The series begins with a couple of vignettes: Charla Thorpe realizes that the vampires are violating the sanctity of her home by making noise and blocking windows. Whatever magic controls vampire behavior then pushes them away from her walls and silences them. She posts a video of herself forcing the vampires to withdraw and it eventually goes viral. Elsewhere, a crafty older vampire tricks a frightened boy into (maybe) pushing his younger brother out the door to be devoured.
In another city, a man named Bunt is holding Home Runs, games where the challenge is to get from one building to another four blocks away without getting caught by the vampires. He always wins but nobody knows how. Sally Yan is Running not because she wants to but because Bunt has her probably-drug-addicted sister KerriAnne in his power. If she wins the race, Bunt promises to give her a key which will unlock a metal band around Kerri’s neck. The band has automatic knives which will be triggered by any attempt to remove it without the key. Sally loves her sister, even though she only shows up to ask for favors.
Sally makes it two blocks but has no way to get across a wide main street. But she meets up with Lavinia, the owner of an apartment she has broken into. Lavinia is a dark-haired woman with blazing violet eyes and a thick Brooklyn accent. She’s sympathetic to Sally, and smart enough to realize that a “walking tent” they both saw through a window was a Runner carrying a “home” with them. At the same instant they both realize that a camper van is also a home, if you truly intend to live in it, and Lavinia offers to drive Sally the last two blocks in her old green Commer Camper.
A current of attraction flows between the two of them and when Sally says, “For the vampires to respect it as a home, you or I have to live in it now,” she realizes she made it an invitation. They share a passionate kiss in the midst of the vampire ice storm, and then use GPS to navigate the final few blocks, blind because of the vampires pressed around every inch of the camper.
Bunt arrives like a truck looming out of the fog, surrounded by vampires bowing and fawning on him, their mouths wide open as he scatters droplets of red. Sally realizes how he wins the races: once every couple of weeks he draws blood from KerriAnne and can walk freely at night scattering blood to the adoring vampires. He wins the races by waiting until everyone else has died and then just walking to the goal.
As she suspected, Bunt tries to cheat and kill her. She has to trick him into giving her the key and the code to unlock it. She has saved her sister but Bunt is now a danger to her. Lavinia reluctantly solves the problem by knocking Bunt out and dragging him to the door. When she pushes his hand outside, the vampires grab him and devour him to the last drop of blood and scrap of flesh.
An unhappy Lavinia and a shaken Sally drive to a campground outside of town. But they talk and they listen. Sally declares, “I want to be bossed around in the bedroom. Nowhere else.” Lavinia is happy and relieved to agree. Deeply aroused, they move into the “home” space of the camper van to spend their first night together while dozens of vampires prowl outside.
In the four months that follow, their relationship grows. There are bumps, some of them because of the age difference (Sally is 27, Lavinia 52), but they love being together. They sublet their own apartments and continue to live in the camper. Lavinia sees a newspaper article about a rally in San Francisco: people will gather to spend the night outside in a plaza, defying the vampires by sheer numbers. Sally, just waking from a disturbing dream about the guardian spirit of a house inviting the vampires in, says, “Later.” But they go, Sally to help defend the crowd.
When the sun sets, the vampires attack in such numbers that the defenders are hard pressed. Then the worst happens: Lavinia is bitten by three vampires at once. Sally fights them off again so that Lavinia is not torn apart but in spite of everything she can do, Lavinia rises as the first new-made vampire in years. In those initial moments she looks not evil but lost. She quietly says “Fly time her robin.” The mysterious words mean nothing to Sally.
In the meantime, Malcolm Donald, the leader of the rally, staves off the vampires which are about to sweep into the frightened crowd by declaring his intention to live in the plaza for the next year, thus making it a “home.” The vampires are instantly locked out and Lavinia is pulled from Sally’s arms and flung out with all the rest of the undead.
In the quiet night that follows, the crowd settles down to camp in their temporary “home.” Sally is crushed by her loss but accepts comfort from Jesse Casselberger, a red-headed natural healer who has attended the rally with his husband Walter. Charity Claire, a shy, quiet woman who realizes that the vampires can invade the plaza if even one person invites them in, prowls the sleeping crowd, reliving nightmare memories: a year ago a man broke into her home just before sunset and raped her, promising that if she resisted he would invite the vampires in.
In the morning, the crowd disperses. Sally, lonely and heavy with grief, walks back to the camper parked 20 blocks away. She finds she is not alone. Lavinia is waiting there, hidden in the small space under the bed. She is still herself, but weak, hungry, unable to move. Although it might be a mercy to kill her, Sally instead tells her “As long as there’s some you in there, I’m with you. If you got sick, I’d have taken care of you. If you were in a wheelchair, I’d push you around. You’re sick now, deathly sick. And I’ll take care of you.”
