It would be dangerous to stay too long, she realized. It was one of her old haunts.

And there might be those about who would know it.


There had to be someone about who knew her. Why else make such a determination to see that she was wakened? Perhaps she would have to find somewhere special near the village and the church to rest—and observe. She must be far more careful than she had been in the past. She was aware that she had overstepped the boundaries of her power before, grown careless in her belief in herself, and in her position in the world.

Indignity swept through her.

She would not be so fearful as to become humble. That would be far too much.

She would simply be wary, and careful. And take things slowly. Slowly, until she had gotten a firm grasp on the ways of the world. And discovered who was out there. A thrill entered into her as she wondered


Yes, it could be.

She thought about the village, as she hadn’t before. And her eyes narrowed as she wondered if the same dangers existed.

Surely, they did.


So first things must come first. She must be careful, lie low, wait. But there were dangers she could observe, and perhaps resolve, even while she watched ...


But for tonight...

The palace.

The things that they had done! She must see it all.

And so she wandered, deep into the region where the old architecture was displayed for the common visitors who apparently inundated the place daily.

By then, she had walked for hours, looked for hours ...

And daylight was coming.

Then ... the night.

By morning, Tara was feeling much more rational.

Like Ann, she was deeply worried about Jacques.

No, perhaps she was even more worried. Her grandfather believed in vampires. That was extremely serious. But she had sworn to him that she would keep their conversation secret, and she intended to do so.

She wished that she dared talk to someone. Jacques had been right that there had been extreme danger in the crypt, something very wrong. But of course, now the police would know, and so it wasn’t necessary for him to worry so much.

But he believed in vampires.

She couldn’t share that with anyone, even if she hadn’t made such a promise to him. She was very afraid that he would wind up locked away in an institution. So what should she do? Continue to regale him with logic? Or humor him.

Tease him. Tell him it was a pity they were in France and not Italy, where there was so much garlic that a vampire wouldn’t dream of darkening the door.

No. Jacques did not seem to have a sense of humor about it; he was dead serious. And there had been a murder. A horrible, brutal, murder. But throughout history, there had always been enough greed and brutality among man. Perhaps inventing monsters was her grandfather’s way of dealing with the evil in the world.

She could drive herself crazy with this. And with the worry that she should have done the right thing, and gone to the police.

Ann was about to leave for work when she came down to the kitchen. Katia was singing as she prepared a breakfast tray for Jacques. Roland was already out and busy about the grounds. Katia kissed Tara, who thanked her and waved her away, insisting she could get her own coffee. With cup in hand, she followed Ann to the car.

“So ... think we should still go out tonight?” Ann asked.

“I don’t know. Should we?”

“I really need a night out.”

“All right,” Tara said slowly. “We’ll stick together.”

“And it seems to me that this guy was after the riches in the crypt I mean, he wasn’t out terrorizing women or anything. Yes, I need a night out.”

Tara thought for a moment and then nodded. “I’m afraid that we live in a world where murder is all too frequent. There’s no reason to believe that someone who robbed a grave would be after us.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she felt her muscles tighten. Where the hell was her purse? If the police had found it, they would have called by now.

Maybe the murderer had found it.

She felt the blood drain from her face.

“I don’t know—”

“Yes, definitely, we’ll go out. I’ll bring friends from work as well. In numbers, we’ll be safe.” She kissed both of Tara’s cheeks and headed for her car. Tara looked down the drive.

“Hey!” she called.

“What?” Ann called back.

“I saw a wolf last night”

“There are no wolves around here. There haven’t been ... forever.”

“No, honestly, I saw a wolf.”

“You saw a dog.”

“If I did, it was one big dog.”

“We have very big dogs in France, you know. It was probably a big shepherd. Maybe it was even Eleanora. I went out to get her last night, and she was off prowling somewhere. Such a guard dog!”

“I could still swear it was a wolf.”

“The couple down the road have a pair of huge Mala-mutes. Maybe you saw them.”

“Maybe,” Tara agreed.

“You were very tired. And we were all shaken by the news of that horrible, brutal killing! Now, though, Jacques will not want us crawling around the ruins anymore!” She waved and blew a kiss. “I’ll call you later and let you know about the plans.”

