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|Blood Forever(Blood Coven Vampire,book 8) by Mari Mancusi|
It’s a sight I never thought I’d see. Twelve or so zombies all sitting quietly in their seats, seatbelts securely fastened. Some look eager to get going, while others look ready for an in-flight nap. And is that one in the back actually perusing the Sky Mall catalog?
Flight of the living dead, for realz.
At the very back of the plane stands Queenie, her gaze sweeping over her creatures like a shepherd keeping watch over her flock. Her eyes settle on Spider, who’s stopped short in front of me and is currently staring at the scene with an appropriate, yet dangerous level of horror on her face. I shove my friend forward, before Queenie starts getting suspicious, and she quickly picks up the act again, muttering nonsense under her breath as she takes a seat next to a rather dapper old dead guy, dressed in a three-piece suit, accessorized with a crimson cravat. Whatever killed this dude, he definitely died in style.
Now that Spider’s found her seat, I scan the plane, looking for a place to sit myself. I realize there’s only one spot left. A middle seat between two zombies that look scarily similar to Charlie and Meredith from my dream. Pretty much the last place I want to hang out for the next five hours. But, I realize, as I feel the queen’s eyes settle on me, I really have little choice in the matter. And so, swallowing hard, I squeeze past Charlie and plop down into the empty seat, praying that Queenie fed her creatures before the flight. Because I’m guessing the complimentary peanuts aren’t going to cut it for this crew.
Once we’re all seated, the plane starts its engines and before we know it, we’re taxiing down the runway to a point of no return. Once we take to the air, a pretty, blond flight attendant, a vampire by the looks of her, appears at the front of the plane and reminds the undead passengers to remain seated and keep their seatbelts securely fastened until the captain has turned off the sign. As if a little turbulence is going to trouble the corpse in the front row who has already had half his head blown off.
But safety first, I guess.
When the flight attendant’s finished, she presses a button and little TVs slide out every three rows and the zombies prepare themselves for the in-flight entertainment movie trailer. And what do you know? They’ll be playing Zombieland, which is evidently a crowd favorite, judging from the way the audience moans in delight. At least I hope it’s delightful moaning. And, you know, not hunger cries.
I try to relax. Close my eyes and go to sleep. But Charlie is laughing way too loudly at every joke in the film—especially when we get to the Bill Murray bit. And Meredith, while keeping mostly to herself, keeps losing her eyeball out of its socket. Which would be gross, in and of itself, but is ten times worse when it drops into my lap and she asks me nicely, through hand gestures and grunts, if I can pop it back in for her.
And just as I’m about to lose my lunch over squishy undead eyeballs, the flight attendant starts wheeling the serving cart down the aisle. And I realize she’s not serving peanuts and Pepsi. No, these zombies are getting a full-course meal. Of what appears to be actual brains. And they’re chowing down with great gusto.
Horrified, I watch as Spider, three rows up, takes the plate of gray matter that’s offered to her with a grim smile affixed to her pale face. She glances back at me, then shrugs and sticks a glob in her mouth. I shudder, realizing I can never speak badly of her slayer skills again. Talk about taking one for the team!
When the attendant reaches my row, I attempt to decline, but Charlie so helpfully grabs a plate and sets it on my tray. I stare down at the squiggly gray matter, which smells overpoweringly like rotten flesh, trying to get up my nerve. But in addition to being a nonzombie, I’m also a vegetarian. And the sight and smell proves too much.
I puke all over my meal, effectively giving my humanity away.
There was a time when I would have given anything to have Magnus take me out on the town, wine me and dine me, maybe take me to a show, and never once be interrupted by Blood Coven business. To have my boyfriend all to myself—even if it was just for one night. Of course, back in the day that kind of uninterrupted date was nothing more than a sheer fantasy on my part. Even if Magnus did have a so-called free night and agreed to go out, every five minutes the coven would be calling, and he made it clear from the start they were his number one priority.
He was the Master. They were his people. They needed him and he had to be there for them—even if it meant stepping out in the middle of a movie and leaving me alone with my bucket of popcorn. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t cool. And there were times, I have to admit, when his workaholic tendencies almost ended our relationship altogether.
But that, it seems, was the old Magnus. The new Magnus, the one who is supposed to be second in command of the coven, seems pretty content to let his boss do all the heavy lifting. When we first arrived in Vegas, I had assumed we’d head straight to the Consortium headquarters, to find Pyrus and make arrangements to present Project Z. (Giving me an opportunity to figure out a way to stop it all from happening.) Instead, Magnus presents me with reservations to the hottest restaurant in town.
“But don’t you have business to take care of?” I ask, staring at the tickets, bewildered.
He smiles. “My first order of business will always be to take care of you,” he tells me gallantly. “The rest of it can wait.”
It would have been a dream come true, back in the day. But now it’s more like a nightmare. Pyrus is ready and waiting. Lucifent’s preparing the show. And there’s a plane full of zombies landing at Las Vegas airport in only a few hours, from what I’ve been able to glean from my sister’s disturbing text. How the heck can I justify dining out?