For answer, Hannah unbuttoned the crisply starched sleeve of her uniform shirt and rolled it up, revealing a jagged bite mark that looked every bit as inflamed and angry as the one Shane had been hiding. “Some of us don’t have a choice,” she said. “Either I’m his hunting dog or I’m his dog handler. He keeps the instincts in check with a medication he gives me. Without that, I’m just an- other one of the pack.” She nodded at Shane as she refastened her sleeve buttons. “Like you, kid.”

“Wait a second, I’m not part of any—”

“No?” Hannah cocked her head at him. “Only because Fallon hasn’t bothered to make use of you yet. He hasn’t needed to. But he will, Shane. He certainly did me, and others.”

“How many others?” Eve asked. “And what do you mean, ex- actly, about him making use of them? Because if there’s anything I hate more than vamp mind control, it’s mind control by somebody who isn’t a vamp.”

Hannah’s dark eyes flashed toward her, suddenly hot with an- ger that had, Claire realized, been simmering under the surface the whole time. “You’ve got no idea,” she said. “I just got my life back from one vampire’s mind games, and now to have this son of a bitch doing this. . . . You think I don’t hate it? Don’t want to rip his head off? Fact is, I can’t. I can’t even raise a hand to him. It’s part of the— the programming.” The woman was generally so controlled that it took Claire aback, seeing her lose it even that small amount. There was a tremendous tide of rage under that surface of calm. Rage and frustration.

“How many?” Shane asked. “In the pack?”

“Six,” Hannah said. “Including you and me. I don’t know if we were just unlucky, or if somehow those dogs of his were pro- grammed to target specific individuals. I’d like to think he picked us because . . . because we’re the ones most capable of fighting him, as humans.”

Shane swallowed hard. “Yeah, I’ll do my best to take it as a compliment,” he said. “But how do I handle this? What do I do?”

“Stay away from vampires,” she said. “Which ought to be pretty easy to do, now that they’re in the enclave— and yes, I hate using that word. But if you feel a surge of what you felt back there, you’ll know he’s activated you for a hunt. Once that happens . . . once that happens, you won’t be yourself.”

“What do you mean, ‘won’t be himself’?” Claire asked, but Hannah just shook her head and changed the subject.


“Eve, I’m keeping an eye on Michael, I promise you that. I am trying to make sure they all stay safe. Right now, the best way to do that is to keep them confined and compliant.”

“Are you still Captain Obvious?” Eve asked. “Which side are you on? Because I don’t get you, Hannah. I really don’t.”

“Captain Obvious won,” Hannah said. “That’s the problem— none of us really thought about what we’d do if we managed to de- feat the vampires and take control. We never thought about what we would do with them— what kind of future they’d have. So in a certain sense, I no longer get myself anymore.” She seemed sad about it, and angry, and there was a moment of silence before she continued. “Now, all of you, please go home. Shane, there’s noth- ing that can be done about what you’re feeling, but if you find yourself struggling, just— stay as far from any vampires as you can. That will help.”

Shane leaned on her desktop and looked her straight in the eye this time. “Why does he need a pack of people pre- programmed to hunt down vampires, Hannah?”

“For strays,” she said. “Not all the vampires are going to stay in the mall. Eventually, they’ll get out, and he will need to track them down. That’s where you— where we— come in.”

That was the end of the meeting. She crossed to the door, opened it, and there didn’t seem to be any choice but to leave, with Officer Friendly scowling at them from the outer office. The receptionist ignored them with stubborn intensity as she an- swered more calls . . . and then they were out in the hall, and Shane was restlessly rubbing his arm and looking more disturbed than ever.

“Did that help?” Claire asked him. He shook his head.

Eve said, “At least we know he’s not the only crazy one in town.

Come on, Dog Soldier. Let’s go.”

They spent about an hour cruising Morganville, noting the changes. A lot of it was cosmetic— buildings painted, roads re- paired. But there were also new places going up all over town, and it was Shane who pointed out the Daylighters symbol that was cropping up on nearly all the business signs or store windows. As if they were proudly saying, No vampires al owed.

But oddest of all were the people. So many Morganville natives out and about, walking, chatting, taking their kids to the small municipal park. Shopping. It looked so damn normal that it gave Claire the creeps, because their body language was completely dif- ferent now. It wasn’t the Morganville she’d gotten so used to see- ing; that much was certain. Where before, people had walked with a kind of guarded, reflexive awareness of what was around them, these folks were almost giddy about not looking paranoid. Oblivi-ous. Safe.

