“Well, modern prisons are so much nicer these days, one never knows,” he said, and marched out of the cell and down the corri- dor, stepping over the fallen policewoman with his oversized flip- flops dangling precariously. “Come on, then.”

She hesitated for a second, because as bad as her situation was, she wasn’t sure that going with Myrnin wouldn’t end up worse . . .

but there wasn’t much choice, really.

She stepped outside the cell, and became a fugitive.

Myrnin led her to the stairs, bypassing the elevator. As they jogged up, he said, “I’ve cut the power to the building, by the way.

Oh, come now, move along— your somewhat strange little friend is anxiously waiting.”

“My— wait, who?”

He shrugged. “The ghost girl. She seems to find me quite alarming, and she was hardly able to manifest herself at all to ex- plain to me where to find you. I think she’s afraid I’ll try to bite her. I believe she may have, you know, mental issues.” He made an unmistakable circle at his temple, and Claire just stared at him in dumb amazement. That isn’t just pot, me t ket le, she thought. That’s the whole chef’s rack. “Oh, and I also knocked out several people on several different floors, including Mayor Ramos and her assistant. I thought that might nicely confuse the issues while we make our clever escape.”

“About that. Exactly what is the plan for our clever escape?”

“Front door,” he said cheerfully.


Of course.

There wasn’t any chance of talking him out of it, sadly, and she had no choice but to follow close behind him as he shoved open the fire exit door at the top of the stairs, with a fine disregard for whether there might be an ambush waiting beyond. There wasn’t.

There were, however, two armed police officers standing outside the front doors, but Myrnin hit them with the force of a neon- colored hurricane and left them unconscious in his wake. “See?”

he said as he marched on in his flip- flops. “Successful plan. And I’m being extreme humane. You really can’t fault me.”

A car was idling at the curb, and through the open passenger- side window, she saw Miranda’s pale, anxious face; the girl was gesturing frantically. Next to her, painted an eerie shade of green from the dashboard light’s glow, Claire glimpsed Jenna— the psy- chic who’d become Miranda’s foster mother, in a way, and from whom Miranda pulled the power to stay alive and together outside the boundaries of the Glass House. She looked tense and very worried.

As she should have been.

Sirens howled, and behind them, the lights suddenly flared on inside City Hall. Their grace period was officially over— and they were too far from the safety of Jenna’s car.

Jenna made a split- second decision and hit the gas, hard. Mi- randa let out a cry of protest, but it was too late; a few seconds later, Jenna’s car was taking a right turn out of the City Hall parking lot and speeding away.

“Well,” Myrnin said, “that wasn’t in my plan. I suppose it’s time to run.”

He yanked her into a full- tilt race.

It was getting dark, and between gasps for air Claire managed to say, “That hoodie kind of glows in the dark. You might want to take it off!”

“My skin is even more reflective,” he said. “And I quite like the color, don’t you? So festive.”

“Where are we going?”

“Clearly not that way,” Myrnin said, and made an instant course correction when he spotted a police cruiser’s lights heading toward them. He grabbed Claire’s arm and dragged her over the lawn to the shadows of some evergreen trees. “Hush.” He didn’t take the chance she might not agree; he grabbed her and slapped a hand over her mouth. Her protest— faint as she’d meant it to be— disappeared entirely. He was holding her way too tightly against him to break free.

A searchlight from the police car slid over the trees, but they were well concealed by the thicket of branches. Myrnin waited un- til the danger had passed, then let her loose, and towed her back out onto the open lawn. “Where are we going?” she asked him in an urgent whisper. “Because I am not feeling good about this! We’re both fugitives now, you know!”

“Duly noted. Save your breath now— we have to run. Do keep up.”

She didn’t think she could. Myrnin did hold back a little from genuine vampire speed, but even so, she felt as if she was running faster than was safe in the dim, failing light. Streetlights flickered on as they made it to the shops across the street from City Hall.

They ducked into an alley as more police cars moved past and swept the bricks with searchlights. Myrnin didn’t seem bothered by the nasty puddles soaking his feet, but Claire tried to avoid the worst of it. It definitely wasn’t clean water. She wasn’t sure it was water. “Where are we going?”

He hadn’t answered that question the first time, but as he watched the street outside, he said, “Your friend Jenna seems to have offered us some form of safe haven. Pity we missed the ride. I mistrust her, but both Steve and Shane—”

“Eve! Honestly, Myrnin, how long have you known her?”

