Sneak Peek: Vampire's Modern Bride
To help my Amazon and Kindle Unlimited readers with the slight wait for my new book, I'm sharing the first chapter of my upcoming release, Vampire's Modern Bride. This will be out on July 14th on Amazon. I'll put the preorder links at the end, in case you need them. Enjoy!
Copyright 2022, Mythical Lake Press, LLC
Given her lack of magic, Yesenia Vale had never thought she'd marry. After all, who wanted a fae witch who wasn't really a witch, making her not quite paranormal enough and yet certainly not human.
But as her father barged into the small waiting room off the fancy Boston hotel ballroom and stated, “Are you ready, bitch? Yates doesn't like to be kept waiting,” Yesenia knew her wedding day had arrived.
She narrowed her eyes at her father. “Ready isn't the word I'd use.”
Her father's dark brown gaze filled with irritation as he growled, “You agreed to this, and I won't have you fucking ruining this now.”
She rolled her eyes. “Ah, yes, the part where the vampire will kill you if I don't marry him.”
He took a step toward her and grabbed her upper arm. Hard.
She resisted a wince as he spit out, “There's no love lost between us, but what about Meadow? If you back out, she'll take your place. Although I don't give a damn whether Yates takes you or your half sister as his wife. It's your choice.”
Anger churned her stomach at the same time hatred rushed through her veins. As if she really had a choice. “So much for a father's love for his children.”
His grip tightened further, and Yesenia knew she'd have bruises the next day. “Don't waste your breath, Yesenia. If you hadn't hidden Meadow away from me, her magical powers would've brought in a fortune and we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.”
She tried to free herself from her father's fingers, but he wouldn't let go. He was, of course, referring to the massive debts the vampire named Derek Yates now held over her sire. Debts he'd amassed through a string of stupid and risky investments, wanting to get rich without doing any sort of work.
Not for the first time, Yesenia wished her father had been the one to die young instead of her mother. But he hadn't, and so she did what she always did—sucked it up and did whatever needed to be done to protect her younger siblings. Their mother had died young too, and Yesenia had given up everything to look after River and Meadow.
She wasn't going to abandon them now, even if it meant marrying a monster.
Not that she was going to make it easy for her bastard of a father. “Don't you dare blame me for what's happening today. You know Meadow hates her type of magic. And yet you would've forced her to use it for money, not caring how she'd despise herself a little more each day until it ultimately destroyed her.”
Her sister's ability to control lust and desire had manifested when she’d been eighteen. Since then, Meadow had avoided everyone and everything to keep from using it, even accidentally. Once Yesenia had learned of her father's plans to monetize Meadow's magic, Yesenia had used all her wits to hide her sister away from their father.
And it had worked, too, until Derek fucking Yates had located her and used Meadow as further leverage. It was the only reason Yesenia had agreed to this shitty sham of a marriage—to protect her sister.
Her father snorted at Yesenia's accusation. “Meadow owes me her life, her very existence, and how did she fucking repay me? By running away.” He tugged her arm. “If you want to keep babying your sister, then pick up your damn bouquet and let's go. Yates isn't the most patient of males, and it's going to be you who pays the price for his temper later, not me.”
Swallowing, Yesenia smoothed the white, tight-fitting wedding dress over her hips before picking up the all-too-happy looking bunch of flowers. “At least I'll never have to see you again after today.”
Her father shrugged. “It doesn't matter to me. You're a fae witch without magic, which means you're worthless. You’re just lucky Yates wanted a fae witch broodmare, and you should be able to do that. Soon enough he'll teach you to spread your legs without complaint.”
She nearly shuddered. Not just at the fact her soon-to-be-husband was exactly the type of male who'd rape her if she resisted, but that her father didn't seem to care.
To this day, she never knew what her mother had seen in him.
Mamá. Yesenia thought of her treasured picture, the one inside the locket she wore, of her mother holding her as a baby with love in her eyes. Emotion choked her throat. At least her mother wasn't alive to see what Yesenia's circumstances had come to. For the first time in her life, she was glad her mom had died when she'd been a toddler.
Her father kept a firm grip on her elbow and all but forced her to walk out of the small room and down the aisle of the large, richly decorated ballroom. She barely noticed the ample amounts of white and gold decorations, or the furniture that probably cost more than she could ever earn in a lifetime.
No, her focus was at the far end of the room, where the expressionless, dark-haired, pale-skinned form of Derek Yates stood. More than a mere vampire, he was the designated vampire mob boss of the Eastern Seaboard, one whom allegedly controlled all illegal paranormal trafficking in North America. If that wasn't bad enough, he also had a shady reputation of draining females dry and never being charged for their murders.
