Crimson Veil

Crimson Veil by Yasmine Galenorn (book 15 of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)

Berkley (Mass Market);
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Urban Fantasy

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked good witch with three gorgeous husbands. Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. And me? I'm Menolly, a vampire married to a scorching hot werepuma. And right now, we're facing enemies on all sides...

It's been a long and devastating week. Back in Otherworld, war has decimated the elfin city of Elqaneve, our father has gone missing, and Shadow Wing has managed to obtain another spirit seal. On the home front, somebody burned down my bar--the Wayfarer--killing eight people, including a friend.

To make matters worse, we still haven't found a way to stop Lowestar Radcliff--the daemon in charge of a supernatural corporate power grab. He's attempting to awaken Suvika, the lord of vice and corrupt businessmen, and we have to stop him. Our enemies are closing in on all sides, and this time, there's no place to hide...

Published:
Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The sky was clear for once, though rain was forecast before morning. The moon glimmered, her faint sliver shining down over the cemetery. Soon she would be new, dark, and hiding her face. A steady flurry of gusts rocked the trees, the silhouettes of their boughs shaking like tall sentinels sounding the alarm. It was the perfect night for a funeral. A funeral none of us wanted to be at.

We were gathered at the Seryph Point Cemetery, around the open grave. A small group we were, not many there to send off our friend to the afterlife. There was me, Menolly, and my wife Nerissa. My sisters Camille and Delilah stood beside us. Derrick Means was here-my bartender. And Tavah, Digger, and Kendra-all from the Wayfarer. Chase had joined us, as did Mallen. We had asked our men to stay home, to watch over the house. As I said, we were just a small group, but everyone here had cared, everyone was here because they wanted to be.

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Chrysandra's casket rested in front of us, over the grave on the lowering device. Her body would fade back to the earth, even as we consigned her soul to the long nights of eternity. At the service-which we'd held in our house-Morio and Shade had worked their magic to seal her body in her grave. Nothing save the most powerful necromancer could ever raise Chrysandra's remains. She'd be free from the threat of being turned to a zombie. She'd never come back as one of the undead. Her soul was long gone and her body would be free to undergo its natural breakdown, undisturbed from the machinations of sorcery.

We had said our good-byes at the house. We had bid her farewell. Now we were here simply to stand witness to the final act. To the last chapter in our friend's life. Chrysandra Reece had been a waitress at the Wayfarer since I first came Earthside. She'd stayed on as I moved from bartender to owner. She'd helped me out, done her job and then some. But Chrysandra had been a private person. We still knew nothing of her family. It was like she'd left every trace of her past behind her, put it in a safe box and buried it somewhere to keep it hidden. Even now, in death, all we had left of her were these-her mortal remains.

I'd gone through her effects, helped Chase clear out her apartment after the fire that had destroyed my bar and the lives of eight people caught in the flames, including Chrysandra. We'd torn the place apart, but there had been nothing to indicate that she'd had any life before she first came to the bar. I was beginning to suspect she'd been in the Witness Protection Program, but if so, they seem to have left her unsupervised. Whatever the case, Chrysandra had died as she had lived-a private person, a loyal employee, and a woman I considered my friend.

As Gage, the funeral tech, lowered the casket into the ground, I closed my eyes. I'd cried myself out. I'd cried when I realized she was dying, in such horrible pain that she couldn't even scream at the hospital. I'd cried as I sucked the life out of her burned and crisped body, ending that pain. And I'd cried till my bloody tears left irremovable stains on my sheets. Now, the tears were gone, and I just wanted to find the arsonist responsible for Chrysandra's death, and the deaths of the others who had perished in the flames.

Gage glanced at me. He might as well be nameless and faceless, for all I knew him, though I knew he was a werewolf. He worked for the funeral home where we'd made Chrysandra's arrangements. We'd limited our transactions with them to buying her casket and paying for her care. She had told me once she wanted to be buried in a simple pine box, unprotected from the elements. She didn't want her body to outlast time. So we'd ordered a hand-carved coffin that was untreated, that would give her up to the earth as it broke down. We'd arranged for Gage to be there, to lower the casket, but we'd taken care of the service ourselves. The funeral director was a Supe, and he understood. He didn't try to push us into buying an armored casket that would last forever.

