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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
I can hear several vampires titter amongst themselves. Jerks. You’d think living a thousand years would give them a more refined sense of humor.
I glance longingly at the exit. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Then I feel a presence beside me. Magnus has stepped next to me, strong shouldered and supportive. He squeezes my hand encouragingly. “It’s okay,” he whispers. “Go on.”
Empowered, I step up to the mic a second time, this time keeping my distance. “Hello,” I say again, hating the fact that my voice sounds so squeaky and young, as it always does when I’m freaking out. “My name is Sunshine McDonald and I’m here to ask for your help.”
I’ve got their attention now so I draw in a breath and force myself to continue. “My sister is a vampire—a member of the Blood Coven. And she’s missing. We have reason to believe she was taken by Alpha operatives who, tonight, raided the Tokyo Bite Club and killed everyone inside.”
I wait for the shocked faces, the gasps of horror, the fierce shouts, demanding action, justice, and revenge. We must mobilize. We must track them down. We must get Rayne back.
But, evidently not so much.
“Dude, did you just yawn?” I demand to the Gothy-looking vampire in the front row.
He rolls his kohl-lined eyes. “I’m sorry, who are you again?” he sniffs. “And why are you bothering us with this trivial matter? Are you not aware we’re at war here? We don’t have time to stage a rescue for every stupid vampire who puts herself in a foolish situation.”
I stare at him in shock. Is he for real? Then I realize pretty much everyone in the crowd is nodding their heads in agreement.
“But she’s one of you! A member of the Blood Coven!” I protest. “Doesn’t that entitle her to some kind of protection? I thought that was what this whole stupid Consortium thing was all about.”
“Sunny...” Magnus growls low at my side.
“Typical Blood Coven,” sneers a buxom, black- haired vampire girl in the back row. “Such do- gooders. They should have named you the Bleeding Heart Coven.”
I open my mouth to retort, but Pyrus cuts me off. “What are you really asking for here?” he demands of me. “You want us to stop our delicate negotiations with the Alphas and just go in, fangs blazing, to save some inconsequential vampire who disobeyed orders to stay in the compound and got herself kidnapped because of it?”
I hang my head. It doesn’t sound good when he puts it that way. I glance over at Magnus with pleading eyes, begging him to step in. I know I said I wanted to be a part of this, but I didn’t know that meant throwing myself to the wolves. I’m beginning to see why Consortium business stresses him out so much.
He gives me a regretful smile, like, I told you so, but in a nice way, and gestures for me to step aside. I do so willingly and he takes the microphone out of its holder. “Fellow Consortium members,” he addresses the crowd. “Lord Pyrus,” he adds, giving a short bow to Mr. Speaker. “I am afraid the missing vampire in question is not so inconsequential after all. You may be familiar with Rayne McDonald, our resident vampiric fae? This is the sister that Sunshine speaks of.”
Oh, right. I flush. I should have mentioned her name. I forgot that she’s some kind of special case to them. Sure enough, as soon as Magnus says it, the room erupts with excited chatter. Now they’re worried. Well, whatever works, I guess.
Pyrus bangs his gavel against the wood block. “I will have order!” he demands and a moment later the talking dies out. He turns to Magnus, his expression grim. I can see my boyfriend gripping the microphone so tightly I’m afraid he’s going to crush it with his bare hands.
“How could you have let this happen?” the speaker seethes. “Rayne McDonald was ordered to be under strict guard by your coven the entire trip. You know how valuable she is to us. And you said you’d take care of it.”
Magnus grits his teeth. “Rayne can be very...determined,” he spits out. “I will find out what happened, of course. But I have little doubt of her ability to outsmart my guards, if given the motivation to do so.”
“Then you should have chained her up.”
“She’s a member of my coven, not a prisoner!” Pyrus shakes his head in disgust. “I should have never trusted your pathetic coven. Now you’ve ruined everything.”
Confusion washes over Magnus’s face. “Everything?” he repeats. “I know we had her on retainer but why—”
“How are we going to make a deal with the Alphas now?” Pyrus demands. “Now that we no longer have anything of value to them?”
“Wait, what?” I demand, grabbing the mic from Magnus. “You were planning to trade my sister? To the Alphas?” I turn to Magnus, fury raging inside of me. Did he know of this? But then I catch the horrified look on his face and I realize there’s no way. Magnus may be loyal to his vampires, but he’d never sacrifice my sister—and the blood mate of his best friend—for any political purpose.
And suddenly, I realize I trust that—I trust him—completely and utterly without a speck of doubt. Magnus pries the microphone back from me and turns to Pyrus. “Could you please enlighten me on this so-called trade?” he asks, his voice tight and anxious. “I do not believe I was made aware of it.”
Pyrus sniffs. “It’s simple, really. The Alphas informed me that if I were to hand over Rayne McDonald, they would sign a peace treaty with the Consortium. We would transfer our contract from the main Slayer Inc. parent group and use the Alphas from this point forward.” He shrugs. “It seemed like a good solution. They’ll create their vampiric fae army and use it to protect us.”