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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
"Rayne believes you," Jareth comforts, putting an arm around her shoulders. "She's just trying to protect you."
Cait buries her head in Jareth's chest, sobbing uncontrol-lably. He stiffens, probably at the proximity of the open wound beneath her sweater.
"What I want to know is how you got that cut on your arm. Did they . . . scratch you?" I ask cautiously.
I don't want to freak the girl out even more than she is already, but we've got to be practical here. What if a simple scratch is all it takes to become infected by the werewolf bug? It's bad enough three quarters of the squad is currently out howling at the full moon and chomping on football players. I don't need Cait to start shapeshifting, too.
But Cait shakes her head, her cheeks blushing a tomato red. "No," she says. "I . . . that was just an old
scratch that broke open when I ran to hide in the bathroom. It has noth-ing to do with the werewolves."
I narrow my eyes. She's lying. I know she is. But why? "Let me see it," I demand.
"No." She shakes her head vehemently.
"Come on, Cait. This is important." I try to grab her arm.
"I said, 'No!' " she cries, wrenching her arm free of my grasp and running toward the locker-room door.
"I've got to go home! My mother's expecting me!"
The door slams behind her, echoing with a loud bang.
I start to run after her, but Jareth grabs my sweatshirt hood and reins me in. "Let her go," he says.
"But she's cut. What if she turns into a werewolf, too?" I protest. "And what if she goes around school telling everyone she's just witnessed Oakridge High's varsity cheer-leaders morph into a pack of dogs?
That would be really bad."
"First off, no one would believe her if she did," Jareth says calmly. "And second, I doubt she'd risk being the laugh-ingstock of school by spouting what they'd think of as non-sense. More likely she's just going home."
"And the cut? Her mother will kill her if she turns into a werewolf next full moon."
"I'm not an expert, but I believe the lycanthropy virus is transmitted through saliva," Jareth explains. "So unless she was bitten or kissed by one of them, she's likely safe."
I think for a moment. "It definitely looked like a scratch more than a bite," I conclude. "So do you think that means she's going to be okay?"
"I think you'd be better off concerning yourself with the other girls," Jareth says, pacing the locker-room floor with long steps. "How did they catch the virus to begin with? As far as I know, there are no Lycan packs in the New England area. Slayer Inc., to their credit, has done a good job keeping the dogs out."
"You keep saying that. Lycan. What's 'lycan' mean?"
"Lycans are what humans refer to as werewolves. A human and wolf hybrid, which is usually a side effect of the lycanthropy virus. Similar to vampires, except that Lycans can live and walk as humans for much of the time. They only turn feral—into wolf form—when there's a full moon." Jareth glances out the broken locker-room window. "Like tonight."
"Gotcha," I say. "But why the hell would someone turn Oakridge High's cheerleading squad into a pack of wolves?"
"I have no idea," Jareth says, shrugging his shoulders. "But I would suggest you interview them tomorrow. Find out what they know."
"What should I say?" I ask. "I mean, I can't exactly be all, 'Hey girl, what big teeth you have!' " I giggle
at the idea of using that line on Mandy. She'd be so pissed. "Or, like, 'So . . . you ever consider laser hair removal for all that fur?' Or I know! I could say, 'Wow, that nose job really gave you a snout and a half, huh? Are yousuing your plastic sur-geon?' And that's not even mentioning what I could say about tail."
Jareth smiles. "But seriously, Rayne. Be wary about con-fronting them straight out. They likely aren't aware of their ac-tions when they morph into their feral state. In fact, they may assume they just blacked out from drinking too much and thus they don't remember what they did the night before."
"Makes sense," I say. "Though that makes it harder to get the real dirt on them."
"I'm sure you will manage."
"So then, when/if we find out what really happened to make them this way, how do we go about making it. . .unhappen?" I ask. "I mean, is this forever, like a vampire? Or is the process somehow reversible?"
Jareth runs a hand through his hair. "I am not sure. I will have to do some research. I very much hope that we can find a cure. A pack of Lycans can cause tremendous problems when let loose in the suburbs."
"Problems?" I ask.
"They like to . . . snack," Jareth says wryly, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't mean on Strawberry Pop-Tarts.
"Oh my God! Do you think they ate Mike Stevens?" I ask, not sure whether to be horrified or secretly delighted. Then I scold myself. No one deserves to be eaten alive by a pack of Prada-clad puppies. Not even him. "Maybe that's why he's missing!"
Bleh. Poor Mike Stevens. That's gotta be a terrible way to die. I think hard. "Okay, fine. I'll report this to Mr. Teifert in the morning and then go talk to the cheerleaders at lunchtime. Want to meet up after school to go over what I find out?"