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“So it is indeed sanctuary you seek here tonight?” Thanatos asked the couple, but her voice carried throughout the crowd.

“We do,” said Rabbi Margaret, as she and her husband, as well as a bunch of people standing behind them, nodded their heads.

“The Benedictine Sisterhood seeks sanctuary as well,” said Sister Mary Angela.

“As does the congregation of All Souls,” said an older woman, moving forward out of the shadows. She had long, faded blond hair but eyes so brilliantly blue that even in the dim light they sparkled like little aquamarines. She walked straight up to Thanatos, ignoring Detective Marx’s glower, and stuck out her hand. “It’s about time we met. I’m Suzanne Grimms, leader of The Point ministry at All Souls. Like I said, we’re asking you for sanctuary, too.”

Thanatos hesitated. She glanced at Lenobia, who smiled. She glanced at Kalona, who frowned. And then she surprised me by glancing over her shoulder at me. I met her eyes and did what my gut told me to do—I smiled and nodded.

Thanatos turned to Suzanne, grasped her forearm in the traditional vampyre greeting, and raised her voice so that it was filled with the power of Nyx: “As High Priestess of Tulsa’s House of Night, I welcome you and grant sanctuary to all who seek it!”

Beside me, I heard Stark sigh and whisper, “Ah, hell…”

Zoey

“No, Bobby! How many times does Mommy have to tell you? You cannot touch the tall man’s wings!” A frazzled-looking woman plucked a toddler from where he was teetering on the field house’s sandy floor, arms stretched out, reaching for the tip of Kalona’s wing.

I bit my cheek to keep from giggling as the winged immortal grunted in annoyance and sidestepped to avoid sticky reaching fingers. The toddler tried to lurch out of his mom’s tired arms. Kalona dodged around her the other way. As usual, whenever Kalona appeared, all the humans focused their attention on him, which seemed to be wearing on him. He looked tired. Weirdly, his wounds hadn’t totally healed yet but were painful-looking pink lines and puckered gouges. I was thinking that he must not have spent enough time on the roof of the ONEOK building when Aphrodite’s “Psst!” took my attention.

“Z, bumpkin—over here with me, now!” Aphrodite called to us. Stevie Rae and I let go of the case of water we’d been carrying into the field house and followed Aphrodite to the shadowy far wall and a little alcove that held a statue of Nyx.

“Man, I’m beat,” Stevie Rae said.

“Seriously,” I agreed.

“We’re overdue for a break,” Aphrodite said, tossing cans of brown pop to Stevie Rae and me. Then she totally surprised me by cracking open her own can.

“Pop? You? I thought you hated it.”

“I do, and this isn’t pop. It’s Sophia champagne,” she said, sipping happily through a little pink straw that she’d unwrapped from the side of the slender pink can.

“Champagne in a can—who knew?” Stevie Rae said.

“Anyone civilized.”

“I didn’t know,” I said.

“My point exactly,” Aphrodite said. Then she cut her eyes to Kalona, who was standing in the middle of the field house, obviously looking for someone and just as obviously trying to ignore the people who were staring at him.

“Kalona and humans, especially little humans, equals apocalyptic train wreck,” Aphrodite said.

“In total agreement with you,” I said. “Does he look tired to you guys?”

Aphrodite snorted. “We all look tired.”

“I think he looks like he always does, except beat up, which makes it kinda mean that I was rootin’ for that baby to grab a feather,” Stevie Rae said.

“Kalona’s an immortal. He’s fine, and a baby yanking on his feathers would be beyond awesome,” Aphrodite said. “I wonder what I could bribe a toddler with to do that—or, better yet, his mom to allow him do that. Do you think she likes mimosas?”

“That mom sure looks like she needs a mimosa, without the orange juice. She’d probably like one of your pink cans,” Stevie Rae said.

“I don’t say this often because it isn’t often true, but I think you’re right, Stevie Rae,” Aphrodite said. “I’ll need more than one of these little cans, though. Looks like a job for the Widow Clicquot.”

“Widow Clicquot? Is she from Temple Israel?”

“Oh, you poor, ignorant peasant,” Aphrodite said, shaking her head sadly at Stevie Rae.

