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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
Like Britney Spears, pre-mental meltdown.”
“Exactly! There’s a slew of schoolgirl-style call girls out there!”
“Yeah? How many of them will work for ten dollars an hour?”
She groans. “God, I totally picked the wrong profession, didn’t I?”
“You’re not going to suddenly pull a Sasha on us, are you ’Legs?” Jayden butts in, causing my ears to perk up. “Leave us Lucy-less as well as Mina-less?”
“Um, no, thank you. That would mean I’d have to hook up with Cornelius. Can I just say, ‘Bleh?’ I mean, have you guys ever smelled his breath?”
Eric fashions his hands into claws and looms over Allegra, baring his teeth.
“Hello, my pretty. I vant to suck your blood!” he hisses in a completely overdramatic, stereotypical vampire voice. Allegra swats back at him, giggling.
“In your dreams, vamp boy wannabe!” she cries, pushing him back into his seat. “You’d better keep your mortal day job.”
“Come on, guys,” Jayden cuts in, interrupting their play. “Let’s just keep moving. Get the next person onstage.”
The other two groan in unison.
“Next!” Jayden calls out loudly, ignoring the both of them. There’s a rustling behind the curtain and a moment later a woman steps onstage. She’s old enough to be my grandmother, complete with leathery, overtanned skin, fried from too many years in the Vegas sun. A poster child for why not to go tanning, but probably not what they’re looking for when it comes to Mina.
“NEXT!” Jayden cries.
The woman stumbles off stage.
“This is pathetic!” Eric mutters. “I’m going to kill Sasha if I ever see her again. Leaving us in the lurch like this. Not even so much as a good-bye.”
My ears perk up at the mention of Sasha again. Unfortunately, at that moment a piece of dust tickles my nose, making me sneeze. The three auditioners turn in their seats to look at me. Busted! I sheepishly rise to my feet.
“We’re closed, if you didn’t notice.” Allegra sniffs, narrowing her eyes at me.
“Unless you want to audition,” adds Eric, in a hopeful voice.
“Um,” I glance at them, then at the exit, wondering if I should just make a hasty retreat. But no. These people know Jane—or Sasha as they call her. They’re my best lead for figuring out who she really is and what she’s up to.
“I’m actually here to see Jayden?”
Jayden squints at me, then a look of recognition washes over his face. “Oh my God! I’m sorry!” he exclaims, rising from his seat and crossing the theater to greet me. Today he’s wearing a button-down striped shirt with big cuffs and a pair of skinny navy blue jeans. His black hair is straightened and plastered to his face, half covering his striking green eyes. Seriously, so cute. I may actually have to turn in my prep card and become an official Emo Boy fan club member if there are more like him out there somewhere. Or heck, maybe just on the basis of his existence alone. “I didn’t recognize you in those clothes.”
I remember yesterday’s silly showgirl disguise and blush. “Oh yeah,” I say, staring down at my feet. “These are more my . . . normal clothes. I, um, yesterday I lost a bet.” Pretty stupid excuse, but the best I could come up with on the fly.
“I’m so glad you came back!” He reaches me and throws his arms around me in a warm hug. Normally I’d be weirded out by someone I barely know hugging me, but in this case, he’s a good hugger, so I let it slide. “And I like your normal clothes,” he whispers, mid-hug, his hot breath tickling my earlobes. It gives me a chill and I shiver involuntarily, which makes him laugh, effectively breaking the tension between us.
Pulling away from the hug, he takes my arm and leads me down to the front of the auditorium. “I’ve found our Mina,” he announces to the other two. They stare at me excitedly. “You’re right! She’s perfect!” cries Eric, rising to his feet and giving me a thorough once-over. “Definitely Mina-ish.”
Wait a second. “I’m not here to—”
“Where on Earth did you find her in this city of sin?” Allegra asks, looking impressed. “Innocents for Sale? Virgins R Us?” She peers at me. “You’re not a call girl, are you? ’Cause we only pay ten dollars an hour.”
My face burns. “No way.”
“Look at her blush!” Jayden points out. “She’s perfect. Just what we’ve been looking for. Sweet, pretty . . .”
Now my face is on fire. Pretty. Does he really think I’m pretty? “But I’m not going to be in Vegas very long,” I stammer, finding myself running out of arguments. “Sunday at the latest.”
“Sunday’s fine!” Eric butts in. “We just need someone to do Saturday’s performance. You’ll keep the show alive so we can keep auditioning next week. Try to find someone on this planet that will please Cornelius for the long haul so we never have to audition again for the rest of our lives.”
“It’s not even a speaking role,” adds Allegra. “So no lines to learn. Super easy. Even a call girl could do it.” The other two shoot her a look. “Well, if we paid her more than ten dollars an hour, that is,” she amends.
“Please say yes!” Jayden begs, catching my eyes with his own pleading ones.
“We’re desperate. We need you.”