I opened up the second picture.Littletonin a nightclub talking to another man.Littleton 's face was animated, as I'd never seen it in real life. He didn't turn to make sure that the others followed him—though they did. This time the phone call was from Tony. "I didn't help." My need to be clean had been growing since I woke up, and now it was desperate. If I didn't like the side effects, I shouldn't hang out with werewolves. Quickly I set the stake again and this time I hit the end squarely with the mallet. I don't think he'll be able to deceive you." "The little girl Marsilia sent hunting me," he said. They both listened raptly, Stefan nodding in places. "Mercedes Thompson, the Mistress would like to speak with you." I pulled his arm over my shoulder and we did a drunken dance out to the living room. Even though he appeared ancient, I could be looking at the youngest vampire in the room. Or maybe he had. He'd been traveling though when he ran into Daniel. "Careful? The only exceptions wereMarsilia , and the vampire on her right, who appeared to be a boy of about fifteen—so I looked at them. "That chair is not vampiric magic, Mercedes, not entirely. The medallion wasn't a very big item and it hid from my fingers. I took a step back anyway because my instincts were telling me that I wasn't the biggest predator here. "I've cleaned them so that you will suffer no taint." I hadn't intended to ask. "You don't sound like the kind of person who would…" There was doubtlessly a polite term for someone who willingly feeds a vampire, but I didn't know it. "Hey," said Ben sounding hurt. He found out somehow and it ticked him off so he ripped the siding off my house." I used it more carefully to pry my wrist free of his bite—I didn't want to slice myself up any more than Andre already had. I'm not usually fond of orange juice—Samuel's the one who drank it—but just then it tasted like ambrosia. He said he didn't want us chasing after him if he didn't come home." He listened for a moment; I did too, but he must have had the volume turned down low because all I could hear was the rumble of a male voice. There was nothing I could say that he didn't already know. It took a long time for Daniel to feed. "Hid from myself. I wasn't certain which one surprised me the most. I hadn't seen him since the night of his trial. "Please begin with my phone call." The longer they think I'm a lightweight poof, the higher I'll hang them in court." Which he was. On a whim I looked up Littleton 's name and found his website offering online tarot readings for a mere $19.95, all major credit cards accepted. "Come on in, Sergeant," he said. "Not much," said Rachel. "Estelle and Bernard," I suggested remembering the man in the dapper suit. But then I didn't usually run into Adam's pack in wolf form—and in human form… well, theoretically their behavior should be the same. As he hung up, I heard his Jag's big V-12 open up. he asked. "I'm not human." She gave Andre a look, so I knew that he wouldn't clarify anything for me. "Why would it?" If not I'd go after him on my own. I gathered the paper and the box and put it in the trash, only then noticing that there was something else on the desk, a pencil sketch of a man's face. "Does that help?" Daniel, even healthy, isn't much better than a human—and starved as he has been, he's weak as a kitten." How'd a handsome man like you get to be such a pushy bastard?" The cinder block foundation in the back had a person sized hole broken through it. "Yes, you do," he said. It was interesting watching him squirm. Naomi looked at me and sneered."Vampires. It won't have to be much darker before the rest of us are here. Instead, I drove back to the shop and went to work. A real human might have had trouble navigating, but it was light enough for Andre and me. So, even though Bran and Adam were livid, their hands were tied. I walked out of his home because if I'd moved any faster, I'd have run screaming. I've money to make." Every muscle in his body tensed, waiting for the blow to fall. "That's right. "I'm fine," I told her. "I've done that, too," agreed Samuel. Lone wolves were, in general, an odd bunch, dangerous to themselves and others. Ask you to call him when I got here safely?" The thing I'd seen kill the woman would not have hesitated to kill as many people as he could. The bedroom and the bathroom were on different circuits, they couldn't both be thrown at the same time. "I can undo them, if you'll let me." "Are you going to restore it or make a street rod?" She keeps humans there, to nourish them all, but without her, the lesser vampires would die." He took another deep breath, deeper than he needed if all hewere using the air for was to talk. It sat on a couple of acres of land next to the wildlife preserve nearHoodPark , just outside ofPaseo . The Tri-Cities is not the deserted wasteland it was two hundred years ago when she was sent here for trespasses against the Old One who rules in Italy, but neither is it Milan. You can leave it to