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The Rogue Hunter
"Sorry about leaving so late."
Samantha Willan tore her gaze away from the star-littered sky overhead and turned a surprised glance to her younger sister. They were reclining on the wooden dock in front of the family cottage, enjoying the evening air and the beautiful view. Or they had been until Jo's apology. Seeing her guilt-ridden expression, Samantha frowned and leaned to the side, bumping the younger woman affectionately with her shoulder as she teased, "You should be. We missed all the crazy traffic, didn't have any of the usual stop-and-go nonsense, and made great time here. All in all it was a horribly pleasant ride for a change. Shame on you for forcing that on us."
Jo grinned, but shook her head. "It's also now after two A.M., we've just finished unloading the car, and we still have to let the cottage air out before we can sleep." She raised her eyebrows in challenge. "It's going to be a late night for all of us thanks to my stupid job."
Sam wrinkled her nose. It was summer. The sun had baked down on the closed-up cottage all day, heating it like an oven. Despite the fact that the night had cooled with the setting sun, the small, well-insulated building had still retained that heat when they'd arrived. The first thing they'd done—even before unloading the car—had been to open all the windows. They would have turned on the ceiling fans too, but there'd been a storm that afternoon and the power had been knocked out. No power meant no ceiling fans to help bring down the temperature. They'd have to wait for the night air to slowly seep in and displace the hotter air. That could takea while.
"So?" Sam said lightly. "We've unpacked, the beds are made, and we don't have to get up early. We're on vacation; we can go to bed as late as we want. In the meantime, we get to relax here on the dock and enjoy this lovely view . . . so stop fretting. Besides," she added solemnly, "your job isn't stupid."
"Yeah, right," Jo said on a laugh. "You're a lawyer, Alex is a gourmet chef with her own restaurant, and I work in a bar."
"You are now night manager in that bar, thank you very much," Sam pointed out firmly. "And stop comparing yourself to us. Alex and I are both very proud of you for getting that promotion," she said firmly. "Besides, it's paying your way through university, isn't it? That makes it far from stupid in my book."
Jo relaxed, a small smile claiming her lips. "I guess."
"You can guess if you like, but I know," Sam assured her with another affectionate bump. They fell silent then, and both turned their gazes skyward, taking in the sparkling, star-strewn black above. It was hard to believe they were only two hours north of Toronto; the sky here made it seem like a whole other world. It was awe-inspiring.
"We should have brought sleeping bags," Jo said on a little sigh. "We could have slept out here under the stars."
"On the dock?" Sam asked with a disbelieving laugh. "No way. All three of us would probably end up in the lake somehow . . . Or we'd wake up to find chipmunks curled up in the sleeping bags with us and seagulls circling overhead, relieving themselves on our sleeping faces."
"Eww!" Laughing, Jo gave her shoulder a push and shook her head. "You are such a pessimist. I swear I've never met anyone who could be such a downer."
"Not a downer, sensible," Sam corrected.
"Ha! You always see the glass as half empty. Honestly, you find the flaw in everything."
"In other words, she acts like the lawyer she is."
Sam and Jo sat up and turned to glance toward shore where that amused voice had come from. At first all they could see were shadows in the darkness, but then Jo turned on the flashlight they'd brought with them and raised it. The beam of light splashed over and then settled on their eldest sister, Alex, as she made her way down the sloping yard to the dock.
"Get that light out of my eyes," Alex complained with a laugh, raising a hand to stave off the glare, and Jo lowered the beam to the ground so that she could negotiate the last few feet without incident.
"Thanks," Alex said as she stepped onto the dock to join them.
"No problem." Jo said. The beam then bounced away from Alex, flashing over Sam's face and briefly blinding her before it blinked out.
Sam was left with white spots burned in her eyes and was trying to get her normal vision back when the light suddenly blinked on again, once more aimed straight at her face.
"Hey!" She raised her own hand to shield her eyes and scowled into the glare of light moving over her. "Turn that out!"
"Sorry. I thought I saw—I did!" Jo exclaimed triumphantly as the beam reached her neck. "You're bleeding."
"Damn blackflies," Sam muttered. It was the season for it. Grimacing, she wiped blindly at her neck.
"The other side," Jo said helpfully. "There are two of them."
"Hmm." Alex dropped to her haunches to get a look. Whatever she saw brought a grin to her face. "There are two . . . side by side. It looks like a vampire bite."
"Yes," Jo agreed, and then teased, "If I hadn't been here the whole time I'd have said Dracula got you and didn't clean up after himself."
"Ugh. Don't even joke about that," Sam said with a shudder.
Jo laughed at her disgust. "Most women would love to have that happen. They fantasize about things like that happening to them."
"Most women don't have phobias about bats," Sam responded dryly. "Besides, I hardly think most women fantasize about being bitten by flying rodents." The Rogue Hunter
. Copyright © by Lynsay Sands. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.