Prologue

They were screwed. They were 100% completely screwed, thought Claire as Shane tugged on her hand, telling her to move faster. She gulped in more air and kept going, following his tall form down a side road between two tall red-bricked houses. Hard clunking footsteps told her that Eve was right behind them, with Michael bringing up the rear on guard for any sign of an attack. Distracted by her thoughts, she didn't notice that Shane had come to a halt so consequently ran right into his back, sending them stumbling.

"Yo, Collins! Why'd you stop? We have to keep going otherwise they'll catch up with us!" Eve stated, confused at the sudden change in her friend's behaviour.

"Look!" Shane said, pointing in the direction they had been running whilst giving Claire a hand up from the floor where she had tumbled. She glanced at Eve and saw her eyes widen. Michael cursed under his breath and Claire turned slowly in the direction they were looking. She had previously been controlling the panicked feeling inside trying to take hold of her, but as she made out the brick wall looming in front of her through the darkness, her own shakily built internal walls broke down, letting fear settle in her stomach. Dead end. What an apt name considering the situation, mused Claire.

"What are we going to do?" She murmured, still staring at the wall in shock.

"There's nothing we can do," Eve cried. "Except stay here, and get killed. Or back up and run into them, and get killed. We're going to die no matter what we do!"

"OK, hold the dramatics Goth Queen," said Shane and Eve flipped him off. "There's got to be something we can do. Right, Mikey?"

They all turned to Michael who had been standing quietly off to the side thinking, "I don't know guys. They've managed to track us down this far. If we run again, who's to say they won't find us again. It would just turn into one huge game of cat and mouse."

Just as Shane was about to protest at Michael's apparent decision to give in, they noticed a silhouette glide into the alley, dark against the faint light of the few cars passing by. Shane grabbed Claire, moving her petite body behind his taller one, and started backing up towards the wall which was blocking them in the alley. Eve hurried over to them, tugging Michael with her. The boys stood protectively in front of the girls as another figure joined the first, and then another.

"Er, maybe running down the first alley we saw wasn't the best idea," commented Claire under breath, her eyes fixed on the figures approaching them slowly from the only exit.

"And what gave that away? The big brick wall behind us trapping us in a dark alley or the people of the fanged variety headed our way?" asked Shane.

"You're the one who led us down here, dude!" Eve shot back at him.

Michael interrupted what could have become a full fledged Eve and Shane battle of insults, which Claire was slightly relieved at. She didn't think her nerves could take the two of them biting at each other's necks, when they had people more than willing to do that for them heading their way. "Shut it, we're in enough trouble as it guys," he said with an underlying tone of authority.

The middle figure had finally reached them, and drew back the black hood which was attached to a long leather coat and covered its face, to reveal Amelie head of the Morganville vampire hierarchy. The other two came to rest either side of her and removed their own hoods, uncovering the faces of Oliver and Myrnin. A smile graced Amelie's cool, pale face but did not reach her piercing eyes. Claire could not recall a time when she had been more terrified of the vampire stood before her.

"You would do well to listen to Mr. Glass right now, for have no doubt the four of you are in trouble. However, I do not think you realise how serious your situation is at the present time. You have broken many rules which I lay down in Morganville for your survival." Amelie glanced at each of them in turn, conveying her message loud and clear.

Claire had a gist of how much trouble they were. The sight of Amelie standing in the alley with them was alone a cause for concern because the manipulative leader had left Morganville to come after them herself. Claire found herself thinking back to two weeks ago when all this had began in Dallas.