That, and the fact that his Daylight Foundation pin gleamed like real gold.

He nodded to Hannah and said, “You can let them go now. I’m sure that we’re all going to be civilized. Besides, they can hardly drink their water if their hands are tied. It’s important to start this conversation with trust.”

Hannah nodded to her deputy, and as he unfastened Shane’s handcuffs, she pulled out a utility knife and sliced through the zip- tie cuffs on Claire’s wrists, and then Eve’s. Doreen hurried to put bottles of water into their newly freed hands— cold, sweating bottles that reminded Claire how long it had been since she’d had anything to drink.

“Thanks,” she said, and put the bottle down on the chair where she’d been sitting. “Not thirsty.” It was a lie, but she didn’t know enough yet to trust anything about this situation— not even a sealed water bottle.

The man’s pale eyebrows raised just a touch. “It’s a name brand,” he said. “I can promise you that it hasn’t been tampered with.” He extended his hand toward her. “I’m Rhys Fallon. And you must be Claire Danvers.”

“Are you in charge here?” Claire asked him, without shaking the hand he was holding out. He lowered it to his side, not visibly offended.

“I suppose you could say that,” he said. “Although I like to think that it’s more a collaboration, not a dictatorship.”

“If you’re in charge, you can take us to our friends, right now,”

“Your friends . . . ?”

“Michael,” Eve said. “Oliver, Myrnin, Jesse. You know. The ones you had shot and carried off.”


“Ah.” Rhys clasped his hands behind his back and, for the first time, studied Eve. He spent a strangely long time at it, and there was something about his body language that altered, just a little.

“Eve Rosser, is it not?”

“Eve Glass,” she said, and raised her chin to make the point more forcefully. He didn’t seem to notice.

“I’m delighted to meet someone who is so . . . legendary in Mor- ganville. The descriptions I’ve heard don’t do you justice.” He smiled at her, and that was a little too much wattage to direct at a married woman— an angry married woman at that. “Well, I am very sorry, and I wish I could grant your request, but it isn’t possible just now. Michael and your other friends are being well looked after, and after they’re completely recovered, they’ll be placed into protective custody. You’ll be able to visit later, perhaps.”

“I want to see my husband, and there’s no later and there’s no perhaps. I want to see him right the hell now. I don’t care who you think you are, you can’t—”

“Yes, I can,” he said, and Claire was struck by the fact that he stated it without emphasis. It wasn’t a bluff; it wasn’t a boast. It was just . . . fact. It even had a tinge of regret to it. “I’m sorry, Miss Rosser—”

“Mrs. Glass!” Eve’s face was flushed now, and her fists clenched.

“— but you must accept that things are different here than when you left town. I believe for the better, but you may not agree quite yet. I hope you will, in the end. I sincerely do.” He cleared his throat and glanced away for the first time, at Hannah Moses. “We’ll have to discuss the . . . legitimacy of your marriage at a later time.”

“What?” Eve almost went for his throat, right there, but Hannah restrained her with a cautionary hand on her shoulder. “What are you talking about? We were married! In the church!”

“As I said, a conversation for a later time, perhaps. I am sorry to upset you.”

He might have been sorry, but he had definitely upset her, big- time. Eve’s cheeks had gone from flushed to pale now, and she looked shaky. She hadn’t expected that, at all . . . not that.

Claire said, “I want to see Amelie.”

That got his immediate undivided attention. His eyes were very blue, and in fact not at all warm. Not cold, either. Just . . .

expressionless. “I’m sorry, perhaps you didn’t understand,” he said.

“It simply isn’t possible. And it will not be anywhere in the near future. If you want to talk to the person in charge of Morganville, it is no longer a vampire. It is Mayor Flora Ramos, the duly elected representative, which is as it should be. Or don’t you agree that humans should govern themselves? Your reputation was . . . somewhat different. I thought that you had stood up for the free will and rights of humans in this town.”

“Depends on the human,” Claire said. “As far as I know, Hitler had a heartbeat, and I wouldn’t vote him to be in charge.”

That earned her a slow, warm smile. “You think Mayor Ramos is Adolf Hitler?”

“You’re drawing false connections, and I don’t know who you are. But I’m betting that Mayor Ramos answers to you.”

