Warm summer air swam over Tanya as she stepped out into the night. It was cooler than it had been earlier in the day, but still hot compared to the air-conditioned coffee shop. She sucked in the humid air as she started across the pavement, her eyes moving around the nearly empty parking lot, noting the van now parked beside her eighteen-wheeler. Hers had been the only vehicle when she'd stopped here for a coffee break after her long haul. She'd also been the only patron in the coffee shop until a few minutes ago when the owner of that van had entered. His arrival was why she'd left. The man was tall, lean, and dark-haired, but something about his pale features and the hungry way he'd watched her had made her decide she'd taken a long enough break.
She'd nearly reached the driver's side of her truck when the sound of a skittering pebble drew Tanya's head around. Her gaze turned wary as she recognized the man from the coffee shop. His dark hair and clothes blended with the night around them, but his pale face and silver eyes couldn't be missed.
"I wanted to show you something in my van," he announced as he crossed the short distance separating them.
Tanya's upper lip curled in a sneer. She'd just bet he had something he wanted to show her. Men! Find out she was a trucker and they seemed to immediately think that was slang for slut.
"I don't-" The words died in her throat, the want to see anything you've got seeming to evaporate from her head.
"It's all right. You'll like this." His tone was soothing, almost crooning, and Tanya felt herself relax, the warning bell in her head fading to a distant chime.
"I'll like this," she echoed in a whisper.
"Yes, you will," he assured her, and gestured for her to move forward as he opened the back door of the van.
Tanya found herself climbing in. She watched him close the door, shutting out the world. When he turned toward her, the silver of his eyes was afire, almost seeming to bubble in his irises as he caught her arms and drew her closer. Her gaze dropped to his mouth as his lips parted, and she saw the fangs slipping out.
Tanya stared at those fangs as he lowered his head toward her. She followed them right up until his face moved to her throat and she could no longer see them anymore. She felt a quick pinch as they sank into her neck, and then a wave of pleasure rolled over her, drowning any other emotion.
I told you you'd like this, Tanya heard him say, though the words were in her head not her ears.
"Yes. Oh yes," she moaned with ecstasy, her arms rising to clutch at his shoulders as he drained her life-blood away.
"Sorry about leaving so late."
Samantha Willan tore her gaze away from the star-littered sky overhead and turned a surprised glance to her younger sister. They were reclining on the wooden dock in front of the family cottage, enjoying the evening air and the beautiful view. Or they had been until Jo's apology. Seeing her guilt-ridden expression, Samantha frowned and leaned to the side, bumping the younger woman affectionately with her shoulder as she teased, "You should be. We missed all the crazy traffic, didn't have any of the usual stop-and-go nonsense, and made great time here. All in all it was a horribly pleasant ride for a change. Shame on you for forcing that on us."
Jo grinned, but shook her head. "It's also now after two a.m., we've just finished unloading the car, and we still have to let the cottage air out before we can sleep." She raised her eyebrows in challenge. "It's going to be a late night for all of us thanks to my stupid job."
Sam wrinkled her nose. It was summer. The sun had baked down on the closed-up cottage all day, heating it like an oven. Despite the fact that the night had cooled with the setting sun, the small, well-insulated building had still retained that heat when they'd arrived. The first thing they'd done-even before unloading the car-had been to open all the windows. They would have turned on the ceiling fans too, but there'd been a storm that afternoon and the power had been knocked out. No power meant no ceiling fans to help bring down the temperature! They'd have to wait for the night air to slowly seep in and displace the hotter air. That could take a while.
"So?" Sam said lightly. "We've unpacked, the beds are made, and we don't have to get up early. We're on vacation; we can go to bed as late as we want. In the meantime, we get to relax here on the dock and enjoy this lovely view... so stop fretting. Besides," she added solemnly, "your job isn't stupid."
"Yeah, right," Jo said on a laugh. "You're a lawyer, Alex is a gourmet chef with her own restaurant, and I work in a bar."
"You are now night manager in that bar, thank you very much," Sam pointed out firmly. "And stop comparing yourself to us. Alex and I are both very proud of you for getting that promotion," she said firmly. "Besides, it's paying your way through university, isn't it? That makes it far from stupid in my book."
Jo relaxed, a small smile claiming her lips. "I guess."
"You can guess if you like, but I know," Sam assured her with another affectionate bump. They fell silent then, and both turned their gazes skyward, raking in the sparkling, star-strewn black above. It was hard to believe they were only two hours north of Toronto; the sky here made it seem like a whole other world. It was awe-inspiring.
"We should have brought sleeping bags," Jo said on a little sigh. "We could have slept out here under the stars."
"On the dock?" Sam asked with a disbelieving laugh. "No way. All three of us would probably end up in the lake somehow... Or we'd wake up to find chipmunks curled up in the sleeping bags with us and seagulls circling overhead, relieving themselves on our sleeping faces."
"Eww!" Laughing, Jo gave her shoulder a push and shook her head. "You are such a pessimist. I swear I've never met anyone who could be such a downer."
"Not a downer, sensible," Sam corrected.
"Ha! You always see the glass as half empty. Honestly, you find the flaw in everything."
"In other words, she acts like the lawyer she is."
Sam and Jo sat up and turned to glance toward shore where that amused voice had come from. At first all they could see were shadows in the darkness, but then Jo turned on the flashlight they'd brought with them and raised it. The beam of light splashed over and then settled on their eldest sister, Alex, as she made her way down the sloping yard to the dock.