Fall of Night The Morganville Vampires - By Rachel Caine Page 0,1

on him. He looks like Mozart, she thought – or at least, how Mozart had been dressed in the paintings she’d seen.

‘It must have been easier when people dressed like that,’ she said. ‘Being a vampire. People made their faces white with powder, didn’t they? So you didn’t stand out so much.’

‘Not just their faces,’ he said. ‘They powdered their wigs, too. One could choke on the arsenic and talcum. I can’t imagine it was good for the lungs of living, but one does what one must for fashion. At least the women weren’t tottering around on five-inch heels, constantly in peril of breaking bones.’ He paused a moment, then said, ‘What made it easier for vampires was that we lived by candlelight, lamplight – it makes everyone look healthier, even the sick. These harsh lights you favour now … well. Difficult. I heard that a few vampires have taken to those spray-tanning salons, to get the proper skin tones.’

She almost laughed at that, at the image of a badass vampire like Oliver – ferocious and fearless – standing around in a Speedo to get himself painted. But Oliver had left Morganville, too … banished, now, from Amelie’s side, where he’d been ever since Claire had first come to town. That was probably the right thing to do, but Claire felt bad for him, a little. He’d betrayed the Founder, but he hadn’t meant it – and he hadn’t had a choice.

If any vampire could survive in the human world, though, it would be Oliver. He was clever, ruthless, and mostly without a conscience. Mostly.

‘You can still change your mind,’ Myrnin said. He stood perfectly still, except for the wind ruffling his clothes and the bow on his ponytail; he didn’t try to meet her eyes. ‘You know you don’t have to leave. No one wants you to go, truly.’

‘I know.’ That was all she’d been thinking about, for hours. She hadn’t slept, and her whole body ached with nervous tension. ‘You’re not the only one to tell me so.’ Shane, for instance. Though he’d been quiet about it, and gentle. It wasn’t that she was angry with him – God, no – but she needed, desperately, to make sure that he trusted her as much as she trusted him. She loved him, that was what made it so, so hard to do this. She needed him. But he’d screwed up, big time, in believing a big lie about her told by one of their enemies. He’d actually believed that she’d been sneaking around behind his back, with his best friend, Michael.

She needed to think about how she felt about that disappointment on her own, but all she could really think right at this moment was how much she wanted to feel his warm, strong arms wrapped around her, his body shielding her from the cold. How much she wanted one more kiss, one more whisper, one more … everything.

‘The world out there isn’t like it is here,’ Myrnin said. ‘I know it hasn’t been easy for you here – and I’ve been a significant part of your challenges, as well. But Claire, I do know something of the world – I have been in it for hundreds of years, and although technology changes, people are little different, then or now. They are afraid, and they use that fear to excuse their own actions – whether it is theft or hatred, violence or murder. People bond themselves into families and groups for protection, and strangers … strangers are always at risk.’

He was right. She’d come into Morganville a stranger, and she’d been at risk … until she’d found her group, her family, her place.

Claire took in a deep breath. She kicked sand with her sneaker toe, and said, ‘Then I’ll find my group there, where I’m going. You know I can do it. I did it here.’

‘Here, you are exceptional,’ he said. ‘There, who knows? They might not value you as much as we do.’

He’d put his finger on her greatest fear … the fear of not being the best. Of being just … average, like everybody else. She’d always worked so hard to excel, worked at it with a passion that was close to fear; going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the Holy Grail of that quest, but it also came with a double-edged risk. What if she wasn’t good enough? What if everybody else was faster, better, smarter, stronger? She couldn’t fail. She couldn’t. ‘I’ll be

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