Kalona had made it past the toddler, and he was moving again. Ugh, it seemed he was heading in our direction. “Tell me he isn’t coming our way.”

“Wish I could,” Aphrodite said.

“He’s like a ginormic homing pigeon,” Stevie Rae said.

“Should we meet him halfway?” I asked, yawning. I glanced at the school clock. It read 5:30 A.M. There was a little over an hour left before sunrise, and for once I totally understood red fledgling exhaustion.

“Save Kalona from the humans? Not no, but hell no,” Aphrodite said.

“Ditto on that,” Stevie Rae said.

I shrugged and yawned again. “Okay by me. I’m too tired to move anyway.”

Thanatos had decided that the best place to put all the humans—and there really was a bunch of them—was in the biggest building on campus, our field house. I thought it was a good idea. The place was huge, and with them all together in here they’d be easy to keep track of. Of course the majority of the field house floor was sand because it was used for Warrior training, and the sand sucked. Sand, sleeping bags, and tired, scared, grumpy, gawking humans don’t mix well together, so we’d all (meaning almost everyone on campus except for Thanatos, Grandma, Detective Marx, and the religious leaders) spent the past several hours struggling to spread tarps and transform the Warrior training grounds into a what was finally starting to look like a temporary tornado shelter. Not that that was much better, but at least it was less sandy and was more or less neatly sectioned off in family sleeping areas.

“Check it out.” Aphrodite bumped me with her shoulder. “The guy Rabbi Steven Bernstein has Kalona cornered. I’ll bet he’s asking him all sorts of crazy Torah questions.”

“It’s Kalona’s own fault,” I said. “It wouldn’t kill him to wear a shirt.”

“Right? What’s with his constantly na**d chest?” Aphrodite agreed.

“Hey, guys, check it out.” Stevie Rae pointed. “I think Nicole and Shaylin are gettin’ to be real good friends. I’m glad. Nicole’s done a lot of changin’, and, well, Shaylin needs a BFF, especially after you went all psycho on her, Z,” Stevie Rae said, then quickly added, “Sorry, Z. Not to be mean or anything.”

I sighed. “No problem. I did go psycho on her, and I’m glad she has a nice BFF, too.”

Aphrodite and I swiveled our gazes to watch the two dark-haired girls. They were making up sleeping bags together. They did look super buddy-buddy. Actually, as I kept watching them, I saw their shoulders touch and their heads tilt toward each other. My brows went up. Nicole reached out and brushed Shaylin’s hair back from her face, caressing her cheek as she did so, weirdly reminding me of something Stark would do to flirt with me. I cleared my throat. “Hmm, they do seem close.”

“Everybody should have a BFF!” Stevie Rae beamed at me.

“Uh, Stevie Rae,” I began, still watching the touches and looks that Nicole and Shaylin passed back and forth. “I think they might—”

“Oh, for shit’s sake, Z. You scared Shaylin g*y!” Aphrodite said.

I frowned at Aphrodite. “Be nice.”

“Ohmygoodness!” Stevie Rae’s eyes looked twice their size as we saw Nicole sneak a quick kiss on Shaylin’s neck. “I didn’t know you could scare somebody g*y.”

“Seriously, bumpkin, I ask again—are you retarded?”

“You know how I feel ’bout the r-word,” Stevie Rae said.

“And you know how little I care.”

“And you both know how bad you make my head hurt when you bicker. Aphrodite, don’t be mean about Shaylin and Nicole. They can love whoever they want to love. Stevie Rae—no, you can’t scare someone g*y. Jeesh.”

“Hey, I don’t care who she loves or who she sleeps with, but I am going to enjoy watching the shit storm that’s brewing.” Aphrodite pointed a little way from the bed Shaylin and Nicole were making. “Here comes Clark Kent, right on cue. And I think he just saw the kiss.”

“Yepper,” Stevie Rae said. “He musta. Look at him.”

“Befuddled. That’s what Grandma would say about how he looks. Totally befuddled,” I said. “I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to enjoy watching this.”

“Are you kidding? I want to record it and watch over and over,” Aphrodite said.

Erik had already started talking to Shaylin. Even from how far away we were, I could see he was using his hundred-watt movie star smile on her.

“I know he can be a douche sometimes, but you have to admit he is a cutie patootie,” Stevie Rae said. “Not like Rephaim, but still.”

