There was a gleaming red Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the driveway that hadn't been there last night. I pulled in behind it and stopped my car. The poor old Rabbit looked out of place in such an upscale neighborhood.

I rang the doorbell and waited a long time. My mother had taught me to be polite and part of me felt guilty for disturbing them during a time when they were probably used to sleeping. Guilt didn't keep me from ringing the doorbell again.

It was Rachel who opened the door-and like me, she looked like she'd had a hard night. She wore a thin, bright yellow T-shirt that left a four inch gap between its hem and the top of her low-rise jeans. Her navel was pierced and the sapphire-colored stone in the ring twinkled when she moved. It drew my eye and I had to force myself to look at her face-which was sporting several blue bruises along her jaw that hadn't been there last night. Her upper arm bore a purple handprint where someone had grabbed her.

She didn't say anything, just let me look my fill as she did the same to me. Doubtless she saw the puffy skin and dark circles that showed my lack of sleep.

"I need more information," I told her.

She nodded and backed away from the door so I could come inside. As soon as I was in the house I could hear someone crying: a man. He sounded young and hopeless.

"What happened here?" I asked following her into the kitchen, the source of the sobs.

Naomi was sitting at the butcher-block counter, looking ten years older than she had last night. She was wearing the same conservative clothes-and they looked the worse for wear. She looked up briefly as we walked in, but then turned her attention back to the mug of coffee she was sipping with deliberate calm.

Neither she, nor Rachel, paid any attention to the young man curled up in the corner of the room, next to the sink. I couldn't see his face because he had his back to all of us. He was rocking, the rhythm of the motion interrupted by the infrequent sobs that made his shoulders jerk forward. He was muttering something just under his breath, and even my ears couldn't catch exactly what he said.

"Coffee?" asked Rachel, ignoring my question.

"No." The food I'd eaten was sitting like a lump in my stomach as it was. If I added coffee to it, I wasn't sure it would stay down.


She got down a mug for herself and poured some coffee out of an industrial-sized coffeemaker on the counter. It smelled good, French vanilla, I thought. The scent was soothing, better than the taste would have been. I pulled up a chair next to Naomi, the same one I'd used last night, and, glancing again at the man curled up in the corner I asked again, "What happened to you?"

Naomi looked at me and sneered. "Vampires. What happened to you?"

"Vampires," I replied. Naomi's sneer sat oddly on her face, and seemed out of character-but I didn't know her enough to be sure.

Rachel tugged a chair around so she was opposite Naomi and me. "Don't take it out on her. She's Stefan's friend, remember. Not one of them."

Naomi looked back at her cup and I realized that she wasn't calm at all, she was in that place beyond fear where nothing you do matters because the worst has already happened and there's nothing you can do about it. I recognized that look. It's an expression I see a lot around the werewolves.

It was Rachel who told me what had happened.

"When Stefan didn't come back yesterday morning, Joey-that's short for Josephine-decided to leave while she could." Rachel didn't drink her coffee, just turned her cup this way and that. "After you left, though, I heard her motorcycle in the driveway. Can't mistake the sound of Joey's hog." She moved her hands away from the mug and wiped them on her thighs. "I was stupid. I know better-especially after Daniel. But it was Joey..."

"Joey has been here the longest," Naomi said, when it became obvious Rachel was finished speaking. "She was bound to Stefan already."

She saw my puzzlement because she explained, "That means she's almost one of them already. Everything except the actual changeover. The longer they stay bound before they die, the better the chance they'll rise again. Stefan is patient, his people almost always rise because he waits for years longer than most vampires."

She was telling me all this so she wouldn't have to go on with the story.


She nodded. "He was bound, just barely. It doesn't happen to all of us-but Daniel was still too new for the changeover to be certain. It was a miracle he survived. Stefan was so angry." She took a sip of coffee and grimaced. "I hate cold coffee." She took another sip anyway. "Andre did it on purpose, you know. One of those stupid one-upmanship games. He was terribly jealous of Stefan because Marsilia favored him-and at the same time he loved Stefan like a brother. So when he was angry he attacked one of us instead. Vampires don't usually care too much about the sheep in

"What happened to Joey?" I asked.

