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

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

Chapter One

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. She looked creepy/adorable. As Claire reloaded the laundry, with a shot of bleach, Eve climbed up on the dryer and kicked her feet idly. "So, you heard the news, right?"

"What news?" Claire asked. "Do I do hot? Is hot good?"

"Hot is good," Eve confirmed. "Michael got another call from that music producer guy. You know, the one from Dallas? The important one, with the daughter at school here. He wants to set Michael up with some club dates in Dallas and a couple of days at a recording studio. I think he's serious." Eve was trying to sound excited about it, but Claire could follow the road signs. Sign one (shaped like an Exit sign): Michael Glass was Eve's serious, longtime crush/boyfriend. Sign two (DANGER, CURVES): Michael Glass was hot, talented, and sweet. Sign three (yellow, CAUTION): Michael Glass was a vampire, which made everything a million times more complicated.

Sign four (flashing red): Michael had begun acting more like a vampire than the boy Eve loved, and they'd already had some pretty spectacular fights about it--so bad, in fact, that Claire was not sure Eve wasn't thinking about breaking up with him. All of which led to sign five (STOP). "You think he'll go?" Claire asked, and concentrated on setting the right temperature on the washer.

The smell of the detergent and bleach was kind of pleasant, like really sharp flowers, the kind that would cut you if you tried to pick them. "To Dallas, I mean?"

 

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