Your children can grow up knowing that they’re safe from harm.

That’s the new Morganville. That’s Morganville in the daylight.”

He paused, and applause erupted. He held up his hands to quiet it. “As proof of this new day, I’m delighted to introduce to you one of our greatest successes . . . someone you all know and recognize, someone from one of the thirteen founding families of Morganville. He was the victim of the vampires twice over— once by Oliver, and then by Amelie, who made him one of her own. But now he stands with me in the light, alive and free of his curse. Michael Glass!”

Michael didn’t like it; Claire could see that. He didn’t want to step forward, but Fallon whispered something to him, and he complied, standing rigid and expressionless as the crowd erupted into cheers. They were cheering for him becoming human, but it still had a raw edge of bigotry to it. Some of those cheering right now would have been happy to stake him through the heart a day before, and he knew it. Of all of them, he knew what it meant to be labeled as less than human.

“Wow, this is a boring, bullshit propaganda show,” Shane said as Claire maneuvered the clippers into position and pressed hard, gritting her teeth as pain streaked up her arms from the stress and angle. “Hey, Sully, are you serving doughnuts and coffee, at least? Because I hear the KKK runs a great craft table.”

Claire’s bonds snapped, and the pressure on her shoulders eased from a red- hot burn to just a tingle. She caught Shane’s eye as Sully moved toward them, and gave him a sharp upward jerk of her head.

“You,” Sully said between gritted teeth. “Come here, you little asshole.”

“Hey, I’m not little,” Shane said. “So tell me, is your white sheet in the laundry, or did you just forget to pack it?”

Sully grabbed Shane’s arm and dragged him off balance and away from the stage. There was a backdrop set up, and he yanked Shane behind it.

Hannah sighed, shook her head, and pointed at Kentworth to go see what was happening. That left just her and Claire standing together.


Claire took a long step back toward where Shane had disap- peared, careful to make her wrists seem like they were still pinned behind her.

Hannah was watching her.

Claire kept moving until she could put the barrier between her and anyone in the crowd who might be watching. Hannah fol- lowed.

As Hannah stepped into the shadow, Claire pulled her freed hands out from behind her back and grabbed for Hannah’s gun.

She wasn’t fast enough.

Hannah’s hand clamped down hard on the butt of the auto- matic pistol, holding it in the holster, and Claire realized with a sinking sense of bitter disappointment that she should have known a former Marine wouldn’t be taken that easily. Not by some inex- perienced, untrained girl half her size.

“Nice work on the cuffs,” Hannah said. “Now take your hand off my gun, Claire.”

She did so, slowly, and stepped back. Shane was having a full- on bar brawl, still cuffed, with Sully. Kentworth was standing back, Taser in his hand, looking for an opening. He didn’t look es- pecially happy about the whole thing.

Shane slammed his forehead into Sully’s face and grinned with bloodied teeth. “Amateur,” Shane said, as Sully cried out and went down hard, holding his gushing nose and whimpering. “That’s called an Irish handshake. Somebody named Sullivan ought to know that.”

Kentworth moved in with the Taser, and Shane arched his back and sidestepped the lunge, like a matador with a bull. But he wasn’t going to be able to get away, not with his hands still pinned behind him.

Claire looked wide- eyed at Hannah. Now or never, she silently thought. She couldn’t take the gun, not against Hannah’s well-trained reflexes.

But Hannah could give it up voluntarily.

Chief Moses nodded slightly and moved her hand away from the holster.

Claire lunged forward and grabbed the weapon; she checked the safety, which had been ingrained in her by weapons training with Shane, and clicked it off. “Call him off,” she said. She didn’t aim the gun at Hannah. She didn’t think she had to.

Hannah said, “Kentworth. Back off. Now.”

He stepped away, leaving Shane wobbling a little, bloodied but still standing. He had a red bruise forming on his forehead, and he spat blood from a cut lip, but she’d seen him worse. A lot worse.

Sullivan was still on the ground, cradling his nose. He yelled something, but it was incomprehensible.

“Knife,” she said to Hannah. Hannah unsnapped a holster on her other side and pulled out a military- style blade with a black grip, which she handed over. Claire took it and backed toward Shane. She kept the weapon raised this time, and focused on Kent- worth, who was casting doubtful looks at Hannah, clearly not sure what he was supposed to do about this.

She sawed carefully through one side of Shane’s flex cuffs, and as his hand came loose, she pressed the handle into his palm.

“You give me the best presents,” he said, then freed his other wrist with a practiced slice. The flex cuffs dropped to the grass.

