“Good question.”

Eve shook a finger at her. “Don’t you try to throw me off, CB.

My point is, I’m strong even if I’m on my own.”

“I know. But you have to admit, we’re all much stronger if we stick together.” Claire risked a quick grin. “Besides, why should you have all the fun?”

“If by fun you mean total war , you might have a point. It is a little selfish not to share. Because I intend to unleash hell if anybody even thinks of telling me that Michael can’t walk out of there,” Eve said.

She drained the quarter cup of coffee, and Claire noticed she was drinking it black. That, for Eve, was kind of a danger sign; her coffee preferences varied by her mood, and black was her hard- core extreme. Claire added cream and sugar to her own, stirred, and blew on it to cool it before tasting. Anything to kill a little more time.

“What about the rest of them?” Claire asked. “Amelie. Myrnin.

Even Oliver. Do they deserve to be trapped in there with shock collars on their necks? God, you saw the place. That’s not a prison, it’s— it’s a holding pen.”

Eve stopped, eyes widening. “Holding pen for what?”

“God. I don’t even want to guess. The Daylighters want vam- pires dead, right? Abominations against nature, and all that.


They’ve never made any secret of it, never mind what Fallon says about it. He’s the face guy, the one who makes everybody feel bet- ter about herding people into enclaves.”

“They’ve got plenty of support, too,” Eve pointed out. “I think that now that the vamps have been shuffled offstage, nobody’s go- ing to think much about what happens to them, as long as they don’t have to watch it happen. Even then, I’m not sure that most of them wouldn’t simply justify the hell out of it.”

Claire shivered. Eve was right about that. Human nature was all about shifting blame . . . and responsibility. How else could you explain concentration camps and genocide and all the awful things people did to each other every day? They just carried on life and pretended like the evil didn’t exist, as long as it was happening out of their direct view.

Morganville’s human population wasn’t any different. Didn’t really matter if something was right, as long as it was of material benefit and it happened to someone they hated.

“You think they’ll kill them?” Claire asked.

“Don’t you?” Eve took a larger gulp of her coffee. “Screw that.

I’m not going to be a bystander, wringing my hands. I’m doing some- thing. Right now. You guys can jump in, or stay out. Either way.”

“Hang on, didn’t I say we were coming?” Claire said. “You know Shane would never avoid a good fight, and I’m not going to turn my back on this, either. But let’s be smart about it, okay? That means thinking through it. Calmly.”

“I’m so done with calm,” Eve said. She dumped the rest of her coffee in the sink, put the cup down with a clatter, and hauled the backpack up to rest on her shoulder. “Diplomacy is your crack, Claire. It isn’t mine. I’m more of a straight- ahead kind of girl, and right now, I’m going right into their faces. With my fist.”

Claire sighed. She chugged the rest of her coffee, even though it was too hot and too bitter, and rinsed the cups. The spaghetti din- ner remains were still crusted up on plates, and she dumped those all in and ran hot water with a spray of soap. Just in case they didn’t die and might need something to eat off of later.

“Let me get my stuff,” she said. “Don’t go without me.”

“Five minutes,” Eve said. “Then I’m out.”


Claire took the stairs two at a time, and ran into Shane sitting at the top; he’d clearly been listening. They exchanged a look, and he grabbed her hand. “I want to help,” he said. “I do, you know that. But if I go back there . . . Shit, Claire, I don’t know what would happen. No, actually, the problem is that I do know exactly what would happen, and it wouldn’t help either one of you.”

She bent and kissed him, very lightly. “Then stay here,” she said. “But I have to go with her and try to stop her from doing something crazy. You know I do.”

“Can’t we just knock her over the head and dump her in a closet until she cools off?” His jaw was tight, his dark eyes fierce, but he wasn’t angry with her. It was all directed inward, at his own problems. “I feel crap useless right now, you know? And sick of being somebody else’s butt- puppet.”

“Seriously? Butt- puppet?”

“Seems appropriate.”

“Then fix it,” she said. “Shane, I know you. You’re smart.

Think how you can use this, not let it use you.”

He laughed a little, and it sounded raw, but real. “You’re way too good for me, you know that?”

She put his hand against her cheek and smiled. “I know. Got to go gear up—” She realized, too late, that all her gear was gone.

