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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
I suck in a breath and force myself to remain calm. Panicking is not going to help the situation at all. Maybe one of the neighbors has a phone that works. After all, the whole park wouldn’t have ducked out on their monthly phone bills, right? Or maybe one of them would even take pity on me and drive to the nearest gas station where I could find a pay phone.
Hi, I just broke into your neighbor’s trailer to prove she’s not an evil demon bent on destroying a coven of vampires. Can I use your phone?
Seeing no other choice, I rise from my seat and wrap my hand around the front door handle. But noises make me pause before turning the knob. I peek out the window, trying to discern what’s going on.
My eyes widen as I realize the once deserted town is now teeming with people of all shapes and sizes. Some wandering around, seemingly aimlessly, others hanging out on rocking chairs on their porches. Still others . . .
. . . are catching and gnawing on live, squirming rats. Realization strikes me like a bad bolt of lightning.
Oh God, this is a vampire trailer park.
My heart slams against my chest in a staccato beat as my mind whirls with panic, wondering what I should do. I mean, most vampires I know are completely civilized and would have no problem letting a human girl use their phone. But then again, not all vamps are members of the consortium or live by the Slayer Inc. creed. Magnus warned me that some still hark to the old ways, forgoing twenty-first century traditions like blood donors and instead living barbarically, sucking the blood out of rats. And humans, if they can get ahold of any. Humans like me.
I let go of the door handle and slowly back away, realizing my position is more precarious than I could have ever believed. And here I was worried about the police and a little breaking-and-entering on my record. Not being trapped in a town full of probably cannibalistic vampires.
Part of me tries to remind myself that I’m safe; no one knows I’m here and I can stay quiet until morning and then leave once they’re back inside sleeping the day away. But then again, what if someone comes back? Jane? A roommate?
I try the phone again. I try my cell. Nothing. No bars. I’m stuck. I sink down to the faded couch, my stomach churning. What had I been thinking, coming out here by myself? Not even telling anyone where I was?
How could I let some random cabdriver serve as my only protector? No wonder Rayne is the vampire slayer and I’m just the dumb twin. She would have never gotten herself into this mess to begin with.
The last wails of a dying rat assault my ears, followed by a horrible crunching sound. I pull my legs up onto the couch, hugging them with my arms, concentrating on not making a sound. Please don’t let anyone figure out I’m here. Thank goodness I didn’t turn on any lights to alert them to my presence. At the same time, sitting in the darkness isn’t all that comforting either. The only light comes from a streetlamp outside that shines in through the living room window above the couch, illuminating the wall across from me. My eyes come to rest on a framed photo, affixed to this lit-up wall. A photo I hadn’t noticed during my initial search of the trailer. Oh. My. God.
I slowly climb off the couch and walk toward the picture, my breath permanently lodged in my throat as it comes into closer focus as I near it. Two girls, smiling into the camera.
Two identical girls to be precise.
Jane . . . and . . . Sasha.
Suddenly all the puzzle pieces click into place. I dive for the file folder again, paging through documents under the dim light from the streetlamp outside. It was all so obvious—why didn’t I think of this before? After all, I’m a twin myself—my sister and I have had a billion cases of mistaken identity between us. I find a second folder, this one labeled SASHA, and dig through, finding rehab records, pay stubs from strip clubs, the works.
Why would an ex-druggie stripper living in a trailer park pose as a Rhodes scholar from Oxford? Because she was playing the part of her twin sister, who actually did go to Oxford. And all the Blood Coven’s DNA testing wouldn’t have exposed her lie because identical twins have identical DNA, as Rayne and I know from our own past case of mistaken identity.
But where is the real Jane? The one who did go to Oxford? The one who actually would make a good blood mate for my boyfriend?
A paper falls from one of the files and I grab it off the floor. My eyes widen as I realize what it is. A Massachusetts death certificate. For one Jane Star, who died from unknown causes just a week ago.
Oh my God. Did they kill her? Kill her and replace her with her twin?
Suddenly the trailer park front door creaks open and I realize my problems are about to get much, much worse.
My eyes dart around the trailer, looking for some place—any place to hide. But there’s nothing—not even a closet. And the man is already inside. Except that he’s not a man. He’s a vampire. And not just any vampire. Cornelius.
His eyes fall upon me and he smiles a sick, twisted smile. He knows I’m caught. A deer in headlights. He shakes his head slowly.
“My dear Sunshine,” he says in his Southwestern drawl. “Fancy finding you here.”
“Um, hey, um, Cornelius,” I say, stumbling over my own tongue. I don’t know why I’m even trying. There’s no excuse on Earth I can come up with that will make my presence seem coincidental. “My, um, well, the vampires are looking for Jane for tonight’s ceremony. You haven’t, um, heard from or seen her, have you?”
Yeah, nice try, Sun.
Cornelius laughs heartily, still blocking the only exit, I might add. Though it’s not like I’m going to go running outside with all the hungry rat-eating vampires on the prowl.