Home > Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)(14)

Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)(14)
Author: Chloe Neill

Just to the side, Cadogan vampire Katherine sat behind a cello in a black gown, and her brother, Thomas, held a violin. They played soft classical music as people settled into their seats.

It was beautiful and happy and seemed like a fairy tale. And I made myself forget that most fairy tales had dark endings.

I stood up again as Catcher closed the door, and glanced back at Mallory. Joy bubbled up into a nervous laugh. “Holy shit, Mallory. I’m about to get married.”

She straightened her skirt, checked her earrings, gave me a sidelong smile. “You’re about to get married to Darth Sullivan. It’s a good thing I made you face him down that night, oh so long ago.”

“I think I was perfectly willing to do the facing down. But yeah, you definitely egged me on.”

“I’m an agitator,” she agreed. “You two have been through a lot. But there’s no one else I’d trust you with, Merit.”

“If you make me cry and mess up Lindsey’s makeup, she will probably stab you. Or at least give you a good Cadogan beat-down.”

We turned at the sound of footsteps. Malik, Amit, and my father walked toward us. All three wore dark tuxedos similar in styling to Ethan’s, crisp white shirts, and pale green pocket squares. My father carried Olivia, who looked adorable in her sleeveless dress, with a pale green bow at the waist and tulle skirt. There was a small bow in her blond curls, and a white basket clenched in her tiny fist.

My father put her down, and she ran to her mother. My father immediately pulled his phone from his pocket, began checking his messages. I guess he couldn’t be bothered.

“You will knock his proverbial socks off,” Amit said, pressing a kiss to my cheek.

“Good,” I said with a smile. “He needs to be kept on his toes.”

Charlotte crouched in front of Olivia, adjusted her bow, pointed at me. “Livvie, did you see Aunt Merit? Did you see how pretty she looks?”

Olivia turned to me, held out her basket. “I toss flowers!”

“And you’re going to do a wonderful job of it,” I said.

She reached in, pulled out a chubby handful of white petals, and threw them into the air, eyes closing as they caressed her face.

“Baby, remember you’re going to wait until you get inside?”

It was late for humans, and particularly for a child. She was probably tired and sleep-deprived, and her eyes grew wide, her upper lip wobbling. “Now.”

Fortunately, it became “now” quickly, as the door opened, Jeff returned to his post, and “Pachelbel’s Canon” began to ring through the air.

“Now it’s time,” Charlotte said, kneeling to straighten Olivia’s skirt. “You ready, kiddo?”


Charlotte nodded to Jeff and Catcher, and they opened the doors as people turned in their seats for better views.

“Go for it!” Charlotte whispered, and Olivia took off at a run through the doors. But she stopped in the middle of the aisle, turned nearly a full circle as she stared at the people around her.

“Livvie!” Charlotte whispered. “Throw the flowers!”

While the crowd chuckled, Olivia turned and looked at her mother. “Okay!” She ran down the aisle, flinging petals as she moved. Then stopped again and looked back at the door, where Charlotte and Malik had taken their positions.

“Mommy!” she called out. “Mommy! I do it!”

“You’re doing so good,” Charlotte said, giving her a thumbs-up as the crowd laughed in appreciation. “Keep going!”

Olivia nodded, and she kept walking, throwing petals with wild abandon. The men and women who sat beside the aisle brushed them good-naturedly from sleeves and laps.

“Oh dear God, that might be the cutest thing I’ve seen all year,” Mallory said as Charlotte and Malik followed Olivia down the aisle.

“She takes after her aunt,” I said with a grin.

“You’re saying she’s cute, or bad at following instructions?”

“Har-har-har,” I said, but I appreciated that Mallory was keeping it light. There was so much love in the room, so much anticipation, that I felt like I was standing on an emotional cliff. And if I fell off—if I let one tear fall—I didn’t think I’d be able to hold the rest of them back.

Mallory cast a glance at Amit. “Sir, I believe it’s time for you to do your duty.”

He smiled, offered his arm. “My lady.”

She took his arm, blew a kiss at me over her shoulder. “See you in the funny papers!”

And then there were three, I thought, as I stood beside my mother and father and waited for Amit and Mallory to make their walk.

We’d decided my father would escort my mother down the aisle. Instead of being escorted, I would walk to Ethan on my own, stand beside him as his partner and friend and lover. That was how I wanted our relationship to begin.

My father put away his phone and took my mother’s hand, then looked back at me with pale blue eyes that so clearly echoed my own.

“Go meet your husband,” he said, and they walked through the door together.

I guessed those four words were the only ones my father could spare, as he didn’t wait for a response but walked down the aisle and helped my mother to her seat. Then he turned back to Ethan, shook his hand with businesslike speed—the deal finally done—and sat beside her.

The brush-off felt dagger sharp, but I wouldn’t let it hurt me. Not tonight. Not now, when the members of the wedding party were in position, and there was only Ethan and me. There wasn’t time for regret. Not here. Not now.

Through the open door, the Winter Garden bristled with anticipation.

Katherine and Thomas began to play again, their strings dancing through an arrangement they’d created just for the wedding. The crowd rose to their feet. Ethan and the others turned toward the door as Thomas’s notes rode along the waves of Katherine’s cello.

I stepped onto the threshold, hands gripped around my bouquet like it was the handle of a precious katana. And then I took a breath, and took the step.

I knew the wedding was as much about friends and family as it was about us. The spectacle was for them; the vows—a different kind of oath taking—were for us.

But the look on Ethan’s face when he saw me for the first time, that was just for me.



Ethan’s eyes widened and went hot, his gaze full of love and pride, possessiveness and wicked promise.

As I walked toward him, my Master and friend, I thought of the first moment we’d talked, when I’d blamed him for making me a vampire without my permission, even though he’d saved my life. He’d asked me if I believed he was a monster, if I believed he’d made me a monster. At the time, I wasn’t sure—about either of us. And then he gave his life for me, and by some chance miracle, I got him back. And I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

I meant to glance at those I passed, smile or nod, accept their hand-blown kisses. But while I could feel them smiling beside me, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I reached him, had to look up to meet his gaze, even in the heels.

You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, he silently said, the words just for me.

I smiled up at him. In your long and illustrious life?

In every single moment of it. There is no sunset, no creative masterpiece, no aria or symphony as beautiful as you.

You don’t look so bad yourself, I said with a grin wide enough that it made my cheeks ache.

I glanced at my grandfather, who winked at me. “If you’re ready to begin?”

“I absolutely am,” I said, and offered my bouquet to Mallory, who’d given up completely on holding back the tears. Amit reached over, offered her a handkerchief.

“Allergies,” she whispered with a laugh, and pressed the handkerchief to her cheeks.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” my grandfather said, drawing our attention again. “We are gathered here today to witness the union of Ethan Sullivan and Caroline Evelyn Merit in holy matrimony.”

“Woo-hoo!” I didn’t see who yelled it, but given the crowd’s chuckles, they appreciated the sentiment.

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