“Where the hell were you?”

She looked up. Willem was standing there.

“Out,” she said.

“Where? With whom?”

“None of your business,” she told him irritably. What was his problem? Willem hadn’t been part of their meeting today anyway—unless he had decided to horn in on it just to make her miserable.

“It is my business,” he told her.

“And why is that?”

“Because—because I love you. And because there is a crazed murderer out on the streets of Paris.” She snapped the rubber band around the manuscript. “You don’t love me. Certainly not as much as you love yourself. You’re merely aggravated because you’re not so wonderful that I’m willing to take you back after you’ve made a fool of me. And because I might have other interests in life. And there is a greedy murderer out there who wanted to steal the riches from a corpse,” she said flatly. “Excuse me.

I’m going home.”

“Wait, you must wait.”

She sighed. “Why, Willem, why must I wait?”

“You mustn’t be led astray right now, Ann. This is a dangerous time in Paris.”

“Willem, it is dangerous for me to care for you. And the amazing thing is that as much as I loved you, I’m over you.”

“Ann, I am begging you to forgive me a moment’s folly that meant nothing, that was nothing. The girl asked for help.”

“Um,” she said dryly. “Well, you see, I’m afraid there may be so many more women out there who might need your help in the future! Now, I’m tired. I want to go home. Excuse me.” For a moment, she felt real fear that he wasn’t going to allow her to pass through her own doorway.

Then he stepped aside slightly. She meant to march by him, head high, indifferent. She was afraid, though, that he was going to be like a bridge—closing upon her just as she crossed it.

He didn’t exactly “close” upon her, but he did stop her, his fingers closing around her upper arm.


“Ann, you are a silly little fool. And you don’t realize that you are mine, and that I will prove it to you, very soon.”

Absently, she drew her fingers over her neck, thinking that a stray strand of hair was irritating her flesh.

“Let me by.”

He lowered his head toward hers. “No, my love, you’ll see. You’re mine.”

“Good night, Willem,” she said firmly.

As she walked out of the office, she was afraid. She knew that he remained where he was, watching her, until she had left the reception area, and closed the door behind her.

She quickly pushed the button at the elevator, looking over her shoulder, more afraid of him than she wanted to let on.

The elevator door opened. She entered the little cubicle, leaning against the back wall. The door wasn’t closing.

She stepped forward to hit the lobby button once again. But as she did so, Willem stepped into the elevator.

She backed away. The door closed.

“So, Ann,” he breathed softly. “Here we are. Alone.”

There were things that he could touch in the twilight period between sleep and wakefulness, when day gave way to dusk, and dusk to full night.

Things he could see.


That night, he saw her, walking along the street, aware, and yet still seeking those who had called her.


He saw her ... saw the two men and the woman in the street, and her smile as she joined them, taking the bottle of wine, and then taking the lead. He could even see the street signs as she led her companions through the city.

He saw the old house, saw her work her will as she prepared it, and saw her practice her art of seduction, amused, and yet...


He saw her tease and play ...

And then he saw her as she came in to kill.

And kill again.

The images faded as he felt something else. A call, a warning. Words that came to him through the channels of his mind.

They have touched her, reached her.


Ann. Ann DeVant. But I will follow. I will follow.


Katia was serving her grandfather dinner in the library when Tara returned to the house. The housekeeper busied herself getting another setting for Tara, bustling about as she did so.

Tara stood quietly waiting for Katia to be done, watching her grandfather, not speaking. Then she frowned suddenly, remembering the time.

“Where is Ann? She should be home from work by now.”

Jacques shook his head. “She called and told me not to worry. She took a long lunch break today and had to clear up a few things in the office before coming home.” Katia smiled at Tara, seeing her frown. “Mais oui, Tara. She is just running late. She wanted to make sure that Jacques went ahead without her. He must eat. He must keep his strength up!” Katia touched her on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Tara. Roland and I have the house and grounds all locked up. We’re safe.”

