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  • Home > Mari Mancusi > Blood Coven Series > Girls That Growl (Page 8)     
    Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi
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    She frowns. "Look, you had your official audition, as per our rules. I'm not going to give you any bonus points for this."

    "Oh, I don't want bonus points," I say, the picture of innocence. "I just want to see what you think of my cheer."

    She sighs deeply, as if the weight of the world has just landed on her narrow, bony shoulders. "Fine, Rayne. Go ahead."

    "Great!" I clap my hands. "You won't be sorry!"

    I run to the center of the room and get into position.

    "Ready! Go!" I cry.

    "We've .. . got it made

    We're gonna win this race

    I have video of you with braces and a bad perm from

    seventh grade—

    That I'm gonna post on MySpace!"

    Okay, so the poetic stanzas don't exactly match up, but from the look on Mandy's face I think she gets my message.

    "You've got a lot of baby fat

    You've got zits on your face

    Let me be a cheerleader .. . and, um, Cait, too. 'Cause she's all that!

    And the video I will erase!"

    "Rayne! Get the hell out of here!" Mandy hisses, her face pale and her eyes wide. Is the big, bad cheerleader actually trembling in fear? Ooh, you've got to love twenty-first-century blackmail. All you need is a camera phone and a lap-top with wireless Internet to destroy their lives.

    "Thanks, Mandy." I grin. "I really hope I make the squad. Goooo, Wolves!" I cry for good measure, before I skip off to the locker room, feeling pretty damn good about myself. I can feel her evil stare at my back the whole way.

    Who knew becoming a cheerleader would be this much fun?

    6

    When I walk into school on Monday, the hallway is crowded with bouncy girls all scrambling to get a bet-ter glimpse at a certain piece of pink paper stuck up on the main office wall. Their desperation would make a less cynical girl imagine that the meaning of life itself is inscribed on that precious page. But I know better.

    "Did I make it? Did I make it?" squeals one high-pitched voice amidst the mob.

    Yep. Cheerleading picks.

    I stand at the edge of the crowd, adopting a completely unconcerned expression as I patiently wait my turn. After all, I can't let anyone think I'm anxious to join the pod people. They'd never understand that, for me, making the squad is a matter of life or death, not some desperate stab at popularity. Well, technically it's a matter of undeath or death, seeing as I already abandoned the whole mortal coil thing when I became a vampire, but you know what I mean.

    I squint, trying to make out the flowing, cursive handwrit-ing from the back of the line. Did my plan work? Did my former friend Mandy sacrifice her standards to save her rep? Did the other lemmings go along with her recommendations without knowing why?

    Did I, the worst cheerleading contestant in the entire country, actually make the Oakridge High squad?

    Cait suddenly materializes in front of me, the tiny pixie having somehow managed to worm her way to the front of the mob and back again without suffering permanent bodily injury at the hands of the rah-rah wannabes.

    Her eyes are bright and shiny and her face alive with excitement. "We made it!" she cries, bouncing up and down like she's on an invisible Pogo stick. "Oh, Rayne! We're cheerleaders!"

    I smile and accept the hug she throws my way. She really loves the whole touchy-feely stuff. Still, her enthu-siasm and pure, unadulterated happiness warms me. I'm so glad I included her in my blackmail cheer. "Wow, that's great," I exclaim, feigning surprise and delight. "How lucky for us!"

    "I know!" Cait says, releasing me from the hug. "I never thought I'd make it. I mean, I've been practicing forever. But my mom ..." She stops bouncing for a moment, a sheen of embarrassment coloring her cheeks. "Well, she wanted me to dye my hair and start sucking up to the pop-ular kids. I tried to tell her that being a cheerleader re-quires athletic talent, not social standing, but she refused to believe me." The mousy girl pauses, a hurt look washing over her face. Then she shakes her head and flashes me a bright smile. "But this will show her! I did it all on my own. I made the squad 'cause I'm good, not because of who I'm friends with."

    "That's great!" I say, guilt gnawing at my stomach. Am Ino better than her mom? Discounting her because of her shabby clothes and hairstyle? Believing there was no way she'd make it unless I "helped?"

    Maybe if I'd just minded my own business . . .

    I shake my head. It doesn't matter. Bottom line: She's made the squad and she deserves to be there, whether these morons needed help recognizing it or not. She's talented and enthusiastic and will be a great asset to the team.

    Unlike, let's say, for example, me.

    Because, I suddenly realize, making the squad is only step number one. Now I actually have to perform.

    Cheer and dance and not topple off the tops of pyramids.

    This should be interesting.

    +++

    So after school, instead of heading home to log in and edit my latest YouTube film or play video games with Spider, I in-stead trudge my way to the Oakridge High gymnasium. Ugh. I can't believe some people do this kind of thing willingly— stay at school longer than they're required to by Massachu-setts law. I mean, sure, I suppose some of them just want to come off as "well-rounded" on their college apps, which I guess I understand. But evidently there's a certain contin-gency that joins clubs and teams and stuff because they actu-ally think it's (shudder!) fun.

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