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Betsy 4 - Undead and Unreturnable, Page 1

MaryJanice Davidson

  Undead and Unreturnable


  MaryJanice Davidson



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42


  Undead and


  Berkley Sensation titles by MaryJanice Davidson






  Undead and


  MaryJanice Davidson



  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  Copyright © 2005 by MaryJanice Davidson Alongi.

  Text design by Kristin del Rosario.

  All rights reserved.

  BERKLEY SENSATION is an imprint of The Berkley Publishing Group. BERKLEY SENSATION and the "B" design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First edition: November 2005

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Davidson, MaryJanice.

  Undead and unreturnable / MaryJanice Davidson.—1st ed.

  p. cm.

  ISBN 0-425-20816-8

  . Vampires—Fiction. 2. Weddings—Planning—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3604.A949U526 2005




  In honor of my grandfather,

  John Opitz,

  who taught me to do the best I could without complaint.

  Which, like all important life lessons,

  is lost on me.


  First and forever I must, must, must thank my children, who are brilliant, charming, and deft at entertaining themselves when Mom's locked in the office on deadline. They'd probably prefer my company to a few lines in a book, but as always, their expectations are too high; I'm just not that good a parent.

  Another thousand thank-yous (to go with the kisses!) to my husband, Anthony, who came up with "sinister metrosexuality" and likes Betsy almost as much as he likes me. He puts up with the mood swings, speechifying, and ear-cutting that is part and parcel of living with a mass-market paperback author, and I adore him for it.

  Thanks also to my PR person/best friend/evil sidekick Jessica Growette, who I swear lies awake at night thinking about how to get my name out there. Which is cool, if creepy.

  The Magic Widows, of course, must also be thanked. I learn something every Tuesday. Even better, sometimes I retain it!

  Special thanks to Carl Hiaasen, John Sandford, and Laurell K. Hamilton for continually showing me how it's done.

  Finally, thank you to the readers who enjoy reading about Betsy's comings and goings and who wanted to know where she went next. Thanks for hopping in and coming for the ride.

  Author's Note

  After seeing all the books, movies, magazines, and National Enquirer articles out there about serial killers, I got a little curious. After some research, I found that the actual number of estimated psycho killer nutjobs running around is anywhere between ten and five hundred. (For obvious reasons, it's tough to come up with an exact number.)

  Let's say the experts are way off, and triple the guesstimate: one thousand, five hundred. There are about three hundred million people in the United States. So roughly .0000005 percent of the population is made up of serial killers. Needless to say, chances are you're not going to trip over one in your driveway.

  Betsy, of course, has problems most of us will never, ever have to deal with. She and Detective Nick Berry win the serial killer lottery in this tale, but, like drinking blood and endless police paperwork, it's not something most of the rest of the population has to worry about.

  Also, colic is bad. But it doesn't last forever.

  From the Book of the Dead:

  "And the Queene shall noe the dead, all the dead, and neither shall they hide from her nor keep secrets from her."


  "And she will noe Evil in many forms, and defeat it should that be her will, and be the Protector and Avenger of all the dead, for as long as shalt be the will of the Queene."

  "Just like a spider with a line of silk! Did you ever see them throw themselves out into space to weave? They're taking a chance, every single time. They got to do it or else they'd never create anything. But I bet it don't feel good, even to a spider."

  —Olivia Goldsmith,

  Fashionably Late

  "It's not a bad little tree, really. It just needs a little love."


  A Charlie Brown Christmas

  "There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

  —Charles Dickens,

  A Christmas Carol

  Undead and



  From the St. Paul Pioneer Press

  December 15, 2005

  THIRD WOMAN FOUND SLAIN. Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  The body of an Edina resident was found this
morning at approximately six-thirty A.M. Cathie Robinson, 26, was found in the parking lot of the Lake Street Wal-Mart. Forensics show that she had been strangled. She had been reported missing on December 13. She is believed to be the third victim of the so-called Driveway Killer, who has so far claimed at least three local victims.

  Detective Nick Berry, who has been working with the FBI since the second victim, Martha Lundquist, was found on November 23, said the investigation is pursuing several leads. "This is our top priority," Berry said. "Nothing else even comes close."

