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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
“Come on, Rayne,” I plead, placing a hand on her arm. “Can’t gambling wait an hour or two? I need you to help me with Jane recon over at the convention center.”
Rayne frowns, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t see why you need me. I mean, isn’t spying easier when you’re solo anyway?”
“Not when it’s a bunch of vampires,” I remind her. “If they catch me without a slayer at my side, I’d be in serious trouble. Do you want me to become someone’s snack?”
She rolls her eyes. “Honestly, Sun, I’m sure you’d be fine. After all, you don’t have to be a slayer to slay a vampire. Just make yourself a stake out of a nearby hunk of wood and start stabbing.”
“Oh yeah, ’cause it’s so easy to drive one of those into a vampire’s heart without slayer skills. Are we forgetting about rib cage of steel here?” I remind her.
She considers this. “Well, you could always take to carrying around a blowtorch. They certainly burn easily enough . . .”
I give her a look. She grins, letting me know she’s teasing. “Okay, fine,” she says. “I’ll come with you. But once we see the coast is clear and you’re in no mortal danger, I’m so hitting the tables. We are in Vegas, after all! Gotta win my millions.”
I nod, knowing this is as good as I’m going to get. “Agreed. Let’s grab a cab and head to the Mandalay.”
The hotel is huge, as is, I guess, par for the course here in Las Vegas. Best known for its gigantic water park out back—including an actual wave pool and meandering lazy river—it’s the last resort on the strip and has its own attached convention center. I have the cab drop me off out front, then wander through the smoky, crowded casino on the main floor, the cha-ching of slot machines sound-tracking my journey. Buxom waitresses in low-cut leotards (what, no bunny ears?) walk by me with trays filled with colorful cocktails and every now and then I hear a clanging bell, followed by the ecstatic cheer of a slot machine winner.
We exit into a hallway, connecting the club and convention center. It’s a minimall, flanked with restaurants and clubs, including one called Rumjungle with an actual in-club waterfall cascading down from the ceiling. I have to admit, the whole setup is pretty sweet and if I wasn’t on such a life-and-death mission, I’d definitely enjoy checking the place out more thoroughly. On the convention side of things, it’s decidedly quieter, with only a few businessmen, dressed in suits, dashing past me in a desperate attempt to get to their dinner meetings on time. We ride the escalators to the second floor where we come across a sign: COVEN CONSORTIUM. We’ve arrived. Unlike most of the other conventions held here, the Coven Consortium has only rented out their meeting rooms for evening sessions, seeing as the majority of their members are fast asleep in their hotel rooms for most of the day. Which actually, now that I think of it, isn’t that different than your average Vegas attendee. Except for the fact the consortium members are actually sleeping in red velvet-lined coffins they’d had Fed Exed over the night before.
“Okay, I think we should get into costume,” I tell my sister. After all, we don’t want someone to recognize us and tell Magnus we’re here.
“Don’t you think that’s a little overkill?” Rayne asks, giving me a skeptical look.
“No. I don’t. And I’d appreciate it if you take this seriously,” I tell her. “These are vampires, you know. And some of them very well might be evil.”
Rayne looks unconvinced, so I add, “I brought you the purple wig . . .”
She grins. It’s her favorite, I know. “Well, in that case, let’s go Cosplay.”
We head into the bathroom and I rummage through my bag, pulling out our wigs. They’re not the most subtle choices, of course, hers being the aforementioned purple and mine a fluorescent pink. But it’s Vegas, right?
I hand Rayne her wig and shove mine on my head. Then I add a pair of blackrimmed reading glasses I found on David’s nightstand. Perfect. I glance in the mirror. Now we’re completely disguised and will be able to spy to our hearts’
content without anyone even having a chance of recognizing us.
Huh? We whirl around, realizing too late that Magnus’s blond, bitchy secretary (who’s a ringer for Marcia Brady) has entered the bathroom and is currently giving us a snotty once-over. Hmm. Guess our disguises aren’t as foolproof as I’d hoped they’d be . . .
“What are you guys doing here? And with those crazy wigs!” She shakes her head. “Is that what passes for fashion in the mortal world these days? God, I’m glad I’m a vampire.”
Lovely. There have to be at least three hundred vampires at this consortium and we have to run into the one I like least of all first thing. The one who, I might add, would happily cut in line to be the first to sell me out to her boss. If I don’t do something quick, Magnus is going to know I’m in Vegas in three seconds flat.
Think, Sunny! My mind races desperately, trying to come up with a plan. Something—anything to distract her from telling on me. But I’m completely coming up blank. I glance over at my sister, praying for Rayne’s intervention.
“Oh, Marcia, I’m so glad we’ve found you!” Rayne suddenly cries, throwing her arms around Marcia and pulling her into a huge hug. She’s stiff as a board and when my sister pulls away she’s wearing a very annoyed and confused expression on her face.