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Lies in Blood (Dark Secrets #4) Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children #1)

Corlant, she began, but the man cut her off, sliding the rest of his long body inside.

Are you coming or what? Molly called. I know humans spend a lot of time in the bathroom, but this is getting ridiculous!Dazed, I swung the bathroom door open and shuffled into the living room like the living dead. Shadow, who had managed to wedge herself into the small bathroom with me by standing in the dry tub, followed at my heels, keeping to my slow pace like she was spotting me for a fall. Which maybe she was.

The Queen Of The Damned (The Vampire Chronicles #3)

Scarlett? Molly asked, her eyes filling with concern. Have you been crying? When I didn’t answer, she rushed to add, Uh, I didn’t mean to hassle you about the bathroom; you can stay in there as long as you want.I just shook my head. I don’t know how to . . . this is so . . . so . . . I didn’t have the words.Looking panicked, Molly vaulted off the couch and rushed over to me, grasping my arms. What happened? she asked, searching my face. Did someone hurt you?

All Spell Breaks Loose (Raine Benares #6)

In answer, I held up my fist, clenched so tightly that my knuckles ached, so Molly could see the test.1 Everywhere we fly, people scatter below us. They see the great shadow of our swarm above them, and they run. We fly over a cityscape that has been charred, broken, and mostly abandoned. San Francisco used to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with its trolley cars and famous restaurants. Tourists used to stroll Fisherman’s Wharf and cruise the crowded alleys of Chinatown. Now the grungy survivors fight for scraps and harass terrified women. They scurry into the shadows and disappear as soon as they spot us. The only ones left are the most desperate who choose to stay out in the open, hoping to escape the gangs for the few seconds it takes us to fly by. Below us, a girl hunches over a dead man lying with limbs spread wide. She hardly notices us, or she simply doesn’t care. Here and there, I see light glinting off something in a window, signs that someone is watching us through binoculars, or maybe aiming a rifle at us as we pass. We must be quite a sight. A cloud of scorpion-tailed, man-sized locusts blotting out the sky. And in the middle of it all, a demon with enormous wings carrying a teenage girl. At least, Raffe must look like a demon to anyone who didn’t know he was an archangel flying on borrowed wings. They probably think he kidnapped the girl he’s holding. They couldn’t possibly guess that I feel safe in his arms. That I’m resting my head on the warm curve of his neck because I like the feel of his skin. ‘Do we humans always look like that from above?’ I ask. He answers. I can feel the vibrations in his throat and see his mouth moving, but I can’t hear him above the thunderous buzz of the locust swarm. It’s probably good I didn’t hear him anyway. Angels probably think we look like roaches scurrying from one shadow to another. But we’re not roaches or monkeys or monsters, no matter what the angels think of us. We are still the same people we once were. At least, we are on the inside. I hope so, anyway. I glance over at my cut-up sister who is flying beside us. Even now, I have to remind myself that Paige is still the same girl I’ve always loved. Well, maybe not exactly the same. She’s riding on the shriveled body of Beliel, which is being carried like a palanquin by several locusts. He has blood all over him and looks long dead even though I know he’s still alive. It’s no worse than what he deserves, but there’s still a part of me that wonders at the primitive cruelty of it all. A gray island of rock appears ahead of us in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz, the notorious former prison. There’s a whirlwind of locusts above the island. It’s a small part of the hive that didn’t come when Paige called for help on the beach a few hours ago. I point