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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
While the cross-walking thing sounds pretty cool (how do they keep their feet from catching fire?) I decide my best bet to find Magnus and Jane is at the round table. I know the unlicensed coven thing is a hot issue with my boyfriend after the evil Maverick attempted to poison his coven last year. Jane would probably be decidedly less interested, but I’m sure she’s glued to Magnus’s side regardless.
I head down the hallway to Room 23B, where the round table is happening. Luckily, they’ve left the meeting room door ajar, allowing me to peek inside without making my presence known. Sure enough, Magnus is there, dressed in a very delectable black suit, his long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. At his right sits Jane, looking more than a little bored. Gone are her trashy clothes—today she looks like she stepped right out of a Banana Republic window display. Her badly dyed red hair is pulled back into a severe bun and her formerly dangly disco ball earrings have been replaced by sensible studs. She looks the part of an Oxford-educated, political mastermind, blood-mate-tobe, which only serves to annoy me further. I watch as she whispers something in my boyfriend’s ear and he laughs. Laughs! As if he’s having a great time. A great time without me. A great time without me with a girl who isn’t supposed to take my place. My heart aches as I watch her paw at his shoulder with those fake fingernails of hers. (The pink bats are long gone, replaced by a sensible French manicure.) It takes everything inside of me not to barge into the room and claw her throat out for touching my boyfriend like that. Of course he’s not guiltless either—allowing her to do it, thinking I’m safe and sound back in suburban Massachusetts and won’t ever know.
“Excuse me?” She raises a hand. The round table leader gestures for her to speak. “Um, yeah,” she says. “I was just, um, wondering why we don’t legalize all the unlicensed covens? I mean, they’re already here, after all.”
“Maybe you’ve never seen an unlicensed coven,” sniffs a tuxedoed vampire from across the table. “Their ways can be barbaric. They kill dogs, cats, children, all to feed their bloodlust. By accepting them into our midst, we’d be condoning that sort of behavior, which we would never do.”
“Indeed,” adds a woman with bright red lipstick and jet-black hair to his left.
“What would Slayer Inc. do if they learned we allowed such vampires into our inner circles? They’d go on the offensive and our tenuous peace would be broken forever. I don’t think anyone here wants that.”
Jane frowns. “You’re totally generalizing,” she says. “Just because they’re unlicensed doesn’t mean they’re all a bunch of child chompers. They may simply be vamps, unable to buy their way into a coven, bonding together for safety purposes.”
“We also don’t need to take on a bunch of charity case vampires,” interrupts tuxedo vamp haughtily. “We have enough problems without instating a welfare system within the consortium.”
A bunch of the vampires at the table titter. I smile. Take that, Jane! No one cares about your opinion.
“Actually Jane has a point,” Magnus interrupts.
Except evidently my boyfriend, that is. Sigh.
All eyes are now on Magnus. He clears his throat and then speaks. “I recently allowed a group of unlicensed vampires to apply to become members of my coven,” he explains. “They had been working as biters at the illegal Blood Bar downtown—abused by their tyrant employer. They were extremely grateful for the chance to join a coven and, I have to say, have adjusted very well to coven life. In fact, I’ve put one of them, a former bouncer named Francis, in charge of security and he does a fantastic job.” He looks at Jane and smiles. (Yes, smiles!
Like he’s giving her all the credit for this move, when I know very well it was Rayne and Jareth who talked him into doing the whole open-door policy thing to begin with.) “There is no segregation at the Blood Coven and we like it that way.”
I feel a sickening jealousy crush down on me at his careless use of the word
“we” when referring to the boyfriend-stealing bitch beside him. How dare he refer to himself and Jane as a “we”—that’s our pronoun. I’m so mad it’s all I can do to keep from falling over. (Though it’s a distinct possibility this is partially due to the seven-inch platform stripper shoes I’m currently wearing rather than simply my fury.)
The vampires at the table clap respectfully as Magnus yields the floor. A vote is called for, to determine whether the consortium should rule on unlicensed vamps or leave it up to the individual covens. Magnus and Jane smile at one another; they know they’ve won.
And I suddenly realize I’m the one who’s lost. What am I even doing here in Vegas, trying to prove some ridiculous conspiracy theory based entirely on some random college trivia I found off Wikipedia? I mean, what if I’m wrong?
What if she actually is who she’s claiming to be—a Rhodes scholar, a political mastermind, a worthy leader looking only to protect and serve the vampires who will fall under her jurisdiction as co-master of the Blood Coven. Why, her expertise could become a real asset to the coven and help them rise to power and wealth beyond imagination, just as Magnus has dreamed of since taking over. Who am I to selfishly try to sabotage all of that goodness simply because I can’t bear to see my boyfriend bonded for eternity to another woman?
I slump into a nearby armchair, discouraged and depressed. In a way I should be happy, right? I mean, it’s not like I want the Blood Coven to be infiltrated by an evil imposter vampire set on its destruction or anything. So if Jane’s on the up and up, that’s a good thing. Sort of. Okay, not really. God, is all of this really just due to plain and simple ugly jealousy on my part? Have I jumped to ridiculous conclusions simply because I can’t deal with the idea of my boyfriend hooking up with someone other than me? After all, the Blood Coven is a highly sophisticated, highly technological organization. Surely, they would have checked out Jane before selecting her and checked her out well. Put her through DNA testing, blood testing, a three-month training course—just like Rayne had to do when she first got certified—before they’d match her up with a blood mate.