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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
She does a double take and I’m pleased to see I now have her full attention.
“No way!” she cries, grabbing the playbill to get a closer look. She squints at it for a moment, then looks back up at me. “That’s definitely her. Where the hell did you even get this?”
“The tiniest little theater in a sad, decrepit, off-Strip casino hotel,” I explain.
“Sasha Star. Maybe it’s her actor name?”
“Maybe. But why the heck is she in the play to begin with? She’s supposed to have been straight off the plane from England after receiving her master’s degree. Not to mention I’m guessing most Rhodes scholars don’t star in cheesy Vegas revues in their spare time.”
“I would think not.” Rayne hands the playbill to me. “Have you shown this to Magnus yet?”
I shake my head. “Not yet. I wanted to see what you thought first.”
“Hmm.” Rayne considers this for a moment. “Well, maybe you should hang on a little longer,” she decides at last. “I mean, what if there’s a rational explanation?”
“What could possibly be the rational explanation for something like this?”
She looks impatient again. “I don’t know, Sunny,” she replies. “But do you really want to admit to your boyfriend that you followed him to Vegas to spy on him and only have some random playbill to prove you were justified in doing so? What if Jane claims this thing is just Photoshopped? That she’s being framed by some rival coven or long-lost enemy or . . . you . . . even? It’s not like it would be a stretch. I think to really make a case, you need to find out more information, before accusing Jane of anything.
I hate to admit it, but she has a point. I need more than just some playbill that Jane can explain away. I need solid facts. Did she really work for this theater company? If so, why did she quit? Who is Cornelius and why did he come to meet her at the Mandalay Bay? And last, but definitely not least, why does she really want to become Magnus’s blood mate?
I make a decision to continue my investigation. “Well, do you want to maybe come and—” I start to ask.
“Excuse me, Shaniqua?” the dealer calls to Rayne, interrupting me with her fake ID name. “Are you back in? ’Cause if not, you’re going to need to take your chips and give up your seat.”
I wait for Rayne to tell the dealer that it’s okay, she’s hanging with her sister now and she can come back and gamble anytime. But instead, she shoves the playbill at me and practically leaps back into her seat. “Oh, sorry. I’m back,”
she chirps. “Hit me.”
I glare at her back. Oh, I’d like to hit her all right. Just not with something as flimsy as a playing card. I mean, what? Was I supposed to be grateful for those five seconds of attention Her Majesty chose to bless me with just now? After all, if it weren’t for me, neither of us would even be here to begin with.
“Aren’t you going to help me at all?” I ask, tapping her on the shoulder. “I mean, I could really use a little assistance in my investigation. And you’re the trained one in this kind of thing. You’re the slayer. I’m kind of helpless without you . . .”
She waves me off, not even turning around. “I will, I will,” she says dismissively. “I just need to get a few games in. This is a hot table and I really need to break even before I leave.”
“Um, I thought you said you were ahead. What about that two hundred dollars in winnings you mentioned?”
“Oh right. Well, gotta spend money to make money. You know how it is.”
In truth, I have no idea “how it is” but decide I’m not going to get anywhere arguing about it. So I give up and walk away without bothering to say goodbye. I doubt she noticed anyway. I exit the casino with a heavy heart. This is so not how I imagined this trip to be. For some stupid reason, I thought my sister would actually give a damn and help me out. A twin effort like we’ve done in the past. But no. Rayne may be here in body, but she’s completely on another planet in mind and spirit. Looks like I’m on my own for the foreseeable future.
I glance at my watch, realizing it’s late. Like nearly midnight. And unlike some people, I’m not a vampire who can just stay up all night. I decide to head back to the apartment and see about getting some sleep. My investigation can continue tomorrow. I still have two days left before the biting ceremony. And if I don’t sleep now I’ll be useless tomorrow.
I decide to walk up the Strip and save the cab money this time around. The street’s brightly lit and packed with people, many of them extremely loud and intoxicated. Guess they aren’t kidding when they call this place Sin City. As I weave my way through the throng, I consider my next move. My best lead so far is that theater. Maybe I should go back there. Talk to Jayden some more. He was super nice; maybe he could give me some more information about Sasha/Jane.
I arrive at the apartment and ride the elevator up to the twenty-seventh floor and approach the apartment door with hesitation. Will everyone be asleep? I should have asked for a spare key. I ponder for a moment, then give a light knock. A moment later my stepmom comes to the door, fully made up and dressed in a hot pink Juicy Couture tracksuit. She smiles widely when she sees me and ushers me inside. An inside, I realize, that smells strongly of delicious Chinese food. My stomach growls in appreciation and I realize I haven’t eaten since the plane. (And let’s face it, the microscopic snack mix you get with two peanuts and a pretzel doesn’t exactly cut it.)