Sunday, September 30, 2012

Promotional Event (Preface + Giveaway): The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice

Before 50 Shades of Grey & Bared To You There was….

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY CHRONICLES



Anne Rice
WITH A NEW PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR

People are much more comfortable today admitting and talking about what they enjoy in fiction and film. Much more. People are “out of the closet” about sexuality, period. The whole world knows women are sensual human beings as well as men. It’s no secret anymore that women want to read sexy fiction just as men do, and there’s a new frankness about the varieties of fantasies one might enjoy. So many clich├ęs have been broken and abandoned. And this is a wonderful thing. – From Anne Rice’s new preface in the Sleeping Beauty Chronicles

Many people know that Anne Rice paved the way for blockbuster books about witches and vampires. What they may not realize, is that she is also the godmother of pleasure and pain erotica. When Anne Rice published her seminal SLEEPING BEAUTY CHRONICLES in the mid-eighties under the pen name A.N. Roquelaure, she couldn’t have predicted that not only would her erotic take on
the famous fairy tale become a huge underground hit and a mainstay for erotica fans for three decades, but it would also be a choice as ahead of the curve as her supernatural novels.

The series is more popular than ever, and with sadomasochistic erotica dominating bestseller lists, more and more people are discovering this classic trilogy. Now her books will be available for a whole new generation of erotica fans. All three books will hit stores nationwide on July 11th 2012, from Plume with a provocative new preface and gorgeous re-package

In the first book of the series; THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY (July 11, 2012/ISBN: 9780452281424/$16.00), Rice follows the traditional folktale of Sleeping Beauty, the spell cast upon the lovely young can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. In Rice’s steamy retelling, The Prince awakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual conquer. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty's complete and total enslavement to him. Rice’s exploration of the master and sexual slave fantasy is both elegant and arousing under her skillful pen.

BEAUTY’S PUNISHMENT (July 11, 2012/ISBN: 9780452281431/$16.00) continues her explicit, teasing exploration of the psychology of human desire. Now Beauty, having indulged in a secret and forbidden infatuation with the rebellious slave Prince Tristan, is sent away from the Satyricon-like world of the Castle. Sold at auction, she will soon experience the tantalizing punishments of "the village," as her education in love, cruelty, dominance, submission, and tenderness is turned over to the brazenly handsome Captain of the Guard. And once again Rice's tale of pleasure and pain dares to explore the most primal desires of the human heart.

In the final volume of Anne Rice's titillating erotic trilogy, BEAUTY’S RELEASE (July 11, 2012/ISBN: 9780452281455) , Beauty's adventures on the dark side of sexuality make her the bound captive of an Eastern Sultan and a prisoner in the exotic confines of the harem. As this voluptuous adult fairy tale moves toward conclusion, all Beauty's encounters with the myriad variations of sexual fantasy are presented in a sensuous, rich prose that intensifies this exquisite rendition of Love's secret world, and makes the Beauty series and incomparable study of erotica. In it, Anne Rice makes the forbidden side of passion a doorway into the hidden regions of the psyche and the heart.
**GIVEAWAY**
 (1) Print copy of THE CLAIMING OF SLEEPING BEAUTY (Book #1)  
US Only.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Promotional Event (Guest Post+Giveaway): OF BLOOD AND BONE by Courtney Cole

Title: Of Blood and Bone
Genre and Age Group: (Ex. Fantasy/YA): Women’s Contemporary/Dark Romance
Author: Courtney Cole
Release date: September 16
Links: Website | Amazon |


Love is dangerous…

“I’m a monster, Eva. There is no saving a monster. But I love that you want to try.”
My heart constricts at the expression on his face. He has no hope for himself, so I have to hope for him.
“You’re not a monster,” I argue softly. “You’re a man, Luca. A man like any other, you’re made of blood and bone.”

As a little boy, Luca Minaldi was told he was a monster.
As an adult, he knows it is true.

He lives in Malta, a fairytale-like place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best kept of them all.

