Mrs. Grant stepped off the bus as the police car pulled to a halt. She was holding a shotgun, which she pointed at the driver’s- side window.

“No!” Claire yelled, and fumbled at the passenger- side door.

She exited fast and waved her arms frantically. “No! She’s on our side!”

The older woman hesitated for only a moment, then nodded and returned the shotgun to a resting position on her shoulder.

“Just rock salt, anyway,” she said. “Don’t want to be killing any innocent people, even the ones the Daylighters have got their hooks into. We’re visitors here. Wouldn’t be polite, would it?”

Hannah got out of the cruiser and gave Mrs. Grant a profes- sional threat assessment, then stepped forward to offer her hand.

“Chief Hannah Moses,” she said. “You must be Mrs. Grant.”

“Heard of me?”

“You left an impression. You may be the first combat librarian I’ve ever met.”

That earned an almost- full smile from the other woman. “I think most librarians are combat qualified,” she said. “It’s not as peaceful a job as it looks. We were about to go in without you.


What about the others?” She meant Amelie, Oliver, and Morley.

“Fallon’s making them a spectacle,” Hannah said. “Good for us, because that means the attention won’t be here. If you want to save these vampires, you’d better do it now. He plans to start his conversion therapy on all of them today. Odds are, three- quarters of them won’t survive.”

“They won’t just let him do it to them. I know vampires.

They’re not very biddable.”

“If they resist, he’ll kill them,” Hannah said flatly, “and call it a riot and a necessary defensive measure. He’ll firebomb the place.

If there are any survivors, he’ll give them his cure. One thing about Fallon, he’s not squeamish. He’s already got most of his Daylighter guards and my own people in there, armed with things lethal to vampires and ready to use them.”

“And he’s got the vampires wearing shock collars,” Claire added. “So he can stun them first. No matter what, they can’t win without our help.”

“Is there any other way in except the front?” Mrs. Grant asked.

Claire shuddered, thinking of the horrible garbage chute.

“None that humans could do on their own, or would want to.”

“Frontal assault it is, then.”

“Maybe not,” Hannah said. “I can even the odds a little.” She went back to the cruiser and picked up the radio mike, adjusted the frequency, and squeezed the button on the side. “Bitter Creek team, come in. Moses here.”

The response came within seconds. “Salazar here, boss.”


“Same as ever. Bunch of freaking statues staring at us. No- body’s doing nothing. They’re hungry, though. When the next blood shipment coming?”

“A few hours,” Hannah responded. “Listen, I’m going to need you to send four more men out to Founder’s Square for crowd con- trol.”

“Boss? That just leaves me here.”

“You’ve got Fallon’s Daylighters, right?”

“Yeah, but—”

“That’s an order, Salazar.”

He hesitated just a few seconds before his voice came back over the radio. “Yes, ma’am. Sending the rest to Founder’s Square. ETA about ten minutes.”

“Ten- four.” Hannah hung up the mike and nodded to Mrs.

Grant. “That takes most of my guys out of harm’s way for now.

Salazar’s a good man. I’ll go in first and have him turn over the collar control box to me. Look, you’re not going to like it, but we have to wait for the others to leave, and I need Shane and Claire to run a little errand for me.”

“What?” Claire asked.

“Blood,” Hannah said. “If you don’t want those vampires in there snacking on us as soon as I release their collars, we’re going to need a lot of blood. Blood bank’s still got a stockpile. Go get it.”

“Are they just going to give it to us?”

“I’ve got a contact inside,” she said. “I’ll call ahead. You pull around to the back vampire entrance, and they’ll bring it out to you. Hurry.”

She stepped out of the way, and Claire got in on the driver’s side, racked the seat forward, and started the car.

It was only then, when she looked in the rearview mirror, that she saw Shane still sitting in the backseat, looking annoyed. “Oh,”

she said, and covered her mouth with her hand, mostly to hide a smile. “Sorry. We should have let you out.”

“You think?”

“Sorry. We’re going—”

“— to the blood bank. I heard. Awesome. Always wanted to be the plasma delivery service for a bunch of cranky vamps with a grudge. Wait, that pretty much describes daily life around here, doesn’t it?”

She let him have the last word as she pulled the car out to the uneven street, heading for the blood bank.