"She's dead," Naomi told her coffee cup.

"Permanently dead," Rachel said. "I thought it was her on the motorcycle. She was wearing a helmet, and she doesn't let anyone, not even Stefan, touch the hog. When I finally realized the rider wasn't tall enough to be her, I tried to run back to the house."

"She grabbed your arm?" I suggested. It wasn't a difficult guess, with the armband of bruises she wore.

Rachel nodded. "And covered my mouth so I couldn't scream. About then, a car drove up-one of the seethe cars."

Like the one Andre had driven last night. I worked on them from time to time in lieu of making a cash payment to the seethe. All the businesses in the greater Tri-Cities who weren't affiliated with more powerful groups paid protection money to the vampires. That's how I first met Stefan. He had helped me negotiate my payment from cash (which I couldn't afford) to work-mostly on his van, as it turned out, though I did the upkeep on the seethe's cars as well. They were Mercedes and BMWs, big, black sedans with dark, dark windows-just what you'd expect a bunch of vampires to drive.

"They popped open the trunk-and I thought they were going to shove me in, but it was worse than that. They already had Joey in there." She jumped up abruptly and ran from the room. I heard her throwing up.

"They killed Joey, cut off her head so she wouldn't ever become one of them." Naomi spoke evenly, but had to set down her coffee so she wouldn't spill it. "They told Rachel that we were to stay inside this house until they decided what to do with us. They didn't have to kill Joey to deliver that message. They could just have brought her back here-or one of them could have brought her over, the way Andre brought over Daniel."

"Rachel said 'she'. Was it Marsilia?" I asked.

Naomi shook her head. "It was the Teacher. Marsilia ... Stefan was a favorite of hers. I don't think she'd have killed one of us."

"The Teacher?" I asked.

"Her real name is Estelle-she reminds me of an evil Mary Poppins."

I knew the one she meant.

"They all have names among themselves," she explained. "Stefan was the Soldier, Andre is the Courtier. Stefan said it had to do with an old suspicion that if you spoke evil's name, you drew its attention. Stefan didn't believe in it, but some of the older vampires won't use real names when they talk of others."

"So Estelle," I said her name deliberately, "went against Marsilia's wishes?"

"No. Well, probably, but not against her orders."

"I'm trying to understand how the seethe works," I told her. "That's why I came here."

Rachel came back in the room looking even more pale than she had before. "I thought you were looking for Stefan?"

I nodded. They wouldn't care about Samuel and Adam. "I think... I think that there is more going on than just a vampire turned sorcerer. I wonder, for instance- who turned the sorcerer into a vampire."

"You think there's another vampire involved?" Naomi asked.

"Stefan said that the sorcerer was a new-made vampire. It occurred to me that his maker might be pulling the monster's strings. But I don't really know enough about vampires to make an educated guess."

"I do," Naomi said slowly, straightening in her chair. Something shifted in her face and I saw yesterday's competent woman take control. "I can help you, but there's a price."

"What price?" I asked.

I somehow doubted that she wanted me to sing for her; she didn't have Uncle Mike's sense of humor. And as the thought occurred to me, I finally figured out that once Uncle Mike claimed me as his guest, the fae couldn't do anything bad to me without challenging him-which was why the big woman had sighed in disappointment when Uncle Mike told them I was his guest, even as he condemned me to sing in front of the whole lot.

I was so lost in thought, I almost missed Naomi's answer to my question.

"You have connections to the werewolves. I want you to ask the Alpha to intercede for us. If Stefan is dead, then so are we. Marsilia will scatter us among the menageries of the other vampires who will imprison us until we die."

"All the other vampires kill their..." I almost said food and I couldn't think of any more diplomatic way to put it so I just stopped speaking.

She shook her head. "Not on purpose, but most of them don't have Stefan's control. But we are Stefan's. That means that their mind tricks won't work as well on us-and those of us who are bound like Joey... When a bound one is made over by someone they're not bound to, odd things happen. I've heard people say that's why Stefan was never properly subservient to Marsilia, that he was bound by a different vampire. They won't want to keep us around long."

"So if Stefan is permanently dead..."

