Rory lay still while Alex began to undo his pants, calculating exactly when to act. “Don’t make me hurt you,” he snarled, and she nodded her head in promise. Because she hadn’t fought him since he’d slapped her, he dared to release her for a moment and reach for his fly.
Her hand shot out and raked his face, drawing four deep gashes from his eye to chin as well as a howl of pain. She didn’t pause to survey the damage but grabbed a silver candlestick, slamming it into the side of his neck. His howl became a gurgle as he rolled off her and fought for air.
Without pausing, she took off.
The cabin. Safe and secluded and ancient. The obvious hiding place, he was sure. She was in there; she had to be. She’d run in that direction and then disappeared. Stupid woman. Probably thought that it was a godsend. A sanctuary. He walked around outside of the cabin, checking the few windows to make sure they were closed. She was still in there.
This was more fun than Julie, he decided. Stalking his prey like this was new to him, a thrill that excited him more than expected. The Most Dangerous Game come to life. He had brought Julie here after the club, driving the whole night with her in the trunk, hearing her scream his name and beg to be let out. Sometimes she’d curse him. When he opened the trunk, Julie shrank from the morning light and from him. Her face was white and tear-stained and beautiful.
“Let me help you out of there, darling,” he’d said gently. “We’re safe now, in Lafayette, away from the world. We can patch things up here.” He remembered how she took his hand, allowing him to be the gentleman. She’d learned her lesson.
Rory was about to learn her lesson, too. With Julie he hadn’t been as thorough though, and she had turned on him in the end. He wouldn’t make the same mistake with this one.
“Rory, time to come out and play,” he whispered, letting the anticipation build as he mounted the steps, each tread bringing him closer to his prize. She’d be ready for him, he knew. She’d probably have some clever little plan to hit him again, to render him unable to stop her when she ran again.
In his hand was the hunting knife that he’d hidden at the bottom of the picnic basket. Just in case. He thought that it would be a nice change from his other approaches. Eventually he’d find something that he liked best. Strangulation was no fun, at least not when you were behind the victim. And, well, car accidents were too risky. Easier to arrange, but never a sure thing in the end.
It must have been a deer. They’re everywhere this time of year. He smiled, remembering how hard it had been to listen while Rory told him about Paul’s accident and not gloat. Did she know the man who helped him arrange the accident was Paul’s mechanic? Did she know he apparently took his own life just a week later? Poor man, so full of guilt. He laid right on the tracks on Streets Run Road and waited for the train. His body was so mangled that suicide was the easiest label to apply. Remorse explained it all away, and the man’s heirs said nothing more as they divided his surprisingly large bank account amongst themselves.
Yes, this would be interesting. After all, a knife required up-close and personal involvement. Would he feel her life drain away as they made love? Did he want her to die during or after he made love to her?
“Rory, it’s time to come out and play,” and he laughed once more. How good to be prepared, he thought as the sun caught the blade.
The cabin was empty.
He bellowed in rage. The bitch tricked him! Empty! Dust motes and an occasional gnat and nothing more. Chairs upright and undisturbed. The bed still made perfectly, the sheets covering a mattress still stained with Julie’s blood.
The moment Rory heard the door open, she readied herself to run. She was hiding under the cabin’s porch, waiting. His enraged scream told her that he knew she’d tricked him.
She watched him leave, running – she hoped – toward the house. She broke into the clearing, saw the house in the distance and wanted to weep with relief. The car keys were somehow still in her pocket. All she had to do was make it to the garage.
The roar seemed to fill her ears, to surround her. Before she could think, he was on her. Landing on her as she darted for the garage and knocking the wind from her lungs. He flipped her over and slapped her face repeatedly, all the while screaming at her. “You stupid, stupid bitch! You never did know what was good for you!” Fighting back was impossible; he was too fast and too strong. Too angry. His screams no longer made sense, they were just noise now.
Standing, he pulled her to her feet. Rory wobbled slightly, bracing her hands on her knees and trying to get enough air to react. His fingers twisted in her hair and he pulled, forcing her to look at him or have her hair ripped out.
“You fucked with the wrong man, Aurora. So did Julie. You’re going to die just like she had to, but I’m not going to give you a proper burial. You don’t deserve that. I’m going to leave you for the animals. If you’re lucky, you’ll be dead before they get you.”
Rory focused on him, training her eyes on the damage she’d already done. She might die, but he wasn’t going to walk away unscathed. He’d remember her every time he looked in the mirror. Taking a deep breath, she raked the other side of his face. His scream of rage, his raised arm, were the last things she remembered.