Sorry for the missed post last week, still working on building up the next arc. Enjoy a double long chapter to make up for it.
Act 4: The wedding
"Elizabeth, do you want to talk about it?"
From over in the driver's seat, my blonde lover blinked tiredly a few times. "Huh? Talk about what?"
We'd been traveling for over ten hours by this point, first by airship and then by car, so the tiredness was probably warranted. But I could tell something was bugging Elizabeth. The closer we got to our destination, the less lively she seemed to get.
"You've been less than enthusiastic ever since your told me about this trip. And you've only gotten more dressed as today has gone on. What's wrong?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "You wouldn't understand."
Elizabeth looked like she was about to argue, then broke out in a long sigh. "Becca, from everything you told me, you get along great with your parents. For me…it was more difficult." A pause as we stopped at a light. I glanced over and saw the resigned look on Elizabeth's face. "My parents always expected the best of me. No matter what I did growing up; high grades, athletic awards, respectable friends…I never felt any approval. It didn't help I was raised mostly by nannies until I was old enough to get shipped off to boarding school. My parents were too busy with their company to look after me."
I reached over and put a hand on Elizabeth's. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know. If coming back is tearing open an old wound, why do it?"
"I'm doing it for Ariel, my cousin. She grew up much the same way I did, with parents far too busy to care for her. When she asked me to be a bridesmaid…as much as I'm not looking forward to coming back, it's worth it to be there for someone who's like a sister to me."
I held Elizabeth's hand in silence as we drove the rest of the way to her parents' estate. I now knew why Elizabeth had invited me. I had a feeling my lover would need all the moral support she could get.
Eventually, we turned off the main road and up into the mountains. Greenhaven was a mass of rich estates hidden among the thick trees. We passed by dozens of heavy gates, each barring entrance to the building beyond, until Elizabeth finally pulled our small rental car to a stop before one of them. The stout stone sidings were carved to look like hundreds of stacked barrels, while the outlines of barmaids were visible on the metal gate itself. Elizabeth got out of the car and walked over to a small box. She punched a code into the keypad hidden within, which caused the gate to part silently.
"All these years, and they still haven't changed the front door code." Elizabeth muttered as she got back in the car.
"Maybe they were hoping you'd use it to come back?" I offered, trying to cheer her up.
Elizabeth just shook her head and started the car back up. We drove for another half mile through the trees, until they parted to reveal a meadow large enough to play two games of football simultaneously. At the far end was an estate easily large enough to be one of the boarding schools Elizabeth mentioned earlier. It was at least three stories tall and half as wide as the meadow before it. The massive scale didn't really hit me until Elizabeth pulled the car to a stop before a set of stairs that could have comfortably contained everyone in my graduating high school class.
"You grew up here?" I asked, half in shock and half in awe.
"This house has been in my father's family for nearly two hundred years." Elizabeth said as she twisted the key to shut off the engine. "My parents want me to take it over after they retire, but what would I do with a place this big?"
"Turn it into a hotel?" I offered as I climbed out the passenger seat. Elizabeth popped the trunk and I started pulling out our bags. "Hold epic parties every week?"
"I only wish I had enough friends to fill this place up weekly." The blonde remarked as she picked up her bag. "The hotel idea might work though. I can see snooty rich people paying through the nose to relax at an ancient place like this."
I followed Elizabeth up the front stairs, nervously adjusting my outfit as I went. I'd wanted something conservative for
today; I was meeting Elizabeth's parents for the first time after all. I didn't know how they would take their daughter dating another woman, let alone one who dressed like a slut half the time. Katie had only managed to get my instructions half right. Sexy latex schoolgirl wasn't what I had in mind, but at least the skirt was knee length and my boobs weren't popping out all over the place.
Elizabeth paused before the massive wooden front doors, each of which probably weighed as much as the car we'd driven here in. Before she could knock, the door on the right swung inward to reveal a massive figure. The figure was female, that much was immediately obvious. Breasts the size of my torso poked out of her chest like artillery pieces. Or possibly udders, as the woman was an anthro cow. A very, very large anthro cow. She towered over me by at least a head and with four times the mass.
The second thing that hit me was the cow woman was wearing a maids outfit. Not like something Katie would ever shift herself into. This one was more proper than sexy, despite the jaw dropping proportions of the woman it was wrapped around. The front apron bulged outward, making me suspect the maid was packing an udder between her legs that matched her breasts for magnitude.
