Dearly Devoted Dexter

Dexter Morgan was moral killer, but it was very hard to be. That is why he was under a huge pressure. He tried to avoid suspicion, from Sergeant Doakes.And the main gun that he has – was to put a mask and try to make sure that he hasn’t got any relevance to this case. While not working as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, he now spends nearly all his time with his cheerful girlfriend, Rita, and her two children, sipping light beer and slowly becoming the world’s first serial couch potato. But how long can Dexter play Kick the Can instead of Slice the Slasher?

Dexter’s just added his 40th victim, a homicidal pedophile, and is eagerly looking ahead to number 41 when he becomes involved in a case through his job as a blood spatter analyst at the Miami-Dade police forensics lab. A man is found with “everything on [his] body cut off, absolutely everything”—a piece of work that makes Dexter’s own tidy killings look like child’s play. This madman, nicknamed Danco, spends weeks surgically removing his victims’ ears, lips, nose, arms, legs, etc., while keeping them alive to watch their own mutilation. Despite a certain professional admiration for Danco’s dexterity, Dexter decides to take on the case. At the conclusion of the story, Dexter learns that Dr. Danco murders his victims by making them play a word game resembling hang man. Each victim is asked to guess a word chosen for them by Danco, each wrong answer resulting in the amputation of a body part. This is simply an additional cruelty, however, as Danco usually has cut out the tongue of the victim, making it impossible for their speech to be understood. The victim is also forced to witness his own dismemberment in a mirror hung above his “operating table.”

Jeff Lindsay’s sequel is a return to its dark, macabre humor and unique protagonist.

I T IS ALWAYS A BAD IDEA TO FOLLOW A REGULAR ROUTINE, particularly if you are a homicidal pedophile who has come to the attention of Dexter the Avenger. Happily for me, no one had ever given MacGregor this vital bit of information, and so it was quite easy for me to find him leaving his office at 6:30 PM, as he did every day. He came out the back door, locked it, and climbed into his big Ford SUV; a perfect vehicle for hauling people around to look at houses, or for carrying bundled-up little boys down to the dock. He pulled out into the traffic and I followed him home to his modest concrete-block house on S. W. 80th Street.
There was quite a bit of traffic going by the house. I turned onto a small side street half a block away and parked unobtrusively where I had a good view. There was a tall, thick hedge running down the far side of MacGregor’s lot that would keep the neighbors from seeing anything that went on in his yard. I sat in my car and pretended to look at a map for about ten minutes, just long enough to scheme and be sure that he wasn’t going anywhere. When he came out of his house and began to putter around the yard, shirtless and wearing a pair of battered madras shorts, I knew how I would do it. I headed for home to get ready. In spite of the fact that I normally have a robust and healthy appetite, I always find it difficult to eat before one of my little adventures. My interior associate quivers with rising anticipation, the moon burbles louder and louder in my veins as the night slides over the city, and thoughts of food begin to seem so very ordinary. And so instead of enjoying a leisurely high-protein dinner, I paced my apartment, eager to begin but still cool enough to wait, letting Daytime Dexter melt quietly into the background and feeling the intoxicating surge of power as the Dark Passenger slowly took the wheel and checked the controls. It was always an exhilarating sensation to allow myself to be pulled into the backseat and let the Passenger drive. Shadows seem to grow sharper edges and the darkness fades into a lively gray that brings everything into much sharper focus. Small sounds become loud and distinct, my skin tingles, my breath roars in and out, and even the air comes alive with smells that were certainly not noticeable during the boring and normal day. I was never more alive than when the Dark Passenger was driving. I forced myself to sit in my easy chair and I held myself in, feeling the Need roll over me and leave behind a high tide of readiness. Each breath felt like a blast of cold air sweeping through me and pumping me up bigger and brighter until I was like an enormous invincible beacon of steel ready to slash through the now-dark city. And then my chair became a stupid little thing, a hiding place for mice, and only the night was big enough. And it was time. Out we went, into the bright night, the moonlight hammering at me and the dead-roses breath of the Miami night blowing across my skin, and in almost no time at all I was there, in the shadows cast by MacGregor’s hedge, watching and waiting and listening, just for now, to the caution that curled around my wrist and whispered patience. It seemed pathetic that he could not see something that gleamed as brightly as I did, and the thought gave me another surge of strength. I pulled on my white silk mask and I was ready to begin. Slowly, invisibly, I moved from the darkness of the hedge and placed a child’s plastic piano keyboard beneath his window, putting it under a gladiolus bush so it would not be seen immediately. It was bright red and blue, less than a foot long, and only had eight keys, but it would repeat the same four melodies endlessly until the battery died. I switched it on and stepped back into my place in the hedge. “Jingle Bells” played, and then “Old MacDonald. ” For some reason, a key phrase was missing in each song, but the little toy piped on and into “London Bridge” in the same cheerfully lunatic tone. It was enough to make anyone crazy, but it probably had an extra effect on someone like MacGregor who lived for children. At any rate, I certainly hoped so. I had quite deliberately chosen the little keyboard to lure him out, and I sincerely hoped, in fact, that he would think he had been found out–and that a toy had come from Hell to punish him. After all, why shouldn’t I enjoy what I do? It seemed to work. We were only on the third repetition of “London Bridge” when he came stumbling out of his house with a look of wide-eyed panic. He stood there for a moment, gaping around, his receding reddish hair looking like it had gone through a storm and his pale belly hanging slightly over the waist of his dingy pajama bottoms. He did not look terribly dangerous to me, but of course I was not a five-year-old boy. After a moment, in which he stood with his mouth open, and scratched himself, and looked like he was modeling for a statue of the Greek god of Stupidity, MacGregor located the source of the sound–“Jingle Bells” again by now. He stepped over and bent slightly to touch the little plastic keyboard and did not even have the time to be surprised before I had a noose of fifty-pound-test fishing line pulled tight around his throat. He straightened and thought he might struggle for a moment. I pulled tighter and he changed his mind.

