Shane was shaking his head. “No. Haven’t seen the kid, which is weird. Should have thought about her earlier, but she just kind of keeps to herself.”

“I think she might be useful,” Claire said. “And besides, she’s probably lonely, don’t you think?”

“Lonely isn’t the worst problem someone in Morganville can have. But check the third floor. She made that her space up there after you left.”

The third floor didn’t exist. Shane was referring to a secret room in the attic— one with a hidden door off the main second- floor hall. A room Claire hadn’t been in for some time . . . but it made sense that Miranda would find it cozy. After all, she could, when she wanted, ghost in and out without making any sound at all— and it was a cool, if creepy, place. Just the thing for a teen who was more than a little creepy herself at the best of times.

“Be right back,” she said, and went to the area of the wall out- side his room where the secret door was concealed. She knew how to open it, and after a couple of false starts, she got the paneling to move. It creaked, of course. That was almost certainly required.

“Miranda? Mir, are you there?”

A light was shining at the top of the steep, narrow steps lead- ing up. As the door swung shut behind her, Claire ascended, and as she got to the top she came out into a room she hardly recognized.

The Victorian furniture was still in place, and all the stained- glass heavy lamps, but the walls had been covered over with posters— movies, bands, games (and most of it Claire wouldn’t be ashamed to have on her own walls). The old rugs had been rolled up and put away, and the floor was a shining, polished brown now. There was a brand- new table on the far side of the room, with a flat- screen TV hooked up to a game console. And an antique chest that Claire thought must have been dragged out of storage in the attic; it was open, and clothes spilled out of it, mostly dark in color and old in style.

Miranda was on the couch, hands folded on her stomach as she stared up at the ceiling. She was a small, thin girl, dressed in black that echoed Eve’s clothing choices. And to be honest, she looked more dead than alive.

Claire frowned and stopped where she was. “Miranda? Are you okay?”


“Go away,” Miranda said.

That wasn’t normal. “You’re not okay.”

Miranda cracked one eye to stare at her. “I’m bored. Do you know what’s going on?”

“Um . . . I’m not sure. There are a lot of things that could fit that definition.”

“Here! In Morganvil e!” Miranda sat up and swung her legs down to glare full force. “They rounded up the vampires and put them in a prison. Did you know? Where have you been? Everybody took off and left me and I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t even know if I was supposed to do anything at all!”

“I’m sorry,” Claire said. She sat down next to Miranda and put her arm around the girl; Mir felt solid, warm, alive, and well. She wasn’t, of course, but she could seem eerily real within the Glass House. “I’m sorry. We didn’t mean to abandon you. It’s just— things happened.”

“They happened here, too. It’s like people just— went crazy, you know? First the vampires just . . . I don’t know, it was like they just surrendered, and then Morganville changed. It wasn’t safe out there anymore for me. These people, these Daylight people, they— they scare me.” Miranda shivered harder, and Claire rubbed her arm in a futile attempt to make her feel better. “I’m scared to leave the house. It all feels so wrong out there. It’s so quiet.”

“Well, we’re back,” Claire said. “And trust me, it’s not going to be quiet much longer. Have you been up here the whole time?”

“Mostly,” Miranda said. “The Daylighters tried to come inside while you were gone. I kept them out, and then Father Joe from the church came to warn me. He told me to stay off the streets.

They were hunting down anything that wasn’t strictly, completely human— that’s where the vampires went. I can vanish, but he was worried they might still be able to get to me.” She shook her head.

“Claire, when they were in the house— I heard one of them say that if they wanted to really cleanse the town, they needed to de- stroy all the Founder Houses. There was an argument, but it sounded like he was winning when they left. Do you think they’d do that? Try to destroy us?”

If the Daylighters really wanted to get rid of all of the non- human, supernatural elements of Morganville, then they were go- ing to have to go after the Founder Houses. Claire was a little surprised she hadn’t already thought about it. The house could defend against most intruders, but it couldn’t defend itself against fire, or wrecking crews. And that made her feel frantic, deep down inside. No, you won’t, she thought fiercely. You won’t destroy our home.