Silence hung heavy, like fog soup, as we watched the casket descend into the waiting grave. Delilah and Nerissa tossed roses on it. Derrick stared straight ahead, trying not to let anything crack his gruff demeanor, but I knew the werebadger was taking it hard. He and Chrysandra had gotten on, and I suspected they'd been on their way to a romance. Tavah and Digger might be vampires, but they had also been friends, and now watched the proceedings bleakly. Camille stepped forward and gave me a nod. I took hold of her hand as we recited our prayer for the dead.

"What was life has crumbled. What was form, now falls away. Mortal chains unbind and the soul is lifted free. May you find your way to the ancestors. May you find your path to the gods. May your bravery and courage be remembered in song and story. May your parents be proud, and may your children carry your birthright. Sleep, and wander no more."

The words echoed in the night, punctuated only by the sound of the casket as it disappeared from sight. We stepped back and formed a circle around the grave, holding hands. And then, as a cloud passed over the face of the moon, Gage pushed the button on the portable stereo, and "Shuffle Your Feet," by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, echoed into the night. It was Chrysandra's favorite song, and it was the last time it would ever play for her in this world.

#

I recognized the strains of the Stone Temple Pilots echoing out from the crowded club. As much as I'd wanted to hole up with my sisters and wife at home after the funeral, I had an appointment to keep. Roman was waiting for me, and with what had gone on this past week, there would be no downtime for any of us-not for the foreseeable future.

As I threaded my way through the room, the scent of blood hung heavy in the air. The Utopia was a new vampire club. Shikra, the owner, managed to keep on the right side of the Roman's rules, albeit by a narrow margin, so all was good. No bloodwhores on the premises, but contracted private pets were allowed, and feeding on them was acceptable. I still was squicked out by the thought of owning someone just to drink off of them, but since the contract was a two-way street and nobody was here against their will, I couldn't very well impose my morals on the vamps frequenting the joint. Hell, I fed on people-although they were the dregs of society. Life was full of gray areas, and black and white had ceased to exist for me the day Dredge took my life and turned me.

Roman was waiting for me, looking gorgeous as usual. He was wearing black leather pants, a shirt open to the naval, and a burgundy smoking jacket. His long dark hair was pulled back in a smooth ponytail, and his eyes were almost frosted over, he'd been a vampire so long. The Lord of the Vampire Nation, son of Blood Wyne- the Queen of Vampires-Roman had chosen me for his official consort, and he had also re-sired me, taking over as my sire to break a blood bond of which I had needed to divest myself. So, while I was married to Nerissa and in love with her, I was bound to Roman in an unbreakable fashion. And to be honest, I didn't mind so much. He was ancient and dangerous, but seductive and passionate and though I didn't love him, I was able to fully be myself with him.

He stood as I approached, holding out one hand. I took his fingers lightly as he guided me to the booth. Every move he made was smooth and deliberate. Roman did nothing lightly, nothing without a reason.

"Menolly, love. Sit." He used the word casually, but every time it still set off an uneasy feeling. I'd warned Roman not to fall in love with me-I could sleep with him but I couldn't return his love. Nerissa held my heart, and I held hers.

Roman motioned to the waitress. Only vamps worked at the Utopia; it was too dangerous to have living, breathing staff at a vamp club. But the fang girls and boys were out in droves tonight-FBHs who wanted to walk on the wild side. Full-blood humans here-Earthside-loved vampires as much as they feared us, just like they loved the Fae. We were all dangerous and held the promise of sex and passion, with an intensity that was sadly lacking in a lot of peoples' lives.

"Two bottles of your best, warm." Roman normally disdained bottled blood, but when we were out together, he drank it to appease me. I objected to his bringing members of his stable along on our dates. It wasn't that the other women bothered me-in fact, I wanted him to focus on other women. It was the whole bloodwhores thing again.

I slid into the booth, leaning my head back and closing my eyes for a moment. The silence of my pulse, the silence of my body echoed through me. I had gotten used to having no breath over the years, but there were times I missed the involuntary sigh, the rush of air flowing out as I let go of the stress.