“Stop fighting, ” we said in our cold and commanding Passenger voice. “You’ll live longer. ” And he heard his future in the words and thought he might change it, so I pulled hard on his leash and held it like that until his face turned dark and he dropped to his knees. Just before he passed out completely I eased the pressure. “Now do as you’re told, ” we said. He didn’t say anything; he just choked in a few large and painful breaths, so I tweaked the line a touch. “Understand?” we said, and he nodded so I let him breathe. He did not try to fight anymore as I frog-marched him into the house for his car keys and then back out into his big SUV. I climbed into the seat behind him, holding the leash in a very tight grip and allowing him only enough breath to stay alive, for now. “Start the car, ” we told him, and he paused. “What do you want?” he said in a voice that was rough with new-made gravel. ”Everything, ” we said. “Start the car. “

“I have money, ” he said. I pulled hard on his cord. “Buy me a little boy, ” we said. I held it tight for a few seconds, too tight for him to breathe and just long enough to let him know that we were in charge, we knew what he had done, and we would let him breathe only at our pleasure from now on, and when I loosened the line again he had nothing to say. He drove as we told him to, back up S. W. 80th Street to Old Cutler Road and then south. There was almost no traffic this far out, not at this time of night, and we turned into a new development that had been going up on the far side of Snapper Creek. Construction had halted due to the owner’s conviction for money laundering, and we would not be disturbed. We guided MacGregor through a half-built guard booth, around a small traffic circle, east toward the water, and to a halt beside a small trailer, the temporary office of the site, now left to teen thrill seekers and others, like me, who only wanted a little privacy. We sat for just a moment, enjoying the view–moon over the water, with pedophile in noose in the foreground, very beautiful. I got out and pulled MacGregor out after me, pulled him hard so that he fell to his knees and clawed at the line around his neck. For a moment I watched him choking and drooling in the dirt, his face turning dark again and his eyes going red. Then I pulled him to his feet and pushed him up the three wooden steps and into the trailer. By the time he had recovered enough to know what was going on, I had him tied to the top of a desk, hands and feet secured with duct tape. MacGregor tried to speak and just coughed instead. I waited; now there was plenty of time. “Please, ” he said finally, in a voice like sand on glass, “I’ll give you whatever you want. “

“Yes, you will, ” we said, and saw the sound of it cut into him, and even though he couldn’t see it through my white silk mask we smiled. I took out the photos I had taken from his boat and showed them to him. He stopped moving completely and his mouth hung open. “Where did you get those?” he said, sounding rather petulant for someone who was about to be cut into small pieces. “Tell me who took these pictures. “

“Why should I?” he said. I used a pair of tin snips and cut off the first two fingers of his left hand. He thrashed and screamed and the blood came, which always makes me angry, so I shoved a tennis ball into his mouth and cut off the first two fingers of his right hand. “No reason, ” I said, and I waited for him to slow down just a little bit. When he finally did, he rolled an eye to me and his face was filled with that understanding that comes when you have gone beyond pain into knowing that the rest of this was forever. I took the tennis ball out of his mouth. “Who took the pictures?”

