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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(21) by Chloe Neill
  • “I have no plan to mess up the toast,” Amit said crisply. “I will bring the crowd to the cusp of tears, then amuse them with stories of your groom’s wilder days.”

    Actually, that did sound entertaining.

    Ethan kissed my forehead. “Steady on, brave Sentinel. You deferred the wedding planning, and now you must face the music—and possibly the doves.” But he looked down at me, skimmed a finger over the House necklace at my throat.

    Regardless of the rest of it, he said silently, there will be you and me. That will be enough, and that will be perfect. This night, and all of its dark beauty, is ours.

    Who needed Lord Byron anyway?



    They stood in the foyer like a posse come to collect their due.

    And that “due” was me.

    Helen and my mother, Meredith Merit, looked like business partners. Both wore trim suits and pearls, their hair perfectly coiffed, makeup precisely elegant. There was something very Stepford Wives about it. Or the Oak Park and Hyde Park versions, anyway.

    Mallory stood with them in jeans and another BRIDE’S CREW shirt. She stood beside a pile of suitcases and what looked like black tackle boxes.

    They turned together, glanced at me with the same assessing gaze.

    “Merit,” my mother said, walking forward and pressing her hands to my cheeks. Her palms were soft and cold, and she smelled like powdery perfume. “How are you feeling, darling? Are you nervous? Excited?”

    My mother and I weren’t especially close. As my father focused on business, my mother focused on socializing—leading charitable guilds, hosting socials, arranging donations that got “Merit Properties” on buildings or plaques or benches. Things that Charlotte dealt with better than I did. But given that she’d coordinated my wedding, this wasn’t the time to be ungrateful.

    “Both, I guess.” As she turned to slip an arm around my waist, I glanced at Helen. “Before things get too chaotic, I wanted to say thank you for everything that you’ve done to get this wedding off the ground. Without you, we’d probably be eloping at a Waffle House.”

    “Perish the thought,” my mother said with a smile. “It has been a great pleasure working with Helen.” She reached out and squeezed Helen’s hand like they were old friends, which disturbed me more than it should have. Helen already wasn’t a fan of mine; I didn’t think her having my mother’s ear would improve the tension.

    “The wedding will be beautiful,” Helen said. “As befits a Master of Cadogan House.”

    Not as befit a Sentinel, or two vampires in love, but as befit the Master.

    I would be the bigger vampire. “Of course,” I said simply, and saw the surprise in her eyes that I’d agreed instead of arguing. Or maybe because I hadn’t let her see that the arrow had found its home.

    My mother glanced around at the group. “I think we’re all here. Let’s get started!”

    She opened the door, and the group began to funnel into the night.

    Mallory slipped an arm through mine. “That was well done, Merit. Saying thank you.”

    “If it’s all doves and chicken dances, I’m retracting it.”

    “I’m not sure what that means, but I’ve noted it for the record.”

    That would have to do.

    • • •

    Another night, another limo. But while last night’s mood was light and a little sassy, tonight’s was much more serious. Led by Helen and my mother, we were serious people heading off for serious events. Prestigious events. Socially important events.

    But I kept smiling as I watched the dark city pass as we drove toward the Loop.

    I was getting married today. And I was feeling pretty damned good about it.

    Mallory, who sat beside me, chuckled. “If you keep smiling, you’re going to wear out your cheek muscles before things even get started. You’re going to be asked to smile a lot in the next few hours.” She cast a considering glance at my mother and Helen, whispered, “How many people at this shindig?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire