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Monday, September 10, 2012

Promotional Event! Nine Lives (Highland Home #5) by Shari Richardson

Today is a special Promotional Event for Nine Lives, book 5 in the Highland Home Series by Shari Richardson! We have blurbs and excerpts, an interview with the author, and even a great giveaway in store for you!! Thank you for stopping by and enjoy the fun!

Mourning Sun
I should have known when he walked into my life that things would never be the same. Hadn't I dreamed of him and the things he'd done before I was born? If only he weren't so fascinating, so beautiful, so much more than any other guy. Maybe then I could walk away.

Mairin Cote is a magnet for weird. Her dreams come true, she can see auras and her mother is in love with an angel. Now the monsters are finding her too. Vampires, demigods and werepanthers have flocked to this small town girl who must find a way to keep her family safe, love the man of her dreams, and navigate the shark-infested waters of Highland Home High School.

The young woman sat beside the bed, holding the boy's hand. Her lips moved in silent prayer, pausing only when he moved restlessly and moaned.

"Mathias?" Her voice was soft but rich.

He moaned again, but didn't wake. The young woman began to pray once again.

"Kathryn!" Mathias sat upright, searching the room with blind eyes. "Kathryn, run. Don't look back, just go!"

"Mathias, my love, I'm right here." She helped him lay back, smoothing her hand over his fevered brow.
"Rest, my darling. You'll be well soon."

Mathias lay down, tossing restlessly. From time to time, he would whisper "Kathryn," before slipping farther into unconsciousness. Each time he spoke her name, Kathryn kissed Mathias and resumed her prayers.

Hours passed, but Kathryn, consumed by the life that drained from the man she loved, didn't notice the light draining from the day. She prayed. She held Mathias' hand. She soothed him when he was restless. Outside the window, the sun sank into the horizon. The sound of waves crashing against the shore slipped into the silence that now filled the room.

As the last of the light left the room, Kathryn rose  to light a candle. When she returned to her place by his bedside, she set the candle on the table and leaned down to see Mathias better in the flickering light. She put her hand upon his chest and then sat by his side and lay her ear against his still chest.

"No," she whispered, curling her hand into a fist on his chest. "Oh Mathias, I can't live without you." Tears slipped down her cheeks as  she closed her eyes and let the grief take her.

Mathias' eyes snapped open. Had she been watching, Kathryn would have seen that warm, dark eyes of his life were gone, replaced by pools of deepest, coldest black. He reached for Kathryn's hand where it lay on his chest, pulling it up to his lips.

"Mathias?" Kathryn blinked away her tears. Her eyes opened wide in disbelief, but there was no fear in her gaze, only the love she had for this beautiful boy.

Mathias licked his lips and ran his nose along the length of Kathryn's arm. She stayed frozen by his side, mesmerized by his gaze, which never flickered from her own. Even after his teeth sank easily into the warm flesh at the bend of her elbow, Kathryn never flinched. The room filled with a wet sucking, disrupted only by Kathryn's one brief gasp. Mathias lovingly cradled her arm against his lips as he drank, insensitive to the monstrosity of his act.

When Kathryn lay pale and still, Mathias blinked slowly.  He looked down at the beautiful, pale and cold woman whose glassy eyes were riveted on his face. He brushed his hand along her cheek, lovingly caressing her face as he had done so often in life. It was only when she didn't smile and ask for his kiss that understanding slowly dawned in his gaze and he screamed.

"Kathryn, my love, my heart, my sun. What have I done?" His hands pulled at his face, drawing it into a gruesome mask of pain and anguish.

Lifting her body with infinite care, Mathias lay Kathryn on the bed from which he had so recently risen to this new and monstrous life. He closed her eyes and kissed her pale lips lovingly.  "I will mourn you for eternity," he whispered before he threw himself out the window.
My eyes snapped open, my heart galloping along as though I'd just run a marathon. The last image of the young man's anguished face, hauntingly beautiful in his pain, lingered in my mind.