"Ursula?" Elizabeth asked, shock on her face.
The maid curtseyed with surprising grace for her size. "Welcome home lady Elizabeth. I hope you had a pleasant journey."
"What's the senior maid doing answering the front door?"
The maid smiled. "I insisted. I wanted to be the first one to welcome you home. And it wasn't like the others would try and overrule me."
"I…thank you Ursula. You can't understand how good it feels to see you again."
As the maid put a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder with matronly pride, I had a sneaking suspicion that Ursula was one of the nannies that had raised Elizabeth during her early years. "The Master and Mistress are in the parlor. If you leave your bags here, one of the other maids will take them up to your room." For the first time, the maid seemed to notice me standing beside Elizabeth. "My pardon my lady, I didn't know you were traveling with a companion."
Taking my hand in a not so subtle gesture, Elizabeth said, "Ursula, I'd like to introduce you to Becca, my girlfriend."
This comment received only the slightest raise of an eyebrow as the maid processed exactly what kind of girlfriend I was. "I see. A fair greeting to you, lady Becca. I will make sure arrangements are made for an extra seat at dinner tonight. Now, if you will both follow me into the parlor."
As we walked down the corridor I had to work very hard to keep my jaw from dropping. The house reeked of old money, from the golden chandeliers above to the thick carpets below. Portraits lined the walls, depicting what I assumed where long dead family members. Though it was downplayed, there were clear signs that Elizabeth's mother wasn't the first transformed in the family.
Ursula guided us toward another pair of wooden double doors that looked salvaged off an old sailing ship. The maid knocked and announced, "Lady Elizabeth and her guest, lady Becca to see you Ma'am."
I couldn't make out the answer through the thick door, but apparently Ursula could. The maid turned the knob and gestured for us to step inside. The room beyond was more library that parlor, with shelves packed to bursting with books stretching all the way up the ceiling. One wall had a roaring fireplace big enough to roast a stuffed boar. Couches and seats were scattered about, begging from someone to curl up on them and read.
As we entered, two figures rose from the couch closest to the fire. Elizabeth's mother was instantly identifiable. She could have been my lover ten years older, which was remarkable as I knew Mrs. Stanley to be in her mid fifties. The woman was wearing a formal dress in a pale blue that accentuated her triplicate bosoms.
The man beside her, who must me Elizabeth's father, actually looked his age. He was short and barrel chested, reminding me of the kegs I'd seen on the front gate in his brown striped suit.. The man was clearly packed with muscle, not fat, and it gave him an aura of power. The hair on his head was fully silver, close cropped like I'd seen on old military officers. It made him look like a barked order was incoming any second. No wonder young Elizabeth hadn't gotten along well with her parents.
"Elizabeth, darling, it's good to see you again." Mrs. Stanley strode over, pausing as a respectful distance to study her offspring. "Thank you for accepting our invitation to stay here for the wedding."
"You even have your own lady in waiting now, very good." Mr. Stanley said, taking up a position beside his wife. "You're dismissed girl. We would like to spend some time talking with our daughter."
They thought I was a serving girl? The thought struck a nerve. No wonder Elizabeth didn't get along well with her parents. My mouth was halfway open to forcefully correct that misconception when I felt Elizabeth's hand in mine. I shut my mouth. This wasn't my world, it was my lovers. I had to trust Elizabeth to handle this.
"Mother, Father, this is Rebecca Caldwell. My lover."
Far from looking surprised, this revelation passed with the impact of someone stating the sky was blue or grass was green. Mrs. Stanley turned to her husband. "I thought the trend for this generation was to pick take up a homosexual lover in college, not after graduating. Or did I misread that article last month?"
"Our Elizabeth was always a late bloomer. Give it two years and she'll finally be ready to settle down with a nice boy and work on raising the next generation. It will be lovely having her back at home for good."
Now it was Elizabeth who was fuming. Her face was placidly polite, but I could read the little tells. Telling Elizabeth to give up her career and come home to be a baby maker was even more insulting than calling me a maid.
Tone remarkably even, Elizabeth said, "Mother, Father. I have a life and a career I love and I'm not going to give them up to fulfill your fantasy of having the perfect little daughter. After this weekend I am never coming back to this place. When you two finally decide to retire off to the country, I plan to sell it to the highest bidder. I know a few transformed porn studios that would pay a hefty price to be able to shoot in such a conservative bastion as Greenhaven."
