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Abduction (Killer Instinct #1.5)

By´╝ÜCynthia Eden

Abduction (Killer Instinct #1.5)
Author: Cynthia Eden


"Stay away from him, Jill." Jillian West's grandmother pointed toward the end of the long, wooden pier. A boy was there, gazing out at the distant waves, a boy who appeared to be just a little older than Jill. "He's trouble."

But he didn't look like trouble. The boy's blond hair blew in the wind and his faded T-shirt fluttered in the breeze.

"I'll only be inside a minute," her grandmother promised as she patted Jill's shoulder. "Stay here."

And then her grandmother was gone. She'd drifted into the little souvenir shop that waited near the pier, her voice drifting back to Jill as her grandmother called out a greeting to her friend inside the store.

Her grandmother had a lot of friends in Hope, Florida. It seemed that everyplace they went she met someone she knew. Jillian's flip-flops slid over the wooden pier as she stared up at the boy with the blond hair. She'd moved in with her grandmother just a few weeks before, but she still hadn't gotten a chance to talk with any kids in the town.

Her grandmother knew plenty of people, just no one who was close to Jillian's age. No other kids around thirteen for her to chat with as she adjusted to her sudden, jarring new life.

Just then, the boy glanced back at her. She stiffened, but then Jill found herself lifting her hand in an awkward wave. She even took a few quick steps toward him. His head cocked as he stared at her.

Her hand fell back to her side.

He's trouble. Her grandmother's warning whispered through her mind once more.

But he was coming closer to her. His sneakers didn't even seem to make a sound as he eliminated the distance between them, and then he was there, peering down at her. He was taller than she was, his shoulders already becoming broad, and he used one careless hand to shove back his overly long hair.

"I don't know you," he said. His voice was deeper than she'd expected. He appeared to be around fifteen, maybe sixteen, but that voice was so grown-up.

"No, ah, I'm new." She tucked her hands behind her back. "I'm Jillian, but my friends call me Jill."

His gaze swept over her-dark brown eyes. Deep eyes. When she looked hard enough-and Jill was looking so hard that she felt herself blush-she saw a circle of gold in those brown eyes.

"You think we're friends, Jill?" He emphasized her name, just a bit.

She shrugged. "We could be." She bit her lip and offered her hand to him. "It's nice to meet you."

He frowned at her hand, staring at it a little too long and hard, and then his gaze slowly rose to her face. "You have no clue who I am, do you?"

He's trouble. Jillian shook her head. She felt so silly standing there, with her hand offered to him. Maybe she should drop her hand.

"I'm not very good friend material." His lips twisted. "Ask anyone."

She dropped her hand. She felt her cheeks burn with embarrassment. He doesn't want to be my friend.

"I saw you with your grandmother."

Wait, when had he seen her? She'd thought that he'd been staring at the water the whole time she'd been chatting with her grandmother.

His head cocked. "I'm surprised she didn't tell you to stay away from me."

"She did," Jill blurted.

Surprise flashed on his face. "So you're not good at doing what you're told, huh?" He made a tut-tut sound. "What would your parents say?"

Her skin iced. The pain was so raw and fresh-it gutted her. Jill sucked in a sharp breath and took a quick step back. "They can't say anything. They're dead." And she shouldn't be talking to him. She shouldn't be so desperate for a friend, for any friend, that she'd disobey her grandmother. Her grandmother was all she had left. If her grandmother got mad at her...what if her grandmother decided she didn't want to be saddled with a kid? What if she dumped Jill someplace else? What if-

Jill spun on her heel. "I have to go." She ran away from him, nearly losing a flip-flop in her hurry. She'd go back to the car. Wait there. And she would not talk to anyone until her grandmother finished her chat. Her eyes stung with tears as she fled and Jill heard the boy call out her name.

But she didn't stop.

What would your parents say?

She wished they could still say something to her. Say anything to her.

The pier ended. Her flip-flops sank into the beautiful white sand of the beach, sand so white it was like sugar. The first time she'd seen that sand, she'd grabbed it, laughing at how light it felt as it ran through her fingers. She wasn't laughing now.

She swiped at the tears on her cheeks. The first kid she'd met, and she'd started crying in front of him. What a way to get a good reputation in the town. Jillian's a crybaby. Jillian's a baby.

Her grandmother's dependable four-door sedan waited a few feet away. There were only a few other cars in the parking lot. It was late, nearing sunset, and not many folks were still out.

"Are you okay, little girl?"

I'm not little. Those were the words that rose to her lips. But she didn't snap them at the man who approached her. He was frowning, looking concerned.

Probably because I'm crying.

"Are you all alone?" He seemed horrified by the very idea.

"M-my grandmother is in the souvenir shop." She pointed behind her. The man stepped closer to her. "She'll be out soon."

The man nodded as if that were a good thing, then his hand clamped over her shoulder. Hard. Hard enough to hurt and he leaned in toward Jill and whispered, "Not soon enough, Jill."

How does he know my name?

She opened her mouth, but Jill didn't get to scream. He slapped his other hand over her mouth and yanked her against him. She kicked out, struggling, but he was big and strong. So much bigger than she was. And he was running with her, heading toward a van a few feet away.

No, no, this can't happen!

"Don't make m