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“You would have thought we would have noticed the graveyard in the back of the house,” Sergio said after a long moment of silence.

“It is behind that line of trees. How could we know?” Jeff answered, but they had been foolish and they knew it. They had been so desperate to rescue the vampires and escape they had not been thorough enough. They had all overlooked the overgrown graveyard tucked behind the house.

Sergio sighed and stepped away from the window. “And no one can see the dead from the road because of that line of the trees. Plus who the hell would be out here anyway. It's so off the map. ”

“That's why he chose it. ” Jeff looked down at Samantha. She looked so frail and pale. He had no idea how bad the internal damage was, but the sword had gone through her upper chest. His fingers lightly stroked her fevered brow and he sighed softly. Her breathing sounded very wrong.

“He'll come as soon as the sun goes down, won't he,” Sergio said in a sad voice.

“Yeah. ”

Sergio sat down on the rotted floor and let out a long sigh. “Man, this sucks. ”

“Yep,” Samantha said as she drifted back into consciousness. “And all the crosses are in the truck. ”

“We could try again,” Sergio said looking toward the door.

But they all knew that the thick wall of the dead waited for them. Impassable and dangerous.

“Or we can just wait for a miracle,” Sergio offered.

No other option seemed viable.

And so they waited.


Amaliya woke up long before dusk. She came into consciousness abruptly and felt disoriented by her surroundings. Her hand throbbed painfully and she looked toward where it was gripping the doorknob tightly. Slowly, she remembered. Then she heard the voice of her Grandmama whispering softly outside the door.

“. . . and we're trying to make sure you're safe, Amal, but they are all around the house and we can't get through. They hurt Samantha real bad and I think she's dying. . . ”

Slowly, Amaliya pushed the heavy satin off her and looked around the closet. The sun was pushing through a few cracks in the door, but the narrow beams were high above her. The light illuminated the narrow closet enough that she could see Cian was unconscious. His wounds had not healed at all and she touched his face lightly. He did not stir.

“. . . I can feel his power and I'm afraid. I keep praying that God will see us through, but I don't know what to do. I tried to speak to the dead, but he fills them. This is much scarier than the movies. . . ”

“Grandmama?” Her voice sounded raw and the dark need swelled inside of her. She needed to feed soon.

“Amal! Are you okay? We're here! We came to rescue you, but the dead are outside and they won't let us escape!”

Amaliya managed to get to her knees and dared to peek out of the keyhole. Her grandmother's eye came into view. She was staring right back at Amaliya.

“What time is it?”

“Six-thirty, baby. ”

Two hours until sunset. Shit. Not much time.

“You okay, Amal?”

“Yeah. Okay as can be. Cian is still asleep. He's wounded pretty badly. How did you find us?” She was having trouble wrapping her mind around the reality that her grandmother was actually here.

“Sergio and I went to Austin to save you when you didn't answer your cellphone. We met with Samantha and her friend, Jeff. He's a vampire hunter. ”

“Samantha knows a vampire hunter?” Amaliya blinked. “Okay. That's just weird. ”

“And we went into the apartment and saw the map on the computer. So we came here. We saw some dead people guarding this place so we came in and found you. After we killed the dead people. . . again. ”

Amaliya almost laughed, but she could hear the dread in her grandmother's voice. “Then what happened?”