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"Count of three," I said, and Sam nodded. He moved from the end of Sandra's body to the side, and as smoothly as if we had practiced it, we fed the corpse into the magical hole. It wouldn't have worked if she hadn't been so small.

Then we waited.

The corpse didn't get spat back out. No one leaped out with a sword to demand our lives for desecrating the land of the fae. Instead, we heard a snarling and a yapping, and we all stood frozen, our eyes wide and our arms tense, waiting for something to issue from the portal, something that we had to fight.

But nothing came out. The noises continued, and they were graphic enough: rending and tearing, more snarling, and then after some sounds so disturbing I won't even try to describe them, there was silence. I figured there wasn't any Sandra left.

We trudged back through the woods to the car. Its doors were standing open, and the first thing Sam did was shut them to stop the dinging. There were splotches of blood on the ground. I unrolled the garden hose and turned it on. Sam watered down the bloody spots and gave Jannalynn's car a nice rinse while he was at it. In a gut-wrenching moment-another gut-wrenching moment-Jannalynn set Sam's broken nose straight, and though he yelled and tears sprang to his eyes, I knew that the nose would heal well. gut-wrenching moment-Jannalynn set Sam's broken nose straight, and though he yelled and tears sprang to his eyes, I knew that the nose would heal well.



Sandra's rifle was more of a problem than the body had been. I was not going to use the portal as a garbage disposal, and that was what throwing the rifle in after the body felt like. After some argument, Jannalynn and Sam decided they'd throw it into the woods on their way back to Sam's trailer, and I guess that was what they did.

I was left in my house alone after a truly amazing and horrible two days. Horribly amazing? Amazingly horrible? Both.

I sat in my kitchen, a book open on the table before me. The sun was still lighting up the yard, but the shadows were growing long. I thought of the cluviel dor, which I hadn't had a chance to use in the encounter in the backyard. Should I carry it around with me every minute of the day? I wondered if the gray things after Mr. Cataliades had caught up with him yet, and I wondered if I'd feel sad if they did. I wondered if the vampires had gotten Fangtasia cleaned up by opening time, and I wondered if I would call the bar to find out. There'd be humans there to answer the phone: Mustapha Khan, maybe his buddy Warren.

I wondered if Eric had talked to Felipe yet about the disappearance of the Regent of Louisiana. I wondered if Eric had written to the Queen of Oklahoma.

Maybe the phone would ring when darkness fell. Maybe it wouldn't. I couldn't decide which I wanted.

What I did want to do was something completely normal.

I walked barefoot into the living room with a big icy glass of tea. Time to watch some of my recorded episodes of Jeopardy! Jeopardy!

Dangerous Creatures for two hundred, anyone?

Ace Books by Charlaine Harris

The Sookie Stackhouse Novels

DEAD UNTIL DARK.

LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS.

CLUB DEAD.

DEAD TO THE WORLD.

DEAD AS A DOORNAIL.

DEFINITELY DEAD.

ALL TOGETHER DEAD.

FROM DEAD TO WORSE.

DEAD AND GONE.

DEAD IN THE FAMILY.

DEAD RECKONING.

A TOUCH OF DEAD: SOOKIE STACKHOUSE,.

THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES.

Ace Anthologies Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

MANY BLOODY RETURNS.

WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE.

DEATH'S EXCELLENT VACATION

Berkley Prime Crime Books by Charlaine Harris

SWEET AND DEADLY.

A SECRET RAGE.

The Harper Connelly Mysteries GRAVE SIGHT.

GRAVE SURPRISE.

AN ICE COLD GRAVE.

GRAVE SECRET.

The Lily Bard Mysteries

SHAKESPEARE'S LANDLORD SHAKESPEARE'S CHAMPION SHAKESPEARE'S CHRISTMAS SHAKESPEARE'S TROLLOP SHAKESPEARE'S COUNSELOR

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries

REAL MURDERS.

A BONE TO PICK.

THREE BEDROOMS, ONE CORPSE.

THE JULIUS HOUSE.

DEAD OVER HEELS.

A FOOL AND HIS HONEY.

LAST SCENE ALIVE.

POPPY DONE TO DEATH.

Berkley Prime Crime Anthologies Edited by Charlaine Harris

CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT.

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