us, Mercy. The basement was darker than upstairs, and someone without preternatural sight might have had trouble seeing at all. I knew things were bad, but I hadn't realized how bad. He held his hands up between us and cupped them. When he spoke again, his voice was almost normal. "If you just staked him, she could capture him, make him hers. "Warren's hurt." Stefan didn't believe in it, but some of the older vampires won't use real names when they talk of others." I'd call them in the morning. How do you answer this?" "But it was just right here," she fretted. No, wait!" The dining room I walked into was spotlessly clean and reeked of Pine-Sol, the smell making me sneeze as well as disguising any other scent that might be present. Samuel, even in clean, fresh clothing, looked as though he'd spent a week on a wild binge and Adam… The nurse at the triage station took one look at Adam and hit the innocent-looking black button underneath her desk. He left Andre standing where he was and walked over to where I was crouched in front of Adam's cage. "I decided to do some investigating of the vampire he wassuppose to meet. I stopped at the light on Garfield and Tenth. Seven nights, I thought, four weeks. If you had wanted to bring him over, you had plenty of time to do it." "I owed him a favor for helping us when Jesse was kidnapped ." "I give you my word of honor." The flooring was linoleum tile, cracked and pitted with age. According to witnesses, last night's violence apparently broke out in a meth lab when one man made a comment about another's girlfriend. They said that sometimes there were lights on at night when there was no one there. He looked up when I walked in and took a startled double take. We don't need werewolves to clean up after us." She walked with fluid grace, unlike the last time I'd seen her. "He played with her." "Enough." Forfeit, I thought, some kind of gift, maybe. "No. I wiped my hands hastily and headed back into the office. There went my plans to sleep in. "Ah," said Stefan, turning his brooding gaze toward me. How long were they there before you came after them with the rifle?" I swallowed bile and sat up using my good arm to push down and lever myself into a useful position. Part of me knew I shouldn't be able to see anything this clearly, but for some reason my night vision was even better than usual. "While Marsilia wasn't paying attention, Estelle and Bernard managed to make a few new vampires and kept them to themselves." I gave him a quick look under my lashes and realized that tonight he wasboth, reminding me that he was one of the six most powerful vampires in the seethe. I couldn't have done a better job myself." Is he?" He held my wrist in one hand and cupped my face in the other, his thumb resting just over the pulse in my throat. I let the Rabbit idle for a moment and debated going in. "When I'm through with you, you'll be as much of a celebrity as he is. We found the stairs to the basement tucked neatly behind the stairway to the choir loft. It was almost word for word the speech I'd heard him use with the new wolves. I left him to it and started on the other side of the stairs. You can stop now." He looked out at the night sky. I'd quit paying attention to the visitors—and would have ignored this one as well except for two things. They kept out of sight while Naomi led me to the kitchen, but I could hear someone whispering nearby. "My ankle is fine." Samuel, his work apparently finished, pulled the old bent-wood rocker from its place in the hall and set it next to the foot of Warren 's bed, leaving the space at the head of the bed to Kyle. On the other hand, if it ever got back to the seethe that I told the police about their existence, I might as well kill myself right now. He gave me a shrug that might have meant anything. There wasn't, not to my knowledge. Andre released my wrist. "You obviously do not know who I am." Drachen. "Thanks for coming out this morning." "Marsilia seems to think I can deal with him." Andre opened his eyes and looked up. I'd been taught that vampires can't cry. He was just suddenly in front of me. "It probably killed Stefan—and Samuel and Adam are missing." "You may pick someone to help you." I called the werewolf. It also means dragon." I lied with my body and eyes, licking their boots—then tormenting them in whatever way I could come up with. She turned to Uncle Mike and patted him on the shoulder, sending him half a step forward. Streetlights filtered through glass block windows allowing me to see that the room was empty except for a broken urinal leaning crookedly against one wall. Maybe other people think of religion and God differently than I do. It makes me jumpy because I can't hear what's coming up behind me. Every muscle in my body ached, especially my right shoulder, and as soon as I bent down to pull on my socks and shoes, the battered side of my face started to throb. She hadn't recognized him when we'd come in. I worry for you who are so human-fragile." "Where? "Three years