Home > Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(2)

Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(2)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Bailey stood next to the door to the RV, she noted, but the dog was staring off into the dark trees along the side of the road, body stiff and growling.

Mary promptly turned the flashlight beam toward the woods where Bailey had focused her attention. She caught a glimpse of something in the trees, but it was gone so quickly. It may have just been a shadow caused by her flashlight, she reassured herself. Still, something had Bailey upset.

Fear suddenly tripping through her, Mary swallowed and began to ease toward Bailey. She did so by shuffling sideways so that her back was to the RV and her flashlight beam and gaze could remain trained on the woods. It seemed to take forever to get to the door, but some instinct was telling her not to turn her back to the dark woods.

She wasted no time in opening the door and the moment she did, Bailey rushed in, galloping up the steps as if the hounds of hell were on her tail. That did not ease her anxiety. Bailey was not a cowardly dog. She was the type to rush into confrontation and stand between any threat and her people. The way she raced into the RV had the hair on Mary’s neck standing on end as she scrambled up the steps after her.

Mary pulled the door closed behind her and locked it almost in one motion. Even then she didn’t feel safe, though, and found herself eager to get out of there.

Ignoring the doors and drawers that had flown open during her abrupt stop, as well as the items now littering the floor, she tossed the flashlight on the passenger seat and jumped behind the wheel with more speed than grace.

Mary had left the RV engine running and now only had to shift into gear and hit the gas. An immediate clatter arose as the RV lurched forward and more items tumbled out of the open doors she’d neglected to close. There was also a loud thump as if Bailey had tumbled off of, or into, something and Mary glanced around with concern.

It was dark in the back of the RV, but she thought she spotted something moving in front of the closed bedroom door. It should have been open, but it had no doubt closed when she’d stopped abruptly, or perhaps that was the thump she’d heard when she’d hit the gas—the pocket door sliding closed.

“You okay, girl?” Mary asked as she swiveled her head forward again, her eyes shooting to the road, then each side mirror and the camera screen showing the rear-view as well. There was nothing but dark road highlighted by her headlights, and the view behind was all just black nothingness, but she relaxed a little when Bailey barked in answer to her question.

At least she hadn’t killed her dog careening off like that, she thought grimly, and immediately glanced to the rear camera view again with dissatisfaction.

Mary was quite sure she’d run over something back there and despite not finding anything, she didn’t feel right about driving off. Her search certainly hadn’t been a thorough one and she feared she might be leaving someone lying injured on the side of the road. Which didn’t make any sense. Whatever she’d hit should have been in the road, easily visible, not at the side or off hidden in the bushes. She’d run over whatever it was, not hit and sent it flying.

Her conscience was telling her she should reverse, go back out and make a proper search, but the idea of getting out of the RV again made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Something had spooked Bailey, and yes all right, she’d been spooked too, she acknowledged with a grimace.

Perhaps she could just call the police and have them send someone out to search the area properly. Although, they might demand she turn back and wait for them by the spot, she thought unhappily and didn’t even like the idea of waiting in the safety of the RV back there.

Good Lord, she was acting like a teenager left home alone for the first time, Mary thought with self-disgust and clenched her hands on the steering wheel, then released a little impatient hiss and reached for her cell phone, only to find that it was no longer in its holder. A quick glance toward the floor revealed absolutely nothing. She couldn’t even see her feet let alone the missing cell phone. Biting her lip, she briefly considered stopping, but then glanced once more to the rear camera screen and quickly changed her mind. She would wait until the first stop sign she reached, Mary decided. At the moment she wasn’t sure where exactly she was, other than the name of the road. If she waited until the next stop, she could check the street signs and give the police some idea of the nearest crossroad to the accident.

That thought made her glance down at the mileage gauge. She’d just keep track of how far she drove before she reached the stop sign and then could give the police the exact spot where they should be looking. Surely, that would be more helpful anyway?

Dante groaned and opened his eyes to peer at the edge of the built-in bed’s wooden base before him. He wished he had the strength to pull himself up off the floor and back onto the bed’s soft comfort, but was quite sure he couldn’t even manage that small task at this point. It seemed he’d used every last drop of strength he’d had getting himself into the RV and onto the bed he was now lying beside.

That was a shame. He hadn’t exactly landed in a comfortable position when the RV had surged forward and he’d rolled off the bed. His body had twisted and he now lay with his head and shoulders jammed between the base of the bed and one doorjamb, his feet caught between the bed and the other doorjamb, while his butt had fallen through the latched-open door of the bathroom to lie on the cold hard tile.

The discomfort of his position was an added irritation, the final straw that broke the camel’s back of the agony his wounds were causing him. Not surprising after being run over by an RV, he supposed, but that was perhaps the wrong description for what had happened. Dante had been racing through the woods when they’d suddenly given way around him. It had taken him a moment to realize he had come upon the side of a road and that he was about to crash into the side of a passing RV. There was no way the driver could have seen him, let alone stopped, and Dante had instinctively tried to stop himself, but instead managed to skid right under the wheels.

His mouth tightened as he recalled the impact of several tons of metal and wood rolling over his stomach and lower chest. He’d actually heard his ribs snapping and the pop as one of his lungs had burst. He hadn’t lost consciousness though, and when the first tires had cleared him, he’d instinctively tried to roll out of the way of the back wheels, but dazed and shocked and gasping for breath at that point, he’d merely got turned around under the vehicle so that the back right tires had rolled over one of his ankles. A fortuitous event really, because had he got any farther in the direction he’d been moving, the back left tires would have rolled over his head. Better to have a crushed ankle than a crushed head, he thought dryly, and then let out a short breath and glanced toward where his feet were caught against the wall. He just as quickly looked away again, unwilling to focus too closely on just how badly mangled his one lower leg was.

Damn, he was a mess, he acknowledged. So much so that he had to wonder how he’d managed to even get himself into the RV. The moments after the accident were a bit muddled in his head. He recalled his panic over his pursuers catching up to him. It had been enough to make him drag himself to his feet.

He’d been desperate to reach the driver’s door and gain help. Only there had been no driver’s door, just a large window high up showing nothing but an empty cab. He’d been considering that with some confusion when he’d heard a door slam closed on the other side of the vehicle. Dante had immediately started to hobble around the front of the RV when a dog had suddenly appeared beside him out of the darkness. Tail wagging and sniffing curiously, the furry fellow had seemed friendly enough as he trailed him around the vehicle, but when the owner had called out, the dog had raced off into the darkness along the RV.

Dante had tried to call out then, hoping for help, but he was barely getting any oxygen into his one remaining lung. He wasn’t even sure how he was moving, but shouting was out of the question, so he’d simply continued around the RV. He’d spotted the flashlight moving over the road behind the RV as he came around the front of the vehicle, but it had seemed miles away in his condition. Then he’d spotted the door on this side of the vehicle and it had seemed like the gates of heaven. Dante had opened the door, and dragged himself up the steps. He’d paused then and glanced toward the flashlight by the back of the RV again. The driver had been in view at that point and he’d been surprised to note that it was a woman.

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