Katia left the room. Tara kept her eyes on her grandfather as she took a seat by the side of his desk where her plate had been set. She started to speak, but Katia knocked on the door, bringing in a bottle of white wine to accompany their fish.

When Katia left again, Tara at last spoke. “I still believe that this entire thing is insane.”

“Insane, perhaps, but true,” Jacques said firmly. He took a bite of his fish and seemed to savor the taste.

“Katia is an excellent cook.”

“Jacques, excuse me, but I have to tell you. There is a vampire loose in the Paris area.”

“No,” he said, pausing for a sip of wine.

“There is no vampire loose in Paris?”

“No, no. There are vampires loose in Paris,” he replied.

“I thought Louisa de Montcrasset was the vampire.”

“She is indeed a vampire. But we are quite certain now that it was not happenstance that she should be dug up after all these years.”

“We—that would be you and Brent Malone?”

“Yes. And of course, there are others. On the side of good.”

“Naturally,” she murmured, still watching him. “His friends, of course, are on the side of good.” Jacques nodded solemnly, as if he was relieved that she was understanding the situation at last.

She shook her head. “I do believe that there are very strange things happening. And your friend, Brent, has something of a quality about him that is very ... that induces trust But I still don’t really understand the connection. You didn’t see him here, in Paris, before you became so worried about the dig?”


“But you do know him. I mean—you knew him ... before.”


She felt as if she was trying to pull teeth. “Okay, so when did you meet him?”

“He didn’t tell you?”


Jacques frowned. “He followed you out to talk to you, to try to make you understand.”

“He—he had to leave. Rather quickly,” she said.



“We met years ago, here in France.”

“But... you were living in the States years ago.”

Jacques shrugged, giving his attention to the fish. “France has always been my home, I’ve always come and gone,” he said, his eyes not meeting hers.

“But years ago?”

“He may be a bit older than he appears.”

“How did you meet?”

Jacques waved his fork in the air. “It doesn’t matter now. But yes, you see, I knew him before. Just as I knew before that vampires did exist. But the last time there was real trouble ... in which I was involved, was long ago. Around the time of the war. And back then ... there were many in Europe who believed, who knew, and there were many who were part of the Alliance. But the war ended, the world went on.

New wars came with new weapons and the world became so sophisticated and high tech that people forgot I forgot. And those I knew... those I knew well are gone now. But there will be a new generation, and times change, things change, people change. Even the undead change,” he murmured thoughtfully.

“But Jacques—”

“I am to help them with the country, you see. There is a lair, somewhere. And they have keen senses, of course. But there are so many ruins in this area. So much abandoned and left to return to nature! The Alliance has always been there to know, you see. At one time, there were no powers on the darker side who could really be trusted. But as I said, the world moves on. And the sanctity of life, all life, or existence, whatever it might be, has surfaced, oddly enough, even among the technical mumbo-jumbo of the world today. Even above the fanatics and the insanity of some people who are human—and merely evil. You were right the other day, you know. There are human beings more evil than any imaginable demon. But that doesn’t mean that the dark powers aren’t out there, and that they aren’t cruel, careless, and brutal as well.”

“Jacques, you’re still not making any sense to me.”

“The important thing is that you believe we’re in danger. That no one is allowed entry to this house.

Katia knows in her heart that there is evil. She doesn’t ask questions; she secures this home where we live. We’ll move forward with our own investigation, and take care while we are here.”

“Jacques, what I told you earlier is true. The police are suspicious of you.”

“They are welcome to question me. I am a good and innocent man.” He frowned. “What they need to do is incarcerate Dubois. I am willing to bet that he bears more guilt in this—oh, he’s not the murderer.

But he is working for the vampires. Bribed, he will serve them, believing in the rich rewards they will give him. The man is a fool, and always has been a fool. His reward will be death.”


Tara broke off as there was a tap at the door, and Ann stepped in. Her cousin seemed more ashen and gaunt than ever, yet she was smiling and seemed cheerful. “I’m home—I just wanted to let you know.