  Ms. Lundquist was reported missing on November 8, and her body was found in the parking lot of a White Bear Lake Target store on November 10.

  The FBI has profiled the killer, who appears to be choosing tall blond women with light-colored eyes and short hair. Although an arrest is "imminent," Berry warns Minneapolis women to use caution when leaving their places of business.

  It is believed that the Driveway Killer has also struck in Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas.

  The FBI and local police believe that the first local victim was Katie Johnson, 27, who was reported missing on October 28 and whose body was found on November 4 in the parking lot of the Lakeville McStop.

  From the Star Tribune December 17, 2005

  BORN, to Antonia Taylor and John Peter Taylor of Edina, Minnesota, a boy, Jonathon Peter Taylor II, at 12:05 A.M. on December 15 at Fairview Ridges Edina.

  Chapter 1

  This is how my tombstone read:

  Elizabeth Anne Taylor

  April 25, 1974-April 25, 2004

  Our sweetheart, only resting

  "That's just so depressing," my best friend, Jessica Watkins, observed.

  "It's weird." My sister, Laura Goodman, was staring. "That is very, very weird."

  "Our sweetheart, only resting?" I asked. "What the hell's that supposed to mean?"

  "I think it's nice," my sister said, a little hesitantly.

  She looked like a dirty old man's dream with her long, butterscotch-blond hair, big blue eyes, and red peacoat. You know how ministers' kids will sometimes go wild when they finally get away from their parents? Laura was the devil's daughter (no, really), so her way of rebelling was to be as nice and sweet as possible. A dastardly plan. "It's a little different. Most of the people I know would have gone with a Bible verse, but your mama certainly didn't have to."

  "Given how things turned out," Jess replied, running a hand over her skinned-back black hair, "it's a little prophetic, don't you think?" As usual, when she put her hair up, she pulled it back so tightly, the arch of her eyebrows made her look constantly amazed. Though it's possible, given where we were standing, that she really was amazed.

  "I think standing in front of my own grave is the last place I want to be on the seventeenth day of December, is what I think." Depressing and creepy. Must be the holidays.

  Jessica sighed again and rested her forehead on my shoulder. "Poor Betsy. I can't get over it. You were so young!"

  Laura smirked a little. "Like turning thirty wasn't enough of a trauma. Poor Betsy."

  "So young!"

  "Will you pull yourself together, please? I'm right here." I stuck my hands into my coat pockets and sulked. "What is it, like ten below out? I'm freezing."

  "You're always freezing. Don't bitch if you're going to go outside without your gloves. And it's thirty-five degrees, you big baby."

  "Would you like my coat?" Laura said. "I don't really feel the cold."

  "Another one of your sinister powers," Jessica said. "We'll add it to the list with weapons made of hellfire and always being able to calculate a 22 percent tip. Now Bets, run this by me again… how'd your tombstone finally show up here?"

  I explained, hopefully for the last time. I had, of course, died in the spring. Rose in the early dawn hours the day of my funeral and gone on undead walkabout. Because my body was MIA, the funeral was cancelled.

  But my mother, who had been in a huge fight with my dad and stepmom about what to spend on my marble tombstone, had rushed to order the thing. By the time it was finished, no funeral, no service, no burial. (My family knew the truth about what I was now, and so did Jessica. My other coworkers and friends had been told the funeral had been a joke, one in very poor taste.)

  So anyway, my tombstone had been in storage the last six months. (My stepmother had been pushing for plain, cheap granite, with my initials and my dates of death and birth; a penny saved is a penny earned, apparently. My dad, as he always did when my mom and Antonia were involved, stayed out of it.)

  After a few months, the funeral home had politely contacted my mother and asked what she'd like to do with my tombstone. Mom had the plot and the stone paid for, so she had them stick it in the dirt the day before yesterday, and mentioned it at lunch yesterday. You know how it goes: "Waiter, I'll have the tomato soup with Parmesan croutons, and by the way, honey, I had your tombstone set up in the cemetery yesterday."

  Jessica and Laura had been morbidly curious to see it, and I'd tagged along. What the hell, it made for a break from wedding arrangements and Christmas cards.

