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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
“And what happens to them?”
“We don’t ... know exactly,” Mara says, after a pause. “But they’re like top-secret ops. A Secret Slayer Service.”
“I heard they even do plastic surgery on their faces,” Peter adds. “So no one will recognize them. That’s how big a deal it is.”
“Really?” Sunny makes a face. “And people willingly sign up for this?”
“It’s the greatest honor a student here can be awarded,” Leanna says reverentially. “Everyone wants to sign up. But only six are chosen.”
“And this year, it’s definitely going to be us.” Varuka smiles smugly. “They don’t call us Alphas for nothing. We’re the best this school has to offer.”
“Hey, maybe you’ll be our sixth!” Mara adds, excitedly, turning to me. “If you play your cards right. After all, you’re amazing out in the field—”
I’m about to say no thank you, but my words are cut off as Corbin bursts through the forest into the clearing, his eyes wide with fright.
“Someone’s coming!” he cries.
The Alphas are on their feet in an instant. “Is it Johan?” Peter asks.
Corbin shakes his head. “No,” he says, his voice hoarse and scared. “Definitely not Johan. In fact ... I don’t even think it’s human.”
The camp erupts in a flurry of activity as the Alphas scurry to grab knives and stakes and other assorted weaponry they have lying around the fire. I had no idea they came out here packing so much heat. How dangerous are these woods anyway?
“Stay close,” Corbin commands, motioning for everyone to stand on the far side of the fire. “Keep quiet.”
We huddle together in silence. The only sound, the sizzling of now-overcooked burgers. So much for dinner. My stomach growls and Varuka shoots me a look. I shrug apologetically.
Then, suddenly, I hear it: a weirdly familiar buzzing sound. At first I can’t place it. It’s low-pitched and burning, almost like the beating of—
Oh my God. I look over at Sunny, who, I realize, is looking back at me with terrified eyes. They’ve found us. Somehow, some way, they’ve found us.
Corbin notices our exchange and shoots me a hard stare. “What?” he demands in a hoarse whisper.
“I think it’s ... Oh God.” I swallow hard. This is so not good. “I think it might be ... fairies.”
The buzzing grows louder. How did they find us here? This can’t be just some random attack. Did the janitor guy sell me out? Headmistress Roberta? Who else knows we’re fairies? I reach for my stake, but Corbin stays my hand and offers me a razor-sharp knife instead.
“Go for their wings,” he whispers. “That’s the sweet spot.”
Just the idea makes my own winglets ache a little, but I accept the knife gratefully. Beside me, Sunny’s now gripping her own dagger and I can only hope she’s far enough back from the action that she won’t have to use it.
I open my mouth to tell her to stay behind me, but they’re on us before I can speak, dive-bombing into the camp. Just like at Dad’s condo, though there’s at least ten of them this time. All, once again, looking just as handsome and plastic as a platoon of winged Ken dolls armed with swords. (Thankfully, these particular ones are not flaming or we’d have a serious forest fire on our hands.) They descend at high speed, releasing an ear-piercing shriek on approach. I ward the closest off best I can, slashing at his chest with my blade, then following up with a sound kick to his groin. He staggers backward, dropping his sword to clutch his privates.
I take advantage of his momentary weakness and throw myself forward, knocking him off balance. Together we crash to the ground. I stamp my foot down on his wings, so he can’t get up, then reach down and slice one clean off. He howls in pain as blood fountains from the wound, splattering my legs. It’s all I can do not to puke in his face.
“Behind you!” I hear Corbin shout and I whirl around, just in time to dodge an arrow spinning in my direction. It misses me and pierces a nearby tree trunk. From a few feet away, I see Corbin take the archer down.
I glance around frantically for Sunny, but can’t locate her in the fighting and confusion. I pray she’s all right—that the other Alphas have protected her or led her to safety.
Suddenly I hear a fairy shriek. I look up and realize one of them has taken flight again, preparing to dive-bomb Corbin. The Alpha is busy helping Peter with another fairy and doesn’t see him coming. Realizing I have to do something, I leap into the fray, tackling Corbin and throwing him off target. A moment later, the fairy slams into me instead, the force knocking the wind out of me. He rolls me over, his sword slicing at my stomach, and I scream in pain.
Corbin responds. On his feet already, he stabs his sword into the fairy’s back. The fairy falls on top of me, his weight crushing my wounded stomach. Corbin kicks him off, and kneels to examine my wounds.
“You’re bleeding badly,” he says, his voice betraying his fear. “I need to get you out of here.”
“No!” I protest weakly as he picks me up like a baby in his arms. “I can’t ... Sunny ...” Pain stabs at my belly and I moan in agony.
“You won’t do her any good in this state,” Corbin scolds. “The other Alphas will guard her. Now stop struggling.”
I give in. The pain’s so fierce I can barely manage to take a breath, never mind start fighting again. Corbin runs through the bushes, carrying me as if I weigh nothing at all. A few moments later, we reach a small cave, tucked into the hillside and hidden by green, leafy vines. If you didn’t know to look for it, you’d never find it in a million years. A perfect hideaway.