Fangs, Sheathed

The scratch of colored pencil on paper was the only sound in Grandmother Amaryllis’s conservatory. Xander sat beside one the massive pillars that framed the center of the indoor garden. The moonlight shone through the glass ceiling on hundreds of exotic night blooming flowers from around the world, but he only had eyes for the Arctia caja he was sketching.

Xander stopped to examine the shadow of the moth’s wing as it sat on the flower of a sprawling Queen of Night plant. He pulled out 5 different hues of purple, appraising each until he settled on one and blended it into the matching shadow in his sketchbook. Satisfied, he flipped to an earlier attempt to draw the same moth, before Mother noticed his interest and gifted him with the professional quality colored pencils. There was no doubt; he had grown better, just as she said he would.

He started contemplating shades of cream when a howl shattered the peace of the conservatory.
Emma, he thought, gritting his teeth. She and Grandmother must have returned from their outing. There went any chance of finishing this properly – unless Grandmother distracted her with something. Maybe she would. He took a deep breath, went back to his drawing when a second howl knifed through his ears, followed by an agitated Grandmother Amaryllis.

Her dark eyes found Xander’s. “I cannot believe how ungrateful your sister is!”

Xander didn’t say a word. He wondered why adults said these things. It’s not as if Emma hatched from a cocoon last night and the whole family hadn’t endured a century’s worth of her tantrums, her whining, or her leaving half eaten body parts lying about.

Grandmother Amaryllis cleared her throat, letting Xander know a response was expected. “What has she done now?” he asked.

“Well, I had such a lovely evening planned. We went to her favorite café. I bought her a doll.”

Spoiled brat, thought Xander.

“And then when we arrived at the dentist’s office, she just about embarrassed me completely!” Grandmother said.

“The dentist?”

“Yes,” she said. “I know she can be difficult there, so I just didn’t tell her until we arrived.”

“Um, Grandmother, are you sure that was wise?”

She gave him a withering look. “What was I supposed to do? Emma tantrums even when it’s a normal appointment. I could only imagine what she would have done if she knew she was getting braces. Thank goodness I told them to have extra sedative on hand. I had to pay extra for the sharpshooters, but it was worth it. She was out for the whole thing.”

Another howl interrupted Grandmother Amaryllis.

“But she’s awake now,” Xander said.

“She’ll thank me later – I told her that – when she has a nice smile like yours she’ll be properly grateful.”

Xander started packing away his art supplies.

“Xander, darling, if you are leaving could you find Bradford and have him bring me a restorative? I am simply worn out. Tell him to bring it to my sitting room”

Xander nodded and then went to look for his sister.

She was slumped, sobbing by the statue of Vlad the Impaler in the foyer. Xander reached out and touched her shoulder. She drew away snarling.

“Braces, Xander, braces! They’re awful and they hurt and how am ever going to bite anything again? I’ll have to have blood in a cup, like some kind of toddler and I’ll never strike fear into anything like that!” She howled again.

“Emma, take it easy. Yeah, Grandmother should have told you first but –“

“But what? She just wants me to be just like you, and I’m not. I’m me. And I don’t want braces!”

“There’s nothing in the world, not braces, not even Grandmother that can stop you from being you. You’re kind of annoying like that. And you’ll be able to hunt again. There’s a bit of a trick to getting the blood out, and it will be messy at first, but I’ll show you how. We can go hunting tonight even,” Xander said.

“Will it be terribly messy?” she asked, sitting up. “With blood everywhere? And screaming?”

He rolled his eyes. “Yes," he said. "It will take a little longer so there will be a lot of mess and screaming.”

“Let’s go now!”

“No, first I have to tell Bradford to get Grandmother a snack. Then I am I going to finish up my drawing.”

Emma crossed her arms. “Weird bug pictures again?” she said.

“Moths. And they’re not weird they’re awesome. And no complaining while I finish or we won’t go anywhere.”

“I guess that’s fair. As long as you don’t to talk me about them until I fall asleep. No more naps tonight.”

“Actually, I was going to talk to them and you won’t fall asleep, you’ll learn something,” he said, offering his hand to help her stand up. “Did you know some of the moths in the Saturniidae family are considered pests, while some make silk? One genus is poison to the touch.”

Emma took Xander's hand and got up. “OK, you can tell me about the poison one, but that’s it," she said. And together they walked back to the conservatory.



Song Choice: Dance Little Sister by Terrence Trent D'Arby

Author's Note: This story can certainly be read alone, but readers might find the earlier installments in Xander and Emma's story, Like Kids in a Candy Store and Tea With Grandmother, enjoyable as well.


21 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is a fun read. I was confused at first, having never read any of these, and I thought they were werewolves (what with the howling). That's why I removed that other comment.

    I liked all of these little touches; the perfect shade of purple, the statue of Vlad the Impaler in the foyer, and toddlers reaching for cups of blood. Fun times. :-)

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    1. LOL, no worries. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. I love this family. And this story. :)

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    1. *grin* They are awfully fun to write about.

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  4. I like these two. And I could use a (liquid) restorative myself. Oh dear, it's still first thing in the morning.

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    1. I don't know where I'd be without my liquid restoratives!

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  5. Such a good brother! I love these two! So glad you brought them back for another story!

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    1. Thank Magaly. She asked for another one and an idea just came up.

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  6. "I had to pay extra for the sharpshooters." I had to take a break when I got there... to laugh. Then I imagined Emma at the dentist, and nodded.

    I love these siblings, you know that. But their interaction in these tale might be one of my favorites of the ones you've written. I'm enchanted by Xander's quiet determination to take care of problems, by the way he approaches everything as if it was a mathematic equation, and by the way he protects his sister. And oh, my wee Emma! What can I say about my wee Emma? That I would love to see her a Drusilla have tea... and they play with others. Emma's tantrums promise so much when it comes to storytelling. Someone is going to suffer and it's going to be bloody. And I, of course, want to witness those words. For research *cough*.

    This was fantastic! Pacing, mood, setting... character development done well. Even if I hadn't read the previous work, this wee tale would have told me sooo much about the children and the family. ♥

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    1. ...and I clicked "Publish" before proofreading. So if you find a few horrors, just laugh at them and read on. ;-D

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    2. I'm trying hard to work on improving pacing, mood and setting, especially setting because I'm so hit or miss with it. Glad to see it's working. :)

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  7. How old is Emma, again? I like Xander 😍

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    1. Well they're vampires so we're talking quite old, but Emma is around 10-ish and Xander would be around 13-ish if we're talking human equivalents.

      Both siblings are a heck of a lot to fun to write.

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  8. I do love your Xander, Emma and grandmother stories, such a close knit family unit. More please. As for dentists I'm on Emma's side on that one, sharp shooters are probably a good idea.

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    1. LOL, yeah I didn't think she'd go easily into the chair! Thanks for the kind words. :)

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  9. Ha! Magaly beat me too it! The "sharpshooters" line! I made myself a coffee before sitting down to enjoy your story... and then nearly sprayed my computer screen with said coffee after reading that section. :D

    I truly adore this story and these characters!!!

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    1. I am sorry I almost made you lose a mouthful of coffee! I know how precious my caffeinated goodness is to me! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

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    2. Haha. Yes, we mustn't waste any of that "precious ... caffeinated goodness"! And I've just noticed that I typed "too" when I meant "to". D'oh! Guess that's what a great vampire tale does to my ability to construct a sentence correctly! ;D

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  10. Oh I love that you are continuing this story line Emma is such a frightful brat...I adore her lol XXX

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    1. LOL, she is that. But her fangs are in the right place :D

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