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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
“Or go back on their word and destroy us,” Magnus points out. “How can you trust an organization like that?”
“I don’t,” the speaker says simply. “But this would have bought us time, at the very least.”
“Time bought at the cost of one of my own,” Magnus growls, baring his fangs. He looks so scary and fierce—I don’t know whether to be proud or frightened. “I should have been consulted. I would never have agreed to something like this!”
“Then you should have been here,” Pyrus bites back. “This is war, Magnus. I couldn’t sit around twiddling my thumbs, while you were off in England, trying to save some mutant stray.”
So that’s it. I asked Magnus to abandon his duties to the Consortium, and by doing so, I basically signed my sister’s death warrant. I should have listened to him from the start. Trusted his judgment in doing the right thing. Seen the bigger picture here instead of always looking at my own selfish whims. We chose Jayden—who lied and put us all at risk. And in doing so, we doomed my sister.
“In any case, it makes no difference now,” Pyrus adds. “Seeing as they’ve gotten her on their own and now there’s nothing we can do about it.” He shakes his head. “And no bargaining means war.” He turns to the Consortium. “Masters, assemble your armies,” he instructs. “Our time is up. Tomorrow evening, we will mobilize against the Alphas. We will bring them down!”
The crowd cheers—caught up in the excitement— and the vampires start scrambling up from their seats. Magnus turns to me, a devastated expression on his face. “I’m sorry,” he whispers, in a voice that breaks my heart.
“No, I’m sorry,” I whisper back. “I should have never doubted you.”
“So that’s it then?” Magnus demands of Pyrus as the audience dwindles. “No discussion, no vote? They all just do what you say now, without question?” Pyrus gives him a self-satisfied smirk. “They know I have their best interests at heart.”
“The only thing you have in your poor excuse for a heart is a thirst for power,” Magnus snarls. “The Consortium I joined was supposed to be a democracy. And yet suddenly it smells suspiciously of a dictatorship—”
“Lord Magnus, you are out of order,” Pyrus interrupts. “If you would like to make a procedural complaint, you can do so tomorrow night by filling out the correct form in triplicate and filing it at the proper—”
“What, so you can bury it in your bureaucracy and keep doing exactly what it is you want to do?” Magnus demands. “Knowing that everyone’s too scared to speak up and voice an opinion, fearing that you’ll kick them out of the Consortium if they do?” He scowls. “Well, I for one am done with it. The Blood Coven will not go along with your plan until it’s been discussed and brought to a vote—as we all vowed to do when we first joined the organization.”
Pyrus smirks. “I’m afraid that’s no longer your call. By the powers vested in me as Speaker of the Consortium, I hereby remove you from your position as Master of the Blood Coven.”
I gasp. Can he do that?
Magnus’s face turns stark white. I guess he can. “And what will happen to my coven?” he asks in a steely voice. As always, he’s thinking of his people before himself.
“Your co-master, Jareth, will be placed in command. Hopefully he will prove more loyal to the Consortium than his predecessor.”
“That’s not fair!” I cry, horrified. But Magnus silences me with a fierce look. I reluctantly snap my mouth closed.
The speaker smiles smugly. “Actually, I think I’m being more than fair. After all, I’m sure Magnus here doesn’t want the entire Blood Coven to be punished for his crimes, now, does he?”
Magnus hangs his head. God, this is so not good!
“Take your punishment like a good little vampire, and maybe I will see fit to let you live,” Pyrus adds. “But if you lift even one finger to interfere with Consortium business and the upcoming Alpha attack, I will have you staked into oblivion.” He smirks. “And you know full well there’s not one vampire here who will stop me.”
And with that lovely sentiment, he sweeps out of the room, leaving Magnus and me standing in an empty arena. My boyfriend sinks down onto a nearby bench, his whole body shaking with anger. I run to his side, wondering what I should do, what I should say. It’s not often I see him looking lost—so out of control. I feel terrible that I am the one who caused so much of this pain.
“I’m so sorry,” I say, feeling the tears well up into my eyes. “I’m so, so sorry. This is all my fault.”
But Magnus shakes his head. “No,” he says. “This is my fault. I’ve been so blind—just like the rest of them. Wanting to believe in the good of the organization. Going along with whatever they say, in an effort to protect my people. But now I see that underneath the talk of modernization and reform, we’re not much different than the vampires of the past. Bloodthirsty, power-hungry, and ready to crush anyone who gets in our way.”
He looks up at me, his eyes shining with unshed tears. “You have to believe me,” he says. “I never knew they wanted to use your sister as bait. I never would have—”
“I know,” I say, cutting him off. “I know you wouldn’t do that to Rayne. Or to me. Or to Jareth.”