Drake and I drove for hours to Okalani, some hundred miles away to find the reservation. Sarah said she’d watch Jasmine until we got back so that we could concentrate on the task at hand. Hopefully the trip will be fruitful. I watched Drake navigate my car along the long stretch of road. He’d decided the best test drive was one with distance.
“She handles like a dream. I think it’s a great car, Zoe,” he said grabbing my hand and placing it in his lap. He’d gingerly caress me as he continued the journey.
We finally arrived to town and I was anxious to stretch. My bones felt old from the long sit. “We should have just flown,” I pouted.
I exited the vehicle and followed Drake into the woods. It felt like hours walking in circles. “This isn’t right. Are we lost, Drake?” I asked watching him look around as though he had no clue where we were.
“Did you hear something?” he asked.
“No. Just the wind in the trees.”
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
“You’re kidding right?”
“Just don’t move Zoe. I won’t go far.”
He ran forward and disappeared in the bushes.
I waited patiently and still for him to return. I heard rustling just to the left of me.
“Drake? Is that you?”
I saw two bright yellow eyes emerge from the trees and heard the distinct growl of a gray wolf. My body tensed as I watched the angry creature walk towards me. His fur was ruffled and showed its obvious annoyance of me being in his territory.
“Drake?” I tried to say loud enough for him to hear but quiet enough so as not to upset the beast. I saw him approach just from the right. “Help, please,” I whispered with the same fear in my voice.
“Shh, Zoe, don’t move.”
I stood perfectly still as the large animal gained ground on me. His teeth uncovered in a ferocious snarl and his mouth dripping saliva.
“Relax Zoe, just remain calm I won’t let him hurt you.”
The wolf was nearly at my feet when he stopped sniffed at Drake and then pounced at my face. With the same speed, Drake had tackled him and threw him to the other side of the woods. “Let’s move!” He said grabbing my hand and running out of the trees to a clearing.
We stopped suddenly as we noticed we were now surrounded by a few more of the wild beasts. “Now what?”
“Now we’re about to be eaten,” Drake said.
There was a sharp whistle released through the trees and the wolves all disappeared; all but one, the one that had me pinned.
“They’re guardians. They protect this reservation from unwanted attention,” a man said approaching behind the wolf.
“Who are you?” he asked as he rubbed the wolf near his leg.
“I’m Zoe Vale. We were asked to come and speak with the Chieftain by Teresa St. Marks; she’s a friend of his.”
“You’re the young Vale witch? We were told you were dead. We were not expecting your arrival.”
“Well, that has partial truth,” I said. “I was killed but now I’m a…”
“Vampire? We don’t get very many of your kind in these parts.”
“Come, I’ll escort you to the Chief. We walked with the man to the center of the reservation.
“Winema, this is the Vale witch and her Odakota,” he introduced us…kind of.
“Drake Steele? The Gods have certainly been kind to you,” he walked down and shook his hand. “Thank you Caleb, you may return to your bride. What brings you here, Drake Steele?”
“Teresa. She said you’d be able to guide us.”
“Guide you? What are you needing guidance for?”
“Have you ever heard of Zavier Kayne?” I asked stepping forward.
“Yes; such a vile man, the abuse he has inflicted on the natural balance and our ancestral spirits is unspeakable. He has been steadily increasing his powers.”
“Which is exactly why we’re here; I have the ability to tap into an unrivaled and immense source of power that could possibly stop him, but whenever I do, I get headaches and nose bleeds. There is too much for me to hold. Teresa suggested…”
“A Walk with the Ancients,” he finished my sentence.
I nodded. “I had the pleasure of meeting an Ancient once before. He guided me through trials to restore my life.”
“Did you not succeed? You stand before me as an undead.”
“I was successful; I chose to remain in this state to better protect my family and friends.”
“That was a very noble and selfless act! I’m sure the Ancients will smile upon you.”
He walked us further into the reservation. We neared a large pyre and a celebration. There were tribal dancers performing a ritual dance.
“What are they celebrating?” I asked as we passed them.
“Two of our members were joined in marriage. The celebration has been ongoing since last moon. That’s Caleb, the one you met earlier and his bride Palesa.”
We reached a wooded area and the Chief pointed. “You are to walk forward and stop just inside. Once you have vision of the water Goddess, you will trance and then take your walk. Good luck young Vale.”
I walked into the brush and waited. There was a large burst of light and I felt myself floating. I was shifted into another realm and was standing in a white room.
