The phone call left her even more furious. “No, Paul, I do not forgive you,” she told him, “and we will not be going to the concert together. We have to end it all now, right now. I do not love you. You stink of sheep, do you understand? You stink, stink, stink, of sheep, and I can’t stand it!” She had hung up. Of course, she was upset all over again, because customers—and her boss—heard the conversation.

She begged pardon from Monsieur Francois, who had been patient with her many times, she knew, because she was so popular with the customers. He grunted, and she explained that she’d needed to be cruel to be kind— she hadn’t wanted young Paul living with illusions and coming to make a scene at the cafe again.

Monsieur Francois did not fire her. She wondered if any of her regular customers would stop by, anxious to see if she needed company when her work shift was over.

No one stopped by. Feeling irritable and annoyed, she rued the fact that she hadn’t brought her car that day, and that she had a very long walk home.

As she started out, she felt the nip of a wind. She hadn’t brought a coat, only a little cashmere sweater.

She hugged it around her shoulders, and started walking.

Darkness came so early! she thought It was fall, of course, but not yet winter. Yet as she walked, it seemed that a true winter chill settled over the road. She hadn’t worn her good work shoes, either, but had worn little heels today, planning to change into the low-slung jeans in her bag for the concert in the city. The roads in the village were rough, and twice, she stepped down hard on stones and nearly twisted her ankle.

She cursed Paul as she walked.

Then ...

From the darkness, she saw the glare of headlights, coming along the road.

She moved aside, certain that after a day like today nobody would be kind enough to give her a ride.

And yet...

The car drove up beside her.

She hesitated, remembering that there had been an awful murder right across the street from the cafe.

But then, what did she have to do with a silly dig in an ancient crypt? She walked over to the car and looked in as the passenger window was rolled down.

Her heart leaped.

“Hello,” he said softly. “I’m surprised to see you out here. All alone. It’s cold. Why are you walking alone in the dark?”

“I’m afraid I broke up with my boyfriend today,” she said with a sigh. Her cheeks were flushing. A bold sense of excitement was growing inside her. The day was not so bad after all. She had not imagined that he, this incredible man, would come by. And he liked her. He found her cute, naive, charming. He didn’t really know her, but then, did it matter? She knew that he was attracted to her.

And she was more than a little attracted to him.

“I’m sorry to hear that Come in, and I’ll give you a lift”

Thrilled, she opened the door, and slipped into the car. A nice car. She should have known that he would have a new model automobile. Sexy, smart

“Thank you so much for stopping,” she said.

He pulled onto the road immediately, waiting a bit before replying.

“It’s my pleasure—my extreme pleasure,” he told her. Her hand lay on her knee. He covered it with his own. “You’re such a lovely young woman. That fellow is a cad to have left you to walk home.”

“It was best,” she said softly. “Really. This has been coming ... we just aren’t... well, we just aren’t going in the same direction in life.”

“Poor girl,” he murmured.

“My house,” she told him, “is about a mile down, on the left.”

“All right. You’re not going to go home and cry all night alone, are you?”

“I told you, it was actually better that this happened.”


They passed the road that led to her house.

“You missed the turn,” she told him.

“Yes, I did so on purpose. I think I should take you for a glass of wine, cheer you up.” She tried to keep her eyes on the road ahead, and not to show her absolute elation. “That would be lovely. Thank you so much.”

The countryside could be very dark at night Yvette frowned, wondering where they could be going.

They had driven so far that she could think of little that was out here. Mainly, ruins of places abandoned after World War II, countryside, and more countryside.

And sheep.

It seemed that everywhere one went in this wretched place, there were sheep.

The car moved onto a rutted dirt road. She was thrown next to him. His arm came around her, then his hand fell on her knee to steady her.

“You’re all right?” he asked her.

“Fine,” she said softly. “With you ... well, I feel just fine.” He flashed her a white and fascinating smile. She stared at him, wondering if she was falling in love. He could have taken her anywhere, done anything. She’d never felt such a rise of fascination and excitement

“Where are we going?” she asked after a moment She didn’t feel the slightest fear; she was merely puzzled.

“Right here. Come along.”

He parked the car.

They were far past the pasturelands, she saw with relief. Into the forest At first she couldn’t see anything at all. Then she saw an edifice in old stone rising before her. Once, the place had been a chateau, something fairly grand, she thought, but it had been abandoned long ago. There was muted light from within, but she had barely seen it at first, the windows were so overgrown with shrubbery and ivy.

“You’re staying here?” she asked him.

“It’s really quite nice inside.”

She didn’t get out of the car, but stared ahead, a faint unease suddenly coming to her. But he stepped out and came around, politely opening the passenger side door for her. He reached in and took her hand.

“Come, my lovely little Yvette.”

She still felt the unease. But she was so aware of his hand, the way it felt where he touched her, and she was completely fascinated by his voice. She allowed him to draw her from the car. And as she stood before him, he drew her close, holding her to him gently, the suave lover of her dreams. His fingers moved over her hair. “My lovely, lovely, little Yvette,” he murmured.

She leaned against him. She could have stayed there forever. Had he wanted her to strip then and there in the dirt, she would have done so.

“Come,” he murmured.

She looked up at him and nodded. His hand moved then, over her face. His knuckles brushed her chin.

She realized that she was staring up at him like a complete novice, lips parted, breath coming far too quickly ... she warned herself not to be a dolt. That she must be mature with this sophisticated man, that she must not seem too easy, and too eager.

Apparently she stumbled. They moved through the overgrown path to the house together, he supporting her. He opened the door, and they entered.

It was indeed beautiful within, if somewhat dark. A fire burned in a large hearth, and candles glowed from numerous tables about the large entry. The place was old, very, very old. She stood still, looking around her.

The candles created massive waves of shadows. They seemed to whisper, to dart about, to change angle, substance, and form with each flicker of the flame in the large fireplace.

The slightest unease touched her again ...

But then, his hand fell to the small of her back.

“This way,” he told her.

The hallway loomed dark before her. Alarm still rang somewhere within her, but she was equally convinced that she could do nothing but keep going. If she willed her legs to turn her around, to run, they would not do so. But she didn’t will it. She longed for the seduction of his whisper, his words, his touch.

“Here, my dear, my lovely, lovely, Yvette.”

They turned from the hall through a doorway. The room was magnificent. A huge carved bed was in the center. Another fire burned in a smaller hearth. Shadows played with little spurts of flame against the walls. A silver tray with a decanter of wine and crystal glasses awaited.

“Wine, my dear?”

She nodded. He walked away, pouring from the decanter into a glass. He brought her the wine, and she drank.

As she swallowed it, she closed her eyes.

And as she did so, a sense of panic suddenly filled her. For when her eyes closed, she still saw the place around her. And it seemed that it was filled with winged creatures. Demons with horns, with forked tongues and tails, and all in shades of flame red.

She opened her eyes, ready to discard the wine, to scream, to run at last...

But he stood before her.

“We’re here, beautiful Yvette, because we hunger,” he said softly. “Soon, you’ll know what is wanted of you.”

She nodded. His hands were on her shoulders. He stared into her eyes, then turned and moved toward the fire. She was hot, so hot, and knew what was wanted of her. She shed the horrible shoes and then bit by bit, the cashmere sweater, her silly underwear. It might be strange here, even scary, but she had never wanted anything more ...

She crawled atop the massive bed with its mound of pillows on silken sheets. She stretched out on it luxuriously, a feeling of her own sensuality sweeping over her. This was so different, so exotic, so unlike anything she had ever known before ...

She closed her eyes for a moment to experience the smooth sensation of cool sheets and roaring fire.

But she was afraid she would picture eerie things in her mind once again and so she quickly opened her eyes.

And he was there, as magnificent and beautiful as he had ever been, far more real than the tricks of her mind, and coming toward her, standing before her.

Then, he stepped aside. There was someone else there as well.

Yvette started to scramble back on the bed, puzzled, horrified, and then angry.

What had he expected of her?

But he was ignoring her, his total concentration on the third party who had so silently joined them in the bedroom.

“I had thought we’d dine in tonight,” he said casually.

Then he did look at her.

Yvette started to scream.

And scream.