Wrong Side of Dead

By: Kelly Meding

Chapter One





Friday, July 25

11:10 P.M.




The rave was already in full swing by the time Phineas and I showed up dressed to blend, even though we weren’t there for a party. Illegal raves full of drunk college students and twentysomethings were the ideal hunting ground for half-Blood vampires, which made the transformed warehouse the perfect place for our little stakeout. But while any Halfie would do, I was hoping to see one particular target show up.

The music vibrated in my chest, loud enough for me to know my ears would be ringing by the time I left. We paused just inside, and Phineas el Chimal, my squad leader and partner for the night, closed his eyes to orient his more sensitive were-hearing to the din. Ravers jostled past us, ignorant of the partygoers around them, caught up in their own narrow little worlds. They had no clue why we were there, or that death was mingling among the kegs, glow sticks, and gyrating bodies.

No clue and no fucking manners. I was ready to turn around and slap the next person who elbowed me.

Phin saved them by opening his clear blue eyes and smiling. “Ready to have some fun?” he asked.

“Definitely.” I draped myself onto his arm so we’d look like the happy couple we were pretending to be, and his fingers laced through mine. We both knew we’d have to do some acting, and I trusted him to watch my back. He’d been doing it without fail since the day we met nearly three months ago.

I stumbled a little in my knee-high boots, not used to the three-inch heels. My default shoes of choice were sneakers or combat boots—better for running and kicking. But the black leather boots I had on now matched my black leather miniskirt, and their knee-high length carefully hid a pair of serrated blades. The boots were the only place where my skimpy outfit could easily camouflage weapons, so I suffered the indignity of stumbling around in them. Anyway, it was also a good excuse to lean on Phin and put on a lovey-dovey show.

At least Phin had the benefit of jeans and a black wife-beater, which showed off his toned physique and earned him appreciative smiles from a few female gawkers. I shot them possessive glares as we wove our way into the dancing, gyrating crowd. The air was thick with the distinctive odors of smoke, beer, and sweat.

Phin tilted his head, pretended to nuzzle my neck, and whispered, “Team one, six o’clock.”

I spotted them easily, dancing amid a tight cluster near the DJ’s stage. Gina Kismet and Marcus Dane were team one to our team two, and even from a distance they made quite the convincing (if mismatched) couple—Gina’s five-foot-two, pale-skinned, red-haired goth girl to his six-foot-one, black-haired, copper-eyed pirate.

Okay, so I never actually called him a pirate to his face, but the long hair in a ponytail, the ruddy complexion, and the tendency toward scruffy facial hair gave that impression. Even if I hadn’t known that the man was actually Felia—a were-jaguar, to be precise—I would have suspected he wasn’t quite what he appeared.

They were burning it up on the dance floor, completely into each other—at least to the untrained eye. And besides our two pairs, we had two single plants mingling around the rave, on the lookout for shimmering eyes and silver-streaked hair, or even a set of fangs that hadn’t been filed down. Half-Blood vampires have certain telltale signs that can be covered up with contacts and hair dye, but members of the newest crop of Halfies were bolder and smarter, and they weren’t as afraid of us as they used to be, back when an organization called the Triads existed and just our name sent them fleeing in fear. God, I miss those days.

It didn’t really help that one of our own was now one of these bolder Halfies and seemed to be using our hard-learned tactics against us.

Phin swept me through the crowd, and we ended up near the makeshift bar, where two guys with silver rings in their noses were filling cups from dozens of different kegs. Phin collected a beer for each of us to complete the fitting-in image. Beer wasn’t my favorite, but I’d guzzled worse in the line of duty.

At least a hundred people were in the main part of the warehouse, and I imagined dozens more wandered around, getting into any unlocked rooms they could find. Initial surveillance told us that the place had a section of offices on the north side of the warehouse, as well as roof access from the main floor.

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