Home > See Her Die

See Her Die
Author: Melinda Leigh

CHAPTER ONE

The scream faded, the sound muffled through the walls of the cabin. Alyssa blinked in the darkness. Outside, the March wind whistled through the trees. Inside, the quiet that hung in the air was almost as sharp as the bitter cold. Her heartbeat thrummed in her ears.

An owl?

Her instincts said no. The tone had been all wrong.

There were no lights to turn on. Electricity and running water to the cabin had been shut off. But then, they were trespassing in a campground that was closed for the season. She couldn’t complain about the lack of facilities.

“Harper,” she whispered. “Did you hear that?”

No one answered.

She glanced sideways, looking for the other sleeping bag stretched out in front of the fireplace, where her friend usually slept a few feet away. Overnight, the fire had died to glowing embers, and it took a few seconds for her vision to adjust to the predawn dimness. The floor was empty. Harper’s sleeping bag was gone. So was her backpack.

Alyssa’s pulse quickened, scrambling through her veins like a mouse scurrying for its hole. She bolted upright, the sleeping bag falling away from her shoulders. The chill and a rush of adrenaline swept away her grogginess like a freezing wave. Holding her breath, she stared at the empty space on the floor and listened hard. Harper had probably gone out back to pee. She could have startled an animal. Or an animal could have startled her.

No.

She almost groaned at her own stupidity. Harper wouldn’t have taken her sleeping bag and backpack outside to pee.

She’d left.

But why? And how did she leave? Harper didn’t have a vehicle.

Shit!

Alyssa grabbed for her own backpack at her feet. She unzipped the front compartment and shoved her hand inside. Her wallet was gone. She rooted deeper in the bag, but it wasn’t there. Neither were her keys. Her wallet contained her driver’s license and her last forty-three dollars, which had to last until Friday. Today was Monday. How was she going to buy food? How was she going to get to work with no transportation?

Her stomach cramped. She’d been played. Harper had made friends with her with the sole intention of stealing her money and truck. Forty-three dollars would top off the gas tank. Harper could get pretty far away. Alyssa thought about when she’d picked up Harper from work the night before. They’d stopped at a convenience store. Harper had said she’d gotten a tip. She’d splurged on the makings for s’mores. They’d toasted marshmallows over the fire and eaten every bite.

Had the celebration been Harper’s way of saying goodbye?

Alyssa sprang out of her sleeping bag and scooped her parka off the floor. Standing, she shivered as she zipped her coat and shoved her feet into her boots. She’d worn her wool hat to bed.

She’d trusted Harper, but they’d met only the previous month at the homeless shelter. What did Alyssa really know about her?

Only what she told you. And you believed her. Because you’re naive and stupid.

Alyssa ran for the front door and flung it open. She fished a flashlight from her pocket and shone it into the trees. Her breath whooshed from her lungs when she saw her old 4Runner parked where she’d left it. Harper hadn’t taken her SUV. Alyssa sagged against the doorjamb. Snow had fallen the previous evening while she was at work, and there were no other new footprints in front of the cabin except her own. Harper hadn’t gone out the front door. Alyssa closed the door and turned around.

So, where was Harper? And where were Alyssa’s wallet and keys?

She returned to her backpack. Maybe she’d put her keys in a different pouch. She’d been tired after work. She inspected each section, then checked her coat pockets. No keys. No wallet. She took out her cell phone and turned it on. She could only charge it at work or in her car and tried to conserve the battery. Besides, she only used the phone to contact work or text Harper. When they were together, there was no reason to keep the phone on. The phone came to life, but she saw no texts or missed calls.

She shoved the phone into her pocket. She didn’t want to believe that Harper had betrayed her. It had been Harper’s idea that they travel as a pair. The whole point of sticking together was to have each other’s backs. It didn’t feel right that she would have left without saying a word. Alyssa replayed their last conversation in her mind. Harper had given no indication that she wanted to leave. She’d said the cabin was the best spot she’d slept in all winter. She’d gathered enough firewood to last for days. But there was no one else here who could have taken Alyssa’s things.

Teary-eyed, she repacked her bag. She needed the key to her vehicle or she was stranded. Why had Harper taken the keys but left the 4Runner?

What the actual fuck?

It made no sense. Harper was street-smart. She wouldn’t come up with such a dumb plan. Maybe the plan wasn’t the issue. Maybe she hadn’t left yet. Alyssa could possibly still catch her.

She set aside the pack and strode to the window overlooking the backyard. Fifty feet of ground separated the cabin from the surrounding woods. Alyssa squinted into the darkness at the area they’d designated as their bathroom, behind a group of fir trees. A figure moved at the edge of the trees.

Harper?

Anger blurred Alyssa’s vision. She hurried to the back door.

Think you can steal my stuff? Think again.

Opening it quietly, she slipped outside and jogged across the snow to the woods. She peered around a tree trunk, looking for the figure. She spotted the dark shape emerging from the trees near the lake.

The figure wasn’t carrying a backpack. Had Harper stashed it somewhere? What was she up to? Alyssa followed, keeping her distance, but also keeping the figure in sight. She’d walked maybe a hundred feet when the silhouette turned toward her.

The shape of the figure didn’t feel like Harper. She was thin. This shape was too large, too wide—more masculine.

Panic welled in Alyssa’s chest.

Could that be the campground owner, Phil? Someone could have seen smoke rising from the cabin’s chimney and called him. The campground was closed. No one was supposed to be there. Maybe it was Phil, coming to chase them out of the cabin. That might be the reason Harper had run.

Bitterness tasted sour in the back of her throat. If that scenario was true, then Harper had saved her own ass and left Alyssa to face Phil alone. And she’d still stolen from Alyssa.

Bitch.

Now what?

If it was Phil . . . He was in pretty good shape, but he was old. She could probably outrun him.

He retraced his steps—heading right for her.

Phil?

The man’s posture wasn’t annoyed or angry. He moved with intention.

She ducked behind the tree and waited, holding her breath. A tiny sound croaked deep in her throat, as if something had broken. Pressing her back into the tree, she prayed he hadn’t heard. The wind blew through the trees, kicking up snow dust. Where is he? Slowly, she peered around the tree trunk and froze. He was barely thirty feet away.

She withdrew. Tears ran down her cheeks, feeling as if they were freezing on her face.

Please don’t find me.

A footstep crunched in the snow. Was he closer? She risked another peek from behind the tree trunk. Two blasts sounded over the snow—and fear paralyzed her. Her mouth opened. Slapping her hand across it, she stifled the scream before it left her mouth.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» Sweet Temptation
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Archangel's War
» Angry God (All Saints High #3)
» ENEMIES
» Twisted Kingdom (Royal Elite #3)
» Fake It 'Til You Break It
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» Devious Lies (Cruel Crown #1)
» Credence