Table of Contents
Praise for the Novels of Tate Hallaway
“A fast-paced, hilarious paranormal romance.... The story captured this reader from the very first page, and is a must read for paranormal romance fans.”
—The Romance Readers Connection
“Well paced and lightly written, mixing magic, romance, and humor to good effect ... perfect for lazy summer afternoon reading.”
“This paranormal romance overflows with danger, excitement, and mayhem; however, whenever things become too stressful, a healthy dose of irony or comedy shows up to ease the way. Tate Hallaway has an amazing talent for storytelling.”
—Huntress Book Reviews
“A truly enjoyable read if you like a jaunt into the paranormal ... and enjoy humor as well as the more serious side of life!”
“What’s not to adore? ... Tate Hallaway has a wonderful gift.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Undead and Unfinished
“Tate Hallaway kept me on the edge of my seat ... a thoroughly enjoyable read!”
bestselling author of
Demon Ex Machina
“Will appeal to readers of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series.”
“[Hallaway’s] concise writing style, vivid descriptions, and innovative plot all blend together to provide the reader with a great new look into the love life of witches, vampires, and the undead.”
The Vampire Princess Novels by Tate Hallaway
Almost to Die For
Almost Final Curtain
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First published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, May 2011
Copyright © Lyda Morehouse, 2011
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Almost final curtain: a vampire princess novel/Tate Hallaway. p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-51427-6
1. Teenage girls—Fiction. 2. Vampires—Fiction. 3. Witches—Fiction. I. Title.
Set in Minion
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For Shawn and Mason
As usual I must thank my editor, Anne Sowards, for all her work in making this book that much better, and my tireless agent, Martha Millard, for making it all happen. A hearty three cheers to my writers’ group, the Wyrdsmiths, for their critiques, suggestions, and support. In particular I have to thank Naomi Kritzer and Sean M. Murphy, who are the best and most dependable beta readers any author could hope for. Also, a shout-out must go to Maggie Jackson, my emergency teenager. My partner, Shawn Rounds, also performed the hero(ine)’s labor of proofing the final draft and continues to be my plot muse extraordinaire. Thanks also to my son, Mason, though he did his best to get Ima to play video games instead, for reading the galley of
Almost to Die For
and recounting all the funny lines to me out loud. It was an inspiration.
umor spread through Stassen High on whispers and tweets. Mr. Martinez, the drama coach, was spotted talking to the lead singer of Ingress—the one and only Nikolai Kirov.
Actually, Nikolai and I were only kind of seeing each other, since I was also “betrothed” to Elias Constantine, a vampire knight, but there was no explaining that to the cluster of giddy girls that swarmed around me like I was the queen of the world, and not just Anastasija Parker, the vampire princess of St. Paul.
“Come on, Ana,” pleaded my sometimes BFF, Bea. “You must know
I couldn’t believe Bea was encouraging this lot to harass me. Of course, unlike me, she enjoyed being the center of attention. Normally, she and I were part of the outcast clique, and most of our interaction with this gaggle of cheerleaders and jocks involved slushies and slurs that conveyed their deep misunderstanding of the nature of Real Magic.
Bea and I were witches.
Well, to be precise, she was. I couldn’t cast a spell if my life depended on it, and believe me, there were times that it very nearly had. Being half vampire dampened my access to that particular source of power. But there were other kinds of energy I could tap. Our coven mostly tolerated me because of my abilities, but it was complicated.
Kind of like my relationship with Nik.
“He’s so cool,” one of the cheerleaders sighed. There was a wistful gleam in her eyes, the kind I’d seen in the eyes of a lot of the groupies that hung around Ingress after the shows. “Are you really dating him?”
“Yeah. I mean, kind of.”
The worst part was that every time I stumbled over the exact nature of my relationship with Nikolai, I could see the hunger flare behind their gazes. Inevitably, the desire was followed by a measuring look full of jealousy and wonder at what I could possibly have that attracted a college boy in the hottest local band in the entire Twin Cities.
I wondered the same thing too.
“She is, no ‘kind of’ about it,” Bea said to the disbelieving sneers. “Nikolai is completely smitten.”
I couldn’t tell for sure, but I thought I heard a bit of envy in Bea’s voice too. The bell rang, saving me from protesting that sometimes I worried that his intense interest in me might have more to do with the fact that, in his spare time, Nikolai was also a vampire hunter. Or, at least the apprentice to the local vampire hunter, his dad ...
Did I mention it was complicated?
By lunch, I told Bea I couldn’t take it anymore. Even though we didn’t have a pass, we took our sack lunches and sneaked out to eat them in her car. Bea had this giant boat of a vehicle. It had bucket seats and smelled like your grandpa’s aftershave. Of course, she’d added the MY OTHER CAR IS A BROOMSTICK bumper sticker and the dream catcher dangling from the rearview mirror.
I breathed a sigh of relief when the doors clicked shut ... but too soon.
“Text him.” Bea poked me in the arm. I shot her a frustrated grimace and almost got out of the car, but she said, “Come on. If you have some information, the grapevine will take care of the rest.”
She had a point. If I had some crumb to toss everyone, they’d forward the news around themselves without constantly having to harass me. Bea clicked the key into lock position so we could watch the time and listen to the radio—the car was so ancient, it didn’t have a way to play MP3s. I dug through my backpack for my phone. Of course, it had to be off during school, and it took forever to power up.
“You should get a cell made this century,” Bea said with a snort.
“Hey, it was cheap, and it’s not like it’s rotary—or whatever Mom says”—I twirled my fingers like she always did—“where they had to wait for the zero. I don’t know. I never understand what she’s talking about. Okay, it doesn’t have a cord, at least.”
“Might as well, at that speed.”
When my phone finally finished turning itself on, I was surprised to see I already had a text from Nikolai.
“Hey, he wrote,” I said, showing the phone to Bea.
“Oh! Open it!”
We put our heads together to peer at the tiny screen. With a gush of anticipation, I hit Accept. Seconds passed as the stupid phone deducted the minutes, and then finally the text appeared. It read: “Guess what? We R doing the music for your spring play. Try out! More 2nite.”
Bea and I looked at each other and read the note again. “I thought we were doing
My Fair Lady
,” I said to the equally confused expression on Bea’s face. “Do you suppose Mr. Martinez decided to do
Jesus Christ Superstar
again or something?”