As promised, here is an excerpt from the as yet untitled fourth Jane book, which is due out in March 2012. To give you some idea of what is happening in the plot, Jane and Gabriel are engaged. Jenny, Mama and Jane have reconciled to a degree, and Jenny and Mama are helping Jane plan the wedding. Jane has hired Iris Scanlon, who specializes in planning vampire weddings to run interference. The scene involves wedding dress shopping with Jane's bridesmaids and family.
Please keep in mind that all materials are subject to change before publication and the property of the author. And don't forget to check out HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF, which comes out on TUESDAY!!
I didn’t know how comfortable I was mixing my supernatural friends and my family. I mean, sure, my parents hosted a beautiful baby shower for Jolene. But at the time, they didn’t know she was a werewolf. And Andrea had been human at the time. Now that my family was aware of my friends’ “unique” nature, I expected it to feel different.
I hadn’t counted on them bonding over their mutual exasperation with me. My clumsiness, my stubbornness, my ability to injure myself or others just by walking across a room. It was the stuff of instant sisterhood.
“I never thought I’d see the day Jane would voluntarily go shopping,” Mama said, sipping the tea provided by a harried shop assistant named Claire. “I thought poor Andrea would have to use her vampire strength to hog-tie Jane and put her in the trunk.”
"I haven’t read many books on vampire wedding etiquette, but I think hog-tying the bride is rude in any culture,” I noted.
Andrea ignore me, adding, “I practically have to force her to go with me at gunpoint to shop for jeans. She always finds cute stuff, with my guidance, but she acts like I’m torturing her.”
“Well, to be fair, she has flashbacks,” my sister added, winking at me as she handed me a fluffy full-skirted gown.
“Jenny,” I said in a low, warning tone.
Mama looked at me quizzically and then burst out laughing, “Oh! I’d almost forgotten about that.”
Jolene and Andrea exchanged glances, silently debating over whether the potential hilarity could be worth suffering my wrath. They grinned simultaneously.
“I hate you guys,” I mumbled as I strode into the dressing room and took the first of Mama’s dresses off the hanger.
As I wrestled my way into what felt like miles of tulle, Jenny was telling the story of Homecoming dress shopping with me my sophomore year. Jenny was nominated for the court, so Mama was insisting I go to the dance to support her. Jenny, of course, had already picked out her gown before she was even nominated. But it was three days before the big event and I was still lobbying to wear jeans and combat boots. Mama and Jenny had frog-marched me into the Tot, Teen and Tween Shop downtown to find something “that won’t make you look like a motherless hobo,” as Mama had so gently put it.
After a dozen ruffled, bow-covered nightmares, I’d decided I’d had enough. I yanked a dress over my head, forgetting about the zipper. The zipper got caught in my hair. I felt like I was being attacked by the ghosts of evil prom queens past and fought back. And because the dressing rooms were framed with curtains instead of doors…
“She came stumbling out of the dressing room into the shop with her panties bared and her dress over her head,” Jenny hooted.
Andrea and Jolene were falling all over each other laughing. I glared at the lot of them.
“I think I remember why I hate shopping,” I said, my hands on my hips.
“Oh, honey,” Mama murmured, her eyes misting. “It’s so beautiful!”
I turned toward the mirror and flinched.
“I look like a bad meringue hallucination,” I said. The skirt seemed to explode from beneath the bodice, making my hips look a mile wide. The hem was hovering about an inch off the ground and revealed my white gym socks. The sleeves were those padded “belle” sleeves, but they’d long since deflated and hung from my biceps like droopy balloons. Iris had stopped in her tracks across the shop and dropped the tiara she’d been holding.
“You look like Cinderella,” Mama cooed. Behind her, Iris, Jolene and Andrea were shaking their head in sync.
“If she was doing the walk of shame home from the ball,” Andrea muttered. Jolene and Jenny snickered. I bit my lip to keep from joining in.
What? Even I can appreciate a good snark at my own expense.
“You couldn’t have worn nicer socks?” Mama asked. “Well, baby, I’d say you have a winner first time out.”
I shrugged. “Mama, this is not the dress.”
“But you look so-”
“Mama, I want you to close your eyes. And for just one moment, forget how excited you are about me finally getting married, and how excited you are about finally seeing me in an actual wedding dress. Close your eyes and really think about my body type and what looks good on me.”
“Now open your eyes,” I said.
Her eyelids popped open and she scanned me from head to toe. She blanched and she made her “I smell something face.”
She shook her head, as if that would make the image go away. “Oh, honey, no.”
I nodded, my lips tucked into a humorless grimace. “There we go.”