"Mairin, are you okay?" my mom called from the hall outside my bedroom.

"Yeah Mom," I said. "Just a weird dream."

Mom stepped into my room and sat with me on my bed. "Want to tell me about it?"

I shook my head. I wasn't sure how to explain what I'd just dreamed. I knew from the clothes the two
people had been wearing that the dream wasn't one of my premonitions, but I had no explanation for who Mathias and Kathryn were or why I would be dreaming about them.

"I think I've been reading too many romance novels." I said, laughing and trying to ease my mother's anxiety.

"This one was set in the 1920s I think. Just a boy and a girl. Nothing to worry about."

Mom kissed my forehead. She always worried when my dreams woke me, even when they weren't nightmares or premonitions. "Think you'll go back to sleep tonight?"

"Probably. It wasn't really a bad one." Unless you counted murder as bad, I added silently

"You need to sleep more, baby. Tomorrow's the first day of school and you'll want to be on the ball."

"I'm fine, Mom. Really. It was just weird, not scary and definitely not a premonition."

OK, so that was a lie. Watching that boy drain the life out of his love made my stomach somersault with horror, but I didn't feel like explaining that to my mom in the middle of the night. Despite what he'd done, Mathias didn't strike me as evil or sinister. His obvious grief over what he'd done in my dream hinted at a deeper, purer soul than the act would seem to allow for.

"Okay, okay, I can take a hint. Sleep well, baby. I love you."

"I love you, too, Mom."

I curled onto my side, clutching my pillow after Mom went back to her room where her partner Tawnya was probably waiting for a report of my dream. I knew sleep should have been a dim hope after the dream I'd had, but strangely I didn't feel frightened or threatened by this dream. There was something so compelling about Mathias that I found myself hoping he would be waiting for me when sleep claimed me once again. I closed my eyes, whispering his name and willing him to come to me. When he appeared, waiting at the edge of darkness  where dreams live, I reached for him.
Captured Sun
My first kiss was going to be my last, but it was worth it. His cool lips, his sweet taste, they were my salvation. I would never regret it, no matter what happened.

Mairin Cote thought loving a vampire was hard, but losing him to others of his kind was worse. When the death toll in East Hampton points to a rampaging vampire, the vampires and werepanthers must form an uneasy alliance to stop the destruction. To save the love of her life, Mairin must decide if living life without Mathias is worth risking an eternity with him.


The alley was dark and dank. The stench of alcohol and decay overpowered the other less pleasant scent which rode the air. Death, whether it was new or ancient, had an unmistakable smell and death waited in the shadows.

The young man walked slowly. His steps wove in and out of the tumbled garbage cans and boxes behind the bars and restaurants. He whistled briefly, a nameless tune with little difference from one note to another. His glassy eyes looked into the shadows he passed, but did not see. Music thumped loudly when one of the doors on the main street opened, disgorging a raucous group of men. The young man turned to watch the others and missed the movement which brought his death.
Death reached out of the deepest shadows and pulled the young man into its embrace. The light never touched its face and the young man never made a sound. On the street, the group of men laughed and shoved each other, oblivious to the end of a life only yards away from them. When Death had finished its meal, it dropped the body and slipped deeper into the darkness. A newspaper fluttered across the alley, fetching up against the dead man's body. The headline screamed death as though to articulate the horror the man could not. The newspaper's date meant it was too late.
My eyes snapped open. "Dammit," I whispered.
"What was it, Mairin?" Mathias' voice slipped out of the darkness like a silken caress. I felt his arms tighten around me, but I shrugged him off.

"In a minute," I hissed. I could already hear Mom padding down the hall from her room. When the hall light flooded my room, Mathias was gone.

"Mairin?" Mom called.

"Nothing mom. Just a remnant of that movie we watched last night."

"I told you not to watch that horror crap before bed," she said, sitting on the edge of my bed. "You know it gives you nightmares."

"I know, Mom. I should know better," I laughed. "I'm OK, though. I'm going right back to sleep."
She kissed my cheek. "OK, baby. I'll see you in the morning."

