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|Night School(Blood Coven Vampire,book 5) by Mari Mancusi|
The prime minister’s face brightens and he smiles widely. “Of course! We’ll make you a pair of prosthetic ones—not a problem at all! This is such great news! The crown is yours. As it always should have been.” He turns to the crowd. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Queen Shrinking Violet!” he cries. The crowd cheers.
Except for me. “Mom!” I cry, horrified. “You can’t—”
She turns to me, her eyes filled with affection. “Sweetie, I don’t have a choice,” she says. “These people need me and it is my duty to help them. I can do good here—much more so than back home. I can bring peace to the courts, end the corruption, punish those who betray us—all the things I should have done a long time ago, instead of running away.” She reaches over and touches my arm with her hand. “I’m sorry. I wish there was another way.”
“But you’ll live here?” Sunny cries, looking as upset as I feel. “Not with us?”
She nods. “Heather will take care of you until you’re eighteen and go off to college. It’s something we talked about a while ago and she’s agreed to help.”
“You planned this all along,” I realize. “Before the fairies even showed up.”
Mom nods. “When your father came to Massachusetts and told me what had been going on, I realized what had to be done. We’d started making the arrangements, but were interrupted by Apple Blossom’s attack.”
“Wow. I had no idea ...” I’m pretty much blown away at this point. My life and Sunny’s—completely turned upside down.
“In any case, that doesn’t mean I won’t be around. We can Skype every night and you can come visit me every summer. And I want copies of all your report cards faxed directly to me. No slacking off just ’cause I’m not around to ground you.” She looks at us, tears in her eyes. “I know it’s hard. And I feel terrible for having to leave you. But I hope you understand this is for a greater good. It’s my destiny. And I’ve learned you can’t run away from your destiny.”
Looking at her, standing tall and proud and noble, I realize she’s right. These people need her and I can’t be selfish. Just like Sunny and I want to live our lives the way we do, Mom should have the same right.
“Oh, Mom,” I cry, throwing myself in her arms. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
“No more than I’ll miss you. My girls.” She squeezes me back. “My precious, lovely girls.”
We hug for what seems an eternity and then finally break free. Sunny steps forward, pulling the golden crown from her head and placing it reverentially on my mother’s. I draw in a breath. She looks so beautiful. Like a real fairy queen. A swirl of pride sweeps through me as she turns to the people of fairyland. They all get on their knees, bowing respectfully. Then they rise and let out a great cheer.
And I find myself cheering right along with them.
Rayne looks a little healthier than usual as she greets me at the cemetery the evening after our father’s funeral a week later. She’s on leave for the night from the Bloody Ford Clinic, the Vegas-based vampire rehab she’s been staying at. She’s still pale skinned, of course—what else would you expect from a Gothy vampire like her?—but there’s a slight rose blooming on her cheeks all the same. Probably from all the regular blood she’s been drinking. No more starving herself or drinking the synthetic—she’s a full-fledged vampire now. And when she gets out in a few months, she’ll be assigned a donor, just like the rest of the coven.
“I still can’t believe he’s gone,” she says, staring mournfully at the mound of dirt that covers the remains of our father. Mom shipped them here from fairyland so Heather could give her husband a proper burial. “I feel like I’ve wasted all these years hating him. And now I can’t even make up for lost time.”
I reach over and grab her hand, giving her a comforting squeeze. “At least you got to say good-bye,” I murmur, feeling tears well into my own eyes. “I hate that I never got a chance to see him one last time. He was a much better father than we gave him credit for.”
Rayne kicks the ground with the toe of her boot. “It’s weird, you know? Trying to let go of all that anger I held inside all those years? All that misplaced hatred took up a lot of room. I feel ... I don’t know. A little empty, to be honest.”
I give her a rueful smile. “Well, are you talking about it? In rehab, I mean.”
She nods. “I’m trying to. It’s tough to open up. But I think it’ll be worth it.”
“I know it will be,” I reply, reaching over to give her a big hug. “I love you, sis. Thanks for saving my life.”
“Again,” she teases.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatevs.”
She pulls away from the hug and we start walking back to the parking lot. “So speaking of, what’s going on with the whole evil Slayer Inc. thing?”
I frown. “Well, when I brought Jareth and his army back to Riverdale, the whole place was abandoned. Teachers, students—all gone. And it appeared they left in a hurry.”
“With my blood,” my sister adds, scowling. “What about Night School? Were the failed experiments there?”
“Yeah, they left all their comatose victims in that room you told us about. But with the electricity out, there was nothing to keep them alive.” I shake my head as I recall the horror of that room. The smell. “Many of them died. A handful survived, but they’re starved and stuck in deep comas. Teifert is putting his best people on them, though. If we can bring them back to consciousness, we might get some useful information.”