"Was it so hard?" Roman's voice brought me back to the present.

I opened my eyes and gazed at him. "Rough enough."

He gave me a little nod. "I've seen so many people die over the centuries, so I suppose I'm used to it. But each time a friend vanishes into time, into the past, it still hurts." With a soft murmur, he reached out and stroked my face, leaning in for a gentle kiss. "Poor Menolly . . . it has been a harsh week for you."

I stared at the table. Harsh was an understatement. My bar had burned down and eight people had died in the fire. We were trying to break a daemon-run white-slavery ring specializing in Supes, but were having a hard time figuring out how. We'd just met relatives of our mother's, blood relatives at that, and had no clue how they were going to figure into our lives.

And that wasn't the half of it. Back in Otherworld, the Elfin city-Elqaneve-had been destroyed by the sorcerers and we'd been there for the direct hit. Delilah and Camille had struggled to make it out of the war zone. I counted myself lucky that I'd been trapped and rescued without having to run the gauntlet of fire and destruction that the sentient storm that had rained down on the Elfin City. And now, Queen Asteria was dead, our father was dead and presumed missing, and the spirit seals were in jeopardy.

"Yeah, harsh is the word for it, all right. So, did you draw up a list?"

The waitress brought our blood. It was bottled like beer, only the bottles were red to mask the color for squeamish bar patrons, and to differentiate it from the alcoholic beverage. Couldn't have a mix-up.

I cradled the bottle in my hands, then took a long swig. A wave of hunger ran through me as I tasted the blood. If that hunger gnawed too much, I'd want to go out hunting, and right now, I didn't have the heart for it. Too much death, too much anger and fear running rampant in my life.

Roman pulled out his tablet. He'd gone high tech when high tech was still a baby and his ease with the computer world confounded me the more I saw it in action. I hadn't known that little fact about him, not at first, but slowly had begun to realize just how savvy he was. He tapped an icon, then another, and a document sprang up. As he scooted close to me, my skin tingled. He was old-one of the older vampires, son of the queen. And his very presence exuded a magnetism hard to ignore. It made me want to run my hands over his chest, to slam him down on the ground and tear into him, fucking his brains out. That was one thing about being Roman's consort-it gave me the outlet I couldn't have with Nerissa. Roman and I could play rough without hurting each other. In a way, it let me keep my love and passion for my wife safe and secure, keeping her safe from my inner predator.

"Later," he murmured, feeling it too. "We'll play very soon."

"Count on it." I gazed into his eyes, the crackle of energy almost palpable between us. But then, bringing myself back to the task at hand, I took the tablet from him and scanned the document. We really had no clue how many vamps frequented the Wayfarer, but there were some known regulars who had loved hanging out there since I'd become Roman's official consort. And that list ran to over forty names.

As I looked it over , I recognized a number of them. Roman had rushed to pull this together, putting his best men on it. The names had been highlighted with two colors. Green meant the vampire had been accounted for. Yellow meant they were missing and nobody had been able to get in touch with them. Out of the forty-two names, thirteen were highlighted in yellow. Their last known contact was listed, as well. I winced. That meant we potentially had thirteen more victims.

"Can you sort these out from the others and e-mail them to my phone?" I'd given in and accepted that I needed an e-mail address, as much as I hadn't wanted to go that route. Delilah had embraced her laptop. Camille had embraced her iPhone. I hadn't fallen in love with either one yet, though I had to admit, I loved my iPod, especially since I could plug it into my car.

"Hand it over." He tapped away while I sipped the rest of my blood.

"Should I track them down?" I didn't relish the legwork. It wasn't that I was lazy, but we had so much going on that tracking missing vamps who might already be dead seemed like a colossal time suck.

"I've already got my men on it." He punched one final button and I heard a little swoosh sound. The next moment, my phone pinged and the list was in my e-mail inbox.

I played with the bottle, sliding it around on the table. "Thanks. By the way, in addition to trying to figure out who burned down the Wayfarer-they're pretty sure it's arson by now-I have the lovely privilege of having been served with a lawsuit. Don't know if I told you that. Add yet another thing to the week-from-hell list."