Outraged, Mr. Stanley growled, "Now listen here missy, you're mother and I…."
Further threats were cut off as Mr. Stanley's face froze still as stone. As if a dam burst, suddenly the man was roaring with laughter. Elizabeth and I shared confused looks as Mrs. Stanley cracked as smile and added in a tinkle of her own laughter.
Between guffaws, Mr. Stanley managed to say, "You were right Lia. She does have your passion but with my control. I thought she'd lose it when I insulted her girlfriend, yet all I get are polite insults."
"It's a good think you broke down when you did Moros dear. I didn't have an idea to top your last command."
"Mother, Father, what's going on?" Elizabeth asked, still flabbergasted at her parents' reactions.
"Oh Elizabeth," Mrs. Stanley cooed, stepping forward to wrap her arms around her daughter. "We are so proud of you."
"Proud of…me?" Elizabeth echoed, unable to process the words her mother said.
"We've always been proud of you." her father added.
"Then why…why did you never say anything. Why did I always feel I could never measure up to your expectations?"
The two older Stanleys shared a look. Mrs. Stanley sighed and said, "It's our fault. We wanted you to make the most of your life. We were afraid that if we coddled you too much, you'd finally stop pushing yourself."
"The Stanleys have a bad reputation for being layabouts. I didn't want you to turn into another trust fund baby, waiting on your parents to die so you could blow all the money on fancy hookers and trips to the beach. The only reason our family has any money left at all is that every generation manages to produce one Stanley with a head on his or her shoulders who manages to push the family fortunes back into the black. I did all the heavy lifting for my generation and I pushed you in the hope you'd be the foundation of the next generation of the family."
"So…all this time…you've been proud of me?"
"Of course darling." Mrs. Stanley chuckled, "Though that art phase you went through in eighth grade nearly gave your father conniptions."
"The Stanleys have produced twenty artists over the last hundred years and none of them could paint worth a damn. They only survived by mooching off their more productive relatives." Mr. Stanley muttered something else under his breath, but it was too low for me to catch much. All I got was something about a brother.
"I don't know dear." Mrs. Stanley put an arm around her husband's shoulder. "You could say Elizabeth's alchemy is a type of art. I've seen some of her work and it's marvelous."
"You've…seen my work?" Elizabeth stammered.
"It wasn't officially marked as yours, but my darling sister-in-law has all sorts of connections at your company. She smuggled me out some pictures."
"I…I…" This encounter had clearly not gone as Elizabeth had planned. Certainly it had gone for the better, but I think
Elizabeth needed some time to process the paradigm shift. I put my arm around the blonde's shoulders in a show of support.
This caught the attention of the elder Stanleys and they focused their attention on me. "I'm dreadfully sorry for calling you Elizabeth's serving girl earlier Becca." Mrs. Stanley proclaimed. "My husband and I had a bet on how long it would take before she snapped at us and I thought it would be a good pressure point. Turns out I was wrong. Guess I'll be wearing the pony gear in our private play time this weekend."
I was nowhere near as practiced as Elizabeth at keeping a straight face, but I tried my best. "Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'd say you're nothing like Elizabeth described you, but I think we covered that point already."
"Please, call use Moros and Lia." Mr. Stanley…Moros proclaimed. "We're practically family now, with you dating our daughter and all. Though I'll wait until after the wedding to ask you to call me Father." I nearly spit-taked at that, which caused Moros to roar with laughter. "I'm just kidding. Come, take a seat beside us on the couch. I'd love to hear about how the two of you met." Raising his voice, Moros called toward the door, "I know you're all out there eavesdropping. Go grab us something to eat and then you can sit in on the story time as well."
From the other side of the door I could hear the scurry of rapidly retreating feet. Quite a few of them; how many servants did the Stanleys have?
Lia pulled Elizabeth from my arms and dragged her over to sit on the couch. Moros and I followed after. A minute later a dozen figures joined us in the room, all dressed in maid outfits identical to Ursula's. I found myself hold a plate with a sandwich and chips, far less formal food than I expected. I hesitantly took a bite, only to discover it was the best sandwich I'd ever tasted. I don't know what was in the sauce, but I had to steal a bottle before we went home.
Elizabeth was still stunned by what was happening, which left me on storytelling duties. "Elizabeth and I met on our first day of work. We were both new hires and…."