Miranda raised her hand slowly. “I know that one,” she said.

“The people who were here, the ones who did all the painting and stuff . . . they were from the city council. The new mayor lady was with them. It was the Daylighters who got upset because I threw them out of the house when they tried to get inside. And it’s the Daylighters who want to tear the house down. Not the mayor. I think she likes the house.”

“So— we see the mayor,” Eve said. “Get her to stop Fallon.”

“Do you really think she can?” Shane asked. “I like Ramos, but this is Fallon we’re talking about. He wrangled the frickin’ vampires. The Daylighters were killing people in Boston; they won’t mess around here, either. If the mayor goes up against the Daylighters, the mayor won’t live through her term.”

That was depressingly true, Claire thought. “We need to find out if they have real plans to tear down our house,” she said. “For Miranda’s sake, if nothing else— she can’t run. She can’t survive if the Glass House goes away.” That was a nightmare they all felt in their bones. They’d seen it happen to Michael when the house had caught on fire. He would have burned with it.

“I can go to City Hall,” Miranda offered. “Jenna could take me there. I could see if they’ve got anything on file. Maybe there’s a permit? They seem to like permits and things. They even had one to fix up the outside of the house.” By Jenna, she meant Jenna Clark— a newcomer to Morganville, once host of the reality show After Death. A genuine psychic, one who’d stirred the lingering ghosts of Morganville into solid activity with her arrival . . . and had ended up showing Miranda how to survive outside of the Glass House’s restrictions.

“Jenna didn’t leave town?” Claire felt oddly surprised by that; she’d thought that Jenna would have moved on after realizing the danger that Morganville constantly represented. She didn’t have to stay. “Why would she do that?”

“She kind of started dating this guy,” Miranda said. “Rad, the mechanic. And I think she liked it here. She bought a house and everything.”

“Then could you please go to Jenna and see if she’ll take you to City Hall? But be careful. Don’t get caught, whatever you do.” Mi- randa, after all, could turn invisible . . . but Jenna couldn’t. The plan had the added safety of Jenna driving, so there would be a quick escape handy in case something went wrong. And from Claire’s expe- rience with Morganville, things did go wrong. Frequently.

Miranda nodded. She’d gone, in those few moments, from a scared girl to a bravely confident young woman. It made Claire sad that she would never see Miranda truly grow up, that the girl was stuck at the age she was now, unable to move either forward into death or backward into human form. But at least she was con- scious and— at least mostly— alive, even if her life came with strings and restrictions. And for the first time in her life, Miranda seemed . . . happy. Stressed, at the moment, but happy to be wanted, worthwhile, and part of the Glass House gang.


Putting her at risk should have been a harder decision, and Claire felt guilty about it, but she also knew it had to be done.

Claire had been in danger regularly, from the first day she set foot inside these walls; it was part of what it meant to live here. Part of being with people who cared enough to take risks.

“Can you get to Jenna’s on your own?” Claire asked.

“I think so.”

“Okay, then go. We’re going to start making sure the house is safe while you’re gone.”

“Good,” Miranda said, “because I love the house. I love you guys, too.” She looked directly at Claire when she said it, and Claire hugged her, hard. The girl felt cool and bony, but very real.

“Be safe,” she said. “Come back soon. I’ll call Jenna to let her know you’re on your way.”

Eve hugged the girl, too. Shane didn’t, but Miranda was shy around him, and always had been. She just nodded, and he nodded back in that laconic tough- guy way, and then she was just . . . gone.

Dissolved into the air.

Unsettling, no matter how many times they’d seen it happen.

Claire picked up the house phone— it still worked, even though she didn’t imagine any of them had bothered with bills for a while now— and dialed Jenna’s cell, which they’d scrawled on the wall next to the phone in grease marker. It was a messy version of a contact list, but it worked in a pinch. She filled the other woman in when she picked up, and Jenna seemed happy to help out.

She hung up the phone and turned to the other two. “Well?”

she asked. “What now?”

“Land mines in the flower beds?” Shane asked. “Also, we could replace that picket fence with razor wire. Maybe electrified.”

“Be serious.”

“Why do you think I’m not?”

Claire rolled her eyes and looked at Eve. “How about you?”

“What’s the easiest way to bring down a house like this?” Eve asked. It was a surprisingly practical question— and a chilling one when Claire thought more about it.