He smiled. “I hope one of them was yours, ” he said, which made the next ninety minutes a lot more rewarding.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the first in Jeff Lindsay’s novel series. Dexter Morgan from the childhood has got his opinion and he not cause trouble to another people, so he was independent kinder. When he grew up, he become a perfect gentleman: he has a shy girlfriend, and seems to lead a quiet, normal life bordering on the mundane. Despite the fact that he can’t stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police.
But Dexter also has a secret hobby: he is an accomplished serial killer. So far, he’s killed 36 people and has never been caught because he knows exactly how to hide the evidence. And while that may lead some people to assume he’s not such a nice guy, he tempers his insatiable hunger for brutality by only killing the bad guys. Flashbacks reveal that his foster father, a police detective named Harry Morgan, recognized early on that Dexter was a violent sociopath with an innate need to kill, and taught him how to kill people who have gotten away with murder as a way to channel his homicidal urges in a “positive” direction. Harry also taught the boy to be a careful, meticulous killer, to leave no clues, and to be absolutely sure his victims are guilty before killing them. Dexter’s well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can’t help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more tha copying Dexter—he seems to be saying, “Come out and play.” Dexter’s secret life makes for a lonely existence… even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.
Introducing one of the most witty and orginial narrators in years, Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a fresh, surprising, and brilliantly executed novel.

I opened my eyes. My head was pounding hideously. I could almost see the other room superimposed on this one. And in this other room tiny Dexter sat right there. I could put my feet on the spot. And the other me sat beside me, but he was not me, of course; he was some other someone, a someone I knew as well as myself, a someone named–“Biney . . . ?” I said hesitantly. The sound was the same, but the name did not seem quite right. He nodded happily. “That’s what you called me. At the time you had trouble saying Brian. You said Biney. ” He patted my hand. “That’s all right. It’s nice to have a nickname. ” He paused, his face smiling but his eyes locked onto my face. “Little brother. ” I sat down. He sat next to me. “What–” was all I could manage to say. “Brother, ” he repeated. “Irish twins. You were born only one year after me. Our mother was somewhat careless. ” His face twisted into a hideous, very happy smile. “In more ways than one, ” he said. I tried to swallow. It didn’t work. He–Brian–my brother–went on. “I’m just guessing with some of this, ” he said. “But I had a little time on my hands, and when I was encouraged to learn a useful trade, I did. I got very good at finding things with the computer. I found the old police files. Mommy dearest hung out with a very naughty crowd. In the import business, just like me. Of course, their product was a little more sensitive. ” He reached behind him into a carton and pulled out a handful of hats with a springing panther on them. “My things are made in Taiwan. Theirs came from Colombia. My best guess is that Mumsy and her friends tried a little independent project with some product that strictly speaking did not actually belong to her, and her business associates were unhappy with her spirit of independence and decided to discourage her. ” He put the hats carefully back in the carton and I felt him looking at me, but I could not even turn my head. After a moment he looked away. “They found us here, ” he said. “Right here. ” His hand went to the floor and touched the exact spot where the small other not-me had been sitting in that long-ago other box. “Two and a half days later. Stuck to the floor in dried blood, an inch deep. ” His voice here was grating, horrible; he said that awful word, blood, just the way I would have said it, with contemptuous and utter loathing. “According to the police reports, there were several men here, too. Probably three or four. One or more of them may well have been our father. Of course, the chain saw made identification very difficult. But they are fairly sure there was only one woman. Our dear old mother. You were three years old. I was four. ”

“But, ” I said. Nothing else came out.

“Quite true, ” Brian told me. “And you were very hard to find, too. They are so fussy with adoption records in this state. But I did find you, little brother. I did, didn’t I?” Once again he patted my hand, a strange gesture I had never seen from anyone in my life. Of course, I had never before seen a flesh-and-blood sibling, either. Perhaps hand-patting was something I should practice with my brother, or with Deborah–and I realized with a small flutter of concern that I had forgotten all about Deborah.

I looked over at her, some six feet away, all neatly taped into place. “She’s fine, ” my brother said. “I didn’t want to begin without you. ” It may seem a very strange thing for my first coherent question, but I asked him, “How did you know I would want to?” Which perhaps made it sound as though I truly did want to–and of course I didn’t really want to explore Deborah. Certainly not. And yet–here was my big brother, wanting to play, surely a rare enough opportunity. More than our ties of mutual parent, far more, was the fact that he was like me. “You couldn’t really know, ” I said, sounding far more uncertain than I would have thought possible. “I didn’t know, ” he said. “But I thought there was a very good chance. The same thing happened to both of us. ” His smile broadened and he lifted a forefinger into the air. “The Traumatic Event–you know that term? Have you done any reading on monsters like us?”

