The Redemption of Boaz Pritchard - Hailey Edwards Page 0,1

I preferred the peacock blue from last month, but I wouldn’t say so.

“I assume we’ve got a gig,” I continued, “since you’re skulking in my little sister’s closet.”

As often as I reminded myself Cass was a product of her time, that the whole corset-and-plumped-breasts thing was a holdover from her human life, I wondered if she wasn’t just an exhibitionist at heart. Why else would she give her boobs a pep talk whenever a hottie entered her line of sight? Or kiss their rounded tops when they did a good job of luring in a donor? Or have more wardrobe malfunctions than most strippers?

“We’ve got a runner.” Her smile bared fangs sharpened to vicious points. “You game for a hunt?”

“How are we going to blend into the night when your hair is radioactive?”

“There’s this amazing invention called a beanie.” She produced one from her matching leather backpack. “You slip it on and—” she pinned her eye-popping braid on top of her head while she tugged on the knitted cap, “—voila!” She cocked a hip and rested her fist on the curve. “They even come in black.” She winked. “Stealthy.”

“You’re a goober.” I snorted as I rose and circled the bed to plunder Hadley’s hope chest. “How old are you again?”

Figuring it was the last place Dad would look, I had boxed up the wedding dress, the shoes, and the veil Mom had chosen for Hadley upon her birth—the whole shebang—to make room for the black leather outfit I wore whenever Cass came calling.

“A lady never tells her age,” she said with the haughty disdain worthy of a vampire.

“Mmm-hmm.” I tugged on the slinky-stretchy undershirt and pants first, then pulled on the skintight leather suit, thankful my top was long-sleeved with a collar for protecting my throat against fangs. “Give me the deets.”

“The newest member of Clan Willis. A Mr. Ron Turner née Willis. Apparently his boyfriend, Angelo, paid to have him resuscitated, making him a member of Clan Willis. They broke up when Ron’s fledgling vampire libido caused him to step out on his lover, who’s older than him by about ninety years. Cue drama.”

We had both heard this story before, and it always ended in tears or in blood or in tears and blood.

“So,” I cut in, “Ron realized he still loves what’s-his-name and can’t live forever without him.” That was usually how it went. Baby vamps really couldn’t keep it in their pants. Their hearts had nothing to do with it. The decision was handed up to the brain from south of the belt. “Rather than face the sun, which likely wouldn’t kill him at his age, he ran away from home to avoid spending eternity with the clan of the man he can no longer have.”

“I can’t decide if you’re an utter romantic for that bit of fiction,” Cass said, “or if you’re the bitterest, most twisted soul I have ever had the great fortune to meet.”

I paused in stomping on my boots. “Can’t I be both?”

“Uh, no.” She popped me on the butt. “You either believe in love, or you don’t.”

“I believe in—” I yelped when she smacked me again, harder this time. “Quit that.”

“I meant romantic love, and you know it.” She rubbed the sting from my bottom until I danced out of her reach. “What? I can’t resist your pert little butt in leather.”

What she couldn’t resist was unnerving me. Vampires had twisted senses of humor, and Cass’s was an endless downward spiral.

The joke here wasn’t that she thought a woman touching me would get under my skin, but that anyone touching my private bits made me squirm.

Playing nurse full-time for Hadley so Mom and Dad could keep up appearances meant I’d never had much of a social life. I had kissed boys, sure, but that had never convinced me to let them go any further. Lucky for me, the rumor mill swore my future husband had enough practice in that area for both of us. I could just lay back, relax, and allow him to inseminate me.

“Save it for your clients.” I pointed the blunt end of a stake at her. “I’m engaged.”

“Your lip curled on the word. Try it again.” She fluttered her lashes. “Mrs. Boaz Pritchard. Matron Boaz Pritchard.” She considered the Society hierarchy for a moment. “Matron Adelaide Pritchard? Whatever.”

“Matron Pritchard.”

The new title hurt my ears, the position more curse than blessing. I should have been Matron Whitaker, I should have inherited the mantle of matron from my mother—not Boaz’s—but