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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
"Here we are!" Orpheus calls down, way ahead of me at this point. Thank God, I don't have to walk anymore. I may be a vampire, but that doesn't give me the lung capacity of a killer whale by any stretch of the imagination. Especially af-ter a night of dancing.
I walk up to where he's standing and see we've come to a small ledge that leads into a cave, cut into the hillside. I peer in. It's bigger on the inside than I imagined it to be. I can't even see the back wall. I take a step in, checking out the cave paintings on the wall. The overwhelming theme is dogs hunt-ing stuff.
Weird. Though I guess I should be grateful they aren't playing poker. I wonder if this place once housed cave-men or something. Though the paintings don't really look that old. And I doubt they had fluorescent orange paint back in prehistoric days.
"What is this place?" I ask.
"It's where I live," Orpheus says with a smile. "Do you like it?"
Huh? I turn to look at him, confused. "Where you live? You're joking, right? I mean, you can't live here."
"Why not? The cave has everything I need." He twirls around, hands out to accentuate the everything, which from my vantage point is not much more than four walls, tacky artwork, and a mound of dirt.
"Shelter, a nearby stream, pro-tection. It's perfect."
Wow, I had no idea the guy I'd partied with was a Goth Grizzly Adams. Very, uh, weird.
"All it needs is a family," Orpheus adds, sounding a bit wistful.
I stare at him, suddenly getting that creepy feeling inside again. "I'd like to go home now," I say, putting my foot down. "Please show me the way."
Orpheus shakes his head. "I'm afraid that's impossible."
Fear strikes through my heart. "What? Why?" Oh my God, oh my God. What have I gotten myself into now?
"Because, my darling," he says with a twisted smile. "You are the chosen one. The alpha female worthy
to become my mate."
"Your what?" I cry, horrified, disgusted, and freaked out beyond belief. "What the hell are you talking about, dude?"
But it's really a rhetorical question at this point. The cave, the mate thing, the dog paintings. I'm adding up two plus two here and even math-challenged me ain't getting five.
I try to back out of the cave, but Orpheus blocks my exit, moving faster than my eyes can follow. It's then that I notice the tufts of hair peeking from his sleeves. His black painted fingernails lengthening into claws.
"You're Lone Wolf," I whisper. "The renegade Lycan who infected the Oakridge High cheerleaders. I thought you were a jock."
He rolls his eyes. "I'm a shape-shifter. I can take on any human form I choose." He smiles smugly, all while his face elongates before my very eyes. Whiskers sprout from his previously clean-shaven skin.
Fangs protrude from his mouth. Eyes narrow and brighten to a brilliant yellow. I can't believe he's shape-shifting right here, right now. I watch, too fascinated and horrified to turn away.
"I left the Order a few months ago," Orpheus explains. "I was sick to death of taking orders from that bastard wolf Lupine. I felt it would be best to start my own pack. Find my-self some bitches and start mating. I will be the grand sire of this new, elite pack. And have many wolves under my command."
"Dude, I've heard of some crazy ways to pick up chicks in my day, but let me tell you, I think in this day and age most of us would prefer—"
"Silence!" he growls. "You will speak when spoken to, female."
I bolt toward the cave entrance, but again, he's too fast. This time he grabs me by the shoulders and pins me against the cave wall. I cry out in pain as my back slams against solid rock. Orpheus's face is inches from mine and he's ninety percent wolf now, though still standing on his hind legs and wearing clothing.
He growls at me, saliva dripping down his fanged mouth. I start to scream for help.
He laughs, but it sounds more like a howl. "Yell all you want," he says. "We're far away from any towns."
I close my mouth. He's right, of course. Right now I might as well be in outer space. Either way, no one can hear me scream.
"What do you want from me?" I demand, trying to keep up the tough-girl act. Isn't that what you're supposed to do with snarling dogs? Show them you're not afraid, even if you very, very much are afraid?
"I told you," he says, claws digging into my shoulders, "I want you as my alpha bitch. The other American girls I turned, they proved . . . not worthy. Not like you. You're so fair. So ..." He leans his nose into my neck and breathes in.". . . so smelly."
Smelly? Uh, right. Damn, I forgot to suppress my vampire scent before I went out. Stupid, Rayne, really stupid.
"Look, man—er, wolf," I say. "You're barking up the wrong skirt, here. I'm a vampire. I can't exactly become a werewolf, too."
"I don't believe you. If you were a vampire you could eas-ily overtake me. Everyone knows vampires are much more powerful than us dogs."
"Well, I . . . I. . ." Sigh. Did I mention how much it sucks tobe a gimped vampire with no powers? And why, oh why, didn't I pack a pistol full of silver bullets before I left the ho-telthis evening? "I might overpower you at any second!" I bluff. "So you'd better let me go now while there's still a chance.I'll take it easy on you."