“Give me a minute and I might just get there,” Hannah said, and attempted a smile. It wasn’t quite right, but it was brave. “Let’s get out of here.”

Claire would have, but as they turned for the stairs, she caught sight of a fuzzy black spider about the size of her palm sitting on top of a book, watching her with eight bright, beady eyes. He looked almost cute.

“Hey, Bob,” she said. She reached down, and he climbed up on her hand. “Let’s get you back in your tank, okay?”

He didn’t seem unhappy with that. She carried him back over the rubble, and he clung to her hand easily, riding all the uneven progress without much concern. She righted his tank and held out her hand, and he scuttled off and settled into the gauzy webs, looking perfectly comfortable.

She resisted the urge to pat him on the head. Thorax. What- ever. “Good boy, Bob. I’ll be back soon.”

He hopped up and down a little in the webs, then turned his attention to one of his stored insects.

She was happy to skip that part, actually.

As she came back to them, Hannah already seemed much bet- ter, and Shane looked relieved. “Swear to God, I don’t get you and that spider,” he said. “But if you’re done playing Dr. Doolittle . . .”

“I know where they’ll have Jesse,” Claire said. “Let’s go.”

But she was wrong.


The asylum— mental hospital— whatever the current politi- cally correct term might be— was closed and locked. Nobody there.

Claire went around back to check windows, but she didn’t find any- thing. Just to be thorough, Hannah broke in (though according to her it was an emergency entry), but she came back shaking her head.

She looked disturbed, though. “Bodies,” she said. “Quite a few. He’s been processing vampires through his conversion faster than I thought. But Jesse’s not in there.”

“Then where?” Shane asked.

Claire thought frantically. It could be anywhere, absolutely anywhere in Morganville, but Fallon seemed to be a man who en- joyed sticking the knife in and twisting it just a little bit more.

That meant if he’d moved Jesse, he’d moved her for a reason.

“I think he’s got her with him,” Claire said. “At Founder’s Square. Don’t you?”

“Well,” Hannah said, “we have to go there anyway. Hop in.”

The ride back to Founder’s Square wasn’t as easy as leaving, mainly because the alerts about Hannah had gone out; they heard it on the police radio in the car when the news dropped. Chief Hannah Moses to be arrested on sight. Armed and dangerous.

“That,” Hannah said, “is code for Kil ing her would be just fine.

Most of my folks won’t feel that way. I hire good people, mostly, though some of them got forced on me, like Sullivan. But Fallon’s Daylighters will be out for blood, and they won’t hesitate.”

Not good news, Claire thought. They needed Hannah by their side. “So how are we going to get there?”

“On foot,” Hannah said. She stopped the car and parked it in front of the City Lights Washateria, where only a couple of people sat inside, looking depressed and watching the dryers spin. “Give me two minutes.”

She went in, had a short exchange with the woman sitting there, opened the dryer, and pulled out some clothes.

“Um . . . ,” Claire said, and poked Shane in the ribs. “Is she changing clothes?”

“Yep,” he said. “Normally, if we weren’t in mortal danger, I would really find this fascinating.”

It was actually less than two minutes before Hannah was back, carrying a bundle with her uniform and gun belt. She’d found a slightly large pair of dress pants that weren’t really long enough (but flood pants were in, Claire remembered) and a too- frilly pink shirt that was also a little big, but surprisingly cute. The only things that seemed far out of place were her shoes, which were typ- ical police issue, but at a glance she could pass easily as a civilian.

She’d also taken the Daylighters pin from her uniform collar and was wearing it on the shirt.

“Camouflage,” she said, when Claire pointed at it. She opened the doors. “We’ll be walking from here on in. Shane, you’re famil- iar with this.” She tossed him the shotgun from the rack in front.

“Claire— take the Taser.”

“What about you?”

Hannah slipped her sidearm into a pancake holster at the small of her back, and flipped the shirt down over it.

“Unless it’s take- your- shotgun- to- work day, I’m going to get noticed,” Shane said. “Not that it isn’t a great late birthday present, though.”

Hannah looked around the other stores on the block, and grinned. “I can fix that.”

And she did.

“I hate this,” Shane complained, and sneezed. Turned out he was allergic to roses. And he was carrying a thick bundle of them to conceal the shotgun. It was kind of bizarrely clever, because no- body thought a guy carrying roses was dangerous in the least, did they? Especially one who was sneezing.

