The Botanist

The Botanist by L. K. Hill

Book: The Botanist by L. K. Hill Read Free Book Online
Authors: L. K. Hill
problem was he had a car, and she couldn’t drive on her rim.
    Jumping off the hood of her car, she planted her feet to face him. It made her feel more in control. As he sauntered toward her, taller than she remembered and exuding just as much menace as he’d shown four years ago, every ounce of that control slipped through her fingers like oil.
    He kept walking until he was only a few inches from her, and she had to crane her neck back to look up at him. She refused to back up. They stared at one another for several seconds before he spoke. “Havin some car trouble, are ya?”
    She jumped. His voice was still a raspy whisper.
    Alex swallowed and willed her voice to be steady. “Yes, officer. I blew a tire.”
    His eyes went casually toward the shredded left front tire of her car, then returned to her.
    “Waitin’ for prince charming to drive along and rescue you?” He had a slight lisp when he said his s -sounds, but he was trying so hard to cover it, they came out more like a hiss.
    “I’ve already called somebody. He’s on his way.” She emphasized the “he” part, hoping that knowing another man would soon be here would intimidate him somewhat.
    He laughed softly—the same, sinister sound she remembered from before—and Alex had the sneaking hunch he wasn’t intimidated in the least.
    “Well.” He stepped toward her, and now they were toe to toe. “Maybe I can keep you company. Until he gets here.”
    Alex did step back now. Not only was he way too close for comfort, but his breath was horribly foul. She started to put a hand to her nose to block his stench, then realized that might offend him. She covered by running her hand through her hair.
    “That won’t be necessary. I’m sure he’ll be here any min—”
    The massive cop grabbed her wrist and yanked it toward him. She yelped before she could stop herself, wondering what on earth he was looking at. It took a moment for her to realize he was staring at her bracelet.
    Then she remembered. That night he’d first pulled her over, he had remarked on the bracelet, asked where she’d gotten it. Now he was looking at it again.
    He studied the silver charms for several seconds, then a light dawned in his eyes. They shifted to her and she shivered violently.
    He remembered her.
    Breathing raggedly, she yanked her arm away from him. He didn’t try to keep it, but his eyes had taken on a predatory glow.
    “Cordelia?” he hissed, stepping toward her.
    She stepped backward, but he followed her, step for step. They were locked in a deadly, linear waltz now, and she knew she had to run.
    She understood then. The thought pealed more clearly in her head than any she’d had in her life: this man was going to kill her.
    She didn’t know if she could get away. He could get in his car and run her down easily. She still couldn’t see headlights in the darkness, but the highway wasn’t a straight line. It twisted and turned around hills and rises on its way south. Cody should be coming around that far bend any minute now. Perhaps, if she could stay near the road, she could run out and get his attention when he got near.
    Knowing she should have done it five minutes ago, Alex spun on her toe and leapt away.
    Even as she began her first sprint, strong fingers dug into her scalp. She screamed as he yanked her backward by her hair and slammed her head into her own car window.

Chapter 14
    Cody had to take three different detours to get out of the city. With all the extra people, large sections of town had been blocked off. Consequently, it was nearly thirty minutes before two flashing hazard lights came into view in the distance.
    As he came level with Alex’s car, he couldn’t see her, but he figured she was lying down in the back seat. It was nearly one a.m. after all. He parked on the other side of the road.
    “Alex, I’m here,” he called, getting out of the car. He got into the back of his jeep and rummaged around until he found a flashlight, a tire

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