Home > Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(3)

Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(3)
Author: Lynsay Sands

He’d tried to slip into her thoughts and take control of her, hoping to urge her back into the RV and get them moving, but he hadn’t been able to either read or control her. Realizing he was too weak to perform what should have been an easy task, Dante had decided discretion was the better part of valor here and had continued on into the RV, easing the door closed just as the German shepherd had rushed back toward him.

It had been dark inside, but his eyes did well in darkness and the moment he’d spotted the bed toward the back of the RV, Dante had headed for it. He’d made his way to the soft berth, relieved to find that there was a door to the small room. He’d managed to find the strength to pull it closed, and then had collapsed on the bed with relief. He must have passed out then, though probably not for long, but the next moment he was tumbling from the bed to the floor as the RV accelerated.

He’d waited stiffly, afraid his pursuers may have overcome the driver and were now in charge of the vehicle, but then he’d heard the woman call the dog to her. Her voice had been a little tense when she spoke, but not the terror stricken type of tense he was sure he would have heard had she found herself in the hands of the captors he’d just escaped. It seemed he’d eluded his pursuers, he’d reassured himself solemnly. Although there was no guarantee they weren’t following them even now, waiting for the opportunity to steal him back. He needed to heal and get his strength back so that he could ensure he didn’t land in their hands again before he could call Mortimer or Lucian and tell them what was happening. To do that, he needed blood.

His gaze focused on the blanket hanging half off the bed and he almost sighed. He didn’t have the strength to pull himself onto the bed, let alone drag himself over it and open the door so that he could see his driver, slip into her thoughts, and make her come to him. It seemed he’d have to wait for her to come to him on her own. He just hoped she didn’t wait too long to do so. The woman may not realize it, but she was in danger. Even if his pursuers hadn’t shown themselves to her, they must have seen the RV. He had no doubt they would come searching for them. The good news was the men would have to make their way back to the house where they’d been keeping him and Tomasso to fetch their vehicle. It would buy a little time at least, but not much, he feared. If the woman didn’t come to him immediately on stopping, they could both be in trouble.

“Damn,” Mary growled as she stared at the broken face of her cell phone. It must have bounced off something as it had tumbled from its holder. Or perhaps she’d stepped on it in her rush to get out or into her seat. Whatever the case, the glass front was shattered and the phone was dead . . . so much for calling the police.

Frowning, Mary set the phone back in its holder and then picked up the pen attached to the tiny memo clipboard she’d affixed on the dashboard, and quickly wrote down the cross street and the miles from it to the accident site. Setting the pen back, she then glanced toward the road, looking both ways before taking her foot off the brake and starting forward again. She’d have to stop at the first store or gas station she came across and use the phone there to call the police with her directions. It meant delaying her arrival at the campgrounds even further, but it had to be done. Her conscience would never rest if she didn’t.

The good news was Mary didn’t think she would have to go far to find a phone. As she recalled from her perusal of the map that morning, there was at least one truck stop coming up where the 87 met the 10, and this road should take her to the 87 soon, from what she could tell by the quick glance she took at the Garmin GPS. She would have to get gas while she was at the truck stop too, Mary thought, noting where the needle was on the gas gauge.

A whine from Bailey reached her ears, and Mary glanced around but still couldn’t make out the dog. A niggling worry that perhaps the shepherd had been injured after all by something falling when she’d accelerated made Mary frown and she coaxed, “Come on up here, sweetie. I know you’re tired and we’ll be there soon, but come sit with Mama now so I know you’re okay.”

When that didn’t elicit any reaction, Mary eased her foot off the gas and risked leaning quickly to the side to grab the flashlight off the passenger seat. It was quite a stretch and was probably incredibly stupid, but she managed to snag the flashlight and not swerve all over the road while she did it.

Switching the flashlight on, she shone it toward the back of the RV and risked a quick glance over her shoulder, relieved when she spotted Bailey simply lying in front of the bedroom door. She looked fine in the quick glimpse Mary got. Deciding the dog was just tired and complaining of the long journey, she switched off the flashlight and laid it on the huge dashboard.

Bailey liked a certain bedtime and, when tired, would let it be known. Usually she did so by pawing at your arm and giving you the “sad eyes,” as Joe had always called her expression when she did that. Fortunately, the dog knew better than to paw at her while she was driving so was apparently making her complaint more vocal. At least, Mary hoped that was the case. But she intended on giving the dog a good look-over when she reached the truck stop anyway, just to be sure a falling object hadn’t injured her.

Her mind taken up with this worry as well as what she would say when she called the police, Mary was a little startled when the Garmin announced the approaching turn onto 87. It gave enough warning that she was able to slow down and make the turn without sending anything else clattering to the floor from the cupboards and drawers. Relieved by this, she squinted into the distance, looking for the truck stop despite knowing it was past the I-10 and surely out of sight for now.

Programmed to take her to the campground, the Garmin instructed her to take the ramp onto the I-10 as she approached it, but Mary ignored it and continued on 87. A moment later she spotted the lights and pumps of the truck stop ahead. She slowed almost to a crawl to make the turn, hoping to once again avoid sending anything crashing around in the back that might hit Bailey.

There was a definite sense of relief when she had the RV parked and shut down. At least there was until Mary slid out from behind the wheel and stood to turn and survey the wreckage in the RV aisle. There was enough light from the truck stop coming through the windows that she could see just how large the task ahead of her was to put everything safely back where it belonged. Knowing she’d have to do that before leaving the truck stop, Mary grimaced and then began to make her way toward the back of the RV.

Her purse was safely tucked out of sight in the bedroom closet where she always kept it and she might need change to use the pay phone if the workers in the truck stop refused to let her use their phone. Besides, it was well past suppertime and was going to be even later by the time she cleaned up and tucked everything away. Having dinner here would save her the chore of cooking herself a meal when she did finally reach the campground.

Mary slipped on something slick on the floor, and grabbed for the kitchen counter, then glanced down with a frown at the stain in front of the refrigerator. It was a small dark puddle, one of several she’d half noted. It looked like ketchup, but with a more liquid consistency. The fridge door had obviously also opened and closed during her earlier abrupt stop, but she wasn’t sure what had fallen out and spilled over the floor. She couldn’t immediately spot a broken jar or anything, although the bowls and towels and other things now scattered across the floor may be hiding it.

Adding washing the floor to the list of chores she needed to perform before getting back on the road, Mary continued toward the back. Bailey stood as she approached, whined excitedly and turned to nose the door to the bedroom, obviously eager to get inside.

“Yes, yes. You can get on the bed and sleep,” Mary said with exasperation as she reached to slide open the bedroom pocket door. It was all the permission Bailey needed. The moment Mary had the door open wide enough for her to slide through, the dog was rushing forward to leap on the bed.

Shaking her head, Mary stepped into the small space. She leaned against the edge of the mattress as she turned to open the nearest wardrobe door. It and the drawers below it, which were presently blocked by the bed, had always been hers, while the back half-closet and drawers were her husband’s. Mary peered into the dark interior of her closet and felt around briefly, then stepped back to hit the switch to turn on the lights in the small bedroom.

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