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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
“Sunny! What are you—Oh, hell, no!”
Suddenly, the pleasure is violently ripped away.
My eyes flutter open just in time to see Jayden being tossed like a rag doll against the opposite wall— limp and wild-eyed, blood streaming down his chin. Above me stands Magnus, a tall, broad-shouldered shadow holding a large black umbrella over his head to shield the sun. He stares down at me with horrified disbelief on his face and I dimly realize he must have circled back to look for me after I escaped the limo.
I also sense he’s so not going to be pleased at catching me with another vamp. Even if my reasons were totally innocent.
“I can explain,” I murmur weakly as he scoops me up into his arms.
“I don’t think I want to know,” he mutters. He starts walking me out of the alleyway and toward the limo, which is idling on the main street.
“Wait! What about Jayden?” I ask, craning my neck to try to look behind me.
“We’ll take care of him,” Magnus replies in a tight voice. Unfortunately, it sounds more like the mafia brand of “taking care” of someone—cement shoes and the East River—then, you know, making sure all their sweet-sixteen birthday wishes come true.
“Magnus, we have to help him. He’s turning into a vampire.”
“Yeah,” he says grimly. “The whole neck-ripping thing sort of gave that away.”
“I know, but... I sort of asked him to do that,” I protest, suddenly feeling an overwhelming weakness come over me, now that the adrenaline is fading away. My heart thuds sluggishly in my chest. “I thought my Holy Grail–infused blood might help him become mortal again.” From behind me, I can see the limo driver dragging Jayden’s unconscious body across the pavement. I wince. Luckily he’s a vampire or that kind of treatment would leave some nasty scars.
“Suffice it to say that you thought wrong,” Magnus replies as he tosses me into the limo like a sack of potatoes. I wince as my butt hits the seat. Hard. Sometimes vampires forget what it feels like to bruise.
But this is no time to think of myself. “I know, but don’t you see? That’s my bad, not his. He never would have done it if I hadn’t asked him to. If you’re going to be mad at anyone, be mad at me.”
“That won’t be a problem, I assure you.”
Argh. He could be so impossible sometimes. And it was tough to fight in my weakened condition. The blackness, now, is fast approaching, but I can’t let it claim me until I make sure Jayden has immunity for his crimes. After all, I know the punishment for vampires who take unauthorized drinks from the locals instead of sticking to officially unionized blood donors. And let’s just say, it’s not just a bite on the wrist.
“Please Magnus, I beg you. Don’t let them hurt Jayden. It’s my fault he’s turning into a vampire and I can’t turn my back on him now.” My voice breaks at the last part and I look up at him pleadingly.
I catch the flash of indecision in his eyes as he runs a frustrated hand through his hair. I press forward, sensing his weakness. “He saved my life, Magnus. We owe him that.”
Magnus sighs, then nods stiffly, turning to the limo driver. “Throw him in the trunk,” he instructs. “We’ll bring him into the clinic and do some tests before we charge him with anything. See what we’re really dealing with here.” He turns back to me. “I hope you know what you’re asking,” he says in a low voice. “My covering up a crime like this could make some vampires question my ability to rightfully lead the Blood Coven. And with all that’s been going on, this is not a good time for some power-hungry beta vamp to turn me in to Pyrus and the Consortium. Let’s just say our House Speaker isn’t too fond of rule-breakers.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” I say weakly as he crawls in next to me, cradling me gently in his arms. I look up at him with grateful eyes. “But this is the right thing to do, you’ll see. Jayden’s not some dangerous beast. And if we can help him...” I trail off. Can we help him? Or is he really doomed to become a creature of the night forever? All because of me.
How will I ever live with that kind of guilt?
Magnus strokes my forehead with a soft hand. “We’ll see what the doctors say,” he tells me. “And then I’ll make a decision. In the meantime, I need you to promise you’ll stay away from him.”
I frown. “But—”
“I’m serious, Sunny. A new vampire doesn’t have complete control of his urges. He could hurt you— even if he doesn’t want to.” Magnus scowls. “And I’m telling you right now, if I find out he’s touched you again—even a mere brush of fingers in a dark hallway, I will kill him without a moment’s hesitation.”
And the black look in his eyes as I fall into unconsciousness confirms that he’s not making idle threats.
I groggily open my eyes, coming face-to-face with
my sister, Rayne, who’s standing above my bed, peering down at me with a disapproving expression on her heavily made-up face. She’s out of her standard-issue vampire rehab pajamas and back in full Goth regalia: black, black, and more black. Making up for lost time, I suppose.
“I can’t leave you alone for one second, can I?” she demands.
My hands unconsciously fly to my neck, the memories flooding back to me as I finger the thick white bandage that covers my wound. I appear to be in some sort of white, sterile hospital room that smells a lot like bleach. Magnus must have brought me here after I blacked out in the limo. All around me, machines beep and whir and a catheter attached to my arm drips some kind of unidentified solution into my veins.