“Fire,” she said. It had been tried before. The Glass House was old wood, and however alive it had become, however self- aware, it couldn’t control how flammable it was. Not for long, anyway. The old wooden structure, the bones of it, was its weakest link. “If they don’t want to have a whole construction crew out here to demo the place, they’ll just set it on fire. Arson.”

Eve nodded. “We can spray fire retardant on the house. Don’t know where we’d get it, though.”

“Rad has some,” Shane said, in a much more serious tone than before. When they looked at him, he shrugged. “Dude likes to set himself on fire. He’s training to be a stuntman since he gave up his mixed martial arts dreams.”

“I knew that guy was insane,” Eve said. “Okay, then, we hijack Rad’s stash. What else do we need?”

“Fire extinguishers,” Claire said. “That should help with the whole arson risk. I’m not sure how we defend against a bulldozer, though, if they decide to knock the whole house down.” She held up a finger as Shane opened his mouth. “Do not say flamethrowers, or anything to do with dynamite.” He closed it without speaking.

“We need to know what exactly they’re planning to do,” Eve said, and took in a deep breath. “I’ll go.”

“How do you plan on finding anything out there? With the power of your awesomeness?” Shane asked. “I’m not making light of your awesomeness. But it lacks the stopping power of, say, a .357.”

“Not all of us need weapons,” Eve said. “Some of us have charm.”

It was the way she said it that made Claire’s skin go tight and prickly, and she leveled a stare at her best friend. “No,” she said.

“You’re not even.”

“Not even what?”

“Going to run off with some crazy plan to— what? Make Fal- lon tell you what he’s going to do with the Glass House?”

“Why not? He thinks I’m a hysterical little girl. He treats me like I’m a china doll,” Eve said. She’d taken one of the sharpened chopsticks out of her hair and was restlessly scraping the wood of the table with it. Half of her sloppy hairdo came down. “You think I can’t charm it out of him, and make him let Michael go at the same time?”

“I think you’ll get yourself killed,” Shane said quietly. “Or worse.”

“What’s worse?”

“Don’t know,” he said. “But these guys are the worst kind of bastards— the smooth kind. The ones who seem like they’re nice and polite and kind and doing it all for the right reasons. The ones who make you feel like the villain for not going along with it. And I don’t know what Fallon’s really capable of doing. Do you?”

He was right, and it was sobering. Eve frowned, but she didn’t argue. She just yanked the other chopstick out of her hair, twisted it back into shape, and stabbed the sticks through it again to hold it up. Mostly. The frown stayed, and from the flinty look in her eyes, the subject was closed. She wouldn’t debate it, but she also wasn’t going to change her mind.

Claire sighed. “Much as I love listening to you two snipe at each other all day, we have actual problems to solve. I’m going to get fire extinguishers, and when I get back, Shane, you can go get the fire retardant stuff from Rad. Eve—” She hesitated, then shook her head. “Whatever you plan to do, I know we can’t stop you. But be careful. We’re one 911 text away, and don’t you hesitate to yell for help if it starts looking the least bit weird.”

“I know,” Eve said. She lifted the backpack to her shoulder. “I will.”

Shane couldn’t resist the dig. “I thought you said not all of us needed weapons.”

“I don’t need them,” Eve said. “But I’m not crazy, either. Banzai, bitches.”

She slammed the door behind her, and Claire sucked in a deep breath as she locked eyes with Shane.

“Guess there’s no chance of going back to bed,” he said. “Be- cause being in bed this morning? That was real y nice.” It sounded plaintive. She absolutely agreed with that.

She went to him and kissed him— and it felt sweet and warm- verging- on- hot, and even a little desperate. “Later,” she promised him. “I’ll go get the fire extinguishers. It shouldn’t take too long, so please try not to get into any trouble until I get back.”

“There are times when I wish you were slightly less practical, do you know that?”

“God,” she sighed. “Me, too.”

Splitting off from Shane and Eve felt weird. Eve had taken the hearse, which left Claire suddenly worried about how she was go- ing to haul a buttload of fire extinguishers back from Morgan- ville’s local knockoff version of a Home Depot. But then Shane, at the last minute, dashed off and came back with a set of car keys and a note. “Here,” he said. “Go see Rad. He’s got my time- share car at his lot. Tell him I’ll be by later for the other stuff, so he can get it all together.”

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