“WOW.” Mindy spoke my thought aloud, practically
skidding to a stop after bursting through the door. She paused,
just staring, then came closer, walking slowly, as if she was in
awe of the dress. Or maybe she was in awe of me. Maybe, for
the first time, she saw me as a princess—because I felt like
one. Stood like one. “Wow,” she repeated, coming up next to
me so we both could check my reflection in the mirror.
Mom joined us, too, stepping up behind me and placing
her hands on my bare shoulders. I saw that she also thought I
looked beautiful. Different. “You are going to take Lucius’s
breath away,” she promised.
I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to sound vain.
How could I explain that I knew I wasn’t a “pretty” girl, but
that in that moment, I felt like the most beautiful bride on
the face of the earth?
The top of the dress fit me like a glove, accentuating the
curves that Lucius had helped me to embrace, before sweeping
away into a full snow-white train. But the bodice wasn’t pure
white, like a traditional gown’s. It was overlaid with black silk
so delicate that it created an effect like a dove-gray mist
swirling around me.
That detail alone might have been enough to make my
wedding dress unconventional. But I’d wanted more than just
something different. I’d wanted a dress that spoke to both
who I’d been in the past—that teenage girl—and also the
ruler I was becoming. And so I’d instructed the dressmaker to
add a cascade of black hand-beaded lace flowers and leaves,
twining like a wild vine across my body. It was a dark, dramatic
touch that symbolized, to me, what Lucius called the “dark
side of nature,” which I’d joined when he’d first made me a
In the mirror, I met my own eyes—dark and dramatic,
too, thanks to Mindy—and I believed that my mom might
just be right. I really might take Lucius’s breath away.
The mirror also reflected a window across the room, and
I noticed that the sun was setting. Vampires might already be
gathering in whatever secret place Lucius had picked for the
ceremony. And I was almost ready, except for one thing . . .
All at once, there was a knock on the door that led to the
hallway, and, forgetting my dress—and that Mom and Mindy
were there to do things like handle visitors—I hurried to
Swinging open the door, I found the person I’d expected
waiting for me. My throat suddenly a little dry, I nodded for
him to come in, knowing that the servant wouldn’t need any
And sure enough, he walked directly to a small table and
set down the silver tray he was carrying.
Then, still without a word, he retreated to wait outside
while I performed the first ritual of my wedding. The one
that scared me most.
Continue to Chapter 15...