We have to find a way.

“It’s just a house,” she said, and kept smiling. “And we’re never letting you win.”

But she knew that the first half of that was a lie. The Glass House was never just a house.

Not to them.


The guard brought along a friend to drive, since his eyes were swelling shut and his face was a gory mess of blood.

His nose, Claire thought, looked like something a mon- ster makeup artist might have rejected as “too weird.” It was amaz- ing how much damage she’d done to him, and she felt increasingly guilty about it. That was the difference between her and Shane in the end, she thought; she couldn’t take any pride in her violence.

But it was still good to know she could defend herself when it was necessary.

The guards didn’t say anything to her on the way. She thought they were too angry to try to be civil, and truthfully, she didn’t want to talk to them anyway. She was busy searching the dusty crack between the seat and the backrest, trying to see if anyone had dropped something useful. She found a rolled tube that felt like a cigarette but was probably something less legal, and left it there. Just when she was about to give it up as a lost cause, her fingers brushed across something that felt metallic. She grabbed for it, and realized it was a paper clip, one of the larger, sturdier ones.

She teased it out slowly from between the fabric, then tried to think how to hide it. She settled for sliding it into a frayed opening in the jeans she was wearing, and clipping it to the thin white strings so that it dangled inside. It might fall off, but it was all she could do in case they searched her.


Not a long ride in the police car— Hannah was evidently al- lowing use of official equipment for private security guards, which seemed like a bad idea to Claire— before they pulled up at the front of the iron gates of an old, brooding place that looked as if it had been built to be some kind of fortress. Narrow, barred windows, and forbidding Gothic doors. The sign above the door read morganville mental health facility. That didn’t seem promising.

The guards turned to look at her as they pulled the car to a halt inside the gates, next to the front door. “Don’t give us any more trouble,” said the one whose nose she hadn’t busted. “I don’t like whaling on skinny little girls, but if you pull a stunt like that again, I promise you, I won’t hesitate to put you on the ground.”

The other one mumbled something that sounded like ap- proval, but between his congested nose and his bad mood, Claire couldn’t be sure of anything. She sat quietly as the uninjured man opened her door and then let him help her out, since having her wrists bound behind her back made everything about ten times harder (which was probably the point). The stony gray mass of the building— the asylum— loomed over her like it was planning to collapse and bury her, and she felt a small tremor of fear, looking at her future. No, we’re get ing out of here, she thought. Me and Eve, we’re blowing this place and saving the Glass House and Michael and Oliver and Myrnin and making it all right again.

But Fallon had managed to plant one deep, sprouting seed of doubt. Because what did “all right” really mean, in the end? Status quo? Vampires continuing to oppress and disadvantage humans for their own wealth and benefit? Humans hating vampires and trying to kill them? Constant tension and bloodshed, on both sides? Was she on the right side— or was there a right side at all? There had to be, on balance. You have to be on the side of the ones being hunted and imprisoned, don’t you? Still. The gnawing sense that in this moral gray area she was walking on the wrong side of the line was really starting to scare her.

Or it did until the old Gothic doors swung open, and Dr. Irene Anderson stepped out to greet them.

She looked much the same as she had back in Cambridge, when Claire had liked her so much as a mentor; she looked calm and competent and quirky, not at all like an agent of evil and chaos.

The white coat she was wearing gave her even more of an air of le- gitimacy. But the look she gave Claire was both pleased and chill- ing. “So glad to see you again, Claire,” she said. “Please, come in.

I’m sure you’ll be just as pleased as I am that we get to work to- gether again for the common good.”

“If that means not at all, then yes,” Claire said. She had a real reluctance to take the two steps up to the doorway where Ander- son waited, but there didn’t seem to be much choice. The two wannabe cops behind her would push her in if she didn’t go on her own, and Anderson would get a lot of pleasure out of that. Out of her fear.

Claire held eye contact and walked up to join Dr. Anderson, who put a friendly hand on her shoulder. “So nice to see you again,” she said, and it was a lie, and the look in her eyes was unreadable. “Don’t be afraid. We’re going to help you get past these feelings of loyalty you have to the vampires. It’s not your fault.

More of a Stockholm syndrome hostage reaction, seeking to please those with power over you so you can survive. Nothing to be ashamed of, just something to be fixed.”

“Thanks. Can you take these off, please?” Claire rattled her handcuffs. Anderson’s smile deepened and turned just a touch mean.

“Maybe later,” she said. “It looks to me like you’ve taken on some very bad habits, Claire. I want to be sure I can trust you first.”

