Home > Fall of Night (The Morganville Vampires #14)

Fall of Night (The Morganville Vampires #14)
Author: Rachel Caine



The Morganville Vampires series
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INTRODUCTION

 

 

Morganville, Texas isn’t like other towns. Oh, it’s small, dusty and ordinary, in most ways, but the thing is, there are these – well, let’s not be shy about it. Vampires. They own the town. They run it. And until recently, they were the unquestioned ruling class.

But now Claire’s taken a sabbatical from the insular little world of Morganville, and a vacation from vampires, to pursue her dream of studying at a prestigious new school. Leaving town seems like a fresh start, but Claire knows by now that trouble follows her wherever she goes.

Talk about a killer programme … she may wish for something as simple as the rules of Morganville.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

The billboard at the edge of the border of Morganville hadn’t changed since Claire had first driven past it on the way into town at the tender age of sixteen. It seemed a lifetime ago, but here was the same old sign, faded and creaking in the dry desert wind. It had a 1950s-era couple (white, of course) next to a finned car as big as a boat, looking into the sunset. WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE. YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE.

Yet here she was. Leaving. Actually leaving.

The weight of it felt suddenly unbearable, and the billboard dissolved into impressionistic swirls as tears formed hot in her eyes. She was finding it hard to catch her breath. I don’t have to go, she thought. I can turn around, go home, go back where it’s safe … because as crazy and dangerous as Morganville was, at least she’d learnt how to live in it. How to adapt, and survive, and even thrive. It had become, well, home. Comfortable.

Out there … she wasn’t sure what she’d be any more, out there.

It’s time to find out, the more adult part of her said. You have to see the world before you can give it up to be here. She supposed that was right. Didn’t the Amish send their kids out on rumspringa, to find out what life was like outside and make a real decision on whether or not to stay in their community? So, maybe she was on a kind of vampire rumspringa.

Because that was what she was leaving, even though she definitely was not one of the plasma-challenged … a vampire community, with almost everything in some way related to them: to protecting them, making them money, giving them blood. In turn, at least theoretically, the vampires protected the town and the people in it. Didn’t always work, of course. But the surprising thing was that it did work, more often than not. And she thought, from the way things were settling down now, that it might work lots better this time around, now that the town’s founder Amelie was back in charge. And sane. Sane was a plus.

‘Troubled?’

The voice made her gasp and turn, blinking away tears, because she’d actually forgotten that he was standing there. Not Shane. She’d left early, before her boyfriend was awake; she’d actually sneaked away before dawn, so that she could be off without goodbyes that she knew would rip her heart in pieces. Here she stood with her suitcases and her stuffed backpack, and Myrnin.

Her vampire boss – if you could call being a mad scientist a profession – was standing next to the big black sedan he occasionally – very occasionally, thankfully – drove. (He was not a good driver. Understatement.) He wasn’t dressed crazily this morning, for a change. He’d left the Hawaiian shirts and floppy hats at home, and instead he looked as if he’d stepped out of an eighteenth-century drama – breeches that tucked into shiny black boots, a gold-coloured satin waistcoat, a coat over it that had tails. He’d even tied his normally wild shoulder-length hair back in a sleek black ponytail.

Vampires, unlike humans, could stand perfectly still, and just now he looked like a carved statue … alabaster and ebony and gold.

‘No, I’m not troubled,’ she said, aware she’d hesitated way too long to answer him. She shivered a little. Here in the desert, at night, it was icy cold, though it would warm up nicely by midday. I won’t be here then, she realised. But Morganville would go on without her. That seemed … weird.

‘I am surprised you did not bring your friends to say goodbye,’ Myrnin offered. He sounded cautious, as if he was far from sure what the etiquette of this situation might be. ‘Surely it’s customary that they see you off on such a journey?’

‘I don’t care if it is,’ she said. A tumbleweed – a thorny, skeletal ball of nasty scratching branches – rolled toward her, and she sidestepped it. It ploughed into a tangle of its fellows that had piled up against the base of the billboard. ‘I don’t want them to cry. I don’t want to cry, either. I just – look, it’s hard enough, okay? Please don’t.’

Myrnin’s shoulders lifted in a minute shrug. For the first time, as he turned his head away, she saw that he’d secured his ponytail with a big black bow. It fit what he was wearing, and it was weird that it didn’t look out of place on him. He looks like Mozart, she thought – or at least, how Mozart had been dressed in the paintings she’d seen.

‘It must have been easier when people dressed like that,’ she said. ‘Being a vampire. People made their faces white with powder, didn’t they? So you didn’t stand out so much.’

‘Not just their faces,’ he said. ‘They powdered their wigs, too. One could choke on the arsenic and talcum. I can’t imagine it was good for the lungs of living, but one does what one must for fashion. At least the women weren’t tottering around on five-inch heels, constantly in peril of breaking bones.’ He paused a moment, then said, ‘What made it easier for vampires was that we lived by candlelight, lamplight – it makes everyone look healthier, even the sick. These harsh lights you favour now … well. Difficult. I heard that a few vampires have taken to those spray-tanning salons, to get the proper skin tones.’

She almost laughed at that, at the image of a badass vampire like Oliver – ferocious and fearless – standing around in a Speedo to get himself painted. But Oliver had left Morganville, too … banished, now, from Amelie’s side, where he’d been ever since Claire had first come to town. That was probably the right thing to do, but Claire felt bad for him, a little. He’d betrayed the Founder, but he hadn’t meant it – and he hadn’t had a choice.

If any vampire could survive in the human world, though, it would be Oliver. He was clever, ruthless, and mostly without a conscience. Mostly.

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