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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
I realize at the very least I should apologize. Grovel and hope he'll forgive me. "Look, I'm sorry about last night, Jareth. That was a really dumb move. Even for me."
"Yes. It was indeed," he says coldly. "And one that will likely cost us for centuries to come."
I frown. Here I thought he was going to say, "Don't worry, no big deal, I can't help but love your free-spirited ways, Raynie baby." He must be really pissed. Either that or I really screwed up big-time.
"So now what?*' I ask, resigning myself to his attitude. After all, what choice do I have?
"The limo should be waiting for us. We'll walk back to the coven and flag the driver down. The vampires will be fast asleep and won't notice we're back."
"And what about our luggage?"
"We'll see if the driver can convince the guard to retrieve it for us. Otherwise we'll have to stop at a shop and buy a few more things."
The limo driver is easy to spot and he doesn't ask ques-tions as to why we're outside the gate and not walking down from the coven. Or why we're all rumpled and smelly and have hay sticking out of our clothing and hair. He goes to the gatehouse and returns with our bags a few minutes later. I unzip my duffel and check to make sure it's all there. I so did not want to lose that one-of-a-kind, genuine seventies sequined tube top I found thrifting last spring. Luckily, these vampires don't have enough alternative fashion sense to un-derstand what a valuable article of clothing they could have confiscated.
My stake, on the other hand, does not seem to be among my possessions anymore. Great. Now I'll have to carve a new one from scratch.
"So how are we going to get the townspeople to tell us about the Lycan pack?" I ask, settling down into my black leather seat and pulling the door closed behind me. Did I mention I love riding in limos? My stiff back from my night on the barn floor is feeling better already. "I mean, we can't just go into that bar and start asking random people if they've seen any werewolves lately, can we?"
"Actually," Jareth says thoughtfully, "that's exactly what we're going to do."
"What?" I stare at him, incredulous. "But that's stupid. They're going to think we're total freaks. They'll run us out of town. Even if they do know where the pack is, why would they tell a couple of tourist types?"
"Because we're tourists with the vampire scent."
Ah, the vampire scent. I'd forgotten about that. Each vampire gives off pheromones that make us irresistible to op-posite sex humans. Of course this can become very irritating after the novelty wears off and you've already gotten out of a speeding ticket or two. I mean, teacher giving you an A on a test because he's in love with you = good. Random guy com-ing up off the street and licking you = not so good. So from day one we're taught to control the vampire scent. Push it down, deep inside. And if that doesn't work, we have these special deodorant sprays that keep it from sweating out our pores. In fact, until Jareth brought it up just now, I'd about forgotten I even possessed the vampire scent.
"You very clever, Old Master," I quip, Kung Fu-style. "YoungGrasshoppa have much to learn."
Jareth laughs, but it sounds forced. Why am I even both-ering? "Here's what we'll do," he says, back to business. "You'll go down to the pub and do one walk around the perimeter. Let everyone catch a whiff of you. Then, when you've got the entire bar's attention, go to the center of the room and find a table to sit down at. If it works, you should have male company in three seconds flat. Once you've got their attention, tell them you're a graduate student looking to study Lycan for your thesis and you were told there's a pack that lives here."
"And you think they'll tell me?"
"Under the spell of the vampire scent they'd tell you a lot more."
I laugh. "I don't think I want to know more."
"Just please, Rayne," Jareth says, his eyes serious. "What-ever you do, don't tell them you're a slayer."
"Yes, yes. I mean, duh. No kidding."
"Well, sorry for mentioning it, but I would have assumed it was 'duh, no kidding' last night, too. You know, when we were surrounded by actual vampires?"
I grit my teeth. He's so going to hold this over my head for eternity, isn't he? "Jareth, I made a mistake. I said I was sorry, okay? Can we drop it now?"
"Rayne, you can't just laugh your way out of this. What you did was not cute, not funny, and notnot a big deal. You were representing your coven there. And international vam-pire relations are vitally important to our coven's survival. Did you know they could actually vote us out of the council, just for having a slayer in our ranks? We could lose all our rights and privileges as a member of the consortium. You ob-viously don't seem to grasp the seriousness of what you did."
I feel like crying. I can't believe how stupid I was. To let my big mouth get the best of me again. No wonder no one wants to be my friend. I'm such a loser.
"I'm sorry," I say, choking on the words. "I didn't know."
Jareth shakes his head, as if he's weary of the world. "Just forget it," he mutters. "There's nothing that can be done any-way. Vampires can come later. Right now we need to concen-trate on the wolves."
The village of Appleby is small and quaint. There's an ancient castle in the center of town, a crumbling almshouse that's been transformed into an old folks' home, narrow, cob-blestone streets, and plenty of pubs and little shops. It'd drive me crazy to actually live in a small town like this, but it's really cool to visit.