A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…
In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.
When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse–her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret–if she survives at all, that is…
Nathaniel touched my face, made me look at him and see the gentle smile on his face. “If you think happy thoughts, so will I.”
I smiled at him because he made me want to smile. “So we can fly?”
His smile brightened. “No flying off to never-never land until after this wedding. I’ve still got a to-do list to go over with the bride. No one goes anywhere until we get them down the aisle.”
“Isn’t the maid of honor supposed to do that kind of stuff?” Nicky asked.
“Yes, but Denny isn’t good at wedding stuff, and she’s been training for triathlons through most of the wedding prep. “
“So how did it become your job? You’re like the third bridesmaid,” Nicky said.
“Dixie had started doing it,” Nathaniel said, looking back at the taller man.
“And how was that going?” I asked.
Nathaniel looked back to me. “Dixie is competent enough to do it all, but she’s been pissed that Donna made Denny maid of honor over her. She was doing the duties of a maid of honor without the title, and she made sure we all knew that every time she talked to us. A few phone calls from her and I was so over it.”
“I thought you volunteered to be Donna’s bridal helpmate because you love weddings,” I said.
He grinned. “That, too, but mostly to save Donna, Denny, and Dixie from having a fight that would have ended twenty years of friendship.”
“Why didn’t she just make Dixie the matron of honor in the first place? After knowing her that long, Donna had to know what a bitch Dixie would be about it if she didn’t,” Nicky said.
“I know this one,” I said. “Dixie was her maid of honor for her first wedding and Donna was her matron of honor, but they both promised that if they married a second time that Denny would be their maid of honor. I think they were both sort of joking, because neither of them planned to marry again.”
Nathaniel nodded. “And the irony is that I don’t think Denny cared about being maid of honor; she just wanted to be in her best friends’ weddings.”
“Agreed. Denny is almost as uninterested in wedding stuff as I am.”
Nathaniel raised the dresses in his arms like he was gesturing with them. “Now let’s find you another dress, so you never have to wear that one again.”
“Yes, please,” I said, and started moving toward the dressing rooms. I tripped over some piece of the dress that had fallen out of my arms. I caught myself on a clothes rack or I’d have hit the floor.
“I could carry you,” Nicky said, voice deadpan, but with an edge of teasing he wasn’t really trying to hide.
“I am your bodyguard and I think that dress is a danger to you.” His voice was even flatter and more serious.
I glanced back at him. His face matched the voice except for the twinkle in his eye that let me know there was laughter struggling to get out.
“I think I can walk a few yards to the dressing rooms without injuring myself.”
“If you say so,” he said.
Nathaniel said, “I’d pay to see the looks on the other bridesmaids’ faces if we show up with Nicky carrying you. I could undo my hair, shake it out, and make my clothes look messy like we’d been fooling around.”
“I know you’re teasing me, because you value their good opinion as much as, or more than, I do.”
“True, but I’d still do it, just to see Dixie’s face.”
“How do you know she’s back with the other bridesmaids and not still having a heart-to-heart with Donna?”
“We heard them walking back,” Nicky said.
I looked from one to the other of them and knew he meant it. I hadn’t heard anything except us and the air-conditioning struggling against the New Mexico heat. I said, “Let’s just go back and get this over with.”
We were within sight of the rest of the bridal party and the tailor when I tripped again and flashed them all. Maybe I should have let Nicky carry me.
LAURELL K. HAMILTON is a full-time writer and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family.