She smiled bleakly at me. "We all die."

"And you believe the werewolves could do something about this?"

She nodded. " Marsilia owes them blood price. This sorcerer is a vampire-which makes him Marsilia's business. When the two werewolves joined the hunt they became her responsibility. Since one was hurt and the other-" she shrugged expressively. "If your Alpha asks us as his price, she'll give us to him."

"What about worries over your silence?" I asked.

"If we belong to the werewolves, our silence becomes their problem."

"I'll speak to the werewolves," I promised. "But I don't have much influence." Especially if Adam and Samuel were dead, too. The thought made it hard to breathe, so I shoved it away. "Tell me about the vampires and how the seethe operates."

Naomi gathered herself together visibly, and when she spoke she sounded like the professor she had apparently once been.

"I'll start from the general and then go to the specific, shall I? You understand that generalities do not account for variations-just because most vampires follow this pattern, doesn't mean that they all do."

"All right," I told her, wishing I had a notebook so I could take notes.

"A vampire likes to keep a food supply at hand, so they live with a small group of humans, usually anywhere from three to seven. Three are enough to provide food for a month before they die, seven is enough for six months-because if the vampires feed lightly on each, their prey lasts longer."

"There aren't forty people disappearing from the Tri-Cities every month," I protested. "And I know that Marsilia has more than ten vampires."

Naomi smiled grimly. "They don't hunt in their own territory. Stefan found me in Chicago teaching at Northwestern. Rachel's from Seattle. I think the only one of us Stefan found in the Tri-Cities was Daniel, and he was hitchhiking down from Canada."

For some reason, her speaking of Daniel made me glance over by the sink, but sometime while we'd been talking, the young man must have left. When I thought about it, I realized that I hadn't heard him for a while. It bothered me that I hadn't heard him leave.

"So the vampires have to continually replenish their menageries?"

"Most of them." Naomi nodded. "Stefan, as you know, does things differently. There are fourteen of us who live here, and maybe a dozen more who visit occasionally. Stefan doesn't usually kill his prey."

"Tommy," said Rachel in a small voice.

Naomi waved her hand dismissively. "Tommy was ill anyway." She looked at me. "When the fae came out, Stefan began to be concerned about the same things that caused the fae to reveal themselves. He told the seethe-and the ruling council of vampires-that they could no longer live as they were and expect to survive. He had already been maintaining a large menagerie because he didn't kill his people-he has a reputation for being softhearted. I'm told Marsilia thinks his concern for us is 'cute. " She gave me an ironic look.

"He began to experiment. To look for ways the vampire could benefit the human race. He found me dying of leukemia and offered me a chance at life."

I did some adding in my head and frowned at her. "Rachel said you were a professor and he found you about the time the fae came out. How old were you?"

She smiled. "Forty-one." That would mean she was in her sixties now-she didn't look it. She didn't look much older than I did. "Stefan already knew that longevity was something he could offer: one of his bound children had belonged to him for over a century before another vampire killed her."

"How does feeding a vampire make you live longer?" I asked.

"It's the exchange of blood," said Rachel. She put a finger against her lips and licked it suggestively. "He takes and then gives a little back. Since I started feeding, I've been able to see in the dark-I can even bend a tire iron." She glanced at me from under her lashes to see how I took her revelation.

Ick, I thought hard and she frowned at me as if my reaction disappointed her. Maybe she expected me to be more horrified-or intrigued.

"And my leukemia has been in remission since 1981," Naomi added prosaically. "Joey said she was always a little psychic, but after she became Stefan's she could move things without touching them."

"Not much," said Rachel. "All she could do was wiggle a spoon across the table."

"So vampires can heal diseases?" I asked.

Naomi shook her head. "With blood-borne diseases the vampires help a lot, things like sickle-cell anemia and a host of lesser known stuff. Stefan had some success with some of the autoimmune diseases, like MS and HIV. Except for the leukemia, though, Stefan found that he couldn't help cancer patients-or full-blown AIDS patients like Tommy, either."

"So Stefan was trying to create a politically correct vampire?" I asked. The idea was mind boggling. "I can see the headlines, Maligned Vampire Only Wants to Save People. Or better yet, Vampire Estates- Come to our modern community compound. We'll heal your ills, make you stronger, and give you eternal life!"

