The door unlocked with a sharp snap and swung open. Mick St. John stopped short at the threshold, rolling his eyes and raising a hand to massage his temples.

"Josef, how did you get in here?"

Josef Kostan shot his friend a self-satisfied smile from where he stretched cat-like across a leather chair. "Wouldn't you like to know."

Mick threw the door shut behind him and strode across the room toward the kitchen. "I have a mind to have you arrested, you little perpetrator."

"Bright orange jumpsuits don't suit my taste."

Mick smirked. "Prison can be accommodating. I'm sure they'd let you wear a tie with your new suit."

Josef leaned his head back on the armrest. "Mm, I don't believe I have a tie that matches ugly. You, on the other hand-"

"Care for a drink, Josef?" Mick interrupted, snatching a glass from the kitchen shelf.

"You wear such dark colors most of the time," his friend continued lazily, ignoring the question. "One would think you go to funerals for a living."

Mick closed the silver fridge door and filled his glass from a decanter. "If you're so jealous of me, just say it."

Josef snorted, clasping his hands behind his head. "I'm jealous because you dress like an undertaker?"

His friend grinned, lifting his glass to his lips. "No. Because I dress better than you."

Josef twisted in his seat to face the kitchen, peering over the top of the chair with narrowed eyes. "In what universe?"

"What's the envelope for, Josef?" Mick's eyes were suddenly locked on the object on the coffee table.

The older vampire slowly pushed himself into a sitting position and reached for the large, manila package. "Honestly, Mick, I don't know. I found it on my desk this morning, but it's addressed to you. The postmen are getting more incompetent, I tell you. Thought I'd drop it by."

Mick cocked his head to the side, a small smile tugging at his lips. "How in the world could someone mistake you for me?"

Josef rolled his eyes. "Gee whiz, Micky, I don't know," he replied sarcastically. "We probably look like twins or something." He flippantly tossed the envelope into his friend's hands and stretched back in his chair, closing his eyes. "Open it. Maybe there's a prize inside."

"If there is, you can't have it."

The sound of ripping paper filled the room, the envelope fluttering to the floor, papers rustling, and then silence. Josef heard a sharp intake of breath from where Mick was standing behind him, but nothing more.

"Don't sound so excited, Mick," Josef quipped. "The tension's killing me." He feigned a yawn to demonstrate his utter boredom with the matter.


His friend laughed. "Did some rich person die and make you their heir? So they mailed you their last will and testament, hmm? Is that it?"

"Josef, this is-"

"Please don't tell me you have more money than me now. That would just be-"


Mick was suddenly clutching his throat, yanking him to a sitting position in the chair. Josef stared at his friend, stunned by this sudden action. His good-humor instantly dissipated. "What is it?" The grave face across from him was disquieting.

"It's a list," Mick choked the words out, his eyes perusing the papers over and over again.

Josef was suddenly impatient with the pace of this vague revelation. "What kind of list?" When there was no immediate answer, his tone became mocking. "A To-Do list? A grocery list?"

Mick looked up, his brow furrowed in bewilderment. "It's a list of us."

" 'Us' what, Mick?" Josef snapped, snatching the papers from his friend's grasp and scanning their contents. He stiffly rose to his feet, letting the pages slip from his hand onto the table in a jumbled flutter. He fixed his gaze on the ceiling, his voice barely a whisper. " did someone get a list of every vampire in L.A.?"

Mick shot Josef a knowing look. "We stopped Emma from betraying our secret, so it couldn't have been her. She's been dead for weeks now. There's no possible way that she-"

"Then what do you think this is? An index of party guests?" Josef retorted bitterly, scooping up the pile of papers and clenching them in his fist. "Stop hedging the point, Mick. It's a hit list and they sent it to us! We're on it, for God's sake!"