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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
We cruise down windy roads and then up a long hill until we reach a secluded wooded circle. Magnus pulls the car to the side of the road. “My favorite spot in the city,” he announces, opening the door and exiting the vehicle. He comes around to the passenger side, opening the door for me with much chivalry. My heart beats fast with excitement as I climb out of the car and follow him around to the back. He opens the trunk and pulls out a picnic basket and blanket, making me nearly swoon with anticipation. A vampire picnic in the dark? Could it get any more romantic than that?
He hands me a flashlight, then takes my arm to guide me down a narrow, darkened trail. I wonder, for a brief moment, if I should be frightened. But then I remember, time travel or not, this is Magnus. The most gentlemanly vampire I have ever met. I have nothing to fear from him ever.
The trail widens out to a small clearing at the edge of a steep cliff. I gasp as I look out over the vista; you can see almost the entire town of Oakridge from this height, sparkling below in a sea of multicolored lights. It’s gorgeous beyond belief and I’ve never seen anything like it. It makes our tiny little nothing town appear as magical as a fairy kingdom. Bright stars twinkle above us, dancing around a full moon, completing the scene.
As I stare, breathless, Magnus spreads out the blanket and gestures for me to take a seat. Then he opens the picnic basket and starts laying out a variety of little sandwiches.
“I didn’t know what you’d like,” he says, sounding a little bashful as he pulls a bottle of blood from the basket and proceeds to pour the contents into a crystal goblet. “And to be honest, it’s been so many years since I was able to taste food, I’m not sure what you mortals find appetizing.”
“It all looks great,” I assure him, rummaging through the sandwiches and searching for something vegetarian. Unfortunately they all appear to have meat, so I grab a turkey and cheese and yank out the turkey, flinging it into the woods when he’s not looking, so as not to hurt his feelings. After all, he evidently went through much effort to please me. And I want him to know I appreciate it.
“So,” I say, after taking a bite of my rearranged sandwich. “To what do I owe this delicious feast?”
“Must there be a reason for a vampire to take his blood mate out for a meal?” Magnus asks, chuckling softly.
“I suppose not.” I grin, taking another bite of bread. I wonder how I can bring up the whole Project Z thing in a casual way. It seems kind of weird to just blurt it out, out of the blue.
But before I can finesse, Magnus speaks. “However, I do admit, there is something I wanted to speak to you about tonight,” he says.
I stop chewing, my pulse kicking up a beat. “Oh?”
“As you know, Lucifent has made me second in command of the Blood Coven. And in this position, I am required to accompany him to Las Vegas to meet with Pyrus and the Vampire Consortium,” Magnus explains. “And so I was wondering…” He pauses for a moment and I notice he’s wringing his hands in his lap, as if nervous. “I was wondering if you’d be so kind as to join me on my travels.”
I cock my head in question. “Are you asking me to come to Vegas?” This, I was not expecting.
He gives me an apologetic look. “I know it’s probably not a trip you wish to take. However, I can’t be sure it’s safe for you to remain here, all alone.” He shrugs. “We broke out of a Slayer Inc. prison, after all. I do not want to leave you unprotected if they were to launch some kind of retaliation for Lucifent killing their slayer.”
I stare at him, unable to speak, my mind whirling with the proposition. Should I agree to go with him? Get even more mixed up in this mess than I already am? Then again, what better way to learn more about Project Z if I’m at the scene of the crime?
“So, if I were to go,” I say, still not quite willing to commit fully until I talk to Rayne, “when would we leave? I mean, I’d have to pack and tell my mom and all that…”
“We’re scheduled to leave on the private jet tomorrow evening after dark,” Magnus says. He reaches out and takes my hand in his, stroking the back of my palm with cool fingers, causing my heart to go all a-flutter. “It would mean a lot to me if you could come.”
I look up, daring to meet his blue eyes with my own. He looks so sincere. So earnest. As if he’s already fallen in love with me all over again. The thought makes me happy, yet at the same time, a little nervous. After all, there’s so much he doesn’t know. So much I’m keeping from him…
“There is one other thing,” he adds, his voice filled with hesitation.
“What’s that?” I ask, wondering what on earth he could be suggesting now. Maybe he’s going to tell me about Project Z!
“I don’t want you to take this the wrong way,” he says after a pause. “But as a mortal, you’re very…vulnerable. Very…breakable, I guess you could say. Even under my protection, it wouldn’t take much for Slayer Inc. to take you down, if they decided to go after you. But if I were to…” He trails off, swallows hard, then continues. “If I were to turn you early…”
I stare at him, my heart literally stopping at his words. “Um, I’m sorry, what?” I manage to spit out. As if I don’t know exactly what he’s suggesting. As if what he’s suggesting isn’t the most horrifying thing in the history of suggestions.
He shrugs sheepishly, dropping his eyes to his lap. “You know,” he says, “into my blood mate.”