Adelise liked her husband enough to want to nap beside him. At times, something as simple as that was worth pointing out.
Countless years ago, when their engagement was announced, those around accused her of being many things: 1) a gold digger, 2) naïve beyond comprehension, 3) a snake, 4) a stubborn idiot, and 5) unjustifiably lucky. To be fair to those people, it was curious that almost no one was interested in the, by all accounts, intelligent, hardworking, ambitious, and physically attractive second son of a wealthy, powerful (i.e., vampire) family. Why was a human stranger from a poor family with an equally poor reputation acceptable to him? Wasn’t that a red flag? Yes—
Adelise hadn’t been unaware of everyone’s comments: If she wanted to get married so badly, why not stay on her own level, marry a normal human, and be satisfied with that? Why let her evil family delude her into marrying a dangerous stranger who probably wanted to use her as his personal blood bank? Did she actually believe that this rich guy would keep his promise to give her time/space to pursue her own interests. LOL. No one would. He only said that because he was a liar. And most importantly, wasn’t she aware that his family (who was being criticized at a dangerously audible level solely for her benefit) was borderline demonic and likely had literal human skeletons in their closets. Girl, run.
But she was already running, just from her own family, and didn’t have much capacity to care about rumors when a relationship with Asher was a viable way out of her then-current terrible situation, would make her family wealthy enough to leave her alone, and there was a fair chance that what kept others away from him wasn’t him, but his extremely strict and patriarchal family. There were also rumors that his family was pressuring him into an engagement because he intended to move far away, leaving his family (and, more to the point perhaps for some of his potential partners, much of his family’s wealth behind). Besides, she’d met him a couple of times and he’d seemed okay. They’d quickly bonded over a mutual desire to physically distance themselves from their toxic families even if they couldn’t completely cut ties and even if it meant losing out on a small fortune.
Thus, Adelise resented that so many thought she was conniving or otherwise out-of-line for wanting what she felt was just decency and employed impolite language to tell them to mind their own business (which should have been at least a yellow flag to Asher’s family given that her father had promised them an “obedient and virtuous” daughter-in-law). Anyway, she stood by her engagement to the rich guy and left town with him without looking back.
In doing so, she leapt on a figurative rollercoaster. Her relationship with her fiancé began comfortably enough, climbed spectacularly high even.
But then, before she was prepared, it rapidly plummeted to terrifying depths that had her worried that someone would soon die
because he was a dangerous vampire with only the faintest conception of empathy. Initially, she hadn’t been able to care about that and since then, she’d been crafting fairytales based on fantasy about him in her mind.
Asher didn’t recognize a single one of her feelings, outside of fatigue. He also didn’t understand why or even that his saying he wanted to postpone their marriage so that he could first marry and live with someone else for that person’s entire life had upset Adelise. Nor did he find anything problematic with his declaration that he wanted lots of children but that he wouldn’t be that interested in his human children or daughters because such children either lived lives that were too short to be interesting or were generally less valuable, even though Adelise was already pregnant with a human son.
Humans weren’t exactly human to him. On a whim, Asher could paralyze someone, manipulate their emotions, erase their memories, and drink their blood. Considering his lack of empathy and how unfamiliar people were with vampires here unlike where he was from, Adelise recognized that he was likely doing all of those things and tore herself from her fairytale fantasies. Ironically, it seemed like her savior wasn’t going to actually save her. She began growing garlic, made it her aesthetic by plastering her room with it, and devoted her spare time to learning how to protect herself and her son from vampires.
Adelise also feared her fiancé’s resentment because she was an obstacle to the family he apparently wanted.
Asher didn’t resent her. He was confused. He thought that he and Adelise were (and should remain friends) because he gave her space to pursue whatever interests she wanted and had not and would not use any of his vampire powers on her. After all, she was his “friend” and there was a history of mariticide in his family, so he had tried not to bring that kind of bad energy into his own home and yet…
There were obvious problems. Lavender, the person he’d wanted to marry first, rejected him and Adelise treated him as if he were a monster. Adelise had even told him, albeit hesitantly, that Lavender would never accept him because “you are delusional on top of being unkind and no one could ever love you after getting to know you.”
Asher had never given any thought to being kind, so it was true that he was unkind. He insulted people. He got in fights. He bit people. He said outrageous things. He went around doing whatever he wanted and if it created too much of a fuss, he erased memories. But so what?
He hadn’t killed anyone and even if he had been unkind (or killed someone), he hadn’t intended to be unkind to Adelise.
Still, he wanted to be liked by those he liked (and not, you know, despised) so he made an effort to be thoughtful and kinder. Regardless, no one was obligated to forgive him, much less like him. Even if he filled figurative friendship and romance bars completely from 0 (or -100) to 100 and never did anything to upset a certain person again, some things stuck. Lavender always rejected Asher, but we can’t say for sure why. Maybe she just didn’t like him; maybe his lingering arrogance was too much; maybe he wasn’t persistent enough; maybe his heart wasn’t in it; maybe she wanted nothing to do with the drama of a love triangle; maybe she knew she deserved better…
With Adelise, things were different. First, they were already engaged. They were physically broken up and separated, but the engagement contract, which made Adelise’s life at least as long as Asher’s, remained intact. It’s unclear why Asher didn’t break the contract, but Adelise didn’t want to tempt fate by tattling on him to his family when at best they’d probably blame her. At any rate, she’d made it clear that whether they married eventually or not, there’d be no more children until he sorted out his previous statements regardless of whether he was thoughtlessly parroting his family’s practices or actually believed them.
Their relationship first recovered to an uneasy truce because despite what he said and despite how he had acted outside, he had always been decent to their son, he gave Adelise space to do what she wanted, he wasn’t a killer, and she thought he had the potential to be likeable in a platonic way as he was less feral and generally okay.
Time was also on their side. A tumultuous few years didn’t matter as much after decades. They still mattered—Adelise decided to get off the rollercoaster once it reached a comfortable plateau. She was done with it. Maybe.
Now, after several lifetimes had passed, they were comfortably married, good friends. Through their observations of others, including their own children, they were beginning to realize that even for them marriage could be more than just comfortable. But it wasn’t clear if that meant they needed to work together to separate or something else. Their relationship wasn’t necessarily as exciting as a rollercoaster, either. It could just be an elevator ride that they jumped on too early, while it was on its way to the fourth floor basement, even though their destination was actually quite high like the 123rd floor.
Note: For those who like something extra or music, I created a playlist/soundtrack for Adelise. The YouTube version is linked here. The original Spotify playlist is here and below. Be aware: there are lots of non-English songs, but the YouTube version had subtitles for most things.