THE DARK FIGURES reached for her, their long, sharp fingers resembling talons, closing in as she ran without destination. All around her swirling, misty shadows danced, impeding escape as though she were mired in quicksand. She glanced behind her and realized one of them had closed the distance. Her pursuer was familiar…yet she couldn’t quite make out his face. Until he closed the gap another step.
The Frenchman, with a gaping wound across his neck. Blood flowed like a river down the front of his shirt.
She opened her mouth to scream.
Leine sat up, gasping. She shivered, remembering the dream. Confused, she scanned her surroundings. The dark room was unfamiliar at first and she tensed, wondering where the hell she was. She then became aware of the dull, throbbing ache behind her eyes.
Oh, yeah. My date with José.
As the fog of a night of too much tequila began to clear, she realized she was in Jensen’s apartment on his couch, though still wasn’t sure how she got here.
She groaned as she pulled off the blanket and sat up. A feeling she was forgetting something important gnawed at the edge of her brain, but she gave up trying to remember when nothing came.
Bits and pieces of the night debuted in a jumbled, dissociative mess. Leine hung her head in her hands, pleading with the pain to stop. Her tongue felt like a carpet. She stood, intending to go to the kitchen for a glass of water, but instead put her hand out to steady herself as the blood rushed to her head and the floor pitched hard to the left. She leaned against the arm of the couch and sucked in a breath. After a few minutes the apartment stopped moving. She glanced toward Jensen’s room but decided against waking him. He saw her drunk last night. He didn’t need to see her hung over now.
She reached for the strap on her purse by the couch when she remembered what was so important.
Azazel. He was going to call her when he received the hand as confirmation. Alarm swept through her as she dug inside her purse for her phone. She entered her password and checked incoming calls. The last entry read Private Caller.
The memory of disabling the GPS on her phone while she sat at the bar drowning herself in booze floated to the surface. She started to pull up the application to turn it back on but decided to wait until she was well away from Jensen’s apartment.
What if he overreacted and killed April? The dread oozed through the hammering in her head and she found it hard to breathe. My God. What have I done?
Think, Leine. He’s trying to lure you in. His actions screamed classic cat and mouse. The only card available to him was her daughter. He wanted his revenge, of that she was sure. The only way he could manipulate her was by dangling April in front of her as a carrot. He’s not going to kill her until he has you.
But first, she needed to get out of the apartment before Jensen woke up. She slid her shoes on and folded the blanket, laying it on the couch. Then she slipped out the door and closed it gently behind her.
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