“It’s a very odd name, you know. Efa, now, that’s a proper sort of name. Or even Aoife,” he said. “Fine. Eve and Shane assure me it is the best we can do at the moment. I believe their alternative was that we’d end up dead in a ditch, which doesn’t sound attractive.”

“Probably wasn’t meant to. Are we clear?”

“Apparently.” Myrnin snatched her hand and dragged her into another flat- out run. This one wasn’t as hard, simply because they were on sidewalks, though when he veered sharply down an alley, that was frankly terrifying, and she decided she’d better just com- mit to trusting him not to smash her facefirst into hidden obsta- cles.

There were a few worrying moments where she brushed past things that would have definitely been painful, but overall, they emerged into the street on the other side unscathed.

And there were people out on the streets. Myrnin skidded to a stop and backed her up into the shadows. “Damn,” he said. “I had forgotten that the residents here had lost all their well- taught caution. What is the world coming to?”


He let out a disbelieving, humorless laugh. “Don’t be ridicu- lous. They are full of the flush of victory just now, and brotherly love, but human nature inevitably asserts itself. Criminals will take advantage of all this newfound trust to commit crimes, righ- teous men will stumble and fail their ideals, all manner of chaos will come; men have ever been their own nightmares. It’s how the world works, and while vampires certainly don’t help matters, they’re hardly the root of evil. There is no safety, Claire, and there never can be— it’s only an illusion. But that is as it should be, don’t you think?”

She didn’t have an answer for that. She watched the people strolling on the streets, enjoying a failing sunset. Trusting each others’ better natures. Some of them might be genuinely good people who would never hurt anyone, but some of them weren’t.

And it chilled her to realize what Myrnin was telling her— that with or without vampires, Morganville would always be danger- ous. Just dangerous in an entirely different way. A less obvious way.

A lull came as true dark fell and the last remnants of orange slipped away. Myrnin, without a sound, grabbed her hand and urged her into another run down the sidewalk. He didn’t pause when the sidewalk came to a sudden end but darted into a deserted lot, then through to another sidewalk, a sharp left turn, then a right, and she was lost, entirely lost, and everything was moving too fast for her to get her bearings. Her heart was beating so fast she thought she’d collapse, and breath burned hot and thick in her lungs. She didn’t even have time to consider the pain in her legs and feet until, suddenly, it was over. He had stopped so quickly that the momentum sent her crashing hard into him. He hardly even wavered.

For a moment, they were pressed together, and she knew he could hear her too- fast heartbeat drumming in his ears, smell her sweat and blood, and she saw his pupils slowly expand to drink all that sensation in . . . and for a moment, she saw the hunger. It was dark and desperate, and she wondered just how far she could trust him.

But then Myrnin gently pushed her back as she struggled for balance, held her until she found it, and said, “I do believe we’ve arrived.”

The house was like many others around it— small, faced with clapboard, built into a square. It had a little character because of the dark blue trim on the windows and front door, and a little pride in its new Daylighters- approved paint job, but all in all it was Morganville through and through— a little lopsided, a bit run- down, a shade odd. Myrnin led her up the cracked sidewalk to the front porch, and before he could reach for the iron door knocker, the door opened.

Jenna stood there— tall, blond, with piercing pale eyes. She just looked the part of a psychic, somehow, even to the faraway expression on her face . . . but there was nothing psychic or dreamy about the consternation, as she saw Myrnin.

There was just worry, and calculation.

He waited a second, then made an abrupt flapping motion with his hands. “Well?” he demanded. “I’m a vampire, you silly woman.

Ask me in! We’re wanted felons, you know!”

She didn’t seem convinced that was a good idea, but she stepped back and said, “Please come in, both of you.” He rushed in, bring- ing Claire with him, and Jenna swung the door shut behind them.

Claire had just begun to catch her breath when suddenly Mi- randa appeared out of thin air, rushing at her, and her solid body crashed against Claire’s as she wrapped her arms around her. “You made it!” she said. “I didn’t know if you could. I’m so sorry we left you there. I’m so sorry, but I was scared to leave Jenna for long . . .”

“It’s okay,” Claire said. She was still gasping for air, and she felt sweaty and horrible, but there was something good about seeing Miranda. The girl backed away, and Jenna put her arm around her; that, too, was good, the motherly vibe from the psychic for the ghost girl. Jenna had, from the beginning, felt protective of Mi- randa, and it looked as if that relationship had gotten closer— something Miranda desperately needed, because she’d been basically abandoned by her own family. Something good had hap- pened in Morganville for a change, after all: two sad people had found each other, and made each other better.

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