And she would soon be the nightmare's wife.
If only she possessed some sort of magic to turn him into a toad, or weed, or anything to make it so no one would ever have to marry him, she would.
But she didn't. As her father had said, she was useless as a fae witch and only had her ability to argue and find loopholes in contracts and such. That had come in handy for the blood-signed, unbreakable agreement she'd formed with Derek. Once he slid his ring onto her finger, her siblings would be safe from Derek and his minions forever.
Although why he wanted to marry her instead of simply fucking her and getting her pregnant, she had no clue. But vampires tended to be old-fashioned when it came to legitimate children and their importance. Maybe even a cold-hearted bastard like Derek cared about that.
Yesenia finally arrived at the front of the room, stopping a few feet short of the arch decorated with red roses, and shook off her father's grip. Her sire didn't even try to put on a show by kissing her cheek. Everyone present knew the reality of what was going on, and it wasn't some sort of love story.
No, she wasn't a person but chattel to be bartered and sold, when it came down to it. Which wasn't something she'd thought still happened in the twenty-first century, but then she didn't know the vampires as well as she should.
As the officiate began a speech she didn't hear, Yesenia's heart thumped and her palms sweated. She'd been much braver when it came to signing the contract. But now? With the tall, imposing form of Derek standing next to her, his expression calculating, she wanted to bolt.
Deep breaths, Yesenia. That's all you can do now. Think of Meadow and River. You're the only family they have left, the only one who cares. And this is the only way to keep them safe.
Doing her best to ignore the vampire standing next to her, she stood taller and tried to quell the panic clawing at her, making it hard to breathe. Even so, a part of her mind whirred, wishing there was a way to both avoid this marriage and protect her siblings. But the one thing fae witches usually had to barter—their magical powers—hadn't manifested for Yesenia at eighteen like everyone else, and according to the local assessors who determined a fae witch's magic, they never would.
She was no stronger or more special than an average human. The ruthless kingpin had her up against a wall, and nothing would change her fate now.
Derek finally did more than stand still and gave her a once-over, his eyes lingering first on her neck and then on her breasts, and she barely resisted a revolted shiver. His attractive exterior hid a monster inside, for so many reasons. Least of which was he'd found his fated bride, who'd made his heart beat again, and he'd locked her away so he could marry Yesenia. The fated bride was apparently a shifter, and Derek wanted offspring with magic, which only a fae witch could give.
A brief flash of panic rushed through her at the thought of offspring. Any children she had would be subject to the male next to her, and she'd rather die than let him hurt them, indoctrinate them, or turn them into selfish, power-hungry versions of their father. Derek Yates didn't care for morals, laws, or anything but what increased his power and hold over other vampires.
She might not be able to avoid marrying him, but Yesenia would think of something to keep from conceiving or carrying to term. She just had to.
The officiate carried on as Yesenia did her best to look forward and ignore the instinct to run. The more the male spoke, the more reality truly set in, crushing her. Once the ceremony finished, she'd have to let Yates touch her. And much worse, she'd never get the chance to see her brother and sister again. Because if they contacted her, their protection ended, and Yates would snatch them up.
At least this way Meadow and River can have a chance at happiness.
Determined not to cry and show weakness in front of the vampire, she took strength from the slight weight of the locket around her neck and kept her chin high. This was the sole way she could protect the only two people she loved in the world.
But when it came time in the ceremony for Derek to raise his family's ring toward her finger, she hoped and wished there was a way to get out of this. To finally do all the things she'd put off, to be something more than the fae witch waitress with no powers.
To be able to laugh and hug her siblings again.
Maybe to even find love and happiness.
But as the cool metal band of Derek's ring slid around her finger, no amount of wishing helped. The slight weight only reminded her of the heavier future to come.
Of how she'd be a prisoner at a ruthless male's whim. How, if she couldn't stop it, she might have to watch her children be molded into the next generation of his cruel, power-hungry horde.
Damn it. And to think she thought her lack of powers had been the worst part of her life up until now.
She resisted closing her eyes to wish for better. This would be her lot in life, it seemed, and there was nothing she could do about it. Nothing.
Yesenia was vaguely aware of Derek speaking his part as the world around her began to spin.
No. She wouldn't faint. She couldn't show weakness, or Derek would pounce upon it.
But her vision darkened and with one last feeling of being pulled away, the blackness crashed over her and Yesenia fell unconscious.
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