Excerpts for Innocent Blood


Innocent Blood


By Rebecca Cantrell, James Rollins

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Cantrell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-199106-6


December 18, 9:58 A.M. PST
Palo Alto, California
An edge of panic kept her tense.
As Dr. Erin Granger entered the lecture hall on the Stanford
campus, she glanced across its breadth to make sure she was alone.
She even crouched and searched under the empty seats, making cer-
tain no one was hiding there. She kept one hand on the Glock 19 in
her ankle holster.
It was a beautiful winter morning, the sun hanging in a crisp,
cloud- studded blue sky. With bright light streaming through the tall
windows, she had little to fear from the dark creatures that haunted
her nightmares.
Still, after all that had befallen her, she knew that her fellow man
was just as capable of evil.
Straightening again, she reached the lectern in front of the class-
room and let out a quiet sigh of relief. She knew her fears were illog-
ical, but that didn't stop her from checking that the hall was safe
before her students trooped in. As annoying as college kids could
be, she would fight to the death to keep each one of them from harm.
She wouldn't fail a student again.
Erin's fingers tightened on the scuffed leather satchel in her hand.
She had to force her fingers to open and place her bag next to the lec-
tern. With her gaze still roaming the room, she unbuckled the satchel
and pulled out her notes for the lecture. Usually she memorized her

16 | James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
presentations, but she had taken over this class for a professor on
maternity leave. It was an interesting topic, and it kept her from
dwelling on the events that had upended her life, starting with the
loss of her two graduate students in Israel a couple of months before.
Heinrich and Amy.
The German student had died from injuries sustained following
an earthquake. Amy's death had come later, murdered because Erin
had unwittingly sent forbidden information to her student, knowl-
edge that had gotten the young woman killed.
She rubbed her palms, as if trying to wipe away that blood, that
responsibility. The room seemed suddenly colder. It couldn't have
been more than fifty degrees outside and not much warmer in the
classroom. Still, the shivers that swept through her as she prepared
her papers had nothing to do with the room's poor heating system.
Returned again to Stanford, she should have felt good to be
home, wrapped in the familiar, in the daily routines of a semester
winding toward Christmas break.
But she didn't.
Because nothing was the same.
As she straightened and prepared this morning's lecture notes,
her students arrived in ones and twos, a few climbing down the stairs
to the seats in front, but most hanging back and folding down the
seats in the uppermost rows.
"Professor Granger?"
Erin glanced to her left and discovered a young man with five
silver hoops along one eyebrow approaching her. The student wore
a determined expression on his face as he stepped in front of her.
He carried a camera with a long lens over one shoulder.
"Yes?" She didn't bother to mask the irritation in her voice.
He placed a folded slip of paper atop the wooden lectern and slid
it toward her.
Behind him, the other students in the room looked on, noncha-
lant, but they were unconvincing actors. She could tell they watched
her, wondering what she would do. She didn't need to open that slip
of paper to know that it contained the young man's phone number.
"I'm from the Stanford Daily." He played with a hoop in his
eyebrow. "I was hoping for one quick interview for the school
newspaper?"

INNOCENT BLOOD | 17
She pushed the slip of paper back toward him. "No, thank you."
She had refused all interview requests since returning from
Rome. She wouldn't break her silence now, especially as everything
she was allowed to say was a lie.
To hide the truth of the tragic events that had left her two stu-
dents dead, a story had been put out that she had been trapped three
days in the Israeli desert, entombed amid the rubble following an
earthquake at Masada. According to that false account, she was dis-
covered alive, along with an army sergeant named Jordan Stone and
her sole surviving graduate student, Nate Highsmith.
She understood the necessity of a cover story to explain the time
she had spent working for the Vatican, a subterfuge that was further
supported by an elite few in the government who also knew the truth.
The public wasn't ready for stories of monsters in the night, of the
dark underpinnings that supported the world at large.
Still, necessity or not, she had no intention of elaborating on
those lies.
The student with the line of eyebrow rings persisted. "I'd let
you review the story before I post it. If you don't like every single
bit, we can work with it until you do."
"I respect your persistence and diligence, but it does not
change my answer." She gestured to the half- full auditorium. "Please,
take your seat."
He hesitated and seemed about to speak again.
She pulled herself up to her full height and fixed him with her
sternest glare. She stood only five foot eight, and with her blond hair
tied back in a casual ponytail, she didn't strike as the most intimidat-
ing figure.
Still, it was all about the attitude.
Whatever he saw in her eyes drove him back to the gathering
students, where he sank quickly into his seat, keeping his face down.
With the matter settled, she tapped her sheaf of notes into a neat
pile and drew the class to order. "Thank you all for coming to the
final session of History 104: Stripping the Divine from Biblical His-
tory. Today we will discuss common misconceptions about a reli-
gious holiday that is almost upon us, namely Christmas."

(Continues...)

Excerpted from Innocent Blood by Rebecca Cantrell, James Rollins. Copyright © 2013 Rebecca Cantrell. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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