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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
Once in the locker room, I change into the gym outfit Sunny loaned me. Black sports bra, blue tank top, and some dumb white shorts with SPIRIT written in big letters across the seat. I don't understand that fad at all. I mean, who in their right mind wants to willingly draw attention to their butt?
"Let's go, girls!" Mandy commands, clapping her hands together. She looks like a skinny bottle of Pepto-Bismol in her pink Juicy sweat suit, size zero. Her long blond hair has been swept up in a neat ponytail and her makeup is heavy and flawless. Very JLO MTV Video Music Awards. "Time's a-wasting."
The other girls, in various states of undress, groan and hasten to slip on shorts and sneakers. I'm relieved to see most of them are just wearing normal raggedy gym clothes and aren't dolled up like our fearless leader. I'm not sure I could stomach being the sole ugly duckling in a chorus line of swans.
We head out into the gym and form two lines. I, unfortu-nately, am placed in the front row. So much for keeping a low profile. Mandy stands in front of us, like an aerobics instruc-tor, and starts calling out the cheers.
I try to follow her movements without much luck. Damn it, I knew I should have watched that DVD they gave me to take home on Friday. You know, the one with the detailed cheering moves I was supposed to learn before the start of practice? I'd meant to watch it, of course, but then that night Spider had begged me to play video games with her for just "five minutes." Five hours later, when I finally logged off, it seemed too late to start bouncing up and down, waking the entire household with spirited yells of "Go Team!" And then Saturday was Get Your Blood On night at Club Fang. Like ladies' night, but for the undead—no cover for vamps! It seemed unwise to miss out on such a money-saving dancing opportunity. And then last night, well, last night I, um, was busy. Fine, okay, I just sat around and did nothing last night. In hindsight, I probably should have popped open the DVD instead of that pint of Ben
& Jerry's Phish Food. (Especially since I threw it up a half hour later. Sometimes I hate being undead.) I guess I just figured that it wouldn't be all that bad to just show up and wing it. After all, these mentally challenged Airhead Barbies could do it—how hard could it be?
Very hard, turns out. Very, very hard.
I listen to the commands, watch the others, and try to mimic their movements. But for some unknown reason, I keep getting it all wrong. They turn left, I invariably turn right. They jump forward as I'm jumping back. They clap down when I'm clapping up. I'm offbeat, uncoordinated, and clumsy.
For those of you who have never done it, I'll tell you right here and now: Cheerleading is not as easy as it looks.
Unless, of course, you're Cait. She looks like she was born with a megaphone in her hand. As if she's been on the squad her whole life. She's got all the right moves and is completely in sync with the others.
"How do you know this stuff?" I hiss, after accidentally colliding with her.
She grins, obviously in her element. "My mom taught me a lot of it when I was a kid," she explains. "And I go to all the football games. I guess I've just kind of picked it up. Plus, you know, the DVD they gave us. I've probably watched it fifty times since Friday."
Oh. Yeah, that'll do it, I guess.
"Rayne, no! You're doing it all wrong!" Mandy screams, storming over to my spot in line. "Go left. No, no! Your other left. And put your hands up like this." She grabs my arm and yanks it above my head.
"And your leg should be out like this." She kicks the inside of my calf to widen my stance. Problem is, the sudden movement knocks me com-pletely off balance and I stumble forward, instinctively grab-bing onto her to break my fall. A moment later we're both tumbling to the ground.
"Damn it, Rayne!"
I roll off of her, red-faced. "Sorry," I mutter.
This sucks. Totally sucks. I can't believe Teifert is making me do this. There has to be some Slayer Inc.
rule banning the forced humiliation of its employees, no? If not, there should be. If ever there was cruel and unusual punishment, this would be it.
The other cheerleaders whisper amongst themselves, clearly annoyed that I'm wasting valuable practice time. I told Teifert this was a bad idea. I mean, sure, the blackmail worked like a charm to get me on the squad, but I'm never going to get them to like me enough to spill their growly lit-tle secrets in the locker room.
I pick myself up off the ground, trying to salvage what pride I have left. Nothing I can do about it now except try harder. Show them they were wrong about me. Hell, if Airhead Barbies can do this cheering thing, so can Rayne McDonald. Right?
"Nancy, take Rayne over to the other end of the gym and show her some moves," Mandy orders, scrambling to her feet and brushing invisible dirt off her perfect sweat suit. She's probably furious that she's stuck with me for the season and pissed off she can't tell her squad why.
"What good's that going to do?" Nancy, the petite blonde in the back row, whines."Imean, let's face it.
She sucks. I don't get why you wanted her on the squad in the first place, Mandy. There were, like, fifteen other girls better than her."
Murmurs of agreement run through the squad. Mandy looks like she's been force-fed a cockroach. She opens her mouth to speak. Is she actually going to tell them what I did?
"Nancy, give her a break!" I whirl around, in shock. Holy crap. It's Shantel. Shantel's actually speaking up in my de-fense. "It's her first day."