ago, my daughter survived an attack by a rogue werewolf," he said, speaking quickly as if that would make it easier for him to handle. I asked. I didn't move, careful not to crowd him. Sometimes I wish I were an average citizen. That way, even if you want to submit to me, you can't because I'm not asking anything." "He did it fine. I remembered Stefan's admission that the vampires didn't consider human lives to be of much worth. "Sorcerer, as opposed to demon-ridden, as the possessed are. "All right. "He won't have left them free," Andre said, though he made no effort to break the chain. It didn't really matter, though. I'm going to give you the names of the pack leaders who would be safe with a child. "He's breathing on his own, and his heart is beating" Samuel said. Honey's summer coat wasn't as splendid as her winter one, but it revealed the play of muscle in a way her thicker fur would not have. Warren and Daniel are dead." I hadn't realized how much you learned." He was a hotshot lawyer, a terrific dresser, and a lot of fun. "Why not with Adam?" "She's human, though, right? A thousand people could die in a battle and there might be no ghosts at all. It would not be a good thing if they decided someone was looking their way for this rise in violence." "They can hear you," I told him. I knew what I should do. My leg collapsed under me and the stake only went in an inch before it stuck between his ribs instead of breaking through them. I heard the quiet sound of his feet walking toward me on the padded floor, and the hiss as the mat gave way when he sat beside me. "Go rescue Honey from that idiot who was trying to keep me out." The vampire whimpered, but he pulled his face away. "I'll tell her." No more will any of the seethe welcome the news of a sorcerer among us." Stefan was alive and well, but I wasn't so certain about the rest. I walked forward as I said it. Bran paused before he followed Samuel through a pair of swinging doors. "When Stefan didn't come back yesterday morning, Joey—that's short for Josephine— decided to leave while she could." Then Tony turned back to Adam. "Mercy? This is his office." "I learned a long time ago that God is a myth. Eight twenty-seven. I asked him. "How so?" He wouldn't just lose it and beat up his wife because his AC frizzed out." "Mrs. Hanna, pardon my rudeness, but I was wondering about that change in your usual walk." Mercy wants to pick your brains." I could have done with the short version he'd given me before. Yesterday it was East Kennewick .Two fistfights and a family disturbance that roused the neighborhood. "So Littleton is obeying another vampire?" When I went hunting, I expected to find a witch who'd been turned. The sky was striped with the beginnings of sunrise when I opened the door. I couldn't tell who she was talking to, she was still staring at Warren—on whom she had gradually focused in preference to Ben—but Andre stood up and said, "He'll want to bring Daniel." "I don't see why he'd want to make Mercy think you were innocent of murder—especially if he thought she was just a coyote." I knew that there were magical ways of telling if someone lied, too. Hold on, I'll patch you through." "We were right?" It had sliced into Andre, just above his collarbone, but he didn't seem to mind. He was standing behind Rachel, looking at me and whispering. It occurred to me that you were not important to Cory Littleton. I knew too much and I didn't expect that they would trust me to judge how much to tell the police. Andre took hold of the chain gingerly and pulled until one of the links broke. "Fine. "Go home and go to bed." I also had the answer to how he'd gotten underneath it. "It's a ‘71Opel GT, designed by the same guy who designed the Corvette. Only after his car was well away did they turn their attention back to me. "Daniel, you will sit up and take your place in the Questioning Seat." "He's not going to attack during the daytime. I've known Samuel for as long as I can remember. For a moment, even with the veil of dark hair that covered her face, I caught a glimpse of the fear that rose from the depths of the house. I'd refused him at first. It was bad. Samuel pried my hands away from my forehead. I couldn't wait to hear what Adam would say when he found out someone was poking into his love life. Come outside with me where he can't get you." "You know who her father is." Ben had settled down a bit, probably because Warren was so calm. I had an immediate, visceral memory of the way the carpet had squished, supersaturated with dark, viscous fluid. The boy beside Marsilia shook his head and, in a light tenor voice that would never drop to adult tones said, "There are. I was tempted to turn around and go back into my bedroom with the dead man in my closet. "I know the old stories. "He was a friend of one of the sorcerer's victims." "The difference is who's holding the reins." he asked. With Andre still in his arms, he sat down next to the light. 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