“It doesn’t like me. Never did. I think it always thought I was trouble for Michael, and you know what, that house is a pretty damn good judge of character because I totally was when I got here, wasn’t I? So, back door or front?”

“I saw whoever it is around back,” she said. “Front makes more sense.”

“No point in being subtle,” Shane agreed, and gave her a brief, crazy smile before he ran for the front door. She caught up with him as he slowed down and braced for a door- busting kick. She managed to stop him, put a finger to her lips, and then took the key from her pocket. She quietly unlocked the door and eased in- side.

Shane was disappointed that he couldn’t make a grand en- trance, of course, but he slipped in after her and shut and relocked the door. Nothing looked wrong in the front hallway, and she took a couple of steps forward to peer into the front parlor. Noth- ing there, either. The extinguishers were still exactly where she’d left them, and she didn’t see anything that indicated there had been an intruder.

But she felt it, knotted and tangled in her guts. The house was angry and violated and afraid, and it needed her.

She just didn’t know why. Or what it expected her to do.

“Claire,” Shane whispered, and made a series of hand gestures she was surprised she actually understood: he was telling her to go down the hall, up the stairs, and check the hidden room. He was right, too; it was, in many ways, the heart of the house, and if something was going on, it was probably happening there.

She pointed at him and raised her eyebrows in question. He pointed off to the kitchen, then made another of those utterly mysterious gestures that somehow made perfect sense to her, as if they were sharing some invisible playbook. He was going to re- trieve the hidden weapons from the pantry.

She gave him a thumbs- up and headed down the hall.

The living room didn’t look disturbed, either. It was silent, completely silent, and she felt her skin shiver into goose bumps at just how eerie it seemed . . . as if the whole house was holding its breath.


The stairs always creaked if you were careless, but she knew how to get around it. She balanced her weight carefully on the balls of her feet as she stayed on the left side, close to the wall.

There was only one slight moan of wood near the top, and she froze, listening for any change— but she heard nothing. The hall- way with their bedrooms on it stretched out in front of her, and she was nearly in the middle, heading for the hidden door, when the creature stepped out of the bathroom, right into her path.

Her brain reported creature because it couldn’t think of anything to match what she was looking at— upright, bipedal like a man, but wrong, proportioned in strange ways. The arms were too long, the face too sharp and all the wrong shape, as if bones were broken under the skin. An oddly muscled back hunched forward under the straining white tee it wore.

She’d never figured that a monster in her house would be wear- ing blue jeans and cross- trainer Nikes, either.

The worst of it, though, the absolute worst, were the eyes— gleaming acid- yellow eyes, with slitted pupils— and the hands, be- cause they sprouted claws that looked big and terrifying enough to make Wolverine feel inadequate.

Then it opened its mouth and snarled, and all the rest of it faded into insignificance beside the rows of gleaming, razor- sharp teeth.

Claire stumbled back and turned to run, but there was an- other one coming out of Michael and Eve’s bedroom, blocking her escape. This one seemed smaller, but still twice her size, and it somehow also looked female— probably because it was wearing a dress, a bright summery yellow dress, and why would a monster wear a dres , anyway? It made no sense . . .

And as she watched, it twisted, and twisted, and changed, and she felt her stomach rebelling as the creature snarled and ripped at the clothes. It pinned her with brilliant, alien, insane eyes that were straight out of hell.

What was it Shane had said?


They were still changing, but they were looking more like dogs all the time.

Her brain was babbling because it was unable to find a single thing useful to say about this situation. She was caught between two things that looked like they’d escaped from the monster vaults, and they were coming closer, trapping her between them.

And then they were sniffing her.

She threw her hands over her head and hunched down into a ball— instinct, not strategy— and the next thing she realized was that they were all over her, taking in great, noisy breaths through their noses. That was alarming and gross and somehow terrifying all over again, because it seemed so wrong. She could smell them now— a kind of sickening mix of animal musk and the kind of body spray that was supposed to make the opposite sex crawl all over you. It was a vile combination, and she found herself gagging a little, but silently, because she couldn’t manage so much as even a scream. Some instinct had locked her voice down tight. Stay quiet, stay smal , close your eyes, and make it all go away.

And, surprisingly, it did. The loud snuffling stopped, and when she dared to glance up, she saw that the two things had dismissed her and were moving off down the hallway, using all four legs now.

The hallway was littered with shredded, cast- off clothes. They stopped, snuffling the walls, and then glided into Shane’s room like ghosts.

