Part One

Cordelia trailed her fingers down the cracked wooden windowframe. The excited chatter of the guests arriving below sounded like carrion-eating birds who'd just stumbled upon a dead body in the desert.
They smiled, though. At least most of them did. The groom's mother looked as though someone had just given her a bag of poo to hold instead of a corsage in a plastic case.
Whatever. Once the ceremony was over it wouldn't matter anymore. None of their opinions would, their petty, miserable small-town thoughts, their upturned noses.
"Ow!" A splinter sank into the pad of her right index finger. She stepped away from the window and examined it, squeezing gently. A single drop of dark red blood appeared, like a jewel set on ivory silk.
Ivory silk like her dress. If she wasn't careful she'd get blood on it, and how would that look? She hadn't spent twelve grand at Vera Wang just to walk down the aisle looking like a zombie.
The thought made Cordelia smile. She sucked the finger, nibbling at the splinter until it came free, then kept sucking simply because it was fun.
From the tower above her came the ringing of church bells, echoing through the building and shaking the furniture in the tiny room. She grabbed hold of the dresser and held on tight, waiting for it to stop. Getting prepared for a wedding was nerve-wracking enough without distractions like that. Stupid bells.
"I told you, I don't think--"
"Oh, Mama, I wish you'd just stop. It ain't your business, is it?"
Cordelia froze. What were people doing outside the door? This was her sanctuary, her room, her place to prepare. Nobody was supposed to be up here. They were ruining her special day.
Ten to one it was the groom's mother, come up here to snoop. Bitch. Cordelia darted into the wardrobe in case the two women decided to have their private chat somewhere more private. Like this room.
They didn't. Their snippy little voices continued on down the hall until they disappeared.
Good thing she'd ducked in here, though. She'd almost forgotten her garter. Carefully she removed it from the--well, from the place where it was, she didn't want to think too much about that--and slipped it up her leg. Perfect. Now she just needed a little shot, maybe, to calm her nerves, and she could put on her shoes.
The glass was dusty. Typical. It didn't seem anyone even bothered to clean up here anymore. She wiped it out as best she could with the doily covering the top of the dresser and poured in some of the special blend she carried in her flask. Such a lovely shade of dark green, that was. And so tasty too, once one grew accustomed to it.
Her image in the mirror grinned back at her as she raised the glass. "To weddings," she said, then downed the shot. Heat blossomed in her stomach and points lower. Ah. Just what she needed to get herself really moving.
Tissue paper rustled as she pulled the silver sandals out and slipped them on. A perfect fit, even if the heel was still too low, no matter what anyone said.
Last came the veil, a stiff bundle of ivory tulle. What a fire hazard these things were, really. But it was expected, so she put it on carefully and checked her reflection in the grimy mirror.
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The sharp teeth of the comb felt like they were denting her head, but it would stay on until it was time to take it off.
Cordelia licked her lips. What a fun time that would be.

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