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Bonus Story

C. E. Stokes

 C. E. Stokes is a freelance writer living in Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bloomsburg University. Being too much of a foodie to accept the role of starving artist, she turned to writing. Her stories have appeared in multiple issues of Dark Gothic Resurrected and will appear in an upcoming Halloween edition of Quantum Fairy Tales and the anthology Tales from the Grave.

Wedding Plans is a short story about how challenging planning a wedding can be. Especially when the partner doesn’t have the same goal in mind for after the vows. A light story, with a touch of darker humor. I hope you enjoy it!
-- C. E. Stokes

Nothing I can add to that, except enjoy!


Wedding Plans

by C. E. Stokes


Bridal magazines invaded the wooden kitchen table, spilled onto the chairs and covered every available surface.  Colorful sticky notes poked out from dog-earred pages.  The neat script of his fiancee marked ideas for the big day that loomed closer and closer.

John hesitated in the doorway and winced at her loose-fitting pink scrubs.  Once a ring appeared on her finger, the curve hugging shirts vanished only to be replaced with bag-like scrubs.

He slid one foot back towards the front door.  With luck, he'd make it outside before his bride-to-be noticed him.

Julie lifted her head off her arms and glared at him.  Indents from the thick magazine marred her smooth cheek.

Too late.

"This would be easier if your mother wasn't the devil!"  She shoved the magazine away and flopped back in the chair.  The magazine slid across the table and collided with a stack of rejected publications.  The pile teetered but stayed upright.

"Remember, she'll be your mother-in-law after the wedding." His observation earned him a scowl.

In two steps, John was next to her.  Picking up her hand, he tugged her up and into a hug.She sighed against his chest, the tension bleeding out under his hands.  His palms rubbed the tight muscles of her back.

He wondered how long he'd have to hold her this time until she calmed down.

"She's making me reconsider the whole wedding.  Can't we just live in in sin instead?"  Julie groaned and burrowed deeper into his chest.

Wisps of her blonde hair tickled his nose.  His hands swept up her spine to her delicate neck.  His fingers lingered, tracing the knobs of bones under her skin.

The faint smell of floral lotion she wore tickled his nose.  He fought off the urge to sneeze and focused on the subtle hint of the scent that belonged purely to her.  It teased him, drifting up from under the perfumed lotion.

Saliva pooled in his mouth.

  He swallowed and tipped his chin closer to the top of her head. 

"It's stress, my pet.  All brides go through moments of doubt.  Maybe you're simply overreacting." He murmured against her hair.

She stiffened against him.

Probably not his best approach.  He opened his eyes and forced his thoughts back on topic.  His hands moved up and down her back.  This time the tension didn't leave her muscles.

"What'd she do this time?" He tried again.  The tantalizing smell of her teased his senses.

  She pulled away and paced across the kitchen floor. 

"Every day- no, every hour! She sends me long detailed messages about how the wedding should be."  her hands fluttered around her face as she tread across the linoleum.  "And I mean everything; what music the DJ should play, pictures of all sorts of cakes and different menu selections.  And get this, today she sent me a picture of what dress I should wear.  Some frumpy, frilly thing that makes me look like a walking cupcake!"

He flinched as her voice hit octaves reserved for shattering glass.

Oblivious to his wince, Julie dragged the laptop toward her and pecked at the keys.  After pink tipped fingernails brushed her hair out of her face, she gestured to the screen.

"It's definitely cupcake like.  You'd look delicious." He resisted the urge to lick his lips.

"That's not helpful."  She tossed her ponytail over her shoulder with a huff.

John stepped up behind her, his hands settling on her shoulders.  Most days the caresses calmed her down. Today, the didn't have the desired effect.

"Mother wants to be part of our special day."  His voice was low and, he hoped, soothing.

"Yeah, right.  She can't be bothered to meet me.  Or talk to me even though she's trying to dictate my wedding.  Oh.  I meant, our wedding." Julie flushed a delightful shade of pink.

"I made reservations at 'Happy Tuna'.  A nice relaxing dinner will take your mind off everything.  After I drop you off, I'll go home and call mother.  Get her to back off.  All right?" He grinned in response to the small smile appearing on her lips.

"I'd prefer to talk to her myself.  Why won't she talk on the phone if nothing else?" The smile faded.

John worried he'd have to keep rubbing her.

With a sigh, she brushed his hands away and headed down the hall.

"Dinner sounds great.  Give me ten minutes to change."  She tossed a flirty smile over her shoulder and headed down the hall.

After being part of Julie's life for almost a year, John knew that ten minutes was often a hopeful estimate instead of an exact time.  Besides, no matter how much time she took, her recent choices in attire would still hide her delectable curves.

He smiled anyway, in case she turned around.

After the sound of her footsteps faded up the carpeted stairs, John let out the breath he'd been holding.  He pulled one of the magazines closer. Thumbing through it, he skimmed the frivolous headlines and photos of beaming brides.  The wedding idea had been a brilliant one.  It kept her distracted and out of his hair.  He could bear with it a little while longer if it kept her out of his hair.


After a meal that included no mention of his mother, John drove Julie home.  He hopped out of the car and scurried over to open the passenger door.  With a giggle, Julie extended her hand.  He helped her out of the car.

She stumbled off balance, grabbing him by the shoulders to regain her balance.  He grabbed her by the waist before she fell over.  Perhaps the wine had been a mistake.

Julie rose up on tiptoes and tilted her head back.  Her eyes fluttered shut and she pursed her lips.

He'd forgotten "goodnight" meant more petting.

"I know we agreed to wait...but with the wedding so close..." She glanced up through her lashes. 

His arms tightened around her waist.  After a deep breath, he found his voice.

"We've waited this long, my pet.  The wedding night will be that much sweeter. "With one finger, he traced the smooth curve of her cheek down toward her lips.

Her breath caught.  In the dim light of the porch, her pupils dilated.  The scent of her desire mingled with the faint innocent scent that was purely her. 


He kissed her one last time before turning to leave. 

"I love you.  Don't forget to call your mother!" Her voice followed him down the sidewalk.

Gritting his teeth, he waved over his shoulder.  The front door closed behind her. 

He expelled the breath he'd been holding.  Once in the privacy of the car, he cursed and jabbed the keys in the ignition.  Without a backward glance, he shifted the car into drive and headed home.


A short drive from Julie's house, his house waited.  Bushes swayed in the night breeze.  Faint lights from his neighboring homes flickered through the shrubs.  With no sidewalks in this neighborhood, no nosy people wandered passed his home.

He strolled up the front walk.  Crickets chirped around the house, falling silent at his approach.  Once inside, he tossed the keys into a bowl on the small table next to the door.

Darkness filled the small house.  His movements echoed through the empty rooms.  Furniture was an unnecessary luxury in this charade.

Once in the kitchen, he clicked on the lights.  Brightness reflected off the pristine granite counter tops.  He filled a glass at the sink.  A long drink washed the taste of raw fish out of his mouth.

The water tasted crisp and clean.

Much like he imagined Julie would taste. 

Thoughts of his fiance reminded him what he needed to do.  He couldn't avoid the problem forever.

Time to talk to mother.

The clink of the glass against marble echoed through the empty kitchen.  He exhaled and headed toward the basement door.The light switched on with a click.

Bare boards of the staircase creaked under his weight.  At the bottom, he kicked off his shoes.  The leather loafers scraped across the cement floor and stopped near the wall.  He reached down and jerked off his socks.  The chill of the floor oozed into the soles of his feet.  He wiggled his toes with a sigh of relief. 

He padded toward the back of the basement. His feet made no sound. 

Bare bulbs cast bright pools of white light on the floor. He reached up and tapped one.  It swung back and forth, making his shadow dance against the bare cinder block wall.

A simple wooden door waited on the far wall.  A heavy metal padlock hung off a heavy metal brace across the door.

He veered left, stopping in front the wall.  With one finger, he traced over the blocks.  The tough stone scraped his skin.  One block shifted under his hand.  He dug his fingers on either side of it and rocked it back and forth.  The block came free with the little rocking motions.  Dust poofed out in little clouds.

Once it came free, he propped the block against the wall.  Hunching over, he peered into the hole.

A silver key nestled in the crevice.  Pinching it between thumb and forefinger, he turned to the solid oak door.  Tumblers clicked under the key.  The door opened on well-oiled hinges.  Between one step and the next, black smoke rose from under his feet.  It swirled around him, creeping over his legs and up to his waist.  Splitting into several tendrils, the smoke wrapped around each arm before creeping over his neck and face. 

The illusion cracked apart with a pop.  The pieces tumbled to the ground, blinking out of existence before hitting the floor.  The smoke vanished in the blink of an eye.

Free of the confining disguise, he scratched under his arm.  That itch had been crazy for hours.  Finally reaching it was a relief.  His forked tongue crept out to trace one jutting fang.

Toenails clicked against the cement only to stop once he reached the center of the room.

  With a careless wave of his hand, he lit the candles with a faint surge of power.  Flickering lights bounced off the pentagram etched in the floor.

He dropped to his knees.  Arms outspread, he turned his face toward the bare boards lining the ceiling.

Guttural words bounced off the walls of the cramped room.  In the center of the circle, dark black smoke rose.  Wisps expanded only to roll back from the edges of the circle.  After one last swell, the smoke collapsed on itself into a humanoid figure.

The leathery skin creature crouched in the circle.  Large almond eyes, the color of whiskey, regarded him.  Saggy breasts swayed with each breath.  Guttural words, in the same language he chanted, hissed out between a mouthful of fangs.

He held up one hand to cut off her tirade.

"You need to leave Julie alone.  Do you know how hard it is to find a virgin in today's world?"  He hissed at her.

She squatted, her knees spread wide.  Her words died off.

"And stop tormenting her.  I won't have you scaring her off."

Her eyes narrowed.  Her low growl filled the room.  She scuttled back against the far boundary of the circle.

The demon known as John snarled back.  "I mean it, Mother.  After all, weren't you the one who taught me not to play with my food?"


The End

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