Tara gave her a thumbs up. Then she wandered back into the house.

Katia told her that Jacques was still sleeping.

Normally, she would have spent her first morning just talking to him, perhaps taking a short walk in the small garden, or at the least, joining him for cafe au lait and croissants. But he was still sleeping, and, she was certain, he needed his rest She desperately wanted him to be at bis best And having learned that he was still resting, she felt an urge, strange as it was, to get out of the house.

To spend some time alone.

To think, to observe, to be in the village again, and look about, and see that the world around her was normal.

And she wanted to see the church. And what the police were doing.

Since no one had called yet, she needed to get up the nerve to go to the police and tell them she had lost her purse at the ruins—during tourist hours.

She was glad that she had left some francs in her luggage so that she didn’t have to ask Katia or Roland to borrow enough for a cup of coffee. And since she had showered and dressed before coming down that morning, she was ready to head out just moments behind her cousin.

She parked in almost the same spot where she had been the day before.

From a table in front of the cafe, she could see that large expanses of the area remained roped off. The church door had been jerry-rigged back together with new wood that didn’t begin to match the patina of the centuries-old wood she had seen broken the night before. But the “new” church itself had reopened.

Tara was certain, however, that access to the tunnels or corridors leading to the ruins of the “old” crypt were still blocked as well.

Having chosen her table, she picked up a newspaper and ordered cafe au lait She slid her sunglasses on, trying to pretend that her eyes weren’t drawn to the church every other minute. Not that it mattered.

Though people were speaking quickly around her and her French was very rusty, they were all talking about the bizarre murder. And few of them seemed the least hesitant to simply stare at the church.

Her eyes were fixed across the road when something suddenly fell in front of her, rattling her coffee cup.

She started, nearly cried out, and looked up to see the worker from the night before. She instantly felt a flood of heat rush through her. She wondered in amazement that she hadn’t sensed him behind her, she was suddenly so aware of his presence.

She looked down to see that it was her purse that had landed on the table.

He pulled out the chair at her side before asking, “May I join you?” He sat She looked at the purse, and then back to him. “How did you get this? I thought you went straight to the police.”

“I did. I’d picked it up and forgotten to give it you.”

She stared at him suspiciously. He was wearing dark glasses. If he hadn’t spoken, she might not have recognized him. He was freshly shaven and apparently just out of a shower. Whatever aftershave he wore was subtle, pleasant, and alluring. He was wearing light chinos and a dark shirt His hair was loose, but not as long as she had thought. It reached just past his collar. He was tanned, at ease, and again gave a sense of casual physical power, not overly burdened with straining muscles, but smooth and sleek and taut as wire. Tara wondered if he was into the martial arts—or perhaps an avid member of a fencing club. She immediately found herself noting that he was more than attractive, while a million warning signals seemed to leap to her mind. He gave the appearance of a grad student or a teacher on break rather than a stockbroker, but he was neat and clean and far more than merely presentable. A long-haired executive on break.

Long-haired executives did not dig into ancient graves for hourly wages.

The waiter must have thought he gave the impression of a man with some means or importance as well, as he hurried back to the table the minute the man was seated. “Cafe au lait, s’il vous plait,” he said, offering a broad and casual smile beneath the dark lenses of the shades. He was undoubtedly American, but his French was far superior to her own. She couldn’t begin to detect the usual, guttural accent that those with English or a Germanic native language seldom ever lost.

“I don’t remember agreeing that you should join me.” The words, Tara thought, were required. She wondered what she would have done if he had walked away.

“And they wonder why we get a reputation for being rude!” he said with a mock sigh. “Last night, I saved you tremendous trouble and a great deal of time. I risked life and limb to save that—” he paused to indicate her small leather handbag, “and here I am to return it, and you’re far less than gracious.”

“I’ve been told not to speak to strangers. There’s a murderer loose, if you’ll recall.”

“Yes, but you’re privileged to know that I’m definitely not a murderer. Although to others,” he continued, leaning close, “I may remain suspect. There you go. In my defense of you, I have created my own hell with which to deal.”