Someone was behind her.
Footsteps echoed loudly as she ran. Louisa Burnes stumbled, the heel of her stiletto snapping. She caught herself before she fell, scraping the delicate skin of her palm against the graffiti-covered brick wall beside her. She cursed as the first signs of the sting registered.
She ran faster than before, terrified of what might happen should she be caught. She was all alone in the early morning hours, everyone else asleep in their warm beds. No one would hear her screams.
Her breath came out in quick bursts, her natural blonde hair whipping about her face as she moved. She shivered, despite the warm breeze and sweat trickled down her back. Her heart in her throat, she staggered in the direction of her car, parked further down the street.
The pounding of feet on the pavement had fear liquefying her insides. The shot of adrenaline did nothing to the drug taking effect, already slowing her down, making her groggy. She was usually so careful, and now she was terrified the lack of caution would be her last mistake.
Please God, she begged. Let me get out of this.
She would go to church with her mother, mend her relationship with her sister, if only she could get away unscathed.
If only she knew who the pursuer was. They’d been following her since she left the club, had made no attempt to call out to her, and when she had started running, they kept up with her.
She tightened her grip on her keys, the metal edges biting into her palm.
Just a little longer, she told herself as she took shortcut after shortcut. She’d parked farther away so no one would link her to the club, afraid for her reputation. She wished she hadn’t cared.
Louisa’s eyes blurred. Tears streaked down her cheeks. She kept moving, down alleyways and past stinking dumpsters. If only it wasn’t too late to turn around and head back to the club, but she’d already gone too far to turn back. She would lose precious minutes. It was best to keep going, if she could.
She placed her hand on the brick wall of the building beside her, in an attempt to stop the dizziness flooding her head. Keeping her fingertips on the cool motionless brick, she moved further down the alley, looking for the exit.
I have to hurry.
The world spun and she wondered why this was happening and why she’d been drugged.
She never accepted drinks from strangers, so she wasn’t sure when she’d ingested the drug.
She had worked until six, an early night, before going to her mother’s house for dinner. Later, she had gone to the club as she always did. But she hadn’t drunk anything she hadn’t before and was certain there hadn’t been an opportunity to spike her drink, nor had she been injected with anything—at least not that she could remember, her brain already losing huge chunks of the night. Her worry increased ten-fold and fear was almost a physical presence beside her.
Rounding a corner, she realised nothing looked familiar. Panic surged through her.
The assailant was almost upon her. She forced herself to move, wondering which way to go. She wanted to scream in frustration. She chose left and continued on until she finally came to a dead end. She was trapped. It was all over.
I should’ve gone the other way.
A sharp pain burned, the blade slicing through her flesh. She screamed and turned her back against the wall, facing her attacker. Her eyes widened when her chin lifted and she found the familiar face.
Oh my God.
The hand came down again, the knife once more piercing her soft skin. She fell to the dirty, foul smelling ground. The world went dark and warm blood pooled beneath her body. Her blood. She only had one more thought before she died, taking the identity of her killer to the grave.