It was an improvement, she knew that; people felt happy and safe— their smiles just radiated it. But then why do I fe l so bad? Claire was afraid that maybe she just didn’t want change, even change for the better. But that wasn’t it; she’d rolled with a lot of changes in Morganville thus far.

This was something deeper, and more disturbing.

They just want the vampires gone. They don’t care how it happens. So all those happy smiles, they were the smiles of the winners of a very long, slow, quiet war. The dead weren’t around to bother their con- sciences. Whatever Fallon did, he would do offstage, in the dark, and they’d never have to confront any of it.

Claire knew it wasn’t maybe rational to want to save the vam- pires; after all, they’d been the bogeymen under Morganville’s bed for generations, and they’d been responsible for so many bad things. But individual vampires had been responsible. Wasn’t blaming an entire group for the acts of a few wrong?

Does that make me the vil ain now? She wondered that with a chill, left out from the smiles, the warmth, the camaraderie. The all-human, all- new Morganville. Am I the one who’s going to be responsible for ruining everything for these people? She found herself holding Shane’s hand as they drove around.

His skin still felt hot, and she wondered if maybe Hannah was wrong— if his bite could be infected, not just . . . engineered that way. Maybe he just needed antibiotics. They ended up facing supernatural weirdness so often, it was easy to forget that plain old bacteria could screw up a person just as much.

When she proposed that they stop in at the hospital, though, he rejected that out of hand. “Not worth it,” he said. “I’m okay, Claire. Really.” He wasn’t. But she didn’t push him, because she knew it wouldn’t help.

Eve pulled the hearse up the drive and around to the back of the house, into their small, rickety shed/garage, which was not really big enough for it. Michael had remote- parked his vampmobile— provided by Morganville free of charge to all the vampires, in the until recently days— since Eve’s hearse had heavy vampire tinting on the back windows where he could shelter when he needed to.

None of the rest of them could drive Michael’s car, anyway, because of the thick black windshield and windows, so for now, best they left it where it was, parked underground beneath Founder’s Square.

But not seeing Michael’s car here, wedged in beside Eve’s . . . it just seemed significant. And it made Claire shiver to think it might never be parked here again.

Coming in through the kitchen reminded her that they hadn’t properly cleaned up from the Great Spaghetti Disaster, but she didn’t care just now, and clearly, neither did Shane or Eve, who ignored the destruction on their way through. She fol- lowed. They both went upstairs. At the top, Eve opened the door of the room she now shared with Michael, looked in, and was still for a moment before she said, “I’m going to get online and see what I can find out.” Then she went in and quietly shut the door behind her.

Shane stood for a few seconds, his head down, and then said, “I need a shower. See you in a few, okay?”

“Okay,” Claire said. She wished he would have said something else, something more significant, but she also understood the need to be alone. Eve was walling herself off so she could both work through how she was feeling and do something productive.

Shane . . . well, obviously, he needed to think, too.

And all of them needed showers, that was true. Self- evidently, aromatically true.

She went to her bedroom and sat down on the bed. The famil- iar creak of the springs made her feel at home, but most of her stuff was still stuck back in Cambridge. She would need to figure that out eventually, she supposed. Need to think how to get her clothes back, and her books, and all the photos she’d taken with her.

She hadn’t taken everything, at least; there were still a few pairs of underwear, a bra that had seen better days, a couple of pairs of jeans, and some older shirts. She assembled an outfit from the slim choices, then dug a pair of sheets out of the linen closet in the hall and put them on the bed— more for something to do than any intent to sleep.

When all that was done, she stretched out on the bed and lis- tened to the sound of the shower running. When it stopped, she gathered up her things and waited at the door. Shane appeared there after a few minutes, wrapped in a towel that showed a blin- dingly gorgeous span of chest and shoulders, and rode low enough on his hips to make her helplessly fill in the rest of the information in a rush of memory. She pulled in a sharp, needy breath as he pushed his damp hair back from his face and gave her a smile.

“What?” he asked.

“I— my turn.” She felt the color in her cheeks, and knew it was ridiculous, but she couldn’t help it. This . . . this felt like coming home, this sweet tension that suddenly pulled between them, a gravity that it was so easy to obey. Despite everything, all the insanity and fear and general weirdness of Morganville, they had this, and it was torturously beautiful.

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