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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(22) by Chloe Neill
  • “Four hundred,” I whispered back.

    “And you’re going to have to say hello to each and every one of them.”

    I hadn’t thought about that—not in so many words. But it couldn’t be helped. It was my wedding night, and I’d make the best of it.

    “I like those T-shirts,” I said, plucking her hem.

    “Lindsey’s idea,” she said. “She didn’t want the mood to be too starchy.” Another glance at my mother and Helen. “All things considered.”

    “All things considered,” I agreed, and gestured to the chilling bucket of champagne. “Let’s get this party started.”

    • • •

    We pulled up in front of the Portman Grand, the grandest of grande dame hotels. We’d get dressed in a suite Helen had reserved for the wedding party—or the female half of it, anyway.

    We’d party until dawn, and Ethan and I would also spend the day here before tomorrow’s overnight to Paris, where we’d enjoy the gardens at Versailles (by night, of course), excellent champagne, and each other.

    A woman with blond hair in a low ponytail and a dark pantsuit stood in the gilded lobby, clipboard in hand. She strode forward on needle-sharp heels, hand extended. “Merit,” she said with a smile, shaking my hand with brisk efficiency. “Welcome to the Portman Grand. Thank you for allowing us to have a part in your wonderful evening.”

    “You’re welcome.”

    “If you’ll come this way,” she said, gesturing to a bank of elevators, “we’ll get you to your suite. Your limo will remain in front of the building, under guard, until it’s time to proceed to the site.”

    The “under guard” took me a moment to process, but I nodded and followed her into the elevator, one of the glass-walled variety that looked out on the city. The brass doors closed, and the car dipped slightly as everyone piled on, and then it began its slow ascent, rising over the city, buildings and cars in the Loop twinkling like stars beside the lake’s empty darkness.

    “It’s a beautiful night,” the woman said. “A beautiful evening for a wedding.”

    I hoped it would stay that way. But I didn’t feel better when we exited on the seventeenth floor and proceeded down the hallway to a lone door at the end where a man and woman, both human and both in black, flanked the door. They were security contractors who regularly guarded the House gate.

    I hadn’t known they’d be here—that Luc or Ethan had assigned guards just for this. They probably hadn’t wanted me to worry about the possibility of a threat, but that didn’t make me feel better about it.

    I glanced at Lindsey, and she must have read the expression on my face. But before I could inquire, the double doors opened. My sister, Charlotte, stood in the doorway in a BRIDE’S CREW T-shirt and pink seersucker shorts.

    “About damn time!” she said, dragging me into the room, squeezing me into a hug. “I can’t wait to see your dress!” Charlotte closed the door behind us, rubbed her hands together gleefully. “And it’s time to get started.”

    The room was enormous—a long rectangle with a wall that faced the river, and three separate sitting areas. There was a dining room table at the far end, topped with portable lighted mirrors. On a low buffet on the wall beside it were more bottles of champagne, crystal flutes, and a silver tray of chocolate-dipped strawberries.

    “I’ll open the champagne,” Charlotte said, heading for the buffet on bare feet with pretty pink toes. “Shay, we’re ready when you are!”

    A woman entered from a doorway at the other end of the room. Curvy and dark skinned, with a cascade of spiral curls that reached her shoulders and a black camera around her neck. She looked at me, smiled. “Shay Templeton. I’ll be your photographer for the evening.”

    “Shay is the best wedding photographer in Chicago,” my mother said. “We practically had to get into a bidding war to get her.”

    I glanced at Shay, who looked faintly embarrassed, but also a little proud, at my mother’s raving. I figured that was probably the right response.

    I smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Shay. If I could just have one minute?” I held up one finger, then took Lindsey’s arm and pulled her into the suite’s bedroom, which was as amply appointed as the lounge, with thick blankets and pillows atop a sleigh bed on a carpeted pedestal. I bet the honeymoon suite was insane.

    “The guards?” Lindsey asked, closing the door behind us.

    “The guards,” I said.

    “Just a precaution,” she said. “Ethan is taking no chances with his bride.”

    “He could have told me.”

    “And what would you have said?”

    “That we don’t need armed guards outside the bridal suite,” I grumbled.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire