I Was A Vampire Wedding Planner|
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Copyright ©2006 Alecia Monaco
An Authorized Excerpt
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"Yes, that's right." Jade Simons rolled her eyes and adjusted the microphone of her telephone headset. "No roses." She listened patiently. "I realize that roses are a staple for wedding arrangements, but the bride and groom are vampires." She listened for the florist's incredulous reaction, and got it in record time. "Yes, I said vampires." She waited for the florist's squealing reaction to die down. "Well, they are legal citizens now, and as such, are allowed to vote, own property… and marry."
And thank goodness for that. The new vampire citizenry had helped Jade turn Nocturnal Nuptials from a one-employee operation to a fully staffed wedding planning firm.
Now, if some like-minded soul would open a vampire-oriented florist, she'd be in seventh heaven.
"Orchids would be lovely." She scrawled a few notes. "The bride does prefer white flowers." As she'd learned during the past year, while some vamps enjoyed playing with the dark and brooding stereotype, plenty of her brides wanted pastel floral arrangements and Vera Wang gowns. "If you could have a courier bring over your portfolio, I'm sure the bride and groom can find something they'll love."
Jade made arrangements for the portfolio to be delivered to Nocturnal Nuptials, and penciled in a note in the planner she'd set aside just for the Kintari wedding. She'd show the couple the portfolio at their appointment the next evening. An appointment, she reminded herself, that she'd have to work in sometime between taking her cat, Tuesday, to the vet and picking up a case of synthetic blood so she could offer her clients a beverage.
She ended the call with a sigh. Florists just didn't seem to understand the finer points of vampirism. While not all vampires were allergic to roses, those from certain bloodlines could become violently ill when exposed to a single American Beauty.
The future Mrs. Kintari was one such vamp.
When the rest of the wedding service industry finally caught up with the times, it would be one happy day for Jade. Few businesses kept nighttime hours, so she worked in the late afternoons, carrying on the much needed work of talking to flower shops, caterers and jewelers. Clothing designers seemed to be more flexible. She'd never run into a problem with scheduling a fitting for a gown or suit after dark, which was when she saw almost all of her clients, unless half the couple happened to be human -- a phenomenon, she noted, that was becoming increasingly more common.
All special needs aside, working with vampires was still preferable to her former job as assistant to one of Houston's busiest wedding planners. She had enough Bridezilla stories from working at that place to give Stephen King nightmares. What were a few ancient and extremely powerful vampires compared to dealing with a single overbearing mother of the bride?
That was one great thing about the undead. They usually didn't come with parents.
Her desktop intercom buzzed. She punched a button with a French manicured nail. "Yes?"
"Your six o'clock is here." Her assistant's chipper voice blared through the speaker like an overdose of caffeine.
"Thank you, Avery." She smoothed her curls back by force of habit, hoping the casual upswept style she'd coerced them into that afternoon had held up halfway well. "Send them in."
"Not them," Avery said, his voice dropping into a teasing whisper. "Just him. And what a hunka-hunka burning undead love he is."
"Er… thank you, Avery." She pulled the file for her six o'clock from her inbox. "I think."
She glanced at the neatly typed file label. Dimero/Angelle. Opening the file, she glanced at their application. Both were vampires, he much older than she. He'd been in the States for centuries, while she had recently emigrated from France. Nothing unusual there, except for the groom being a low level officer of the Vampire Court.
Jade shrugged, setting the file to one side and opening a fresh new copy of the pink planning book she used for each event. It was certainly unusual for the groom to come to the first meeting alone, but not unheard of. Maybe the bride would be along shortly. She could've gotten caught in traffic. Or she could be a late riser, unable to leave her daytime retreat until the sun was well below the horizon and full dark had arrived. Either way…
"Ms. Simons?" A deep male voice with the faintest undertone of an accent interrupted her musings.
She looked up, her features arranged into the smile she used for clients. But the tall figure before her made it hard to smile. He made it hard to think. Heck, he made it hard to do anything but drool.
He crossed the room to her desk in a few long strides, holding out a hand to her. "Allow me to introduce myself." Eyes the golden brown of priceless amber met hers. She found her hand enclosed in his grip, which was both warm and powerful. "I am Renaldi D'Aria, the best man for Antonio Dimero. I come to you on his behalf."
Her sense of professionalism saved her, stopping her from undressing him with her eyes right then and there. "Of course." She pulled her hand from his with difficulty. His gaze still held hers, not in an attempt to spellbind her -- she'd worked with too many vamps to fall for that particular trick -- but with intense curiosity. It unnerved her. She smoothed her hair again and then gestured to the comfortable overstuffed chairs facing her desk. "Please, have a seat."
He folded all six feet three inches of lean muscle into the chair across from her. "I'm so glad you could work me into your schedule. You seem to be the only wedding planner in Houston that caters to our kind." He said the last two words in an offhand manner that told her he was one of the older ones, comfortable with himself both as a man and as a vampire.
"It's no trouble at all." She tried not to stare, turning her attention to the file she'd laid out on her desk. But it was hard to drag her focus from him. Vampires tended to be the gorgeous, ageless creatures that centuries of myth had portrayed them to be, but Renaldi D'Aria blew the competition away. Perfectly chiseled features, from his high angular cheekbones to his strong nose and blatantly sensual mouth, added up to a face that would've made Michelangelo weep. Olive skin, luminescent with that glow that only vampires seemed to possess, covered his impressive form. Lush black waves of hair fell to his shoulders in a carelessly graceful style that almost begged to be touched.
But touching him needed to be the last thing on her mind. Business, Jade. Remember the first rule of professionalism? Never get romantically involved with the clients.