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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
“Sorry about that,” Heather says. “She can be a bit of a whirlwind.”
“I don’t mind. I like it.” I rise from my seat. “I should probably clean up the kitchen anyway.”
Heather shakes her head. “No need. I’ve got it. You just enjoy your day.” She looks around the apartment. “Did your sister ever get home?”
“Yeah. Sorry. Just like an hour before you did. She fell asleep in your bed.”
“That’s okay,” Heather says with a grin. “I’m fine for now.”
The woman has energy, I’ll give her that. I, on the other hand, am already exhausted and it’s only eight A.M. After thanking her for being a saint about the whole kitchen thing, I head back into the bathroom for shower #2, this one to get rid of the dance sweat.
After showering and changing into clean clothes, I decide to head out and continue my investigation by returning to the Hotel Sun and seeing if I can find out more dirt on Jane/Sasha. It’s my best lead so far. And maybe Jayden will be there again; after all, he did say they were holding auditions today. This time I force myself to wait for the bus instead of taking a cab to the hotel. An effort to save some money. After all, with Rayne seemingly burning through her life savings on a nightly basis, I can’t depend on her as a backup if I get low.
The bus is slow and I have to transfer three times, so it’s past ten A.M. by the time I finally make my way into the hotel. It’s just as I left it, filled with degenerates intent on gambling away their last quarters on Earth. Did any of them even leave for a few hours of sleep? I wonder if I should mention this particular casino to my little hacker sister. Being a Vegas Robin Hood, I realize, must be a full-time job.
Passing through the dingy casino, I enter the theater lobby and notice the double doors leading to the theater are wide open and I decide to take a peek inside. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, but eventually I’m able to get a good look. The place is no Carnegie Hall by any stretch of the imagination. Small and run-down like the rest of the building, it’s filled with rows upon rows of faded red velvet seats below a wooden stage that’s in desperate need of refinishing. A drawn, moth-eaten purple curtain rounds out the décor.
I hear voices and quickly duck behind a row of seats. A moment later, three people enter the auditorium. The first I recognize as Jayden, the cute emo actor from yesterday. Then there’s a twenty-something guy who sports the same kind of mustache as Brandon Flowers of the Killers often does. The third of the trio is a pretty brunette who’s the spitting image of Katy Perry—complete with envy-inducing curves. Cowboy Man is not with them.
The three take their seats two rows back from the front of the stage. They pull out clipboards and pens and settle in. A moment later, the boy with the mustache calls out, “Next!”
The curtain pulls back and a girl wearing a dangerously low cranberry-colored tank top (showcasing her enormous and oh-so-obviously fake breasts) appears onstage. She smiles down at the trio below her and I notice she’s missing a few teeth.
“I’m Candy and I’m going to read a poem,” she announces in an overly nasal voice.
“Wonderful,” says Mr. Mustache, not bothering to stifle a grimace. It’s not long before I realize the reason for the face. The girl is absolutely terrible. She stumbles over her words as she tries to recite the most horrific poem I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s all I can do not to run screaming from the auditorium just to get away. I guess they don’t get Broadway-caliber actresses trying out for parts at the Hotel Sun.
“Thank you, that’ll be enough,” the Brandon guy says, interrupting the girl onstage, mid stanza. He yawns again, then adds, “Like, don’t call us, we’ll call you. Or, you know, not.”
The girl on the stage scowls and stomps off in a huff. I feel bad for her, even though her performance was cringe-worthy. I know how stressful auditions can be. After all, I’m the actress in my family. Last year I played Kim, the lead role in our school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. (Which ended up being a bit awkward since I had to play opposite Jake Wilder after dumping him midprom.) This year I’m planning to try out for our senior class production of Camelot, even if it means going up against Heather Mills for the part of Guinevere. (The way I figure it, I’ll be way more authentic than her, seeing as my boyfriend was once a real knight in King Arthur’s court and totally knows the 411 on the place.)
I watch as three more girls take to the stage, each worse than the last. Finally, after they boot the fourth girl off stage without even bothering to hear her speak, the Katy Perry girl rises from her seat with a frustrated huff.
“I’m so sick of these ridiculous auditions!” she whines, snapping her gum loudly. “Can’t we just rent one of those call girls for, like, an hour or so on Saturday? Just have them walk onstage? “I mean, Mina doesn’t even have any lines. She just has to cross the stage, fall into Dracula’s arms, and allow herself to be bitten. So as long as the girl isn’t, like, a paraplegic or something, we should be good. And even then—she’s bound to have some sort of wheelchair access, right?”
“Please. You know very well what a picky bastard Cornelius is, Allegra,”
Mustache boy—Eric, I guess—reminds her. “Think about how many Minas we’ve brought him over the last year who try and fail to meet his high expectations. You think he’s going to be cool with some hooker—or a paraplegic for that matter—playing his precious Mina? Yeah right. He said he wants someone innocent looking. Completely naïve and virginal, remember?