Jadee unlocked the RV and stepped inside. “Dad?”
The silence seemed ominous but the lights were on. She entered and did a quick search of the interior. He wasn’t there but his bed had been made. She paused in the kitchen area, studying the gun sitting on the surface of the table. He usually kept his weapons locked up. The security shutters were all down, blocking out the sunlight. It was odd. A prick of apprehension stabbed at her.
She turned, going to the open door to peer out at the woods. It was late afternoon and the sun was going down fast. There was no sign of her dad or his car. She closed the door and locked it. There could be bears or other wildlife she didn’t want to meet up close and personal.
She walked to the front and sat down in the driver’s seat. The bad feeling increased tenfold as she stared at the metal over the windshield and side door windows. Why were they down? She turned on the CB and made sure it was on the channel her father usually used.
“Dad? Come back. It’s Jadee.”
She waited, hoping he was within range. The mountains were rugged and she doubted the antenna on top of this mobile tank would reach far. He might have gone to pick up supplies, but he’d been expecting her. Something was off.
“Jadee? Is that you, hon?”
The voice didn’t belong to her dad. The usual irritation rose as she identified the southern accent. “Mark?”
“Where are you?”
“Dad’s RV. Where is he?”
“Lock the doors. Do it now.”
“Don’t give me orders.” She leaned back as bitter memories of her childhood flashed through her mind. She always had that reaction to her father’s research partner. “Where’s my dad? Is he with you?”
“Listen to me, damn it! Lock the doors—and are the shutters down? Please tell me you didn’t open them. You’re in danger.”
“I locked the door after I came inside.”
“Are the shutters still down?”
She stared at the thick metal. “Yes.”
“Good. We didn’t know your father’s code to get inside. We’d hoped you would go there first whenever you arrived, and then reach our camp before the sun went down.”
Mark’s droning voice grated on her nerves. “Where is my dad?”
“Um…” Mark grew silent.
She tensed. “What’s going on?”
“They got your father,” he stated softly.
“What are you talking about?” A list of reasons why she hated Mark Tarnet filled her head, beginning with the way he could never just spit something out. He seemed to take pleasure from annoying others. “Who has my father? Was he arrested? What for this time? Did he trespass on private property again?”
“Do you see his tablet? Open it and let’s do this live.”
“Tell me what the hell is going on and where my dad is!”
The silence was on purpose. He refused to answer.
She cursed, hanging up the CB and rising from the seat. The tablet was charging on the kitchen counter and she turned it on. Within seconds, an incoming request came for video chat. She clicked it on and glared at her father’s research partner.
His appearance stunned her. His hair was wild and his usually rounded face looked slimmer. He sat in what appeared to be a metal room, and she saw two people crouched behind him. Peggy didn’t appear as if she’d brushed her hair in a good while and Brent’s normally clean-shaven face had days of growth. The siblings both seemed exhausted.
“You look like hell.” Jadee lifted the tablet, making sure the plug wasn’t pulled, and took a seat at the table in front of the gun. She used it to help prop up the device. “I take it that’s the interior of that new trailer my dad told me about? It looks industrial.”
“What did your father tell you about why we’re here?” Mark leaned in closer.
Jadee wasn’t in a mood to play games. “The same crap he always says. He thought he was finally going to have proof about his theories. I only came because he was so worked up. He’s already had one heart attack. Someone needed to talk some sense into him. I would have called to ask how to find him faster but my cell couldn’t pick up a signal. Speaking of, how come we can get the internet here?”
“It’s a short-distance signal we set up.” Peggy bent lower, peering at the camera over Mark’s shoulder. “Are you sure the doors are locked and the shutters are still down? It’s important.”
“Let me guess. It’s getting dark and you’re expecting visitors.” Jadee became more annoyed. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told my dad. Nobody in their right mind would want to live out here—including Vampires. They theoretically would stick to large cities with lots of people since they’re supposed to drink human blood. This was a bullshit trip you made. There isn’t even a hospital near here. What are you geniuses going to do if my dad gets sick again? Somebody has to look out for him since none of you will.”
Brent leaned forward, hogging the screen. “I’m so sorry, Jadee. We believe your dad is dead.”
The shock felt as if she’d been punched in the gut. Denial was instant. “What do you mean you think? What are you talking about, Brent?”
Mark shoved him aside, intently peering at her. “We found damaged night walkers.”
Jadee was about to lose her temper—big time. “I don’t want to hear this crap! Is he lost in the woods or something? Did you call in search and rescue?”
“It’s true,” Brent swore. “We were contacted by a reliable source via our website about a sighting of Vampires. He also said some people he knew had disappeared. He was certain the Vampires were taking them.”
Jadee resisted rolling her eyes. “Oh, someone from your website said so? It must have been true. How do you know he was reliable?”
Brent hesitated. “Well, he sounded sincere and he had specific details, so we packed up and headed here. We lost contact with him after that though and were worried that something happened to him. We arrived six days ago and set our trap a day later. We caught four of them!”
“They’re Vampires,” Peggy whispered shakily. “Real ones.”
“They were more animalistic than we expected,” Mark added. “They seemed mentally unstable too but they’re allergic to sunlight. It burns them. That’s why you’ve got to make sure you’re locked in and the shutters are down. It’s too late to reach you. It’s already getting dark. You’re going to have to stay there until morning.”