“We’re going now. Keys.”

“What?” Kentworth asked.

“Car keys. Toss ’em.”

Kentworth was clearly considering going for his weapon, not his keys; whatever doubts he had about the Daylight Foundation— if he had any at all— were back- burnered by the fact that two of his prisoners had somehow managed to escape their restraints and gain weapons. When he twitched slightly, though, Hannah said flatly, “Give them the keys. That’s an order.”

“I can take her, ma’am.”

“And you’ll have to wake up tomorrow knowing you shot a teenage girl dead when you didn’t need to,” Hannah said. “Toss the keys, Charlie. They’re not going anywhere.”

Kentworth looked doubtful, but Hannah’s firm, calm tone made the difference. He unclipped the keys from his belt loop and tossed them at Shane’s feet. “It’s a long way to the car, son,” he said.

“You might want to think about the danger you’re putting your girlfriend in out there.”

Shane twirled the keys around his finger for a second, then tossed them. Claire thought for a second that his aim was off, but it wasn’t, because he wasn’t throwing them toward her at all.

He was throwing them toward Hannah, who effortlessly fielded them. “Sorry about this,” she told Kentworth, and before Claire could really understand what exactly had just happened, Hannah walked past Kentworth to Sullivan. She rolled the pro- testing man over and used her handcuffs to pin his hands behind his back. When Sully gave a gargling yell of protest, she leaned an elbow into his back. “Sully, I could do a hell of a lot worse to you than just handcuff you. If I have to gag you, you’ll choke on your blood from that broken nose. So stay quiet, or I’ll make you quiet.”

Sully shut up. He took Hannah seriously, no question about that. She stood up and looked at Kentworth, who slowly raised both hands in the air. He reached up, took the Daylighter pin from his collar, and dropped it on the ground.

“Happy to help, ma’am,” he said. “Never really liked any of this from the beginning. I only joined them because you did.”

“That was my mistake,” Hannah said. She looked at Claire and Shane. “Amelie’s not really dead, is she?”

“Nope,” Shane said, and held out his hand to her. She shook it and nodded gravely. “Nice to have you back, Hannah.”

“Nice to stop pretending that I’m a true believer,” she said. “Fair warning— I’m not sure I can stay on your side for long, if Fallon sets me to hunting vampires. Can’t control that much at all.”

“The good news is that Fallon’s vampire cure seems to work for whatever we are, too. But word of advice— try biting somebody who survived it. Not Michael, though. He’s been through enough.”

For the first time in a long time, Hannah actually smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind. Tactical question— what’s Amelie waiting for? Why isn’t she taking Fallon down right now?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure she’d love to, but she wants to be sure that her people are free before she does it. No more hostages.

That’s how he got her in the first place— hostages and threats, right?”

“No,” Hannah said. “Not threats. His task force took ten vampires hostage, all right, but his first act when he got Amelie to show up to rescue them was to stake half of them with those booby- trapped stakes. They died when she tried to help them. She gave herself up to stop him from killing the rest the same way.”

She hesitated, then continued, “They were all her bloodline. Sib- lings, and vampires she created. Family, as vampires count these things.”

Amelie had never seemed all that easy to manipulate, but Claire knew how she felt about her people— she’d created Mor- ganville specifically to protect them against all the threats that surrounded them. She would fight and die for them. And when it came to actual family . . . “That’s horrible.”

“Yes,” Hannah said. “But I don’t think Fallon recognizes it anymore.”

Shane exchanged a look with Claire and said, “We need to get Michael and Eve out of the middle of this. Michael isn’t used to being human. He’s going to make a mistake, get himself killed try- ing to react like a vampire.”

“We can’t,” Claire said. “They’re on the stage. We have to leave them there for now.” She saw the expression that crossed his face, and she sympathized; she didn’t like it, either. But he knew she was right.

“Then we have to hurry,” Hannah said. “Kentworth, you’re in charge of Sully. Keep him quiet.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “Be careful.”


Turned out there was no easier way to leave Founder’s Square than in the custody of the Morganville chief of police.


Mrs. Grant hadn’t backstabbed them after all. By the time they arrived at the Bitter Creek Mall, the bus from Blacke was idling on the north side of the park- ing lot, out of sight of the front doors, where the guards were stationed. Claire spotted it from the road, and pointed it out to Hannah, who nodded and turned into the street that looped around the mall. The asphalt was cracked and split, so she took it slow, avoiding the occasional bush that had pushed its way up from the darkness.

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