Sensing the tension, Betty passed her gift to me, hoping Betty, sensing the the tension and hoping to break up whatever private exchange was happening between the two men. men, passed her gift to me. [For better cohesiveness, order things as they occur: Betty first sensed the tension, then she hoped to break the exchange, then she passed the gift; putting "sensing the tension" and "hoping..." on either side of Betty's action is awkward.]
“Botox?” I raised my eyebrow at Betty.
She always teased me She was always teasing me [the progressive form to emphasize the continual teasing, as in "constantly telling" later in the sentence] about growing old, she old; she [here I was repairing a prohibited comma splice with a semicolon to join two independent clauses, but you might consider a period instead, making two separate sentences] had been changed at 26 and at twenty-six and [trade-book publishers of fiction prose generally prefer restricting numerals to years (e.g., "1966") or scientific units of measure; ages are generally spelled out] was constantly telling me how one day I was going to wake I would wake up [let's not overdo the "-ing" form] and realize that I looked old enough to be her mother.
“Yes, it’s essential.
You HUMAN girls You human girls, [publishers prefer italics for emphasizing a single word (or phrase), restricting all caps to abbreviations (all caps has the effect of shouting)] you need to take care of yourselves don’t you Sam yourselves, don’t you, Sam? You don’t want to age too quickly.” [I put a paragraph break here; otherwise, the reader would misread that the preceding is spoken by "I" (Elaine) rather than by Betty.]
I cringed inwardly, Sam was
overly aware of aging and overly concerned with [change OK?] aging and I wished there was some there were some way for me to help her to love her love herself as much as she loved Will. We both knew Sam was a big fan of Botox and every other kind of injection there was to help keep you looking keep her looking young. She got her wrinkles numbed and filled almost every week it seemed young. Almost every week, it seemed, she got her wrinkles numbed and filled. [you get better emphasis by ending a sentence with strong, descriptive, even punchy words, such as "wrinkles numbed and filled" rather than "it seemed"]
“Well it’s Carlos piped in, obviously a little drunk: “Well, it’s a good thing that Elaine here isn’t human!” Carlos piped in obviously a little drunk. human!” [Why my revision of this paragraph? Partially for some variation in how you are doing successive speeches of dialogue, but more importantly, to achieve a better flow with the next speech by Betty: Her "Not human!" will strike the reader's mind almost as an interrupting blurt of hers, reacting to Carlos's speech (still echoing in the reader's mind, without the distracting, interrupting exposition about him piping in while obviously being a little drunk)]
“Not human! What do you
mean?” Bettys greed mean?” Betty’s greed for gossip was nearly insatiable.
“You see, she isn’t really human. She has the wrong blood. She
has got the has the blood profile of the Eternal, and several of DNA of her DNA sequences are quite unique as well.” He laughed into his cup and looked from person to person to make sure everyone was hanging on his every word.
I had known about all this for
months, but hadn’t months but hadn’t [alternatively, retain the comma but insert "I": "... for months, but I hadn't ..."] felt like letting anyone know. Uncomfortable with Carlos telling [consider "revealing"?] all my secrets so freely, I sat quietly and hoped he would stop there. He didn’t.
“Actually it’s “Actually, it’s quite interesting. Unlike humans, she still produces mass amounts of undifferentiated stem cells, allowing her to heal rapidly and in fact, keep her and, in fact, keep her from aging normally. She might live to be 100 and be a hundred [or "one hundred"?] and still not look a year older. So Betty So, Betty, I hope your gift doesn’t expire for a very, very long time!” He was clearly amused with himself.
“And the Eternal blood, how could she have gotten
that?”Rudolph, who that?” asked Rudolph, who was normally very quiet, asked quiet.
“It’s impossible. I have done every test I can think of,
and can’t and I can’t replicate the circumstances in a living person.” He said wistfully “I person,” he said wistfully. “I fear I have reached a dead end with it.” [(1) Are you intending a double entendre with "dead end" here? (2) I'm confused. I assume (and I think readers will assume) it is Carlos who says this, but he seems to be contradicting himself: He just said that Elaine is not human and has the blood type of the Eternal, but now he says it is impossible that she has Eternal blood. So Elaine is some kind of hybrid? Will the apparent contradiction here be cleared up elsewhere in the text? Maybe I need some education about vampires? :) ]
“Who wants cake?” Howard interjected suddenly. Without waiting for a
reply he reply, he dashed into the kitchen and reappeared in the doorway with a small, two layer confection small, two-layer confection covered in fondant and gumpaste jasmine and gum-paste jasmine flowers. There was a single white candle on top whose On top was a single white candle whose flame changed colors as it burned down. [you improve readability by keeping "whose flame" next to "candle" rather than interrupting with "on top"; also, the unnecessary "There was a..."--in this sentence, at least--deadens your prose]
Relieved by the change in
subject I subject, I stood up to blow out the candle while everyone joined in singing happy birthday.
