scarf, extended her hand to me. Glistening jewels sparkled on her long medieval purple fingernails. "I've been waiting for a night like tonight for centuries."
"Me, too," I said.
"There is something I'd like to show you." She held out an antique photo album.
Jameson brought us a tray of drinks and set them on a side table. There was a tall red drink with a celery stick garnish and a Coke with an umbrella.
"You remind me so much of someone I know," she
saidin a sultry voice."Who?" I asked. "Alexander's grandmother," she answered.
"Here's a picture of her." Mrs. Sterling opened the weathered photo album. "This is my husband's mother." She showed me a picture of a thin woman with high cheekbones and Alexander's soulful eyes.
Some of the pages were fraying away from the binding and a few pictures were coming unglued. "This Mansion meant everything to her. And so did her family. As you might know, she and Alexander's grandfather were barons. They kept company with heads of state and other royalty, such as kings and queens acrossEurope ."
I knew it! She is going to tell me that I'm not of royal blood-therefore I'm not worthy of her son.
"But they escapedRomania ," she continued, "when the family was being persecuted. She saved them, really. If it wasn't for her quick thinking, there would never have been a safe Constantine and never an Alexander. She kept the royal bloodline alive. And that is very important to all of us."
"Wow- she sounds very brave," I began to say.
"When it was safe,Constantine went back toRomania . His mother remained here."
I hung on her every word.
"Did Alexander tell you why he moved here?" she asked.
"Yes, but he may have left something out. He can be mysterious."
"Our family had an arrangement with theMaxwells - another prominent and noble family inRomania -with their daughter, Luna. We wanted to carry on our royal bloodline. It was very important to Mr. Sterling, you see. He's spent so much time worrying about his mother, isolated in this mansion, away from our own kind. He wanted someone for Alexander who would be like us-who would make us all happy. What we didn't realize was that on the big day the one person whomattered the most wasn't happy: Alexander.
"Luna was a fine girl and theMaxwells are a wonderful family. But when Alexander rejected them, it sent our world into chaos. The only safe haven was for Alexander to come here and live in the Mansion. Away from theMaxwells .
"My heart broke that day. Alexander has been so far away from me. And now that we have returned for him, there was something else we didn't plan on: You."
I didn't know what to say.
"I was a lot like you when I was your age."
"Were you an outsider?" I asked.
"Yes, and I dressed in wild outfits and danced at parties until sunrise."
I wondered what could be wilder than the attire she was already sporting.
"When I met Mr. Sterling everything fell into place. However, his mother was unlike all of us. She was courageous and regal-and mortal. I never could live up to her image. Mr. Sterling and Alexander think you are like her."
"Yes. And she was a true outsider.In her world and in ours. But she was hot-blooded about the Underworld. You have a passion for our world thatwe don't even have. And that you share with Alexander's grandmother.
"I just wanted you to know that by dating Alexander-there are concerns we have. We wouldn't be responsible adults if we didn't look out for you - just as we would for our own son," she went on.
Do you want me to be turned?I wanted to say.Just say the date. But I knew it wasn't that simple. And Mrs. Sterling didn't appear to be heading down that path.
"Now, enough serious talk," she continued. "I'd like to have a little girl time."
"Fine by me."
"Are there any tattoo parlors?" she asked with a whimsical laugh.
"Not around here."
"A few towns over."
"Any snake charmers?"
"Only once a year, when the carnival comes to visit."
"Well then, we'll have to make our own fun," she said emphatically. "Jameson, get the car!"
I scooted into the Mercedes next to Mrs. Sterling, her umbrella resting between us as Jameson drove us to town.
"Stop here," Alexander's mother called to Jameson when we came to the town square. It took a few moments for the creepy man to react and press the brakes. We stepped out of the car and into the busy square.
Main Streetwas filled with upscale preppy boutiques. It was a hangout for families, dog walkers, and strolling seniors. Mrs. Sterling, poised with her umbrella, sunglasses, and purple velvet purse with black lace ribbons, was quite the sight to see. Even I found myself gawking at her. It was as if I were walking with a movie star.Dullsvillians , however, thought we were a freak show. Snickers and giggles and stares followed us up and down the block.
Mrs. Sterling, with her statuesque figure and graveyard-glam style, was oblivious to the stares. She looked like any A-list star, unfettered by her paparazzi.
When we passed a few people walking dogs, the animals became unruly. Mrs. Sterling didn't seem to even notice the upset pets.
We stopped in front of Purse Party. Mrs. Sterling was enamored by a leopard clutch purse in the window.
"Let's peek inside," she said.
We stepped into the overpriced boutique. The gimmick was you picked a purse style, fabric, buttons, and ribbons and walk away with a unique custom-made handbag. Long tables were set up in the middle of the store, with sample fabric strewn across haphazardly, as if there had just been a purse-picking party.
