Chapter 1 Brakeston, New York "What about this one?"
Jane glanced at the magazine Lucy was holding up, opened to a picture of a bride standing in a field of daisies. The bride wore a sheath-style dress of ivory silk and a birdcage veil to which was affixed a huge pale yellow gardenia. Not far behind her stood a Holstein cow, gazing at the camera with a disinterested look.
Jane grimaced. "I don't think I have the upper arms for that," she said.
"Of course you do," scoffed Lucy. "Well, with a little work you could."
Jane ignored her best friend. "Why would a bride go tromping around in a field of cows?" she said irritably. "If there's any train at all on that dress, she's going to drag it right through a pile of--"
"It's one cow," Lucy said wearily. "And it's a photo shoot for a fashion magazine, not an article in National Geographic. Get a grip."
Jane sighed, closing the magazine she was paging through and tossing it onto the pile of them covering the top of the kitchen table. "It's just that they're all starting to blur together. Cap sleeves. Bateau necklines. Basque waists. Mermaid this and sweetheart that and princess whatever. It's maddening."
Lucy picked up another magazine. "Victorian Bride," she read, looking at the cover. She glanced at Jane. "Really?"
Jane chewed the nail on her left index finger. "I grabbed everything they had," she replied. "I think I have wedding sickness."
Eight months had passed since she'd accepted Walter Fletcher's marriage proposal. Shortly before the Christmas holidays she had moved into Walter's house. It was now February, and although Walter was not pressuring her to pick a date for their wedding, another deadline hung over her head like the ominous clouds of an approaching thunderstorm.
Jane had so far avoided telling her fiancé that she was a vampire. Her undead condition was, however, known to Walter's mother. Miriam Ellenberg, much to Jane's dismay, had turned out to be even more of a challenge than mothers-in-law generally were: Miriam was a vampire hunter. Not surprisingly, she disapproved of her son's choice of a girlfriend, and initially had vowed to dispatch Jane at the earliest convenience. However, after Jane rescued Miriam from almost certain death at the hands of a deranged vampire turned book reviewer, a truce had been declared. With one condition: Jane had a year in which to produce a grandchild. Should she fail, all bets were off and Miriam and she would once again be mortal enemies.
In addition to not having planned a wedding, Jane had not become pregnant. She still wasn't even sure she could conceive, which was in itself no small concern. To make matters worse, Miriam had decided to move from Florida to upstate New York so that she could keep an eye on her daughter-in-law-to-be. Thankfully, Walter had not suggested that his mother move into the house with them. However, he had suggested that Miriam buy Jane's former home, since Jane would have no more use for it now that she and Walter were living together. As neither Jane nor Miriam--despite both thinking very hard--had been able to come up with a good reason why this course of action should not be taken, a deal had been struck, and the week after Jane moved herself, her pets, and her possessions into Walter's house, a trio of anxious young men had unloaded Miriam's belongings from a truck under Miriam's scrutinizing supervision.
The matter of Jane's barren state was becoming a greater problem with each passing week. With only four months left in which to become pregnant, she sensed Miriam becoming increasingly impatient. To her credit, Miriam had never once reminded Jane of the looming deadline. She and Jane were cordial enough to...