" Join us for lunch," contributed Rachel with a toothy smile.

Naomi gave me a dry look. "He's not that ambitious, I don't think. And he's run into problems."

" Marsilia?"

" Mmm." Naomi looked thoughtful. "For a long time Marsilia was more of a figurehead than a leader. Stefan said she was pouting because she was exiled. After last winter, she began noticing more. He was hoping for her support in his efforts. Hoping she could push some of the others into more humane treatment of their menageries."

"But...?" I started.

" But there are a lot of problems with what Stefan is trying to do. First of all, not many vampires can afford to support as many people as he is-and any less than twelve of us and we start dying. And too, most vamps cannot control as many people as Stefan. There aren't many vampires who can make their sheep love them." She looked pointedly at Rachel as she said the last sentence.

"Stefan says that the biggest problem is self-control." Rachel said, ignoring Naomi. "Vampires are predators. They kill things."

Naomi nodded. "A lot of them choose not to control themselves, they say it ruins the enjoyment of their meal. But all of them lose control sometimes when they are feeding. Even Stefan." For a moment I caught a glimpse of horror in her eyes, but she lowered her eyelids and banished it. "The longer a person belongs to a vampire, the harder it is for the vampire to keep from killing him. Stefan says that with the bound ones the urge to kill is very, very strong-and it only gets worse with time. He used to send Joey off to her family in Reno for months on end. The urge affects all vampires, not just the one the person is bound to. That's why Stefan didn't kill Andre outright. Daniel was bound-it could have been accidental."

"Andre's menageries don't last very long." Rachel told me. "He's never created a vampire except for Daniel because he kills them before their time."

I don't know what she saw in my face, only heard her start to speak quickly-something to the effect that Andre wasn't evil. "...not like Estelle or some of the others who like to play with their food."

But I wasn't listening to her, I was looking at Daniel's tear-streaked face. I'd only met him the once, and I recognized his scent more than his features. He was standing behind Rachel, looking at me and whispering. It took me a few seconds to realize that it had been him I'd seen curled up by the sink. I hadn't recognized his scent then, but the dead don't always appear to all my senses.

Then I realized what he was saying and stopped fretting about why I hadn't realized who he was the first time I'd seen him.

"He ate me," he whispered in a quietly frantic voice. "He ate me." Over and over.

"Where?" I asked coming to my feet. "Where is he, Daniel?"

But it was no use. Daniel was no Mrs. Hanna, who had died quietly and gone on with her usual routine. Some ghosts have urgent business to conduct-stopping over for a few minutes to leave a final message of love, or anger, with someone important. Some of them, especially the ones who died in traumatic ways, are caught in the moment of their death. Those are the most common kind-like Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who runs screaming in the halls of the Tower of London.

"Daniel?" I asked, though his lack of reaction had robbed me of some of my urgency.

Rachel had quit speaking, hopped off her stool, and looked at Daniel. Naomi was just staring at me.

He faded after a moment more, and even after I couldn't see him anymore his voice lingered.

"Did you see him?" whispered Rachel.

"That's a cruel trick to play," Naomi snapped at me.

I looked at her. "You live with vampires and don't believe in ghosts?" I asked.

"Daniel's dead," Rachel whispered.

I nodded. I wondered how a vampire could be a ghost-weren't they already dead? I was starting to get punchy from lack of sleep.

Naomi turned to the girl, "Rachel-"

"I saw him, too," she said hollowly. "Just for a moment, but it was him. If Daniel's dead... Stefan wouldn't let anything happen to him, not if he were alive." She looked around a little wildly and then left the room. I heard her quick footsteps up the stairs.

"What did he tell you?" I couldn't tell by her words if Naomi believed me or not, but it didn't really matter.

"Nothing." I decided not to share what he had said. It wouldn't help anyone here, and it didn't sound as if Rachel had heard him. I got up and opened cupboards at random until I found a glass. I filled it with water and drank, pretending my throat was dry because I was thirsty, not because I was scared. Had the sorcerer really eaten Daniel?

