Justine Ch. 22bykalamazoo707©
Zoe's head pounded as she dealt with yet another dignitary wanting to make changes in his accommodations. Not only did he want to change his accommodations, he wanted to change the name on his guest list. With the gala being less than a month away, the calls were coming in more frequently and those making the request were becoming ruder
"I'm sorry Ambassador Bohannon, but that isn't possible." Zoe said in her most reasonable tone of voice.
"Do you know who I am?" The vampire screamed at her.
"I am very aware of who you are.' Zoe replied. "But the deadline for any changes was last week."
"I want to speak to your superior!"
"My superior is the Queen." Zoe replied her tone cooling. "I'm sorry that the guest can't come with you, but I'm sure that you understand the security issues."
The vampire hung up on Zoe a few minutes later vowing to lodge a formal complaint. The next caller was more reasonable and the change they wanted was simple enough.
By the end of the night, Zoe and Pam had had enough.
To add to an already stressful situation, the royal wedding was going to take place the night before the gala officially started. Both Zoe and Pam hoped that if there was another gala that it would last no longer than a weekend.
They knew Justine well enough to know that a one night gala wasn't going to happen. But that was a battle for later. This gala was less than two months away and even after two years to get ready; they were still scrambling to wrap up the loose ends. The calls like the one from Ambassador Bohannon weren't helping.
The only part of the event that was taken care of was the wedding. All of the issues regarding it had been cleared up. There was no ceremony to prepare as it was already written, no music to choose and no minister to argue with about the length of the ceremony although Justine tried.
"Two hours?" she asked when she read through the program. "Two hours?"
Violet sat with her hands in her lap and let Justine rant. It would do no good to interrupt her.
"Half of this shit could be cut out!"
"I understand." Violet said when Justine had finally stopped for a breath, "But you must understand, you are our last Queen. There will never be another wedding like this."
"I have no say in this?" Justine asked.
"You can add to it; but you can't detract from it." Violet said. "I know that it seems excessive, but each part fulfills a role that cannot be skipped. It would be like baking a cake and not putting it the vanilla; it wouldn't taste right."
"Damn Violet." Justine said with resignation in her voice. "What else do I have to do?"
Violet took a deep breath and prepared for the next challenge- the wedding dress.
"You need to try on the wedding dress." Violet said softly.
"What wedding dress? I didn't pick out a dress."
"No you didn't." Violet conceded. "This dress was made centuries ago just for this occasion."
"And I suppose that I have no choice in that either?" Justine asked dryly.
"Well actually you do." Violet replied. "There is some leeway in the design of the dress."
Violet knew that Justine would hate the dress. She would consider it too gaudy and the truth of it was; Violet agreed with her.
"Where's the dress?" Justine asked. She wanted to get it over with so that she could concentrate on the gala.
"It's in a vault downstairs... would you like to go see it?"
"Sure." Justine replied. "Let's make it a party. Call my mom and the others."
"What in the fuck is that?" Justine asked when she saw the dress.
She walked around it horrified.
"Who in their right minds would wear something like that?" she asked as she looked at the dress.
It wasn't the color that she objected to. It was a deep red that matched her eyes. It was what appeared to be millions of jewels that covered the dress from neckline to hem. The style of the dress was far from complimentary for someone of her physical build. It was meant for someone small and petite with a perfect figure and not a curvaceous woman with big breasts, hips and ass.
"I'm not wearing that." she said in a tone that brooked no argument. 'It's ugly and every fat roll that I have would show."
"But Justine..." Violet started to say.
"Violet I don't give a rat's ass about whose going to be offended. That dress is an offense and I'm not wearing it."
Violet looked at Josephine and then Pam for help.
"Don't look at me." Pam said. "I agree with her."
"Same here." Josephine and Zoe said.
"Excuse me." Lottie said quietly, "Does the creator of the dress still live?"
"Emmanuel is the creator and yes he still lives." Violet replied. "Why do you ask?"
"If the issue is whether he will be offended or not; maybe he won't be if someone talks to him." Lottie replied.
"Where does he live?" Justine asked.
