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Sunday Snippets #56

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Today’s snippet is a SNEAK PEEK 
from Bite Club by Rachel Caine 
NAL Hardcover 
May 3, 2011
It was on Thursday when things started crashing down.  To start with, Shane was late, really late.  When he finally got home, he came bearing food – barbecue again, but with all the veggies and everything.  Which made him popular, of course.
But as she set the table, Claire watched him wandering around the living room.  He was pacing, and Shane usually didn’t pace – he was more inclined to drape himself over the couch and look like he was asleep, even when he wasn’t.  Tonight, though, he was moving like he was pumped up and distracted, and when she touched him on the shoulder, he spun around so fast, she took a step back.  It was easy to forget how big Shane was and how strong, until she saw him in action.  He was usually so gentle with her.
“What?” he snapped, and then some of the shadows left his expression.  “Oh.  Sorry, Claire.  Didn’t mean that.”
“Yeah, I know.  What’s up with you?”
He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Restless, I guess.  Been like this all day.  I think after dinner I’ll hit the gym, burn off some energy.”  That was not like Shane.  He was usually all about lazing around on the couch, maybe putting some energy into a video game.  He wasn’t the nervous type.
“Okay,” she said doubtfully.  “Maybe play a game first?  I’ve hardly seen you at all.  We could spend some time together.”
“Yeah, well, you’re the one who runs off to High Wizard Crazy Pants every time he snaps his fingers.  Don’t blame me if you never see me.  I’ve got a life, too.  It sucks, but I’ve got one.”  Shane’s words were blunt, and his tone – it was almost mean.  Claire felt it like a slap, and it shocked her – why, she didn’t know.  He’d been angry enough over the Myrnin incident, but she’d thought… Well, she’d thought he’d gotten over it, that it was safe to talk to him again.
Clearly he hadn’t moved past it.  She decided not to say anything at all, which was probably wrong, but she didn’t trust her voice.  She didn’t want him to hear how much he’d hurt her.
After another second of silence, he looked away.  “Sorry.  Game sounds good.  I’m just in a mood, I guess.  Maybe a little unnatural creature killing is just what I need.”  Not zombies.  Unnatural creatures.  That might be nothing, but Claire’s instincts told her it was a very bad sign.
Michael was putting out the food.  Claire knew he was listening, but he didn’t say anything, just shot her a glance.  From that, she got that he was worried, too.  Something was off.  Definitely off.
“Hey, bro, you’d better play me first,” Michael said.  “Been a week since I got to beat your punk ass.  Time for you to step up.”  
Shane bared his teeth.  It wasn’t a smile.  “You want to play?  Let’s play.  We’ll see who gets bloody this time.”  That was Shane, but it wasn’t.  All the subtext was wrong – the body language, the tone, everything but the words.
Michael knew it, too.  He locked eyes with Shane, frowned, and said, “Maybe you’d better lay off the caffeine.”
“Maybe you’d better mind your own damn business.”  He said something under his breath.  It sounded like bloodsucker.
“Hey,” Claire said, and put her hand on his arm.  “We’re all friends here.”
He flinched and shook her off.  “Are we?”  Shane asked.  “You sure about that?”
“Hey!”  Eve had come in, and now she thumped plates down on the table.  She looked furious.  Michael, on the other hand, was silent, watching Shane with a wariness that made Claire’s skin prickle.  “Hey, Van Helsing Junior, back off.  How many times do we have to play this?  What crawled up your ass again?  Michael is one of use; you know that.”
“He’s one of them,” Shane said.  “Like my dad.  Like Oliver and Amelie and all those others.  He used to be one of us.  Now he just looks like us.  You’d better stop drinking the suicide juice, Eve, before you wake up without a pulse, just like him.”
“What are you talking about?  What the hell happened?  Michael?  Did you say anything?”  Eve looked to him, but Michael shook his head.
“Oh, come on.  Stop pretending,” Shane said, and took a step toward Michael.  Michael tensed up.  “I can feel it, man.  I can feel you watching me.  Watching Claire.  Hell, Eve, too.  We’re all just walking snacks to you now.  You think I don’t know that?”
“Seriously,” Michael said.  “You need to check yourself.  Whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong.  I wouldn’t hurt you or Claire or Eve.  Never.”
“Never?” Shane laughed, high and tense.  His eyes had a feverish kind of glitter.  He crossed to Eve, and she shrank back, but too late.  He grabbed her arm, and she dropped a handful of knives and forks with a clatter to the table.
She was wearing a black velvet choker with a skull and crossbones printed on it.  He reached up and ripped it off her neck.
And on her throat were healing bite marks.  Eve clapped a hand over them, eyes wide, but it was too late.  They’d all seen it.
“You want to tell me that again?”  Shane said.  He was almost whispering now, face close to Eve’s, but it wasn’t kind.  It was cruel.  “You want to lie to me again about how you’d never hurt her, Mikey?”

Eve gave a little sound of distress and tried to pull free.  His hand closed around her arm even tighter, holding her there.
“Shane, stop it.  You’re going to break my arm…”
Maybe he would have let go – Claire didn’t know – but Shane didn’t get the chance.
Michael totally snapped, and sent Shane flying.

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