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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
The last thing they needed was some stupid high school kid jumping in with her own investigation. What did I think I’d find that they couldn’t?
I’m feeling majorly sorry for myself at this point and decide maybe I’ll go find Rayne and tell her we should just head home to Massachusetts. I don’t belong here in Vegas and, really, there’s nothing left for me to do. Dad’s not even here to make sticking around half worthwhile.
But just as I’m about to punch in my sister’s number on my cell, the meeting room door is pushed open and Jane slips out of the room. She either doesn’t see me or doesn’t recognize me in my showgirl gear as she walks past me, down the red-carpeted hallway in expensive-looking heels. I watch her for a moment, debating what I should do.
Half of me says I need to just look the other way. Forget about her. Go home. Stop wasting time. But the other half, a more curiosity-killed-the-cat half, is telling me I need to follow her to see where she goes. She turns the corner. Oh what the heck. I rise to my feet. I might as well just follow her one time. Prove to myself that she’s just headed to the ladies’ room and that there’s really, truly nothing nefarious going on here at the consortium conference.
She has a good head start and I’m admittedly more than a bit slow on my platform shoes, so by the time I peer around the corner, Jane’s already pretty far ahead of me. And way past the bathroom, I note. So where is she going?
She stops, leaning back on her heels, then turns around. I duck behind the corner, praying she didn’t see me. When I peek back around, a man has approached our Jane. Dressed all in black, he looks like a cowboy from the Old West, complete with ten-gallon hat and a shiny pair of boots. Oh, and did I mention he’s gotta be almost seven feet tall?
He nods to Jane, tipping his hat and says something softly. Damn it, if only I still had that vampire super hearing I used to have when I was turning into a vampire last May. Or at least the Whisper 2000 hearing device I saw on TV. My pathetic human ears are completely useless right now and I can’t hear a thing Jane’s saying to the cowboy. And there’s no way to get closer without being spotted and risk being identified, even with my costume. All I can do is try to decipher her body language; she’s gesturing wildly and alternating between shaking and nodding her head. Whatever she’s saying, she’s definitely adamant about it, that’s for sure.
The conversation goes on for a few more minutes and then, to my surprise, cowboy man leans down and plants a kiss right smack on Jane’s lips. Not a brotherly one either.
Okay, I’m so confused. Jane has a boyfriend? A boyfriend in Vegas? If she has her own boyfriend why has she been all over mine? Unless, of course, this guy—her boyfriend—is in on her whole evil plan. Maybe she’s just pretending to be all flirty with Magnus so he’ll let his guard down, all while she feeds topsecret coven information to her cowboy lover. Jane pushes him away and wags her finger at him. This time I can make out her scolding him. “Try to at least be a little subtle,” she says. “After all, we don’t want my little blood-mate-to-be catching us out here.”
Okay then. That means this dude knows about vampires. Not only about vampires, but my vampire in particular. My theory of him being in on her plot is getting more likely by the moment.
Cowboy Man rolls his eyes. “Oh fine,” he says. “Good luck, babe. I’ll see you later tonight.”
She shrugs. “We’ll see if I can break away,” she says. “After all, Magnus needs a lot of attention. If you know what I mean.” She gives him a sly wink and he laughs appreciatively.
I, on the other hand, bristle, not liking for one moment the idea of her giving
“attention” to my boyfriend. Especially not the kind of attention one would normally describe with a sly wink.
The two part ways, Jane walking right past me on her way back to the meeting room. (Thank goodness for my disguise!) The cowboy headed in the exact opposite direction, down the escalator toward the convention exit. For a moment I find myself torn. Should I follow Jane? Make sure the attention she gives Magnus is strictly G-rated? Or should I see where her little friend is going? Try to figure out who he is and if his identity might give me some clue as to what she’s up to?
What would a slayer do?
In the end, I force myself to the escalators to follow the cowboy. It seems like the most logical, big-picture thing to do. After all, if I can’t figure out how to prove Jane is an evil plant set on the coven’s destruction before the blood mate ceremony Friday night, she’ll have an eternity of opportunities to give my boyfriend any kind of “attention” she feels like giving. (Even the NC-17 kind.) I trail behind as Cowboy exits the Mandalay and slips into a cab. Realizing this may be my once-in-a-lifetime chance to do what they always do in the movies, I jump in the taxi behind him and cry, “Follow that cab!” to the driver. Unfortunately the whole thing is rather anticlimactic when we pull out of the hotel driveway and get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A snail could have given chase just as easily. (And for a lot cheaper, judging from the meter ticking upward.) Oh well.
We crawl up the Strip, past the Luxor’s Sphinx and the Excalibur’s castle. We keep going past the New York roller coaster and the waterworks of the Bellagio and are still trailing him past the Stratosphere tower—at the extreme northern end of the Strip. Where is this guy going, anyway? Finally, after about an hour of an extremely slow chase, the guy’s cab pulls off the road, into the circular driveway of a small hotel, very off Strip. Its half burnt-out neon sign identifies it only as THE SUN and its big advertised feature is AC and telephone. Not exactly high-roller digs for Mr. Cowboy. I pay my own cabbie and wait a moment before stepping out and following him inside.