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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
We arrive at Hotel Sun at eight P.M. on the dot. I’m going to get really good leg muscles with all the walking I’ve been doing. We enter the theater and I see that a few of the actors are already there, practicing their dance moves. From what Jayden’s explained on the way, I’ve learned this is basically a simple retelling of the classic Dracula story. Now I know, from my time spent at the Blood Coven, that Bram Stoker’s popular tale isn’t the least bit accurate as to how it happened in real life. Count Dracula did exist, mind you, but he wasn’t this evil bloodsucker who turned innocent virgins into vampires like the story would have you believe. The guy had way more important things to do with his time, let me tell you, like working to unite the world’s covens together to form the original consortium that we still have today. And the man who eventually killed him, Van Helsing, wasn’t some great vampire slayer as Bram Stoker made him out to be. The guy was actually just a jealous lover who got pissed off when Dracula chose his girlfriend, Mina, to be his blood mate. (See, this blood mate thing has been causing trouble for vamps since the beginning!) Of course the Hotel Sun’s vampire revue goes for the more classic interpretation. Just a horror/love story between Dracula, played by Cornelius, and Mina, played by me.
Speaking of Cornelius, now that we’re back at the hotel I’m getting more and more nervous to meet him. After all, he is Jane/ Sasha’s friend. He knows about vampires. He knows about my boyfriend. What if, somehow, he knows about me? What if he recognizes me somehow? Decides I must be up to no good, nosing around where I don’t belong? I know in my head the chances are slim to none. After all, Jane’s gone out of her way to remind me how insignificant I am to her, but that doesn’t stop my heart from beating a little faster with nervous anticipation for our meeting.
“Are you Sunshine McDonald?”
I nearly jump out of my skin as a stage hand comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. I force myself to suck in a shaky breath and nod. I really need to chill here. It’s just a play. Nothing bad is going to happen to me here. Even if Cornelius wanted to be rid of me, he couldn’t do anything in front of all these people.
“Yes, I’m Sunny.”
“Cool. Here’s your schedule and crew contact information. Everyone’s e-mail is on there—we eventually need to add yours so if a rehearsal is canceled we can let you know.” He hands me a white sheet of paper and I stuff it in my pocket. “And here’s your costume,” he adds, handing me a plastic shopping bag with handles. “This is a dress rehearsal so you need to put it on now. Bathroom’s down the hall.”
“Oh cool, thanks.” I take it from him, all scared thoughts of Cornelius being replaced by curiosity. The play takes place in Victorian England and I’ve always been such a fan of the clothing of the time period. Long, beautiful dresses with miles of fabric . . .
I open the bag. Er, make that inches of fabric.
In fact, this “costume” can hardly be called a costume at all. Maybe half a costume that the seamstress ran out of material while making? I hold up the skimpy leotard for a closer look, hoping it’s just an optical illusion. I mean, here I thought my Vegas showgirl disguise was revealing. This thing is microscopic—low cut at the top and only a swatch of fabric away from being properly classified as a thong on the other end. Accompanying this half-acostume is a pair of fishnet stockings, a gauzy veil, and a pair of platform shoes of a height that rivals what I was tripping over yesterday. Yikes. I’m supposed to “float” across stage in those? I’ll be lucky if I make the journey without causing myself permanent harm. (Suddenly the whole “break a leg” saying makes a lot more sense.) I thought Mina was supposed to be virginal, for goodness’ sake! What virgin would be caught dead wearing such a thing?
Well, besides me, I guess.
I draw in a breath, trying to calm my rising panic. How can I wear this crazy getup onstage? In front of an audience! I mean, sure, I wouldn’t know any of them, I suppose, but still! What if someone takes a photo? What if it ends up getting posted onto Flickr or Facebook? What if someone tags me in it? Maybe that’s why Jane’s listed as Sasha in the playbill. She’s incognito. Doesn’t want her political aspirations to be dashed by some slutty web pic. (Though why a Rhodes scholar would be in a cheesy little low-rent play to begin with, I still don’t understand.)
“Quiet on the set. He’s here!”
A silence falls over the stage as the auditorium doors swing open and
“Dracula” walks into the theater. I draw in a breath. Dressed in a black, fitted tuxedo and a sweeping black and red cape, Cornelius is a walking, talking stereotype of the infamous vampire of Hollywood imagination. A Bela Lugosi in the flesh. (My sister insists Bela is the only Dracula she’ll accept, completely dismissing works by actors like Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman. I secretly believe, however, this isn’t due to any superior acting, but rather the fact that her favorite Goth band, Bauhaus, once wrote a song about him.) The other actors watch, seemingly frozen in place, as he walks down the auditorium aisle with a grace and presence you don’t actually see much from guys who are seven feet tall. Human guys, that is.
His piercing gaze sweeps the room, taking in each actor, until his eyes lock on me. He stares at me as if he’s trying to probe my mind and reveal my deepest thoughts. I shiver involuntarily. I can’t help it; he just looks evil. Instinctively, I throw up a quick mind block to stop him, something Magnus taught me how to do after his friends and fellow coven members kept bringing up things in conversation that I hadn’t said out loud, which can be more than a bit awkward.