"What are you talking about?" Roman set down his tablet.

"I'm being sued for wrongful death or some such crap. One of the victim's families wasted no time in snagging a lawyer and slapping me with a lawsuit. Makes me wonder just how much they actually gave a damn for their daughter." Feeling terribly grumpy, I reached in my purse and pulled out the summons I'd received the night before and tossed it on the table. "Lovely, huh?"

Roman silently opened it, scanned it through-he read incredibly fast and I guessed his intelligence to be genius level-and then thoughtfully folded it back up and set it on the table.

"Bullshit. I'll have my lawyer contact you and we'll put a stop to this folly." He shook his head. "Money grubbing bastards."

"Chase said he'd find me a lawyer-"

"Nonsense. I have the best money can buy. You are my consort. That's all there is to it." He frowned, worrying his lower lip with his fangs. Then he placed his hand over mine. "I want to talk to you about something-two things actually. First, I want to pay for the rebuilding of your establishment."

Roman, pay for rebuilding the Wayfarer? As much as I cared for him and was bound to him, I still didn't fully trust him. I knew that Camille and Delilah assumed that I'd given myself fully over, and it was true, now that he was my sire I had to answer to him. But that didn't stop me from keeping my eyes open.

I shook my head. "Thank you, but no. Smoky and Shade have already offered and I've accepted. Dragons horde treasure beyond even ancient vamps. They want to do this and I'd like to let them." It was, I thought, the most tactful way around saying, "Thanks but I don't want you having a stake in my bar." Of course, Roman was smart enough to know what I was up to, but decorum had been observed and I knew him well enough to figure he'd accept my wishes.

He just laughed. "I know what you're pulling. Fine, then. Refuse my help. But if you need it, all you have to do is ask. I truly do not have a hidden agenda in helping you, you know. But Menolly, we'll find out who did this. I promise you all the help I can give to finding out who torched your bar. And when we do . . . they'd better pray to whatever gods they follow."

His voice was soft, low, and curled around me, inviting me in. I leaned closer to him and he wrapped his arm around me, pressing his lips to mine. I leisurely let his tongue dart between my lips and returned the kiss, melting into his embrace. It was long and slow, without pressure. We both knew that tonight was a no-go and that I needed to head home, so we left it at that. But it stoked my fire, and I knew that once I reached home, I'd be dragging Nerissa down to our lair, to fuck her brains out.

Finally, I pulled away. "What's the other thing you wanted to ask me?"

He cocked his head, the frost of his eyes glittering. "It's about your daughter, Erin."

I'd turned exactly one person: Erin Mathews. Former owner of the Scarlet Harlot lingerie boutique, she'd been captured when my former sire came looking for me to finish the job he'd started. Erin was almost dead when we got to her, and I'd given her the option of letting me turn her into a vampire. Otherwise, she would have died. She'd chosen eternal life, and, just like that, I'd birthed a middleaged daughter. Erin was smart, and she was learning quickly how to adapt.

"What about her?" Erin had been working as secretary for Vampires Anonymous, a self-help club for newly minted vamps. Run by a friend-Wade Stevens, a vampire and former psychologist who had taken it upon himself to help the newly turned-the VA provided a place where the undead could bridge the gap with their living family and friends and learn how to coexist without giving in to their inner predators.

"I want to take her out of the VA. She's got the nature I'm looking for. I'd like to train her for my security department. She could rise quickly in the ranks." The tone of Roman's voice told me that he wasn't going to give up on this one without a fight.

I thought about the offer. Truthfully, Erin would probably love it. She wanted to be useful. Erin wasn't a woman who was happy sitting around. She'd hated the inactivity that Sassy had forced on her when I had left her with the socialite vamp. Sassy Branson had been a dear friend, but her inner predator had finally won out. I'd had to take her out-a promise I'd made when she was still in control of herself. Erin's job she had now made her happy, but I knew she was itching for more to do, and she had too much talent and know-how to waste.

"I'll stop on the way home and offer her the opportunity. If she's up for it, no problem. Might do her a lot of good. If not, then you'll let her be."

He nodded. "Fair enough."