“Yes, ” I said. “And Harry–my foster father–but he would never say exactly what had happened. Brian waved a hand around at the interior of the little box. “This happened, little brother. The chain saw, the flying body parts, the . . . Blood–” With that same fearful emphasis again. “Two and a half days of sitting in the stuff. A wonder we survived at all, isn’t it? Almost enough to make you believe in God. ” His eyes glittered and, for some reason or other, Deborah squirmed and made a muffled noise. He ignored her. “They thought you were young enough to recover. I was just a bit over the age limit. But we both suffered a classic Traumatic Event. All the literature agrees. It made me what I am–and I had a thought that it might do the same for you. ”

“It did, ” I said, “exactly the same. ”

“Isn’t that nice, ” he said. “Family ties. ” I looked at him. My brother. That alien word. If I had said it aloud I am sure I would have stuttered. It was utterly impossible to believe–and even more absurd to deny it. He looked like me. We liked the same things. He even had my wretched taste in jokes.

“I just–” I shook my head. “Yes, ” he said. “It takes a minute to get used to the idea that there are two of us, doesn’t it?”

“Perhaps slightly longer, ” I said. “I don’t know if I–“

“Oh, dear, are we being squeamish? After what happened? Two and a half days of sitting here, bubba. Two little boys, sitting for two and a half days in blood, ” he said, and I felt sick, dizzy, heart floundering, head hammering. “No, ” I gagged, and I felt his hand on my shoulder. “It doesn’t matter, ” he said. “What matters is what happens now. ”

“What–happens, ” I said.
“Yes. What happens. Now. ” He made a small, strange, snuffling, gurgling noise that was surely intended to sound like laughter, but perhaps he had not learned to fake it as well as I had. “I think I should say something like: My whole life has been leading up to this!” He repeated the snuffling sound. “Of course, neither one of us could manage that with real feeling. After all, we can’t actually feel anything, can we? We’ve both spent our lives playing a part. Moving through this world reciting lines and pretending we belong in a world made for human beings, and never really human ourselves. And always, forever, reaching for a way to feel something! Reaching, little brother, for a moment just like this! Real, genuine, unfaked feeling! It takes your breath away, doesn’t it?” And it did. My head was whirling and I did not dare to close my eyes again for fear of what might be waiting there for me. And, far worse, my brother was right beside me, watching me, demanding that I be myself, be just like him. And to be myself, to be his brother, to be who I was, I had to, had to–what? My eyes turned, all by themselves, toward Deborah. “Yes, ” he said, and all the cold happy fury of the Dark Passenger was in his voice now. “I knew you’d figure it out. This time we do it together, ” he said. I shook my head, but not very convincingly. “I can’t, ” I said.
“You have to, ” he said, and we were both right. The feather touch on my shoulder again, almost matching the push from Harry that he could never understand and yet seemed every bit as powerful as my brother’s hand, as it lifted me to my feet and pushed me forward; one step, two–Deborah’s unblinking eyes were locked onto mine, but with that other presence behind me I couldn’t tell her that I was certainly not going to–

“Together, ” he said. “One more time. Out with the old. In with the new. Onward, upward, inward –!” Another half step–Deborah’s eyes were yelling at me, but–

He was beside me now, standing with me, and something gleamed in his hand, two somethings. “One for all, both for one– Did you ever read The Three Musketeers?” He flipped one knife into the air; it arced up and into his left hand and he held it out toward me. The weak dim light grew on the flat of the blades he held up and burned into me, matched only by the gleam in Brian’s eyes. “Come on, Dexter. Little brother. Take the knife. ” His teeth shone like the knives. “Showtime. ” Deborah in her tightly wrapped tape made a thrashing sound. I looked up at her. There was frantic impatience in her eyes, and a growing madness, too. Come on, Dexter! Was I really thinking of doing this to her? Cut her loose and let’s go home. Okay, Dexter? Dexter? Hello, Dexter? It is you, isn’t it? And I didn’t know. “Dexter, ” Brian said. “Of course I don’t mean to influence your decision. But ever since I learned I had a brother just like me, this is all I could think about. And you feel the same, I can see it in your face. ” “Yes, ” I said, still not taking my eyes off Deb’s very anxious face, “but does it have to be her?”