"He lives all over the world." Violet replied. "He's never in one place for long."
Justine closed her eyes and then opened them.
"He's in Canada... he'll be here in a day." She said. "Until then, let's work on the gala."
Even after all that they witnessed, all of them; Josephine included were still surprised at what she could do.
Emmanuel arrived early the next evening. He was a pleasant looking vampire with dark brown hair and eyes who favored brightly colored clothes.
"I've been waiting for the summons." He told Justine and Quinn. "In fact, I thought that it would come much sooner than it did. The gala is less than two months away."
"Yes I know." Justine replied. "I just saw the dress yesterday... may I be honest?"
"By all means." Emmanuel replied.
"I don't mean to be rude, but that dress... it's not me." Justine said.
"I agree." Emmanuel replied. "You have to remember that I created that dress centuries ago when gaudy was in style. I can see by the way that you are dressed that you have much simpler taste. I can also see that the style is wrong as well. Give me two nights then come see me. I think that you'll be pleased."
"Thank you for understanding." Justine said.
"You are quite welcome my Queen. I also took the liberty of bringing some of my other designs with me. I would be most honored if you accepted any or all of them with my complements."
Quinn watched the vampire with interest. He didn't quite trust him. As Justine and Emmanuel talked, Quinn slipped into his mind. The only thing that he saw was that the vampire was attracted to Justine and not as a friend. He understood the attraction, Justine was a beautiful woman; but he didn't like it. He poked around for a few more seconds and deemed Emmanuel for the most part harmless.
"I also designed some things for you sire." Emmanuel said. "I hope that you will accept them with my complements."
"Thank you." Quinn said. "Where are you staying?"
"I have a home not far from here." Emmanuel replied. "But if I stayed here, I could work on the gown nonstop until it is as the Queen desires."
Quinn gave Emmanuel a long assessing look before looking at Justine.
"Of course you can stay here." Justine replied as she looked at Emmanuel. "I'm sure that you noticed the drain on your powers."
"Yes I did." Emmanuel replied.
"You won't regain them until you leave." Quinn said watching the vampire's reaction.
"Oh my... I'll need some of them so that I can work on the dress." Emmanuel said.
Immediately he felt a return of some of his powers.
"The only ones that are restored are those that you need to work on the dress. You won't be able to vanish from one place to the other. The only speed you will have is for working on the dress." Justine said.
"I understand." Emmanuel said with a bow of his head.
"Good." Justine said. "Darren will show you to your room and see to your needs."
After Emmanuel was gone, Justine turned to Quinn.
"Did I see the green-eyed monster?" she teased.
Pam burst in before Quinn could finish his thought.
"Justine, I've had it!" She exclaimed. "I'm tired of dealing with all of the rude assholes who knew when the deadline for making changes was!"
"Pam." Quinn said, "What's the problem?"
"All of us are getting tired of being yelled at and being treated like shit when we won't give in. When we remind them that the deadline has passed and that the directives came from you..."
"Call Auggie." Justine said. "I'll make a statement."
"You will?" Pam asked.
"Yes... now call him and let me know when he's ready." Justine said.
A few minutes later, Justine and Quinn were sitting in front of a computer monitor talking to Auggie.
"I want this to be one of those special broadcast things on every station including the radio and internet." Justine said.
'You got it." Auggie said. "Can I make a request?"
"Don't tell me." Quinn said. "You're getting slammed with emails and phone calls too."
"Yes." Auggie replied. "We can barely manage the website because we're being bombarded for information. We're trying to post daily updates, but as soon as it posts; we're already slammed for the next update."
"I'll address it." Justine said. "How long before we're ready?"
"Give me five minutes." Auggie replied.
While they waited for Auggie, Quinn kissed Justine's cheek.
"We need to meet with Mikhail and the others when we're done here." He said.
"Yes I know." Justine replied. We need to get this security thing nailed down."
"Okay... I'm ready." Auggie said. "Remember to look into the camera. It helps with the transmission."
The light on the camera blinked signaling that Justine could begin.