It was actually a smooth exchange, though Claire had expected something to go really wrong. As she pulled the police car to a stop, the alley door opened, and a man in a white lab coat wheeled out a large cart, like something hotels would fill with laundry.

Only this was filled with blood bags.

“Trunk,” he told her through the rolled- down window, and she searched for a bit to find the release for it. Then she got out, remembering to open Shane’s door along the way, and ran to help the doctor— Was he a doctor? She didn’t ask— fling the bags into the trunk of the police car. Shane joined her, and with the three of them working it took only a couple of minutes to pack the space available. There were a few bags left, and Shane stacked them on the car’s floorboards in the back.

“Tell Hannah it’s the pure supply; I destroyed the stuff they contaminated,” the man said, and rolled the cart back inside.

Claire slammed the trunk shut and jumped in the driver’s seat while Shane climbed in the passenger seat this time. She drove carefully, trying to avoid being spotted by anyone she recognized or by any other patrol car. So far, there were no alerts. She hoped Kentworth still had Sully under control.

As she parked next to the bus once more, she saw that Hannah was organizing the Blacke residents into teams of four— enough to cover each other’s backs if necessary. Claire gave her a thumbs- up as she rolled down the window, and Hannah replied with a crisp nod and turned to address everyone.

“Right,” she said. “We’ve got the blood. Here’s how this will work. I go in and recover the controller for the collars. I shock the vampires down— for their safety as well as ours. Your job is to take down the Daylighter guards— but be careful. They won’t hes- itate to fight back. While you’re taking them down, the kids and I will be piling all the blood in the center square of the atrium. By preference, most of the vamps will go for it when I free them, but I warn you: some will come for you or the Daylighters. Be prepared to defend yourselves there, too, and get out of the building while they feed.”

It sounded like a solid plan, and Claire swallowed hard as Han- nah ordered her into the backseat. Hannah drove slowly to the edge of the building, and watched as Mrs. Grant’s people followed on foot, keeping to the edge of the wall.

Hannah turned the corner. “Both of you, get down and stay down until I come out,” she said. “I don’t want them seeing you or this could all go bad.”

They followed instructions. Claire had a clear view of the blood bags stacked on the floor beside her, the thick dark- red liquid shifting inside the bags as Hannah got out of the car and walked away, toward the entrance. The morning heat was starting to make itself felt, and Claire felt sweat forming on her back, where the sun shone brightly. Without the AC running in the car, it would get uncomfortable quickly.

But it wasn’t long before the radio in the car crackled to life, and Hannah’s voice said, “Give the signal to Mrs. Grant.”

Claire wasn’t sure what the signal was, but Shane rose up from behind the dashboard and gave Mrs. Grant, staring into the wind- shield from a few feet away, a big thumbs- up.

The people from Blacke— thirty strong, at least— rushed into the building.

No need to hide now, Claire thought, and she sat up to try to see what was going on. Which was useless, since there wasn’t much of a view inside. But after a few long minutes of silence, Hannah’s voice came over the radio again. “Pop the trunk. Bring it in.”

Shane opened her door on the way to the back of the car, and they grabbed full armloads of the squishy bags and ran for the en- trance. Hannah opened the door for them. In her right hand, she was holding the controller box for the shock collars, and Claire saw that there were vampires down on the floor, still convulsing.

She was holding them that way.

The Daylighters were mostly down, too, being tied up by the folks from Blacke, but not all of them had fallen into the trap. In fact, one was leaning over the second- floor balcony, aiming a handgun at them. Claire would have missed him, except that she heard Myrnin shout, “Claire, get down!” and she obeyed without ques- tion, dragging Shane with her.

The gun went off, and the bullet went over their heads to shat- ter one side of the entry doors into an explosion of glass shards.

Then Myrnin rose up pale behind the shooter, and sank his fangs into the man’s neck.

Claire watched, horrified, because in that moment her gentle, sweet, goofy boss became Vampire, with a capital V. She remem- bered moments like this, when all his humanity stripped away, but this time it seemed even more frightening— mainly because he was angry. Really, really angry.

He drained the man dry, and snapped his neck when he was done, simply out of sheer fury . . . and then he tossed him over the railing, to smack like a rag doll onto the tile floor.

That made everyone stop what they were doing for an instant— even the other Daylighters who were still fighting.

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