Eva Talbot is spending the summer in Malta to finish up her doctoral dissertation. When she meets Luca, a mysterious and handsome shipping tycoon, there is an instant attraction, a disturbing and beautiful energy that she has never felt before. But she senses the darkness that lives within him.

Eva is hired to care for his mother, who suffers from dementia, but it is Luca who Eva will eventually risk everything to save. Her life becomes a swirling chaos of darkness and romance, of secrets and mystery. And the question that emerges will become the most important answer of all.

Can she save Luca from the darkness that plagues him without losing herself?

The answer is a matter of life or death.

Courtney Cole as You’ve Never Seen Her

So, you may know that my Twitter handle is @CourtwritesYA. The YA, of course, stands for Young Adult. I’ve written ten books and all of them are YA and NA. EXCEPT for my newest release, Of Blood and Bone.

What the heck? Courtney Cole wrote adult fiction?? This seems to be a common question that I’m hearing this past week or two. And the answer is…. Heck yeah, I did. Of Blood and Bone contains a LOT of adult content…racy sex, seduction, violence. There’s even some blood. You know, the good stuff. And it is not PG-13 in any way, shape or form.

Why did I do this? Well. Simply put… I wanted to.

One day, a couple of years ago, I was watching Dexter (the Showtime series about a serial killer) and for some reason, a storyline popped into my head about a woman who fell in love with a serial killer. The more I thought about it, the more I tweaked it. It would be a dark romance, not a thriller. The MC wouldn’t be a serial killer, but he would be someone with dark issues. He would be good on the inside, but he would be ‘damaged’ and he would hate himself because of this ’affliction.’ I eventually decided that he would have some sort of a Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde complex. The story kept evolving.

And eventually Of Blood and Bone was born. But I didn’t write it right away. I put it off because it is so not something a YA writer should write. To do it up the right way, it should contain everything that YA shouldn’t.

But with the release of so much darker stuff this year, I decided that now was the time. And so I wrote it. And I love it. In my opinion, it’s the best thing I’ve done so far. The two things that I hear the most about it are: “Wow! I’ve never seen Courtney Cole like that!” and “It was amazing-- I thought about that book for days after I read it.” Both things make me smile…because you truly haven’t seen Courtney Cole quite like this.


**GIVEAWAY**
(3) Swag Packs that includes a $10 Amazon gift card, a t-shirt, as well as misc. 
Courtney Cole swag. 
Open to US/Canada. 
Giveaway ends 10/6/2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blog Tour (Excerpt+Giveaway+Free Kindle): Heirs of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman


The Riverton family had been enjoying a simple summer vacation when, through a fluke of nature, they found themselves in a strange new land.

The Riverton brothers quickly realize that in this world, they have gained unusual powers. Powers that their parents fear will attract the attention of Azazel himself - the merciless wizard who brutally controls this world.

The two brothers soon learn that an ancient prophecy has finally been initiated by their arrival in Trimoria. As the heirs of this prophecy, they are destined to lead the armies of men, dwarves, elves, and even a misfit ogre against the prophesied demon horde.

Only one thing stands in their way.

The evil wizard who has learned of their presence, and has sent assassins to wipe them from existence.
Social Media

Now available in hardcover/paperback/Kindle/Nook: The TOOLS OF PROPHECY, Book 2 of the Prophecies Series: http://michaelarothman.com/where-to-find-books/

Michael’s Website
Michael on Goodreads
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelARothman
Michael on Facebook

EXCERPT

Climbing through the path Dad had cleared, the Rivertons continued south. Now that everyone could clearly see sky, it was easier to keep their bearings. Still, a sinking feeling came over Aaron as he examined the wide expanse of land through which they wandered. He sighed. We’re never going to see home again.
As if in response, a shrill howling erupted from somewhere to the west.
What the heck was that?” Ryan gasped.
It almost sounded like a hyena,” Dad said with a contemplative frown. “Which of course is insane…unless we’re near a zoo.”
Aaron started at the sound of a loud pop. It was followed closely by the same shrill keening. Then came a bark. Aaron fell backward onto his haunches. “It’s getting closer!” he wailed. I hate dogs. I hate hyenas. I hate this place.
Nothing to worry about,” Ryan said, but the smirk he forced did little to assuage Aaron’s fear. “That was just a hyena with a cough…and he must have been opening a can of soda.”
Looking to the top of the hill to the west, Aaron spotted a single four-legged figure outlined against the darkening sky. He raised his arm to point it out to his family, but before he could say anything, the animal vanished. Confused, Aaron lowered his arm.

