Badge of Honor Series
They dragged her out of the airless trunk of the car. A wave of dizziness washed over Addison as her feet touched the ground. For a moment, she wobbled before regaining her balance. Drawing in deep breaths of the crisp night air, she tried to stay calm but knew she was walking a tightrope that could snap at any moment.
What would happen then? Would she lose complete control? Become hysterical and start begging for her life? Just the thought left a bitter taste in her mouth.
No! You’re stronger than that!
Was she? She didn't know anymore. Oh God, she felt as if she was losing her freaking mind!
She had to think. Figure out what to do next. She tried again to loosen the ropes that bound her hands as she quickly scanned the area. They were deep in the woods on a rough dirt road that was barely used, if ever. Probably still in South Dakota. The only light came from the open car doors that didn’t quite reach the dark shadows beyond.
Fear trembled over her in waves. She had a bad feeling. This wasn’t like the last time when they’d moved her to a different house. She looked back at the two men just as a meaty fist connected with her jaw.
Pain exploded inside her head. She dropped to one knee. The coppery taste of blood filled her mouth. She spat as Angus hauled her up by the collar of her shirt.
“You see, the thing is, I hate rich bitches,” he growled in a low, threatening voice. He was big, with a missing front tooth, and a crooked nose from too many bar fights. He always smelled like garlic and onions.
When Addison tried to move away, he only laughed, his grip too tight. Her struggles were useless.
Eddy was less vocal, skinny, and did whatever Angus told him to do.
“You didn’t have to hit her,” Eddy reprimanded Angus for the first time in his life.
"I only tapped her." He let go of her collar with a harsh laugh, and she staggered back against the car. "What difference does it make? She's gonna die tonight anyway."
Her stomach began to churn. She fought against the bile that rose in her throat. Oh God, she didn’t want to die. She drew in a deep, unsteady breath. “My father paid the ransom,” she said, hating the pleading note in her voice. “I overheard you talking on the phone.”
“The boss didn’t do it just for the money,” Eddy said, almost apologetic.
“On your knees, bitch,” Angus said. “Get my gun, Eddy.”
“Where’d you put it?” he asked, confused.
Angus turned away from her, going back to the passenger side, mumbling something about him having to do everything himself.
No, she refused to die like this. This was the only chance she would get. Even though her legs wobbled so much they barely held her up, she turned and began to run. Her insides quaked.
Angus muttered a string of expletives.
She dodged between trees but didn't slow. She'd always been a fast runner.
The sound of the gun exploded around her when Angus pulled the trigger. A bullet whistled past her ear. She sucked back a scream and picked up her pace, only able to see a few feet in front of her, but she didn’t have much choice if she wanted to live.
She stumbled through some thick brush, thorns scratching her arms and legs. An exposed root caught her foot. She grunted when she landed with a thud on the ground. For a second, she lay there stunned.
Addison glanced over her shoulder. The flashlight’s beam was getting closer as Angus plowed through the underbrush like a Grizzly hunting his prey.
She pushed up the best she could with her bound hands and scrambled over the root that had tripped her, unmindful of the deep, bloody gash when another branch scraped down her arm. Her only thought was escape.
They were getting closer. She could almost feel their hot breath on her back. Her heart pounded inside her chest so hard she thought it might explode.
She was running again.
She bit back a sob.
Another explosion from the gun. The bullet slammed into her shoulder. Addison jerked forward as the burning pain tore through her. She faltered. Her vision blurred. Weakness flowed over her in waves.
The realization hit her all at once. She was going to die tonight. Why not stop and get it over with? One shot and no more pain.
No! Keep going! Don’t give up! The voice practically screamed in her ear. One foot in front of the other!
Another bullet whizzed past her arm, grazing it.
No! She didn’t want to die.
From somewhere deep inside her, she pulled out the last bit of energy she had left. She wouldn’t give up. Not without a damn good fight.
She suddenly burst from the tangle of underbrush into…nothing.
She gasped as the ground beneath her feet disappeared, and then she was falling. She landed on her side, tumbling over and over, crying out as she came to a hard stop against a boulder, almost at the bottom of a ravine.
She laid there for a moment, stunned, trying to catch her breath.
“I think she fell over,” Eddy said a moment later.
She bit back a sob, barely conscious. She knew that she had to do everything she could to survive. As if someone finally decided she needed a miracle, she saw that she was at the edge of an overhang. She rolled herself back, biting her tongue against the burning pain in her shoulder, curling into a tight ball until the overhang shielded her, then held her breath as seconds later, the sweep of the flashlight moved past where she hid.
“No way she survived the fall, and I know you hit her at least twice,” Eddy said. “Even if she isn’t dead, with two gunshot wounds, the bears or wolves will finish her off. Let’s go. The woods are creepy.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Angus finally grumbled.
Their heavy footsteps grew distant, a car’s engine started, then finally drove away.
Still, she waited, wanting to make sure they were gone. She released a sob. There wasn’t a part of her body that didn’t scream out in protest. Just for a moment, she would rest.
She might have lost consciousness, but when she roused again, she knew she had to try to find help.
She whimpered as she cautiously moved from her hiding place. She tried to stand but ended up sliding down the ravine the rest of the way when her sprained ankle gave away. She cried out as the sharp rocks scraped her arms, tearing at her clothes, until she came to a stop at the bottom, tumbling sideways and hitting her head.
Stunned, she sat there for a moment. When the world stopped spinning, she looked around. Where was she? She had no idea. The middle of nowhere surrounded by forest.
They were right. She would probably be dead by morning.
Would the pain never stop? God, she hurt so much.
Something moved off to her left. She tried to get up. Her mind screamed for her to run, but she had nothing left. Maybe death would be swift.
Addison released a deep sigh and closed her eyes.