JASON HEALED ENOUGH to fly home. His father has had one of those amazing remissions that you get sometimes with cancer. The doctors dont explain it, they cant, but theyre giving him a little longer to live. Not cured, no, but months instead of weeks, maybe. A little less pain to deal with. Jasons planning on flying back alone to visit them all in a week or so. My excuse for not going is work; besides, I think that Jason and his family can handle it on their own.

The Master of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, mysteriously died. His human servant was Edmond, and his legal wife is Lorna. Shes free to marry Keith now, and if what I saw on the news is any indication, hes going to do it. The marriage to Lisa is off, and I think Lisa is well out of it. So are the governors plans to run for president on a family conservative ticket. You cant have your son being an adulterer with a vampires wife, and even worse marrying a vampire, and have it play well in the press.

Peterson told me that it was Chuck who used our room and us as a stalking horse for the vampires. Chucks defense: he thought wed win. I guess no one expects vampires to use flash-bang grenades and tranquilizer darts. Im still hoping to hurt Chuck in some way. I just havent figured out a justification for it that doesnt seem petty, or illegal. If he vanished now, I think the cops would come knocking on my door.

J. J. is planning on visiting St. Louis and spending a few days with her old friend Jason. Hes the one man shes never really gotten out of her system, and shes the girl he might have married if she hadnt liked girls as much as he did. Theyre both still looking for Ms. Right. Maybe theyll look together for a while. It was Jasons fear of commitment that saved me from Richards version of the ardeur. But hes pretty thrilled that J. J. is coming to visit. Shes already made noises that shes cool with the vampire thing. Good to know.

I was cleared on the shooting. The two vampires actually had records as humans. Theyd been bad guys when alive, and being dead had made them worse. The one guy really was a torturer. Someone you called in when you wanted information. Hed worked for some very bad people over the years. Apparently, in private, Id done the world a favor. In public I was cleared, but we werent allowed to be so cheerful about it. I sleep just fine about killing them. My sleep is a little disturbed about Jason. Ive had a few dreams where I find him on the floor again, or I realize its not Jason and its one of the other men in my life. Jasons bunked over a couple of times; hes sleeping rough, too. BuTHE sleeps better when someones there to wake him from the nightmare, and cuddle him back to sleep, or as on a couple of mornings, get up with him and drink coffee in the kitchen. Nathaniel and I have been taking turns watching dawn come up through the trees with him.

Jason is my wolf to call, which raises the possibility that Ill be able to have an animal for each of my metaphysical beasts. Only the Master of Beasts, a vampire council member, has been able to do animals to call that are both canine and feline, oh, and he does rats, too. Well see how I do.

Jean-Claude let it be known through the undead grapevine that Jason and I will be punished for our indiscretion, once hes healed. I already felt punished, and I hadnt even done anything wrong. But we are doing what Jason had suggested, confirming the rumors. Weve started with Asher, because thats the easiest. Now its a matter of asking which of the men are okay with it being confirmed. Have you tried asking a heterosexual man if hes okay thaTHE and you acknowledge publicly that hes bisexual, and does men? Not an easy sell.

Asher would be more thrilled if the truth were really the truth. Weve set up a date between the three of usJean-Claude, Asher, and meto see if that boundary can really come down, or if my head will explode. Well see.

Ive agreed to be less of a pain in the ass in the outward vampire community so that it looks more like Im being a good little human servant to Jean-Claude. Yeah, I know, how long can I behave myself? But I am trying. Jean-Claude says I get points for trying, since he knows it is opposite my personality. Gotta love a man who loves you in spite of, and sometimes because of, your little foibles.

Rowe is being charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. You dont have to wield the knife to be charged; just helping the killer get his victim is enough legally.

Why did he do it? Some money, but mostly I scared him in the hallway with the ardeur. He was convinced I was a vampire and the only way to save himself was to get rid of me.

Was he always a bad guy, or had the ardeur and I done something to him? No way to tell, but I take some blame for Rowe.

Max is still pissed I rolled Crispin, but Jean-Claude made noises that once Max knew how much our Jason looked like the Summerland boy, he should have warned us. Because, of course, Max knew about Keith and Lornas elopement. Max would never admit thaTHE didnt know, so the two Masters of the City traded insults, but we have a truce. We also have plans for Crispin to visit St. Louis. Not sure how I feel about that, but I did roll him, and at twenty-one, and very mortal, he doesnt have the strength of will to break free of me. I owe him something, even if it was all accidental on my part.

The weretigers cut me some slack because of the whole kidnapping hospital thing. But they are coming to St. Louis. Apparently, Crispin and Alex Pinn have gained power from being with mepowers that are only legend among the tiger clans now. But it isnt me who did it. I know it was Marmee Noir. I dont know what shes up to, but she wants the tigers, and shes using me to get them. The call has gone out, and to the tigers I made the call, so Im stuck with the results, but I know who really called them. She woke me up when I was drugged. She helped me save Jason, sort of. She also cut me from a great distance with the claw of a cat that hasnt walked the earth for a few thousand years. The marks are healing, but her being able to cut someone up from a distance is a power she hasnt had in a while. Maybe the tigers arent the only ones gaining powers from dealing with me.

The vampire council is voting on whether to kill her before she wakes. If anyone were asking me, Id say do it. But I think she knows what theyre planning. I think the Mother of All Darkness is afraid. Shes still weak, still trapped somehow in that false sleep. If they try to kill her, will it work? Can you kill the darkness itself? Can the night die? I dont know. The really scary thing is that I dont think the vampires know the answer either. Some are even afraid that if she does die, all vampires will die. That somehow shell take them all to the grave with her.

All I know for certain is that I asked for and got extra charms. I sleep, bathe, everything but make love to vampires in a cross and that charm. So far, so good, but good has nothing to do with the Mother of All Darkness. No, bad is definitely more her style. She saved my life, and by accident, Jasons. Id be more grateful if I werent so certain that she only protects what she finds useful. She only protects that which she needs. Why does she need me? Is she really gaining power through me? The truly frightening part is that I think if I thought hard enough in the night, she might answer me. If you could ask the darkness anything, would you ask? If you did ask, would the darkness lie? Bet on it.

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