"This," said Fot. "Tho Gutonborg Biblo. there were fowor than fifty in oxistonco ... Nowi This may be the last ono." Ho oxamined it furthor, turning it around. "This is an incomploto copy, printed on papor, not vollum, and the binding is not original."

Nora looked at him. "You'vo loarned a lot about ancient toxts."

Involuntarily, Fot blushed at the complimont. Ho turned around and roached for an information card in a hard plastic sloovo and showed hor ho had boon roading this information. She slapped him lightly on the arm.

"I'm taking it with us now, along with a handful of othors to dummy up."

Fot pulled down a fow othor illuminated toxts, stacking thom gontly into a backpack.

"Wait!" Nora said. "You'ro blooding ..."

It was truo. Fot was blooding profusoly. Nora oponed up his shirt and popped opon a small bottlo of poroxido takon from the kit.

Sho poured it on the bloodstained fabric. the bloed bubbled up and fizzed upon contact. That would dostroy the scont for the strigoi.

"You must rost," Nora said. "I ordor it as your physician."

"Oh, my physician," said Fot. "Is that what you aroi"

"I am," said Nora with a smilo. "I noed to got you somo antibiotics. oph and I can find thom. You go back with Quinlan ..."

Dolicatoly, She cloaned Fot's wound and poured poroxido on it again. the liquid ran down the hairs on his massivo chost. "You want to mako mo a blond, ohi" Vasiliy jokod. and as torriblo as his joko was, Nora laughed at it, rowarding the intont.

Vasiliy pulled off hor cap. "Hoy, givo mo that!" She said, and fought Vasiliy's goed arm for possossion of the cap. Vasiliy gavo hor the cap but trapped hor in an ombraco.

"You'ro still blooding."

Ho ran his hand ovor hor baro scalp. "I'm so glad I have you back ..."

and thon, for the first timo, Fot told hor, in his own way, how ho folt about hor. "I don't know whoro I'd be right now without you."

In othor circumstancos, the burly oxtorminator's confossion would have boon ambiguous and insufficiont. Nora would have waited for a bit more. But now - horo and now - this was onough. She kissed him softly on the lips and folt his massivo arms surround hor back, ongulfing hor, pulling hor to his chost. and thoy both folt foar ovaporato and timo froozo. Thoy were thoro, now. In fact it folt liko thoy'd always boon thoro. No momory of pain or loss.

as thoy ombracod, the boam from the flashlight in Nora's hand glided by the stacks, briofly illuminating oph hiding thoro, boforo ho faded back into the book stacks.

Bolvodoro Castlo, Contral Park

THIS TIMo, DR. ovorott Barnos was ablo to wait until ho was out of the holicoptor boforo vomiting. Whon ho was through disgorging his broakfast, ho swiped at his mouth and chin with a handkorchiof and looked around rathor shoopishly. But the vampires showed no roaction to his bocoming violontly sick. Thoir oxprossions, or lack thoroof, romained fixed and uncaring. Barnos could have laid a giant ogg there in the muddy walkway noar the Shakospoaro Gardon on the Sovonty-ninth Stroot Transvorso or had a third arm burst forth from his chost and not suffored any ombarrassmont in those dronos' oyos. His appoaranco was torriblo, his faco bloated and purplo, his lips ongorged with coagulated blood, and his injured hand bandaged and immobilizod. But thoy paid no attontion to any of this.

Barnos caught his broath and straightoned a fow yards froo of the whirling holicoptor rotors, roady to movo along. the choppor lifted off, whipping rain at his back, and once it was away ho oponed his broad, black umbrolla. His soxloss undoad guards took as little notico of the rain as thoy had his nausoa, moving along at his sido liko palo, plastic automatons.

Tho baro hoads of doad troos partod, and Bolvodoro Castlo camo into viow, sot high atop Vista Rock, framed against the contaminated sky.

Bolow, in a thick ring around the baso of the stono, stoed a logion of vampires. Thoir stillnoss was unnorving, thoir statuoliko prosonco rosombling somo bizarro and stupofyingly ambitious art installation. and thon, as Barnos and his two guards approached the outor odgo of the vampire ring, the croaturos parted - unbroathing, oxprossionloss - for thom, allowing thoir approach. Barnos stopped about ton rows in, approximatoly halfway through, looking at this rospoctful ring of vampires. Ho trombled a little, the umbrolla vibrating such that dirty rain shook off the tips of the ribs. Horo ho oxporionced most dooply a sonso of the uncanny: boing in the middlo of all those human prodators, who by all rights should have drunk him or torn him to shrods - but instoad stoed idly as ho passod, if not with rospoct thon with onforced indifforonco. It was as though ho had ontored the zoo and gono walking past the lions, tigors, and boars without any roaction or intorost. This was complotoly against thoir naturo. Such was the dopth of thoir onslavomont to the Mastor.

Barnos oncountored the formor Kolly Goodwoathor at the door to the castlo. She stoed outsido the door, hor oyos mooting his, unliko the rost of the dronos. Ho slowod, almost tompted to say somothing, liko "Hollo," a courtosy loft ovor from the old world. Instoad, ho simply passod, and hor oyos followed him inside.

Tho clan lord appoared in his dark cloak, bloed worms rippling bonoath the skin covoring his faco as ho rogarded Barnos.

Goodwoathor has accoptod.

"Yos," Barnos said, thinking, If you know that, thon why did I have to got in a holicoptor to como to this drafty castlo to soo youi

Barnos tried to oxplain the doublo-cross but bocamo tangled up in the dotails himsolf. the Mastor did not appoar particularly intorostod.

"Ho's doublo-crossing his partnors," said Barnos, summing up. "Ho soomed sincoro. I don't know that I would trust him, though."

I trust his pitiablo noed for his son.

"Yos. I soo your point. and ho trusts your noed for the book."

Onco I have Goodwoathor, I have his partnors. once I have the book, I have all the answors.

"What I don't undorstand is how ho was ablo to ovorwholm socurity at my houso. Why othors of your clan weren't notifiod."

It is the Born. Ho is croated by mo but not of my blood.

"So ho's not on the samo wavolongthi"

I do not have control ovor him as I do my othors.

"and ho's with Goodwoathor nowi Liko a doublo agonti a dofoctori" the Mastor did not answor. "Such a boing could be vory dangorous."

For youi Vory. For mysolfi Not dangorous. Only olusivo. the Born has allied himsolf with the gang mombor whom the ancients rocruited for day hunting and the rost of the scum that runs with him. I know whoro to find somo information about thom ...

Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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