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The remainder of my day at Klau Tower was as prosaic as my morning. I watched Angela for the most part, learning her habits and methods so I could mimic them in my own work. She was quite chatty but could easily slide into her professional mien whenever someone approached our desk for information. We took our lunch break in the cafeteria on the second floor, where Angela introduced me to several other Klau employees ranging from white-coated technicians to suited managers.

While everyone I met was friendly and upbeat, I could sense an unpleasant skein clinging to the lot of them like a widow's veil. Their eyes would slide to empty seats and their voices would catch. Names would drop from their tongues and hit the table between us like lead bombs. Underneath their chipper attitudes, these people were afraid or in mourning. Five of their fellows had been killed—but the consequences of their deaths had dug roots far deeper into Amoroth's edifice. Dozens of workers had quit without notice. Some had disappeared completely. Those who remained were unwilling to be here and their work ethic was compromised. In small doses, the waning moral may have made no difference to Klau as a whole—but with everyone doing desultory jobs? Amoroth didn't just have a proverbial thorn in her side; she had a dagger rammed into her ribs, and the wound was hemorrhaging.

It was only four in the afternoon when Angela received a call from some unknown contact within the building and I was dismissed early for the day. I changed into my cardigan and navy skirt again before leaving, folding my uniform and stuffing it into my cavernous purse. Angela waved as I passed through the lobby on my way out and I waved back, feeling awkward. I liked my co-worker, but I was less than pleased with how my sudden change in employment had come about.

I walked to the parking garage on the empty street. It was too early for most employees to be on their way home and too late for anyone to be grabbing lunch. The sun had ridden the hours to the western horizon, and the heat was unbearable. It rose from the asphalt in wavering lines and burned the back of my neck as I peeled off my cardigan and threw it over my shoulder, my thoughts drifting. I wondered how Darius had faired today. Did he follow the vampire? How does one follow a vampire in broad daylight?

The graffiti-strewn elevator in the parking garage was out of order—which was just my luck, considering I was parked on the fourth level. I found the concrete stairs and climbed. When I reached my level, I was out of breath and thoroughly frazzled as I cursed my uncomfortable footwear and the loose swathe of hair that had escaped its tie.

The lights flickered above, several broken and in disuse. The sun was level with the open partition, throwing its blearing orange rays through the garage to obscure the shadows and warm any visible color. I dug for my keys when I reached my car—extracting sticky fingers and the wrapper of my spare power-bar. Darius must have eaten it when he took my purse the day before. Marvelous. That monster was a black hole.

I hit the key's fob to unlock the car and had my hand on the door's handle. Glancing into the window, I spied my own vague reflection peering at me from the tinted glass, my limp hair in a slow free fall from its loosened tie. I paused to frown when I thought of what Darius would say if he saw me looking so tattered. Why am I even considering that? What would he care?

My vanity saved my life. I saw his darker reflection behind my own, approaching too quickly. I yanked on the car's handle and threw myself to the side, skinning my knees on the ground as my free hand groped at the car's tire for balance. The door sprang open and the edge caught the masked man's extended hand. The silencer hissed, the loud ping! of the bullet striking my car's side inches from my head. The man swore as the gun clattered on the oil-stained concrete.

I scrambled for it. My fingertips skirted the grip just as my attacker landed on my back, slamming us both into the ground. The gun skittered farther and slid underneath a bulky SUV. His hands fumbled in my hair, at my face, at my neck, as if he were unsure of what to do. I bit down and my teeth sunk into some sort of padding molded to his two anterior fingers. The antiseptic taste of gauze and rubbing alcohol filled my mouth.

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