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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
Corbin releases her and turns to face the crowd. The arrogance on his face is completely over-the- top. But the audience doesn’t seem to mind. They’ve fallen hook, line, and sinker for this guy, looking up to him with enraptured faces, as if he’s some kind of god, or at least Justin Bieber. I resist the nearly overwhelming urge to roll my eyes.
“Hello, Tokyo!” he cries into the mic, as if he’s a rock-n-roller giving a concert. “Or should I say konichiwa?”
I suppose I don’t have to tell you, but the crowd, predictably, goes wild. I’m betting half of these kids have Corbin pinup posters in their lockers.
“Thank you all for coming today,” he says after the crowd finally calms down. “As Roberta said, we are currently at war, under siege by an undead army. And we must stick together to bear this storm. The vampires are coming and my spies say they’re coming soon. We must be ready for them. And so I am asking you here, tonight, to make a pledge of commitment to our cause, by drinking the holy sacrament we are offering to you this day.”
The crowd erupts in murmurs, probably trying to figure out, once again, what the heck this so-called sacrament could be.
Corbin motions to his two assistants, who, in response, hurry to the back of the stage. They grab hold of the ends of a giant red silk sheet, then yank it down in unison. The crowd gasps as the sheet falls away, revealing my sister, bound to a giant stone altar.
“Rayne!” Jareth cries hoarsely. I have to grab his arm to keep him from running forward in an insane attempt to rescue his blood mate.
“Hang on,” I hiss. “We have to be smart about this.”
Jareth reluctantly hangs back. But I can tell it’s nearly impossible for him to fight the urge to save my sister. Which is admirable, if not stupid. I need to figure out my next move, pronto.
“This girl—this vampire,” Corbin spits, “is the one who betrayed us all. The vamshee who snuck into our school and seduced us all into thinking she was just some normal slayer. But in reality, this monster was nothing more than a killer. A terrorist sleeper cell, biding her time, waiting to make her move and destroy us all when we least expected it.”
To my dismay, the crowd totally seems to be buying it. They boo and hiss at my sister and a few shoes are even lobbed onstage. One, in particular, connects with Rayne’s stomach and she moans in pain, causing even more jeering from the crazy peanut gallery. I can’t help but be reminded of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe book when the White Witch and her followers sacrifice Aslan. Problem is, unlike the lion in the story, I’m pretty sure my sister can’t resurrect herself if she’s killed.
“You are right to hate the evil one,” Corbin says to the crowd, giving Headmistress Roberta a small smile. “But now that we have her under our control, she is going to help us rather than hurt us. Every one of us is going to partake of a single drop of her blood, chased by a purifying drop of the Holy Grail. And once those two bloods—one tainted, one pure—are inside your veins, you will gain the power to stand with us for the final battle against the vampires!”
He raises his hands again, as if expecting more cheers. But he misjudged his audience this time. Instead of excitement, I see worried glances and whispered fear. Seems like while everyone in the crowd is down for a good witch hunt, they draw the line at imbibing her bodily fluids, go figure.
“Um, but won’t we turn into vampires if we drink it?” dares one guy at the back of the room.
Headmistress Roberta nods at Corbin, then takes the microphone from him. “Please.” She sniffs. “You will become far more powerful than a mere vampire. You will become the ultimate slayer. An essential part of our war against all that is wrong in the world.”
More discontented murmurs from the peanut gallery.
“Does this mean we can’t go out in sunlight?” demands a girl to the right. “ ’Cause, like, how am I going to go visit my family in Jamaica if I can’t go out in sunlight?”
“And do we have to drink blood?” adds Evelyn, who thankfully I realize is right up by the back door as she promised. “’Cause I faint at the sight of blood.”
I can see Corbin grit his teeth. This is not how he expected things to go. “Fools,” he hisses. “Don’t you see what an honor it is to be chosen? You worry about silly, petty things. But look at the big picture. You will become responsible for saving thousands of lives. Protecting your family and friends from a life of mortal slavery at the hands of those who see them as nothing more than cattle, ready to be bled for their own foul purposes. You will be as you trained so long to be—on the front lines of a supernatural war.” He shakes his head, as if disgusted by the lot of them. “I thought you were soldiers,” he spits. “Real soldiers make sacrifices for their country—for their world. Don’t you want the opportunity to make your world a better, safer place?”
Judging from the faces in the audience, I’m thinking there are quite a few people who wouldn’t mind missing out on that particular honor and privilege. And they don’t know the half of it. I can’t believe Corbin has the gall to stand up there and lie to them all in his crazy quest for revenge. Even Headmistress Roberta, at least, thinks she’s on a mighty crusade. He’s just a vengeful dick who can’t get over his Mommy and Daddy issues.
Time to make my move.
“I’ll be back,” I whisper to Jareth and Magnus, pushing my way toward the stage, trying to keep a low profile.