Unwelcome, the memory of Littleton killing the woman at the hotel hit me as a full-throttle flashback: sight, smell, and sound. Just for a moment, but for that moment I was back in the hotel room. I must not have acted strangely, because when I turned back to Naomi she wasn't looking at me like she'd have stared at someone who'd screamed. I set the glass carefully down on the counter.

"If vampires live in their menageries," I said, proud of my steady tone, "who lives in the seethe?"

"Only the strongest vampires can live on their own and survive purely on human blood. All the others live in the seethe. They are the Mistress's menagerie," Naomi told me after a moment.

I worked it out. "She feeds on the vampires?"

Naomi nodded. "And gives them a little, very little, blood in return. Without that blood, the weaker vampires would die-and only the Mistress is allowed to feed other vampires and feed from them. She keeps humans there, to nourish them all, but without her, the lesser vampires would die."

"Allowed to feed?" I asked. "If there is a rule against it, that must mean that she gains something from feeding off vampires."

"Yes. I'm not sure what-strength and power, I think. And the ability to limit the actions even of those vampires she didn't directly beget. She made Stefan, and, I think Andre. But Estelle and most of the others aren't hers. When she quit paying attention to the seethe, Stefan and Andre ran things for her. But some of the older vampires became unruly."

"Estelle and Bernard," I suggested remembering the man in the dapper suit.

Naomi nodded. "The four of them, Stefan, Andre, Estelle, and Bernard are the only vampires strong enough to live outside the seethe. Stefan says that once they can live without feeding from the Mistress, vampires start to get territorial, so they're sent out to gain their own menageries." She paused. "Five, actually. The Wizard lives on his own."

"The Wizard?" I asked.

She nodded her head. " Wulfe. You've seen him because Stefan said he was present at the trial. He looks younger than Daniel and has white blond hair."

The boy who'd worked the magic on the chair.

"While Marsilia wasn't paying attention, Estelle and Bernard managed to make a few new vampires and kept them to themselves."

"They're feeding off the new vamps," I said, following her story. "That makes them more powerful than they otherwise would be."

"Right. This part I'm not certain of."


"There's some reason that Marsilia can't take the new vampires from them. I think it's because once the new vampires have exchanged blood with their maker a few times, they'll sicken and maybe die without the blood of that particular vampire. Vampires reproduce very slowly so they are very careful with new ones-even if it means that Bernard and Estelle gain power that Marsilia cannot afford for them to have."

"So," Naomi continued, "there's dissension in the ranks. Stefan believed that Marsilia is losing her grip on the seethe. No one is in outright rebellion, but the Mistress is not in absolute control either."

"What does the addition of the sorcerer do to her position?" I asked, and she smiled at me like a student who'd come to the right conclusion.

"A vampire is in town causing trouble," she said. "It's a matter for Marsilia to handle-but this one has proven stronger than Stefan. Vampires... the older they get the more afraid they are of death. Stefan told me that he thought the reason she sent only him out after the sorcerer wasn't to punish him-but because she could send no one else because they wouldn't go. Of the five most powerful vampires, only Stefan and Andre are truly hers."

So she really had been desperate when she came to me.

"Why doesn't Marsilia go after him herself. She's the Mistress and the most powerful of them all."

Naomi pursed her lips. "Would your Alpha go after such a dangerous creature when he had warriors to fight in his stead?"

"He already has," I told her. "An Alpha who counts on others to fight his battles doesn't stay Alpha long."

"He's not dead." I turned at the sound of a masculine voice behind me.

The man who filled the doorway looked to be somewhere in his fifties, with an underlying strength buried beneath his somewhat thickened midsection. I glanced at his hands and was unsurprised to see them roughened from a lifetime of hard work. Like me, this was a man who'd made his living with his hands.

"Who's not dead, Ford?" Naomi asked, but he ignored her entirely.

His bright eyes on mine, he took another step into the room. I couldn't look away from his gaze. "He's not dead," he said intensely. "If he were dead, the threshold would be gone. I was here when Andre couldn't get through. Only Stefan made this a home. I'd know if he were dead."

"Stop it, Ford," Naomi said sharply and the scent of her fear distracted me from Ford's brilliant, liquid-crystal gaze.