Mom might always know when I dreamed, but in the last several months she had stopped pushing me so hard to tell her about every one of them. I had to remember to thank Elise when I saw her next. She'd told Mom that forcing me to share every dream was making it harder for me to deal with my premonitions. Since then, Mom asked quick questions and let me share what I wanted to without fighting me. The trouble was I had stopped sharing my dreams with her at all.

How could I tell my mom that when Mathias, the man I loved, had come into my life, I'd begun to dream of his memories? I guess that wouldn't really be so hard to explain except that Mathias' memories were of the death and destruction he'd wrought as a vampire. That wasn't something I was willing to share with Mom.
Now that I knew the monsters were real and could see them every day, I struggled with deciding how much to share with my family and how much to keep to myself. Was I saving them from the terror or putting them in danger? I didn't know and Elise wouldn't tell me what I should do. "Free will," was her favorite epithet.
Seven Days
The pain was sharp and deep, but it was nothing compared to the anguish in Xavier's eyes. I wanted to tell him I would be okay, but the words wouldn't come. The pain kept them at bay and even if I could have spoken, I knew the words would be a lie.

Kerry Cote has a pretty normal life for a teenager. Of course normal is a relative term. Her sister dates a vampire and her boyfriend turns furry once a month, but that's not the problem. It isn't until she meets the father of the man she loves that her whole existence narrows to a mere seven days.

Lane leaned against the door frame and watched Dorothy wring her hands. He supposed he should feel bad about making Dorothy uncomfortable, but after years of isolation from her and their son, Lane was beyond caring how Dorothy felt.

“I can’t let you, Lane. I won’t let you do that to Xavier,” Dorothy said.

“Why not, Dot? I’m his father. It’s about damned time he knew it.”

Lane could feel Dorothy’s eyes on him as he began to pace the small confines of her living room. Sounds of chainsaws and axes biting into wood filtered through the open window on the heavy muggy air of the Florida summer day. Lane knew Dorothy’s husband, Tyler, was out in the heat helping a neighbor clear some trees the last storm had brought down around the house. Tyler would be livid if he knew Lane Cordero was in the house, but Dorothy had never had the strength to keep Lane completely out of her life.

Lane had lived in a small house at the end of the street where Dorothy grew up. They’d been thrown together as children because they were the only kids in the area and they’d remained close through elementary school and middle school. When they’d gotten older, the comfort of being with someone familiar had kept them together, but Lane had always known he’d loved Dorothy more than she’d loved him. It wasn’t until Dorothy had chosen the University of Florida and Lane had gone to work after high school that they started to drift apart. The separation became permanent when Dorothy met Tyler at a freshman mixer and stopped returning Lane’s calls and began denying him entry when he tried to visit her at school.

“Tyler is Xavier’s father, Lane,” she said softly. “Xavier has never questioned who his father is and I won’t let you change their relationship. Tyler loves Xavier and Xavier loves his father. I can’t let you come between them. I won’t.”

Lane felt the fury he kept buried deep in his soul bubble slowly to the surface. For seventeen years, he’d been forced to watch another man raise his son. That same man had stood between Lane and Dorothy at the single most crucial moment of Lane’s life and Lane had never forgiven either Tyler or Dorothy for that day. After so many years of watching from the fringes, Lane was determined to be a part of Xavier’s life and he didn’t care what Tyler and Dorothy thought. Xavier was Lane’s son and it was long past time he knew it. Lane’s anger and frustration must have shown in his face because Dorothy recoiled from him. She was always backing away from him.

“It has always been Tyler between us,” he said. His deep voice had a doubled timbre reminiscent of the panthers who roared in the swamps. Lane could see that the sound raised gooseflesh on her arms and he felt a deep, twisted satisfaction. Dorothy had good reason to fear him. Lane was finished being civilized. “First it was Tyler who stood between us when I begged you to accept what I am and now he stands between me and my son.”

