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“We got the job!” we shouted, in unison.

“Which job?”

“The big job!” Shaun said, putting me down and grinning at the intercom like he thought it could see him. “The biggest big job in the history of big jobs!”

“The campaign,” I said, aware that the grin on my face was probably just as big and stupid as the grin on Shaun’s. “We got the posting for the presidential campaign.”

There was a long pause before the intercom crackled again and Dad said, “You kids get dressed. I’ll get your mother. We’re going out.”

“But dinner—”

“Can go into the fridge. If you two are going to go stalk politicians all over the country, we’re going out for dinner first. Call Buffy and see if she wants to come. And that’s an order.”

“Yes, sir,” said Shaun, saluting the intercom. It clicked off and he turned on me, holding out his right hand. “Pay up.”

I pointed to the door. “Get out. There’s about to be nudity, and you’ll just complicate things.”

“Finally, adult content! Should I turn the webcams on? We can have a front-page feed in less than five—” I grabbed my pocket recorder and flung it at his head. He ducked, grinning again. “—minutes. I’ll go get some nicer clothes on. You can call the Buff one.”

“Out,” I said again, lips twitching as I fought a smile.

He walked back to the door between our rooms, stepping through before he shot back, “Wear a skirt, and I’ll release you from your debts.”

He managed to close the door before I found anything else to throw.

Shaking my head, I moved to the dresser, saying, “Phone, dial Buffy Meissonier, home line. Keep dialing until she picks up.” Buffy has a tendency to leave her phone on vibrate and ignore it while she “follows her muse,” which is basically a fancy way of saying “screws around online, writes a really depressing poem or short story, posts it, and makes three times what I do in click-through revenue and T-shirt sales.” Not that I’m bitter or anything. The truth will make you free, but it won’t make you particularly wealthy. I knew that when I chose my profession.

Playing with dead things is a little more lucrative, but Shaun doesn’t make enough to support us both—not yet, anyway—and he isn’t willing to move out without me. A lifetime spent within arm’s reach and counting primarily on each other has left us a little dependent on one another’s company. In an earlier, zombie-free era, this would have been dubbed “co-dependence” and resulted in years of therapy, culminating in us hating each other’s guts. Adoptive siblings aren’t supposed to treat each other like they’re the center of the world.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, that was an attitude for a different world. Here and now, sticking with the people who know you best is the most guaranteed way of staying alive. Shaun won’t leave the house until I do, and when we go, we’ll be going together.

By the time Buffy picked up her phone, I had actually managed to find a dark gray tweed skirt that not only fit, but that I was willing to wear in a public place. I was digging for a top when the line clicked, and she said, peevishly, “I was writing.”

“You’re always writing, unless you’re reading, screwing with something mechanical, or masturbating,” I replied. “Are you wearing clothes?”

“Currently,” she said, irritation fading into confusion. “Georgia, is that you?”

“It ain’t Shaun.” I pulled on a white button-down shirt, jamming the hem under the waistband of my skirt. “We’ll be there to pick you up in fifteen. ‘We’ being me, Shaun, and the ’rents. They’re taking the whole crew to dinner. It’s just them trying to piggy-back on our publicity for some rating points, but right now, failing to care.”

Buffy isn’t as slow on the uptake as she sometimes seems. Her voice suddenly tight with suppressed excitement, she asked, “Did we get it?”

“We got it,” I confirmed. Her ear-splitting shriek of joy was enough to make me wince, even after it had been reduced by the phone’s volume filters. Smiling, I pulled a crumpled black blazer out of my drawer and shrugged it on before grabbing a fresh pair of sunglasses from the stack on the dresser. “So we’re picking you up in fifteen. Deal?”

“Yes! Yes, yes, deal, hallelujah, yes!” she babbled. “I have to change! And tell my roommates! And change! And see you! Bye!”

There was another click. My phone announced, “The call has been terminated. Would you like to place another call?”

“No, I’m good,” I said.

“The call has been terminated,” the phone repeated. “Would you like—”

I sighed. “No, thank you. Disconnect.” The phone beeped and turned itself off. With the strides they’ve been making in voice-recognition software, you’d think they could teach the stuff to acknowledge colloquial English. One step at a time, I suppose.

Mom, Dad, and Shaun were in the living room when I came breezing down the stairs, shoving my handheld MP3 recorder into the loop at my belt. The backup recorder in my watch has a recording capacity of only thirty megabytes, and that’s barely enough for a good interview. My handheld can hold up to five terabytes. If I need more than that before I can get to a server to dump the contents, I’d better be bucking for a Pulitzer.

Mom was wearing her best green dress, the one that appears in all her publicity shots, and Dad was in his usual professorial ensemble—tweed jacket, white shirt, khaki slacks. Put them next to Shaun, who was wearing a button-down shirt with his customary cargo pants, and they looked just like the last family publicity picture, even down to Mom’s overstuffed handbag with all the guns inside it. She takes advantage of her A-5 blogging license in ways that boggle the mind, but it’s the government’s fault for leaving the loopholes there. If they want to give anybody with a journalist’s license ranked Class A-7 or above the right to carry concealed weapons when entering any zone that’s had a breakout within the last ten years, that’s their problem. At least Mom’s responsible about it. She always secures the safety on any gun that she’s planning to take into a restaurant.