**GIVEAWAY** 
pick up your own Kindle copy of Heirs of Prophecy for free during the week of the tour here
Follow the rest of the tour:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Winners #5 : mid-August/mid-September

Entry #82Helena I.
Entry #171kelly m.
Entry #109Denice C.
Entry #167Carmen B.
Entry #95Jennifer R.

Entry #353Jolene A.
Entry #72Ria F.
Entry #207Christine S.

Blog Tour (Promo Post+ Giveaway):THE WINEMAKER'S DINNER: APPETIZERS by Ivan Rusilko and Everly Drummond

Entry #45Twisty J.

Cover Unveiled: Focus by Alyssa Rose Ivy


Entry #9Hillary R.

Blog Tour (Excerpt+Giveaways): Dissolve by Andrea Heltsley


Entry #139laura t.
Entry #189michelle a.
Entry #103Holly L.
Entry #39Kelly F.
Entry #143Ivie
Entry #141Lili
Entry #185Jessie

Book Blast: God Loves You by Suzanne Anderson


Entry #19257Leslie L.

Blog Tour (Six Words +Giveaway): Breaking Lauren by Jordan Deen


Entry #135Ricki M.
Entry #35DeeDee B.

Random House: Labor Day Hop


Entry #6002Terri L.
Entry #2684Mel B.
Entry #6953Julie W.
Entry #1Leslye
Entry #6633Liz Z.
Entry #5078Linda B.
Entry #5251Becky L.
Entry #4109Cathy
Entry #6203Melanie J.
Entry #6303LarisSa L.
Entry #4728Angela H.
Entry #5962Stavroula R.
Entry #4512bn100
Entry #4558LorettaLynn
Entry #1785Rebecca W.
Entry #6734Lila S.

Blog Tour (Top 10 Guest Post +Giveaways):Madly Series by M. Leighton


Entry #279Wendy R.

Blog Tour (Author Interview+Giveaway): Painted Blind by Michelle A. Hansen


Entry #148Amanda M.
Entry #330mike d.
Entry #26Rose M.
Entry #130Elizabeth K.
Entry #189Vilmarys C.
Entry #222Maija S.
Entry #200Merisha A.
Entry #349Holly M.
Entry #66Caty R.

Blog Tour (Excerpt+Giveaway): iFeel by Marissa Carmel

Entry #19Roxanne K.
Entry #25Mindy W.
Entry #39Rachel P.
Entry #1SJ W.
Kristia Miltiadou
 
 
Connie Shelor
Best,
~~Abby

Check out the giveaways!!!

Blog Tour(Excerpt+Giveaway): So Into You by Cecilia Gray


Modern retelling/based on Sense & Sensibility.

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they're about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Meet sweet and sensible Ellie who hasn’t met a problem her mom’s yoga mantras can’t fix. But when her parents threaten to pull her from the Academy just as her flirtation with the cutest boy in school heats up, will Ellie be able to keep her cool?



Cecilia Gray
Social Media links:
Twitter: @ceciliabooks
Links to find/buy book:

EXCERPT
Emma pushed Ellie inside the boy’s dorm room and shut the door behind them.

Ellie’s pulse pounded in every vein. “This is your plan? To get me kicked out before I have to leave?”

Emma pressed a finger to Ellie’s lips.

A boy sat up in one of the beds—tousled brown hair, big, questioning brown eyes, and a confused, endearing look that squeezed Ellie’s heart.

Edward’s lips quirked up. He laid a hand over his own heart and said, “I must be dreaming.”

“You’re not,” Emma said.

Footsteps echoed down the hall and there was a knock several doors down.

“They’re checking the rooms,” Ellie squealed.

Edward blinked. “Wait, I’m not dreaming?”

Emma leaned over and pinched him. He slapped her hand and shrugged off his covers.