“There was never an ‘us’ for Tyler to come between, Lane. One night, a lot of tequila and seventeen years of regret for hurting the man I love does not create a relationship.” Dorothy’s voice shook with emotion, but Lane was unmoved.

Lane paused at the window. When he turned back to Dorothy, he knew the feral grin he sometimes saw in his own mirror stretched his lips. He enjoyed the scent of fear in the air as he watched Dorothy shudder.

“He doesn’t know, does he,” Lane said.

“Yes, Tyler knows I betrayed him‘” Dorothy said. “He knows Xavier isn’t his biological son and he doesn’t care. Tyler has never cared.” Dorothy stood uncertainly in the living room. Lane could see her debating calling for Tyler and the scent of her skin, soaked in terror, flooded his senses.

“I care,” Lane said, turning away from Dorothy. This was the woman whom he’d loved for so much of his life and yet she would not give to him even the tiniest scrap of herself. He could feel his beast rising. He didn’t want to hurt Dorothy but his pain was quickly reaching the place where what he wanted wouldn’t matter. He wanted only a little bit of her, a tiny piece of the love he felt returned, but not only did she not love him, she wouldn’t even allow him to see their son. Xavier might have been born of a night of tequila a regret, but he was still Lane’s son and Dorothy had no right to keep him from Lane.
Lane heard Dorothy step behind him and shuddered when she laid her hand on his shoulder. “We decided it would be better for Xavier if he had no reason to doubt Tyler was his father. You know how close Xavier and his grandmother are. It would destroy her if something came between them. You’ve stayed away until now, Lane. I’m begging you to keep your silence.”

“We,” Lane said, bitterness sharpened his tone and made Dorothy tremble. “You mean you and Tyler decided. No one spoke to me about anything. No one considered how I might feel about letting another man raise my son.”

“Lane, please,” Dorothy begged.

Lane looked at Dorothy’s hand on his arm and then at her face. He could see the same weakness in her now that had been in her from the first time he’d seen her crying by the side of the road, a broken toy lying in the dirt beside her. She’d never been strong enough to make Lane stay away, nor had she been strong enough to stand up for herself against anyone when she felt pressured. Lane knew if he pushed hard enough and long enough, Dorothy would give in and let him see Xavier.

“Dot, is everything okay?” Tyler asked from the kitchen doorway. When Lane turned toward the voice, cursing under his breath, he saw that Tyler hadn’t left his ax in the yard with the other tools the men were using. Instead, it lay casually against his shoulder.

“Lane was just going, Tyler,” Dorothy said. She pushed lightly against Lane’s arm, and Lane knew she was hoping he’d take the hint. He debated staying and fighting this out with Dorothy. If he stayed; if he pushed, he could get what he wanted, but he knew that once Tyler was on the scene, Dorothy would hide behind her husband. Hadn’t she always hidden behind Tyler? Lane sighed. There was no point in staying now that Tyler had come to Dorothy’s rescue yet again.

“Yeah,” Lane said. “I was just going...” He stalked toward the front door. “I just had to tell Dot something.”
Tyler stepped behind Dorothy and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “I’m sure the phone would be easier than our driveway next time, Lane,” he said.

Lane tipped his chin up just once, a quick, almost violent motion. “Yeah, but easier isn’t always the way to go,” he said before he stepped into the heavy air outside the house. He slammed the door to his truck, cranked the engine to life and spun the tires in the yard until he saw the curtains twitch in the living room window. Was it Dorothy or Tyler who wanted to see the damage Lane was doing? It didn’t matter, of course. It was almost Xavier’s birthday. The boy came to Florida every year for his birthday so Dorothy and Tyler could throw a huge party with all the family in attendance. Dorothy and Tyler wouldn’t want a confrontation that would shout the secret of Xavier’s parentage to the entire family at that party. He’d be there to see his son turn seventeen and then he’d give Xavier the gift of the truth. Lane stomped on the accelerator and headed up the long and twisting driveway. Lane wasn’t always the most patient of men, but this was something he knew he could wait for.
Banished Sun
Eternity. How many times since Mathias came into my life had I considered it? Had I not taken risks that would have left us together for eternity? What I hadn't expected was to have the choice taken from us. Vampires are independent creatures and the old ones definitely don't like being bound to a human. When an ancient vampire comes to Highland Home bent on Mairin's destruction so he can free himself from his bond to her, Mathias is forced to choose between what he is and who he wishes to be.