A watery figure moved towards me. “I am Belinda, your guide for the walk.” She reached her hand to me. “Let us begin.”
Drake waited with the partiers, watching as the newlyweds celebrated their wedded bliss and drank moonshine. They looked extremely happy together. He smiled at the thought of having the same celebration with Zoe one day.
No date was set and he was anxious; but he wanted it to be right and knew Zoe would want her family around.
“They’ve been waiting on this day for many moons,” Winema Redfoot said behind him. He took a seat on the log near him.
“He had to wait until she was of age before the Creator would bless their union, but they’ve been in love since before she was born. They were destined souls.”
“That’s how I feel about Zoe, Winema. I watched her grow into the beautiful person she is now. I asked her to marry me and everyday I’m hoping is the day she tells me she’s ready to be my wife.”
“Why wait? Why don’t you tell her you’re ready and set a date?”
“Because I know she’ll want her sister and best friends with her. She had a book when she was a child that she drew her perfect wedding in. I want that for her. But if it were up to me, we’d have hopped the first train to Vegas or run down to the courts for the quickest ceremony possible,” he smiled.
“Don’t short change yourself, Drake. You are both different people now I’m sure. Her desires may have changed. It’s up to you to determine that. Perhaps you should seek council with Orenda the Rain Mother; she’s our Seer. She can guide you down the right path.”
He stood and walked towards the newlyweds.
Drake sat thinking over the Winema’s words.
He walked over to the Orenda’s hut and took a seat. “She will be happy with whatever you decide,” she said before he could speak. “Your union will be blessed.”
I walked out of the woods a little clearer to my purpose and I felt stronger. I was still unsure that I could take in the full power of my source without fear of distress, and it wasn’t something I was eager to test.
I found Drake celebrating at the Pyre, the smile on his face widened when he saw me.
He ran over and swooped me into his arms. “Marry me tonight, please.”
“Yes, please, become my wife tonight, I don’t want to wait any longer.”
“Drake, what about Maggie? And Sam? My parents?”
“We can summon them here! Everything will be perfect! Say yes and make me happy!” he said clutching my waist with his hands tight.
I smiled at him, “Of course my answer is yes!”
He pulled me closer and kissed me, “I love you, Zoe.”
I wrapped my arms around him. “We should start gathering everyone now. It may take a while with my parents and I want them here, Drake.”
He pulled away slightly and kissed my forehead. “I know baby, we’ll make it work and if not tonight, definitely tomorrow!”
He walked over to the Chief to ask his blessing. “She said yes to tonight!”
The Winema pounded his walking stick and grabbed the attention of everyone. The drummers stopped and everyone walked closer to his podium. “Prepare us for a matrimonial celebration!” he yelled. Those around him cheered and began preparing the ceremony.
I walked up to them as they cheered and celebrated in chorus; Drake laced his fingers with mine and held my hand tight.
Two women grabbed me and dragged me to a tent near the back. They began sizing me up for robes. The Seer and Shaman worked on summoning everyone and Drake also was carted off to be redressed.
Maggie joined me in the room, “Zoe? That was really scary. A little notice next time please?”
“It was all Drake Sis. He decided tonight would make a perfect wedding night. Did Daniel come with you?”
“Yes. I asked the one that brought us here to erase what happened and make him think we drove.”
“You still haven’t told him?” She shook her head. “So he doesn’t know I’m dead?”
“Zoe…shh!” she walked over and hugged me. “Sam’s here, she said she’s anxious to play her new song for you.”
“That sounds great!” Moments later she joined Maggie and me in the tent.
“Zoe!” she ran over to hug me. “I can’t believe it! You aren’t enchanted or anything right?” she joked.
“No. It’s all me,” I smiled.
I took a seat at a table and they sat with me. I began writing vows to Drake.
“You’ve decided to write your own?”
“No. I just hope Drake has decided the same or else it’ll be one sided.”
“I’ll check,” Maggie smiled before exiting.
It was getting really late and the Shaman had still not summoned Mom or Dad. I was getting nervous that they would even arrive.
I started pacing the small area in the cabin and I saw Drake heading towards me. Samantha quickly jumped in front of him to stop his approach. “It’s bad luck,” she said. “What did you need?”
“Can you please tell Zoe we’ll have to postpone until tomorrow, the Orenda is unable to make contact with the spirit world and her parents won’t make it in time.”
“I’ll let her know.”
Maggie, Sam and I drove to a local hotel to avoid all contact with Drake while the reservation made room to house the other guests. Jasmine and Sarah joined us shortly after.