Ellie noticed he was wearing a T-shirt and boxers—just like her. She glanced over to his roommate’s bed but the figure turned and pushed his head further into the pillow.

Edward reached back to his desk, grabbed a pen, and chucked it at his roommate’s head.

“What the—” Josh spun around and rubbed his head, then, seeing the girls, he sat up.

Ellie looked away as she realized Josh was shirtless, but Emma only leaned in.

It flashed through Ellie’s mind that she was living the teen dream—staring at a shirtless Josh Wickham in the flesh instead of just on the big screen. But even without his face blown up across a movie theater, those infamous dark blue eyes were just as intense beneath his black hair streaked with blond.

 “I didn’t get the memo about the party,” Josh said. Ellie rolled her eyes—how could Josh wake up with the same flirtatious attitude he always had?

A knock came on the neighboring door.

“We need you to hide us,” Emma said.

Josh lifted up his blanket and patted the empty side of the bed. “By all means.”

“Can we be serious?” Ellie said. “We’re all about to get expelled!”

“Not all of us,” Josh said. “I’m a victim in all this—a willing victim, of course.”



 **GIVEAWAYS**
OPEN INTERNATIONALLY
Fall For You and So Into You eBook (or choice from Cecilia's collection) 
  
Follow the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tour Sign-Up: Determinant (The Guardians of Vesturon #3) by A.M. Hargrove

I Luv Tours is organizing a blog tour for the Young Adult paranormal/fantasy romance, Determinant (The Guardians of Vesturon #3)by A.M. Hargrove . The tour will run October 15-26, 2012.
E-book review copies will be available, the book can be read as a stand-alone, but reviewers may ask for the entire series to read if they chose to.

 If you are a review/book blog that fits the age group/genre and are interested in participating, please fill-up this form : Determinant Sign-Up Form
 
We will contact the participants shortly after approval.

Click the cover for Goodreads link

Determinant #3
The Blurb

January St. Davis, on her own since the age of sixteen and struggling to stay in college, thinks she’s scored in a major way when she lands a paid summer internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. One evening, after working an especially long shift, a chance encounter with a group of mysterious men alters the course of her life.

Rykerian Yarrister, a Guardian of Vesturon with unearthly powers and impossibly gorgeous looks, finds himself at odds over the human female he recently saved from certain death. When it seems he is on the verge of winning her over, she is ripped from his hands by a strange and powerful being, threatening to destroy her if his demands are not met.

Do Rykerian and the Guardians have the ability to meet this fierce barbarian’s ultimatums, or will January suffer a horrid demise?
 _____________________________________________________



Resurrection #2


The Blurb

"Maddie knew she was dying. Her life started to flash before her. She had visions of running down the soccer field, scoring a goal, eating her mother’s yummy, homemade, sticky cinnamon rolls, standing in her foyer listening to the police tell her father that her mother had been killed in a car accident. Each vision was disturbingly clear—as if it was happening again."

Rayn Yarrister, the first-born son and Leader of The Guardians, has been imprisoned on Vesturon for breaking their most sacred of covenants. He is suddenly jolted by Maddie's telepathic pleas for help, as her life hangs in the balance. Can he alert The Guardians in time to save his soulmate? Or will he face his trial alone and broken without his one true love?
In Resurrection (Book 2), The Guardians of Vesturon are facing their biggest challenges as Earth is threatened by an invading species from a distant planet intent on destroying it for its resources. The Guardians, as protectors of the universe, have been assembled to defend not only Earth, but other vulnerable worlds as well. The Yarrister family is threatened by an unknown entity intent on discrediting them. Will they uncover this plot in time to save themselves from ruin? Will The Guardians succeed in stopping the Xanthians, or will Earth be invaded and ravaged by this marauding species?
 _____________________________________________________



Survival #1

The Blurb

Survival (Book 1 of the Guardians of Vesturon), a YA paranormal romance

"Maybe I was caught between the two worlds. I was having serious trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality."

