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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
She gives me such a knowing look I have to suppress a shiver. This is not good. Now I’m not only stuck in a school with no blood substitute, but I’m in danger of getting staked by the student body at a moment’s notice. I really need to keep my immortality on the down-low here.
Lilli shrugs. “Well, um, anyway, I’m here to escort you to the main office! Headmistress Roberta has summoned you and you do NOT want to keep the headmistress waiting!”
I’m not sure this is entirely true for either myself or my sister. After all, we’re just witness protection fairies here, not slayer students worried about tardy slips. But I guess for our cover’s sake it’s best to go with the flow. Besides, to be honest, I’m curious to see what’s behind Dorm Room Door #1. Not to mention get a reprieve from Sunny sobbing.
So I drag my sister out of bed, force her to wash her tear-stained face, then follow Lilli out of the room. We step out into a richly decorated corridor, with textured plush carpet of a shadowy, crimson shade. The walls are paneled with dark, oily wood and golden-framed portraits of teenage girls brandishing stakes hang on every surface.
“These are our sisters of the stake,” Lilli explains, catching my curious glance at the paintings. “Slayers from ages past. Some of them have truly amazing histories. Like this girl Abigail Williams. She took out an entire nest of evil vampires waiting to pounce on her Puritan village in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Of course the stupid townspeople called her protection wards the devil’s work and burned her at the stake as a witch. Dumb assses.”
She shrugs. “Of course that was before Slayer Inc. was officially formed and sanctioned as a vampire protection agency. Back then, it was every slayer for herself.” She turns to the next portrait. “Like with Amelia Earhart here. She staked vampires all around the world, but got drained dry on her last mission—a renegade coven setting up shop on a small island in the Pacific.” She gives Amelia a pitying look. “The cannibal vampires ate every bite of her and her co-pilot. Their bodies were never found.”
“Are all famous women throughout history actually slayers?” I ask curiously.
Lilli laughs. “Of course not,” she says. “Some of them were vampires. But don’t bring that up to the professors. They get a little touchy about that kind of thing.”
I’m about to ask who, but she changes the subject as we head down a set of sweeping Gone With the Wind-type stairs and into a large, chandeliered foyer below, relating in way too much detail how the school was founded a hundred years ago and has trained some of the top slayers in the world, including Sally Ride, first slayer to tackle vamps in space.
Our guide pushes open the heavy double front doors and we step outside onto the grounds. The air is fresh but crisp, and I notice Sunny wrapping her arms around herself. As a vampire, neither heat nor cold bothers me much, but I mimic her actions just the same. Don’t want Slayer Lilli, as sweet as she seems, to develop any suspicions as to my mortal state.
“Sorry,” she says, glancing over at us. “I forgot to warn you. It gets really cold here. Especially at night.” She shoots us a sympathetic look, then launches back into the tour. “There are two dorms on campus,” she continues. “The one we just left houses all the girls, and the one over there is home to all the male slayers.” She points to a nearly identical Gothic structure across the road. “Obvs, they want to keep the co-ed hooking up to a minimum. Which is too bad, ’cause some of the boys are completely hot.”
I look at her questioningly. “There are male slayers?” I ask, surprised. I thought this gig was girls only.
Lilli laughs. “Of course!” she cries. “Why, some of our most talented slayers through history have been of the male persuasion. Have you ever heard of Wyatt Earp? He slayed a couple of pretty hardcore vampires at the OK Corral back in his day. Then there was Jack Ruby, who managed to take out Lee Harvey Oswald, a vampire from the Grassy Knoll Coven, with a wooden bullet ...”
Lilli gestures for us to follow her along a narrow, winding cobblestone road that slopes gently downhill. We pass ancient-looking stone-faced mansions featuring elegant cornices and grand arches. Thick tendrils of dark ivy climb marble columns and grand carved doors bearing golden knockers mark every entrance. I can’t help but stare as we walk by, impressed by it all. This place is like freaking Hogwarts for Vampire Slayers. I wonder if I’ll get assigned an owl.
I turn my attention back to our escort. “These are the classroom buildings,” Lilli is explaining. “Though we do a lot of hands-on stuff down at the bottom of the hill.” She points to a football field-size grassy area below, nestled in a copse of pine. The wind picks up for a moment and I inhale the sweet scent of the needles. Delish. After a week in Vegas, the fresh air is more than a bit wonderful and, I realize, I’m looking forward to getting down there and working out. (Yes, this cheerleader stuff has ruined my Goth/vampire lazy sensibilities. Sue me.)
We continue down the hill, which gradually starts getting steeper as we go. “Cafeteria, nurse’s station, chapel.” She gestures to a beautiful Gothic cathedral to our right—stained glass and flying buttresses galore. “We’re not a religious school,” she adds. “But we do meet there once a week for announcements from the administration.” She shrugs. “Plus it’s a great hideaway if we’re ever under siege from an angry coven of vampires.”
I take an experimental step toward the cathedral, wondering if the force of God will push me away or something, but nothing happens. Hm. Their protective vault may not be as protective as they might like. Not that I’m going to share that little fact with them. Low-profile vamp all the way.