The Dead Girls Dance


Chapter One

It didnt happen, Claire told herself. Its a bad dream, just another bad dream. Youll wake up and itll be gone like fog.

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


Its 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, Shanes father snapped. He was pacing the wooden floor, back and forth, hands clasped behind him. He wasnt looking at Michaels body, shrouded under a thick, dusty velvet curtain, but it was all Claire could see, now that shed opened her eyes again. It was as big as the world, and it wasnt a dream, and it wasnt going away. Shanes dad was here, and he was terrifying, and Michael

Michael was dead. Only Michael had already been dead, hadnt he? Ghostly. Dead during the dayalive at night

Claire realized she was crying only when Shanes dad turned on her, staring with red-rimmed eyes. She hadnt felt that scared when shed stared into vampire eyeswell, maybe once or twice, because Morganville was a scary place, generally, and the vampires were pretty terrifying.

Shanes fatherMr. Collinswas 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 wasnt looking at the velvet-covered sprawl of his best friends 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 Michaels 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 deaths-head Mary Jane shoes, Claire noticed. She didnt 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 couldnt seem to stop shaking. Shock. That was what they always said on TV, anyway. Her skin felt cold.

Shhhh, Claire whispered to her. Michaels okay. Its all going to be okay. She didnt know why she said thatit was a lie; it had to be a lie; theyd all seenwhat happenedbut something told her it was the right thing to say. And sure enough, Eves sobbing slowed, then stopped, and she covered her face with shaking hands.

Shane hadnt said anything else. He was still watching his dad, with the kind of intense stare most guys reserved for people theyd like to pound into hamburger. If his dad noticed, he clearly didnt care. He continued to pace, up and down. The guys hed brought with himwalking slabs of muscle in black motorcycle leather, shaved heads and tattoos and everythingwere standing in the corners, arms folded. The one whod killed Michael looked bored as he flipped the knife in his fingers.

Get up, Shanes dad said. Hed stopped pacing, and was standing right in front of his son. Dont you dare give me any crap, Shane. I told you to stand up!

You didnt have to do that, Shane said, and slowly stood, feet slightly apart. Ready to take (or give) a punch, Claire thought. Michael wasnt any threat to you.

Hes one of them. Undead.

I said he wasnt a threat!

And I say that you just dont want to admit your friends turned freak of nature on you. Shanes 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 were here. Or do you need a reminder?

When Shane didnt answer, his