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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
I gnaw at my lower lip, trying to decide what I should do. The main purpose of this trip is to investigate Jane, of course, not fulfill my dreams to become a (somewhat) professional actress, acting side-by-side with cute emo boys. But on the other hand, by taking this particular role—the one Jane used to play—I’d be literally stepping into her old shoes. These people knew her and they could probably give me the 411 better than anyone. Each rehearsal would be like major recon and it might very well be my best chance to expose her for who she really is.
“Okay,” I say, making up my mind. “I’m in. But just for Saturday’s performance.”
The three cast members cheer and give me quick hugs to welcome me to the show. I feel happy as they excitedly chatter about my role. The impromptu hugging and enthusiasm for acting sends a jolt of familiar adrenaline through my body. I really do love the theater, after all. After feeling kind of lost in Vegas, it’s almost as if I’ve come home.
“By the way, I’m Sunny,” I say, realizing I hadn’t officially introduced myself.
“This is Eric and Allegra,” Jayden introduces. “They play Van Helsing and Lucy in the play.”
“Jayden here plays Jonathan Harker,” adds Allegra. “And Cornelius plays Dracula.”
“It’s not a great play,” Eric admits. “But it’s fun. Well, we’re fun anyway. You’ll like it here. Well, you’ll like us anyway.”
“Except maybe for Cornelius. He can be a bit much.”
“Where is Cornelius?” I ask, looking around.
“Oh, he won’t be here for a while,” Jayden says. “He only comes out at night.”
“Yeah. Which means that’s when all our rehearsals are held,” adds Eric. “Guy never steps foot in the theater until after the sun goes down.”
“He’s a real-life vampire,” Allegra adds in a spooky voice. Then she giggles.
“Or at least that’s what he’d like us to believe.”
I remember the cowboy kissing Jane the night before. Could he really be a vampire? A vampire pretending to be an actor in some cheesy Vegas revue? It seems so unlikely—ridiculous even—but at the same time he was talking to Jane. He knows she’s infiltrating the vampire world. And he didn’t seem all that shocked about it.
“So what’s the deal with Ja—I mean Sasha?” I ask. “The girl who had the role of Mina before me?”
The three actors scowl. Jane is evidently not their favorite person.
“She took off,” Eric informs me. “Left us high and dry.”
“Not a huge loss,” Allegra adds. “She was a terrible actress. Not to mention a horrible dresser. The girl wouldn’t know fashion if it came up and bit her on the ass.”
“She only got the part because she was sleeping with Cornelius,” Jayden finishes.
I nod absently, trying to fit the puzzle pieces together. So Jane/ Sasha has been dating Cornelius (which I had already inferred from their earlier make-out session) and starring in this small production as Mina. She takes off on them one day and suddenly shows up two thousand miles away in suburban Massachusetts, claiming she’s a Rhodes scholar from Oxford and ready to become blood mates with my boyfriend.
None of this makes any sense.
The thing is, the council takes this blood mate thing pretty seriously. They’re way picky and do a ton of background checks on candidates—even DNA stuff, which never lies—before granting approval of a candidate. And that’s just for the blood mates of minor vamps. Imagine what they do in the case of someone like Magnus, a major coven’s Master! They should have gone through Jane’s history with a fine-tooth comb. And any of these red flags I’m seeing would have been picked up quicker than you can say rejected blood mate. So how did Jane pass her test? How did she become certified? And what’s Cornelius’s role in all of this? Did he put her up to it all somehow? And if so, why? What does he hope to gain by getting his girlfriend into the blood coven?
Nothing good, that much I’m sure of.
“Anyway, she’s gone and you’re here and you’re perfect,” Jayden exclaims and I flush at the compliment. Perfect. I can’t remember the last time a boy called me perfect. Certainly not my boyfriend, who, I might add, has still yet to call me once this whole trip.
My cell phone starts belting out a Taylor Swift song. Of course. I glance down to the caller ID, but only out of habit. Gotta hand it to the vamp, he has very good ESP. Wonder what he’s doing up during high daylight.
“Excuse me for a moment,” I say to the actors, backing up toward the auditorium door. “I need to take this.”
Once outside, I answer. “Hey, baby,” I say, a thrill tickling my stomach. “What are you doing still awake?”
I hadn’t been aware of how much I’d been missing Magnus until I saw his name on the caller ID. I realize I can’t wait to hear his deep, throaty, Englishaccented voice murmur how lost and lonely he’s been and how terrible Vegas is without me by his side. How he made a horrible mistake leaving me behind and if only I had somehow decided to break his rules and come anyway, he’d be so happy. He’d pull me into his arms, whispering . . .
“Sunny, are you effing insane?”
Hmm, I was thinking more like “I love you” but okay . . . Maybe he means insane with love for him?
“I just spent five thousand dollars bailing Marcia out of jail.”