Home > The Dead Girls' Dance (The Morganville Vampires #2)

The Dead Girls' Dance (The Morganville Vampires #2)
Author: Rachel Caine



The Morganville Vampires series
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Musical inspiration from Joe Bonamassa,

a genius at his art.

Editorial excellence from Liz Scheier,

truly a master.

And a special shout-out to my friends at

Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego!

 

 

1

 


It didn’t happen, Claire told herself. It’s a bad dream, just another bad dream. You’ll wake up and it’ll be gone like fog….

She had her eyes squeezed tight shut. Her mouth felt dry, shriveled-up, and she was pressed against Shane’s hot, solid side, curled up on the couch in the Glass House.

Terrified.

It’s just a bad dream.

But when she opened her eyes, her friend Michael was still dead on the floor in front of her.

“Shut those girls up, Shane, or I will,’” Shane’s father snapped. He was pacing the wooden floor, back and forth, hands clasped behind him. He wasn’t looking at Michael’s body, shrouded under a thick, dusty velvet curtain, but it was all Claire could see, now that she’d opened her eyes again. It was as big as the world, and it wasn’t a dream, and it wasn’t going away. Shane’s dad was here, and he was terrifying, and Michael—

Michael was dead. Only Michael had already been dead, hadn’t he? Ghostly. Dead during the day…alive at night…

Claire realized she was crying only when Shane’s dad turned on her, staring with red-rimmed eyes. She hadn’t felt that scared when she’d stared into vampire eyes…well, maybe once or twice, because Morganville was a scary place, generally, and the vampires were pretty terrifying.

Shane’s father—Mr. Collins—was a tall, long-legged man, and his hair was wild and curly and going gray. Long enough to reach the collar of his leather jacket. He had dark eyes. Crazy eyes. A scruffy beard. And a huge scar running across his face, puckered and liver colored.

Yeah, definitely scary. Not a vampire, just a man, and that made him scary in whole different ways.

She sniffled and wiped her eyes and quit crying. Something in her said, Cry later; survive now. She figured that voice had spoken inside of Shane, too, because Shane wasn’t looking at the velvet-covered sprawl of his best friend’s body. He was watching his father. His eyes were red, too, but there were no tears.

Now Shane was scaring her, too.

“Eve,’” Shane said softly, and then, louder, “Eve! Put a sock in it!’”

Their fourth roommate, Eve, was collapsed in an awkward heap against the far wall by the bookcases, as far from Michael’s body as she could get. Knees up, head down, she was crying hard and hopelessly. She looked up when Shane yelled her name, and her face was streaked with black from running mascara, half her Goth white makeup gone. She had on her death’s-head Mary Jane shoes, Claire noticed. She didn’t know why that seemed important.

Eve looked completely lost, and Claire slipped off the couch and went to sit beside her. They put their arms around each other. Eve smelled of tears and sweat and some kind of sweet vanilla perfume, and she couldn’t seem to stop shaking. Shock. That was what they always said on TV, anyway. Her skin felt cold.

“Shhhh,’” Claire whispered to her. “Michael’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.’” She didn’t know why she said that—it was a lie; it had to be a lie; they’d all seen…what happened…but something told her it was the right thing to say. And sure enough, Eve’s sobbing slowed, then stopped, and she covered her face with shaking hands.

Shane hadn’t said anything else. He was still watching his dad, with the kind of intense stare most guys reserved for people they’d like to pound into hamburger. If his dad noticed, he clearly didn’t care. He continued to pace, up and down. The guys he’d brought with him—walking slabs of muscle in black motorcycle leather, shaved heads and tattoos and everything—were standing in the corners, arms folded. The one who’d killed Michael looked bored as he flipped the knife in his fingers.

“Get up,’” Shane’s dad said. He’d stopped pacing, and was standing right in front of his son. “Don’t you dare give me any crap, Shane. I told you to stand up!’”

“You didn’t have to do that,’” Shane said, and slowly stood, feet slightly apart. Ready to take (or give) a punch, Claire thought. “Michael wasn’t any threat to you.’”

“He’s one of them. Undead.’”

“I said he wasn’t a threat!’”

“And I say that you just don’t want to admit your friend’s turned freak of nature on you.’” Shane’s dad reached out and awkwardly punched Shane on the shoulder. It was supposed to be a gesture of affection, Claire supposed. Shane just rode with the blow. “Anyway, done is done. You know why we’re here. Or do you need a reminder?’”

When Shane didn’t answer, his father reached into his leather jacket and took out a handful of photographs. He threw them at Shane. They bounced off of Shane’s chest, and he reflexively tried to catch them, but some drifted free and fell to the wood floor. Some slid over toward Claire and Eve.

“Oh God,’” Eve whispered.

They were pictures of Shane’s family, Claire guessed—Shane as a cute little boy, arm around an even tinier little girl with a cloud of curly black hair. A pretty woman standing behind them, and a man she could barely recognize as Shane’s dad. No scar, back then. Hair cut short. He looked…normal. Smiling and happy.

There were other pictures, too. Eve was staring at one of them, and Claire couldn’t make any sense of it. Something black and twisted and—

Shane bent over and snatched it up, fumbling it back into the pile.

His house burned. He got out. His sister wasn’t so lucky.

Oh God, that twisted thing was Alyssa. That was Shane’s sister. Claire’s eyes filled up with tears, and she covered her mouth with both hands to hold in a scream, not because what was in the picture was gross—it was—but Shane’s own father had made him look at it.

That was cruel. Really cruel. And she knew it wasn’t the first time.

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