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“Come on, bitch.”
The hooded man yanked open the back door to the SUV, grabbed her arm and dragged Lauren Rhodes out into the night. She stumbled as he pulled her from the car, totally disoriented.
One hand ripped the duct tape away from her mouth. “You can scream now. No one and nothing will hear you out here except the wildlife.”
She had no idea where she was. She wasn’t blindfolded but she might as well have been. The windows of the vehicle she’d been transported in were blacked out, as was the privacy panel between the front seat and the rest of the car. She’d had to sit in absolute darkness, hands bound tightly in front of her, tape over her mouth, while they’d rocketed along whatever roads he took, slowing down only when the surface turned rough and bumpy. She stumbled on the uneven surface, trying to get her footing in the flimsy sandals.
An hour or more ago, she’d been standing on the unlit highway leading to her family’s home, wondering how she could have run out of gas when she’d just filled up her tank the day before and hadn’t gone anywhere since then. One minute she was trying to get a signal on her cell phone. The next the big SUV pulled up next to her, three hooded men jumped out, grabbed her and tossed her into the back seat. She’d still been trying to scream when they’d roared off, her cries cut off when a fist had connected with her jaw.
She’d awakened to a hazy state of consciousness when the driver had stopped long enough for the man in the back with her to get out along with the person in the front passenger seat. Then they were off again, tyres screaming on the pavement. She’d tried desperately to gather her scattered wits together and figure out what was happening. Before she could make actual sense out of her thoughts they’d arrived at this desolate place and she had no idea at all where it was.
She managed to look around as the man dragged her roughly along the ground. She saw the dark shape of a cabin emerge from the gloom, surrounded by a thick forest of trees. Holy shit. They were in the middle of no place. No one would ever find her here. Who were these men and why had they grabbed her?
I never thought it would come to this. And which one of them had reached such a point of desperation? Shows you how little you know about your own family.
Her jaw still ached from the punch she’d taken and inside she was shaking but at the moment she didn’t have the luxury of fear. If he got her into that cabin, she had a feeling she’d never get out alive.
As he tugged her along the dirt again she dug in her heels and yanked her arm out of his grasp. When he turned towards her she brought her leg up sharply and kneed him in the balls. His cry of agony could have curdled blood, and while it still rang in the air she brought up her foot and kicked him in the crotch again. He dropped to the ground, curled up in the foetal position, and Lauren took off running. She could hardly make out where she was going, wiry undergrowth scratching her skin, her toes stubbing on tree roots that protruded from the ground. But she knew if he caught her she was worse off than dead.
“Bitch. Where you at, bitch?” His voice had a strangled sound to it generously laced with rage. “When I get my hands on you, you’ll pray for me to kill you. I don’t care what my orders are.”