Chapter Twenty-Six

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We couldn't get everyone together until nightfall since Samuel and Elena couldn't come over during the day. Ethan, Riley, and Clara helped me get the team's house ready for the reinforcements to move in, ridding the rooms of any vampire hunting paraphernalia, and filling it with as many blankets as we could get our hands on. There were five single beds and one double bed in the house, which still wasn't enough to house Anna, Alice, and their twenty odd vampires. We couldn't conjure up more beds, but blankets were cheaper and easier to source. It wasn't perfect, but it was all we could do for now.

When that was done, night finally fell and Samuel and Elena joined us, I gathered everyone in the kitchen – well, half in the kitchen and half in the living room. Even that was a squeeze, and I felt an unexpected prick of claustrophobia in the packed-tight space.

Expectant faces stared back at me, the people who'd come to fight this war with me. These were the people that I had to lead now.

I faced them, linking my hands behind my back and hoping that I looked like someone capable of leading, and not like a teenage girl who was starting to wonder if she was in way over her head.

"You all know why you're here," I said.

There was a rumble of agreement. Anna and Alice had been honest with their recruits; they knew exactly what the situation was.

"We are not going to wait for Rachel to strike against us. We're going to flush her out before she can make her next move," I said.

"How are we supposed to do that?" said a male vampire, standing close to the front of the crowd. "I thought you'd already tried that."

"Samuel and Elena" – I indicated them with my hand in case anyone had forgotten who they were – "did everything they could to find where Rachel might be hiding. They put out feelers through all their friends and acquaintances in town, but no one ever seemed to know anything. So it's time to take this a step further. Between us all, we number twenty-nine. We can scout this town a lot better than two can."

I pictured Dalwick as an underground rabbit warren, a labyrinth of places where Rachel could run and hide. Then I pictured me and my forces as ferrets, plunging into that warren and cutting off all her escape routes until she was forced into the light. We'd never had enough people to attempt something like that before, but now we did. Now we could run this bitch into the ground.

"But what if no one will talk to us?" the vampire asked.

"They will once we explain exactly what Rachel is planning on doing. Before you all arrived, we didn't know the extent of Rachel's schemes. Local vampires didn't get involved because they thought this was our problem. But it's not our problem anymore – it's everyone's. The vampires of Dalwick cannot hide from it and they cannot pretend it's not happening. We have to recruit them. We have to bring them over to our side, join together with them so we can all flush Rachel out. She can hide from us, but she can't hide from all the vampires of this town. We will find her."

Before now it had never occurred to me to try recruiting other vampires to my cause like this, but if Rachel could do it, so could I. She was trying to turn my own cause against me, so I was just taking a leaf out of her twisted book.

"But what if she's not in Dalwick?" said another vampire.

Clara spoke up. "She must be. The way she can come and go so fast – she couldn't do that if she was living out of town. Besides, someone like her never wants to be too far from the chaos they're causing. She likes to watch it all unfold; it's part of the fun for her."

"We're not just restricted to Dalwick. We can recruit outside the town," I said. "There's nothing to stop us from approaching vampires in neighbouring communities and asking them to join us – we need all the support we can get."

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