Myrnin sighed. “I can drive, you know.”

Claire flinched and made a quick throat- cutting gesture be- hind his back to Jenna. Myrnin on his best days was not a good driver. Her eyes widened, but Jenna caught herself, smiled, and said, “I’m sure you can, but it’s much safer if you’re out of sight, don’t you think?”

“Ah, perhaps so,” he said. “Let’s crack on, then. The night won’t last forever.”

Jenna pointed at Miranda. “You’re staying here,” she said. “I know you want to go, but stay with these two. Promise me.” Mi- randa nodded soberly. Claire grabbed Jenna before they headed out and whispered quick instructions on where to find Myrnin’s medications.

Shane let out a slow breath as the door shut and locked behind them. “I’m sorry,” he said. He sounded exhausted, and he sank down into a crouch against the wall and cradled his head in both hands. “God, I’m sorry. What the hell was that?”

“I think— I think it was just the stress, and him being so close,” Claire said. “You’re okay now.” She said it with confidence, but in truth, she really wasn’t as sure as she pretended, and after a few seconds of silence, she bent her head and half whispered, “Please, tell me you’re okay.”

“He killed someone, and he doesn’t seem to care much,” Shane said. “I don’t think I’m your biggest problem right now.”

“What do you think he’s planning to do?”

“Whatever it is, I guarantee you that it’s not going to be safe for anybody near him.”

“I wish Jenna hadn’t gone,” Miranda said. She looked paler now, and a little translucent. Without the Glass House sustaining her, it was hard for her to stay visible and solid, and with her connection to Jenna fading through distance, she probably couldn’t manifest a body much longer. “What about the house? Who’s go- ing to protect it now? We’re all here!”


“Eve’s not,” Claire said.

“Eve’s with the Daylighters. She can’t help the house from there.”

Miranda was right, and Claire felt a surge of anxiety when she thought about the house all alone, vulnerable, and still under threat— maybe more now than before, since everyone knew they were on the run.

It was the perfect time to strike.

“We need to go,” she told Shane. “We need to get there in case they try something.”

Miranda was thin as glass now, her eyes huge and dark in that ghostly face. “You need to go now,” she said, and it seemed as if her voice, like the body she inhabited, was growing hollow and faint.

“Now! Go now!”

And then Claire felt it, too . . . a sense of something shivering inside her, a vibration almost like an earthquake, not physical but emotional, mental, psychic.

The house was crying out.


Claire ran for the front door.

“No!” Shane got in her way fast and pushed her back.

“No, you know they’re looking for us. You can’t—”

“You heard her!” She didn’t try to make an end run around him— he was way too good on defense. She simply reversed course and went the other way. She didn’t know Jenna’s house, but it was square and small, and it made sense that there would be a back door on one of those compass points. She bet on the back, since Morganville architects were more cookie cutter than cutting edge; she spotted the door, set in the right corner of the kitchen, as she plunged into that small room. Jenna kept her kitchen spotless and pretty, and Claire had a moment of pure envy, but just a flicker, because the panic inside her was starting to take over.

She threw open the back door, hit the back porch, launched herself off it at a run, and dashed around the house. She heard Shane calling after her, but he clearly didn’t want to make a public fuss, so it was just the one mention of her name, and then she heard the door thump shut and footsteps on the path behind her.

There was no way she could outrun him, but she wasn’t intend- ing to . . . only to try to lead him most of the way, so that he’d see it was a better idea to go on than turn back.

She’d made it to the brightly lit parking lot of Morganville’s one and only apartment complex (ten whole units, built in an old- fashioned L shape) when he stretched out one long arm and dragged her to an unwilling halt. Then he grabbed her other arm.

“Claire. This is crazy. We can’t be out here. You know that!”

“You’re the one making us get noticed,” she said. “I was just a girl out for a jog. Now I’m getting accosted by an angry boyfriend.”

“I’m not—” He took a deep breath and let go. “Okay. Just walk back with me. Calmly. We can do this. Let’s just—”

“No,” she said, and turned on her heel to head toward the Glass House, still several blocks away.

“What is wrong with you?”

He couldn’t feel it. Maybe that was because he was famously blunted to psychic things; maybe he was just blocking it out. But he honestly had no idea that the house was screaming for help, and she couldn’t say no to its need. That house had saved her life at least once. She owed it.

