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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
The guard narrows his eyes suspiciously. “If you’re our queen,” he says in a wary voice, “why are you out here and not in the castle? And, did you dye your hair or something? I thought you were supposed to be a blonde.”
“Ugh, I know! We had a total hair emergency this morning! Utterly ghastly!” Jareth cries, suddenly completely into the ruse. “But it’s all settled now. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? I mean, just look at the difference a little color makes!” He points to a banner flying above our heads, which has a very good likeness of Sunny’s face emblazoned on it. Which, of course, is also, very conveniently, my face.
The guard looks at the banner, then back at me, then at the banner again. His eyes widen and suddenly he’s on his knees, hands clasped in front of him. “I’m so sorry, Your Majesty,” he blubbers. “Please don’t put me in the stocks, I beg of you. I have three little dwarfettes at home and I was only trying to do my job!”
I smile magnanimously. Seriously, I would make the best queen ever if given the chance. “You’re forgiven,” I tell him. “Like you said, you’re only doing your job.” I pull him to his feet and kiss the top of his bald head. “But let us through now. We must hurry to get to the ...” I glance up, looking for a landmark. “... the castle,” I conclude.
“Yes, yes, of course!” The dwarf steps aside and allows us to go through the turnstiles. “Bless you, m’lady. You’re a good soul. Fairyland is honored to have you as their new leader.”
I give him a little bow, then hustle Jareth under the elevated train tracks and around the circle, down the replica of Disney’s Main Street USA. Cinderella’s castle—or I guess Sunny’s castle in this case—lies directly in front of us now, shining with a sparkling brilliance you don’t see in the real Orlando. Also different? No grumpy, lumpy tourists and crying kids; these streets are packed with fairies—all tall, blond, and beautiful. No wonder my fairy godmother wasn’t happy about her ensemble. The grandma look isn’t very big in fairyland.
A couple of brightly dressed fairies point to Jareth and giggle at his wings. He turns bright red. “I’m going to kill Magnus for this,” he growls.
“Oh come on,” I scold, grabbing his hand. “Enough with the vanity already. We’ve got a rescue to perform.”
But before we can take another step, a set of trumpets sounds. The crowd scurries to clear off the street and we’re jostled to the side. Dwarves, dressed in green like the guy at the entrance, walk the street, carrying red velvet ropes to section off the sidewalk.
“What’s going on?” Jareth hisses at me.
“I think it might be the three o’clock parade,” I reply, as I try to avoid being poked by a fairy wing. Crowds are really tough when you have such large appendages to deal with.
A moment later, the crowd bursts into applause. Sure enough, a fairy marching band heads down the street, playing bright, happy music. They’re followed by a set of scantily-clad fairy dancers, prancing down the street merrily.
“This is a waste of time,” growls Jareth.
I shrug. We’re stuck in the middle of a pack of fairies and there’s nothing we can do about it. I watch as three little pigs, accompanied by a snarly wolf, march proudly down the street, followed by a cat wearing boots and a goose laying golden eggs every few feet. Children scurry to grab the eggs and I realize they’ve got chocolate inside.
Fairy tales come to life. I gotta admit, this is pretty cool.
After a few more fairy-tale favorites, the crowd’s roar rises to a nearly deafening level. I strain to see over the throng and finally catch sight of what appears to be Cinderella’s crystal carriage heading down the street, drawn by six white horses. I draw in an impressed breath. It’s gorgeous.
Then I see who sits inside. Not Cinderella at all.
Sunny’s dressed in a shimmery ball gown that looks both pure silver and a kaleidoscope of colors, all at the same time. Her hair has been lightened to a platinum blond shade and her large eyes shine with the emerald green color she always wished she’d been born with. Her hands are clasped in her lap, heavy with silver jewelry, and on her back she sports the most gorgeous pair of airy gossamer wings I’ve ever seen. They sparkle so much they’re practically blinding to look at.
“Sunny!” I cry. “Sunny, it’s Rayne!” I try to make my way through the crowd, but Jareth grabs me by a wing and yanks me backward.
“Let me go!” I cry. “I need to get to my sister.” I turn back to the street. “Sunny! Sunny, it’s me!” I call out, desperate to get her attention.
Sunny turns her head slightly, as if she hears me, glancing blankly out into the crowd. Then she gives out a small, Miss America-type wave before folding her hands back in her lap and turning to face front again.
“What’s wrong with her?” I cry, turning back to Jareth. “She looked at me as if she didn’t recognize me. My own sister!” I swallow back the huge lump that’s formed at the back of my throat and wipe the bloody tears that would give me away as a vampire.
Jareth squeezes my shoulder comfortingly. “She’s obviously undergone some kind of brainwashing,” he says. “Which is why we need to exercise caution. Grab her now and she’ll think she’s being kidnapped rather than rescued.”
“Brainwashed and turned into a fairy against her will. My poor sister.” I lean against a nearby post. “My poor, poor sister.”