Angelique left the cemetery with the intention of heading straight home, but when she came to a small bridge that spanned one of many creeks running through the hilly, wooded area, she had an inclination to stop. Pulling over, she got out without the tiniest bit of apprehension--she had no fear of being out there all alone--making her way down a slope to the rushing water below. The bank lay blanketed in darkness beneath the cover of the overhanging trees. The movement of the water cooled the air as it rolled along practically unseen, flowing into some imperceptible black void. Very little light hit its surface, but where it did manage to dapple through, it sparkled like melted silver.
She walked along the bank, away from the road. The scene reminded her of a black and white movie, with everything appearing in shades of gray. She took a seat on a large rock at the water's edge and stared into the endless depths of rippling water. Examining the reflections, she found her own dim, distorted outline.
Falling deep into her thoughts, she sat motionless, until the sound of crunching leaves caused her to jump and turn back. She wasn't alone. Not knowing what to expect, Angelique searched the ground for a limb or rock, anything she might use to defend herself. Her heart pounding fast and hard, she grabbed a branch, gripping it tightly to face the unseen intruder.
"Who's there?" she called out in a shaky voice.
A tall male figure stepped out from the shadows, his outline just visible. A chill swept through her as he approached. "Who are you?" she demanded, her voice desperate. She stiffened in fear, her eyes wide, preparing to release a scream.
"It's okay," the man finally spoke.
"Corin, is that you?"
"Yes," he assured her, his face coming into view.
He almost didn't look real, the sight of him the only color in an otherwise somber scene.
"I think you enjoy sneaking up on me. What on earth are you doing out here?" Angelique asked with surprise.
"I should be asking you that question. I saw your car by the road and thought something might be wrong."
"No. Nothing's wrong."
"You shouldn't be out here all alone so late at night. It's after midnight. You don't listen to anyone, do you?"
"I've taken plenty of nighttime drives before. This isn't the first."
"We've been over this. What if I'd been the killer," Corin argued.
"No lectures ... please." Angelique dropped the limb. "I get enough of that from Tomes. Besides, I've always felt so safe in these woods. This is where I find my solace. I'm drawn to the wilderness at night. I guess you could call me a Vampira Pocahontas." Angelique laughed.
"Being drawn to the night and wilderness is something I completely understand. As you can see, you're not the only one out wandering the deserted roadways after midnight."
"So that's what you're doing out here, succumbing to the call of the wild?"
"For the most part. The night is my time."
"Yes. I know that about you. I don't think I've ever seen you out during the day."
Angelique looked up as an owl called out from the dark canopy above them, impressed when Corin returned its call.
"Amazing. You sound just like it."
"We creatures of the night share a common language." He stepped closer and took her hand.
His dark, enigmatic eyes drew her in. She was powerless to resist, although resisting was the farthest thing from her mind. His touch was merely a tease, sending a sensation of pins and needles rushing through her, making her yearn for more.
"The night, it's full of life. It stirs while the rest of the world lies sleeping," he said. "Close your eyes and listen."
Angelique shut her eyes and the sounds became clear--the rushing of water, crickets and frogs, the whistling sound of the wind blowing through the treetops. The night birds calling to one another from distant branches further added to the beauty of the symphony, creating a soothing melody that could lull her to sleep. Everything was separate, yet perfectly blended.
"It's incredible." She opened her eyes and looked into his.
"You see, I do understand your attraction to the night, probably better than anyone else could. She's the queen of seduction--a true siren. Like you, I am just another of her many captives. But as tempting as it may be, you have to be careful right now."
He leaned toward her and inhaled, lingering several seconds. "Forgive me." Corin stepped back, releasing her hand.
"There's nothing to apologize for," she was disappointed, wishing he'd kissed her.
She had wanted him from the very first time she'd laid eyes on him a month earlier. Evening had just fallen when he came along, finding her trying to catch a stubborn mare that had slipped through the gate. She was a short distance past the farm on Old Denaud Road, attempting to coax the horse to her with a bucket of feed. Seeing her predicament, he'd stopped to help, and to her surprise, had the mare eating right out of his hand in a matter of minutes. Standing there with him now, she found herself in the same position as that lulled mare--ready to take whatever he had to give.