I pulled out the chair at the desk and began rewriting my vows.
The morning of the wedding, I awoke in panic. I still had not decided on what to say to Drake. I grabbed my robes from the closet and sat them on the bed and took a seat at the desk. I started writing the words in my heart and nervously reading them before balling up the paper and tossing it towards the trash bin.
I paced for hours trying to think of just the right words that would convey how I felt about him. I was so sure everything I wrote sounded ridiculously sappy.
“No! That’s not right!” I tossed another notebook of paper to the bin and started once more.
“Zoe, the wedding is in a few hours, are you still going?”
“Yes, Maggie. Nothing sounds right. I’m having a time trying to express myself to him. I want it to be perfect.” I gazed lovingly at the ring he’d placed on my finger, the endless loop of love he’d told me it represented.
“Vincent’s outside, he wanted to know if he could see you.”
I sighed. I wasn’t ready for this. Vincent. I nodded slightly at her as she went out to get him.
“Hey Zo,” he said in hushed tones. His voice was cracking and I was sure it was the result of sorrow; he looked as though he’d been crying and yet he smiled as he approached me.
“You…you look beautiful, Zo. But I guess that’s no surprise. These are for you,” he said handing me a bouquet of red roses. He took a seat next to me and hung his head.
“I don’t want to upset you today. And I don’t want to be myself and make advances. I’m struggling so hard to restrain myself right now. In a few hours you’ll be his completely.” He looked up at me and I saw tears forming in the corners of his eyes.
“Please, just listen, Zo,” he interrupted. “I love you. I’ve held on to this fantasy that you loved me just as much and wanted to be with me and that I could make you happy and as outrageous as it sounds, it made me feel human again. It made me feel as though my existence was worth all the pain and suffering and loveless relationships I’ve endured since birth. My parents never loved me. I was their conversation piece for parties only because it enriched their status with the right people.”
“I’ve hopped from one bed to the next with some faceless and nameless woman almost every day of the week from the time I reached puberty. No one has ever meant so much to me as you have. You were my first, Zo. You were the first person that ever said those three little words to me and meant it.” He moved closer to me and grabbed my hands.
“I’d die for you and right now I think I am. I just wanted you to know before you said I do; I wanted you to understand the reasons behind my ruthlessness to get you. But Drake won. He’ll forever have what I’ve always wanted and I envy him with every bone in my body. I just want you to be happy.”
He stood me up and held me tight. I choked on tears as I felt him shudder in soft sobs on my shoulder. I’ve never seen him react with such tenderness and it scared me. I hugged him back, unable to soothe him and I knew it. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to feel so much for him. I was thoughtless and careless with my heart and it was because of me that he felt so torn right now.
“I’m leaving now, Zo,” he said pulling away. “I can’t sit and watch you profess your love to him. If I weren’t dead already, this would definitely drive the stake into me.” He stared at me, watching my eyes intently before turning his gaze. “I want to kiss you, but I’m afraid that if my lips touched yours again…” he turned and exited the room.
I walked to the bed and tied on my ceremonial robes and slumped into the chair at the desk. His first words were he didn’t want to upset me? How could he say the things he did and not think it would upset me? I stared blankly at the bouquet and my hand stroked a bud of one of the roses he’d given me.
I hate where he is right now. I had hoped Vanessa would distract him, but he only seemed more determined. There wasn’t anything I could do for him. I moved the roses to the edge of the table and turned my attention back to my vows. My head was pounding and my hand was unsteady as I scribbled my thoughts to Drake.
I don’t know how long I was sitting in this silent torment. I looked up at the clock. “Crap, 10 minutes! I’m going to be late for my own wedding!”
I jumped up, hurriedly pinned my hair, put on my shoes and caught a cab down to the reservation.
Samantha started to sing and Drake stood at the Altar anxiously gazing up the aisle in anticipation of his future bride. She’d reached the end of the song and started over. Those in attendance began small conversations amongst themselves.
Where is she? Drake thought not taking his eyes from the entryway. He glanced over at Maggie and she shrugged. He saw Vincent walking behind the archway and he charged at him.
“What did you do? Where is she?”
“I didn’t do a thing. I went to congratulate her and left,” he said pushing his way past Drake.
“Why isn’t she here, Vincent? What did you say to her?”
“It’s none of your business what I said to her; nothing about the way I feel is going to affect your big day. Zo is in love with you Drake. She’ll be here.”