I blinked and jerked my gaze away. It was still daylight, so Ford couldn't be a vampire-but I was guessing he was the next thing to it.

He grabbed my arm and hauled me off the stool with less effort that it should have taken. I was used to big men-Samuel was over six feet tall, but this man made me feel small. He didn't know how to fight though, because I didn't have any trouble breaking his grip.

I took two steps back and Naomi put herself between us.

"Daniel is gone," I told him. "I saw his ghost myself. Warren, one of the werewolves who was with Stefan, was badly injured and left for the pack to find. I don't know how our other wolf is or Stefan either. I intend to find out."

Naomi stepped closer and patted him on the chest. " Shhh. It's all right." Her soothing tones were very close to what Adam used on his new wolves when they became overset. "You might want to go now, Mercedes," she said in the same soothing tones. "Ford is one of the bound."

And that meant more than his being able to become a vampire when he died, I saw. The brightness of his eyes wasn't some genetic fluke, but the precursor to the glowing gems I'd seen vampires display in anger or lust.

He grabbed Naomi impatiently, I think to thrust her aside so he could get to me. But she tilted her head and presented the side of her neck to him, and he hesitated, clearly caught by the sight of her pulse.

If she'd been merely afraid, I'd have stayed there and tried to help her-but her eagerness for him was uncomfortably strong. I turned and left as he bent for her neck.

I was a half mile from Stefan's house before I took my first full breath. I'd learned a lot there, more than I'd expected-and nothing that would help me find Littleton. I'd no idea where the other vampire menageries were, and even if I did, I doubted that the sorcerer would be living with his master-assuming Littleton 's maker was one of Marsilia's vampires. There were any number of vampires who might have made the sorcerer to cause trouble for Marsilia. Or a vampire from another seethe might have noticed the trouble she was in, and sent the sorcerer to soften the seethe up in preparation for a hostile takeover.

All of that was Marsilia's problem and not mine. I needed to find out where the sorcerer was.

I was fully engaged in fruitless speculation and it wasn't until I was guiding the Rabbit down the twisty drop from the hills back down into the alluvial plain of east Kennewick that I realized I'd driven halfway home.

Maybe Warren knew what had sent Adam and Samuel after Littleton. I headed for Adam's house. It had only been a few hours but werewolves heal very fast once they're able to change.

The werewolf I'd had to argue with last night was back on door duty, but he dropped his eyes and opened the front door without arguing. There were a few of the pack draped over the couches in the living room, but no one I was particularly friendly with.


Jesse was in the kitchen, a cup of hot chocolate clutched in her hands.

"Has your father or Samuel called?" I asked, though the answer was obvious from her face.

She shook her head. "Darryl said you were looking for them." Her tone asked me a whole slew of questions. What kind of danger was her father in? Why was it me looking for him and not the whole pack?

"How is Warren?" I asked because I didn't have any answers I wanted to tell Adam's daughter.

"Still bad," she told me. "Darryl is worried he's not going to make it because he's not healing like he should be, and he won't eat."

"I need to see if I can talk with him."

I left Jesse to her cocoa and her worries.

The door to the basement was shut, but I opened it without knocking. Anyone likely to be in the room, with the possible exception of Kyle, would have heard me talking to Jesse. Darryl's dark eyes met mine from the rocking chair he sat in. I stood in the doorway and stared into his eyes.

"Mercy?" Kyle's voice was strained and he sounded almost as tired as I felt.

"Just a moment," I murmured without taking my eyes off of Darryl. I don't know why he felt he had to challenge me right now-but I didn't want to be taking orders from him today.

Finally Darryl looked down. It wasn't submissive as much as it was dismissive, but it was good enough for me. I turned away from him without a word and walked over to the barred wall that Kyle was still leaning against.

"What's wrong?" Kyle asked.

"Stupid werewolf games." I crouched in front of the cage door. Warren had changed back into human form. He was curled up with his back to us. Someone had thrown a blanket over him. "Darryl's just a little confused right now."

Darryl snorted.