Claire could tell from how hard he was gritting his teeth that he really did hate it. A lot.

They walked quickly but calmly the short distance to Found- er’s Square. Hannah must have thought ahead, because they went to one of the side entrances; it was guarded by a police officer, but as Hannah got closer, she locked stares with the woman and said, “Get on the right side, Gretchen. Semper Fi.”

Gretchen— a trim woman with thick white- blond hair— nodded, gave them all a quick glance, and swung the gate open. “I never saw you, boss,” she told Hannah.


And then they were in, approaching from the side. There was a school choir onstage, singing something that it took Claire a mo- ment to realize was “Here Comes the Sun.” They weren’t very good.

“That’s a little on the nose,” Shane said. “I think maybe ‘Black Hole Sun’ might be more appropriate.”

He was right, of course. The audience Fallon had gathered, though, seemed entranced; they were swaying to the music, holding hands, looking for all the world like they were having a religious experience.

Amelie, Oliver, and Morley were still motionless on the stage, blistering and steaming in the sun. It must have been agonizing, waiting for their chance. Claire wondered why they hadn’t done it already, but then she realized they were waiting for word that the vampires in the mall had been rescued.

It was up to her, and Shane, to let them know.

She spotted Eve and Michael. They were sitting in chairs on- stage next to Fallon, pretty much held there by the two Daylighter guards standing behind them. Maybe that was another reason why Amelie hadn’t moved; Eve and Michael would be the first in dan- ger if she did.

The choir was still singing when the vampires began to arrive at Founder’s Square.

Some were covered by blankets, coats, whatever they’d been able to scavenge along the way from the mall. Some, the older ones, had made do with a hat or some kind of cap. They came over the walls in a silent stream, landing quietly in the bushes and moving forward to gather at the edges of the crowd. It was done very calmly. Nobody threatened. Nobody attacked.

Then someone in the crowd must have noticed that a vampire was standing right beside him. He yelled, and a flurry of confusion erupted. People began drawing back, flinching from the sudden appearance of the bogeymen all around them . . . and as their false sense of security shattered into chaos, and the crowd began to stampede in all directions.

Faith in the sunlight wasn’t enough in the face of real danger, apparently.

The choir was still singing, but it was falling apart, too, and Fallon shoved through them to get to the microphone. “Don’t run!” he shouted, and his voice rang out over the square, echoing back from the buildings with their fluttering banners. “Don’t run from them! Stand up to them! Fight for your town. You have the advantage— they are few, and they are weak. Take Morganville back!”

“Go,” Hannah said. “Get Michael and Eve out of there! I need to make sure nobody does anything stupid.” She was already gone, running flat out for two of her own cops, one of whom was draw- ing his sidearm but not quite sure where to aim it.

Shane grabbed Claire’s arm and towed her quickly toward the stage. That wasn’t easy, because a lot of the crowd was running in that direction, as if Fallon’s presence was somehow going to pro- tect them from about vampires gathering on the other side of the folding chairs. Fallon was right— the humans outnumbered them.

But the fear of vampires was so ingrained that it didn’t seem to be making a difference.

Myrnin was in front of the rank of vampires, Claire saw, but he didn’t move forward. He held up his hand, and the others stayed behind him, ready to move. She’d seen them in army mode before, fighting the draug, but it was still eerie and terrifying, knowing how much hell they could unleash.

“Myrnin,” Fallon said. His voice held so much, just in saying the name— so much anger, and so much pain. “Come to mourn your fallen?”

“This doesn’t have to end this way,” Myrnin said. “I have no quarrel with you, Rhys. I never have.”

“You destroyed my life, spider. You preyed upon me and blackened my soul, and it took me hundreds of years to claw my way back to the light. Well, I’ve done it. And now I’m going to drag you into the light, too.”

“I’m standing in the light now,” Myrnin said. “Lest it escaped your notice. Not even a hat on my head. What makes you think I fear it?”

Fallon pointed at the sizzling bodies of Amelie, Morley, and Oliver. “Ask them,” he said. “They’re proof of your damnation.

Proof that the sun itself hates and rejects your kind.” He shifted his gaze away from Myrnin to the people crowding around the stage. “We wil stand in the sunlight and they wil be defeated! The sun makes us strong. Stand together!”

Most Popular