Home > Midnight Alley (The Morganville Vampires #3)

Midnight Alley (The Morganville Vampires #3)
Author: Rachel Caine



The Morganville Vampires series
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Fast turnaround reading and commenting from a select group of people, including (but probably not limited to) Jackie, Sharon, Donna, and Lisa. Especially Donna, who reminded me that if you put a knife on the table in the first act, you’d better not switch it to a gun in the third . . . thanks, Donna!

 

 

1

The instant the phone rang at the Glass House, Claire knew with a psychic flash that it had to be her mother.

Well, it wasn’t so much a psychic flash as simple logic. She’d told Mom that she would call days ago, which she hadn’t, and now, of course, it could only be her mother calling at the most inopportune moment.

Hence: had to be a call from Mom.

‘‘Don’t,’’ her boyfriend—she couldn’t believe she could actually call him that, boyfriend, not a boy friend—Shane murmured without taking his mouth off of hers. ‘‘Michael will get it.’’ And he was giving her a very good argument in favor of ignoring the phone, too. But somewhere in the back of her mind that little voice just wouldn’t shut up.

She slid off of his lap with a regretful sigh, licked her damp, tingling lips, and dashed off in the direction of the kitchen door.

Michael was just rising from the kitchen table to head for the phone. She beat him to it, mouthing a silent apology, and said, ‘‘Hello?’’

‘‘Claire! Oh my goodness, I’ve been worried sick, honey. We’ve been trying to call you on your cell for days, and—’’

Crap. Claire rubbed her forehead in frustration. ‘‘Mom, I sent you guys an e-mail, remember? My cell got lost; I’m still working on getting another one.’’ Best not to mention how it had gotten lost. Best not to mention anything about how dangerous her life had become since she’d moved to Morganville, Texas.

‘‘Oh,’’ Mom said, and then, more slowly, ‘‘Oh. Well, your father forgot to tell me about that. You know, he’s the one who checks the e-mail. I don’t like computers.’’

‘‘Yes, Mom, I know.’’ Mom really wasn’t that bad, but she was notoriously nervous with computers, and for good reason; they had a tendency to short out around her.

Mom was still talking. ‘‘Is everything going all right? How are classes? Interesting?’’

Claire opened the refrigerator door and retrieved a can of Coke, which she popped open and chugged to give herself time to think what, if anything, to tell her parents. Mom, there was a little trouble. See, my boyfriend’s dad came to town with some bikers and killed people, and nearly killed us, too. Oh, and the vampires are angry about it. So to save my friends, I had to sign a contract, so now I’m basically the slave of the most badass vampire in town.

Yeah, that wouldn’t go over well.

Besides, even if she said it, Mom wouldn’t understand it. Mom had been to Morganville, but she hadn’t really seen. People usually didn’t. And if they did, they either never left town or had their memories wiped on the way out.

And if by some chance they started to remember, bad things could happen to them. Terminally bad things.

So instead, Claire said, ‘‘Classes are great, Mom. I aced all my exams last week.’’

‘‘Of course you did. Don’t you always?’’

Yeah, but last week I had to take my exams while worrying that somebody was going to stick a knife in my back. It could have had an effect on my GPA. Stupid to be proud of that . . . ‘‘Everything’s fine here. I’ll let you know when I get the new cell phone, okay?’’ Claire hesitated, then asked, ‘‘How are you? How’s Dad?’’

‘‘Oh, we’re fine, honey. We miss you is all. But your father’s still not happy about your living in that place, off campus, with those older kids. . . .’’

Of all the things for Mom to remember, she had to remember that. And of course Claire couldn’t tell her why she was living off campus with eighteen-year-olds, especially when two of them were boys. Mom hadn’t gotten around to mentioning the boys yet, but it was just a matter of time.

‘‘Mom, I told you how mean the girls were to me in the dorm. It’s better here. They’re my friends. And really, they’re great.’’

Mom didn’t sound too convinced. ‘‘You’re being careful, though. About those boys.’’

Well, that hadn’t taken long. ‘‘Yes, I’m being careful about the boys.’’ She was even being careful about Shane, though that was mostly because Shane never forgot that Claire was not quite seventeen, and he was not quite nineteen. Not a huge age difference, but legally? Huger than huge, if her parents got upset about it. Which they definitely would. ‘‘Everybody here says hello, by the way. Ah, Michael’s waving.’’

Michael Glass, the second boy in the house, had settled down at the kitchen table and was reading a newspaper. He looked up and gave her a wide-eyed, no-you-don’t shake of his head. He’d had a bad enough time of it with her parents the last time, and now . . . well, things were even worse, if that was possible. At least when he’d met them, Michael had been half-normal: fully human by night, an incorporeal ghost by day, and trapped in the house twenty-four/ seven.

For Morganville, that was half-normal.

In order to help get Shane out of trouble, Michael had made a terrible choice—he’d gained his freedom from the house and obtained physical form at the time, but now he was a vampire. Claire couldn’t tell if it bothered him. It had to, right? But he seemed so . . . normal.

Maybe a little too normal.

Claire listened to her mother’s voice, and then held out the phone to Michael. ‘‘She wants to talk to you,’’ she said.

‘‘No! I’m not here!’’ he stage-whispered, and made waving-off motions. Claire wiggled the phone insistently.

‘‘You’re the responsible one,’’ she reminded him. ‘‘Just try not to talk about the—’’ She mimed fangs in the neck.

Michael shot her a dirty look, took the phone, and turned on the charm. He had a lot of it, Claire knew; it wasn’t just parents who liked him, it was . . . well, everybody. Michael was smart, cute, hot, talented, respectful . . . nothing not to love, except the whole undead aspect. He assured her mother that everything was fine, that Claire was behaving herself—his eye roll made Claire snort cola up her nose—and that he was watching out for Mrs. Danvers’s little girl. That last part was true, at least. Michael was taking his self-appointed older-brother duties way too seriously. He hardly let Claire out of his sight, except when privacy was required or Claire slipped off to class without an escort—which was as often as possible.

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