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Removing the chain and unlocking it, he slowly opened it. “Heather? Can I help you?”

She looked a little unsure of herself for a second, then raised the gun and shot him in the chest. “No, I have it covered. ”


The two dead homeless men The Summoner had sent to help her, stepped out from around the corner, and moved to gather up Roberto's body.

Somewhere in Heather's muddled mind, she was screaming, but the rest of her thoughts were consumed with The Summoner and his commands. He was powerful and she must obey his power. She could feel him, in her apartment, waiting for her. He didn't have to sleep anymore. He had said he was beyond that now and his legions walked both the day and the night.

She wasn't dead yet. She had wondered at first if maybe she was dead. But her heart was still beating unlike the two huge men busy wrapping Roberto up into the hallway rug. Those two men were truly dead. She rubbed the gun against her leg nervously.

What she was doing was wrong, right?

She wasn't sure anymore.

The Summoner called out to her through the darkness of her mind and she moved toward the elevator. Looking down at the gun, the thought of shooting him flickered through her mind. But he needed her. He had told her so.

She needed to obey him. Serve him. Love him. Until he killed her.


Sergio was intent on sleeping in. It was Saturday morning and his wife had taken the kids to visit her relatives. Because he had to work a double shift the night before, he had been given a reprieve from his glowering mother-in-law. She absolutely hated him because of his Mexican blood and he absolutely hated her because she was a bitch. He had woken up long enough to kiss his kids and wife goodbye, then had collapsed onto the sofa to sleep the morning away.

As he dozed, he was dimly aware of the cat lying on his back, kneading his shoulder as her tiny claws lightly scratched him. The sound of the neighborhood kids playing outside tried to pull him from his light slumber and he grumbled. He'd give anything for there to be Saturday morning cartoons again so the kids would be inside being little TV zombies. Then at least he could sleep deeply.

A loud banging on his front door made him jump. The cat yowled and drew blood as she scampered off.

“Thanks a lot, Tinkerbell,” he muttered, and wondered why he had let the kids name the cat.

Grumbling, he sat up and stared at the door. There was no one visible through the glass panes set in the door in the shape of a fan. Deciding he must have dreamed the banging, he lay back down.

The door shook as the banging started again. This time his grandmother's voice joined the harsh knocks.

“Sergio! Sergio! Open the door!”

Blinking, he sat up again and rubbed his eyes. “Grandmama?”

“Open the door!”

Pulling his undershirt down over his stomach, he staggered to the door, unlocked it, and swung it open.

His tiny grandmother stood on the stoop clutching her big tote bag with the flag of Texas on it. She was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it and her tiny feet were tucked into bright pink sneakers. “Get dressed. We're going to Austin. ”

“Huh?” He rubbed his eyes again and tried to figure out why his grandmother was bugging him on a Saturday morning at the ungodly hour of nine AM.

“Amaliya hasn't answered her phone in two nights and something is wrong. Get your gun. ”

“Grandmama, I want to sleep in,” he muttered, and was shoved aside as she barged in.

“No time to sleep. ”

“Hey, why do I need a gun?” He shut the door and stared at her in confusion. Sergio's muddled brain couldn't take all this in quite yet and he sat down in his recliner, blinking tiredly.

His grandmother sat down on the sofa and the cat instantly appeared on her lap. “I gave Amaliya that phone. ”

“Right. ”

“And she called me and told me about this Cian. ”