"Will you let me take you away for the new year, Mairin?" Mathias asked as we made our way out to the parking. The bell had just rung, putting an end to the last day of school before Christmas break began. I wanted to rush out of the building to escape the inevitable, "Have a nice break," and "Merry Christmas" conversations, but Mathias was moving disturbingly slow. His question brought our progress to a standstill as I stared at him, stunned. This was the first time he'd ever suggested we go anywhere together outside of Highland Home or East Hampton. I certainly wasn't going to count that ill-fated trip to England as a vacation, so what was he up to?

"Just the two of us, or are you planning on dragging my entire family along as chaperones?" I asked. For over a year, I had felt as though I'd slipped back in time to the 19th century. Mathias was annoyingly old fashioned when it came to private time for the two of us. He saw it as an affront to his status as a gentleman if there weren't others in the room with us at all times. The fact that my friends and the family members who knew Mathias was a vampire insisted on watching our every move made Mathias' preferences for chaperones easy to maintain. I, on the other hand, hated the lack of alone time or intimacy forced upon me by my boyfriend's antiquated ideas on dating and the over-protective nature of my family.

"If your mother and Tawnya will permit it, I would like it to be just the two of us," he said. The tiny, shy smile I loved best lifted the corners of his lips and I felt myself twirling down into a beautiful fantasy of alone time and no chaperones and maybe a little less refined behavior on his part. As the fantasy got into full swing, I shook myself. No matter if we could go away together or not, what I wanted from Mathias he would never give me.
"You really want us to go away...together...alone?" We were stopped beside the monster SUV Mathias had borrowed from Alfred. Mathias was perfectly capable of driving his sports car in any weather, but Tawnya's disapproving stare the last time he'd brought me home in a snow storm had been enough. He put the sports car in the garage and drove the beast of an SUV to please my family. That was Mathias in a nutshell actually. He'd do anything to please my family, even if it meant I was the one frustrated by his actions. The thought that he might be willing to push the envelope suddenly was a pleasant surprise. "What about my reputation and all that?"

"If you are concerned, I will withdraw the invitation," a teasing smile lifted his lips and he laughed as I frowned at him. He still hadn't learned not to laugh at me when I was trying to be serious. Something told me he never would break that habit.

"You know that's not what I meant, jerko." I sighed. "I meant what's changed since the last time I suggested we do anything without at least six vampires and three humans as chaperones?"

"I find I wish to have some time with you that does not include a minimum of six vampires and three humans," he said, lifting me into the cab of the SUV before rounding the vehicle and settling into the driver's seat. "With the constant stream of visitors and Alfred's incessant whining, I feel as though I have not had a moment of time with you since the summer."

Nine Lives

I felt a familiar ripple and knew it was too late for me. I saw her, so tiny, so perfect and I knew that I could die content. When Xavier admitted his love for me, I was complete. Kerry Cote's story may sound familiar, but it's not. Sure there are a lot of unmarried, pregnant teenagers in the world, but how many of them know the child they carry is a miracle? How many have a vampire body guard? How many are alone because the mother of us all and the father of all vampires has a jealous daughter who covets the baby's father? Kerry must survive to bring her child into the world, for if she fails, humanity may not survive.


"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, 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.
To read more about Shari Richardson and her books, visit her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find her on Independent Author NetworkAuthors DenAstral Plane Publishing, and Goodreads.

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1 comment :

  1. Thank you for participating in the blog tour celebrating the release of Nine Lives. I hope you enjoy the excerpts!



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