by Eric James Stone
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Archie’s grip tightened on the wheel as they continued along the driveway. They’d already come at least half a mile on the gravel between perfectly trimmed hedges, and there was no end in sight.
“Uh, honey? How much further is it?” He glanced over at Misty, who was checking her flawless face in the sun-visor mirror.
“Only another mile or so.” She flipped the visor up. “I should have warned you. I’d forgotten how intimidating this place can be.”
“I’m not intimidated.” Again he glanced at her, and saw her amused smile. “OK, so maybe I am, a little. It’s just that I had no idea your parents were so wealthy.”
Misty sighed contentedly. “I know. Just one of the reasons I love you.”
Finally the hedges widened out, and they could see the stately mansion rising before them. Dozens of expensive cars — Ferraris, Rolls Royces, makes he didn’t even recognize — were parked in front.
Archie parked their Honda Accord next to a black limousine and turned the engine off.
“I thought you said this was just a little family get-together for your dad’s birthday.”
Misty bit her lower lip. “I’m sorry, Archie. I’ve been meaning to explain everything to you, but I kept putting it off and putting it off.
“My family. We’re . . . My family’s not . . . normal.”
“OK, so you’re filthy rich, and you throw big parties. Anything else I should know?” He tried to sound flip, but he was a bit shaken by the fact that he knew so little about the woman he’d married two months ago.
“Please don’t be mad at me. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell you everything before. But now I have to.”
“I’m not mad at you, honey. It’s just . . . I’m a small-town Idaho farm boy. I’m not used to ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.’”
“That’s not it.” She sounded like she was trying to stop herself from crying. “Look, my family, we’re not exactly human.”
Archie laughed. “I feel that way about my family sometimes.”
“No, I’m serious. We are not human. I’m not human.”
“What, you’re aliens? Here from another world, wearing human forms to fit in? That’s so . . .” He tried to think of a good word to use, but his mind came up empty.
“No. We’re demons.”
“Demons?” Archie blinked a few times in rapid succession.
She nodded, her sky-blue eyes glistening. “Demons.”
“Demons.” He bobbed his head a little. “As in evil creatures from . . . ?” He caught himself before he said “Heck,” but couldn’t bring himself to call it “Hell.” The ingrained habits from his Mormon upbringing still had power.
“It’s not like we’re all evil. We’re just part of an earlier Creation. I’m not evil, honey, I promise.”
“Of course you’re not.” Crazy she might be, but she couldn’t be evil. He should have known there was something wrong when she didn’t want to have any of her family at the wedding reception. She’d said it was because they didn’t approve of her having become a Mormon.
Demons. Well, he’d just have to humor her until he could try to get her on medication or something. “OK, I’ll try to keep this whole demon thing in mind as I meet your family. I do hope I’m not the human sacrifice that you’re bringing to your dad as a birthday present?”
“No, no, nothing like that. As long as you’re my husband, they won’t harm you.” She paused. “I think. Maybe I should go in alone first to tell them.”
Archie widened his eyes in surprise. “You haven’t told them we’re married?”
“Actually, I haven’t spoken to my family in about three years. We had kind of a falling out. That’s when I decided to go to college, which was a good thing, because that’s how I met you.” She looked at him hesitantly.
Obviously she needed reassurance that he still loved her. He still did, so he leaned over and kissed her. “A very good thing.”