She led him through the living room and through the kitchen door, and wished she’d grabbed a hoodie to put on over what she was wearing because the house felt positively icy now. She could almost see her breath. Simonds, wearing a light jacket suitable for the hot sun of Morganville, was shivering. “Damn,” he said. “You sure like to keep it chilly in here. Your electric bills must be insane.”

“Not really,” she said. “I think the house is just really well in- sulated.” She turned on the coffeemaker and did all the little things necessary to make it go. They waited in silence while it wheezed and steamed and filled the carafe, and then she filled two mugs, put milk and sugar on the table, and dosed her own mug in silence.

Simonds sipped his black coffee, made a polite lie about how good it was, and added a splash of milk. He stirred for an inordi- nately long time, and he kept watching her. Not actively intimidat- ing, like Halling, but very, very observant. “Let’s cut to the chase, Claire— may I call you Claire?” She nodded silently. “Morganville got a makeover while you were gone, no doubt about that. I know there are a lot of things different about it, and you’re probably not feeling too good about them right now. But I promise you, it’s all for the best. You believe me?”

“Not really,” she said, and took a careful sip from her own mug. “I don’t trust Mr. Fallon, and I don’t trust the Daylight Foundation, either.”

“Why not?” he asked. Interesting that he wasn’t wearing a pin, she thought, but he might have taken it off just to lull her into a false sense of security. “I honestly want to know, Claire. I’m not just shining you on.”

“Because I’ve seen what they’re capable of doing,” she said.

“The problem with fighting monsters is that you can become a monster by convincing yourself anything goes. Evil for evil. I’ve seen it, sir. I’ve seen them murder people for their own beliefs. And I won’t be a part of that.”

He looked thoughtful, and grave, and they sat in silence for a moment before he shook his head. “I can’t speak to that,” he said.

“But I can tell you that from the moment the Daylight Foundation arrived in Morganville, they had a plan, and they did nothing but help those in need. You say they’re willing to kill, but they didn’t even kill the vampires— in fact, Mr. Fallon went out of his way to ensure that they were treated well. Maybe you’ve seen bad things they’ve done, but I’ve seen things too— good things. I can walk down these streets in peace. That has to count for something.”

“It does,” she admitted. “But there are a few hundred vampires trapped in that mall on the edge of town, and they can’t stay there forever. What do you think the Daylighters intend to do with them long term?”


“Fallon says he’s going to make sure they’re safe, and I believe him,” Simonds said. “Look, I worked with some vampires, and they were good people— okay, blood drinkers, but they never hurt anybody. In fact, the ones I worked with sometimes put their lives on the line to save regular people. I know vampires aren’t just monsters; they can be good or bad, just like us. But fact is, they’re not natural, and a good percentage of them don’t have any kind of conscience. You can’t argue with that.”

She couldn’t. She knew a lot of the vamps were dangerous; some were outright awful and needed to be locked up forever.

Some were self- interested to a sociopathic degree, and many of them wouldn’t see much wrong with killing someone who was in their way. Vampires didn’t become vampires by being squeamish . . .

or selfless.

But that didn’t mean they deserved death. And she suspected— no, really, she knew— that ultimately that was the answer Fallon had. Death. Ridding the world of vampires forever— and everything supernatural, like the Founder Houses. Like Miranda.

“You want some more coffee?” Claire asked. He’d drained his cup quickly. Simonds nodded, his expression still and unreadable.

He had a nice face, long and thin, with a particularly nice dark chocolate skin tone and warm brown eyes, and under other cir- cumstances he might have been a friend.

But not now.

She filled his mug again, and realized that she’d been avoiding looking at the kitchen pantry. That was probably the kind of give- away he was watching for, she thought, so she put the coffeepot back on the burner, walked to the pantry, opened it, and got out another bag of coffee beans. She put it up in the cabinet above the coffeemaker.

“How old is this house?” he asked her. She could hear rum- maging upstairs now— Kentworth, going through her bedroom.

Claire felt an angry flush in her cheeks, and sat down hard in her chair to clutch her coffee mug. She didn’t like the idea of someone pawing through her things, meager as they might be. And ridiculously, she hated the idea of him seeing the still- messy bed where she and Shane had spent the night. That felt really intrusive and creepy. “This is one of the Founder Houses, right?”

