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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
Unfortunately, my screaming attracts the attention of the entire club. The DJ even turns off the music, probably thinking someone is getting drained dry on the dance floor. I clamp my mouth shut, my face burning like fire, and shrug.
“Who is this?” The girl demands, unwrapping herself from Jareth’s arms and turning to look at me with narrow, piglike eyes. “And why is she staring at you, Jareth?” She gives me a condescending once-over, which is ridiculous, considering she’s the one wearing last year’s Hot Topic clearance threads.
Jareth rolls his eyes, looking bored. “Just some mortal who’s evidently watched too many episodes of the Vampire Diaries.”
The girl sneers. “God, I do wish this ridiculous vampire trend would die already. It’s getting so old.”
Oooh I so want to punch that self-satisfied smirk off her face. Almost as much I want to tell her that I liked vampires way before the whole Twilight phenomenon. Hell, I was reading Anne Rice and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer in elementary school! How dare she try to play me up as some sparkly noob?
But I need to think bigger picture here. Like why the heck does Jareth have a girlfriend to begin with? I mean, sure, I hadn’t technically met him yet the first time around—we didn’t become acquainted for another month and a half, when I was assigned my first job for Slayer Inc. But still! He’d never once hinted at the time that he’d just gotten out of a serious relationship. If anything, he made it clear he’d been single for centuries.
But what can I do? Demand an explanation? Force him to explain why he never told me about a former girlfriend when, in his mind, we’d only met minutes before?
I force myself to face facts. As much as I’d like to know what the hell is going on, I realize this isn’t the time or place to ask. If I suddenly start acting like a possessive freak, I’m only going to alienate him more. No, I need to bide my time instead, wait to get him alone. Then he’ll likely be more amenable to explanation.
“Um, you can turn the music back on now,” I inform the DJ, trying to keep the tremble from my voice. “Everything’s cool.” Luckily the DJ obliges, and a moment later Muse blasts through the club and everyone starts dancing again, drama forgotten.
Except Jareth and his hoochie mama GF, who are still standing there, staring at me.
“Well, I guess I’ll, um, catch you later then,” I stammer, feeling like I need to close this awkward conversation out somehow before vanishing into the night.
“I’ll be waiting with bated breath,” Jareth replies drolly. His stupid girlfriend chortles and it’s all I can do to stop myself from drop-kicking her in the head. Instead, I force myself to take the high road, choosing to live to fight another day, turning and pushing my way through the crowd, ignoring the stares burning into my back as I head toward the exit.
I’m proud to say I manage to keep most of my tears at bay until I get into my mother’s car and drive off into the night.
I jump in the Prius and race home, trying and failing to obey most traffic laws. Which now is doubly risky, seeing as I no longer have that alluring vampire scent to charm my way out of a ticket, were I to be stopped by the police. But still, how can I rightly keep my mind on mundane things such as speed limits and stoplights when all I can I think about is Jareth sticking his tongue down another girl’s throat?
As I pull onto our street, my mind flashes to those final moments I spent with Jareth down in the Underworld. When he took me into his arms as I cried and consoled me as I promised, over and over again, that I’d find him, no matter what it took. I remember him whispering in my ear, telling me not to worry. We were destined to be together, he said, and there was no way a pesky little thing like a time reset could ever come between us.
Was that Jareth—my Jareth—still there, hiding deep under that smug, arrogant, in-love-with-someone-tacky exterior? Or—and this was my biggest fear, deep down—had the strands of time already taken me down a different path? An alternate future where Jareth and I are no longer meant to be together?
It’s all too much to contemplate. I pull into the driveway just in time for the tears to start all over again, blurring my vision and almost causing me to run into the garage. Salt tears, not the blood ones I’d gotten so used to crying over the last year as a vampire. A little less messy, but no more welcome, only serving to remind me that I am no longer that tough vampire, vampire-slayer girl that Jareth loved so much, but rather a weak, helpless mortal whose boyfriend is hooking up with another girl.
As I slink into the house, feeling as if my world has fallen apart, I see a light on in the kitchen. I follow it, surprised to find Sunny sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal. She looks up at me, an expression of relief written on her face.
“Where were you?” she asks. “I’ve been calling your cell all night.”
“Sorry,” I say, slumping down into a chair across from her. “I forgot it in the car.”
Sunny squints at me. “Are you okay?”
“Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” I demand, my tone more defensive than I mean it to be. I should have gone to the bathroom to wipe my face and put Visine in my eyes to stop the redness. After all, I so don’t want to have to explain how I’d completely gone against what we’d agreed to on the very first night we’d agreed to it.
“Well, maybe it’s just me, but I find most people who are okay don’t usually have tears streaming down their cheeks and snot coming out of their nose.”