I cut the cake and handed out slices to
everyone, It was lemon everyone. It was lemon cake with a strawberry infused blood a strawberry-infused blood filling. I felt bad for Rudolph and Sam, both of Sam: Both of them were going to have to eat around it, I knew around it. I knew Sam was used to that sort of thing, but Rudolph seemed uncomfortable with the idea of there being blood of blood anywhere near a cake and picked cake, and he picked at it without eating. [I put a paragraph break here]
Once we all had
slices Sam slices, Sam raised her glass to purpose a to propose a toast. [I got rid of the paragraph break here] “To Elaine!” She said Elaine!” she said in a motherly tone.
“To Elaine!” Everyone chimed in as they chinked glasses. Everyone chimed in as they clinked glasses. “To Elaine!” [My revision enables the reader to hear the echo of the toast. Then "After everyone had left..." in the next paragraph, indicating the passage of an hour or two, is not so abrupt.]
After everyone had
left I left, I was helping Howard put the dishes in the dishwasher. It had been a great birthday and birthday, and he was to thank.
“What did Will mean with all that stuff about the sword?” I put the last plate in the rack.
“It’s just some history between us.” He shifted glasses into the dishwasher.
“Well don’t “Well, don’t you think you should tell me about it?’” I about it?” I hoped that it wasn’t something he should tell he should tell me about, but I knew it I suspected it ["hoped" and "knew" seem contradictory] probably was.
Howard sighed and led me by the hand to the armor room. He opened a case and pulled a dagger out of its velvet bag and handed it to me. It was
simple, a simple: a blade as long as a mans hand a man’s hand, and only two inches wide. Well balanced and wide. Well-balanced and crafted beautifully, it had an onyx handle. The blade itself was interesting, it was interesting: It was steel in its center, but center but had been fused with some other mettle at other metal at the edge just edge, just like the sword he had given me. [You did not mention the fused metal when you introduced Howard's gift. There we learned that it shone beautifully and had a sapphire in the hilt. Does the sword's blade also contain silver? Shouldn't you mention there that Elaine notices this. Does anyone else notice it (Will, in particular)?]
“Silver?” I ran my finger along the sharp edge.
“Yes.” Howard looked at his shoes.
“It’s for killing Eternal?” I
asked as asked it as a question, but it was really more of a statement.
“Sometimes there are matters that require justice between us.” Howard took the dagger and placed it carefully back into its velvet wrap.
“And there was a matter between you and Will?”
Howard turned his back to me and paced the
room. “His second wife.” He said after a long silence. room. After a long silence: “His second wife.” [My revision maintains the real-time order: first the long silence, then Howard's utterance. Also, the transition to Elaine's response, without expository (non-speech) interruption.]
one that left one who left him after she was turned?” I tried to remember what I knew about her.
“She didn’t leave him right away. It was about ten years after her change.
Will had, he had taken Will had— had taken one of her living relatives as a,” He paused as a—” He paused to wipe some imaginary dust off of shelf off a shelf that held cleaning supplies for polishing the armor. “as chattel armor. “—as chattel. [Chicago Manual of Style recommends em dashes for interrupted speech] As you put it. It was a niece and niece, and she was very young, only 13. I young, only thirteen. I found out about it and told his wife. She was furious. And after a fight that nearly ended in their ended with their home burning down, she took most of his available wealth: gold wealth—gold, jewels, money and money—and ran away. [em dashes to set off appositive phrases] She was missing for almost twenty years. Then one night she came to me because me, because she didn’t know anyone else. I let her stay so she wouldn’t be caught in the sun. As soon as the sun was down the next night, Will came over looking for her, and his money. [Howard does not find it remarkable that Will somehow knew where his wife was "the next night" after she had been missing for "almost twenty years"?] When I tried to turn him away, to keep him from seeing her he her, he flew into a rage. He blamed me for their fight and said it was none of my business to talk to his wife about his private affairs. He was crazy with rage and challenged He challenged me to fight. [You already said that Will flew into a rage; your reader will assume the rage, by definition, is "crazy"] I didn’t want to, he was to. He was a friend, and I really thought that given time they that, given time, they could reconcile. I had only told her so that she could get him to give the child up, put him on the straight and narrow as it were. I never thought she would leave him. [an extended quote such as Hector's long speech, which goes on for several paragraphs, technically needs an open double quote at the beginning of each of the paragraphs, with a close double quote only at the end of the final paragraph of his speech: (... let alone a woman.") But I recommend that you not let the speech go on so long without interrupting with--perhaps--Elaine's reactions, or expository text about Howard's facial expressions (whatever)... Or perhaps just use summarizing text, rather than quoted speech, to tell Howard's story. For example: "Howard went on to tell me how he and Will had fought. He had the upper hand, he said, because Will had never loved to practice, was all rage and anger and emotion, and was easily bested. Howard tried to make Will yield..." or something like that. A long, uninterrupted speech bogs a reader down.]