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Until the Sun Falls from the Sky

By:Kristen Ashley

Until the Sun Falls from the Sky

Chapter One

The Selection

My dress was blood red.

This, I thought, was farcical. I mean blood red? Were they serious?

“Smile. Be nice. Respectful. Always respectful. Remember, you’re representing the Buchanans,” my mother at my side whispered urgently to me. Her eyes did not leave the length of the hall and her bearing was stiff as we walked side-by-side.

She was nervous and excited. Unbearably so.

It was driving me nuts.

I didn’t need her to say this to me. Since I’d received my invitation to The Selection she’d been coaxing me, coaching me and constantly reminding me that I was a Buchanan and what that meant.

Like I’d ever forget.

In fact, since I was told when I was thirteen what being a female Buchanan meant, I’d never forgotten. Not one word. They were burned on my brain.

I didn’t answer her, just stared down the long hall.

It was, as it would be, lush but spooky. A dark gray carpet runner flanked by polished dark wood floors. Matching gray walls with pristine white cornices and ceilings. Every six or seven feet a small, exquisite sconce dripping crystals was affixed to the wall, enough of them to light the way but not enough of them to take away the shadows. Much further apart along the walls there were doors, all of them closed. At one end was the elevator we rode down however many stories and at the other end was the door to where we were heading.

And in between it was a long walk.

Way too long in blood red satin shoes with a pencil thin heel and an ankle strap that was so dainty it threatened to break with every step I took.

“I think these shoes were a bad idea,” I grumbled under my breath to my mother.

“Leah…” she started in the warning mother tone I’d heard her use with me many a time over the years.

“No seriously, I fear a massive shoe incident. The Buchanans can’t have a massive shoe incident, not at something as important as A Selection. What would that do to our reputation?”

“Don’t worry about your shoes. Your shoes will be fine.”

“No, I don’t think they will. I think we should leave, find me another pair of shoes and come back,” I suggested.

“You don’t have another pair of shoes that would be appropriate.”

She was right about that. Who owned two pairs of sexy, seven hundred dollar, blood red evening shoes?

“Well then, maybe we’ll talk to the powers that be and say I couldn’t make it due to possible shoe failure and could I have another go at the next Selection.”

At my words, her head whipped to face me and she looked panicked. This freaked me out more than I was already freaked out at the very prospect of the evening’s festivities.

“You have to attend this Selection. For you, there is no other Selection,” she hissed, not angry. She was frantic.

So frantic that out of habit, even though I didn’t understand her anxiety, I found myself soothing her. “Okay, Mom. I’ll work these shoes. It’ll be all right.”

She took in a deep breath and turned again to face the hall. So did I.

That proved it. She’d been beside herself with glee and, strangely, nerves when I got my invitation. Not because everyone in my entire family thought I’d never get an invitation to A Selection (and I’d been hoping, since I found out who my family was and what they did, that they’d be right) but because I’d received one to this Selection.

Though she’d never explained.

“Mom, is there something…?”

I didn’t finish. We were five feet away from the door at the end of the hall. It opened, a man in evening dress stepped out and closed it behind him.

I stared at him in shock.

He had to be seven feet all, very thin, his head shiny and bald. He had a heavy, protruding forehead, no eyebrows, big, dark eyes and long, long limbs that matched his height. His hands were incredibly long and thin, longer than even his body demanded, with slender fingers and knobby knuckles.

Although he was an unusual looking man, he was somehow alluring, even handsome.

His eyes went directly to my mother and he smiled with genuine warmth. He had beautiful, white, strong, even teeth.

Oh my God. Was this what vampires looked like?

At the sight of him, my step had stuttered. My mother put her hand on my elbow to propel us forward the last few feet to stop in front of him.

“Avery,” she greeted and smiled up at him.

“Lydia.” He took her hand, bent low and brushed it against his lips. “It’s always a pleasure,” he went on after dropping her hand. “I hear our Lana is faring well.”

He knew my sister, Lana. And he knew she was faring well.

This was true. Lana had been to her Selection three years ago. She’d been selected, according to my mother, within minutes of arrival. She’d done very well for the Buchanans; a vampire of some status had chosen her. She was still in her Arrangement with the vampire who selected her without any hint she’d be released.

This was unusual. I’d been told after I received my invitation which heralded the time new secrets could be shared that Arrangements lasted on average two to three years before the vampire released his or her concubine and moved on. Any Arrangement that lasted longer than that was known to be particularly successful.

The Buchanan women for five hundred years had made a habit of such accomplishments. My mother’s Arrangement had lasted seven years. She was practically a legend. At least that was what my Aunt Millicent told me with some envy, her Arrangement had lasted four and three quarter years. The “and three quarters” was a very important addition to Aunt Millicent.

I’d never met Lana’s vampire. As an Uninitiated, I wasn’t allowed. I didn’t even know his name. I had seen Lana countless times since her Selection. She was ecstatically happy though she couldn’t tell me why, it was plain to see she was.

“And this is Leah,” Avery said, his words low, giving me the strange impression there was some meaning to them outside of the fact tha