Aphrodite made a gagging sound.

Nicole didn’t hesitate, and she didn’t back off. She stuck to Shaylin’s side, reached out, and wrapped her arm intimately around the girl’s slender waist, staring straight at Erik with obvious possessiveness.

“I knew Nicole would be the guy,” Aphrodite said.

“Erik looks like his head is gonna explode through that cleft in his chin,” I said.

“Zoey, Thanatos has summoned you, Stevie Rae, and Aphrodite. She asks that the three of you join her in the Council Chamber. That is, if you are finished watching the humans,” Kalona said sarcastically, jerking his head toward the non-humans we had actually been watching.

The three of us jumped guiltily at the sound of his voice. As usual, Aphrodite recovered first.

“Well, thank Nyx and the little baby Jesus for getting us out of here before sunrise,” Aphrodite said. “It’ll take me days to get the sand out of my sparkly Jimmy Choo flats. I’m way better at Prophetess-ing than I am at schlepping.” She flipped her hair and twitched toward the door. I could hear her sucking up the last of the champagne through her straw.

“Okay, uh, thanks,” I said lamely. “Should we get Stark and Darius and Rephaim, too?”

“The males are busy.” Kalona cut his eyes to where our three males were struggling with the end of a ginormous tarp.

“Well, okie dokie, then. We’re outta here,” Stevie Rae said, waving at Rephaim. I blew Stark a quick kiss before following her out.

CHAPTER TWELVE

Zoey

We passed Sister Mary Angela, the girl Rabbi Bernstein, and the All Souls minister as we entered the hallway to the Council Chamber.

“Zoey, Aphrodite, Stevie Rae,” the nun greeted us, gesturing to the women standing beside her. “Let me introduce the three of you to Rabbi Margaret Bernstein and Suzanne Grimms.”

“Merry meet,” we chimed, semi-together.

The women looked tired, but they smiled. “We’re happy to meet you and to be welcome here,” said Rabbi Bernstein.

“Yes, and thank you for all the hard work you must have done helping everyone get settled in,” said Suzanne.

We nodded our you’re welcomes, and as the women moved away, Sister Mary Angela caught my eye. “Good luck, Zoey.”

“She knows something we don’t,” Aphrodite whispered.

I signed in agreement, headed to the Council Chamber door, then almost crashed into Shaunee, who burst around the corner looking everywhere except right in front of her.

“Jeeze, be careful,” I said, grabbing her so that neither of us fell over.

“What in the world are you doin’ running around up here?” Stevie Rae asked. “My mamma would say you’re actin’ like your hair’s on fire.”

Shaunee raised a brow. “I’d rather have my hair on fire than have a lost cat. I can’t find Beelzebub anywhere.”

I’d been super happy to have discovered that while I was locked up, Shaunee and Kramisha had gone to the depot and brought all of our cats—and Duchess, of course—back to the House of Night. Nala had launched herself at me when I’d gone up to my dorm room to change, and I’d squeezed her so hard she’d been super disgruntled and sneezed in my face.

“Why are you stressing? You know how cats are—they come when then want and they go when they want. I have no clue where Maleficent is right now,” Aphrodite said.

“I just hope she’s not around here,” Stevie Rae said under her breath.

I jumped in before Aphrodite could start hissing. “I gotta agree with Aphrodite. Beelzebub is probably just glad to be out of those tunnels and he’s stretching his paws.”

“That’s what I’d think, too, but Beelzebub never misses dinnertime. Never. And I always feed him right before sunrise. I shook his Whiskas bag and he didn’t come running as usual. So I started checking things out. Have you guys noticed that the cats are being super stealthy?”

I thought about it. I’d seen Nala before we’d gone to the Mayo, but since we’d been back she hadn’t made an appearance. Actually, now that I was thinking about it, I hadn’t seen any of the cats recently. “Huh, now that you mention it, no. I haven’t seen any of the cats. Duchess was in the field house with Damien and Stark, but Cammy wasn’t with him, and neither was Nala.”

“Like that surprises you? Please. Don’t be asstards. The field house is swarming with humans. I’m not a cat, but that makes me want to be super stealthy. I sure as shit can’t blame them for disappearing.”

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