I didn't look at him but I felt my lips curl in sympathy. "Following a coyote would stick in any wolf's craw," I said. "Sitting around when there's things that need doing is worse. If Darryl were a lesser wolf, he'd have killed me when I walked into the room."

Darryl's snort evolved into an honest laugh. "You're not in any danger from me, Mercy. Confused though I might be."

I risked a glance and relaxed because Darryl'd lost the look of lazy readiness and appeared merely exhausted.

I smiled at him. "Can Warren talk?"

Darryl shook his head. "Samuel said he thought it would be a few days. Apparently there was some damage to his throat. I don't know what effect changing had on his prognosis. He won't eat."

"He talked in his sleep," Kyle told me.

He was watching Darryl without bothering to conceal his dislike. Darryl had always had a problem with Warren, even before he'd found out Warren wasn't subservient to him. Dominant wolves were always prickly around each other, unless one of them was the Alpha. It meant that Darryl tended to be nastily autocratic when Warren was around.

"What did he say?" Darryl snapped, his chair rolling abruptly forward.

"Nothing that matters to you," Kyle replied, uncaring of the danger of irritating a werewolf.

I was more interested in the way Warren 's shoulders were tightening.

"You're going to disturb him if you start fighting," I said. "Darryl, have you heard from Bran?"

He nodded, his attention still focused on Kyle. "He's coming up. He's got some business to finish so he won't be able to get here until late tonight."

"Good," I said. "I want you to go up and eat something."

He looked at me, surprised.

I smiled. "A hungry werewolf is a cranky werewolf. Go eat something before you eat somebody."

He stood up and stretched, the stiffness in his movement told me that he'd been in that chair for a very long time.

I waited until he was gone then opened the door of the cell.

"I've spent most of the last few hours with Darryl telling me that wasn't a good idea," commented Kyle.

"Probably isn't," I agreed. "But Warren listened to me this morning."

I sat on the end of the mattress and pulled the blanket down so it covered Warren 's feet better. Then I crawled onto it between the wall and Warren.

His face was just a few inches from mine and I saw his battered nostrils flutter a little and breathed into them so he'd know it was me. The hours since I'd last seen him hadn't improved his appearance any, his bruises had darkened and his nose and lips were more swollen. Darryl was right: he should be healing faster than this.

But Kyle said he had spoken.

"It's all right," I told Warren. "It's just Kyle and me here."

His lashes moved and one eye opened just a slit then closed.

"Adam and Samuel are missing," I told him. "Daniel is dead."

His eye opened a little and he made a soft noise.

"Was he alive when you last saw him?" A shift that might have been a nod. I reached up and touched a place on his cheek that looked unbruised and he relaxed infinitesimally.

Among the wolves, body language can tell me almost as much as words.

"Did you tell Adam and Samuel where to find Littleton?" I asked.

Warren 's heart rate picked up and he shifted on the bed, his eye opened again and a tear of pure frustration spilled over.

I touched his lips. " Shh. Shh. Not you. I see. But someone told them."

He stared at me, tormented.

"Do you know where they went?"

"Samuel got a phone call last night before they left," said Kyle.

Dumbfounded I lifted my head to stare at Kyle who was kneeling on the floor on the other side of Warren 's bed. "Why didn't you tell anyone?"

"Darryl didn't ask," he said. "He assumed I was sleeping the whole time-and wasn't in the mood to listen when I tried to talk to him. I should have told you earlier today-but to be quite honest, I was a little distracted."

I relaxed back on the bed. Damned werewolves. I suppose it never even occurred to Darryl to pay attention to a human. Darryl had a PhD, damn it. You'd think he'd be smart enough to pay attention to a man with the brains to be one of the top attorneys in the state, an attorney moreover with an Ivy League education.

"If you think being a human around them is frustrating, you should try being a coyote," I told him. "So what did Samuel say?" I didn't have much hope of anything useful. If he'd said where they were going, for instance, Kyle wouldn't have let pride keep him from giving Darryl the information.

"Samuel didn't have a chance to say anything to whoever called. They called, said a few sentences, and hung up. Samuel grabbed Adam and said, ' Let's go. "

I gave him a rueful look. "They ignored you, too."

He smiled at me this time, a tired smile. "I'm not used to being ignored."

