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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
“That Jareth is a huge, pigheaded idiot who refuses to admit the fact that a mere mortal can do anything a vampire can do…and probably better?”
“Er, while I’m sure that is very problematic in and of itself, that’s not exactly what I was talking about.”
“Sorry. Go on.”
I draw in a breath, wondering where to begin. “After we fought Bertha, Teifert showed up. And he said something strange. He said there was a good reason that Slayer Inc. wanted Lucifent dead.”
“Yeah, we know,” Rayne interrupts. “Because he’s a child vampire. The same reason Slayer Inc. went after Jareth’s family back in the day. It’s such a stupid technicality, if you ask me. Who cares if a vampire looks like a little kid forever? What does it hurt anyone else?”
“That’s what I said,” I reply. “But Teifert looked at me like I had two heads and said they’d never do something like that. Then he hinted there was something else that Lucifent was involved in. Something…bad…that could hurt the Blood Coven. Not to mention mankind.”
My sister furrows her brow. “Like what?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t elaborate. But, Rayne,” I say, a feeling of dread creeping into my bones all over again. “What if we were wrong? What if Slayer Inc. really did have some top-secret reason to take out Lucifent that had nothing to do with his being adult-challenged?”
Rayne bites at her lower lip. “Did we just screw up big-time?”
“Here we are, thinking we’re changing history for the better. What if we just made things a lot worse?”
“What should we do?” Rayne asks as she turns the key in the ignition and flips on the headlights. “Should we follow them to the cemetery? Maybe help Slayer Inc. slay Lucifent after all?”
“We could. But if we did, that’d be it. There’s no way we’d ever get Magnus and Jareth back after that. We’d be their enemies forever.”
“I wish Teifert had been more clear on the details!” Rayne pounds on the steering wheel in frustration. “What if the Lucifent thing isn’t a big deal?”
“What if it’s a huge deal? What if we’ve just signed humanity’s death warrant?”
“Oh God,” my sister moans. She puts the car in gear. “All right, let’s go to the cemetery and at least see what’s going on. Maybe we can figure something out on the fly.”
I nod in agreement—what else can we do?—and a moment later we’re speeding down the dark roads, on our way to St. Patrick’s Cemetery, home of the Blood Coven crypt. I remember my first trip down into the underground headquarters. The night Lucifent got killed by Bertha. At the time, his murder had seemed so evil. So unnecessary. But now I’m not so sure. What if my murderer was actually a good guy in disguise?
We pull over at the edge of the cemetery, then creep through the dark gravestones toward the crypt. At first I’m positive we’re going to end up seeing nothing—that all the vampires will already be deep down inside, where no mortal can enter. But instead, as we grow close, a set of headlights sweeps into view. A long, black limo approaches, pulling over at the entrance to the crypt. A moment later, the door opens and none other than Lucifent himself steps out, into the night air. A little blond boy, dressed in an adorable mini-tuxedo. It’s hard to believe someone so tiny and seemingly inconsequential has the power to change the world.
Rayne grabs me and yanks me down behind a gravestone, just as a bellowing cry echoes through the night sky. It’s a cry I’d know anywhere.
The slayer leaps over the grave she’s been hiding behind, letting out a piercing roar. Without pause, she launches into a round-off back-handspring, flipping toward the Master at breakneck speed, two stakes strapped to her massive thighs. I hold my breath, gripping Rayne’s hand in my own. Maybe this is it. Maybe we didn’t screw things up after all.
But before she can reach him, Jareth and Magnus step out from the shadows, taking their places in front of their Master. Together they grab Bertha and fling her backward, as if she’s a rag doll. The slayer slams into a nearby grave and crashes to the ground.
“Wow,” Rayne breathes, squeezing my hand. “I don’t know whether to cheer or boo.”
Bertha scrambles to her feet, her face twisted in rage. She starts again toward the vampires, her steps slow but determined.
“Halt,” Magnus demands. “You are not welcome here, slayer. Walk away now and I will let you live.”
“Take another step and you shall dine tonight in hell,” Jareth concludes.
“You know people always say that as if it’s a bad thing,” I whisper to Rayne. “To be honest, there are some pretty amazing five-star chefs down there. And Bertha, for one, would be pleased to know that calories no longer count.”
“Shh,” Rayne hisses.
Bertha’s mouth lifts in a sneer. “I am a licensed slayer. On an official commission for Slayer Inc., which has been appointed protector of the vampires. If you touch one hair on my head it’ll be seen as an act of aggression. And the contract we’ve held with your kind for centuries will be broken forever.” She pauses. “In other words, there will be war.”
Rayne and I exchange worried glances. She’s right, of course. As much as I’d love to see Bertha dead, I’m not sure murdering her in cold blood while she’s on official assignment is the best way to go about it. Especially if it comes at the cost of peace between slayers and vampires. Could this be what Teifert was worried about?