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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
I guess it doesn’t matter. “Okay,” I say, my hands shaking as I pull back my hair. I draw in a deep breath. “Okay. Whenever you’re ready, I’m—”
I gasp. Unable to finish my sentence as he leans into me, taking me firmly into his arms and pressing his face to my neck. At first it tickles, the brush of lips against sensitive skin. Then there’s a sting.
And then there’s the ecstasy.
My head swims in rapture as sunlight flames around me in the middle of the dark room. Heavy warmth envelops me, stealing my breath. A thousand fingers tangling through my hair. My toes curl, my mouth gapes. My eyes roll to the back of my head. I’m like a new baby come into the world. But at the same time, the oldest, wisest soul leaving it behind. I’m a wild deer, running free through an emerald forest. A sleek silverfish diving into the ocean’s depth. A giant bird, soaring through the crystal-blue sky.
“Oh, Jayden,” I murmur huskily.
Suddenly the light turns off. The glow fades, the feeling ends. And I’m back in the small, cramped ryokan. Back to the girl I always was.
“Oh my God,” I cry, reaching up to feel my neck. “That was incredible. Even better than the first time.” I shiver. The room suddenly seems to have dropped in temperature about twenty degrees and I’m desperate to get that warmth back. I crawl after Jayden, who’s retreated to the other end of the room and is hugging his knees together, a distraught look on his face and a drop of blood dripping down his chin.
“Jayden, you stopped too soon,” I tell him. “I have plenty left. Drink some more. Come on.”
He scowls. “I’m not thirsty anymore.”
“What?” My heart wrenches with a sudden, startling sense of abandonment. “Of course you are. You didn’t drink nearly enough. I understand you didn’t want to go too far, but instead you left too soon. Drink some more. Please.” I know I’m begging, but I can’t help it. All I can think about are his gorgeous fangs, attached firmly to my neck.
“I’m fine, Sunny,” he asserts. “Just go to sleep.” “Jayden, you’re being unreasonable here! I have plenty more blood to give.”
“Then go give it to someone else, you crackhead,” he mutters, getting up and walking out of the room, sliding the door shut loudly behind him. In the distance, I can hear his heavy footsteps stomp down the hall.
What on Earth did I do to make him so mad?
“Are you ready yet?” I call out to my sister, who’s locked herself in the tiny ryokan bathroom for the last forty-five minutes. For someone who supposedly scorns all things fashion, she sure takes a long time picking out her outfits.
The door opens. Rayne pokes her head out, her black hair sticking out at every angle. She catches sight of me and scowls. “Sunny, you’re still in your pajamas. How can you ask me if I’m ready?”
“Please. I’ll be ready in five minutes, if I could just gain access to the bathroom.”
Rayne clicks her teeth in disapproval. “Didn’t we go over this already? You can’t just wear your boring old jeans and flip-flops when visiting real Harajuku vampires. If you’re not dressed like some manga or anime character, they’re going to think you’re an outsider.”
“Right. Because my blond hair and American accent won’t have already given that away.”
Rayne sighs. “Come on, Sun,” she begs. “Try to be a good sport. We’re infiltrating a foreign vampire coven here. At least try to play the part.”
“You know,” I say, “this is strangely reminiscent of that first night at Club Fang when you talked me into wearing a BITE ME T-shirt to ‘blend in.’ Do I have to remind you how that turned out?”
Rayne rolls her eyes and retreats back to the bathroom. I glance over at Jayden and grin. He laughs and shakes his head.
Early that morning, just before sunrise, he returned to the ryokan, full of apologies and regret for leaving like he did. I, in turn, apologized for my own weird addictlike response to his blood drinking and we both decided drinking blood from the source was just a bad idea for everyone involved and the next time he needed a fix, we’d get it through a needle again. After more murmured apologies we fell asleep, side by side, only to wake up at dusk with my sister banging on the door. There was still more to be said—like addressing those three little words hanging over our heads like an elephant in the room, for example—but they’d have to wait. First, he needed his blood.
A few minutes later, Rayne flounces out of the bathroom, wearing a gorgeous short red-and-black kimono-like dress, fluffed out with large petticoats. Her hair has been straightened to an inch of its life and her copious black eye makeup is stunning. I have to admit, she made the most of her time in there.
Jayden gives a low whistle. “Wow, Rayne, you look hot,” he teases.
My sister’s cheeks color into a blush. “Well, when in Rome,” she says. “Or in Tokyo, Japan, in this case.”
“Well, now that you’re done, let’s talk about me,” I say with a small grin, a delicious plan forming in my mind. I grab her iPad and hand it over to her. “Show me the kind of outfit you think I should be wearing.”
She grabs the iPad and sits down on the floor, cross-legged, firing up Google Images and typing in “Harajuku Cosplay.” The screen fills with Japanese teens in colorful costumes. Boys with oversized prop swords and spiky blue hair. Girls with lacy dresses and parasols, holding up signs that read FREE HUGS! Manga characters come to life. I have to admit, they look pretty cool.