"Irks me when they do it to me, too." I shifted my gaze back to Warren. "Did you hear what the caller said?"

I didn't expect he had, so his stillness took me by surprise.

His battered mouth tried to shape a word. I listened carefully but it was Kyle, leaning over the bed, who caught it.


" Warren, I know the werewolves have to stay away from Littleton," I told him. "Did he call them and get them to come to him?"

He moved his head just enough for an affirmative.

"Did you hear where?" He lay unmoving. " Warren, I won't let any of the wolves go near him. Neither Kyle nor I will tell the pack where they are, not until Bran gets here. I'll just tell the vampires-it's their problem in the first place."

He tried but neither Kyle nor I could tell what he said. Finally Kyle said, "Look, it's obviously not a yes or a no. Warren, my dear, did you hear part of it?"

Clearly exhausted by his efforts, Warren nodded. He relaxed and said one thing more.

"Church?" I said and saw by Warren 's face I'd gotten it right. "That's all?" I touched his face as he relaxed. "Go back to sleep, Warren. We'll make sure Bran knows everything."

He gave a shuddering sigh and relaxed fully into unconsciousness.

"Kyle, would you make sure to tell Bran this much when he gets here? He should be here late tonight or early tomorrow morning." I got out of Warren 's bed as carefully as I could.

"All right. What are you going to be doing?"

I rubbed my face. It had taken a lot of willpower to crawl out of that bed when my whole body wanted to curl up with Warren and sleep. "If I can find out where Littleton is before nightfall, I might be able to kill him." With the handy-dandy vampire-killing kit in the trunk of my car.

"Can I help?"

"Only by staying here with Warren. See if you can get him to eat when he stirs again."

Kyle looked at Warren and his face held none of its usual sardonic humor when he said, "When you find the bastard who did this, kill him and make it hurt."

I made him get up and come out of the cell with me. I didn't think Warren would hurt him, but I wasn't willing to take the chance.

My cell phone rang. It was Tony.

"You won't believe this," he said. "And I don't know if it helps."

"What?" I asked.

"The daytime incidents-with a few outliers-are in Kennewick. There's a broad pattern that seems to be centered around the KPD."

"The police station?" I asked.

"That's right. Although I suppose it could just as easily be centered around Kennewick High or your place, for that matter. But the police station's right in the middle."

"How broad's the pattern?" I asked.

"About three, three and a half miles. Some of the incidents are across the river in Paseo. There are outliers-our specialist tells me that there are enough to be significant. A few in Richland, Benton City and Burbank. Does this help?"

"I don't know," I told him. "Maybe. Thanks, Tony. I owe you a few favors for this."

"Just stop this thing."

"I'll do my best."

I met Darryl at the top of the stairs.

"You were right," he told me. "Food helped."

" Mmm," I said. "Samuel got a call last night. Warren doesn't know where they went, though."

" Warren 's awake and talking?"

I shook my head. "I wouldn't call it talking, and he's asleep again. It was Kyle who heard the phone call. As he apparently tried to tell you." I watched it sink in. "You might think about listening to Kyle," I told him gently, then to let him off the hook, I asked, "Do you know why my being able to talk to ghosts would scare the vampires?"

He grunted a negative. "I don't see how that would help. Last I heard, ghosts avoid evil." He walked past me without touching me.

I don't think he even realized what he'd given me.

Ghosts are not people. No matter how well Mrs. Hanna conversed, she was still just a memory of the person she had been.

I was so stupid.

She'd told me that she changed her routine and all I'd thought was how sad it was, because without her usual habits she'd probably fade quickly. I hadn't wondered why she'd changed her routine. Ghosts, pattern ghosts, just don't do that. Someone had told her to, she'd said-I couldn't remember who, just that it was a man's name. Her route wandered all over Kennewick. If the sorcerer was in Kennewick, she might have run into him.

Jesse looked up from the kitchen table as I ran down the stairs. "Mercy? Did you find out something."

"Maybe," I told her as I kept going to the door. "I have to find someone though." I looked at my watch. Eight twenty-seven. I had an hour and a half before dark-if the sorcerer had to wait for full dark to awaken.

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