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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
“How about her?” I ask, pointing to a picture of a girl in frilly pink-and-white dress with a big bow in her hair. The caption underneath her reads SWEET LOLLI, and she’s way more my style than some of the Gothy-looking ones.
Rayne peers down at the photo. “Sure,” she says with a shrug. “I mean, she’d be perfect, of course. But unless you went out for a daytime shopping spree after I left you, I’m guessing you don’t own—”
I snap my fingers. Rayne and Jayden stare at me, mouths agape.
“Oh my God,” my sister gasps. “How’d you do that?” Jayden adds.
I fluff up my new golden curls and straighten my flouncy dress, enjoying their shocked faces. “Fairy powers are so useful when it comes to keeping up with fashion trends.”
“You can shape-shift?” Rayne cries.
I nod. “Of course, I need to have a point of reference. A person, a photo...”
“That is so not fair! All I got for stupid fairy powers is the inability to lie. Which, obviously, isn’t a power at all, but a crippling weakness that is bound to bring about my doom.”
I laugh, scrambling to my feet. “Poor Rayne. Life’s so tough for you.” I walk over to the door. “Now come on, let’s head to Harajuku!”
We crisscross the city by subway and exit at Harajuku Station. Rayne’s practically dancing in excitement as she gapes at all the teens in their costumes. It’s so strange how they just congregate here. Like a living, breathing art exhibit for all the tourists to see. And the variety in their outfits is mind- boggling. From giggling girls in pretty light pink and blue dresses, similar to my own, to scary girls in gas masks and military gear. Most are wearing brightly colored wigs, but some of them have sculpted their own hair into manga-esque spikes that defy gravity. Almost all of them carry rollaway bags, which I assume means they changed into their costumes in a nearby bathroom, not at home, for their parents to object.
“This is so cool,” Rayne breathes, her eyes darting from group to group, as if desperate to take in every detail. “Why don’t people do this in America?”
“Come on,” I say, grabbing her arm. “We can do the tourist thing later. Right now we have to find Race’s friends and get Jayden some blood.” I glance back at my friend. He’s already lost some of the color he gained from my blood the night before and definitely looks in need of a refill.
My sister nods and pulls out her hand-drawn map. “Okay,” she says. “According to this, we have to head down Takeshita Dori here. She points to a narrow pedestrian-only street milling with Japanese teens. “It’s on a small street off the main drag.”
Jayden and I follow her lead and soon we’re dodging tourists in a kind of outdoor mall, with two stories of storefronts selling everything from sundresses and thigh-high stockings to dark, bondage-looking Goth gear, complete with metal buckles and shiny studs. We pass bubble tea shops galore, a McDonald’s, and street carts selling about a billion varieties of crepes. There are also a ton of clothing shops, selling T-shirts with English phrases that just don’t make any sense. Of course, Japanese kids probably feel the same way when they come to America and see everyone with kanji tattoos that are supposed to mean “peace” and “Zen” but probably really mean “stupid” and “naive.”
“Hang on a second,” I cry to Rayne and Jayden, over the bad’70s American rock spilling out over the airways. I stop at the crepe shop and pick out a strawberry-and-crème-flavored one. As a fairy, my sweet tooth has grown about 300 percent and I crave sugar as much as vampires crave blood. And luckily, as a fairy, I’ll never gain an ounce, no matter how much I eat, thanks to a magical nectar elixir fairy scientists concocted that literally dissolves fat cells. Meaning fairies can eat all they want—and never have to count carbs.
Which is good, seeing as right now, as Jayden’s blood donor, I need all the nutrients I can get.
Once I get my dessert, the three of us cut behind the main drag and into a small, unassuming neighborhood. It’s hard to believe just walking a street over can make such a difference in atmosphere. Here, small houses and apartment buildings line the quiet streets.
“This is the place,” Rayne says, stopping in front of a small cinder-block home. It’s boxy and ugly, styled in a sort of ’80s modern design. So not the type of place I’d imagine a Japanese vampire coven to call home.
My sister rings the bell and a moment later, a little girl, probably about nine years old, answers the door and bows low. “Konbanwa,” she greets solemnly, which I remember from my phrase book means “Good evening.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say, a little taken aback. The girl is dressed like a Japanese schoolgirl—the real kind, not the slutty manga kind—and has her hair parted into two silky braids. “We must have the wrong place...”
“Rayne? Sunny? Jayden?” The girl squeals in a high-pitched but perfectly spoken English. She bounces up from her bow as if her feet were made of springs. “So glad to meet you! Race has told me so much about you.” She smiles widely, revealing a set of blindingly white fangs.
Whoa. I glance at my sister, shocked beyond belief. This is only the second time I’ve ever seen a child vampire in real life. They’re extremely rare and totally illegal—at least in the United States. In fact, Slayer Inc. sees them as an abomination and is always trying to wipe their kind off the face of the Earth.