“That’s an interesting inference, and I think you might be sur- prised about how much free will the mayor has. Shane? You’re un- accountably silent.” He suddenly turned and looked at her boyfriend, who stared back without any shift in his guarded ex- pression and said nothing. “Are you going to let your girlfriend do all the work?”

“Yeah,” Shane said. “Why? Is it bugging you, Rhys? What kind of name is that, anyway?”

“Irish. I meant no disrespect, I simply thought you’d be more—” Rhys just shrugged. “Well. Forceful.”

Shane just smiled his sweetest, nicest smile, but his eyes were hard. And dangerous.

“He is,” Claire said. “So am I. So’s Eve. You’d better start an- swering our questions, right now.”

“You know, I appreciate your passion, but you betray your very young age when you speak that way to me, because I am not your prisoner, Claire. You would do well to note that fact very care- fully.”

There was menace in his tone now, something subtle but all the more serious for it. Fallon held Claire’s stare for a long moment, and then, without looking away, said, “Ah, Irene. How fare you, my friend?”

Claire turned just as the glass door closed behind Dr. Irene Anderson, who stood there blocking their way out. Once, Dr. An- derson had been Claire’s professor at MIT; once, Claire had trusted her, even liked her. Now she just loathed the sight of her— especially free, armed, and with a pale gleam of hatred in her slightly deranged eyes.

Dr. Anderson racked the shotgun she held, just for emphasis.

“I’m fine, Rhys, thank you,” she said. “Which is more than I can say for all our compatriots back in Cambridge. They killed them.

They killed them all.”

“Even Dr. Davis?”

“He’s dead. They’re all dead.” She aimed the shotgun at Claire, Shane, and Eve. “Hannah, step aside. We can’t leave these collaborators alive.”

“Irene!” Fallon’s voice was an unmistakable whipcrack of com- mand, and she flinched and looked at him, startled. “No one is doing anything so reckless here. Put that down, now. ”


“Did you hear what I said? What is wrong with you, woman? You’d take a shotgun to three people hardly older than children?”

“Trust me, they’re adults,” she said. “And they didn’t hesitate to kill us when they had the chance. You’re making a mistake, Rhys, a big one. You can’t deal mercifully with these . . . vampire lovers. I’ve told you before, the world is better off if you just end all this once and for all. No half measures. Do not underestimate them.”

That was kind of a compliment, Claire supposed, but it was also terrifying when combined with the loaded shotgun and the half- crazy look on her face. Dr. Anderson would very much like to kill them. And apparently, the only thing that was really standing in her way was Fallon, and as far as Claire could tell, he was thinking about his options.

Hannah had quietly removed her handgun from its holster and was holding it at her side. Now she said, “Irene, please put the shotgun down.”

That startled Dr. Anderson, and her eyes widened when she took in the fact that Hannah had her own weapon ready. “You’d shoot me?”

“I’m here to keep the peace,” Hannah said. “You seem to be threatening it. So I’m asking you nicely, please put that down and let’s all be civil.”

Fallon seemed to make his decision. He took three steps for- ward and put himself squarely in the line of fire— a position where Irene couldn’t miss him if she happened to shoot. “This isn’t like you, my dear,” he said. “Now let me have that thing before some- one gets hurt.”

Irene hesitated, but she lowered the shotgun from firing posi- tion and handed it over to him. Fallon took it and held it comfort- ably in the crook of his arm, as if he was long acquainted with proper gun safety procedures. “Thank you,” he said. “Mrs. Hodg- son, could you please show Dr. Anderson to her quarters? I believe she could use a comfortable rest and a meal, and perhaps some calming medication. Thank you so much.”

It was all very warm and kindly, but Claire still felt chilled as she watched their nice old neighbor lady take Dr. Anderson by the arm and lead her off through the far door, patting her and mur- muring in a calm, grandmotherly sort of way. If the last scorching glance Dr. Anderson sent back toward them was any indication, it wasn’t working.

“I’d apologize for that, but it appears to me that there might be some justification for how much she dislikes the three of you,” Fallon said. “Would you like to tell me your side of it? Or shall I just take her at her word? If I do that, you may very well be on your way to jail, charged with murder.”

“We didn’t murder anyone,” Claire said quickly, as Eve took in a hot breath, ready to start yelling. “We were abducted. We were held prisoner, at gunpoint. We fought our way free, and yes, peo- ple died, but we didn’t have a choice.”

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