Nine Lives: The Fifth Highland Home Novel
By Shari Richardson
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 the 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 after 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 him 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.”
About the Author:
Shari Richardson holds a master’s degree in English Education and has spent much of her life teaching students the joy of reading and writing. Her love of writing began when she was in elementary school and has carried through her entire adult life. Shari lives in Pennsylvania with her two Chihuahuas.
Connect with Shari
Shari is running a contest!
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for Smashwords) for the Highland Home Omnibus (Books 1-3.)
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