For my muse, and gifted actor, Matt Lanter. Thank you for being you, sharing your talent, and helping Vance to come alive in my imagination!

And for “The Vance Gang.” Here’s to world domination!

Chapter 1

This was something very unusual— at least it was for most sixteen-year-old girls. The fact I was even getting to experience this now had been the result of a huge compromise on behalf of my parents. They wanted it to happen at a much later date, but the circumstances changed, and the situation demanded we change with it. The discussions had been long and arduous, the pros and cons weighed heavily before any agreement was reached. Even now, I was pretty sure my mom and dad were still having terrible misgivings, though I could see they were trying to put on brave faces and be supportive for my sake. I appreciated that.

“There.” My best friend, Shelly, finished what she was doing, stepping back to survey the result. “You look beautiful!”

Turning, I stared at my reflection in the ceiling-to-floor mirror—barely recognizing myself—but agreeing with her assessment, without any conceit.

The dress was perfect—the square-cut neckline and tightly fitted bodice flowed into the full, bejeweled taffeta skirt with a bubble hem and chapel train. It looked as if it had been made specifically to enhance every turn and curve of my body.

My long, black hair was piled intricately in becoming swoops and swirls on the top of my head and had tiny pearl pins running throughout the design. A simple pearl-adorned comb had been inserted in the back of my hairdo, and my straight sheer veil hung softly from it.

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