Hi, so in this chapter I've kind of elaborated on the basic ideas of the epilogue of Kiss of Death. Thanks to all those who reviewed the last chapter. K

Everything belongs to Rachel Caine. However, Tinkerbell belongs to Disney.

2 Weeks Previously...

After Michael had blown everyone away at the recording studio, looking every inch the rock star Claire thought, the four of them decided to celebrate his success. They chose a quiet but elegant restaurant in the centre of Dallas, whose few customers were couples relaxing on a night out. Oliver had opted out of joining them in their celebrations, not that Claire was complaining, but she could still feel his influence hovering over them. Maybe it was the fact that this dinner was courtesy of his credit card or maybe it was the feeling she had that they were being watched by someone in the shadows. Claire pushed all thoughts of Oliver and Morganville to the back of her head and focused on enjoying the evening with her friends and the warmth Shane provided by her side. She shivered as his hand brushed hers under the table and saw him smirk out of the corner of her eye. Claire quickly snatched her hand back, and reached for her glass of lemonade, lifting it into the centre of the table, "Here's to Michael, our own resident rock star!"

Eve and Shane tapped their glasses on hers while Michael smiled bashfully. "To Mikey!" Shane exclaimed, "Let's hope the critics love you or they may wake up to being fanged in the night."

"Screw you Collins," Michael glared at him.

"I'd much rather Claire did thanks," Shane's grin quickly turned into a grimace as Claire hit him over the back of the head.

"Inappropriate much, Shane?" Eve commented as she reached over to pinch a chip off of his plate.

"That's inappropriate Eve. But honestly, you were awesome Michael. Did the producer guys say anything before we left?" Shane asked.

Claire turned to Michael, interested in what the professionals might have said. He sighed, "They said that the songs were great and that they would probably generate interest. But they could say that to most people. It was amazing to experience it but it was just a demo of a couple of songs."

A waiter interrupted the conversation to take their plates away and Eve eagerly agreed to look at the desert menu, taking any opportunity to eat ice cream. Although Claire was surprised that she hadn't gone off of it, seeing as her last experience with ice cream led to her beloved car being burned and smashed to pieces by a bunch of drunken morons. Claire herself had had enough of it for a long time, instead she chose chocolate cake and planned to steal some of Shane's sticky toffee pudding. Toffee and chocolate, yum.

Shane swiftly turned the discussion back to Michael, his dark eyes flashing in the low light, "So you're willing to accept the experience you've had but move on? Just go back to Morganville and carry on playing in Common Grounds? Dude, you could make it out here, the producer said so to us!"

Michael's eyes flashed just as brightly as Shane's as he defended himself, "I'm not saying I don't want to. I really do, more than anything but can you really see Amelie just letting me up and leave to pursue a career in music? "

Claire remembered at this moment the chilling sensation she'd had earlier of being watched. The sensation of being watched by someone who they did not want overhearing this sort of conversation, especially if Shane was involved. She knew how strongly he felt about not returning to Morganville, they all did, and if the talk was headed in that direction she really did not want it to be around Oliver. Who knew what he would do if he knew they were thinking about not going back? Claire did not really want to find out.

"Guys, maybe this isn't the best place to be talking about this," Claire cut off Shane just as he started to respond. "We don't know who could be listening." She caught Michael's eye, and she saw that he understood.

Eve looked round at the slowly emptying restaurant, "Who? Grandpa and his evil sidekick Tinkerbell over there?" She said, laying her eyes on the old manager of the restaurant and a petite blonde waitress.

"No, but Claire's right. Discussing...Morganville in public is risky. We should head back to the hotel to carry this on, we've finished here anyway," Michael stated, taking Eve's hand in his and pushing back from the table, his golden hair catching the light giving him the appearance of an avenging angel.

Claire and Shane then stood up, and as they fell into step with the other his hand found hers, fingers curling round her own. She squeezed it gently and felt his thumb stroke her claddagh ring in response. The town car which had driven them around Dallas during their stay took them back to the hotel that they had been staying in. Claire rested her head against Shane's broad chest and listened to the soothing rhythm of his heartbeat. No one spoke as they rode the elevator up to their floor and the silence felt smothering to her. Just as she was about to break it, the doors pinged open at the 15th floor and Eve stepped out of the circle of Michael's arms into the corridor only to stop almost instantly. Claire stopped next to her when she saw Oliver standing in front of their rooms, then felt Shane's arm wind protectively around her waist.

"Oliver," Michael acknowledged the coffee shop owner.

Oliver nodded back, and then spoke in his usual cool disinterested tone, "The four of you have had your fun. We leave in the morning; Eve's hearse is sufficiently dark for us to make the journey during the day. I expect you at the front of the hotel at nine, no later; I will not take kindly to any latecomers or attempts to prolong this trip. Amelie is expecting you back as soon as possible so no funny business." With this last statement he looked warningly at Shane in particular, who narrowed his eyes in reply and muttered something which sounded suspiciously like "Bastard" under his breath. Oliver then walked towards the elevator and they parted to let him through, watching him disappear between the shutting doors.

Claire had a sudden feeling of gratefulness that vampires couldn't read minds after Oliver's not so subtly disguised threat in the reminder of Amelie, the founder of Morganville. Things were back to normal then at least in regards to Oliver. She followed Eve into Michael and Shane's room, and flopped down onto Shane's bed. At least she assumed it was from the chaotic pile of his shirts on it. Curling up on her side to face Eve and Michael, on the other bed, she tucked her hand under the pillow only for it to come into contact with a wet piece of clothing. This was revealed to be a sweaty sock as she pulled it out. She looked at Shane, and commented, "Nice."

"Hey, I don't know how it got there! And it's not like I can ask you do to my laundry in a hotel," he explained. Claire attempted to chuck said sock at him, but it fell pitifully short. Shane glimpsed down at it and said, "It's a good job you're so clever because you suck at sports."

"My running has improved quite a lot in the past year, though not due to normal circumstances," Claire pointed out.

"And talking of weird circumstances, are we really going back to Morganville? I can't believe how crazy that sounds. We're out people, out of Morganville. We could make a run for it, we have the keys to the hearse and you heard Oliver, it's blacked out enough for Mikey not to have to worry about shrivelling in the sun like an old man." Shane asked the question at the front of all of their minds.

Claire allowed herself to imagine for a moment a life outside of Morganville, with Shane. It was all she had ever wanted, to live a normal life with the guy she loved. But then she thought about her parents, still living back there, still mostly ignorant of the goings-on around them. Could she really just leave them? Could she run with her friends and abandon them to Amelie's power?

So there it is...I'm hoping to get the next chapter up this weekend, if not it might not be until late next week as I have to go into hospital for a few days.