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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
The girls look at one another, then back at me. Ember lowers her voice. “We don’t know,” she hisses. “All we know is there’s supposed to be something they’re calling ‘the sacrament’ that we all have to take.”
“And once we do,” Amber adds, “we can finally graduate to fully licensed slayers.”
“I cannot wait to graduate,” Gwen says passionately. “Then maybe I can finally go home.”
“Since the vampire attack, we’ve been on total lockdown,” adds her cousin Kenzie. “We’re not allowed to contact any friends or family not affiliated with the organization.” She frowns. “I never thought I’d miss my mom so much.”
I bite my lower lip, wondering what on Earth I should tell them. If I can’t stop Corbin from doling out the poisoned blood, these innocent girls will die. And if I do stop him, they’re still in danger of being bombed to oblivion by the Consortium in just a few hours.
“Um, what if you guys left now?” I try, without much hope. “I mean, you all miss your families, right? Why don’t you just skip out on this whole crazy sacrament thing and go home to see them?”
“Leave?” Evelyn looks at me like I’m crazy. “But we’ve worked so hard to get here! And we’re finally going to graduate. How could we just leave?”
“Besides, we’ve all taken a vow to kill evil vampires,” Amber reminds me. “After all, if we slayers don’t stand together against the darkness of the otherworld, who will?”
Good question. And right about now, it’s looking like yours truly is the prime candidate. After all, as much as I hate what the Alphas are doing to my sister, I can’t in good conscience let all these innocent people die. They may be slayers, but they’re good kids who have somehow found themselves unknowingly on the wrong side. I’m sure if we were able to get them away they’d make valuable members of the real Slayer Inc. organization. The one run by Vice President Teifert, who is only interested in upholding justice and the law, not trying to take over the world.
But, I realize at the same time, even if we could pry them away from the Alpha’s clutches, the Consortium would still not likely let them live. It would be a risk. And I’ve seen firsthand what the Consortium thinks of taking risks. To them, the only good slayer is a dead slayer.
Of course, at the moment, it’s not up to them, now, is it?
“I’ve got to go do something,” I tell my friends. “But I need you guys to do me a major favor.” “What’s that?” Gwen asks.
“Promise me when the ceremony starts, you’ll go stand near the exit. Then if something... were to go wrong... you can get out easily.”
They stare at me with wide, confused eyes. “Go wrong?” Ember asks. “What could go wrong?”
“I can’t explain now,” I apologize. “But trust me, okay?”
They all nod and turn to slowly push their way through the crowd, toward the back doors. I let out a sigh of relief. Well, that’s something, at least.
But now I have bigger fish to fry. I weave through the crowd, toward the front of the stage. Suddenly a rough hand grabs me and yanks me to the sidelines. What now? I whirl around, my eyes thankfully alighting on Magnus.
“You scared me!” I hiss.
He grabs me roughly and pulls me close, squeezing me so tight for a moment I think he’s going to crush my ribs. Guess that means I’m forgiven for my Jayden-kissing sins.
“I was worried!” he cries, kissing the top of my head over and over. “We kept trying to text you and you didn’t answer. And the guards wouldn’t let us leave the chamber once we walked in. I thought...” His voice cracks. “Well, I thought you were...”
I reach out to squeeze his hand. “Well, once again you underestimated your little Sunshine,” I tease. “I’m totally fine. But we have bigger problems.” In a low voice, I give him and Jareth the rundown of what I learned from Corbin. Jareth cringes when I mention Rayne’s poisoning.
“Okay,” Jareth says when I’m finished. “So we’ll find where they’ve got her stashed, grab her, and get the hell out of here so the Consortium can blast the lot of them to kingdom come. Sound good?”
I bite my lower lip. “Um, no,” I say. “I’m not okay with that, actually.”
The vampires stare at me in disbelief. “What?” Magnus asks. “Sunny, why not?”
“Look, there are a lot of innocent people here, okay?” I remind them. “Sure, the leaders are evil and all that. But the rest of them are just students. Pawns in the Alphas’ game. They never signed up to become vamshee warriors. They don’t want to take over the world. They just want to help police the bad guys—like my sister and my stepmom and my mom’s boyfriend, David, and all the others in the main Slayer Inc. group. They don’t deserve to be poisoned. And they certainly don’t deserve to be bombed by the Consortium either.”
“I suppose you would have tried to save the construction workers on the Death Star, as well,” Jareth replies drolly.
“Hey! All those guys wanted to do was feed their families...”
Magnus scowls. “If we let them go free, the war will continue indefinitely. And the Alphas will gain the upper hand.”
“I don’t believe that,” I say stubbornly. “I think if we tell these people what’s really going on, they’ll rebel against the leaders who lied to them. They’ll turn to our side.”