“You can trust me,” Claire said.

“To do what? Act out? Yes, I’m certain I can trust you to be as much of a handful as possible . . . like your friend Eve.”

Claire couldn’t help but ask. “Is she all right?”

“Fine,” Anderson said. “You’ll see her soon.”

The doors boomed shut and locked behind them as they passed into the shadows, and Claire fought back a feeling that she’d just made a really terrible mistake.

The asylum (okay, it wasn’t called that, but Claire couldn’t help but think of it that way) was surprisingly quiet, and once her eyes had adjusted to the lower light levels, it was also surprisingly lush.

New, springy carpet cushioned her feet, and she smelled the sharp tang of new paint on the walls. Here, as in the rest of Morganville, there’d been a makeover.

But the doors— heavy metal doors, with sliding windows inset in them— still locked.

“Cheery,” Claire said. “Where’s Eve?”

“Beginning her course of treatment,” Anderson said. “Don’t worry, you’ll see her, but not immediately. This is more of an im- mersive therapy.”

“I figured you’d need my help making more copies of VLAD.”

That was the name she’d given— maybe a little whimsically— to the device she’d created in Myrnin’s lab that worked as a kind of super- Taser on vampires, only it acted by attacking them mentally, not physically. It was effective. Way too effective, in fact.

“You sabotaged the last one I handed you, and are responsible for all the deaths that happened after, because of your actions,”

her former mentor said. She couldn’t quite keep the resentment from her voice. “I don’t think I can count on you to see reason anymore, Claire. It’s too bad. You’re a very bright young woman, and you could have done great things.”

“Still can,” Claire said. “But probably not with you, because you’re insane.”

“You should know all about that, given your . . . intimacy with Myrnin.” There was something in Anderson’s voice that made Claire give her a startled, then angry glare. “Does he know, your boyfriend? About your affair with the vampire?”

“I’m not having any kind of affair!”

“What is it people your age call it, then? A hookup?”

“Ugh,” Claire said. “Just shut up. You’re embarrassing yourself.

I think it’s you who wanted a hookup with Myrnin back in the day, and you never got it.” She said it, and meant it, and even felt a little flare of pleasure when Dr. Anderson flinched. She’d learned dirty fighting from Shane, but she’d learned how to go for some- one’s weak spot from Monica Morrell. Funny, you could learn something from even your worst enemies. “Besides, I thought you were all about slimy Dr. Davis back in Cambridge. Did he tell you he talked my housemate into bed, too? Or maybe you’re just hot for Fallon these days. Doesn’t matter. They’re both loser choices, and they say a whole lot about you as a person.”

Hard to tell from Anderson’s furious blush which guess was on target, but it didn’t really matter; Claire had hit the mark squarely.

Anderson opened a creaking metal door, shoved Claire off balance into it, and before Claire could hop enough to get her feet under her again, she heard the hollow boom of her only escape being cut off . . . and then, the key turning.

The room wasn’t much— simple, plain as any cell, with a small twin bed, a pillow, a blanket, and a small wooden chest of drawers that Claire imagined would hold standard- issue pajamas and un- derwear for the patients. A mirror was bolted to the wall over the sink— not actual glass, of course. Plastic. At least the toilet/shower combination was in a separate little alcove.

It smelled like Lysol and desperation.

The window slid aside, and Anderson stared at her for a long moment. “Don’t get comfortable,” she said. “Your treatments will start soon.”

“How about unlocking these handcuffs?”

“No.” The window slid shut with a final click, and Claire heard that lock in place, too.

There was an odd sound just at the edge of her hearing. At first she thought it might be a siren . . . and then she knew it wasn’t.

It was screaming.


Claire felt her knees go weak. She sank down on the bed, winc- ing at the shrill squeak of the springs, and took a deep breath. I have to get out of here.

She felt around the back of her pants to where she’d stashed the paper clip.

It was still there, tangled up in thin acid- washed threads. It took time and patience and cramping fingers to work the paper clip free; after she’d finally succeeded, she took a break, working her sore, still- pinned hands and trying to get some feeling back into them. The guards who’d taken her in had, not unexpectedly, put the cuffs on too tightly, and she had throbbing pain around her wrists. Her hands felt bloated and tingly, and for lack of any- thing better to do at the moment, she stretched out prone on the bed and held her hands up at a painful angle to reduce the blood flow. The tingling faded in a couple of minutes, and the fingers felt better. Still clumsy, but better.

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