But she came to a sudden and frozen halt as she heard Monica Morrell’s smoky, lazy voice say, “Stop right there or I’ll blow your head off, Preschool. This means you, too, Shane. Don’t get stupid.

Well, you know. Stupider.”

Monica was Morganville’s crown princess of mean— a pretty girl who’d grown up rich, powerful and entitled to whatever she wanted, and she’d wanted it all. She’d grown up a little in the past couple of years, but that had just taken her from actively evil to passively unpleasant, in Claire’s opinion. They’d never been friends, the three of them, but they’d had moments of not- quite- hatred.

This, however, wasn’t one of them.

Claire realized that they’d managed to somehow stage their parking lot argument standing right beside Monica’s shiny red car— the only one like it in Morganville, instantly recognizable if she’d been paying the slightest bit of attention. And of course, it was parked in front of Monica’s apartment. Monica herself was leaning against the open door’s frame, tall and sleek and party- ready in a peach- colored minidress that fluttered in the wind and threatened to go into R- rated areas at any second.

What mostly concerned Claire wasn’t the dress, but the gun.

It was, in Texas terms, a lady’s weapon— a small black automatic that most men would probably dismiss as a purse gun— and Monica had it aimed right at Claire’s chest. At this distance, it wasn’t too likely she’d miss. Purse gun or not, it’d definitely do damage.

Claire slowly put her hands up. Shane said, “Jesus, Monica—”

“Hands up, Collins,” she said, and gave them both an impar- tially happy smile. “I heard a rumor that you butchered some poor sucker in your house. But unfortunately it wasn’t a blood sucker, or everybody would have just shrugged and gotten over it. Too bad for you, I mean. I suppose I really ought to make a citizen’s arrest and put you back in jail. You know, public safety and shit. Plus I think there might be a reward. Totally bonus bucks.”

“You’re enjoying this way too much,” Claire said.

“Damn right I am, and I have every right to love seeing the two of you wearing orange jumpsuits. It is just so your color, Shane.”

“Bite me, Bitch Queen.”

Monica blew him an air kiss. “Don’t think I wouldn’t leave a mark.” There was an evil, bright light in her pretty eyes. She’d always had some kind of perverse sadomasochistic crush on Shane, and the fact that Shane had shoved her away repeatedly had set her off in ways he’d never expected. Most people still assumed that Monica had been behind the fire that consumed Shane’s family home and killed his little sister, Alyssa. Claire had never been so sure, and she knew that Shane had mostly given up that conviction, too. Monica wasn’t above trolling in the wake of a tragedy, but she hadn’t started the fire.

It didn’t make her a better person, though.

“I’m only going to say this once,” Shane said, “and I can’t be- lieve I’m saying it at all, so never ever repeat it, but we need your help. Please.”

Monica blinked. That was obviously not what she’d expected— or, truthfully, what Claire had expected, either. Monica was an ef- fortless button- pusher, and Shane was usually way too easy to manipulate . . . but not this time. “Excuse me?” she asked, and cocked her head to one side. “Are you actually pretending that we’re friends?”

“Monica, I am pretty sure you have no idea how to have a friend who isn’t an empty- souled suck- up, but you’re not a fool. You know you’ve built up way too much bad karma around here, and it’s all coming back on you. The vamps are out, humans are in, and you’ve acted like the Queen of All Bitches for half your life. You’d better start counting up your allies. I’m pretty sure you won’t get past your middle finger.”

That got a long, measured look— much more thoughtful and adult than anything Claire could say she’d ever seen in Monica be- fore. Maybe even the eternally self- involved could sometimes grow up, at least enough to recognize their own danger. “I’m listening,”

Monica said.

“Could we do this inside?” Claire asked. She’d caught a glimpse in the distance of a Morganville police cruiser, search- lights flaring.

Monica debated a full fifteen seconds before she stepped back and lowered the gun. “Yeah,” she said. “But don’t expect me to go all Southern belle on you and offer an iced tea and cookies. I am not your grandma. And don’t touch my stuff.”

Neither of them hesitated. They moved fast, and were inside and locking the door behind them before she got the last words out. The relief was immense, and Claire turned to put her back against the door.

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