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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
We check into Appleby Manor, a charming little hotel on the outskirts of town, and get ready for our wolf recon. As I change clothes in the bathroom, Jareth preps me for the thousandth time about what I need to do. About a half hour later we head down to the Tavern of the Moon. Even though it's not quite noon, there's a good number of men hanging out at the bar, having a few pints, watching the football
game. (That's soccer to you Americans, though it makes more sense for them to call their game football, seeing as they use their feet a heck of a lot more than American football players do . . .) Jareth takes a seat at the back end of the pub and I pre-pare to make my grand entrance. I walk down alongside the bar, watching them watch me in the mirror on the wall. One by one they swivel in their barstools and stare at me and my sequined tube top and micromini skirt. (Jareth thought my outfit was total overkill, but by the looks on the men's faces, he was so wrong.) I smile coyly as I turn around to face them. Several are staring with their mouths wide open. One looks like he's literally about to drool.
"Hi, boys," I purr. "What's a girl gotta do around here to get a drink?"
A mad dash to be the first to buy me a pint ensues. A few men jump off their barstools and offer me their seats. I take a stool, pulling it away from the bar so I can see all the men at once. I sit down, crossing my legs. I'm very Sharon Stone, Ba-sic Instinct, though I'm definitely wearing panties. (So not go-ing to pull a Britney for this crowd.) One man hands me a pint of lager. I take a long sip. As a vampire I can't really get drunk, but I bet I look impressive draining my glass in one long gulp.
"So," I say. "I have a question."
"We likely have an answer, ma'am," says one of the guys.
"And if not, we can find out."
"Yes, ask away, beautiful lady."
"Oh, you boys are so sweet," I coo. "Very well then. But Iwarn you, it may sound a bit strange."
"It won't, miss," says a burly guy at the far end. "Don't worry about that."
"Okay," I say, reaching into my purse and pulling out a cigarette. I slowly light the tip and take a drag. (I know, I know, I totally said I was quitting. But I'm a vampire. I can't exactly die oflung cancer. So I think once in a while it might be okay to light up—especially when I'm doing everything I can to channel sexy, bad girl Rayne.) "I'm looking for a pack of wolves."
The men stare at me and then at each other. Some wear complete poker faces while others start sweating a little.
''Wolves?" the tallest man says. He has shoulders the size of a linebacker's, pads on. "I'm sure out in the woods you can find—"
"Oh, silly boy, you know I'm not talking about common, everyday wolves," I chide him. "I mean, what do you take me for? Some stupid woman?"
Head shakes all around. No, of course they don't. At this moment they see me as Venus herself. I should use this vam-pire scent thing more often.
"What I'm looking for, boys," I say, "are Lycans." I pause for dramatic effect. "Do you know where I can find a pack of Lycans living in this town?"
"Find 'em?" pipes in a skinny man from the back. "You already have 'em, missie."
Rumbling conversation breaks out between the men. There's obviously some argument about whether that little fact should have been revealed. I'm, of course, delighted. This was easier than I thought. As much as I hate the En-glish vampires, they totally hooked us up with the right location.
I glance over at the men. Could they really be Lycan? The pack I'm looking for? They look so normal.
So working-class Englishman. But then the cheerleaders aren't exactly sprout-ing fangs and fur on their non-full-moon days, either. "So you all are .. . ?"
A consensus seems to have been reached and a big, burly man to my right steps forward, puffing out his chest in pride. "We're all Lycans. The lot of us."
I smile. "How lucky for me to have stumbled upon you."
"Indeed," the man says. "I am Lupine, alpha of the Order of the Gray Wolf, at your service."
Does one shake hands with a werewolf? Or do they, I don't know, sniff butts to get to know one another? Ew, I so don't want to go there. I decide to try the handshake. Luckily Lupine shakes back, making no sudden move for my ass. "So you're wolves, but you live in town as men?" I query. I've got to warm them up a bit before I tell them what I really want.
"Of course. Don't believe the stories you read in horror novels,miss. Most Lycans are prominent members of their communities. We can control our shape-shift and are completely in control of our actions when in feral form."
I think back to the cheerleaders and the havoc they wreaked on my town. Definitely not exhibiting the control thing there.
"What about during the full moon? Don't you go all crazy then?"
The men laugh. "Only the newbies," they explain. "And we keep them under lock and key until we can train them to control their instincts."
"The full moon is an easy pull to resist, once you've had some training," Lupine explains. "It's the desire to mate that can bring out your inner wolf, even in the most disciplined among us." He gestures to a man at the back of the bar. "For example, look at John over there. He's starting to change right now, just from looking at you."
I glance over at John, who's standing behind the others. He's sprouted some gray hair on his chest and white fur is sticking out of his ears. I watch, fascinated, as his nose seems to elongate like Pinocchio's, right before my eyes.