Just as they start to laugh together, the sun comes out from the clouds and a ray falls directly on Lavinia’s maggot white face. She screams but to Sally’s shock, the screams are the sounds of intense orgasm. Lavinia is in steadily building ecstasy. Sally, aroused and disturbed, finally fixes the curtain and blocks the sun. Tenderly she takes a recovering Lavinia in her arms and asks her how she managed to get into their camper home instead of hiding underground.
“Don’t laugh. It may’ve been some kind of, I dunno, magic,” Lavinia says. She has a leather jacket which she bought in Germany in the 70s which has the emblem of a raven, beautifully worked in colored leather. The raven is one of the two ravens of Odin, the one-eyed Norse god and there is a quote from the Wagner opera Götterdämerung, “ Fleigt heim ihr rauben,” (“Fly home, thou ravens”). Sally suddenly realizes that those are the mysterious words Lavinia spoke the night before and she guesses that Lavinia thinks the one-eyed man who made the jacket might be a Norse god.
With pain in her face, Lavinia tells of being a vampire: gnawing hunger, “special dispensation from the Pope to be an animal,” competitors all around, enemies. But as dawn broke, she remembered having a home with Sally and, whether because of magic in the raven emblem or not, found herself running through the night to where they parked the camper. With only seconds to choose between trying to get in and being caught by the sun, she chose their home.
Sally falls asleep with Lavinia in her arms. Hours later, she wakes up to find that her neck feels funny but doesn’t seem to have been punctured. Lavinia is asleep too. Sally wakes her and with horrifying suddenness, she slides from Sally’s arms and is pressed against the rear doors, screaming a thin horrible scream.
It turns out that Lavinia’s “welcome” has somehow been rescinded while she slept. Sally trips over her tongue to get the words “You’re still welcome in my home” out in time and Lavinia collapses onto the floor. Sally drives them out of the city to a small state beach along the coastal highway south. She opens the curtains and lets the light shine on Lavinia again. Lavinia goes into ecstasy once more and Sally, weeping with happiness, sits beside her, watching her feel good. But when their eyes happen to meet, she is yanked into that passion and shares sex and orgasm with Lavinia long past the point where she’s exhausted.
It ends when the sun sets but suddenly Lavinia, no longer paralyzed, grabs her and pins her down. Sally is sure she is a dead woman but when she begs Lavinia to stop, Lavinia stops instantly, honoring an agreement they made on their very first night together that stop means stop.
In the intense scene which follows, Sally asks Lavinia to marry her and Lavinia, blushing, says yes. Sally realizes that Lavinia now has a heartbeat, and enough blood to blush. She thinks Lavinia has been cured by sunlight and delightedly tells her so. Lavinia doesn’t believe her at first, but just as she is convinced and weeps with relief and joy, vampires start to creep through the invisible barrier that keeps them out of a home, possibly because Sally broke that mystical protection inviting Lavinia in. Sally orders all vampires out and, to her horror Lavinia, not cured at all, is forced out too. The other vampires start to attack Lavinia for the blood she now has and strong Lavinia, full of despair, cannot fight them.
But Sally hurls herself into their midst without thought and fights for her beloved with everything she has. Slowly she is dragged down and realizes she is going to lose. Just then Lavinia says, “Vampires. You’re welcome … in my home. Go.” The vampires fall over each other to get into a home again and in ten seconds, the parking lot is empty.
The two women tiptoe up to their camper home, determined to tell the vampires that they can have a home again but must promise to be on their best behavior. Sally looks inside and sees the vampires making love to their home: kissing the pillows, stroking the cabinets, sweeping the floors. She sees them as individuals for the first time, sees the people they once were. But as soon as they see her, they’re a snarling mass again.
But together, Sally and Lavinia lay down the law: you can sleep in our home tonight but the invitation is revoked if you misbehave. The vampires whine like adolescents but comply. The women settle down for the night in the front seats of the camper, separated by green curtains from the rest of the space. Sally asks Lavinia how they can ever have a home together if any home they make is automatically open to vampires too. Lavinia offers to make her a vampire and Sally, strongly tempted, decides she must say no.
She drifts to sleep in Lavinia’s arms and has for the second time a dream wherein she sees a little fairy in the attic and knows that is why vampires can’t enter a home, because little fairies protect homes. She wakes up wondering if it means anything, to find that Lavinia feels herself slipping away again, losing her sense of self. Sally breathes into her mouth and affirms her love and Lavinia, crying, says “This gonna turn into something about the healing power of love?” “Maybe,” Sally replies. “Why not?”
Morning comes. The vampires flee in a cursing panic when they hear that Sally and Lavinia intend to let in the sun. Cherishing some time alone, the two women make love in a way new for both of them, letting go of power play and feeling a deep, sweet and powerful fire.
Meanwhile, Sally’s sister, lost in a sea of misery and despair, thinking Sally doesn’t love her anymore, thinks about the pills she has collected and how bitter they will taste as her body welcomes them in. And Charity Claire wakes up with Jesse and Walter, who she has asked to hold her just as they did for Sally. She has a new resolve of what she will do in her own apartment when the sun sets again.