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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
"Ooh, good choice," chimes in Susan. "Get the one from Marie Antoinette. After all, this is a night of celebration to have our dear brother Jareth back from the United States."
The servant bows and exits the library.
"Uh, Marie Antoinette?" I question, a little nervously.
"We have some very expensive bloods in our possession," explains Katie. "Bottled and stored until we decide to in-dulge."
"You're serving us blood of Marie Antoinette? Like, the real person? The queen of France?" Wow, that's crazy.
"Would you rather we let you eat cake?" quips Susan.
I roll my eyes at her lame joke. "But I thought, like, she was executed during the French Revolution. Is she a vampire, too?"
"No. She's dead. Duh. You can't really go back from being beheaded. And besides, how would we have a bottle of her blood lying around if she were undead and well?"
I guess that's true. "So then how . . . ?"
"Vampires assisted with that rebellion," explains Susan. "Did you really think that the peasants could have toppled a monarchy with no assistance? Please. They were too busy picking lice off their unbathed bodies."
"Royal blood is always extra rich," adds Elizabeth. "Good diet and all. So when each monarch was beheaded, there was a vampire bottler on hand to collect the blood."
"Wow, that's, um, fascinating?" Actually I think it's really, really disgusting, but I'm still trying to cling to man-ners here.
Katie smiles smugly. "We here at the Blood Coven of Northern England have a pretty extensive blood cellar. We've got a couple of bottles of Henry the Eighth, Shakespeare. Even a half bottle of Jack the Ripper, if you're in the mood for something adventurous."
I'm pretty sure I'll never be that adventurous. I can't even stomach fresh blood, never mind the bottled bodily fluids of a serial killer from the nineteenth century. And I'm pretty sure I'm not up for any French queen blood tonight either. Hopefully they'll decide it's far too expensive to waste on a newbie Yank Goth vamp and I won't have to make a scene by turning it down.
"In any case," Jareth says. "Rayne and I are here on official business. We are looking for a Lycan community somewhere in this vicinity. They may have infected some of our local townspeople and we
need to find out if there's an antidote for the disease."
"Try the town of Appleby," suggests Susan. "Last I heard there was a Lycan pack living there. Order of the Gray Wolf, I believe they're called."
"They live in towns?" I ask, surprised. I don't know why but I figured they all hung out in dark, dank caves or some-thing. You know, being werewolves and all. "Even though on full-moon nights they go all beastie and stuff?"
"The pack is not immortal like vampires, but as a whole they've existed for thousands of years," says Elizabeth. "They have learned the art of controlling their metamor-phoses."
"Their change to wolf form. They don't rely on the pull of the moon. They can change at will and control their actions in their feral forms."
"Ah, handy. And much better for the other townspeople."
"Go to the Tavern of the Moon and inquire there. That's where the pack spends most of its time," says Susan. "Ask for a man named Lupine. He's the alpha wolf, leader of the pack. Tell him we sent you. He should be able to help."
"What I don't understand though is how your local townspeople came to be infected," says Katie."I mean, Ly-cans are much like vampires. Very selective in adding mem-bers to the pack. They don't just take anyone. In fact, most people are only Lycans through birth. And even if they were turned for some reason, they would never, ever be sent off on their own—unprepared and untrained. It doesn't make any sense."
"I agree. Which is why we need to seek out this order and find out what happened," Jareth says.
"Otherwise these lone wolves may have to be put to sleep." He turns to me. "To-morrow we will head over to Appleby to see what we can learn from this Order of the Gray Wolf."
I nod. "Sounds like a plan."
The servant re-enters the library with what looks like a bottle of wine and five glasses. He sets the glasses down on a side table and uncorks the blood. He pours a small amount of the red liquid into each glass.
I swallow hard and my hands start shaking. I shove them under my thighs. The smell, even from where I am, is almost overwhelming. Rich, spicy, even better than the fresh blood I smelled on Cait. And I'm starving, too, having not drunk a synthetic in almost twenty-four hours. But if I don't drink now they're really going to think I'm a poseur.
What to do? What to do?
The girls all raise their glasses. "To Jareth," says Katie with a seductive smile. "And the hope that in the future his visits will be longer and more frequent."
They all drink. I stare down at my goblet.
Just take a sip, Rayne. It won't hurt you.
Ugh. I can't do it. I just can't bring myself to slurp up the blood of an eighteenth-century monarch. I swallow hard and make the decision to come clean. Who knows, maybe they'll miraculously understand and feel a sense of empathy for me and my blood phobia. Not likely, but I'm desperate for a drink.
"Uh, you guys don't have any, uh, synthetic around here, do you?"
"A what?" queries Elizabeth. "A synthetic?"