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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
I take the cookie gratefully. After all, she should know about weak knees, being a blood donor and all. She’s probably used to living life a pint or two short. And I appreciate her kindness—it’s more than I can say about anyone else in the room. “Thanks,” I say, taking a bite of the cookie. “I appreciate it.”
“I’m Charity,” she says, holding out a hand. “I assume you’re one of the trainees?”
I nod. “I’m Sun—I mean, Rayne McDonald,” I say, shaking her hand.
Her eyes widen with interest. “Rayne McDonald?” she repeats. “So you’re—”
A shadow looms above us, cutting off her question. “There you are, Charity. You’re wanted in the back. Rachel tells me it’s time for your draining.”
Oh God. My throat goes dry. I’d know that deep, English-accented voice anywhere. If it were a thousand years since I’d heard it, I’d still know it better than my own. My hands start shaking uncontrollably and I quickly shove them under my thighs.
Don’t look up. Whatever you do, don’t look up. Keep your eyes glued to the floor until he walks away and out of your life forever.
But, of course, there’s no way I can do that.
And so I find myself gazing upon his beautiful face, my eyes falling helplessly into his own sapphire ones, framed by thick, black lashes. This is just Magnus, I try to scold my quickly melting heart. You’ve spent hours and days locked in his embrace. It should be no big deal to look at him.
But it is. It’s like the biggest deal ever.
“Very well, Master,” Charity says, rising to her feet and lowering her gaze in deference to the vampire. “I will go to Rachel right away. I know you must get very hungry on a night like tonight.”
Her words startle me out of my trance. “Night like tonight?” I find myself blurting out, realizing I have no idea what people actually do here at vampire training school. What could Magnus be up to that would require an extra pint of blood?
Magnus gives me a hard look. “Bite night,” he replies stiffly, as if it’s a burden to even lower himself to speak to me. He starts turning back to Charity.
“Magnus,” the blood donor hisses in a distinct stage whisper. “This is Rayne McDonald. Your, well…” She pauses, biting her lower lip, looking from her master to me. “You know…”
“Your future blood mate,” I finish, rising to my feet and giving him an awkward smile. “At your service.”
Magnus’s face goes stark white. He looks at Charity, then at me, then back at his blood donor. I know exactly what he’s thinking. You’re telling me I’m going to be stuck with this tacky fashion victim for all of eternity? If it weren’t so tragic, it’d almost be comical.
The silence that follows is suffocating. My heart feels as if it’s been squeezed in a vise. “Maybe I should go,” I stammer. “This was a bad idea.” On so many levels.
I turn away so he won’t see the tears spring to my eyes. I should leave. I should bolt out of this old, decommissioned church and never look back. But as I take that first step, I feel a strong hand on my arm. I turn back to see Magnus’s sheepish face.
“Wait,” he says, his voice filled with guilt. He always was a softie—underneath that tough exterior. “I’m sorry. I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. Please forgive me.” He releases my arm and bows his head reverently. “It is lovely to meet you, Rayne McDonald,” he says. Almost as if he actually means it.
“Yeah,” I manage to reply, though it’s quite an effort getting any words past the lump in my throat. He must think I’m a total freak. “Um, great to meet you, too.” Out of habit, I stick out my hand. I can’t believe I’m actually giving my soul mate a friendly handshake. What the hell was I thinking coming here in the first place? This is torture worse than any fiery circle of Hell.
In response, he slips his hand into my own, squeezing it with tempered vampire strength. My whole body explodes at his touch, and it’s all I can do not to cry out loud.
Oh, Magnus. My love…
He drops my hand like a hot potato and my first reaction is to be offended all over again. But then I catch the shadow crossing his face, the glimmer of confusion in his eyes. Ha! He feels it, too. Despite his best efforts, he feels something of the magnetic attraction between us. Just that simple fact makes me feel a little better.
I watch, breath in my throat, as he swallows hard, then turns to Charity, who’s watching the scene with apparent amusement. “Why the hell are you still here?” he demands angrily, taking out his confusion on the only target he can.
“I’m not! I’m gone!” she assures him, dancing down the aisle and toward the back door, leaving me alone with Magnus again. My heart pounds in my chest as I search for something intelligent to say.
“So, um, Bite Night?” I try. “What’s that?” It’s all I can come up with on short notice with my body still humming from his touch.
He shakes his head before replying, as if trying to regain some semblance of control over his traitorous body. “Well,” he says, “as you know, in one month, when you complete your vampire training, the two of us will share one another’s blood, bonding as blood mates…for eternity.”
“Right,” I reply, nodding. “I know that part.” Of course, unbeknownst to him, by then I’ll be far, far away. Forgetting he even exists for the good of all humanity and vampire kind. I wonder what he’ll think when he finds out I bailed. Will he be disappointed? Relieved?