The owner had no idea who-or what-had just entered her shop. I could tell her face was straining, trying to hold back her real thoughts. She was ready to push the panic button. Instead she did her best to feign enthusiasm. "We specialize in one-of-a-kind purses. We can come to your home and if you have at least five women show up, you get a free purse."
I could just imagine the shopkeeper, swatches of fabric in tow, arriving to discover the Mansion instead of her usual five-bedroom cookie-cutter mega-mansions and speeding away before her tires passed the wrought-iron gates.
Mrs. Sterling didn't say a word as she cased the shop. She held her umbrella with one hand, and with her free one she picked through purses.
I sensed the saleswoman was checking her inner clock, hoping we'd get out of the storeimmediately.
"I'm absolutely crazy about this!" Mrs. Sterling exclaimed, holding up a woolly black carpet bag. "Do Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter,you have leopard print? "
"Yes. Would you like piping, trim, or ribbon?" the woman asked, now enthused about a possible sale.
"Black lace.I'd like a shoulder-length strap made of thick chain."
The saleswoman tried to hide her shock. Every handle in the store was either made of plastic or ribbon.
"I'm sure we can find that somewhere," she said, determined.
I was holding a crimson messenger bag. The cheapest purse was ninety-five dollars. And that was the size of a cosmetic bag.
"This is to die for. Pick one out, Raven."
I was in an awkward position. I knew my mom would freak if I let someone outside my family buy me an expensive gift. Even my mom, who wore fashionable designer purses, got them at the outlet mall.
"My treat."Mrs. Sterling's voice was intense but loving.
"That's okay. I don't need one."
The saleswoman, sniffing another sale, examined me.
There were pinks and greens and plaids. Nothing screamed my name.
"I'm not sure those prints are her style," she said to Mrs. Sterling. "We could make a black one with a red reversible. Or I do remember a special pattern-left over from Halloween.".
She quickly popped in the back and returned with a wad of fabric. It was black with tiny metallic silver bats.
I couldn't help but show my infatuation for the small piece of cotton.
"To die for!"Mrs. Sterling said. "We'll take it."
My mom would kill me if she knew Mrs. Sterling bought me a hundred-dollar purse. But I was stuck in between a vampire and an overly eager shopkeeper.
"Pick out your style of purse" the woman encouraged.
"I really don't- "I tried.
"She keeps clutching the messenger bag. That will be stunning with the bat print," Mrs. Sterling said to the owner.
As the woman rang up our purchases, I could see how Mrs. Sterling transformed the shopkeeper's attitude. Either way, Mrs. Sterling wasn't affected.
I admired Alexander's mom. I never really had anyone to look up to. A role modelOf course, I had Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter,my mother and Aunt Libby.Two women who were confident and opinionated and comfortable in their own skin. But no one like me in style and taste-not until I'd met Mrs. Sterling.
Shirley's Bakery was a quaint establishment selling the freshest cookies, cakes, and donuts in Dullsville. On one side of the store a customer could buy a chocolate-covered pretzel, and on the other side was a pink-and-black-tiled ice-cream parlor.
Shirley still dished out the ice cream with herteenworkers . On a clear night, the line went around the block, like for a first-runStar Wars flick.
Once inside, Mrs. Sterling held her umbrella proudly. She was tall and imposing, and I imagined that if anyone confronted her, though she'd behave like a lady, she'd be able to squash them like a bug.
"Two chocolate cones and one pistachio," she ordered. "Jameson's favorite/' she whispered to me.
My heart melted at her kindness to her butler.
"You must be from out of town," Shirley said.
"Does it show?" she asked with a laugh. "Yes. But now we live up on Benson Hill. And your ice cream comes highly recommended."
"Why, thank you," Shirley said. "For that I'll give you an extra scoop."
We scooted back into the Mercedes. And the two of us sat, parked outside, eating our ice cream.
"I love to people watch," she said with her lyrical voice.
It wasn't something I'd ever really done. Just watch people. I'd always sensed I was the one being watched. And I never felt comfortable hanging out on the square. I preferred the park, where there was less traffic.
"Look at those two. It seems like it's their first date. I low adorable," Mrs. Sterling said. "And that young man pushing a stroller while his wife and child eat their treats- it's like a greeting card." Then she spied a trio of identical twin girls sitting on a bench sharing a sundae."Perfectly charming!"
I didn't spend much time admiring fellowDullsvillians . But Mrs. Sterling was fascinated with them. She showed me how interesting ordinary people could be if only I'd take the time to look.
When I finally got home, I was exhilarated-like a groupie who had just met her idol.
Mrs. Sterling was beautiful, a vampire, and as confident as a queen. She was everything I wanted to be.