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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
Poor Shantel's practically comatose over her lost BF and can barely concentrate on her moves. I really, really hope it doesn't turn out that she ate the guy. That's the kind of thing that could really mess up a girl.
Cait looks even worse. She's shaking like a leaf and keep-ing her distance from the other girls. Not that I blame her. Seeing your teammates transform into a pack of dogs doesn't exactly help create a circle of trust. Still, doesn't she get that we have to play it cool? We don't want the cheerleaders suspicious. They keep asking her what's wrong and she can only stammer nonsensical answers in reply.
"Okay, Cait," Mandy says, clapping her hands. "We're going to practice the Hitch pyramid. So come on over and we'll boost you up."
Cait stares at her, eyes wide. I can tell that the last thing she wants is any of them to touch her. I wish I could pull her aside for a moment. Reassure her that the girls have no idea she saw what she saw. Tell her she's perfectly safe, at least until the next full moon. And by then I will have figured out a way to stop the madness. (I'm so confident, huh?)
"Go on, Cait," I urge her. She glances over at me, her face white as a ghost, and shakes her head
"I—I can't do it!" she whispers to me. "I just keep think-ing that they'll—"
"Come on, Cait! We don't bite!" teases Shantel.
Cait shoots me one more pleading, terrified look and then sprints straight to the locker room. The other cheerleaders groan and jump down from their pyramid.
"What the hell's wrong with her?" Mandy demands, glaring at me accusingly. She's evidently still pissed that I blackmailed her into having Cait join the squad in the first place. Even though she has to have realized by now that Cait is way good—a great asset and hands down the best gymnast on the team.
When she's not scared for her life, that is. I mean, gotta give the girl a break in this case. But Mandy, of course, has no idea. "We've got a game next week and we've got a lot of work to do to prepare for it.
These cheers don'tshout themselves, you know. And we can't afford to have girls on the squad who don't take being a Wolf seri-ously."
The Wolf pack—er, squad, all nod in sync.
"Why did we pick her, anyway?" demands one of the girls.
"Yeah, she's not even cute."
"Oh please, she's the best girl on the team and you all know it," I interject. "And she's been perfectly dedicated since she joined. So she's having a bad day. Give the girl a break."
I get a few reluctant grumbles of agreement. Good.
"Well, I'll go talk to her," Mandy says. "See what's wrong."
"Let me," I say quickly. The last thing Cait needs is to be trapped in a locker room with someone she thinks will sprout fangs and claws at any given moment. "I'll calm her down."
"Fine. But get back fast. We've got a lot of ground to cover this afternoon."
I nod and walk briskly toward the locker-room door, ready to comfort poor Cait. She must be freaking out. I remember how hard Sunny took the whole "vampires are real and I'm going to become one in a week" shock that first night at Club Fang. It's amazing how some people can live their whole lives perfectly oblivious to what's beneath the surface reality of our world. But once you've discovered the truth, there's no turning back.
I push open the locker-room door and once again am sud-denly overwhelmed by the smell of fresh blood. I double over, hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath and control my almost unstoppable urge to run to its source and dig in. The thirst consumes me: My throat's suddenly dry as a church group dance and my nostrils strain toward the smell. Jareth warned me about this. The longer I go without drinking real blood, the more power it will have over me. But this is the worst yet.
I manage to suck a few shallow breaths through my mouth, as they taught us to do in Blood 101 class, and swal-low hard before righting myself.
I'm okay. I can control the bloodlust. It has no real power over me.
I stumble to my locker where I keep a secret stash of synthetic. I fumble with the combination, rip open the door, and grab the sports bottle. I gulp the fake blood down, rejoic-ing as the thick red liquid coats my throat and settles my stomach. Ah, much better.
A moment later my head's clearer. Only then can I focus on the fact that smelling blood in a high school locker room could be something I need to be concerned with. I mean, sure, it might just be someone's time of the month, but for some reason I don't think it's that simple in this case. Where is the blood coming from? And, more important, where's Cait?
"Cait!" I cry, eyes darting from one end of the room to the other. "Are you okay?"
There's no answer. Just the drip, drip, drip of a leaky shower. Other than that, complete silence.
Fear grips my heart. What if one of the werewolves didn't turn back to a cheerleader when daylight hit?
What if it's after Cait? What if it's already found her and managed to rip her apart? Could the blood that I smell actually be coming from Cait's mutilated, dead body?
Panicked, I start whipping back shower curtains, running through rows of lockers, and pulling open bathroom stall doors. She has to be in here somewhere. The only exit— through the window broken by the wolves last night—has been boarded up.
I reach the handicap stall and yank the door open.
Oh. My. God.
I stare down, eyes bulging with shock and horror. Cait's sitting on the toilet, fully dressed, with her forearm out in front of her. And it's covered in tiny bloody cuts.