He walked up towards the guests and took a seat in the back. He told himself he would only stay for a little while after convincing himself he should at least be here in support of Zo. She was still at least a friend.
Drake stepped back up to the Altar and Samantha went into her 4threndition.
I almost jumped out of the car before it came to a stop. I saw my Dad standing on the pathway pacing and staring at his watch and hurriedly reached him. I smiled to myself, the Seer was able to summon them both AND they were corporeal to boot! I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tight.
“I was stuck on vows. Is Drake upset?”
“No. He’s waiting anxiously for you. You look beautiful, Bumble.”
“Old magic. It’s very temporary, so we should get a move on. Are you ready?”
I sighed, nodded enthusiastically and took my Dad’s arm. An usher ran ahead and informed Samantha we were at last prepared to start. As I neared the aisle all eyes turned towards me. “Relax sweetheart, they are all here for your happy day,” Dad said in response to my muscles tensing.
I looked up the aisle and saw Drake’s smiling face and instantly I relaxed. He looked incredibly handsome in his ceremonial robes and I could tell he was antsy as Dad and I marched towards him.
We stopped shortly before reaching the Fire and Drake came down to me.
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” the Chieftain asked.
“I do,” Dad said looking at me with a smile in his eyes. He kissed my cheek and presented my hand to Drake’s.
Drake and I took the seven steps around the fire and to the Altar together. “Drake Steele and Zoe Vale, before the Creator please exchange your vows.”
“Zoe, I cannot remember a day of happiness or a moment I smiled that didn’t involve you. Your companionship directs me and helps me defy every obstacle in my path. Your patience and wisdom calms my restless nature. Your friendship guides me as I learn and grow and become the man I am; the man that I’ve wanted to be. I want to be your shoulder to cry on, the laugh for your jokes, the choice for your indecision and your partner in crime. You are my will to survive, my reason for living. You are the nourishment of my soul and the guiding hand of my destiny. Because of you, I know my true purpose, I know who I am. I will never take you for granted and I’ll cherish you always.”
Tears began to well up in my eyes. His words were beautiful. I looked him in the eyes and got lost in the comfort I was so used to finding there.
“Drake, I want to tell you how blessed I feel to share my life with you. We’ve experienced so much together and even this moment we cannot repeat, the memories just passed, were real and new. The love I give is true and is made for you. The times we share are golden and precious, reminiscent, notable, special. Together we can endure Earth’s change. You are the one I want in my life, my heart and my soul. You are the confidence in my step, the understanding in my ideas, the intimacy in my touch and the reflection of true love. Forever I will walk with you, trust you and follow you in faith.”
Drake placed the ring on my finger. “I’ve been carrying this in my pocket since before I proposed with the other one.”
Winema Redfoot tied a rope around my wrist and connected it to Drake’s. Everyone stood up and began cheering and the Winema joined us in marriage.
Drake took me in his arms and kissed me and I melted. I locked this kiss in my memory; wishing I could step outside of my body and paint us to capture the moment forever.
The reservation was kind enough to provide a private hotel room for Drake and me. We spent our wedding night under the stars and in the privacy of a gorgeously decorated suite. I dove into the bed and watched as he prepared us drinks. He sat the champagne near the bed and crawled in with me. “Does this room seem overly pink to you?”
“I don’t know Drake; I wasn’t really looking at it.” I wrapped my arms around his back as he rested his body on top of me.
“Thank you for taking my name. I know your Mom wanted you to keep the Vale tradition and I appreciate you putting Steele on the end,” he smiled as he pulled me closer. He gazed into my eyes and I could see a new sparkle in his. “I want to start a family with you, Zoe.”
“Well Drake, there’s no time like the present,” I said pulling his lips to mine.
My body was enflamed with desire; screaming for release. I wanted him so bad I ached. His passion rose with mine; I knew that like me his body craved the release that only love could give.
He pulled up slightly and looked me in my eyes before slowly entering me. I blinked in passion, feeling him gradually fulfilling my needs. His lips pressed against mine again and he began to increase his pace, grinding his hips deeper into me. Our kiss broke as moans escaped our lips. His mouth travelled down to my neck and shoulders; kissing, nibbling, caressing. He pushed into me with soft and gentle strokes; I swayed my hips to match him and my body stiffened as I felt him bring on my first of many orgasms.
We didn’t sleep. All night and most of the morning his body was on mine. He was patient and loving but commanding in his purpose. We reached new heights of intimacy; he explored my body as if it was new and we were touching for the first time. I was drowning in him, my husband, Drake Emmanuel Steele.