to an island behind Alcatraz. It’s bigger and greener, with no buildings that I can see. I’m pretty sure that’s Angel Island. Despite the name, any place has to be nicer than Alcatraz. I don’t want Paige on that hellish rock. We veer around the locust whirlwind and head to the larger island. I motion to Paige to come with us. Her locust and the ones closest to her follow us, but the majority join the swarm above Alcatraz, swelling the size of the dark funnel above the prison. Some seem confused, following us at first, then changing direction and heading back to Alcatraz as if compelled to be part of the hive. Only a handful of locusts stay with us as we circle Angel Island for a good spot to land. The rising sun highlights the emerald greens of trees surrounded by the bay. From this angle, Alcatraz sits in front of the wide panorama of the San Francisco skyline. It must have been a breathtaking view once. Now it looks like a jagged line of broken teeth. We land by the water on the west shore. The tsunamis left a rubble of bricks on the beach and a mass of splintered trees on one side of the hill while leaving the other side mostly intact. When we reach the ground, Raffe lets me go. I feel like I’ve been curled up against him for a year. My arms are practically frozen in place around his shoulders, and my legs are stiff. The locusts stumble around when they land like they’re having the same issues. Raffe stretches his neck and shakes out his arms. His leathery bat wings fold and disappear behind him. He’s still wearing his mask from the party-turned-massacre at the aerie. It’s deep red shot through with silver, and it covers his entire face except for his mouth. ‘Aren’t you going to take that off?’ I shake the numbness out of my hands. ‘You look like red death on demon wings.’ ‘Good. That’s how every angel should look.’ He rolls his shoulders. I suppose it’s not easy having someone cling on to you for hours. Despite trying to relax his muscles, he’s on full alert as his eyes scan our eerily quiet surroundings. I adjust the strap around my shoulder so that my sword, disguised as a teddy bear, sits against my hip for easy access. Then I step over to help my sister off Beliel. As I near Paige, her locusts hiss at me, jabbing their scorpion stingers in my direction. I stop, my heart pounding. Raffe is beside me in an instant. ‘Let her come to you,’ he says quietly. Paige climbs off her ride and pets a locust with her small hand. ‘Shh. It’s okay. That’s Penryn.’ It still amazes me to see these monsters listening to my baby sister. Our stare-down lasts a moment longer until the beasts lower their stingers under Paige’s gentle crooning. I let out my breath, and we back away, letting Paige soothe them. Paige bends to gather up Raffe’s severed wings. She had been lying on them, and the stained feathers look crushed, but they begin fluffing almost instantly in her arms. I can’t blame Raffe for cutting them off Beliel before the locusts could suck them dry along with the rest of the demon, but I wish he hadn’t had to do it. Now we’ll have to find a doctor to reattach them to Raffe before they wither. We start up the beach and see a couple of rowboats tied to a tree. The island must be occupied after all. Raffe motions for us to hide while he heads up the slope. It looks like there used to be a row of houses on one side of the hill. On the lower ground, only the concrete foundations remain, littered with smashed boards stained with water and salt. But on the higher ground, several boarded-up buildings are intact. We skitter behind the nearest building. It’s large enough to have been barracks of some kind. Like the others, it’s sealed up with white painted boards. They look like they’d been shut up long before the Great Attack. The whole thing feels like a ghost settlement except for the house on the hill overlooking the bay. It’s a perfectly intact Victorian, complete with a white picket fence. It’s the only building that looks like a family home and the only one with color or any sense of life.

