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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
“Good boy,” I try again. “Um, fetch?” I grab a nearby stick and throw it off to the side. But the rabid-looking dog doesn’t even glance in its direction. Great.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a cracked window leading into the mansion. I might be able to jimmy it open, but will I have time to do so before the dog makes me his midnight snack? Normally I’d just use my wings again—fly above the bite range—but the rain has soaked them through and they’re so heavy I can’t even lift them, never mind fly.
So instead I slowly move toward the window, trying not to make any sudden moves. The dog watches with narrowed, bloodshot eyes, his tail swishing suspiciously from side to side. I lock my fingers underneath the weather-beaten window frame and pull upward, praying it’ll slide open easily and allow me an escape route.
Of course, it seems to be stuck fast. This is not my lucky day.
But I grit my teeth, not willing to give up. I apply added pressure, though still slowly, as to not freak out the dog. “Good boy,” I mutter, using my entire body weight against the window. Please open, please open. “Good, good boy.”
At last the window frame lets out a loud groan and gives in. Which should be a relief, except for the fact that, let’s just say, the high-pitched creaking sound it makes as it slides upward is not exactly music to the dog’s ears. Instead it’s the excuse he’s been waiting for. He snaps his teeth and makes his move, lunging at me with full force.
I don’t hesitate, throwing myself through the window. But I’m not quick enough and the dog’s jaws wrap around my ankle. I yelp in pain as sharp teeth dig into my skin, and I flail half in and half out of the house. I try to kick at the dog with my other foot, forcing him to let go. (Yes, I know, kicking dog = completely unheroic but tell me you’d do differently if you had Cujo’s rabid mouth locked down on one of your appendages.)
My foot finally connects with the dog’s head and he yelps in pain, loosening his grip on me. I use the momentary lapse to my advantage and squirm the rest of the way through the window, turning around and slamming it shut behind me.
I collapse on the floor, my breath coming in short gasps. That was too close. My ankle throbs, deep puncture marks in the flesh, and I pray the dog wasn’t actually rabid. I rip my shirt, binding the wound with the cloth. At least the bone doesn’t seem to be broken.
Looking around the room, I attempt to gain my bearings. I seem to be in some kind of dusty old parlor. I can’t tell if that means the room hasn’t been used for a while or if that’s just the way the interior decorator designed it when going for her “vampire- friendly” motif. The room is dark, but light seeps in through the cracked exit door. I let out a long sigh. I’m out of the frying pan, yes, but am I now into the fire? If the vampires staying here couldn’t be trusted when I wasn’t sporting gaping wounds in my flesh, what will they be like now that I’m a walking bloody billboard, thanks to Lassie out there?
But that can’t be helped. I need to get to Jayden to check on him before the sun comes up and he goes to bed. To make sure he’s okay. After all, I’m sure the powers-that-be will be none too pleased to open my bedroom door at dawn and learn I pulled a Houdini—leaving future visitation opportunities in question.
I hear laughter break out in the distance and remember what Rufus told me. Jayden and the girls, giggling in the library. I manage to scramble to my feet and limp over to the door, pulling it open a crack and peeking through. There’s no one in sight. So I slip through the door and out into the hallway. Following the sounds of laughter, I come to a set of French doors and steal a look into what indeed looks like a cozy library. There’s a cheery fire raging in a mammoth stone fireplace, surrounded by floor- to-ceiling bookcases, stuffed with ancient-looking tomes. (And a few modern vampire bestsellers.) The girls are there, sitting on an old-fashioned Victorian sofa, all watching intently something going on across the room. Their eyes shine with excitement and Elizabeth is clapping her hands in glee.
Careening my neck, I strain to see what’s gotten them so worked up. My eyes widen as they fall upon Jayden, attacking some young blond girl—biting her neck with wild abandon.
“No!” I cry, forgetting I’m supposed to be keeping a low profile. I dive into the room, rushing to his couch, attempting to drag him off his poor victim. But even in his half-vampire state, he’s far too strong to budge.
“Jayden, stop!” I beg, feeling tears well into my eyes. “Don’t do this!” After all, the Manor might overlook some “indiscretions,” but I’m pretty sure my boyfriend will not. And I don’t want to give him any more excuses to get rid of my friend.
To my surprise, Jayden releases his victim, turning to me, his mouth quirking up in a bloody grin. “Hey, Sunny!” he cries cheerfully. “Where have you been?”
I recoil in horror, tripping over a footstool and falling to the ground with a thump.
“Now, Jayden, it’s not polite to talk with your mouth full,” Elizabeth says primly.
“Sorry,” Jayden replies, letting out a small burp. He covers his mouth in surprise and the three girls— make that four, including the blond girl he was just snacking on—start laughing.
“What the hell is going on here?” I demand, rubbing my butt.
Susan looks over at me. “Vampire lessons, of course,” she sniffs.
I stare at her.
“Well, someone’s got to train him, you know,” Katie chimes in. “The guy doesn’t even know how to properly drink from a donor.”