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Authors: Rachel Caine

Midnight alley

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Table of ContentsTitle PageCopyright PageAcknowledgements Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13 About the AuthorPraise for The Morganville Vampire Novels‘‘An electrifying, enthralling coming-of-age supernatural tale.'' —The Best Reviews ‘‘A solid, utterly compelling story that you will find addictive and hypnotic. If Rachel Caine is not on your auto-buy list, put her there immediately, if not sooner.'' —The Eternal Night ‘‘Rachel Caine brings her brilliant ability to blend witty dialogue, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot.'' —Romance Reviews Today ‘‘A rousing horror thriller that adds a new dimension to the vampire mythos.'' —Midwest Book Review Praise for Rachel Caine's Weather Warden Series ‘‘You'll never watch the Weather Channel the same way again.'' —Jim Butcher ‘‘The Weather Warden series is fun reading . . . more engaging than most TV.'' —Booklist‘‘A kick-butt heroine who will appeal strongly to fans of Tanya Huff, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris.'' —Romantic Times ‘‘Hugely entertaining.'' —SF Crowsnest ‘‘A fast-paced thrill ride [that] brings new meaning to stormy weather.'' —Locus ‘‘An appealing heroine with a wry sense of humor that enlivens even the darkest encounters.'' —SF Site ‘‘I dare you to put this book down.''—University City Review(Philadelphia) ‘‘Rachel Caine takes the Weather Wardens to places the Weather Channel never imagined!''—Mary Jo Putney ‘‘A spellbinding . . . thought-provoking, action-packed thriller.'' —Midwest Book ReviewTHE MORGANVILLE VAMPIRE NOVELSGlass HousesThe Dead Girls' DanceMidnight AlleyNAL JamPublished by New American Library, a division ofPenguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,New York, New York 10014, USAPenguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandPenguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,New Delhi - 110 017, IndiaPenguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632,New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South AfricaPenguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandFirst published by NAL Jam, an imprint of New American Library,a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.First Printing, October 2007Copyright © Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, 2007All rights reserved NAL JAM and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.PUBLISHER'S NOTEThis is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.comeISBN : 978-1-4406-2001-0

For the people who got me through my own personal Morganville years: Elizabeth Sandlin, Andy Sealy, Mona Fluitt, Bruce Tinsley, Luis Hernandez, Gary Wiley, Scott Chase, Marsha McNeill, Rachel Scarbrough, and many more who made the days bright. Also to the memory of sitting next to Stevie Ray Vaughn, hearing him make magic when few people were even listening.For the people who are getting me throughtheseMorganville years: Cat Conrad, Kelley Walters, Marla Stair, Katy Hendricks, Claire Wilkins and Baby Griff, Becky Rocha, Laurie Andrews and her lovely girls, P. N. Elrod, Jackie Leaf, Bill Leaf, Joanne Madge, Irene Ferris, Ter Matthies, the Alphas, ORAC, Douglas Joseph, Sharon Sams and her son Boardman, Ann Jackson and her son Trey, and literally too many LiveJournal and MySpace friends to even attempt to list. Every one of them a special, undeserved gift.And to Charles Armitage and Kevin Cleary, for making Morganville an even more exciting place.ACKNOWLEDGMENTSFast 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!1The 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'tthatbad, 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 reallyseen.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 rememberthat. And of course Claire couldn't tell herwhyshe 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'tshake 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, thatwashalf-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.
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