“They tortured Michael,” Eve said. “They were going to kill us all when they were done with us. They were using Myrnin, Oliver, and Jesse as lab rats, too.”

“But you did kill them,” Fallon said.

“Ever heard of self- defense?” Shane asked. He sounded as calm and measured as Eve was angry. “It was a bad scene, and trust me, whether they were friends of yours or not, they were not good peo- ple. They kidnapped Claire’s roommate, who didn’t have diddly to do with anything, and nearly got her killed in the process. They did kill another guy who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A human guy.”

Fallon considered that for a moment, then looked at Hannah, who shrugged. “We’ve only got their word versus Anderson’s,” she said. “Irene may be a friend of yours, but I know these kids, and they generally try to do the right thing. I’m inclined to believe them.”

“Sweet. Does that mean I get to hold the shotgun?” Shane asked.

“Perhaps some other time,” Fallon said. “In any case, whatever crimes were committed, they were not committed here, and thus would be outside of Chief Moses’s jurisdiction. But please don’t misunderstand; I take the deaths of my people seriously, and it counts against you. Your earnest cooperation is required to avoid any further unpleasantness. Because if there happens to be any trouble here in Morganville, it will not be so easily overlooked, do you understand? These are not the old rules, the Founder’s rules.

These are rules of law, and justice, and they will be enforced re- gardless of who you are or who you know.”

Fine words, Claire thought. She wondered if that was what had gotten Hannah on board his train. “I see that your rule of law and justice doesn’t extend to vampires,” she said. “Seeing as how you’re willing to have them shot on sight.”

“Non- fatally, you might have noticed.” Fallon’s voice was mild, but firm. “Everyone will get a fair chance in Morganville. That is why the mayor has joined us, and the police chief”— said with a polite nod toward Hannah— “and most of the other prominent citizens and families. You see, once Amelie’s threat to those in Morganville was removed, no one hesitated to speak their minds about how radically the situation needed to change.”

There was only one part of that Claire paid attention to— once Amelie’s threat to those in Morganvil e was removed? Well, she should have already guessed that; if Amelie was still in charge, she’d have wasted no time in shutting all this Daylight Foundation stuff down— no matter what the cost in lives. What worried Claire was that Amelie was old and clever and ruthless, but somehow she hadn’t seen this coming.


What had happened to her? Where was she now?

“Where are you keeping her?” That was Shane asking, as if he’d read Claire’s mind; it was also unusual for him to be con- cerned about the fate of vampires, but then, Amelie had been mostly on their side lately. “Or did you just cut to the chase and kill her already?”

“Of course not,” Fallon said. “I’m not here to kill. I’m here to protect the human population of Morganville, and to make sure that they gain the control over their lives that they deserve— that is my first priority. But the vampires are residents of this town as well, and we are working for their long- term good, too.”

“So Amelie’s not dead, then,” Shane said. “You know that as long as she’s still alive, you’re never going to have control of this town, right? It’s hers; she built it. She sees herself as a queen, and she’s not the type to just walk away.”

Claire felt as if the temperature in this warm, sunlit room had dipped by twenty degrees. Was Shane really somehow warning Fallon to kil the Founder of Morganville? Shane’s father had been radically anti- vampire; he’d convinced Shane to hate them, too, at least for a while. But she thought he was over that. Mostly.

Fallon, however, watched Shane with steady eyes, and shook his head. “Like Amelie herself, you overestimate how fond people in this town are of her and her kind. Now that they are free of the fear, of the threats and reprisals, they’ve simply turned their backs on her and forgotten she ever existed. No one will listen to her, or rally to her cause, even if she should decide to make this some sort of a fight. They don’t fear her enough.”

“Why are we even talking about Amelie?” Eve asked in a low, harsh voice. “They’ve got Michael. And he’s who we ought to be worried about!”

Shane didn’t answer her. His gaze had fixed on Fallon’s, and Claire felt a deep surge of unease. Something was off about him.

This wasn’t the usual, challenging way Shane confronted someone who had— at the very least— done his friends harm. She couldn’t exactly pinpoint how it was different, but . . . it was. Definitely.

“Shane,” she said, and put her hand on his arm. “Shane.” That got to him, and the blankness in him faded away. When he looked at her, he was normal again. Well, normal for Shane, anyway.

