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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
Finally Orpheus takes my hand and drags me away from the crowd.
"I need a break!" he says, laughing. "You're unstop-pable."
We walk over to a raging bonfire at the corner of the clearing and sit down on the ground near it. I hold my hands up to feel its warmth. Orpheus gets behind me and starts rubbing my back. "Mmm, that feels good," I purr. "Don't stop."
"Stop rubbing the shoulders of a beautiful girl? Not bloody likely," he says.
I notice the darkness is lifting. The sky lightening to a bruised purple. It's got to be almost dawn. I look at my Nightmare Before Christmas watch. Four A.M.
"I've got to get back," I say, though the idea of walk-ing anywhere sounds like such an effort at this point. The dance-fueled adrenaline is fading, draining from my sys-tem, sweating out my pores, and I'm suddenly feeling really gross. My skin feels clammy. My head hurts. My stomach is sick. And mentally I've gone from sky high, to rock-bottom low.
What comes up, must come down.
What was I thinking? How could I have just taken off with a stranger, not telling anyone where I was going? What if Jareth came back to my hotel room? What if he wants to offer me an apology, say he wants to get back together, and then he realizes I'm gone? What if I missed my one chance for reconciliation?
I'm so stupid. So, so stupid.
"Don't go!" Orpheus begs. He stops rubbing my back and scrambles around to face me. He takes my hand in his and brings it to his lips once again, looking up at me with sad eyes. "I've had a lovely night. I don't want to lose you at the break of dawn."
I smile a little. He's sweet. Very Emo. Totally my type. If my heart didn't belong to Jareth, that is. But it does, I realize. And no matter what it takes, no matter how long, I have to get him back.
"Sorry," I say."Ihave to. I've got things to do, people to see." Ex-boyfriends to reconcile with . ..
"But my love, what could be more important than us being together?" Orpheus asks.
Uh ... I stare at him. That came out a bit creepy sound-ing. But maybe he's just overdramatic.
"Sorry, dude," I say with a shrug. "It's been fun. And I'll never forget my first English rave. But I've got to go. I'm heading back to America this afternoon."
"Iunderstand," Orpheus says, reaching over and pressing a cool hand against my hot cheek. I freeze as he lightly ca-resses my skin, wondering how to back away gracefully. But before I can manage to do so, the boy leans forward and presses his lips against mine.
Panic slams my insides. I can't do this. I don't want to do this. I don't care if Orpheus is totally Goth and hot. All I want is Jareth. Forever and always. Even if he wants to be a surfer dude for the rest of his life.
I gently push Orpheus away. "No," I say. "I can't. I'm sorry."
He frowns, sticking his lower lip out into a pout. "Why not?"
"I'm . . . well, I'm with someone. Sort of."
"I thought you said you'd broken up," he growls, his face darkening.
Argh. Now he's going to think I'm a total tease. Which I am, I guess. I should have never let this get so far. "We did," I say. "But I'm not sure it's for good. I really still love him. Be-ing out here tonight made me realize that. Don't get me wrong—you're great. Totally hot and a lot of fun. But I'm just not. . . well, I'm not over Jareth."
"I see," Orpheus says, his voice ice-cold. "Well, I am sorry to hear that."
"I'm sorry. I really am. I feel bad if I led you on in any way."
"I'll take you back to Appleby," he says stiffly, rising to his feet. "Follow me."
Thank goodness. He's taking this better than I thought he might. Last thing I need is for him to go all psycho on me. Especially when I'm feeling like such crap and have no idea where I am.
So we head back out into the woods, down a narrow trail, and around a bend. I'm glad I have a guide—the landscape looks totally different in the daylight and I'd probably get forever lost in these twisty woods.
We walk and walk. For some reason it seems to be taking a lot longer to get back than I remember it taking to get there in the first place. And I really don't remember going up a steep hill. . .
"Uh, Orpheus?" I question as the woods fall away and I realize we're climbing up what appears to be some sort of mountain. The wind whips through my hair and suddenly I'm freezing cold. I should have worn a jacket at least. "Where are we going? This isn't the way back to Appleby, is it?"
"Shortcut," he explains.
Hmm. "Shortcut?" I repeat. "Up a mountain?"
"Well, long cut, actually," he confesses. "I wanted to show you something before we go back."
Argh. How annoying. The last thing I want right now is a guided tour of jolly old England. My body is aching and my head is pounding. All I want to do is crash in my warm, soft hotel bed. To find Jareth and apologize and beg him to recon-sider his decision to leave me.
"No offense,Orph . I'm sure what you want to show me is way cool and all, but actually, I'm beat," I attempt. "Maybe I could come see it another time." Or, like, never. Never would be good.
"It's just a few more yards away," Orpheus says. "Then we can head back to Appleby. I promise it's worth it."
"Fine." I trudge a little higher. I mean, what choice do I have? I've not a clue where I am and so I'm dependent on him leading me back. Why, oh, why did I put myself in this situa-tion to begin with?