I paused, then decided to approach a subject that had been bugging me for a week or two. I hadn't even told my sisters about it yet. "You know . . . lately, I've had the feeling I'm being watched."

Roman cocked his head. "What do you mean?"

"For the past week or so, I have felt that somebody has been watching over my shoulder. But I haven't been able to pinpoint who it might be. Or, maybe . . . maybe it's just my imagination. Anyway, I'd better head out. They're waiting for me at home." I slugged back the last drops of blood and shook my head to clear my thoughts.

Before I could slide out of the booth, the owner of the Utopia-Shikra-glided up to our table. She was silent, like most vamps, and absolutely gorgeous. Her hair was full and thick, shoulder length and a tawny wheat color that reminded me of my Nerissa. Her eyes were icy blue-she had only been a vampire for five years, if I remembered right, but she had adapted quickly. She was wearing a PVC dress, with a zipper pulled down around her navel. She'd had implants before she died and her breasts were two glorious globes but they looked fake as hell. I wondered how being a vampire affected having implants, but decided to keep my mouth shut for now.

"I trust the service was good? And your drinks?" She gave a little dip, curtseying to Roman. Which was smart, considering his status.

He glanced at me and I nodded. It had become my place to answer the niceties such as questions like this when we were out. It was part of my job, and considered beneath Roman's stature.

"Wonderful, and great service." I gave her a toothy smile.

"I wondered . . ." Shikra paused.

"Yes?" Again, my place to answer. It was also my job to field queries coming at Roman when we were out together unless his bodyguard intervened.

"I need to ask Lord Roman's advice, if I may. Something has come up and I don't quite know what to do. I thought about approaching the police, but something just . . . is warning me not to."

She looked so worried that I motioned for her to sit down without asking Roman if he was willing to listen. But he simply waited for her to join us.

"What seems to be the problem?" Roman leaned forward, his elbows resting on the table, his gaze locking hers. That was one thing that made him so popular-when he turned his attention to someone or something, he gave it total focus with an intensity that was almost frightening.

Shikra pulled out a letter and put it on the table. "I received this the other day. It was followed up by two anonymous phone calls. I think there's a connection but I can't prove it. I'll let you read the letter first."

The minute I picked up the paper, I recognized what it was. I'd seen the same thing come through my office-on the same letterhead. From some company called Vistar-Tashdey Enterprises, it was an offer to buy the Utopia Club from Shikra. Strongly worded, it was almost a demand, when I read through it again. There were no names listed, no signature other than that of the lawyer representing VT Enterprises. Same as the one I'd received.

On edge-the letter was as off-putting and self-important as the one I'd received had been-I held up the paper. "Can I have a copy of this? Do you have a copy machine on the premises?"

She took it. "Yes, I'll have one made. But this isn't the only problem. Last night, and then about an hour ago, I received two phone calls. Someone threatened to burn down the club. No reasoning, no blackmail demands. Just a gruff voice, making a death threat. I have no idea if the caller was male or female-the voice sounded disguised."

A shiver ran through me. "Roman . . . "

He seemed to be thinking along the same wavelength. "You're thinking there may be a connection?"

I nodded. "Could be. As far as the letter, can you think of some reason anyone would want to buy your club? No offense, but . . . are you making a ton of money?"

Shikra shook her head. "That puzzles me, too. Oh, I'm getting by-business isn't bad. But it's not the best, either. There's no real reason to buy me out unless they want the land the building is on."

I didn't want to tell her about my experience-not yet. Not until we knew what was going on. "Make us a copy of the letter, please Do you happen to have a recording of the messages that came through?" I knew it was a slim chance, but thought I'd ask anyway.

As I thought, she didn't. "No, I took the calls when they came in. The voice was the same both times, and it sounded muffled, like whoever it was, was trying to disguise it. And both times, the calls were short. I asked questions-or tried to, but they didn't answer."

"What did they say, exactly?" Roman glanced around the club and I followed his gaze.

