Home > Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires #11)

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires #11)
Author: Rachel Caine



The Morganville Vampires series
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AUTHOR’S NOTE

If you’re new to the Morganville Vampires series, welcome!

And sorry, because it’s Book 11, and you may be kicking yourself right about now, but don’t worry. I’ll catch you up quickly once you start to read.

For those faithful Morganville Residents who’ve been with me the whole way, I’m trying something new this time—an extension of what I started in Book 10, Bite Club. So in the pages of Last Breath, you’ll venture out of Claire’s point of view (the typical way the other Morganville novels have been told), although you’ll stay with her for the majority of this book as well. But you’ll get to view the story from a few other important perspectives: those of Amelie, Shane, Michael, and Eve.

So just make sure to look at the header at the top of each chapter to know from whose perspective you’re about to read. Each point of view comes with its own chapter.

Thank you for coming along on the ride, and I hope you enjoy Last Breath!

And yes … there is a Book 12.

And no, I won’t tell you what happens. Yet.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE. You must be new here. That’s fine; we welcome new blood to our town … but you need to know the rules. Don’t stay out after dark. Don’t break our laws. And, whatever you do, don’t get on the bad side of the vampires.

Yes, vampires—we said it and we meant it. They’re everywhere in this town … and they’re the people you’d least suspect. But most of them just want to live their lives in peace. Oh, there are a few troublemakers—aren’t there always?—but Morganville is all about harmony and cooperation. Theoretically.

You’ll probably need to find yourself a vampire Protector. That means one who’ll ensure the safety of you and your family, for the low, low price of a percentage of your income and regular donations at the blood bank in his or her name.

If you don’t want to go with a Protector, well, it’s your funeral. Some have done it, sure. But most aren’t around to endorse the practice, if you get my drift. Talk to the residents of the Glass House: Claire, Shane, Michael, and Eve. They’ll tell you all about your chances of survival.

And remember: welcome to Morganville! You’ll never want to leave.

And even if you want to … well, you can’t. Sorry about that.

 

 

ONE

CLAIRE

 

Shane’s lips felt like velvet against the nape of her neck, and Claire shivered in delight as his breath warmed the skin there. She leaned back against him with a sigh. Her boyfriend’s body felt solid and safe, and his arms went around her, wrapping her in comfort. He was taller than she was, so he had to bend to rest his chin on her shoulder and whisper, “You sure about this?”

Claire nodded. “You got the overdue notice, didn’t you? It’s this or they come to collect. You don’t want that.”

“Well, you don’t have to be here,” he pointed out—not for the first time today. “Don’t you have classes?”

“Not today,” she said. “I had an oh-my-God a.m. lab, but now I’m all done.”

“Okay, then, you don’t have to do this because you’re tax-exempt.”

By tax-exempt, he meant that she didn’t have to pay … in blood. Taxes in Morganville were collected three ways: the polite way, via the collection center downtown, or the not-so-polite way, when the Bloodmobile showed up like a sleek black shark at your front door, with Men in Black—style “technicians” to ensure you did your civic duty.

The third way was by force, in the dark, when you ventured out un-Protected and got bitten.

Vampires. A total pain in the neck—literally.

Shane was entirely right: Claire had a legal document that said she was free from the responsibility of donations. The popular wisdom—and it wasn’t wrong—was that she’d already given enough blood to Morganville.

Of course, so had Shane … but he hadn’t always been on the vampires’ side, at the time.

“I know I don’t have to do it,” she said. “I want to. I’ll go with.”

“In case you’re worried, I’m not girly-scared or anything.”

“Hey!” She smacked his arm. “I’m a girl. What exactly are you saying? That I’m not brave or something?”

“Eeek,” Shane said. “Nothing. Right, Amazon princess. I get the point.”

Claire turned in his arms and kissed him, a sweet burst of heat as their lips met. The lovely joy of that released a burst of bubbles inside her, bubbles full of happiness. God, she loved this. Loved him. It had been a rough year, and he’d … stumbled, was the best way she could think of it. Shane had dark streaks, and he’d struggled with them. Was still struggling.

But he’d worked so hard to make it up—not just to her, but to everyone he felt he’d let down. Michael, his best (vampire) friend. Eve, his other (nonvampire) best friend (and Claire’s best friend, too). Even Claire’s parents had gotten genuine attention: he’d gone with her to see them twice, with exit permission from the vampires, and he’d been earnest and steady even under her father’s stern cross-examination.

He wanted to be different. She knew that.

When the kiss finally ended, Shane had a drugged, vague look in his eyes, and he seemed to have trouble letting go of her. “You know,” he said, moving her hair back from her cheek with a big, warm hand, “we could just blow this off and go home instead of letting them suck our blood. Try it tomorrow.”

“Bloodmobile,” she reminded him. “People holding you down. You really want that?”

He shuddered. “Hell, no. Okay, right, after you.” They were standing on the sidewalk of Morganville’s blood bank, with its big cheerful blood-drop character sign and scrupulously clean public entrance. Claire pecked him lightly on the cheek, escaped before he could pull her close again, and pushed the door open.

Inside, the place looked like they’d given it a makeover—more brightly, warmly lit than the last time she’d been in, and the new furniture looked comfortable and homey. They’d even installed a tank full of colorful tropical fish flitting around living coral. Nice. Clearly, the vampires were trying to put forth their best efforts to reassure the human community, for a change.

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