“One of the original thirteen,” she said. “I think only a few of them are still left now.”

“Beautiful place,” he said. “All original construction?”

She immediately felt as if a trap was looming, and covered her pause with a sip of coffee. “No idea,” she said with a smile. “I haven’t been here that long, you know.” She knew that people tended to underestimate her— she was small, and young, and could look very innocent when she wanted to . . . and Simonds didn’t know her very well.

But she could tell that he wasn’t buying it, and as he opened his mouth to ask her something else, probably something a lot more intrusive, he was interrupted by Halling’s sharp voice on the other side of the kitchen door. “Detective! Better come see this!”

He got to his feet fast, the friendly surface of him immediately gone; what was left was all serious business. He pointed at her.

“Stay here,” he said, and shoved through the door to join Officer Halling. There was muffled conversation. Claire tried to listen, but she couldn’t quite make anything out . . . and then she heard his footsteps coming back and she retreated fast, to stand next to the kitchen table.

Simonds shoved the door open and gestured for her to join him. She didn’t like the grim look on his face— not at all.

Halling had found something in the basement. As Simonds led the way down the narrow steps into the chilly concrete room where they kept the washer and dryer and the dust- shrouded shelves of storage from generations back, Claire’s mind raced.

What could they have forgotten? Shane and Eve were both known to stash things and forget them; what if Shane had overlooked a cache of weapons he’d meant to hide? That wouldn’t be good.

And then she spotted what Halling had found. It wasn’t weapons.

There was a dead body on the floor of their basement.

It was one of the mall cops that had let them in to see Michael.

There was a knife sticking out of his chest, a silver- coated one— and it looked familiar. They had lots of those around the house; Shane silver- plated everything for use as anti- vamp weapons.

Claire stopped on the steps and grabbed for the handrail; she felt light- headed, and suddenly needed to sit down and just breathe.

It seemed impossible. It was impossible. How in the hell had this man gotten here, gotten in, been killed? She hadn’t done it, and she knew Shane and Eve hadn’t. Couldn’t have.

“He wasn’t killed here. There’s not enough blood,” Halling said, crouching down next to the corpse. The man’s eyes were open and covered with a gray film, and he looked unreal, like a depart- ment store dummy. “He’d been dead a few hours, at most.”

“Find out how long he’s been missing,” Simonds said. “And make sure the other guards on the vampires at the mall are still safe. Go!”

Halling headed for the stairs, and Claire scrambled out of the way as the officer’s long legs pushed past. She felt sick and weight-less, as if she were falling into an endless black hole. What the hell was going on?

She took out her phone as Simonds moved to inspect the body, and quietly texted Shane not to come home. He sent back a ques- tion mark. She replied with an exclamation point, and then quickly put the phone away before Simonds caught sight of it.

“Do you know this man?” he asked her. She shook her head.

“I’ve seen him,” she said. “I saw him at the mall, where they were keeping the vampires. But I don’t know him.”

“Any explanation for why he’d be dead in your basement, Miss Danvers?”

She could only shake her head again. She didn’t have any idea what else to say. Simonds sighed, stood up, and took out his cell phone to make a call. He requested additional units, and a forensic kit— Morganville wasn’t big enough to have an actual forensic team— and then looked up at her. He seemed sorry, she thought.

But not very.

“Stand up,” he told her. “Come down to the floor.”

She did stand up, but in that moment she realized that if she let him arrest her, she’d have no chance at all to clear herself. Fallon might well have arranged this— a plot to put them all behind bars and get them out of his way.

She couldn’t take that chance.

“I’m sorry,” she said. She reached in her pocket and brought out the round shape in her pocket. She yanked the pull ring and tossed the thing down the stairs toward where he stood. “Gre- nade!”

Shane was right. Nobody waited to see what happened when they heard that word.

She dashed up the steps, and hit the door at the top just as there was a muffled whump below. She looked down to see a cloud of thick white powder spreading over everything, as if she’d thrown a giant bag of flour. Simonds, who’d taken cover at the far end of the basement in a crouch behind an old freezer, coughed and fanned the air as the stuff settled on him.

He was okay.

“Danvers!” he yelled, and drew his pistol from under his coat as he swiped at his face to clear his eyes. “Stop where you are!”

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