"Good evening everyone." She started. "I apologize for interrupting your favorite television and radio shows, but there are issues that need to be addressed. I'll start with the website first. It has come to my attention that the website is being spammed for information even after new postings. I am commanding that this stop. Information is posted on a daily basis and spamming the site will not hurry the next update. So once again, do not email or call for information.
The next issue is the phone calls that our staff has been receiving. Each invitation contained the dates of the gala, a RSVP card and another card which gave the dates for which changes would no longer be accepted. That date passed two weeks ago and yet our staff is still getting calls demanding that changes be made. Those dates remain firm so do not call asking to make changes.
Do not call asking to speak to me, the king, the Queen Mother or her mate. Our staff is following our directives. I understand that things happen, but I'm sure that you understand the security issues with having a weeklong gala. I want to be clear on something, if anyone and I don't care who you are, shows up with an unauthorized guest; you and the guest will be escorted off the premises. From this moment on, do not call asking for changes. This is my command.
I will let you all return to your programs and I wish you a pleasant evening."
The light on the camera blinked once and went out.
"Thank you!" Auggie exclaimed. "That was perfect!"
"Good... that should help." Justine replied.
"Are you ready to meet with the security guys?" Quinn asked.
Mikhail, Lorenzo and Maurice sat in the library waiting for Thomas and Edward to show up.
"Justine, Quinn, Josephine and David are coming too." Mikhail said.
"We're here." Quinn said as he and Justine walked in.
A few minutes later, everyone was present.
"Alright." Mikhail said. "As we all know, the wedding and gala are less than two months away. One of the things that we've been working on is a threat assessment. In other words, we were trying to figure out which of our mates are the most likely to be taken. We know that Justine, Quinn, David and Josephine won't be the direct targets. You would know within seconds where the danger was and would act accordingly."
"They'll try to get to us through one of you." David said.
"If anything were going to happen; yes." Mikhail replied. "But not just us... any of the security people could be used which is why they won't know their assignments until just before their shifts start. They will not be allowed to trade assignments nor will they have the same assignments more than once. The same applies to those who will pose as guests.
All of us who have security teams are using them and they will each be checked before they start their shift. Maurice has hired Gremlin's clan to assist as well. They will be part of the visible security teams with Gremlin coordinating them. Any questions so far?"
When there were none, he continued.
"Any children and mates of the security teams will be taken to an undisclosed location which will be warded as well as guarded which leaves the issue of our mates. After exploring all of our options, we finally came up with one that all of us were comfortable with. Our mates must never leave our side. If they need the ladies room to freshen up; one of us must go in with them. We've already been talking with them about the importance of staying close to us and not wandering off.
There is no indication that there will be trouble; but we need to be prepared. It does help that the wedding and gala will be at the same place instead of in different locations as originally planned. Thank you for that." he said looking at Justine.
As soon as she heard their concerns, she compromised and bought a large parcel of land away from the city. The two hundred acre parcel now had hotels and anything else that would be needed for the gala.
"I'm going to let Thomas explain what he's doing." Mikhail said and sat down.
"One of the buildings is an infirmary where three doctors and three nurses will be on duty at all times. For us there will be another set of medical staff that will come to our suites if they are needed. The infirmary will be stocked with the antidotes to the most common poisons and a few of the rare ones."
"What if the poison is one that you don't have the antidote for?" David asked.
"That isn't a problem." Thomas replied. "All that would be needed would be a drop of a missing ingredient. You see, the base of all of the antidotes is the same."
"Would the medical staff know which one to give or which ingredient to add?" Josephine asked.
"Yes... all of the medical staff must have a working knowledge of poisons and their antidotes. I should also mention that the antidotes will also be in the kitchen and in the different food areas."
The meeting continued into the early morning hours and still there were things to work out. There were still too many unknowns. Justine stopped in to see if things had improved for those manning the phones.
"Thank you!!" Zoe exclaimed as soon as she saw Justine.
The calls had trickled to practically nothing and those who called had missed the broadcast.
"You're welcome and let me know if it starts again." Justine replied. "Do you need anything else?"
"No we're good." Pam replied. "We're about to shut down for the day. I can't wait to see what Emmanuel does with your dress."