Even her backpack was missing now, because it had been towed away by the cops with the vans. “Um . . . right. I assume you’ve got some good stuff tucked away?”

“Me?” Shane stood up in one smooth, fluid movement, and for a moment she felt that gravitational shift again, pulling her in.

“You know me. I’m a Boy Scout. Always prepared.”

“Show me your goodies, then,” Claire said, and caught herself in a laugh. “By which I mean—”

“I know what you mean,” he said, and leaned in very close to whisper in her ear. “Though if you’ve got a few minutes—”

She shivered, tempted in some utterly instinct- driven part of her, but she shook her head. “Later,” she said, just as softly. “Why are we whispering?”

“Because it turns you on?”

“Oh, and it doesn’t you? Because that’s a little obvious.”

He cleared his throat and stepped back, held his hands palm out in surrender, and said, in a normal tone of voice, “Okay, then, armory it is. Buzz killer.”

She smacked him on the arm, which of course did absolutely nothing except hurt her own palm, and followed him down the hallway to his room.

“Wow,” she said as he swung the door open. “I thought you moved out when you followed me.”

“I did,” he said. “This is what I didn’t take with me.”

What he hadn’t taken was pretty much a complete room, right down to the twisted sheets still on the bed. Clothes in the closet.

Much- abused cross trainers and heavy work boots piled in the corner. Shane went to a chest in the corner and pulled open the first drawer.

“Have at it,” he said. “See, want, take.”

Shane was a slob in his room— seriously— but in the way he kept and stored his weapons, he was meticulous. The top drawer held silver things— chains, jewelry, weapons. Claire took a silver- coated dagger, chains for her throat and wrists, and skipped the rest. He closed that drawer and went down one, revealing a selec- tion of guns that, even given that they lived in Texas, was probably excessive. She shook her head. He raised his eyebrows, but went down another drawer.

Crossbow. She liked that. It was one of the small, light ones, easy to aim and with surprising power, and she grabbed the bolts that went with it.

“Can I interest you in an honest- to- God army flak jacket?” he asked, and kicked the bottom drawer. “Guaranteed effective, but it’d probably be way too big for you. Plus, it’s not exactly easy to get up if you go down. Sort of the overturned- turtle problem.

Matching helmet, though, so at least you look cool while you’re flopping around helplessly getting murderated.”

She shook her head. He stepped forward, took her head be- tween his big, warm hands, and tilted her chin up so that their eyes met. “You need to figure out how to stop her from doing this, you know?”

“I know,” she said. “I’d just rather be fully armed while I do it.

In case.”

He kissed her, very gently. “I’ve got your back. Way back, obvi- ously. Just— don’t ask me to go too close to the vamps right now, okay? Including Michael. I don’t want to hurt him.” He meant that, she knew it— for all that had happened between them, all the strangeness, he and Michael were at heart brothers and best friends, and always would be.

Without Shane, Claire knew that stopping Eve— not to men- tion protecting her— would be severely challenging; Eve was a madwoman when she was determined about something, and she was never more determined about anything than about Michael.

They were going to need help. Without Hannah on their side, and with the vampires out of reach, Claire tried to imagine who might be willing and able to jump . . . and failed, at least until she felt a small shiver of air press by her and was reminded of something.

“Shane,” she said, “have you seen Miranda since we got back?”

The Glass House was complicated. It wasn’t just a house, and hadn’t been for a long time. It had a certain power to it, a certain sentience that Claire couldn’t explain, except that it must have come from what Myrnin did to the town to make it safe for the vampires. The thirteen original Founder Houses had all been linked— a kind of active transportation and defensive network that Claire couldn’t define, still, as anything but magical. Few of those remained now, but the Glass House was the first, and still the strongest. It had the capability of doing crazy stuff, but the most striking was that it could choose to save people who died within its walls. Michael, at first. Then Claire, briefly. And most recently, teen psychic Miranda, who had sacrificed herself so that Claire could live.

But Miranda, already psychic before her death, had powers that the rest of them didn’t have; her abilities allowed her to go outside of the walls of the house, and sustain herself in real human form out there, too. But she still lived here— was trapped here, in a very real sense, because she couldn’t stay away indefinitely.

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