July 16, 2016: The Day I Danced with a Vampire (Part 3)

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Caroline led me outside to talk. The home has no backyard to speak of--only a wrap-around balcony over a steep drop down the side of the butte. I leaned on the wooden railing and looked out over the tree-covered city of Bend, towards the rolling blue Cascades and snow-capped Mount Bachelor in the distance. I could almost understand why Charles would think the view worth a "little extra" quarter of a million.

Caroline slid the patio door closed, muffling the music and conversation inside. She fanned herself delicately. "Finally, a little peace! Entertaining is so exhausting, and Charles doesn't lift a finger to help."

"You don't enjoy hosting parties? But you're so good at it!"

"Oh, you're sweet. But naturally I'm good at it, because it's my job. I run around coordinating events all week. The last thing I want to do on a weekend away is get all dressed up to play Martha Stewart."

Since I've met Caroline Bingley on two occasions, and on both she was wearing haute couture and whipping up gourmet meals of her own volition, I doubted her complaints were entirely genuine.

Caroline leaned on the railing beside me, in the attitude of a fashion model posing for pictures. "I've noticed you and Will have been getting close."

Oh my gosh, I thought. It's actually happening to me. I'm going to be in a cat fight for the first time in my life.

I've seen this scene in movies before, Diary. The popular jock pays some minor attention to the underdog bookworm, and the head cheerleader swoops in to cut up her gym clothes and pour drinks on her head. I'd never experienced or witnessed such extreme bullying in real life, though.

I have had conflicts with other girls over boys, of course, but they weren't nearly as dramatic. When I was in middle school, a boy asked me to the movies, and our classmates rushed to tell a girl who liked him. The girl declared she would never eat lunch with me ever again. The next month she forgot all about it, and we partnered together to build a potato battery in science class.

I said, "We're not close at all. We were just dancing because...uh...." I couldn't tell Caroline that Will was avoiding her, so I trailed off.

Caroline took my hesitation the wrong way. "Don't be shy. I've known Will for more than ten years, and this is the first time I've seen him take the initiative with a woman. If there's anything I can do to help, just let me know."

She winked at me. I gaped at her. "I thought you were...You know. Interested in him for yourself."

Caroline tittered. "Obviously I'm interested in Will, silly. Who wouldn't be? But I'm not so desperate as to cling to a man who likes someone else. He's hardly the only eligible bachelor around. There are thousands of them in Los Angeles alone."

So...she wasn't going to pour a drink on my head? I was slightly disappointed. I was looking forward to having an excuse to leave the party early.

Caroline continued, "Honestly, I don't have the time to think about romance right now. I'm starting my own business, and that takes top priority in my life."

In the blink of an eye, Caroline whipped out a case of business cards. She presented one to me with a blinding white smile. I don't know how she hid those cards in that tight dress.

"If you manage to snag Will, I do weddings of all kinds and sizes. Traditional church weddings, destination beach weddings, rustic outdoor weddings--whatever your dream wedding looks like, I can make it happen. I'll take care of your wedding venue, wedding day setup, even your wedding invitations and favors. You can leave it all to me and enjoy your big day!"

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