The Utopia was unlike most vamp clubs, decked out in vivid crimson, green, gold, and black. The setup reminded me of a tropical lounge, with lush ferns and sprawling ivies spilling over the edge of built-in flower boxes. Booths, a muted crimson, were smooth and rounded, curving around dark walnut tables polished to a high sheen. The floor was a tiled linoleum, a black and white speckled pattern. There were no overwhelming drapes anywhere like in some vamp clubs, no highly sexual statues, or macabre images. For the most part, it could have been any upscale chic bar.

Shikra squinted. "Let me try to remember the exact words." After a moment, she shrugged. "He-or she, I have no clue why but I want to say it was a he . . . he said 'Better count your hours, blood sucker, because I'm going to send your fucking club up into flames.' And then he paused. That's when I asked what the hell was going on. He hung up." She shivered, rubbing her arms. Vamps didn't feel the cold much, but I knew it wasn't a chill hitting her.

I closed my eyes. That almost mirrored to the exact word what my caller had said. The only difference had been, "Better count your hours, blood sucker, because I'm going to take you and your fucking bar down so hard you'll never get up."

That was all she could remember. Roman told her to put a recorder on the club phone and see if she could capture the message if the freak called back, and then she went to print out a copy of the letter for me.

As we headed out, I glanced back at the Utopia. "I hope it's just somebody's bad idea of a practical joke." But as I stared at the neon sign, I kept seeing the flames engulfing the Wayfarer. "I hope to hell that's all it is."

Roman walked me to my car.

I stood by the Jag, staring into the night. "I'll drop by Erin's and ask her about the job opportunity. I'll call or have her call you tomorrow night."

And then, Roman drew me in for a quick kiss. His bodyguards were in the background, studiously ignoring us as his hands slipped over my body, cupping my butt. I moaned into his mouth, then pulled away.

"Night doll," he whispered, then ushered me into my car, shutting the door when I was in. As I drove off, he stood there, one hand raised, watching me go.

#

I stopped by Sassy Branson's old mansion-which was now both the headquarters for the Seattle Vampire Nexus, and Vampires Anonymous. Located on two acres, the estate was gorgeous and the mansion spacious. I stopped at the gate to show my idea. When Sassy had been alive, there had been a simple intercom system, but back then, nobody outside the vampire community knew she was a vamp, and she hadn't been all that nervous. Now, there was good reason to post armed guards around the perimeter, given the hate groups that were alive and thriving.

The guards told me that Erin was out for the evening-she was off to a movie with friends, so I left a message for her to call me when she got home, and pulled out of the driveway.

I glanced at the clock. Ten o'clock. It felt odd not be down at the Wayfarer at this time. I told myself not to, but I couldn't help it. I drove by the ruins of my bar and parked outside the burned out shell. Slowly, after a moment, I got out of the car and picked my way through the rubble, which still hadn't been cleaned up, and entered the hollow husk of the building. The sky had clouded over and the scent of rain hung heavy.

As I stood on the threshold of what had been my bar, my stomach lurched. The Wayfarer had become more than a business to me. It had become a friend. And now, that friend was as dead as Chrysandra. I started to turn away when I thought I saw something in the corner. I spun around, ready to defend myself, but there, in the murky pile of sodden wood and plaster, hovered a faint white light. I could swear a face stared at me from the mist, but then it vanished as lightning crashed overhead and the rain began to pound down in a steady stream. I gave one last glance in the corner, but now there was nothing there. Heading back to my car, I wondered if it had been Chrysandra's spirit-was she out wandering? Or one of the others who had died?

Feeling numb again, and weary, I climbed back in my Jag and headed for home.

The road out to Belles-Faire was slick, the water beading across it as the steady rain became a downpour. My wipers were going full steam and I was doing my best to see between the streams of water racing down my windshield. As I neared the turn that would take me to our house, a blur emerged at top speed from one of the driveways.

Fuck! Another car!

I slammed on the brakes and the Jag began to spin. As I drove into the skid, trying to regain control, the other car loomed large and I realized I was headed straight for it.

Holy fuck, this was bad-this was so bad. I considered jumping from the car-I could do it and live, but then my Jag would become a missile bearing down on the incoming vehicle without any constraint.

So I did what I could. Muscles and reflexes took over as I attempted to gain control of the spinning car. Closer . . .closer, the other car was in front of me now and also skidding into circles. And then, everything blurred as my Jag carried me into a crazy dance directly into the other car's embrace.