“When did Father Joe come to see you?”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to tell.” Miranda, it was true, didn’t pay much attention to days and nights, and certainly not if she’d been hiding out here in Amelie’s safe room with no windows or clocks.

“A few days, maybe?”

“When did they come into the house to search it?” Claire asked. “Please, think!”

“Yesterday,” Miranda said. “Yesterday early. I felt the sun com- ing up.” As ghosts did. Their lives were tied to sunrises and sun- sets.

“Why didn’t you come down and tell us?”

Miranda looked away, and her voice got very small. “Because you left me,” she said. “You all left me here. Alone. ”

It was hard to remember sometimes how young she was, until she said something like that. “You were sulking.”

“No, I wasn’t!”


Her shoulders rose and fell, just a little. “Maybe.”

“Miranda, if the Daylighters decide to tear the house down . . .”

“I go with it,” Miranda said, and met Claire’s eyes again. “You think I don’t know that? But the vampires aren’t here to help you do anything now. How are you going to stop them?”

“I don’t know yet, but we will,” Claire said. She heard the strength in her voice, and it surprised her. “We will, and that means you, too. No more sulking. We’re going to need your help.”

Miranda nodded. “Just tell me what I can do.”

“We’re having a house meeting downstairs, right now. And I guess we have to tell Eve her suicide mission’s off, if she wants to have a house to come back to later.”

“She’s not going to be happy,” Miranda observed.

Man, was she right about that.


Eve was, to put it mildly, pissed off, to the point that Claire thought for a second she was going to slug someone— probably Claire herself— and charge out the door. But she was also a Glass House resident, and she knew what Miranda was saying. She knew the danger.

“You’re not just making this up to keep me here?” she de- manded, still standing at the back door with her backpack on her shoulder. Miranda shifted and looked scared, but Claire put a hand on her shoulder to keep her steady. “Oh, relax, kid, I’m not going to bite. She’s really serious? They might try to tear down our house?” That last was directed at Claire, and at Shane, standing on the other side of the room. Shane, arms folded, just shrugged.

“Can we afford to think she isn’t?” he asked. “Look, Claire was all ready to go. Crossbow packed and everything. But you know this is more important. This house—” He fell silent for a second, looking down at his feet. “This house is our home. And we have a responsibility to keep it safe, for Michael. If they’re coming back here, then we have to make sure they get a fight when they do. You know that’s true, Eve. We fight for each other, and we fight for this house. Against vampires, humans, anybody and everybody. That’s how it’s always been.”

Eve let out a long, slow breath, closed her eyes, and nodded.

Her shoulders sagged, and she let the backpack slip off to clunk heavily on the floor. “Michael would never forgive me if I dragged you all off to rescue him and we came back to a smoking hole in the ground,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“You wouldn’t be Eve if you did,” Shane assured her. “C’mon, a little perimeter defense planning will cheer you right up, I promise. I’ll even let you hold the flamethrower.”

Claire turned to Miranda and said, “Do you think you’re strong enough now to go out again?”

Miranda nodded eagerly— so eagerly she was almost bouncing in place. “What do you want me to do?”

“I need you to do a little spy work for us,” Claire said. “Since you’re so good at being invisible. The Daylight Foundation seems to be behind all of this urban renewal we’ve got, so they’d be the ones to make a plan for demolition, too, wouldn’t they?”

“I guess.”

“Go to their headquarters and see if there’s something you can find that tells us when they plan to tear down the house.”

That made Miranda take a step back. “I can’t.”

“You just said—”

“I can’t!” Miranda shouted over her, and then her voice dropped almost to a whisper. “I’ve tried, okay? I can’t get close to it. It hurts, and I start— I start unraveling. It’s like— it’s like there’s no air in there. I can’t go in.”

She was shaking, just thinking about it, and Claire put her arm around the girl. Her skin felt cold under Claire’s palm, and she grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch to drape over Miranda’s shoulders. I’m trying to warm up a ghost. It did seem silly once she thought about it, but still, the kid was cold, and distressed.

“So, obviously, Miranda’s not going to be able to do our sleuth- ing for us,” Eve said. Um, question— Aren’t we overreacting? Didn’t they just finish repainting our house? Why would they de- cide to tear it down after all that work?”

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