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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
“You were looking for me?” she repeats skeptically.
“Why yes,” Rayne says, nodding her head so vigorously she has to straighten her wig afterward. “Well, technically Magnus is. Evidently he left some really important papers back in his hotel room. Stuff he desperately needs for his next meeting.”
“Oh!” Her eyes widen with concern. I smile smugly, liking my sister’s plan already. If I know one thing about Marcia it’s that she’s obsessed with Magnus and would do anything to help him. Then she narrows her eyes suspiciously.
“So why doesn’t he just go get them?” she asks. “After all, they’re just an elevator ride away.”
Good point. Damn. But Rayne wasn’t giving up. “Oh please,” she says, shooting her a disdainful look. “Do you have any idea how crazed Lord Magnus is tonight? His schedule is jam-packed. He doesn’t have time to run errands. That’s why he has a secretary to begin with.”
“Executive assistant,” she corrects. As if there’s a difference. And what’s Rayne’s plan here, anyway?
“Will you go get his papers, Marcia?” Rayne asks, eyes wide and pleading. “I mean, I’d have Sunny go, but she’d just mess everything up—being a dumb, silly human and all.”
I bristle a little at that last statement, but remind myself it’s for a good cause.
“Of course,” Marcia says, straightening her shoulders with pride. “The last thing Lord Magnus needs is for you two clowns to be rummaging around his things. I’ll go and deliver his papers to him. You can go back to playing slots or whatever it is you’re wasting time doing here.”
“Do you know the room number?” Rayne asks sweetly.
She gives me a smug look. “Room twenty-one-forty-three, of course,” she sniffs. “Lord Magnus tells me everything.”
“Of course he does,” Rayne agrees, smiling patronizingly. “And he’s given you a key to get in?”
She rolls her eyes. “Please. I’m a vampire. I don’t need a key to break these pathetic mortal locks.”
“Perfect.” Rayne beams at her. “Well, you’d better get going then.”
“Indeed.” And with that, she turns and sprints down the hallway, all vamp on a mission.
Rayne turns to me with a grin on her face. “There. She won’t be troubling us for a while.”
“But she’s just running up to get some paperwork,” I remind her. “Then she’ll be back downstairs to let Magnus know we’re in town.” I didn’t want to criticize Rayne’s plan, but it did seem a bit short-sighted to tell the truth.
“Quiet, oh sister of little faith.” Rayne pulls her cell phone from her purse and dials a number. “Yes, this is Room twenty-one-forty-two,” she says into the phone. “I believe someone’s breaking in to the room next door. You might want to call the cops or something.”
I stare at her as she hangs up. She grins at me, a smug look on her face and pulls a wallet out of her pocket. Marcia’s wallet. She must have stolen it out of her bag during that big, friendly hug.
“Breaking-and-entering with no ID to speak of . . . that ought to send her to a Vegas jail for a few hours at the very least. Sure, she might try to call Magnus to bail her out, but he’ll be in meetings all night. With his cell turned off.” She nods at me, triumphant. “Am I good or what?”
I hesitate. “Good in the short term,” I say carefully. “But she’s eventually going to get out. And then she’s going to tell Magnus what we did. And we’ll be in more trouble then than we’d be if she just told him she happened to see us.”
“Well, you’ll just have to work a little quicker then,” Rayne says with a scowl, evidently displeased that I’m not gushing over her oh-so-clever act.
“I know but . . .” I try to rationalize without making her angry. “I was sort of hoping to have at least until Friday. That’s when the biting ceremony is.”
“I see. Well, I’m so sorry I screwed up your perfect investigation schedule,”
Rayne retorts. Oh great, now she’s going into defensive mode again.
“Rayne, come on. You know I appreciate what you’re doing. It’s just—”
“Whatev,” she says, taking off her wig and handing it back to me. “If you have a better plan, I suggest you start implementing it. I, on the other hand, am heading down to the slots.”
A half hour and a quick costume change later, I’m once again wandering through the Mandalay Bay convention center, this time alone. At least now I’m positive no secretaries or anyone else related to the Blood Coven will recognize me. Mainly because I swung by the Hustler store and found a Vegas showgirl costume, complete with feathered hairpiece. I look absolutely ridiculous, I’m sure. But, hey, when in Vegas do what the . . . Vegans? Vegasites? Vegasers?
I find the check-in booth for the consortium and casually grab a schedule off the table. Looks like there are several different sessions going on now. A panel discussing whether or not blood donors should be allowed to form unions. A team-building workshop where participants are asked to walk over a bed of hot crosses. A demo from VampCovenz.com showcasing their latest high-tech coffin security system dubbed “Who Let the Bats Out?” And a Coven Masters round table on what to do about the growing issue of unlicensed, unaffiliated covens popping up around the world. Covens that do not, the brochure explains, follow the consortium charter (which usually means their vamps are all munching on the necks of random peeps, rather than consenting blood donors).