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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
"This way," Katie says, ushering us to an elevator. She presses her thumb against a small gray pad and an LCD light beeps a green glow. Evidently this place has a pretty high-tech security system just like the coven back home. Don't want mortals breaking in during the day when everyone's asleep, I suppose.
Stealing all their stupid designer clothes or some-thing.
We step into the elevator and after Katie presses a button we shoot down underground. Deep underground. I feel a lit-tle like the mouse Mrs. Brisby in the Secret of NIMH. And, now that I think about it, these girls definitely remind me of rats.
A few minutes later, the elevator doors slide open and we enter a grand foyer. This place makes the aboveground area look like a peasant's shack. There are multiple chandeliers hanging at different lengths from the cathedral ceilings, beau-tiful paintings adorning gold-colored walls, and cozy couches around great big fireplaces. It looks like the lobby of the most elegant hotel in the world.
"Wow, this is beautiful," I remark, forgetting they all hate me and I'm trying to keep a low profile.
"Totally,"mimics Susan. The other two stifle giggles.
A glare from Jareth convinces me to keep my mouth shut. Even though they're so asking for it, obviously.
Refusing to let them get me down, I walk over to one of the paintings to examine it closer. "Is this a da Vinci?" I ask in awe. I took art history two semesters in a row (okay, I flunked the first time around) and I definitely see the likeness to his other works, but don't recognize the painting.
"Yes," says Elizabeth. "One of his later works."
"It looks . . . new," I say, puzzled. It's then that I notice the Virgin Mary is wearing legwarmers and Jesus Christ has a Cabbage Patch Kid tucked away in the manger. "Uh, really new."
"Yes. That one's from his nineteen-eighties period," Katie says.
I laugh. "Ha, ha. Very funny."
"She's not joking," says Susan. "In fact, Leonardo painted some of his finest works between eighty-two and ninety-nine."
"Dude, I hate to break it to you, but the guy's been dead a thousand—" I stop. "Wait a second. Is he a .
. . ?"
"Italian Renaissance Coven Number 109," Katie recites. "Of course now all his works are only found in private collections like this. We can't let mortals know he's still painting."
Wow. I can't believe Leonardo da Vinci is a vampire. I wonder how many other ancient celebrities are still kicking it underground these days.
"We vampires believe that the masters' works were far too important to simply bow to this mortal coil,"
Katie fur-ther explains. "So we turned most of them into vampires. Musicians like Mozart, painters like Michelangelo, writers like Dante. They still produce amazing art to this day. Though Mozart's been in a real tiff lately after someone leaked his new concerto over the Internet before its official release date.
He's so against Internet piracy."
"Oh, and Michelangelo's completely given up the chisel-ing statues out of stone thing now that Pixar's got him on staff for their new David and Goliath flick," adds Susan. "Of course we all told him the censors wouldn't go for the no-fig-leaf look in a G-ratedpic , but does he listen?"
"Oh, and Dante?" Elizabeth says. "He's given up Divine Comedy to work on the situational type. Though I'm not sure the Everybody Hates Satan pilot he's producing is going to get picked up by the network. It just seems a little bleak for a sitcom, what with all those tortured people in various circles of hell and all."
"Wow. Just. . . wow." I say. I heard rumors there were a lot of famous vamps walking the earth, but I had no idea they were so busy. And here I am all concerned about gradu-ating high school. I wonder what I can accomplish with immortality.
Katie clears her throat. "So, if we're done with Art History 101, shall we retire to the library for drinks?"
she asks. "After all, we have a lot of catching up to do."
"Sounds lovely," Jareth says. "Lead the way. Of course it's been ages since I've visited."
"Yes, dreadfully too long," coos Elizabeth, putting an arm around my boyfriend's shoulders. Susan flanks him on the other side, wrapping her arm around his waist. I grit my teeth and claw at my palms and remind myself this is only for one night.
If I can just put up with their antics now, Jareth will think I'm a wonderful, patient, open-minded person and he'll be glad that I'm his blood mate for all eternity. If I can survive the night.
Katie leads the way, down the foyer and through a set of double doors and into a cozy library. The place is floor-to-ceiling books, all hardbound and embossed with gold lettering. I'm dying to know what they're about, but it seems rude tojust start pulling out volumes. Not to mention if there's some secret bookcase door that's hinged on the right book being pulled out (like always happens in old English movies) I don't want to accidentally trigger it. Trés embarrassing.
We sit down on comfy leather couches and Katie rings a hell. A moment later a servant-type appears.
He's old, probably in his late sixties, with thinning white hair. He's dressed in a tuxedo and walks with a slight limp. Definitely not a vampire. Interesting that they have human servants here. Do they double as blood donors, I wonder?
"Charles, go into the cellar and get us a vintage O nega-tive," requests Elizabeth.