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|Bad Blood(Blood Coven Vampire,book 4) by Mari Mancusi|
For a moment I think it’s too late. That Jayden’s too far gone to hear me. But then I see his hands make contact with Cornelius’s chest—shoving him forward with all his might, adrenaline compensating for actual strength. Caught off guard, the vampire loses his balance and teeters backward, stumbling right into the stovetop inferno. If you’ve never seen a vampire burn, let me tell you, it’s like they’re made of pure kerosene. Not a minute after contact, he’s running through the trailer, thoroughly engulfed. Screaming bloody murder. He doesn’t make it far, before collapsing and writhing out his last breaths. We did it. We killed him.
Jayden, now entirely out of strength, collapses, crashing onto the floor in a dead faint, blood literally gushing from his gaping wound. Oh God, Cornelius must have ripped open his chest with his teeth. I feel like I’m going to throw up or pass out, but force myself to focus and dig under the couch to find the device we need. A moment later I’m pressing the precious button and a beeping informs me that help is on its way. Thank God.
But we’re not out of danger just yet; the trailer’s become an inferno at this point—Cornelius, having managed to set the whole place ablaze from his thrashing around. (Did no one teach him as a child to stop, drop, and roll?) Choking on the thick black smoke, I duck down and crawl over to Jayden, who’s now out cold. I grab the folder with my proof and then grab onto Jayden by his shoulders and drag him out of the burning trailer, praying the other vampires will leave us alone until help arrives.
Luckily, the vampire zombies all seem to have a healthy respect for fire and what it can do to them. They run around, howling and screaming, but don’t approach. I pull Jayden a safe distance from the smoke and rip my shirt to use as a makeshift bandage, trying to put pressure on the wound as best I can. But it’s not a perfect solution when the patient’s blood won’t give him a break.
“Please be okay,” I beg, tears streaming down my cheek. “Please hold on a little longer.”
I think I see his eyes flutter for a second, but it could be my imagination. Leaning down, I kiss his forehead softly. Even lying so close to the fire, his skin is ice cold. Not a good sign.
A moment later, the cavalry arrives. An ambulance, fire truck, and two police cars pull into the trailer park, with bright flashing lights and piercing sirens that force the zombie vampires to retreat into their trailers to live another day. Safe and sound, at least until I report them to Slayer Inc. But I’ve got more important things to think of now. Five minutes later we’re racing down the desert road, on our way to the hospital. I’m in the back of the ambulance with Jayden, holding his hand as paramedics work on his cut. They’ve given him some kind of medication to stop the bleeding, but he’s already lost a ton of blood and their white, focused faces don’t give me any clue as to how this will end for him.
“Jayden, hang in there,” I whisper to him, squeezing his hand. The paramedic waves me off so he can better do his job. I reluctantly sit back down in my seat. I glance at my watch. Twenty minutes to go. What should I do? I don’t want to leave Jayden’s side. But I can’t very well let Sasha destroy the Blood Coven either.
Suddenly Jayden opens his eyes. His beautiful green eyes, now framed by purple bruising. “Sunny,” he gurgles, his voice sounding almost as if he’s underwater, probably from all the drugs they’ve pumped into him. “What are you still doing here? You need to get to the hotel and stop the ceremony.”
“But I don’t want to leave you!” I cry, my heart breaking. So typically Jayden. Thinking of me and everyone else before himself. “You’re hurt.”
“I’ll be fine,” he insists, brave ’til the last. “And even if I’m not, you need to see this through. You can’t let Cornelius win after all you’ve done.”
“After all you’ve done,” I correct. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”
His mouth quirks into his crooked smile. “How about after all we’ve done, then?” he modifies. “In any case, Sun, you can’t let the bad guy win. You need to go stop the ceremony.” Reaching out, he grabs my hand, gripping it in his own much weaker one. He looks so pale, so helpless, yet so determined. My heart just about falls out of my chest and I have to swallow down the tears. Please let him be all right, I pray to any higher power that might be listening. He doesn’t deserve to die for this.
But, I realize, if he does have to die, at least he should go knowing his sacrifice made a difference. I turn to the EMTs. “Stop this van,” I tell them. “I’m getting out.”
Of course they don’t stop the van for me. Ambulances don’t tend to stop midroute when taking a critically injured patient to the hospital. But luckily it turns out the ER is right around the corner. Five minutes later I’m in a cab, instructing the driver to get to the Mandalay as quickly as humanly possible. Thankfully, my driver knows some back roads and seems up to my challenge, peeling out of the hospital at record speed. He probably thinks I’m trying to get to the church on time; to stop a wedding—to speak now or forever hold my peace kind of thing. Which, I guess, in a way, is true. I glance at my watch. Eleven-forty-six. Fourteen minutes left.
Twelve minutes later the cab pulls up to the curb of the convention center. Grateful, I throw a handful of money at the driver and leap out of the car. Racing into the building, I play Dodge the Tourists, taking the escalator stairs two at a time, pushing past whoever’s in my way and ignoring their angry glares.