While on a backpacking trip in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, nineteen-year-old Maddie Pearce finds her world has been thrown into a vortex and is madly spinning toward the impossible. Abducted by a mad psychopath, Maddie narrowly escapes with her life. But that is only the beginning. Her mysterious rescuer introduces her to a world that Maddie has difficulty accepting as reality. Will this strikingly gorgeous stranger be the key to her future or will she return to her mundane world, scarred from her experience? Follow Maddie as she is forced to make difficult decisions that carry her to mysterious places.
 _____________________________________________________

Beginnings:Prequel to The Guardians of Vesturon

The Blurb

You met the Guardians of Vesturon in Survival and Resurrection. Now read about how their parents, Rowan and Annalise met in Beginnings, the novella Prequel to The Guardians of Vesturon. Learn more about Rowan and how Annalise unwittingly captured his heart and how his chance meeting of her took him on a journey of forbidden love.
 _____________________________________________________


We're looking forward to hearing from you!..:)

Blog Tour (Excerpt+Giveaway): The Last Year Series by Trisha Leigh

Whispers in Autumn
In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots. 

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone. 

Then she meets Lucas, everything changes. 

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race. 

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.

Winter Omens

Althea and Lucas barely escaped the Others’ clutches in the autumn, and were separated in the process. Alone and on the run from the cruel alien race determined to exterminate her, Althea struggles to adapt and survive in a world she never imagined. 

When a boy named Pax appears out of nowhere, he quickly recognizes Althea for what she is – a human/Other hybrid just like him. Althea begs him to help her find Lucas, but Pax refuses, intent on following his own mysterious agenda. 

The Others’ presence continues to devour the planet’s resources, and if history is an indication, they won’t leave until Earth is destroyed beyond repair. Althea and Pax sense the only way to save themselves – and maybe their home – is to understand the powers simmering inside them. 

Together they push the limits of their capabilities in the quiet Wilds, but are soon confronted with a terrifying fact: no place is safe from the relentless pursuit of the Others.

Least of all their own minds.

EXCERPT

WHISPERS IN AUTUMN #2

The thought of Lucas watching me stroll about without my knowledge makes me both embarrassed and angry. “I don’t think so. I don’t need any extra attention, and you and your fish and your hiding in the shadows is bound to get one or both of us in trouble.”
“What do you mean, any extra attention?”
One evening alone with another person and my secret’s all but painted on my forehead. Running from the Wardens, frowning at Lucas, saying out loud that I don’t want to catch the Wardens’ eyes—any one of those actions is enough to land me in a bad situation. I force a smile, cursing my loose lips and ignoring the beads of sweat breaking out on my palms. “Did I say extra? I just meant attention. With the Wardens in town and everything. Goodnight.”
Lucas grabs my wrist and holds on tight, stopping me from heading to the Morgans’. His fingers tighten and my skin chafes as I try to twist free, his frigid touch relieving the burning panic for a moment. A wild look flashes in his eyes and he leans in until our noses almost touch.
My breath catches as our eyes meet, a shocking level of anticipation mingling with fear. I push away from him, heart thrashing, but he only leans closer. I freeze, closing my eyes against whatever is coming next.
Words emerge from his pale lips in a whisper, expelling breath frostier than the fall breeze winding about us. “Think about it, Althea. There’s a good chance one or both of us is going to get into trouble anyway.”
 

                                       **GIVEAWAY**
The author is giving away (3) $10 Gift Cards to Amazon ot Barnes Noble (winner's choice.) 
Open international.
Follow the rest of the tour:

Cover Unveiled +Giveaway: Hollywood Holiday by Sasha Summers

 
All she wants for Christmas is for Hollywood to love her again. But once she meets him, her Christmas list changes.

Jen’s only Christmas wish: Hollywood falling back in love with her. Meeting ex-Marine Gunner was a bonus. She likes that he isn’t impressed by celebrities or the movie biz. She likes that he’s funny and sweet … and drop-dead gorgeous. And she loves that he has no idea who her alter-ego is: Jen Fleming, Hollywood bad-girl and paparazzi target number one. Why ruin an amazing affair when he’s leaving after the new year?

But the closer they get, the harder she falls, and the more she wants to tell Gunner everything. Especially once he shares his secret with her.

