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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
“Yeah, everyone at school is talking about it,” adds Amber, another one of the lunchtime gang. “You’re, like, famous already.”
Great. And here I was supposed to be keeping a low profile. What was I thinking, taking down the big bad Alpha slayer? Seriously, forget slaying—finding trouble should be my full-time job. I’m certainly good at it.
We spend the afternoon inside, listening to lectures on vampire history, vampire politics, vampires in literature, etc. By the two P.M. study hall break, I’m already all vamped out. I mean, I don’t even think actual vampires know as much about their kind as these monotone Slay School teachers do. Or maybe it’s just that vamps prefer to learn at their leisure, seeing as they’ve got more than a couple lifetimes to soak it all in. Mortal slay students are the ones who have to cram.
In any case, study hall is held in a beautiful, musty old library with stained-glass windows, well-worn wooden desks, and walls lined floor to ceiling with ancient books. There are a few computers scattered here and there, but since none of them connect to the Internet, I don’t bother checking them out.
Instead, I spend the hour wandering through the stacks, running my hands over the rows of hardcover tomes, breathing in that delicious old book scent. Nothing here has been written after the 1900s and I kind of like that. I pull out a crumbling first edition of Wuthering Heights and flip through it, sighing contentedly. I’ve always found the story of Heathcliff and Catherine so romantic.
After a few minutes, I put back the book and continue exploring. The next aisle is filled with “Otherworld Nonfiction,” according to a metal plaque at the end of the row. My interest piqued, I step into the row, surrounding myself with large, thick hardcovers depicting vampires, werewolves, angels, and ...
Ooh. Talk about required reading. I start grabbing fairy books off the shelves until my arms are weighted down and I can barely see over the stack. Then I drag them off to a quiet corner, where I find a small, moth-eaten armchair next to a tiny table and Tiffany lamp. I set the books down and curl up in the chair, pulling my feet up and under me. Then I grab the first book and start paging through.
Time to get a little family history.
The Sidhe (pronounced Shee) are also known as the “People of the Mounds,” and they evidently go way back in Irish and Scottish history. They live in fairyland, a dimension beyond our own world, under a monarchial system; kings and queens living in the lap of luxury in beautiful otherworldly palaces. There are several different courts and none of them can ever seem to get along.
Besides their wings, they look just like regular people, as opposed to the pint-size pixies that make up a lot of the old fairy tales. But their powers go way beyond those of men. Besides being able to fly, some of them can also change shape at will. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
What’s not so cool is how petty some of them seem to be. Like, for centuries Irish families have attempted to appease mischievous sprites by leaving little bowls of milk out for them at night. (Evidently, fairies are big on dairy as well as nectar.) If they forget—or the cat gets to the milk first—the thirsty fairy will get so mad they’ll actually go and steal the family’s baby and replace it with a green-tinged, vicious changeling child instead.
Like I said, so not cool.
The text goes on. Some fairies are unable to tell a lie, others can chat with animals and turn invisible. And most of them are deathly allergic to iron. I turn the page, my eyes widening as I find the section of text I’ve been looking for: “How to start your fairy transformation.” Evidently, in addition to the elbow kissing thing, teen fairies take part in this big, fancy ceremony when they turn sixteen to kick-start the process. (Talk about a sweet sixteen!) But in extreme cases, the text seems to indicate, you can start the transformation by yourself, as long as you know the right invocation to accompany the elbow kissing part. And luckily for me, they’ve got it all transcribed in the book.
I look around the library: No one’s nearby. I wonder if I should actually go through with this. After all, there’s no turning back, as Mom said. And do I really want to be a fairy for the rest of my life? I mean, I’m already a vampire. And a slayer. That’s a lot in and of itself.
Then I think back to Sunny’s anguished face. Her desperate wish to remain mortal. She’s my sister, as much of a pain in the ass as she can be sometimes. And it’s my job to protect her.
So really, what choice do I have?
I look back down at the book, whispering the incantation to myself, while repeatedly kissing each elbow and praying no one walks by—as, let’s face it, I must look freaking ridiculous to say the least. But luckily the place remains empty and I finish the ritual, uninterrupted, with a little twirl, as per the book.
I plop down on my chair, feeling more than a little bit embarrassed. Did I really just do a jig in the middle of the library, thinking it would turn me into a fairy? Seriously, Rayne, you’re losing it, definitely losing it.
But just as I’m about to close my book and go home, the room starts to spin. I grab on to the sides of my chair, my heart in my throat. Is something happening? Did the ritual work? I try to look down at the book, but the text seems to waver in and out of focus. I try to stand, but my legs are too weak to hold my weight. My heart pounds in my chest and my breath comes in short gasps. What’s going on? Am I becoming a fairy at last?
Before I can know for sure, I find myself succumbing to the blackness.
“Excuse me? Miss?”