  "Your mom," Jessica commented, "is a model of scary efficiency."

  Laura brightened. "Oh, Dr. Taylor is so nice."

  "And just when I think your stepmother can't get any lamer… no offense, Laura." The Ant was technically Laura's birth mother. It was a long story.

  "I'm not offended," she replied cheerfully.

  "Have you two weirdos seen enough?"

  "Wait, wait." Jessica plopped the bouquet of cream-colored calla lilies on my grave. I nearly shrieked. I'd sort of assumed she'd picked those up for one of the eighty thousand tables in our house. Not for my grave. Ugh! "There we go."

  "Let's bow our heads," Laura suggested.

  "No way. You're both fucking ill."

  "Language," my sister replied mildly.

  "We're not praying over my grave. I'm massively creeped out just being here. That would be the final, ultimately too-weird step, ya weirdo."

  "I'm not the one on a liquid diet, O vampire queen. Fine, if you won't pray, then let's book."

  "Yeah," I said, casting one more uneasy glance at my grave. "Let's."

  Chapter 2

  "Good evening, Your Majesty."

  "Tina, baby," I called, dumping more cream in my tea. "Have a seat. Have a cup."

  "How long have you been up?"

  "Two hours or so," I said, trying not to sound smug. God had answered my prayers and lately I'd been waking up around four in the afternoon. Of course, I lived in Minnesota in December, so it was just as dark at four as it was at eight, but still.

  "But you… you haven't seen the paper?" Tina sat down across from me, the Trib folded under her arm. She put it next to her and ignored the teapot. "Not yet?"

  "I don't like the sound of that. Not one bit." Tina hesitated, and I braced myself. Tina was an old vampire, ridiculously beautiful like most vampires, totally devoted to Sinclair and, to a lesser extent, me. She had made Sinclair, way back when, and helped us both win our crowns more recently, protected us, lived with us (not like that, ewww!)… she was like a major domo, except little and cute. So I guess she'd be a minor domo.

  She had long, taffy-colored hair, which she usually piled up in an efficient knot, and enormous dark eyes. Big brownish-black anime eyes. Though she barely came up to my chin, she gave off an almost noble air. Like Scarlett O'Hara's mother Ellen, I'd never seen Tina's shoulders touch the back of any chair; I'd never seen her even slouch. She was also insanely smart and never forgot anything. She was a lot more queenlike than me, to tell the truth.

  Anyway, my point was, she handled with aplomb the sort of situations that would drive most of us clinically insane or at least irritable. And she was hesitating. She was nervous.

  Lord, help me be strong. "I guess you better tell me." She silently unfolded the paper and handed it to me. Births and deaths. I read the announcement. "Huh," I said with total unsurprise. "My brother was born days ago, and they didn't bother
to tell me. How about that."

  Tina was actually cringing in her chair and opened her eyes wide at my remarks. "That's… that's all? That's your only comment?"

  "Oh, come on. I grew up with those people. This isn't exactly atypical behavior. I guess I better get over to the house and pay my respects. Let's see… we're supposed to meet with the florist tonight, but I seriously doubt Sinclair's gonna mind if I reschedule that… and Jess and I are supposed to have a late supper, but she won't want me to miss this… yeah, I'll go see the baby tonight."

  Tina's perfect, smooth forehead was wrinkled in surprise. "I must say, Majesty, you're taking this much better than I anticipated."

  "I was sort of expecting it. I've been keeping half an eye on the birth announcements… just haven't had a chance to get to them today. The baby's early… I didn't think the Ant was due until January."

  "She might have gotten her dates mixed up," Tina suggested. "It's possible she miscalculated the date of her last menstrual—"

  "I'm trying to kill my unholy thirst, here," I reminded her.


  I took another look at the paper. "So brother Jon. You know, the last baby the Ant had was the daughter of the devil. Wonder what you're gonna be like?"

  Chapter 3

  "Your father's not here," the Ant said. Although she looked haggard, her pineapple-colored hair helmet was in perfect shape. She was clutching a baby monitor in her unpolished fingers, and a steady, monotonous crying was coming out of it. "He's not back until tomorrow."