Her new Christmas wish: Gunner accepts and loves her for who she really is.


About the author:
Sasha is part gypsy. Her passions have always been storytelling, Hollywood, history, and travel. It’s no surprise that her books include a little of each. Her first play, ‘Greek Gods and Goddesses’ was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She’s been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she’s doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.
                     **GIVEAWAYS**
(Open to US,UK and Canada Only)
Paperback Giveaway

Know More about Red Carpet Series Book 1: Hollywood Ever After
 
She wasn’t meant for movie stars, Hollywood, or happy endings.
And then she met him.

Happy Endings are for fairy tales. Or the movies. Not for real life. At least, not in Claire’s life. Even though she’s starting over, she knows better than to want too much this time. But when she falls, literally, into the strong arms of Hollywood’s ‘it’ boy Josh Wiley, Claire’s in for some surprises. Her plans for rest and relaxation are forgotten as one incredible night with Josh becomes two… And her heart begins to want him as much as her body. Will two kids, one bastard ex-husband, and Josh’s juggernaut career mean the end of their affair? Or can Claire find her happy ending after all?

Swag Gift




Monday, September 24, 2012

Cover Unveiled:Just for Now by Abbi Glines

Title: Just for Now (Sea Breeze, #4)
Age Group/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected Release: October 23, 2012
Cover Design: Mooney Designs
Book trailer created by: Hellion Works
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours
 
The day Preston Drake figured out that wealthy women paid well for a set of tight abs and a pretty face his life turned around.

The run down rat-infested trailer he had shared with his alcoholic mother and three younger siblings was now only a place he visited to pay the bills and stock the pantry with food.
 

He no longer worried about his family starving or living without electricity. The money he made entertaining rich older women more than covered his family’s needs and his own. He had it all figured out. Except…

There was this girl.

She was as innocent as he was tainted.

Amanda Hardy wished her knees didn’t get weak when Preston walked into a room. She hated the fact her heart raced when he flashed his smile in her direction. He had a different girl in his bed every night. He was the kind of boy a smart girl ran from. So, why was she coming up with ways to get close to him? Even when it was obvious he wanted to keep her at a distance.

Maybe her heart knew something the world didn’t. Maybe Preston Drake was more than just a pretty face.


Abbi Glines can be found hanging out with rockstars, taking out her yacht on weekends for a party cruise, sky diving, or surfing in Maui. Okay maybe she needs to keep her imagination focused on her writing only. In the real world, Abbi can be found hauling kids (several who seem to show up that don’t belong to her) to all their social events, hiding under the covers with her MacBook in hopes her husband won’t catch her watching Buffy on Netflix again, and sneaking off to Barnes and Noble to spend hours lost in the yummy goodness of books. If you want to find her then check Twitter first because she has a severe addiction to tweeting @abbiglines. Facebook is also somewhere she visits a little too often. She blogs regularly but rarely about anything life changing. She also really enjoys talking about herself in third person.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Promotional Event (Excerpt+Giveaway): NINE LIVES (Highland Home #5) by Shari Richardson


