Home > How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #7)

How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy #7)
Author: Hailey Edwards

One

Years of waiting, of planning, of taste-testing, had all boiled down to this moment.

“This is the one.” Lethe crammed a perfect square of vanilla sponge cake filled with pastry cream and raspberry jam into her mouth. She had already licked off its marzipan frosting. “Or maybe this one.” A second sample vanished into the black hole of her stomach. Her eyes rolled closed as she made highly inappropriate noises that made me snicker. “Do I look like I’m on a beach? I feel like I’m on a beach. This cake is a beach in my mouth.”

All the orgasmic swaying jostled the yellow parakeet on her shoulder, and Keet cranked out a breathy beep-boop like the good little robot he was pretending to be since they started watching the Transformers movies together.

Leslie Dunn, the head baker at Mallow, let out a small gasp. “The cake is dry?”

“Wha?” Globs of frosting painted Lethe’s mouth, the lone survivors of the cake massacre. “Ish tropical.”

“Oh, yes.” Leslie brightened, her relief clear, when Lethe began moaning around a second helping. Of that cake, anyway. She had to be up to seven or eight total. “It’s coconut cake filled with passion fruit curd then frosted in coconut rum buttercream with toasted coconut flakes.”

That sounded delicious. Too bad I didn’t get a taste before Lethe swiped my sample.

“We’ll take it.” Lethe licked her fork but left crumbs she allowed Keet to peck in jerking motions while making mechanical whirring noises. “It’s not bacon, but it’s a solid number two on my list of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.” A wicked smile on her lips, she twirled her utensil. “Maybe a solid three.”

“Lethe.”

“What?” She leaned in, her voice a whisper. “Hood is a tall man.” She tapped the back of my hand with her fork, the tines denting my skin. “Let’s just say, he’s…proportional.”

Brow pinched and lips parted, Leslie whipped her head back and forth between us. Lethe’s unapologetic use of my money to buy herself cake must have confused the poor woman. That or her breakfast meat innuendos. It was hard to tell.

“I thought that you two…” Leslie searched the meticulous notes she kept on her tablet, hastily flipping from screen to screen. “You always book under Kinase. Lethe Kinase.” She held tonight’s appointment up as proof. “You mean you’re not the happy couple?”

Human flashed above her head in neon lights. Otherwise, she never would have made such a basic mistake. The Society, not to mention the entire paranormal population of Savannah, was salivating for an exclusive invite to the Woolworth-Lawson wedding, what some promised would be the wedding of the century. Fine, there was no neon. But Woolly’s laughter caused the lights to blink, so the effect was the same.

I shot the overhead fixture a pointed look, which had little effect, and counted on Leslie to assume the old house suffered from bad wiring. Humans tended to think electrical before spiritual, and that worked in our favor.

“Lethe is my best friend and my matron of honor,” I explained, happy to redirect her from the flickering light show. “She and her stomach are here to provide moral support. They also make all my wedding-related appointments.”

Thirty-one months, one week, four days, and probably five or so hours ago, I presented Linus Andreas Lawson III with a bread tie studded with pocket lint and asked him to marry me.

That had been the easy part. Everything that came after…let’s just say I wasn’t one of those life is a piece of cake people. Unless the cake had been run over by a delivery truck a few times, scraped off the asphalt, and mounded into a cakelike form that left gravel in your teeth with each bite.

Traditionally, the groom and his family planned the wedding. All the bride had to do was pick a dress and show up ready to say her vows. But his mother was the Grande Dame of the Society for Post-Life Management, and she had her hands full with the myriad programs she had established in the wake of the Siege of Savannah to restore the city to its former splendor.

Even with help from the Woolworth Foundation, which I established to lend aid to those in need, poorer neighborhoods still bore scars from the damage Odette Lecomte and Gaspard Lacroix had inflicted during the vampires’ short but bloody tenure.

With no other family to speak of, Linus would have gotten stuck planning his own wedding down to a reception that wouldn’t insult the gwyllgi in attendance. I couldn’t dump it all on him, not when I had so many human friends used to the reverse being true—the bride’s family footing the bill—who were willing and eager to lend us a hand. Or a mouth, in Lethe’s case.

And, since I had been the officially recognized Potentate of Savannah for exactly three days, I had to ensure any factions within the city who wanted to attend the wedding received an invitation and special consideration for their dietary needs as well as preferential seating to ensure no bad blood got spilled on The Big Day.