"Me either." Justine said. "It's got to be better than what it was."
"True, but I think he'll come up with something that you'll like which reminds me, are we invited to the big wedding?" Pam asked.
"Of course you are!" Justine exclaimed. "Why wouldn't you be?"
"I... we didn't want to assume." Pam replied.
"Pam, you are my best friend. We suffered through college and law school together, took the BAR together and became vampires together. Zoe has been here for me from the beginning, so yes all of you are coming to the wedding. I wouldn't have it any other way. Why don't you all get with Emmanuel and have him design your gowns for the wedding? My treat."
"Are you serious?" Pam asked.
"I'm serious as a matter of fact; I'll talk to him about designing the dresses for all of you including Regina and Naila." Justine said.
"That would be awesome!" Pam exclaimed.
"Good. I'm meeting him tomorrow night you can all come with me." Justine said.
"I'll tell the others." Pam said as she stood up and stretched.
Justine went to the office that she shared with Quinn and called Regina.
Over the past two years, Regina and Naila had become two of her closest friends. When she needed a little more normalcy in her life; she always reached out to them.
"Regina? How are you and my goddaughter? Poor Jon! And how is Naila? She's there with you? Can you put me on speaker phone?"
Justine looked at a picture of her and Quinn while she waited.
"Okay, we're good." Regina said. "How are things going?"
A few minutes later they were laughing at Justine's description of her dress.
"You are joking aren't you?" Naila asked.
"No joke!" Justine replied. "I mean it was uglier than the worst thing that you could imagine which leads me to the point of my phone call. Emmanuel, the designer of the dress is here. He's redoing the dress and I thought that he could design your dresses for the wedding."
There was a long pause before Naila or Regina spoke.
"We're coming to the wedding?" Regina asked.
"Why does everyone think that they're not coming?" Justine asked. "Of course you're coming! Now, be here tomorrow evening and bring the kids; I want to see them."
"Thank you." Regina said. "We'd be honored to attend your wedding."
"Good and besides, it I have to be uncomfortable in a gown and heels; so do my friends. I'll see you tomorrow evening with the babies."
Regina hung up, looked at Naila and smiled.
"I love weddings!" she said.
If the Realm had been in an uproar when Justine was found, it was far beyond that now. The place had an entirely different feel to it since Justine made it possible for people to come and go as they wished. Every available room was in use as dressmakers from around the world appeared to make outfits for the wedding and gala. Along with them came the hairdressers and the makeup artists to work with the designers.
Wilhelmina was long forgotten as the Realm prepared for the festivities. Gabra walked from room to room with a smile on her dark face. She loved the excited chatter and the music that was playing much too loud. Her mate Jian walked beside her with a hand on her back. They were both aware that they made an odd couple if only because of their nationalities; she was from Africa and he was Chinese.
When they appeared in the realm after they passed on their reign, they were the topic of hushed discussions. It they noticed, they didn't let on. They took their walks around the grounds speaking to everyone they saw in soft voices.
One evening someone's curiosity got the better of them.
"Tell us." They said. "How is it that a woman from Africa meets and mates with a man from China?"
The conversations around them stopped.
"I mean let's think about this." The speaker continued. "You're both over three hundred years old; how in the hell did you find each other?"
That was a question that they had asked themselves from the moment they mated and they still had no answer except for one. It was the answer they accepted and no other answer mattered. Jian took Gabra's hand in his, brought it to his lips and kissed it. They had been wondering when someone would ask the question.
"We do not know." Jian said softly. "We have decided that it was purely the work of the fates and we no longer question it. It is of no consequence to us."
"What do you mean that you don't know?"
This time the speaker was Wilhelmina. It was obvious that she didn't believe them.
"He means exactly what he says." Gabra replied her tone cool.
She hadn't liked Wilhelmina on sight but had kept her counsel. The room remained silent as the two former queens assessed each other. Everyone was surprised when Wilhelmina backed down under Gabra's cool stare.
"I meant no offense." Wilhelmina said with a bow of her head that further astounded everyone. "I was merely .... Well, never mind; please accept my apologies for my rudeness."