Nine Lives Excerpt
by Shari Richardson

2. Excerpt
  1. Chapter 1
"Oh my God," Mairin exclaimed. "I look like a frosted cupcake."
I poked my head around the doorway of my sister's bedroom and burst out laughing. My normally tom-boyish sister looked like someone had airbrushed a Vogue model over her. I could still see Mairin under the makeup, hair and the far-too-flouncy sparkling white gown, but I had to squint.
"Don't laugh at me, brat," she said. "How did you let me let Mom talk me into this?"
I held up my hands. "Hey, don't blame me for this one, sis. This is all you. You let Mom go to the bridal shop with you and Mathias' credit card. You knew she was going to pick something like this."
Truthfully, the gown was gorgeous. It had an empire waist and a very short train, but it also had so much lace and so many sparkles, I was surprised my sister wasn't currently shredding the gown in an effort to get it off.
"Dammit, dammit, dammit. I cannot do this," she said. "Nope. I won't. I should have insisted on the stupid town hall and the stupid civil union, but no, I let Mom and Mathias bully me into this." She waved at herself.
"Mairin," my mother said, slipping past me into my sister's room. "You look so beautiful. I knew that dress would be gorgeous on you once the alterations were finished."
I smiled at my sister over our mother's shoulder and bolted for my room. The glare which followed my retreat nearly burned. Mairin would complain, but I knew she'd never have taken anything away from our mother. Especially not something as important as a big wedding with all the trimmings.
Of course, her willingness to be on display for the town in a gown that was anything but her own choice was really my sister in a nutshell. No matter what it did to her, if it meant one of us was happier, Mairin would do it. Take my bridesmaid dress. The wedding planner Mathias hired to help Mairin keep her sanity had freaked out when Mairin showed her the dress, but my sister had insisted that the pale colors the wedding planner wanted would look awful on me. So instead of joining the frosted cupcake brigade, I was wearing the deep, forest green, knee-length dress my sister had chosen for me. She could have picked some hideous, flowing monstrosity so I wouldn't overshadow her, but had instead picked the dress she knew I'd like.
I was pulling that dress over my head when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," Tawnya called from downstairs. I knew she'd been ready for us to leave for the wedding for at least half an hour, but after the tenuous truce she and Mairin had finally formed following their estrangement last winter, Tawnya was keeping her opinions to herself. I, on the other hand, wasn't. If they weren't ready by the time I got my shoes on, I'd shove Mairin down the stairs.
"Hey Tawnya. The other camp is getting anxious and sent me to see what was keeping the bride." Xavier's voice drifted up the stairs to me and I smiled. In spite of some pretty big disagreements they'd had in the past, Mathias had asked Xavier to be his best man. Xavier, always looking for ways to improve the political climate of the supernatural community, and because both Mairin and I had begged him, had accepted. It hadn't been until the tuxedo fitting that he'd truly begun to regret saying yes. The complaints over the fittings had been epic and amusing as hell.
I slipped on my sandals and ran back to Mairin's room. "The natives are getting restless. We have to go."
"I heard him," Mairin said. "Mom, go get in the car with Tawnya. Kerry can help me down the stairs in this monstrosity...um, dress."
Mom kissed us both before heading down to meet up with Tawnya. I could see her eyes were already beginning to shine with tears and knew that before the end of the ceremony, our mother would be a blubbering mess.
"She's going to cry all day, isn't she?" Mairin said.
"Probably. You're her baby and you're getting married."
"Yeah, wait until it's your turn, brat." Mairin clasped a thin gold chain around her neck and sighed. "That's it. No more delays."
"Don't you want to marry Mathias?" I asked.
"Sure I do," she said. "But for all intents and purposes, I'm nineteen. Girls don't get married this young unless they have to. You know most of the town is going to be watching me to see if I'm pregnant."
"That's why you and Mathias are going on a long honeymoon. So you don't have to worry about being watched." I held Mairin's arm as we carefully navigated the stairs. "Besides, admit it. You're dying to see all the snooty jerks jockeying for position to catch your bouquet."
Mairin laughed. "I'll aim for you, if you want me to."
Xavier looked up at me from the foot of the stairs. I knew he'd heard Mairin and my heart thundered in my chest. He'd already asked me to marry him more than once and I'd told him no. Not no forever, but no for right then. Looking at him in his tuxedo, the tiny, shy smile I loved best lifting just the corners of his mouth, I realized while I still might not want to get married tomorrow, I was ready to say yes to him.
"I'll take my chances," I said. "But I'll make sure I'm right up front."
