Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 6 - Page 7

"I expect she's trying to get Monarch butterflies if she wants gold balloons," Jesse said helpfully.

"Monarch butterflies," said Adam. "Can you imagine the poor things trying to figure out their migration route from the Tri-Cities?"

"She has to be stopped before she destroys the ecosystem," I told him, only half-joking. "And I can only think of one way to do it. My sister eloped under the pressure of planning her wedding with my mother. I guess I can, too."

He laughed--and looked a lot less tired.

"I love your mother," he said with honest satisfaction that lowered his voice to a purr. "I suppose preserving the Tri-Cities' ecosystem is a valid reason for jumping the gun. Let's get married, then. I have my passport with me. Do you have your birth certificate, so we can get the license, or do we need to go home first?" IT WAS A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT, SO IT took us two days to get married. Eloping just isn't as quick as it used to be unless you live in Vegas, I guess. Of course, we still might have made it in one except that I insisted on Pastor Arnez doing the honors. He'd had a funeral and two weddings to work us around.

Adam had lost a lot of things fighting in Vietnam. His humanity and belief in God were just a few of them, he told me. He wasn't thrilled about a church wedding, but he couldn't really object without admitting that it was anger, not disbelief, he felt about God. I was just as glad to avoid that argument for a while.

We meant the ceremony to be a small thing, Adam, Jesse, and me, with a pair of witnesses. Peter, the pack's lone submissive, stopped in at the house at just the right time and so was pressed into service as a witness. Zee, my mentor, who would step in and run my business while we were gone on our impromptu honeymoon, was thus brought into our plans almost immediately and claimed the privilege of second witness. Despite rumor, the fae have no trouble going into a church of whatever denomination or religion. It is the steel that the early Christian church brought along with it that was deadly to the fae, not Christianity itself--though sometimes the fae forget that part, too.

Somehow, though, word got out among the pack, and most of them managed to be at the church on Tuesday morning by the time Jesse and I drove in. Adam was coming separately with Peter in a nod to tradition. He had had to stop for gas, so Jesse and I arrived first, and when we parked, there were a lot of familiar cars in the lot.

"Word travels fast," I said, getting out of the car.

Jesse nodded solemnly. "Remember when Auriele was trying to throw a surprise party for Darryl? We might have managed to keep the pack out of this if we could have gotten it done yesterday. Do you really mind?"

"No," I said. "I don't mind. But if we have a lot of people here, Mom's going to feel bad." My stomach began to tighten with stress. One of the reasons to have a planned wedding was to avoid hurting people's feelings. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all.

When we walked into the church, though, it became obvious that more than just the pack had found out. Uncle Mike greeted us at the door--I supposed Zee had told him. Looking over his shoulder, I saw that the old barkeeper had brought a few other fae, including, somewhat to my dismay, Yo-yo Girl, whom I'd last seen eating the ashes of a fairy queen. Yo-yo Girl wasn't really her name, which I had never learned, just what she'd been doing the first time I'd met her. She was dangerous, powerful, and looked like a ten- year-old girl with flowers in her hair, wearing a summer dress. She smiled at me. I think she knew how much she scared me and thought it was funny.

I hadn't intended on walking formally up the aisle. But as people started to arrive, Samuel-- werewolf, previous roommate, and long-time-ago boyfriend--pulled me aside and gave me a bouquet of white and gold flowers.

He pulled my hair away from my left ear and bent down to whisper, "My, but you are going to have your hands full with Jesse, aren't you? A little over three days, and she has the whole thing organized."

"Three?" I said. "We just decided to elope yesterday."

He smiled at me and kissed my forehead. "I heard about it on Saturday." Before Adam returned from the East Coast.

I glanced at Jesse--who smiled brightly at me, and mouthed, "Surprise." Then I took a real look around. While we waited for Adam, the church foyer had been acquiring a festive air as people brought out boxes with flowers and wide white ribbons--and if I wasn't mistaken, a few of the fae were using magic to add their own touch.

I wore my wedding dress, purchased the month before. I'd thought it would be odd, with such a quick ceremony, but since I already had the dress --a great frothy thing from the waist down and formfitting white silk on top with narrow sleeves-- Jesse had decided I should wear it. And Jesse had chosen to wear her bridesmaid gown because "What else would I wear?" I hadn't been suspicious at all, probably because I loved the dress and would have accepted any excuse to wear it.

Someone opened the chapel doors so people could go sit down, but there were a lot of people already seated. Not just wolves and fae--I could see some of Adam's business contacts and some of my regular customers at the garage. Gabriel, my right hand at the garage, and Tony, my contact with the Kennewick Police Department, were sitting next to each other. I took a step closer to the chapel, trying to see everyone Jesse had made come to my elopement. There were a lot of them.

Samuel held me back as the foyer emptied until it was just us, Jesse, and Darryl--and the organ began to play Wagner.

Jesse, on Darryl's arm, led the procession toward the mouth of the sacrament hall. She paused there, to let my sisters Nan and Ruthie, who'd evidently been hiding just inside the chapel doors where I couldn't see them, lead the way, escorted by Warren and Ben, another of Adam's wolves.

At the front of the chapel, Adam waited for me next to the minister.

I blinked back tears, sniffed--and Samuel dropped my arm.

I looked over to see what he was doing, but another man had taken his place.

"Zee wanted to have the honor of giving you away," said Bran, Samuel's father, the Marrock who ruled all the wolves anywhere I was likely to ever go, and the Alpha of the Montana-based wolf pack who had raised me. "But I had prior claim."

"They argued for a good while," Samuel whispered. "I thought there would be blood on the floor."

I glanced in the church and realized that a lot of the Montana pack I'd grown up with were here. Charles, Samuel's brother, sitting next to his mate, smiled at me. Charles seldom if ever smiled.

About that time, humiliatingly, I started to cry.