Misguided Angel Page 21

She'd had her fill of quite a few familiars to get through the stressful week. But unless she was chomping on someone's neck and consuming their blood, she had absolutely no interest in them.

So it surprised her to find she did not detest Oliver as much as she thought she would, and that working with him wasn't the torture she had expected it to be. They had four days left before the crescent moon appeared, and Mimi was relieved to find that, as she had heard, Oliver was a thorough and apt investigator. By the next morning, he had already rounded up the Conduits who had been at Jamie Kip's party.

Since only a handful of Blue Blood families still kept to the practice, there were only four Conduits in the city who could have attended the party without arousing suspicion from the other guests and pulled off the stunt. Oliver brought each suspect into a small room in the Repository that the Venators used for questioning, while Mimi watched from the other side of the double-sided glass.

Gemma Anderson took a seat across from Oliver. She was Christopher Anderson's grandniece and Conduit to Stella Van Rensslaer. "What's all this about?" she asked Oliver.

"Stella said you wanted to see me as soon as possible. Have I done anything wrong? Is this about her and Corey? I told her she was draining him dry at the rate she was using. But Stella's a vamp tramp; she'll never learn."

Mimi was shocked at the flippant attitude Gemma displayed toward her betters. Is this what the Conduits said behind their backs? That the Blue Bloods were just a bunch of bloodsuckers? How rude!

"No, this has nothing to do with Corey," Oliver said. "Although if Stella is found in violation of the Forty-Eight-Hour Rest Period, the Committee will issue a reprimand. They're not enforcing it currently, as they've got bigger things to worry about right now other than Familiar Care issues. This is about Conspiracy business." He pulled up the video on his laptop and showed it to her.

"Yeah, I've seen it, so what? Some doofus vampire decided to show off on the Internet. It was bound to happen once YouTube was invented. Props for the cover-up; everyone I know wants to see Suck. Watch the vampire burn, good one. That'll scare the kiddies." Gemma crossed her legs and twitched her ankles impatiently.

Oliver shrugged as if to say it didn't matter either way. "I understand you were at Jamie's the night this was filmed?"

That got Gemma's attention. "That's from Jamie's party?" She looked at the screen again.

"Oh my God, it is. Yeah, we were there."

"Did you notice anything unusual?" Oliver asked. "Anyone with a video camera? They're tiny these days."

She furrowed her brow and shook her head. "Not really. It all seemed like the usual bloodfest. Vampire shenanigans. Thrills and spills."

"When was the last time you saw Victoria that night?"

Gemma paused. "I think I saw her go into the back room with Evan. You know, to have their privacy. And after that, I saw her hanging out with Bryce and Froggy at the keg. Stella and I had to leave to go to another party--she wanted to meet Corey at some Riverhead shindig downtown. Wait, did something happen to Vix? I haven't seen her in school this week."

Oliver hesitated. "There was an incident yes. She came home at five in the morning blood-drunk. Her parents decided they weren't happy with the company she was keeping at Duchesne and transferred her to Le Rosey, where her mother is an alum." That was the story the Conclave was spinning, and from her vantage point behind the glass, Mimi hoped Victoria's friends would buy it.

"Really? They freaked that much? Her parents always seemed pretty cool."

"This isn't about Victoria," Oliver said. "The Conclave is concerned about the video leak.

While it is fortunate that the Conspiracy was able to deal with the matter before any Red Bloods could get suspicious, they mean to discover who was behind it. You understand exposure is a very serious concern."

Gemma nodded impatiently. "Of course."

"Can I ask how you would describe your relationship to Stella?" he asked, with a raised pen.

The pretty Conduit leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. "I see now. The vampires think we did it. One of the human Conduits, am I right? That's why you wanted to see me."

"I didn't say that."

"No, but I'm here and I don't see anyone asking Booze or Jamie or any of those guys a bunch of questions. Their blood is Blue so they're above suspicion, while we're just the honored servants entrusted with the Big Secret, I get it." Gemma sighed. "All right, fine. I'll tell you about my relationship with Stella. Other than the fact that she borrows too many of my clothes, we're good friends. I mean--you know what I mean. Love her, hate her, it's kind of the same thing."

"You don't . . . resent her position over you?"

Gemma huffed. "No, why would I? Stella's a spoiled little vampire princess, but she's my spoiled little vampire princess, you know? My family has worked for the Van Rensslaers for years. Stella's like my sister--we understand each other. Don't make me get emotional, but being a Conduit--it's an honor, you know? Why would I ever do something like that? Make a video?

Put it up on the Internet? It's just . . . No." She blinked back a few tears. "Honestly? I think we keep the vampires' secrets better than they keep them themselves. Bryce and those guys are always showing off when they think no one is watching. Running too fast. Picking up a desk with one finger. I'm surprised it hasn't happened earlier. Without those memory wipes they use like tissues, the whole world would know already."

The next three interviews were the same. The Conduits all professed the same shock, the same resentment at the insinuation that they would ever be capable of exposing the secrets of the vampires, the same annoyance at the very idea. Mimi didn't need to read their minds or taste their blood to know they were telling the truth. She was moved by the fierce loyalty the Conduits displayed. Why had Charles stopped using them? She wished she knew. Mimi walked into the room after the last Conduit left. She took a seat across from Oliver. "So, what's the verdict?

Who's our Judas?"

"Well, it's not a Conduit, at least we can rule that out. Whoever took Victoria and made the video, it isn't one of them." Oliver said, standing up from his chair and stretching his arms over his head. "Alibis are all airtight. Tech has found nothing on their computers, and the Venator scans came in clean."

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