I don’t see any threats, certainly nothing that the locusts can’t scare off, but I stay out of sight anyway. I watch Raffe as he leaps to fly up the hill, moving behind the cover of barrack to tree, barrack to tree, working his way toward the main house. When he gets there, gunfire shatters the peace. 2 Raffe flattens himself against a wall. ‘We’re not here to harm you,’ he shouts. Another gunshot answers from an upstairs window. I flinch, my nerves about as taut as they can be. ‘I can hear you talking in there,’ shouts Raffe. He must think we’re all deaf. I guess compared to angels, we are. ‘And the answer is no. I doubt that my wings will be worth as much as angel wings. There is no chance of you being able to take me on, so stop fooling yourselves. We just want the house. Be smart. Leave.’ The front door slams open. Three burly men step out, pointing their rifles in different directions as if unsure where their enemies are. Raffe takes flight, and the locusts follow his lead. He sweeps the air with his impressive demon wings, looking intimidating before dropping back down beside the house. The locusts fly toward him, diving in and out of the tree line with their scorpion stingers curled behind them. As soon as the men get a good look at what they’re up against, they run. They crash through the trees across from the locusts. Then they circle around the rubble toward the beach. As the men run, a woman scampers out of the house like a beaten dog. She races in the opposite direction of the men. She looks back to see where they are, looking more like she’s running from them than from the winged creatures. She disappears into the hills behind the house, while the men take the rowboats and head out on the bay. Raffe walks around to the front of the vacated house and pauses, listening carefully. He waves for us to join him as he walks in. By the time we reach the Victorian, Raffe yells, ‘All clear.’ I put my hand on Paige’s shoulder as we enter the yard through the white picket fence. She clutches Raffe’s feathered wings like a security blanket as she stares at the house. The Victorian is butter colored with maroon trim. It has a porch with wicker furniture and looks a lot like a dollhouse. One of the locusts drops Beliel beside the picket fence. He lies there like a piece of meat. The ropey flesh of his body is the color and texture of beef jerky, and blood still trickles from wounds where Paige bit chunks out of his cheek and arms. He looks pitiful, but this is one locust victim I don’t feel sorry for. ‘What should we do with Beliel?’ I ask Raffe. ‘I’ll take care of him.’ Raffe walks down the porch steps toward us. Considering all the awful things that Beliel has done, I’m not sure why Raffe didn’t kill him instead of just cutting his wings off. Maybe he thought the locusts would do it or that Paige’s attack on him at the aerie would be fatal. But now that he’s made it this far, Raffe doesn’t seem inclined to finish him off. ‘Come on, Paige.’ My sister walks beside me up onto the wooden porch and into the house. Inside, I expect dust and mold, but instead, it’s surprisingly nice. The living room looks like it used to be an exhibit. A lady’s dress from the 1800s is displayed in the corner. Beside it, museum ropes on brass stands are bunched together, no longer needed to keep the public away from the antique living room furniture. Paige looks around and walks over to the window. Beyond the warped glass, Raffe drags Beliel up to the fence gate. He dumps him there and walks behind the house. Beliel seems dead, but I know he’s not. Locust-stung victims are paralyzed enough to seem dead even though they’re still conscious. That’s part of the horror of being stung. ‘Come on. Let’s check out the rest of the house,’ I say. But Paige continues to stare out the window at the shriveled form of Beliel. Outside, Raffe walks back into sight with his arms full of rusty chains. He makes quite the intimidating picture as he wraps the chains around Beliel, forming loops around his neck, the fence post, and his thighs. He padlocks them together in the center of his chest. If I didn’t know better, I’d be terrified of Raffe. He looks merciless and inhuman as he handles the helpless demon. Strangely, it’s Beliel who keeps pulling at my attention, though. There’s something about him in chains that keeps catching my eye. Something familiar. I shake it off. I must be on the verge of hallucinating from exhaustion. 3 I was never a morning girl, and now that I’ve had a few nights with no sleep, I feel like a zombie. I want to crash onto a couch somewhere and sleep for a week. But first, I need to help my sister settle in. It takes me an hour to clean her up in the bathtub. She’s covered in Beliel’s blood and gore. If the frightened people at the Resistance thought she was a monster when she was in a clean flower-print dress, they’d definitely turn into torch-bearing, lynch-mob villagers if they saw her now. I’m afraid to actually scrub her because of all her stitches and bruises. Normally, our mom would do this. She was always surprisingly gentle when it came to handling Paige. Maybe thinking the same thing, Paige asks, ‘Where’s Mom?’ ‘She’s with the Resistance. They should be at the camp by now.’ I dribble water over her and dab gingerly between stitches with a sponge. ‘We came to look for you but got caught and taken to Alcatraz. She’s all right now, though. The Resistance came to rescue everyone on the island, and I saw her on the boat as they were escaping.’ Her bruises still look angry, and I don’t want to accidentally pop a stitch. I wonder if these are the kinds of stitches that dissolve or if a doctor needs to take them out. That makes me think of Doc, the guy who sewed her up in the first place. I don’t care what his situation was. No decent human being would have mangled and mutilated little kids into man-eating monsters just because Uriel the megalomaniac angel told him to. I want to kick Doc to pieces when I see how bruised and abused Paige is. So how crazy is it that I’m nursing a small thought that maybe he can help her? I sigh and drop the sponge into the water. I can’t stand to look at her ribs sticking out of her stitched skin anymore. She’s about as clean as she’s going to get anyway. I drop her blood-stained clothes in the sink and walk into one of the bedrooms to see if I can find something for her to wear. I rummage through the antique drawers, not really expecting to find anything. It seems like this place was some sort of historic tourist site rather than anyone’s house. But somebody has stayed here. Maybe even decided that this could be home.