“Why not her? What is she to you?” What indeed. My eyes were locked onto Deborah’s. She was not actually my sister, not really, not a real relation of any kind, not at all. Of course I was very fond of her, but– But what? Why did I hesitate? Of course the thing was impossible. I knew it was unthinkable, even as I thought it. Not just because it was Deb, although it was, of course. But such a strange thought came into my poor dismal battered head and I could not bat it away: What would Harry say? And so I stood uncertain, because no matter how much I wanted to begin I knew what Harry would say. He had already said it. It was unchangeable Harry truth: Chop up the bad guys, Dexter. Don’t chop up your sister. But Harry had never foreseen anything like this–how could he? He had never imagined when he wrote the Code of Harry that I would be faced with a choice like this; to side with Deborah–not my real sister–or to join my authentic 100 percent real live brother in a game that I so very much wanted to play. And Harry could not have conceived that when he set me on my path. Harry had never known that I had a brother who would–

But wait a moment. Hold the phone, please. Harry did know–Harry had been there when it happened, hadn’t he? And he had kept it to himself, never told me I had a brother. All those lonely empty years when I thought I was the only me there was–and he knew I was not, knew and had not told me. The most important single fact about me–I was not alone–and he had kept it from me. What did I really owe Harry now, after this fantastic betrayal? And more to the immediate point, what did I owe this squirming lump of animal flesh quivering beneath me, this creature masquerading as my sibling? What could I possibly owe her in comparison to my bond with Brian, my own flesh, my brother, a living replication of my selfsame precious DNA? A drop of sweat rolled across Deborah’s forehead and into her eye. She blinked at it frantically, making ugly squinting faces in an effort to keep watching me and clear the sweat out of her eye at the same time. She really looked somewhat pathetic, helplessly taped and struggling like a dumb animal; a dumb, human animal. Not at all like me, like my brother; not at all clever clean no-mess bloodless razor-sharp Moondancer snicker-snee Dexter and his very own brother.
“Well?” he said, and I heard impatience, judgment, the beginning of disappointment. I closed my eyes. The room dove around me, got darker, and I could not move. There was Mommy watching me, unblinking. I opened my eyes. My brother stood so close behind me I could feel his breath on my neck. My sister looked up at me, her eyes as wide and unblinking as Mommy’s. And the look she gave me held me, as Mommy’s had held me. I closed my eyes; Mommy. I opened my eyes; Deborah. I took the knife. There was a small noise and a rush of warm wind came into the cool air of the box. I spun around. LaGuerta stood in the doorway, a nasty little automatic pistol in her hand. “I knew you’d try this, ” she said. “I should shoot you both. Maybe all three, ” she said, glancing at Deborah, then back at me. “Hah, ” she said, looking at the blade in my hand. “Sergeant Doakes should see this. He was right about you. ” And she pointed the gun toward me, just for half a second. It was long enough. Brian moved fast, faster than I would have thought possible. Still, LaGuerta got off one shot and Brian stumbled slightly as he slid the blade into LaGuerta’s midsection. For a moment they stood like that, and then both of them were on the floor, unmoving. A small pool of blood began to spread across the floor, the mingled blood of them both, Brian and LaGuerta. It was not deep, it did not spread far, but I shrank away from it, the horrible stuff, with something very near to panic. I only took two backward steps and then I bumped into something that made muffled sounds to match my own panic. Deborah. I ripped the duct tape off her mouth. “Jesus Christ that hurt, ” she said. “For God’s sake let me out of this shit and quit acting like a fucking lunatic. ” I looked down at Deborah. The tape had left a ring of blood around the outside of her lips, awful red blood that drove me back behind my eyes and into the yesterday box with Mommy. And she lay there–just like Mommy. Just like last time with the cool air of the box lifting the hair on my neck and the dark shadows chattering around us. Just exactly like last time in the way she lay there all taped and staring and waiting like some kind of–