He cleared his throat and said, “Yeah, about that, we’re going to need our friend Michael back. Intact.”

“Or?” Fallon asked. It wasn’t confrontational, really, just an in- terested question.

“Look, you clearly do not know who you’re screwing with,”

Eve said, and she was definitely confrontational, a whole lot. “I want my husband back, Osama bin Crazy, right the hell now! And don’t give me any shit about how you don’t want to call him my hus- band, because he is, and he always will be!” She was so angry now that tears welled up in her eyes, but with a huge effort of will, she refused to give in to the sobs.

Fallon took the red silk handkerchief from his breast pocket and pressed it into Eve’s hand. He even patted her fingers gently as they closed around the fabric. “I’m so very sorry to upset you,” he said. “Believe me, that isn’t my intention. I came to Morganville to bring a peace that has never existed here, and not just a fear-enforced peace on the streets, but real peace in the hearts of those who live here. I’m certain that Michael would not want you to feel such distress on his behalf.”

“Don’t you dare talk about what Michael would want! You don’t even know him!”

And Fallon, without a flicker of resentment, suddenly smiled at Eve— a sweet, disarming sort of smile. “Of course you’re right,” he said. “I don’t know him, but I have a very real kinship to him. You see, as I understand it, Michael was attacked by a vampire and, well, killed. Isn’t that true?”

Eve, taken aback, couldn’t quite get her words together, so Claire said, “He wasn’t kil ed, exactly.”

“Oh, no, I assure you he was. Yet that extraordinary house of yours saved him, didn’t it? Gave him a pale half- life of an existence as some kind of ghost? He had very little choice in becoming a vampire at all, and I do understand that. I had very little choice in what happened to me, either, and that is why I established the Daylight Foundation— not to destroy vampires, but to rehabili- tate them. To save them. You’ve seen the motto on the door: all are welcome in the light. And I most sincerely mean that. I think that if you asked him, really asked, he would tell you that he has no real desire to be a vampire. Only the monsters enjoy that existence.”

Eve sucked in a steadying breath and said, “Michael’s still Mi- chael, no matter what his diet is, and I want to be with him. Don’t tell me it isn’t safe. He won’t hurt me!”

“I see. I think you honestly believe that. Well, I really must let Michael tell you himself, mustn’t I? Perhaps it is best if you see him, then. Hannah will take you for a short visit, and we’ll hear no more about it after.”

He had a certain draw to him, Claire thought. She could see how he could convince people to follow him . . . even Hannah, who definitely was not born gullible. He had a fire in him, and strength, and courage. It was right there, for anyone who looked hard enough.

God, she thought, suddenly and coldly alarmed. Even I’m fal ing for it a lit le. That wasn’t normal. Not for her. Maybe when she’d first arrived in Morganville she might have bought into that kind of charisma, but she’d grown since then. She’d learned how to dis- trust a nice face and a winning smile.

It was odd, but something about him reminded her of vam- pires, and the charm they could deploy in the cause of gaining what they wanted. What unsettled her was that Fallon quite clearly wasn’t a vampire— she could see the pulse beating in his throat, his color was good, and there was none of that strange sense of other that she almost always got from the fanged gang.

She was so caught up in her own reactions that she almost missed what Fallon said, and it took a few seconds to penetrate that he had, in fact, just agreed.

He was going to let them see Michael, which should have been, by any measure, a victory.

Why did it feel so much like a trap?


Once upon a time— well before Claire had come to Mor- ganville, and probably before she’d entered puberty— there had been a mall in town. It hadn’t been a huge one, not like the sprawling temples of shopping that you could find in the bigger cities like Dallas or Houston, or even Midland. It also had never had any of the major chain stores in it, mainly because (as Eve had speculated, probably correctly) Amelie didn’t want to have regular traffic in and out of town or to encourage visitors.

And as humble as a Sears store might be, it would have still been better than anything else within a hundred miles, and it would have made people— people who weren’t in the know— come to Morganville.

So the mall had housed only local stores, and it had struggled along for a few years in the mid- 1980s until the last business had failed and bailed, leaving behind one of the largest empty structures in Morganville— which said a lot, considering how many empty structures there were around town. The old tire factory, and the even older hospital, for example, were fairly gigantic. But the biggest difference to Claire was that she had never been forced to run for her life in the old mall. It had always seemed more of a sad place than an actively evil one.

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