There’s not a lot, but at least one woman had settled here, at least for a while. I reach in and pull out a white blouse and linen skirt. Thong underwear. A lacy bra. A sheer camisole. A cropped T-shirt. A pair of stretchy men’s boxers. People were funny during the early days after the Great Attack. Even when they evacuated their homes, they took their cell phones, laptops, keys, wallets, suitcases, and shoes that would have been great for tropical vacations but not for running on the streets. It was as if people couldn’t accept that it wouldn’t all blow over in a few days. Eventually, though, those things ended up abandoned in cars and streets or, in this case, in the drawers of a museum house. I find a T-shirt that’s almost as big as Paige. There’s no chance of finding a pair of pants for her, so a T-shirt dress will have to do for now. I tuck her in upstairs and leave her shoes beside the bed in case we need to go in a hurry. I kiss her forehead and tell her goodnight. Her eyes shut like a doll’s, and her breath deepens almost immediately. She must be absolutely exhausted. Who knows the last time she slept? Who knows the last time she ate? I head downstairs to find Raffe leaning over the dining table with his wings laid out in front of him. He’s taken off his mask, and it’s a relief to be able to see his face again. He’s grooming his wings. It looks like he has washed the blood out of them. They lie on the table, damp and limp. He plucks out the broken feathers and smooths the healthy ones. ‘At least you have them back,’ I say. The light hits his dark hair, showing his highlights. He takes a big breath. ‘We’re back to square one.’ He sits on a wooden chair, almost wilting into it. ‘I need to find a doctor.’ He doesn’t sound optimistic. ‘They had some stuff on Alcatraz. Angelic surgical supplies, I think. They did all kinds of experiments there. Could any of that stuff be useful?’ He looks at me with eyes so blue they’re almost black. ‘Maybe. I should probably scope out that island anyway. It’s too close for us to ignore.’ He rubs his temples. I can see the frustration stiffening the lines of his shoulders. While Archangel Uriel is creating a false apocalypse and lying to the angels to get them to vote him in as their Messenger, Raffe is stuck trying to get his angel wings sewn back on. Until then, he can’t return to angel society to try to straighten things out. ‘You need some sleep,’ I say. ‘We all do. I’m so tired my legs just want to give out.’ I sway a little. It was a long night, and I’m still surprised we all made it through alive to see the morning. I half expect him to argue, but he nods. It just confirms that we need the rest that badly, and maybe he needs time to figure out how to find a doctor who can help him. We trudge upstairs to the two bedrooms. I turn to Raffe in front of the doors. ‘Paige and I will—’ ‘I’m sure Paige will sleep better alone.’ For a second, I think that maybe he wants to be alone with me. I have a moment of crazy awkwardness mixed with excitement before I see his expression. Raffe gives me a stern look. So much for my theory. He just doesn’t want me to sleep in the same room as my sister. He doesn’t know that I already shared a room with her when we were with the Resistance. She’s had plenty of chances to attack me. ‘But—’ ‘You take this room.’ Raffe points to the room across the hall. ‘I’ll take the couch.’ His voice is casually commanding. He’s obviously used to having everyone obey him. ‘There’s no real couch. Just an antique settee made for ladies half your size.’ ‘I’ve slept on rocks in the snow. A cramped settee is a luxury. I’ll be fine.’ ‘Paige isn’t going to hurt me.’ ‘No, she’s won’t. You’ll be too far away to tempt her while you’re asleep and vulnerable.’ I’m too tired to argue. I peek into her room to make sure she’s still asleep before walking into my own room across the hall. The morning sun shines its warmth through the window of my room and onto the bed. There are dried wildflowers on the bedside table, adding a splash of purples and yellows. The scent of rosemary wafts in through the open window. I take off my shoes and lean Pooky Bear against the bed within easy reach. The teddy bear sits on top of the gauzy dress that covers the sword’s scabbard. I’ve felt a tinge of emotion coming off it ever since we’ve been back with Raffe. It’s both happy to be near him and sad to be forbidden to him. I stroke the soft fur of the bear and give it a little pat. Normally, I sleep in my clothes in case I need to run. But I’m sick of sleeping that way. It’s uncomfortable, and the welcoming room reminds me of what it was like before we were scared all the time. I decide this will be one of those rare times when I can sleep comfortably. I pad over to the chest of drawers and rummage through the clothes I found earlier. There’s not much of a choice, but I make the best of what’s there. I choose the cropped T-shirt and the men’s boxers. The T-shirt is loose but fits okay. It comes down to the bottom of my ribs, leaving my midriff bare. The stretchy boxers cling to me perfectly even though they’re for guys. One leg is frayed and unraveling, but they’re clean, and the elastic isn’t too tight. I crawl into bed, marveling at the silky luxury of sheets. The second my head lands on the pillow, I begin fading away. The soft breeze flows in from the windows. Part of me knows that it’s sunny outside and warm in the way that October can be sometimes. But another part of me sees thunderstorms. The sun melts into this rain, and my room with the garden view turns into storm clouds as I drift deeper into sleep. I’m back where the Fallen are being dragged away to the Pit in chains. The spikes in their necks and foreheads, wrists and ankles drip blood as the hellions ride them. It’s the same dream I had through my sword when I was at the Resistance camp. But a part of me remembers that I’m not sleeping with the blade this time. It’s leaning against the bed but not touching me. This doesn’t feel like a sword memory. I’m dreaming about my own experience of being in the sword’s memory. A dream about a dream. In the thunderstorm, Raffe glides down, brushing hands with a few of the newly Fallen as he heads toward the earth below. I see their faces as Raffe touches hands with them. This group of Fallen must be the Watchers – the elite group of angel warriors who fell for loving Daughters of Men.I would need to work hard on controlling my radius, though, which meant it would be good to have someone at my back. And I did have two tickets. Unfortunately, there was really only one person I could think to ask, and bringing him meant leaving Juliet unprotected, at least for a little while.