The crash was surprisingly muffled, but then a loud shriek filled the air as metal slid along metal and my airbag deployed. It was like being hit with a sledge hammer. As my Jag rolled to a stop, I realized that I was still sitting there, still intact. Instinct took over-and I forced my hands to unbuckle my seatbelt, then struggled to open the door. I half climbed, half fell out of my car, stumbling out of the way. I'd seen too many movies where the cars went up in flames, but so far that didn't seem to be happening.

After a moment when there didn't seem to be any flames, I patted myself down. I was okay. Jarred but all right. I turned my attention to the other car. The heel on my boot was broken, so I limped over and yanked open the driver door, which was a mangled mess. My strength allowed me to pry it loose, though. With growing relief, I saw that the only occupant in the car seemed to be the driver-a youngish woman. But she looked unconscious, and I could only pray that she wasn't dead.

COLLAPSE

Playlist

3 Doors Down: Loser

AC/DC: Back in Black
Adam Lambert: Mad World
Adele: Rumour Has It
Agnes Obel: Close Watch
Air: Napalm Love; Moon Fever; Playground Love;
AJ Roach: Devil May Dance
Alice Cooper: Go to Hell; I'm the Coolest
Amanda Blank: Something Bigger, Something Better; Shame on Me
Android Lust: Saint Over; Here and Now; When the Rains Came; Dragonfly;
Arcade Fire: Abraham's Daughter
Asteroids Galaxy Tour: Out of Frequency; Sunshine Coolin'; The Sun Ain't Shining No More; Bad Fever
Awolnation: SAIL

Bangles: Walk Like An Egyptian
Black Angels, The: You On the Run; Manipulation; Vikings; Indigo Meadow; Twisted Light; Phosphorene Dream; Haunting at 1300 McKinley
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Shuffle Your Feet
Blondie: I Know But I Don't Know
Bravery, The: Believe
Bret Michaels: Love Sucks
Broken Bells: October; The High Road; The Ghost Inside
Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth

Cat Power: I Don't Blame You
Chris Isaak: Wicked Game
Commodores: Brick House
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Cul de Sac: The Invisible Worm
Cure, The: Charlotte Sometimes, The Hanging Garden;

David Bowie: I'm Afraid of Americans; Without You; Let's Dance; Sister Midnight; Rebel Rebel; Golden Years
Depeche Mode: Blasphemous Rumours

Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being

Fatboy Slim: Praise You
Feeling, The: Sewn
Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks

Garbage: Queer; I Think I'm Paranoid; Bleed Like Me; Sex Is Not The Enemy; Blood For Poppies; I Hate Love
Gary Numan: Down in the Park; Are Friends Electric; I, Assassin; Metal; Stories; War Songs; My Shadow In Vain; My Breathing
Gotye: Heart's A Mess

Julian Cope: Charlotte Anne

King Black Acid: Rolling Under; One and Only
Kinks, The: Destroyer
Kraftwerk: Pocket Calculator
Kyuss: Thong Song; Thumb; Space Cadet

Lady Gaga: Poker Face; I Like it Rough;
Ladytron: Predict the Day; Black Cat
Larry Tee & Princess Superstar: Licky (Vandalism Remix)
Low: Half Light
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Sweet Home Alabama; Saturday Night Special

Mark Lanegan: Bleeding Muddy Water; Phatasmagoria Blues; Miracle; Pentacostal (with Duke Garwood)
Men Without Hats: Safety Dance

Oingo Boingo: Weird Science

People In Planes: Vampire

Screaming Trees: Gospel Plow; Where the Twain Shall Meet; Dime Western
Scorpions, The: The Zoo; Send Me An Angel
Shriekback: New Man; Dust and a Shadow;
Stone Temple Pilots: No Way Out; Glide;

Talking Heads: I Zimbra; Slippery People
Thomas Dolby: She Blinded Me With Science
Thompson Twins: Watching; Love On Your Side

Wang Chung: Everybody Have Fun Tonight

Verve, The: Bittersweet Symphony

Yoko Kanno: Lithium Flower

Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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