There was nowhere to hide.
Angie Benton watched the young woman running through the forest. As she fought the brush and bramble, her torn clothes ripped even more.
She tripped over a tree root and fell to the ground. Quickly, she struggled to her feet while leaves caught in her hair and briars slashed her arms, drawing blood.
Angie could feel the woman’s terror—like a knife slicing through her own heart.
Just then a man appeared. Angie, watching from a high perch in the trees, trembled. What now?
Jaw clenched, eyes narrowed, the man opened and closed his fists repeatedly as he tramped toward the frightened woman. His shirt was unbuttoned, revealing the sweat glistening on his heaving chest. He looked so angry, so hostile. She could even hear the fury in his strong, deliberate footsteps.
The woman heard him, too and looked over her shoulder.
Angie gasped. The woman’s face was her own!
Horrified, Angie watched the woman who could be her twin run into a clearing, then pause and look frantically around. She could feel her desperation and when the other woman sprinted across the meadow toward an old shack, Angie experienced a jolt of hope and a burst of energy as she mentally followed her twin.
Arriving breathless at the cabin, the woman jumped onto the porch, pushed through the broken door and ran into the first room on her left.
Angie spotted an exit at the back of the shack. She willed her twin to find it and escape that way. Instead, the woman ran wildly through the house in terror, searching for a place to hide.
Entering the kitchen at last, she didn’t run out the back door as Angie willed. Instead, she crouched in the corner behind an antique hutch.
The old pine floors creaked as if under a heavy weight.
Angie screamed, “Run! Run!” But the twin didn’t move.
The man’s footsteps moved methodically through the dilapidated old shack, searching, slowly, room-by-room.
Still her twin waited motionless, until, at last, the footsteps left the house.
Tentatively, the young woman stood up and glanced around. Inching toward the back door, she looked through the screen and out the side windows, surveying the yard with wide, frightened eyes.
Cautiously, she opened the door and slipped out. With her back to the yard, she quietly closed the door behind her, then spun around to make a run for it.
And crashed right into her pursuer.
A loud whistle pierced Angie’s hearing. What on earth was happening?
Someone was pulling her from her perch. Someone had a grip on her biceps and searing stabs of pain were shooting through her arms.
She looked up and stared into the angriest blue eyes she had ever seen.
Eyes belonging to the man she’d just seen outside the cabin door.
Her heart pounded. How had she become the woman she’d been watching?
The man’s sandy brown hair hung over his face in wet strands, its blond highlights still noticeable. Sweat beaded across his brow. He clenched his jaw against chiseled cheeks and he tightened his grip by digging his fingers deeper into the soft flesh of her arms.
Angie jerked her body violently, but could not break his hold. Wave after wave of terror crashed through her. She had to escape!
“Angie!” he growled.
She snapped her head back to look up at his angry face.
A flash of light in her peripheral vision caught her attention and she turned to see someone, shadowed by trees, leveling a gun at them.
Angie froze. As if in slow motion, the muzzle of the gun moved until it was pointing straight at her. She heard a booming blast, so loud it hurt her ears. Oh God, I’m going to die, she thought in terror.
The man with the sandy hair whirled her around, using his body to shield her from the oncoming bullet. Suddenly, his face contorted, his back arched and his grip on her arms loosened, then released, as he fell to the ground.
Angie watched him land in a crumpled heap at her feet. She’d barely had time to take this in before she felt something hard and cold jab into her back and an arm clench around her neck, forcing her to look skyward. She heard a deep, raspy, laugh behind her as a man dragged her backward, knocking her off her feet with a quick pull, his laughter intensifying.
Angie struggled frantically with the gunman. She was so desperate, so frightened, that several seconds passed before she noticed that the man who had come between her and the bullet was no longer there.
Where had he gone?
The pressure increased against her throat.
Angie twisted and turned, trying to break free, trying to find the man who had saved her before.
But it was useless. He’d disappeared and the more she struggled, the more her assailant tightened his hold.
Then the realization hit her. The sandy haired man was dragging her across the yard. Somehow, he’d captured her.
A gunshot rang out.
Fire burned through her chest. The man pushed her and she sank to the ground, feeling her life ebbing away.