But it couldn’t be helped. I pulled out my phone and called Cliff.Thirty minutes later, the two of us were walking through the promenade of shops, on our way to the Bellagio’s Renaissance-themed conference rooms. Or at least I hoped we were. I’d gotten lost twice trying to meet Cliff, so at this point it was anybody’s guess.

Nice Girls Dont Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1)

I was holding on to his arm in what I hoped looked like a romantic, old-fashioned way, and not at all like I would probably walk straight into a wall without it. He was still wearing the suit from earlier, but he’d added a tie. Are you sure they’ll really stay put? I said distractedly. I’d already asked this at least twice, but it was hard to concentrate on his answer when I was so focused on reining in my radius.As I said, Miss Bernard, he said patiently, Miss Nash persuaded them to order pizzas and head back to their suite for an old-fashioned slumber party. Miss Nash was Laurel. I’d told Cliff that she was clued into the Old World, and he’d asked her to help keep the others corralled for the night. I didn’t think anyone was aware that I was in town—yet—but I didn’t want to take any chances while I was keeping their bodyguard with me. She was very helpful, he added.

Of course she was. I was heading into a vampire den to get the answers she wanted.We stopped—or, rather, Cliff stopped, and I stumbled for a foot before catching myself. I think this is it, he said, looking from the invitation in his hand to the ballroom in front of us. I’d almost walked right by it, which did not escape my companion. He glanced down at me. You sure about this?

I nodded tightly. We stay at least two feet away from everyone, do a quick circuit of the room, and get out of there. If we see Jameson, I need to talk to him. Although I hadn’t worked out exactly what I was going to say.Cliff’s face was expressionless, but there was something in his body language that seemed . . . defiant. I glanced down at his hands. They were twitching, like he was trying to pull an imaginary trigger.

I pulled him down the hallway a ways, past the door and toward the bathrooms, which was one place where vampires did not hang out. I risked releasing my radius again so I could scrutinize him. Can you handle this? I asked.Cut the shit, I snapped. You seem . . . I don’t know, something. Scared. Do we have a problem?

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