The wedding planning crew had lined the driveway leading to Mathias' house with lights and continued with them along the path leading to the stretch of beach behind the house. I went with Mairin through the front door after sending Xavier around the back to keep Mathias out of the house now that we were there. For a vampire, he was impressively superstitious. I'd always thought being one of the monsters the superstitions protected us from might make him immune to them, but apparently not. He hadn't even stayed at the house with Mairin last night because he believed it was bad luck to spend the night before their wedding together. Personally, I thought that his leaving had more to do with trying to maintain his sense of decorum than with bad luck. Mairin had told me that despite her less fragile state of being, Mathias had refused to engage in physical intimacy with her until after the wedding. If the level of aggression and annoyance displayed by them both was any indication, their sexual frustration had reached a boiling point. Mathias had stayed away so he wouldn't be tempted to break his own rules. It was actually kind of funny that Mairin was certain the town assumed she was pregnant when I knew she was still a virgin. I giggled and Mairin looked at me.
"What's funny, sis?" she asked.
"Just that you're worried those people out there think you're knocked up and I know there's about a million reasons why that isn't even remotely possible."
I ducked when Mairin threw the pillow from the sofa at me.
"Ha ha," she said. "Keep rubbing it in, sis and I'll tell mom that when you stay at Elise's house, you sleep in the same bed with Xavier."
"You wouldn't."
Mairin grinned. "Watch me," she said.
Gino stepped into the room and bowed low. "It is time, little queen," he said.
I carefully kissed Mairin's cheek. "I love you," I said. "Be happy, sis."
"Love you, too, Kerr," she said, taking Gino's arm. He led her to where Mom and Tawnya waited in the kitchen. Xavier stepped up to take my arm.
"You look gorgeous," he said.
"You're looking pretty handsome, yourself." I smiled as he preened.
"You think? I hate the monkey suit, but it doesn't look that bad."
"Mom, if you cry now, you'll ruin your makeup for the photos." Mairin's tone was irritated.
"I can't help it. My baby's getting married."
"And living not five miles from your house. Get a grip, Mom."
Laughing at my family's antics, Xavier laid his hand over mine and led me out onto the deck. The music started and I gasped. There was a silk runner that joined the deck to the area on the beach where the wedding was taking place. Chairs were set up in groups around a central point where Mathias stood, his back to the ocean and his eyes closed against the sinking sun. Only those of us who really knew him knew Mathias wasn't steeling himself to get married, but rather he was enjoying the sun. He must have heard the whisper of the sand under the silk runner because he opened his eyes and smiled at both me and Xavier as we walked toward him. Xavier and I split at the altar and we both turned to watch my sister make her way across the sand. The gown that had looked like too much in her bedroom was perfect as the setting sun caught the sequins and crystals embedded in the fabric, making it appear as though Mairin were glowing as she walked. Mom and Tawnya each held one of Mairin's elbows lightly, escorting her to meet her groom.
At the altar, Mom and Tawnya stopped with Mairin and waited for the minister to speak the first words of the ceremony.
"Who gives this woman in marriage?" he asked.
Tawnya's strong voice rang over the roar of the waves and the gasps of the guests. "Her mother and I do."
I saw Mairin sigh with relief before kissing first Tawyna's and then Mom's cheeks. I knew she'd worried that Tawnya would make some attempt to stop this wedding, but since they'd mended their relationship, Tawnya's acceptance of vampires as a whole had improved significantly. Mairin stepped away from Mom and Tawnya--away from our family--and took the hand Mathias offered her. The look which passed between them was so deeply reflective of their love that I heard many of the audience members gasp yet again. I hoped the photographer had gotten that shot. I knew I wanted it for myself.
The rest of the ceremony progressed as any other wedding I'd ever attended until the minister reached the part in the vows where normally he would have said "until death do us part." I knew Mathias and Mairin had convinced the clergyman to change it to "for all time," but the sound of my sister's voice saying the words was something I hadn't expected would hurt quite as much as it did.
I saw Xavier mouth, "I love you," and realized I must have done something to show my pain. I was so afraid of losing my sister to this new world she'd found herself thrown into and had now married into. She kept promising me she wouldn't disappear, but I knew that someday I'd die and she wouldn't. We'd lose each other one way or another and I wasn't ready for that. She might be mostly invulnerable, but our family's penchant for attracting the biggest and baddest supernatural monsters meant she wasn't invincible. I could still lose her, as I nearly had so many times in the past few years, and I wasn't ready for that.
"I am pleased to present to you all, the newly wedded Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Auer." The applause snapped me out of my thoughts. Mairin flashed me a wink before leading the procession to the reception tent.

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