Home > Kiss of Death (The Morganville Vampires #8)

Kiss of Death (The Morganville Vampires #8)
Author: Rachel Caine



The Morganville Vampires series
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Far too many awesome people have made it possible for this book to be in your hands today, but I must send extraspecial thanks to my Sunday Night pals (Pat, Jackie, Bill, Heidi, J.T., and Joanne), who make even the worst weeks bearable. Also, Joe Bonamassa, Lucienne Diver, Anne Sowards, Jim Suhler, Felicia Day, Jim Conrad, and M. Conrad—all of whom make my days a little brighter. Bless.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

WELCOME TO MORGANVILLE. YOU’LL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE.

So, you’re new to Morganville. Welcome, new resident! There are only a few important rules you need to know to feel comfortable in our quiet little town:• Obey the speed limits.

• Don’t litter.

• Whatever you do, don’t get on the bad side of the vampires.

 

 

Yeah, we said vampires. Deal with it.

As a human newcomer, you’ll need to find yourself a vampire Protector—someone willing to sign a contract to keep you and yours safe from harm (especially from the other vampires). In return, you’ll pay taxes … just like in any other town. Of course, in most other towns those taxes don’t get collected by the Bloodmobile.

Oh, and if you decide not to get a Protector, you can do that, too … but you’d better learn how to run fast, stay out of the shadows, and build a network of friends who can help you. Try contacting the residents of the Glass House—Michael, Eve, Shane, and Claire. They know their way around, even if they always end up in the middle of the trouble somehow.

Welcome to Morganville. You’ll never want to leave.

And even if you do … well, you can’t.

Sorry about that.

 

 

1

The way the Glass House worked, on a practical level, was that there was a schedule for the stuff that had to be done—cooking, cleaning, fixing things, laundry. Technically, they were all on every housemate’s list. In practice, though, what happened was this: the boys (Michael and Shane) bribed the girls (Eve and Claire) to do the laundry, and the girls bribed the boys to fix things.

Claire glared at her new iPod—which was actually really nice—and put it on shuffle as she looked at the mess she’d made of her latest laundry effort. And there was the problem: she loved the hot pink iPod, which had been a heck of a good bribe, and she really didn’t deserve it, because the laundry was … also pink—which would have been almost fine if it had been a load full of girls’ underwear or something.

But not so much with guy clothes; she could not even imagine what kind of screaming that was going to bring.

“Yeah.” She sighed, staring at the very definitely pink piles of shirts, socks, and underwear. “Not going to be a good afternoon.” It was amazing what one—one—stupid red sock could do. She’d already tried running it all through the washer again, hoping the problem would just go away. No such luck.

The basement of the Glass House was big, dark, and creepy, which wasn’t really such a surprise. Most basements were, and this was Morganville. Morganville went in for dark and creepy the way Las Vegas went in for neon. Apart from the area Claire was in, with a battered washer and dryer, a table that had once been painted some kind of industrial green, and some shelves filled with unidentifiable junk, the rest of the basement was dim and quiet. Hence the iPod, which pumped cheery music through the headphones and made the creepy retreat a little less creepy.

Creepy, she could fight.

Pink underwear … apparently not.

She had the music cranked up so high that she failed to hear steps coming down the stairs. In fact, she had no clue she wasn’t completely alone until she felt a hand touch her shoulder and hot breath against her neck.

She reacted as any sensible person living in a town full of vampires would. She screamed. The shriek echoed off the brick and concrete, and Claire whirled, clapped her hands over her mouth, and backed away from Eve, who was collapsing in laughter. The Goth look usually didn’t go well with hysterical giggles, unless they were evil giggles, but somehow Eve managed to pull it off.

Claire ripped the headphones out of her ears and gasped. “You—you—”

“Oh, spit it out already,” Eve managed to say. “Bitch. I am. I know. That was evil. But, oh my God, funny.”

“Bitch,” Claire said, late and not at all meaning it. “You scared me.”

“Kind of the point,” Eve said, and got herself under control. Her mascara was a little smeared, but Claire supposed that was all part of the Goth thing, anyway. “So, what’s up, pup?”

“Trouble,” Claire replied with a sigh. Her heart was still pounding from the scare, but she was determined not to let it show. She pointed at the laundry on the table.

Eve’s eyes went wide, and her black-painted lips parted in horrified fascination. “That’s not trouble; that’s fail. Tell me that isn’t all the whites. Like, Michael’s and Shane’s, too.”

“All the whites,” Claire said, and held up the guilty red sock. “Yours?”

“Oh, damn.” Eve snatched it out of Claire’s fingers and shook the sock like a floppy rattle. “Bad sock! Bad! You are never going anywhere fun ever again!”

“I’m serious. They’re going to kill me.”

“They’ll never get the chance. I’m going to kill you. Do I look to you like someone who rocks pastel?”

Well, that was a definite point. “Sorry,” Claire said. “Seriously. I tried washing them again, without the sock, but—”

Eve shook her head, reached down to the lowest level of the shelf, and pulled out a bottle of bleach, which she thumped down on the table next to the laundry. “You bleach; I’ll supervise, because I’m not taking the chance of getting a drop on this outfit, ‘k? It’s new.”

The outfit in question was hot pink—it matched Claire’s new iPod, actually—with (of course) black horizontally striped tights, a black pleated miniskirt, and a blazing magenta top with a skull all blinged out in crystal on it. Eve had done up her dyed black hair in a messy pile on top of her head, with stray bits sticking up in all directions.

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