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The hitchhiker looked dangerous, but Trisha picked him up anyway. In her current state, she desperately needed company.
"You're not some psycho killer, are you?" she asked with a forced grin as he slipped into the passenger seat.
The hitchhiker's smile looked genuine as Trisha pulled back onto the desolate moonlit road. God, he was gorgeous. His muscular build was obvious even under his leather jacket, and he had two of her big turn-ons: shoulder-length black hair and a day's worth of stubble.
But what she really noticed were his eyes. Though his demeanor was casual and friendly, his brown eyes had an intensity that she'd never seen before. Not a creepy, leering, I'm-mentally-undressing-you sort of intensity, but something predatory. Something a little scary.
But something more than a little exciting.
Hmmmmm, maybe that was what she needed. She could take this gorgeous-but-a-little-scary stranger to a hotel and fuck him within an inch of his life. Get that day's worth of stubble between her legs where it belonged. She needed to clear her mind, start thinking straight again before she made any more stupid mistakes, and a few explosive orgasms might do the trick.
Though she should probably introduce herself first.
"I'm Trisha," she said, extending her hand.
"Pleased to meet you." The hitchhiker's large hand practically engulfed her own, and his grip was firm.
"And you are...?"
"Oh, that," he said, releasing her hand. "I've always liked...Bob."
Crap. He was a weirdo. Just her luck.
"So where are you headed, Bob?" she asked.
"Oh, anywhere. Hey, Trisha, can I ask you a question?"
"Remember that onetime you asked me if I was a psycho killer, and I said something like 'Not tonight' when I got into your car?"
"What about it?"
"That was a lie. I've killed eight people. You get to be number nine."
Trisha managed a chuckle. "Yeah, right."
He grinned, though the intensity in his eyes didn't vanish. "Okay, you got me. My name's Howard. I sell construction supplies, I've got a wife and three kids, and I can't even see fake blood on TV without puking."
"Well, that's a relief."
"I have a warped sense of humor. Sorry."
"I noticed." Trisha kept her voice calm. If this lunatic tried anything, she was ready. "Any special reason you don't have a wedding ring?"
Howard scratched at his ring finger. "They itch."
"What, you're allergic to gold?"
"Maybe. Actually, my wife and I have an understanding, if you know what I mean."
"We don't wear wedding rings, and we don't behave like we're married when we're apart."
"So you're saying that you cheat on her."
"It's not cheating if you have permission. Are you married?"
"That's too bad."
They drove in silence for about a minute before Howard spoke again. "Hey, Trisha, can I ask you another question?"
"Remember what I said before? You know, the part about selling construction supplies and having a family and puking and all that? Well, my name isn't Howard. And I'm going to take the knife in my inside jacket pocket and slit your throat from ear to ear. Then I'm going to dump your body alongside the road and leave it for the bugs. How does that sound?"
Trisha slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a quick stop. "Okay, get out," she demanded.
"Why?" The hitchhiker seemed genuinely confused.
"I mean it, get out!"
The hitchhiker slowly began to raise his hand toward his jacket. "I'm reaching for my knife now," he said.
"Goddamnit, get out of my car!"
The hitchhiker's hand made it inside the jacket. He didn't take his eyes off Trisha. "My hand is touching the blade...or is it? I could be lying. I could just be reaching for a pen. But what if I'm not?"
Trisha desperately tugged on the door handle, but it wouldn't open. It's locked, you idiot. Just pull the lock up and get the hell out of here. Oh, Christ, it's happening, you're panicking again...
The hitchhiker very slowly pulled something out.
"Will you look at that?" he asked, voice filled with amazement. "I must've left my killing knife in the other jacket. Oh well. You can drive now."
"Get the hell out of my car!" Trisha was almost screaming. "I mean it!"
"Aw, c'mon, I was just messing around! How am I gonna hurt you with a stupid pen?"
Without warning he lurched forward, plunging the pen deep into her throat. Trisha clutched at it, gurgling, as the hitchhiker calmly exited the car and walked around the front. He opened the door, pulled Trisha's dying body out, and dragged her into the ditch.
He stood there for a few moments, watching her die.
It was beautiful.
But then, it always was.
He got back inside the car, floored the gas pedal, and drove off.
* * *
Not even ten miles later, Trisha's piece of shit car got a flat tire. Roderick Garren cursed, slowed the vehicle, and pulled over to the side of the road.
He exited, taking the keys with him, and walked around to the back. The right rear tire had a huge gash in it--probably ran over a bottle or something. Hopefully Trisha kept a spare in her trunk.
He found the key for the trunk, inserted it, and then hesitated.
Had he heard something?
He listened carefully. Footsteps?
He threw open the trunk. Inside was a girl, college-age, tied up, gagged, and badly beaten.