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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
I ready myself to retreat to the woods, to circle the perimeter until I reach the back of the manor, where I have the best chance to break in without being seen. But before I can make a move, a hand clamps over my mouth.
I try to scream, but the gloved hand allows only a few squeaks to escape from my mouth. I try to bite down but get only a mouthful of thick leather. Strong arms wrap around my waist and drag me, kicking and flailing, back into the woods. I lose my grip on my flashlight and a moment later, I find myself thrown unceremoniously down onto the dirt.
I look up wildly into the darkness, trying to focus on the dark figure hovering above me, silhouetted in the fog. A Slayer Inc. guard? Bertha the Vampire Slayer herself?
No. My eyes widen in recognition. Could it be…?
“You!” Jareth cries. Even in the darkness I can see that his face is full of horrified recognition. “Which one are you?”
“The one you probably don’t want to see,” I mutter, rising to my feet and brushing the mud off my back. I can’t decide if I’m excited to see him or furious that he would manhandle me like that.
“The girl from Club Fang,” he concludes. “The one who stepped on my feet.”
“To be fair, I was pushed, I’ll have you know,” I say, deciding to lean toward furious. After all, it’s doubtful he’s going to be anything but in the way when it comes to my rescue attempt.
“Are you stalking me or something? Didn’t I make it clear that I wanted nothing to—”
“Nothing to do with me,” I finish grumpily. “Yes, you made it clear as crystal. And no, don’t flatter yourself about the stalking thing.” I can’t believe I ever fell for the guy, the way he used to act. Like he’s God’s gift to vampires or something. “If you must know, I’m here to rescue my sister. She and your idiot little pal Magnus tried to break into this place to find proof that Slayer Inc. is planning to slay Lucifent. All because a certain vampire general wouldn’t take what my sister had to say at face value.”
Jareth throws up his hands in disgust. “I knew it.” He swears under his breath. “Those fools. They have no idea what they’re up against.” He paces the clearing like a caged tiger. Which, I have to admit, is kind of hot. Not that I’m thinking about hotness when I’m on a mission to save my sister or anything.
“Well, they went in hours ago and their car is still parked on the side of the road,” I inform him. Maybe there is a way we can work together. “Do you think they’re still inside?”
“I know they are,” Jareth confirms. “At least Magnus. His phone has a tracking device implanted in it,” he explains. “When he disappeared from Club Fang earlier, I activated it to track him down. He’s definitely in the vicinity.”
His words confirm my fears. “This is not good,” I mumble. “It’s been too long. I’m worried something must have happened to them.”
“Well, don’t be,” Jareth replies curtly. “I’m going to go in and investigate.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a beige business card with gold script. “Text me in an hour and I’ll let you know what I’ve found.”
I raise an eyebrow, glancing at the card, then up at him. “Are you kidding me?” I ask. “I am so not going to go home and wait, if that’s what you’re implying. She’s my sister. And if she’s in trouble, I’m going to help her.”
Jareth snorts. “You?” he says, his voice full of contempt. “You and what army?”
“I’m an army of one, baby!” I declare, puffing out my chest. Sure, I may not be a vampire anymore. Or even an official slayer. But I’m Rayne McDonald and that makes me kick-ass in and of itself.
“I’m so sure,” he replies, his voice rich with derision. “But may I suggest you leave your bravado at the door for a moment? Trust me, I’m the Blood Coven general and I’ve been around the block more than a few times. There is not a chance in hell a mere mortal would ever be able to successfully break into a highly secured Slayer Inc. administration building.”
“Even if the mortal in question had all of the Slayer Inc. security passwords memorized?” I ask, with a slight smile of defiance. “Do you think maybe she’d have a chance in hell then?”
Jareth raises an eyebrow. “And how, may I ask, would someone like you come across something like that?”
“No, you may not. Ask, that is,” I shoot back. “You may either admit you need my help or go ahead and botch the whole operation yourself.”
Jareth lips pucker with annoyance. I can tell it’s going to kill him to acknowledge that I may be even the tiniest bit useful in this endeavor.
“Come on,” I urge, dropping my sarcastic tone. “Swallow that pride. It’s your friend and fellow coven member’s life we’re talking about here. You need to suck it up—pardon the pun—and accept all the help you can get, and you know it.”
Jareth stubs the toe of his boot against a tree stump, and at first I don’t think he’s going to answer. Then he sighs. “Very well,” he concludes. “You may accompany me if you wish.”
“Gee, thanks. So very kind of you to let me tag along.”
“Just don’t get in the way.”
“How about you don’t get in my way?” I know I’m being obstinate. But seriously, the guy needs to be knocked down a peg or ten.