Claire let out a sudden, explosive breath, shot to her feet, and fought a very strong impulse that wanted her to run for the stairs and get the hell out of this house, away from these things, before it was too late.

Instead, she ran forward, her vision fixed on the place on the wood she needed to press to open the hidden door.

She hit it and raced inside as the panel sighed open, pulling it shut with a hard slam just as she saw the first gleam of yellow eyes from the shadows of Shane’s bedroom turning her way. She raced up the stairs, her heart pounding hard, and stopped only when she’d reached the top and entered Amelie’s hidden lair— Miranda’s bedroom.

No Miranda, but there was someone lying on the sofa.

It was Amelie, and she was dressed in red, a dull crimson that seemed completely wrong for her, and her skin was alabaster white, and all Claire could think at first was why is she wearing that color? before she realized that it wasn’t a color at all.

It was blood, soaking her shredded white dress.

Amelie’s eyes opened, carnelian- red to match her dress of blood, and she said, “You need to flee, Claire. You can’t help me. If you go now, they will ignore you. You’re not the prey they’re tracking.”

“What happened?” Claire asked, and came closer. Amelie’s frail white hand rose, trembled, and gestured for her to stop, and Claire obeyed, because when a vampire who’d lost that much blood said to stay away it was probably a good idea to listen. “What are those— things?” But she knew. She remembered Hannah, and the bite on Shane’s arm, and it felt like gravity reversed under her feet.

“They are not things,” Amelie said. “They are humans, modi- fied to track vampires, to harry us until we are too weak to fight or run. They are Fallon’s loyal dogs, with no will of their own. But they will not harm you if you go now.” She sounded alert, but hor- ribly weak. Claire swallowed hard and edged closer. “Did you not hear me? Leave, Claire. They will not kill me. They’ll save that honor for their master.”

“I can’t. I can’t just leave!”

“I made a terrible mistake,” Amelie whispered. She closed her eyes again, and her hand dropped back to her chest. “I thought— I thought I could reason with him. He was one of mine, once. One of us. I never believed he could turn against us so thoroughly. My folly, Claire, only mine. I brought this on us. If I had killed him when I had the chance . . .”

“How do I stop them?” Claire asked, and grabbed Amelie’s hand now, squeezing it to get her attention. Amelie’s eyes flickered open again, but stared straight up, avoiding hers. “Amelie! You can’t just give up— you have to tell me what I can do!”

“You can do only one thing,” Amelie said, and suddenly Claire wasn’t holding Amelie’s hand . . . Amelie was holding hers, in an unbreakable grip. “You can help Myrnin. Do nothing for me, do you understand? Let them have me. They won’t kill me, as I said.

But you must stand aside or they will tear through you to reach me.”

Her head turned, just a little, as if she was listening. Claire heard nothing, but she felt something inside— a kind of shifting, a pain that went beyond any physical senses. The house was hurting.

And the hidden door was being shredded under the attack of six- inch claws.

“I want to help you,” Claire said. “Please.”

“There’s no escape from this room. Myrnin’s portals are bro- ken, and the only way out now is through the creatures below.

You can’t help me. All you can do is escape, and I want you to escape, Claire. I want you to go. Gather your friends and those you love. Leave the Glass House, and never come back. Leave Mor- ganville. Go. My cause is lost, and it’s a cause you could never understand in any case.” Amelie attempted a smile. It didn’t look right. “Never forget that I’m the monster.”

“I can’t just leave you here to die, Amelie. You’re not—” She swallowed hard. “You’re not the monster.”

Amelie studied her directly for a few seconds, and the power and hunger and strength of the woman behind that stare left Claire feeling light- headed. It was like looking into history somehow . . . history hundreds of years deep. “You’re so young,” Amelie said. “And so stubborn. It’s served you well, but it will not serve you now. There is one thing you can do for me, then. One last service you can perform.”

Claire nodded. She was afraid, but she wasn’t afraid of Amelie, really. She was afraid of what would happen when Amelie was gone.

When there was nothing at all to stop Fallon.

“Hold still,” Amelie said, and pulled Claire’s wrist to her lips.

The pain of her fangs going in was brief, and Claire felt an in- stant unsteadiness take hold, a kind of unreal, whispering faint- ness that made it necessary for her to fall to her knees beside the sofa. She didn’t try to pull away; there wasn’t any point. Amelie would drink as much as she wanted, and maybe that would be every thing, and maybe not. But either way, nothing Claire could do would change the outcome.

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