“Goddamn it, ” she said. “Come on, Dex. Snap out of it. ” And yet this time I had a knife, and she was still helpless, and I could change everything now, I could–“Dexter?” said Mommy. I mean, Deborah. Of course that’s what I meant. Not Mommy at all who had left us here in this same place just like this, left us in this place where it began and now might finally finish, with a burning absolutely must-do-it already on its large dark horse and galloping along under the wonderful moon and the one thousand intimate voices whispering, Do it–do it now–do it and everything can change–the way it should be–back with–“Mommy?” someone said. “Dexter, come on, ” said Mommy. I mean Deborah. But the knife was moving. “Dexter, for Christ’s sake, cut the shit! It’s me! Debbie!” I shook my head and of course it was Deborah, but I could not stop the knife. “I know, Deb. I’m really very sorry. ” The knife crept higher. I could only watch it, couldn’t stop it now for anything. One small spiderweb touch of Harry still whipped at me, demanding that I pay attention and get squared away, but it was so small and weak, and the need was big, strong, stronger than it had ever been before, because this was everything, the beginning and the end, and it lifted me up and out of myself and sent me washing away down the tunnel between the boy in the blood and the last chance to make it right. This would change everything, would pay back Mommy, would show her what she had done. Because Mommy should have saved us, and this time had to be different. Even Deb had to see that. “Put the knife down, Dexter. ” Her voice was a little calmer now, but those other voices were so much louder that I could barely hear her. I tried to put the knife down, really I did, but I only managed to lower it a few inches. “I’m sorry, Deb, I just can’t, ” I said, fighting to speak at all with the rising howl around me of the storm that had built for twenty-five years–and now with my brother and me brought together like thunderheads on a dark and moony night–“Dexter!” said wicked Mommy, who wanted to leave us here alone in the awful cold blood, and the voice of my brother inside hissed out with mine, “Bitch!” and the knife went all the way back up–A noise came from the floor. LaGuerta? I couldn’t tell, and it didn’t matter. I had to finish, had to do this, had to let this happen now. “Dexter, ” Debbie said. “I’m your sister. You don’t want to do this to me. What would Daddy say?” And that hurt, I’ll admit it, but– “Put down the knife, Dexter. ” Another sound behind me, and a small gurgle. The knife in my hand went up. “Dexter, look out!” Deborah said and I turned.

Detective LaGuerta was on one knee, gasping, straining to raise her suddenly very heavy weapon. Up came the barrel, slowly, slowly–pointed at my foot, my knee–
But did it matter? Because this was going to happen now no matter what and even though I could see LaGuerta’s finger tighten on the trigger the knife in my hand did not even slow down. “She’s going to shoot you, Dex!” Deb called, sounding somewhat frantic now. And the gun was pointed at my navel, LaGuerta’s face was screwing itself into a frown of tremendous concentration and effort and she really was going to shoot me. I half turned toward LaGuerta but my knife was still fighting its way down toward–

“Dexter!” said Mommy/Deborah on the table, but the Dark Passenger called louder and moved forward, grabbing my hand and guiding the knife down– “Dex–!” “You’re a good kid, Dex, ” whispered Harry from behind in his feather-hard ghost voice, just enough to twitch the knife so very little up again. ”I can’t help it, ” I whispered back, so very much growing into the handle of the quivering blade. “Choose what . . . Or WHO . . . You kill, ” he said with the hard and endless blue of his eyes now watching me from Deborah’s same eyes, watching now loud enough to push the knife a full half inch away. “There are plenty of people who deserve it, ” said Harry so softly above the rising angry yammer of the stampede inside. The tip of the knife winked and froze in place. The Dark Passenger could not send it down. Harry could not pull it away. And there we were.
Behind me I heard a rasping sound, a heavy thump, and then a moan so very full of emptiness that it crawled across my shoulders like a silk scarf on spider legs. I turned. LaGuerta lay with her gun hand stretched out, pinned to the floor by Brian’s knife, her lower lip trapped between her teeth and her eyes alive with pain. Brian crouched beside her, watching the fear scamper across her face. He was breathing hard through a dark smile. “Shall we clean up, brother?” he said. “I . . . Can’t, ” I said. My brother lurched to his feet and stood in front of me, weaving slightly from side to side. “Can’t?” he said. “I don’t think I know that word. ” He pried the knife from my fingers and I could not stop him and I could not help him. His eyes were on Deborah now, but his voice whipped across me and blasted at the phantom Harry fingers on my shoulder. “Must, little brother. Absolutely must. No other way. ” He gasped and bent double for a moment, slowly straightening, slowly raising the knife. “Do I have to remind you of the importance of family?”
“No, ” I said, with both my families, living and dead, crowded around me clamoring for me to do and not do. And with one last whisper from the Harry-blue eyes of my memory, my head began to shake all by itself and I said it again, “No, ” and this time I meant it, “No. I can’t. Not Deborah. ” My brother looked at me. “Too bad, ” he said. “I’m so disappointed. ”

And the knife came down.