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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
“And that’s why I’ll never be a good leader,” Magnus says dejectedly. “Too much heart.”
“No. That’s why you are a good leader. Because you actually care about your people, not just power,” I correct. I reach over and give him a loving squeeze. His body shudders in my arms.
A moment later, he pulls away. “I’ll call Jareth,” he says. “No matter what Pyrus threatens, we’re not giving up Rayne without a fight.”
I stare at him in horror. “But didn’t you hear what Pyrus said? They’ll stake you for treason if you interfere!”
He shrugs. “Then they’ll stake me. I couldn’t live with myself anyway, if I knew I didn’t do everything in my power to save your sister.”
“Oh, Magnus,” I cry. “I love you so much. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.”
“You had right to,” he says. “But no longer.”
“Aw, look, I think she likes me!” I coo as the tiny tabby crawls into my lap and looks up at me with big green cat eyes. I reach down to stroke her between her ears and she purrs contentedly.
“I think they all like you,” Magnus grumps, glancing at his watch. The black cat near his feet hisses at the sudden movement. “And I think they all hate me.”
I reach over and pull the black cat over to me. “It’s okay, baby,” I murmur. “Don’t let that big bad vampire scare you.” I look up at my boyfriend, who’s brushing hair off his suit. “Sorry,” I say. “But you gotta admit, Jareth’s right. A cat café is pretty much the last place we’d accidentally run into any Consortium members.”
Calico, the cat café in Shinjuku we’re currently holed up in, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a small café, filled with cats and kittens. For Japanese men and women who work long hours and can’t have their own pet, it’s like a furry oasis in the center of downtown. They get their animal fix and they don’t have to deal with kitty litter.
And, since vampires, as I mentioned, aren’t so good with animals, it’s a great place to hide away and plot out our plan to save my sister.
The door opens and Jareth steps inside, his face haggard and his hair wild. He brushes the cat hair off the bench and sits down next to Magnus.
“Okay, here’s what I’ve been able to find out,” he says, getting right down to business. “They know where the Alphas are holed up, but the address is available to highest security clearance only. All I could figure out was it’s some kind of temple.”
“That doesn’t help us much,” Magnus replies. “There are hundreds of temples in the city.”
“Well, they’re making plans to bomb this one,” Jareth informs us. “Just before dawn. Which doesn’t give us much time to figure it out.”
“Bomb it?” I repeat in horror. “But they can’t! Not with Rayne inside!”
Jareth rakes a hand through his hair. “What does Pyrus care?” he asks bitterly. “He was ready to sacrifice her from the beginning. After she did everything they asked. Went to rehab, fixed her blood problem—and for what? So they’d have a better bargaining chip?” He narrows his eyes, gripping the side of his chair so tightly that the plastic crumbles in his hand and a calico cat hisses menacingly at him. “I can’t even explain what it was like,” he continues. “Going in there, pretending I was on that egomaniac’s side so he’d give the Blood Coven to me and not one of their other flunkies who might not have its best interest at heart. Just looking at his self-satisfied smirk as I swore allegiance, I wanted to stake him right then and there. Thank goodness he has no idea of my personal relationship with Rayne.”
Magnus reaches out and squeezes his shoulder sympathetically. “You did well,” he says. “For the good of the coven. I’m sure it was difficult.” He shakes his head. “We’ve been so blind, wanting this to work. But with Pyrus at the helm, the Consortium is acting no better than these Alphas are. All he cares about is being on top. Gaining power, ruling the world, even at the expense of his own members. And the other masters are so afraid of what will happen to their covens if they go against what he says...”
“By the way,” Jareth says, “I found out something else interesting.”
“It was Pyrus who sent the order to England, under your name, to Tanner, asking that he poison Jayden. He felt as long as he was alive you’d continue to be distracted and seek out the Holy Grail, which was counterproductive to his war.”
“Of course,” Magnus says wearily. “I should have known. Tanner would never do something like that on his own. He’s loyal to a fault.”
“That bastard,” I snarl, anger welling up inside of me. “What right does he have to decide who gets to live or die?” I turn to Magnus. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t know how I could have ever thought you would be behind something like that. I’m the worst girlfriend in the world.”
He smiles grimly. “You can make it up to me later. Right now we’ve got to figure out how to find and rescue Rayne before they bomb the Alphas out of oblivion.”
“Well,” I say, pulling two cats off my lap, “I do have an idea...”
The two vampires look at me eagerly and for a split second I feel a thrill of pride that they are actually now taking me seriously. Treating me like an equal instead of a child.