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|Girls That Growl(Blood Coven Vampire,book 3) by Mari Mancusi|
"Not really," I say, hugging her back. She smells like cin-namon. Like Mom. I'm so glad to be home.
"But I'm work-ing on it."
I return to school Monday morning and sneer at all my teachers who give me attitude for missing my classes without a sick pass from the office. I may be working toward a kinder, gentler Rayne, but
teachers are so exempt from that status. Unless they want to bribe me with good grades, that is, though sadly I've never gotten any of them to take me up on my oh-so-generous offer.
Cait finds me in the hallway and throws her arms around me in a hug. I step back, surprised. This is not the reaction I was thinking she'd have when we met again. After all, the last time I saw her she was telling me to leave her the eff alone. Here's hoping she isn't carrying any concealed weapons to stab me in the back with.
"Oh, Rayne," she cries. "I've been looking all over for you. I have to thank you!"
"Thank me?" What did I do to deserve thanking? Last I heard, I'd ruined her life.
"For being honest with me. About my, well, you know." She blushes as she steals a glance down at her arms. "I real-ized you were right. I couldn't go on hurting myself like that. And to tell you the truth, it wasn't really working anymore anyway. It started out making me feel better, but after a while I just felt so guilty and ashamed I ended up feeling worse. And I was so afraid all the time—worried that someone would catch me doing it."
"So did you... ?"
"I went to the school counselor. And she told me she could talk to my mom for me. And she promised me she'd be able to do it in a way that my mom wouldn't get mad. At first I didn't believe her, but somehow she did. My mom was really worried, of course, but she never yelled at me once. It turns out she's been suffering from an eating disorder most of her life. She's in recovery now, but she still totally gets where I'm coming from. Over the weekend we found this great therapist who's going to start teaching me what she calls coping mechanisms so I don't feel like hurting myself again. I'm sure it's not going to be easy, but it's worth it."
"That's great, Cait. I'm so happy for you!" I exclaim. "And um, what about the cheerleading thing?" I add, almost afraid to ask and spoil her good mood.
Cait shrugs. "My mom decided it was a good idea for me to drop out. You know, until I get back on my feet. Which surprised me. I mean, it was always her dream for me to become a cheerleader. I never thought she'd let me quit. But she told me my health is way more important to her than a pair of pom-poms." Cait smiles sheepishly. "She's actually pretty cool, now that we're talking again."
I smile. "I'm so glad for you. Did you tell the others?"
"Yeah. And that's the weirdest thing. I mean, I went into it assuming no one would give a care. You know, since I only made the team because you blackmailed them?"
I cringe. "Well..."
Cait holds up a hand. "But when I told them I was leav-ing, they got all upset. Turns out they really like having me on the team. Said it won't be the same without me and whenever I'm ready to come back I should." She grins. "So though you may have helped get me on the team originally, I've managed to do well enough to stay on it."
"Inever doubted that for a second," I say. "You're the best cheerleader on the squad by far and everyone knows it."
"Thanks, Rayne," Cait says. "I'm sorry I was mad before. I was just freaked out and scared. But you know what? I think I'm going to be okay."
"You know what, Cait? I think I am, too." I pull her into another hug, happy the troubled girl has found some peace. Happy that I have, too.
"That's what I hate about this school. Too much PDA in the halls. Girl hugging everywhere you look!" I turn to see my sister walking down the hall, backpack slung over one shoulder. She waves hello and approaches Cait and me.
"So you're back, I see," she says.
"And you've managed to talk your way out of my you-know-where prison cell."
"Meh, that was easy. When you're dating the head guy you can pull in a few favors every once in a while."
"Well, thank you for doing so. I'm pleased to say I got the antidote and operation Save the Cheerleaders is in effect."
Cait raises her eyebrows. "Save the cheerleaders?"
"Um, yeah, you know. From turning into . . . what they turned into the other night."
"So you believe me about that?" she asks, sounding sur-prised. "You don't think I was just hallucinating or some-thing? I mean, they seem so normal now. I figured maybe I was just under a lot of stress or maybe lost too much blood ..."
"Nope. You were right. And while they might seem nor-mal now, by the next full moon . . . arrrooooo!"
I howl. "Unless we stop them."
"How can we do that?"
"Antidote." I grin."Iwent to England to get it."
"Wow. That's, um . . . wow." Cait stammers, sounding not quite sure whether she should believe me or not.
"So what's your daring plan?" Sunny asks. "How are we going to trap the wolves to turn them back?"
"Thank you for asking," I say, pleased to discuss my oh-so-clever strategy. "Well, according to the pack I talked to, there are two ways to get an untrained wolf to go feral. One is the full moon, of course. The other is to get them all hot and bothered."