A Witch Central Wedding
Author:Debora Geary
    Devin Sullivan was spontaneous, fearless, and more than a little reckless.

    And stupid polka dots had him shaking in his boots.

    Or shaking in his naked, sandy feet, in this case. He’d hoped that getting married on a beach would ease the dress requirements. The women and pint-sized drill sergeants in his family had vetoed that idea in about ten seconds. He had to wear Grandpa Samuel’s lucky wedding suspenders just like every other schmuck in the family who had ever gotten married.

    Devin looked down at the blue polka dots in disgust. Grandpa Samuel had clearly had a warped sense of humor. And judging from the fit of the suspenders, he’d been about four-and-a-half-feet tall. They were giving him the kind of wedgie that usually meant the beginning of a brotherly backyard brawl.

    “You might want to loosen those some,” said a very amused voice over his shoulder.

    Devin scowled at his brother Jamie, the most recent guy to wear the suspenders. “If they fit you, they should fit me.” Kind of how the triplet thing worked.

    Jamie grinned and plunked down in a chair, looking way too comfortable in his jeans and faded tee. “I’m pretty sure Aervyn took a test drive in them last week when the girls were holding their wedding rehearsal marathon.”

    An event Devin had diligently managed to avoid. Getting married once was bad enough—he didn’t need to practice eleventy-hundred times. His triplet nieces had been a wedding hazard for weeks now.

    However, five-year-old Aervyn in the suspenders explained a lot of things about his current state of discomfort. Devin wiggled loose of the polka dots. “Speaking of, where is our nephew?”

    “Practicing for his big surprise.”

    The one his wife-to-be had done an excellent job of pretending she knew nothing about. Just one of the many reasons he loved her.

    “Getting sappy?”

    Devin pitched the suspenders at his brother’s head, not at all shocked when they bounced off an invisible shield. “I think our nieces have the sappy part of today covered.” He was mightily glad he couldn’t mindread—enduring the teary eyes and soft, fluttery smiles of the past week had been more than enough.

    And he was darned sure his brothers were standing guard, on orders from the nine-year-old czarinas. Either Jamie or Matt had been prowling around all morning. “You trying to keep the girls out, or me in?”

    “Neither.” Jamie raided the snack tray in the corner. “You have the best food.” He waved a scone in the direction of the door. “And if I go out there, Mia will try to put me in charge of the glitter again.”

    Devin was pretty sure his nieces were Nell’s long-plotted revenge for being forced to grow up with six brothers. Witch Central had never been quite so… girly.

    Jamie just snickered. “Word of pre-marriage advice? You’re about to marry a girl. Glitter isn’t the battle you want to fight.”

    He was about to get married. The words snuck under Devin’s ribs and stole his breath. Holy hell. He was about to get married.

    “About time.” His brother leaned against a wall, eyes full of humor—and something else. Empathy. “I was a wreck for hours before my wedding. Good to see you’re not really Man of Steel.”

    He wasn’t a wreck. Devin reached out for a water bottle, suddenly fiercely thirsty—and realized his hands were trembling. The flippant courage that usually ran in his veins was gone, headed out for parts unknown.

    He was getting married.

    To an amazing, sexy woman who stole the breath from his ribs on a regular basis.

    He reached down and picked up the suspenders off the floor. Grandpa Samuel had survived. So would he.

    -o0o-

    Lauren tucked a last wisp of hair into place and looked out the window, hoping her father’s heart was in top-notch condition. “Jamie’s supervising, right?”

    Nat, her best friend in all the world, just laughed gently. “I think he’s making sure Devin doesn’t make a run for it. Sierra’s on broom-lesson duty.”

    That wasn’t comforting. Sierra’s idea of a nice, quiet broom ride was enough to turn Lauren green just thinking about it.

    But the small boy she loved was planning a surprise—and it wasn’t in her to squash his joy.

    So her father, still trying to wrap his head around the idea of magic, Witch Central, and a daughter with power, was out getting broom-riding lessons from a five-year-old so she could glide into the altar on a broomstick.

    It was, by witch standards, a very secret lesson. One she wasn’t supposed to know anything about, which had taken all her acting skills over the last few days. And she loved her father dearly for his willingness to play along.

    Her mother had been recruited onto the decorating committee and disappeared without a trace. It was a far cry from their normal retiree existence.

    “They’re doing fine,” said Nat softly, rocking the small girl nestled in her arms. “A lot better than my parents did.”

    A year ago almost to the day, Nat’s parents had stood in frigid horror as their only daughter married the man she loved. Witch Central, on their best behavior, had honored the moment with solemn and very quiet magic—and then formed a solid wall of love around the woman they adored.

    There were very, very few people not embraced by Witch Central. Nat’s parents had earned themselves a spot on the not-welcome list in less than two hours. “Your parents are idiots.”

    Her best friend looked down at Kenna’s sleepy face and ignored the criticism, as she always did. And then her mind took on a mischievious tinge. She glanced back up at Lauren. “You know Gramma Retha’s waiting for more babies to hold, right?”

    Devin’s mother wasn’t the only one in that line. And Lauren had learned a lot about witches in the last year. “What’s the betting pool say?”

    “Split.” Nat grinned. “A fairly large group in the triplets-by-winter-solstice camp.”

    Today was the spring solstice. Lauren did some quick math and snorted. “Not unless someone really spikes Devin’s punch.” And she planned to steadfastly ignore any possibility of three babies at one time. Surely marrying Devin Sullivan was a big-enough act of bravery to earn her karmic dispensation from Kenna-times-three.

    Nat shrugged. “Caro’s giving you two years, and Jennie picked three, I think. Aervyn bet on ten—he says Devin has to get lots of uncle practice first.”

    Lauren chuckled—Aervyn wasn’t really hot on babies at the moment. Kenna had stolen a lot of his limelight with her magical shenanigans.

    The crystal ball had been silent on the question of children—and she was fine with that. She’d have been quite content to ignore the temperamental sphere altogether, but it had emanated weird crackles of light for a week until she’d sat down for a witch-to-ball chat.

    Even skeptical witches didn’t ignore crystal balls having a temper tantrum.

    And the ball wasn’t the only hocus-pocus that insisted on her attention.

    Lauren looked down at the ring a dripping-wet Devin had quietly produced a few days after Kenna’s birth—a gorgeous, translucent pearl, cupped in two silver hands, and held tight to her finger by a band covered in ancient symbols. It emanated magic and age—and no one had ever seen it before. He said only that it was hers.

    Moira had simply touched it reverently and smiled.

    It was beautiful—and it pulled on her magic in ways that made her restless, and all too aware of the deeply mystical side of the man she was about to marry.

    “He loves you.” Nat’s voice was soft and full of understanding. “And magic is part of who he is.”

    No one knew what it was to love a man steeped in magic better than Nat.

    Lauren traced a finger over the silver hands and the circle they made around the shimmering pearl. Circles were strong and unbroken.

    Sometimes you just had to trust your instincts. Whatever life brought, she and Devin would hold, too.

    Lauren picked up a set of keys off the table and blew a kiss at Nat and the sleeping Kenna. One last thing to do before she flew down the aisle.

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