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Abduction (Killer Instinct #1.5)

By´╝ÜCynthia Eden

e kill you now," he growled.

Jill froze.

He opened the side door of the van. He threw her inside, but Jill lunged forward, ready to jump back out again.

He hit her. A hard punch right to her face. It was the first time in Jill's life that she'd ever been hit. For a moment, she was dazed. Her gaze slid away from the man before her-a monster-and...

She saw him...the boy from the pier. The boy with the too long blond hair. He was running toward her.

"Jill!" the boy yelled.

But the man who'd grabbed her...he jabbed something into her neck. Something sharp. A needle?

She fell back into the van, her head hitting the side panel, and darkness flooded Jill's vision.

* * *

"JILL? JILL!"

Her eyes flew open and Jill sucked in a quick breath so that she could scream.

"No, don't." A sweaty hand flew over her mouth. "If you scream, he'll hear you and he'll find us."

Us?

Jill blinked as she became aware of her surroundings. She was in a room with no furniture, just wooden walls. Her hands-her hands were tied together and so were her feet. She was on a dirty, dusty floor. Light burned from overhead, too bright, too stark.

"We can't let him find us, Jill," the boy said.

Boy. It was the boy from the pier. He had scratches on his face and his eyes were wide and intense as he stared down at her.

"I'll untie you, and then we're going to run. We're going to run as fast as we can, got it?"

She nodded, tears stinging her eyes.

His hand slipped away from her mouth and he began to work on the ropes that held her. The ropes at her feet gave way quickly, but the ones that bound her wrists-they were knotted, stuck.

"Forget it," he said and yanked her up to her feet. "We'll get them later, after we're out of here."

She didn't even know where here was, but she wanted to leave. She wanted to leave right then.

He pushed her toward the window. It was open and the scent of the salty ocean blew in toward her. "I'll give you a boost. You get out, and you go, got it? You move. You don't look back at me. Trust me, I'll be coming. I'll be right behind you. You just go."

Jill nodded. She'd go.

He pushed her through the window and she fell out on the other side, hitting her shoulder with a jarring impact, but Jill pounced back to her feet and she started running. Only...there didn't seem to be anywhere to run to. It was dark and there were trees shooting up all around her, a marshy-like area and she looked back, scared-

He was there. The boy with the too long hair. He grabbed her bound wrists. "Come on, Jill."

She didn't see the man who'd taken her. She was afraid he was out there, watching them. That he was going to attack them. Going to hurt them both.

Kill them.

They ran into muddy water, and it was cold, chilling her. Her teeth started to chatter, not from the cold, but from the terror clawing at her. "H-he...hurt me." Her jaw still ached. "He...took me..." Kidnapped her from right out in the open. A parking lot.

"I saw him." His fingers fumbled with the ropes that bound her wrists. The knots came free and he rubbed at her skin, being so careful with her. "I wasn't going to let you vanish."

Vanish.

That's what would have happened to her, Jill knew it. She just would have vanished without a trace. "I want to go home," she whispered.

Home...

The house she'd shared with her parents in Georgia. Her haven. Her safe place. She wanted her mom. She wanted her dad. She wanted this to be a terrible nightmare.

But the boy wrapped his arms around her and he held her tight. "It's okay. We're going to be okay."

She believed him. He'd found her, someway. Gotten her out of...there. He saved her. "I don't... I don't even know your name."

He pulled back and stared at her. "I'm Hayden. Hayden Black."

Hayden. Such a good name for a best friend.

They ran until they reached the road. They ran and ran, but each time a car came by, Hayden made her hide.

He was afraid the kidnapper was coming for them.

Hours ticked by and then they finally made it to the small sheriff's station. Lights blazed from inside the square building and patrol cars filled the parking lot. Hayden's fingers were laced with hers as they walked up the wooden steps that led to the station. He opened the door, and they slipped inside.

There was instant silence. Every eye turned toward them.

Jill looked down at herself. Her clothes were torn and muddy. She'd lost her flip-flops. Her feet were raw and blistered.

And she was sure her jaw was bruised. It still hurt so much.

"Jillian!" Her grandmother ran to her and yanked Jill close in a crushing hug. "My little Jilly!"

Jilly. Her mother used to call her that, too. Jilly went up the hilly... Her own version of the rhyme.




The tears were falling again. Jill couldn't stop them. Her grandmother wasn't mad. She wasn't going to send her away. Her grandmother smelled like sweet vanilla. Like apricots.

Like home.

"What in the hell did you do, boy?" It was a man's voice, rough and demanding. And that voice...the man...he was nearby. A big, bearlike man wearing a sheriff's uniform and sporting a gleaming badge. "You took that poor girl? You hurt her?"

No, no, of course Hayden hadn't hurt her. Jillian struggled out of her grandmother's desperate embrace. That big man had grabbed Hayden. His face was angry as the sheriff snarled, "You're just like your father."

All of the color bled from Hayden's face.

"You pulled the wrong stunt today," the man snapped. "You-"

Jill pushed her way between the sheriff and Hayden. Her whole body was shaking. "Hayden is my friend."

Pity flashed on the sheriff's face as his gaze peered down at her, lingering on her jaw. "Sweetheart, why don't you just relax with your grandmother? You don't have to be afraid. You don't-"

"Hayden saved me." Her dirty hand reached back and grabbed Hayden's. She held him tight. "A m

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