Mercy's mom calls her about the wedding. She wants to let balloons and butterflies go at the ceremony. This drives Mercy up the wall. Kyle tells her it's the in thing now. She decides to tell Adam that she wants to elope. They plan an elopement and it turns into something else. Mercy and Adam take a vacation to the Columbia River. They get involved in something spooky. Mercy finds out more about her walker self.
Under the glare of streetlights, I could see that the grass of Stefan’s front lawn was dried by the high summer heat to yellow. It had been mowed, but only with an eye to trimming the length of the grass, not to making it aesthetically pleasing. From the debris of dead grass in the yard, the lawn had been left to grow long enough that the city might have demanded it be mowed. The grass that remained was dry enough that whoever had cut it wouldn’t have to do it again unless someone started watering.I pulled the Rabbit up to the curb and parked. The last time I’d seen Stefan’s house, it had fit right into his ritzy neighborhood. The yard’s neglect hadn’t spread to the house’s exterior yet, but I worried about the people inside.
Stefan was resilient, smart, and . . . just Stefan—able to talk Pokémon in ASL with deaf boys, defeat nasty villains while locked up in a cage, then drive off in his VW bus to fight bad guys another day. He was like Superman, but with fangs and oddly impaired morals.
I got out of my car and walked up the sidewalk toward the front porch. In the driveway, Scooby-Doo looked out at me eagerly through a layer of dust on the windows of Stefan’s usually meticulously tended bus. I had gotten the big stuffed dog for Stefan to go with the Mystery Machine paint job.
I hadn’t heard from Stefan for months, not since Christmas in fact. I’d been caught up in a lot of things, and getting kidnapped for a day (which was a month for everyone else because fairy queens can apparently do that), was only part of it. But for the last month, I’d called him once a week and gotten only his answering machine. Last night, I’d called him four times to invite him to Bad Movie Night. We were a person short of the usual as Adam—my mate, fiancé, and the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack—was out of town on business.
Adam owned a security firm that, until recently, had dealt primarily with government contractors. Since the werewolves—and Adam—had come out to the general public, though, his business had started to boom on other fronts. Werewolves were seen as very good security people, apparently. He was actively looking for someone else who could do most of the traveling but so far hadn’t found the right person.
With Adam away, I could give more attention to the other people in my life. I’d decided Stefan had had time enough to lick his wounds, but from the looks of things, I was a few months late.
I knocked on the door and, when that got no response, gave it the old “Shave and a Haircut” knock. I’d resorted to pounding when the dead bolt finally clicked over, and the door opened.
It took me a while to recognize Rachel. The last time I’d seen her, she’d looked like the poster girl for the disenchanted goth or runaway teenager. Now she looked like a crack addict. She’d lost maybe thirty pounds she didn’t have to lose. Her hair hung in limp, greasy, and uncombed strings down her shoulders. Mascara smudges dripped over her cheeks in faded smears that would have done credit to an extra in Night of the Living Dead. Her neck was bruised, and she held herself like her bones ached. I tried not to show that I noticed she was missing the last two fingers on her right hand. Her hand was healed, but the scars were still red and angry.
Marsilia, the Mistress of the Tri-Cities’ vampires, had used Stefan, her faithful knight, to oust traitors from her seethe, and part of that involved taking his menagerie—the humans he kept to feed from—and making him think they were dead by breaking his blood bonds to them. She seemed to think that torturing them had been necessary as well, but I don’t trust vampires—other than Stefan—to speak the truth. Marsilia hadn’t thought Stefan would object to her use of him and his menagerie once he knew that she’d done it to protect herself. He was, after all, her loyal Soldier. She’d miscalculated how badly Stefan would deal with her betrayal. From the looks of it, he wasn’t recovering well. Read more here.