“That is not the dress.”
I shook my head slowly. “I would like this off of me now.”
Claire helped me wrestle the skirt back into the dressing room. “Don’t feel bad, Miss Jameson, this dress has been here since 1992. It’s been forced on countless brides by their mothers. It’s still here. That should tell you something.”
I thought of all of the women who had worn this dress before me and shuddered.
“We have it cleaned a few times a year,” she assured me.
The rest of the evening was a blur as my friends and family argued over which silhouette suited me best. Jenny and Mama went to search in the backroom, where the owner stored the dresses for brides with “problem areas.” Iris had begun making notes on which manufacturers she could call for special samples.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the light purplish blue-grey dress hanging on a rack near the register.
Claire laughed. “Oh, that’s a dress for the costume shop down the street. Our seamstresses do repairs and alterations for them all the time. DeeDee Wannamaker dressed up as Elizabeth Bennett for some charity costume thing a few weeks back and split a seam. That just goes to show that dress clothes and a few dozen sausage balls don’t mix.”
I stepped closer to the dress. I lifted the plastic bag protecting the material and smiled. This was the sort of dress an Austen character would wear… in a highly sanitized, beautifully lit movie adaptation. And unlike every other dress in this shop, I could actually see myself marrying Gabriel in it.
I turned over the tag and saw that the dress was my size. Obviously, the wedding dress gods were smiling on me.
“Can I try it on?” I asked Claire.
“I don’t see why not. Just avoid any sausage balls.”
“Not a problem.”
“It’s been dry-cleaned, right?” I heard Andrea ask as I went back into the dressing room.
I slipped the dress on and it seemed to caress me like water sliding down my skin. It was light and comfortable. There was a smattering of beadwork along the empire waist, emphasizing the elegant bell of the skirt. The hem was scalloped with lace and beadwork. The sleeves were short and capped and actually made my arms look long and graceful.
I wanted to be married in this dress. That special feeling that all brides talk about? Finding “the one,” this was it. I ripped the curtain back and stepped out. Andrea and Jolene squealed. Confirmed!
“Oh, my gosh, it’s so beautiful,” Andrea gushed as Jenny clapped her hands over her mouth.
Jolene’s face fell from its usually luminous smile. “But wait, it’s a rental gown. People have worn it before you. It’s used.”
“It’s vintage,” I corrected her.
“It’s icky,” she mewled.
“I wore vintage at my wedding, and you didn’t say it was icky,” Andrea said, her brow lifted.
“I did, you just didn’t hear me,” Jolene retorted, wincing when Andrea punched her arm, “Ow! This is what I get for hanging out with vampires. My aunts tried to warn me.”
“Your aunts are vicious bitches,” Andrea shot back.
Jolene shrugged. “You’re not wrong.”
“Hello, can we re-focus on my bridal hotness?” I demanded, gesturing to the long, slender lines the dress somehow “magicked” onto my body.
“Jane, I think we need to go with a ball gown and a long-sleeved jacket,” Mama was saying as she emerged from the back room. She stopped in her tracks when she saw me and tilted her head, her expression confused. “Oh, well, that’s nice.”
“Nice? Mama, that’s gorgeous,” Jenny said, stepping closer so she could examine the beading. “Really, really beautiful, Jane, and so completely you.’”
“It’s so nice to hear you say that and know you don’t mean it as an insult,” I told
her. She nodded as she bent to examine the hem.
“But it’s grey,” Mama said. “And it’s not a wedding dress.”
“We could definitely build a theme around the dress,” Iris offered.
“But it’s so plain,” Mama whined. “And I’m just not getting the ‘bridal’ feeling from it.”
“But I am getting a bridal feeling from it.”
“But why grey? Why not white?” Mama asked.
I smirked. “Mama, if you really want to have that discussion, I will give you a detailed explanation. For once, I have details to give.”
“I do not want to hear this,” Andrea said, shaking her head.
“I think I do,” Jenny said. When Andrea and Jolene turned toward her, surprised, she lifted her hands in a defensive gesture. “Hey, I’m the only one having completely human sex here. I don’t think curiosity is out of line.”
“But Jane, everyone will think-”
“No one’s going to think anything. It’s not like it’s possible for me to be pregnant. I’m a vampire. All the traditional planning rules have been drop-kicked out the window. Besides, wedding dresses weren’t traditionally white until Victoria made it popular. It’s not an authenticity stamp or anything. So, tell me, forgetting that this is supposed to be virginal white. Do I look pretty?”
Mama took my face between her hands. “Absolutely gorgeous.”