Already the Society gossips were salivating for every juicy wedding tidbit they could sink their teeth into. That’s why I chose a human baker. To cut down on leaks. To prevent the cake from being splashed across the papers the day before the ceremony. To guarantee the reveal was worth the wait.

Recovering from her faux pas, Leslie tapped her pen on the tablet’s screen. “Does that mean you prefer the coconut cake as well?”

“Not for the big cake, no.” I snorted at Lethe when she glared daggers at me. “Instead of a groom’s cake, I’m having a matron of honor cake.” Linus ate more these days than he had when we first met, but an entire cake would be wasted on him. The weirdo didn’t have one sweet tooth in his head. The matron cake was his idea. “You can make it in the coconut.”

Beside me, Lethe did a little dance on her stool, almost knocking me off mine.

Feathers rustling while she wiggled under him, Keet spread his wings in jerky motions. “Vroom vroom.”

Fiddlesticks.

Braced for chaos, I kept an eye on him, expecting him to tear off through the air like a race car on a dirt track at any moment now that he had “transformed.” Probably into Bumblebee. He lost his mind when that robot got screen time. But it appeared we were in luck. The cake crumbs must be weighing him down, because he didn’t budge.

“Excellent choice.” Leslie’s eyes brightened with the promise of another sale. “Have you made your selection?”

“The big cake will be champagne cake with strawberry buttercream filling and champagne frosting.”

Champagne was fancy-pants, and that’s what counted in the Society. To them, events were all about the expense, the prestige, and the exclusivity. Our friends would be the only guests who caught the reference, but I couldn’t resist a nod to Linus and me with the strawberry filling. A subtle rebellion that declared this occasion wasn’t all about them, but about us too.

“Another excellent choice.”

“The bride’s cake,” I continued, “will be the banana cake with peanut butter cream cheese filling and dark chocolate ganache frosting.”

“The…bride’s cake?” Leslie hesitated, poised to add to the order. “That’s different from the big cake?”

“Yes.” I ticked them off on my fingers. “The big cake is for the guests, about three hundred of them. The matron’s cake should be four or five tiers.” Leslie’s eyes bulged. “And my cake should be a modest two-tier affair.” I elbowed my bestie to get her attention. “I’m not sharing.”

“Neither am I,” Lethe warned, as if I expected her to save me a slice. “If you want beach cake, you better order two.”

The poor baker cleared her throat. “I apologize, but I’m confused. Again.”

This was our second tasting, and I still favored my original picks. Lethe favored…whatever was in front of her and within easy reach. As would most of our guests from her side of the family. Volume mattered more to them than pesky things like flavor or presentation.

“The big cake is the centerpiece.” I broke it down for Leslie. “It’s the one my guests will be eating and taking pictures with and talking about for years to come.” Or decades, since necromancers were long-lived. “That’s the one you get to go hog wild decorating to match our theme.”

As a nod to Maud, I had chosen country garden as my theme. Not original, but a classic. The pictures would hold up over time much better than any modern trends.

“Okay.” Nodding, she scribbled notes. “What about the other two? Should they be ornamental as well?”

“Yes.” I pushed a crumb around on my plate. “The bride’s cake and MOH cake will be served alongside the big cake. The two smaller cakes can be muted versions of the big cake so everything matches.”

“Okay.” She kept nodding, kept scribbling. “Three cakes total?”

“I would feel better about six,” Lethe mumbled around a cube of devil’s food cake. Done with the hard choices, she had moved on to eating every single bite Leslie had brought with her. “Mom is coming, and she’ll bring at least six friends with her. Plus Midas.”

Friends meant bodyguards. Her mother was alpha of the Atlanta gwyllgi pack, and her brother was now its beta. He had stepped into the role after Lethe decided to remain in Savannah and start her own pack.

A single gwyllgi cost double the per-person catering fee, which is why they would have a separate buffet while the other guests stuck to a more traditional menu.

Hmm.

Were cake buffets a thing? If not, they should be. Maybe I could kickstart that trend?

Setting that aside for later contemplation, I gave Leslie my full attention. “How many samples did you bring today?”

“Six of your top picks from last time and six new flavors.” She read the combinations off to refresh my memory. “Twelve in all.”

“Okay.” I lowered my hands, smoothing my damp palms across the counter and ignoring the sweat marks that came from imagining the debt I was about to incur. “You’ve got the sketch and the flavors for the big cake now.” Pretty sure I heard my debit card weeping in the next room. “Go ahead and make me three-tiered cakes out of the eleven other samples to be served at the reception.”

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