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Lord of Misrule (The Morganville Vampires #5)(11)
Author: Rachel Caine

Not when Claire tried the knob. It opened at a twist, and the single candle in the corner illuminated very little. Claire caught her breath and rested her trembling muscles for a few seconds as Hannah checked the room and pronounced it safe before they entered.

Claire let Myrnin slide in a heap to the floor. "I'm sorry," she whispered to him. "It was the only way. I hope it doesn't hurt too much."

She had no idea if he could hear her when he was like this. She wanted to grab the stake and pull it out, but she remembered that with Amelie, and with Sam, it had been the other vampires who'd done it. Maybe they knew things she didn't. Besides, the disease weakened them--even Myrnin.

She couldn't take the risk. And besides, having him wake up wounded and crazy would be even worse, now that they didn't have any vampires who could help control him.

Hannah returned to her side. "So," she said, as she checked the clip on her paintball gun, frowned, and exchanged it for a new one, "how do we do this? We got to go back to that museum first, right?"

Did they? Claire wasn't sure. She stepped up to the door, which currently featured nothing but darkness, and concentrated hard on Myrnin's lab, with all its clutter and debris. Light swam, flickered, shivered, and snapped into focus.

No problem at all.

"Guess it's only roundabout getting here," Claire said. "Maybe that's on purpose, to keep people out who shouldn't be here. But it makes sense that once Amelie got here, she'd want to take the express out." She turned back. "Shouldn't we wait?"

Hannah opened the door and looked out into the hall. Whatever she saw, it couldn't have been good news. She shook her head. "We bug out, right now."

With a grunt of effort, Hannah braced Myrnin's deadweight on one side and dragged him forward. Claire took his other arm.

"Did he just twitch?" Hannah asked. " 'Cause if he twitches, I'm going to shoot him."

"No! No, he didn't; he's fine," Claire said, practically tripping over the words. "Ready? One, two . . ."

And three, they were in Myrnin's lab. Claire twisted out from under Myrnin's cold body, slammed the door shut, and stared wildly at the broken lock. "I need to fix that," she said. But what about Amelie? No, she'd know all the exits. She didn't have to come here.

"Girl, you need to get us the hell out of here, is what you need to do," Hannah said. "You dial up the nearest Fort Knox or something on that thing. Damn, how'd you learn this, anyway?"

"I had a good teacher." Claire didn't look at Myrnin. She couldn't. For all intents and purposes, she'd just killed him, after all. "This way."

There were two ways out of Myrnin's lab, besides the usuallysecured dimensional doorway: steps leading up to street level, which were probably the absolute worst idea ever right now, and a second, an even more hidden dimensional portal in a small room off to the side. That was the one Amelie had used to get them in.

But the problem was, Claire couldn't get it to work. She had the memories clear in her head--the Glass House, the portal to the university, the hospital, even the museum they'd visited on the way here. But nothing worked.

It just felt . . . dead, as if the whole system had been cut off.

They were lucky to have made it this far.

Amelie's trapped, Claire realized. Back there. With Bishop. And she's outnumbered.

Claire doublechecked the other door, too, the one she'd blocked.

Nothing. It wasn't just a malfunctioning portal; the whole network was down.

"Well?" Hannah asked.

Claire couldn't worry about Amelie right now. She had a job to do--get Myrnin to safety. And that meant getting him to the only vampire she knew offhand who could help him: Oliver. "I think we're walking," she said.

"The hell we are," Hannah said. "I'm not hauling a dead vampire through the streets of Morganville. We'll get ourselves killed by just about everybody."

"We can't leave him!"

"We can't take him, either!"

Claire felt her jaw lock into stubborn position. "Well, fine, you go ahead. Because I'm not leaving him. I can't."

She could tell that Hannah wanted to grab her by the hair and yank her out of there, but finally, the older woman nodded and stepped back. "Third option," she said. "Call in the cavalry."

Chapter Five

It wasn't quite the Third Armored Division, but after about a dozen phone calls, they did manage to get a ride.

"I'm turning on the street--nobody in sight so far," Eve's voice said from the speaker of Claire's cell phone. She'd been giving Claire a turnbyturn description of her drive, and Claire had to admit, it sounded pretty frightening. "Yeah, I can see the Day House. You're in the alley next to it?"

"We're on our way," Claire said breathlessly. She was drenched with sweat, aching all over, from the effort of helping drag Myrnin out of the lab, up the steps, and down the narrow, seemingly endless dark alley. Next door, the Founder House belonging to Katherine Day and her granddaughter--a virtual copy of the house where Claire and her friends lived--was dark and closed, but Claire saw curtains moving at the upstairs windows.

"That's my greataunt's house, GreatAunt Kathy," Hannah panted. "Everybody calls her Gramma, though. Always have, as far back as I can remember."

Claire could see how Hannah was related to the Days; partly her features, but her attitude for sure. That was a family full of tough, smart, getitdone women.

Eve's big, black car was idling at the end of the alley, and the back door kicked open as the two of them--three? Did Myrnin still count?--approached. Eve took a look at Myrnin, and the stake in his back, sent Claire a you'vegottobe kiddingme look, and reached out to drag him inside, facedown, on the backseat. "Hurry!" she said, and slammed the back door on the way to the driver's side. "Damn, he'd better not bleed all over the place. Claire, I thought you were supposed to--"

"I know," Claire said, and climbed into the middle of the big, front bench seat. Hannah crammed in on the outside. "Don't remind me. I was supposed to keep him safe."

Eve put the car in gear and did a ponderous tankheavy turn. "So, who staked him?"

"I did."

Eve blinked. "Okay, that's an interesting interpretation of safe. Weren't you with Amelie?" Eve actually did a quick check of the backseat, as if she were afraid Amelie might have magically popped in back there, seated like a barbarian queen on top of Myrnin's prone body.

"Yeah. We were," Hannah said.

"Do I have to ask? No, wait, do I want to ask?"

 

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