This serial story is posted weekly on Fridays in draft (unedited) format. Each installment is available for one week. If you’ve missed an installment, email me and I’ll send you what you’ve missed.
It was rougher in the overgrown western part of Patrick’s property and Nicole couldn’t move nearly as fast as she would have liked to, but she pushed on, all too aware that she was both racing the clock and also raising the viewership levels at the same time. But Patrick wouldn’t be around to enjoy the money if everything went as planned, which gave her a sordid sense of satisfaction.
The light grew dimmer as she ran, and when she felt like she’d hit the half-way point, she dropped the second tracker by a large, flat rock that would have made a good resting point. Then she modified her strategy. Instead of running in a straight-ish line toward the highway, she tried to be erratic. Circling a tree here, stopping a few seconds there, and a few more seconds by a different tree or rock, doubling back before moving on and North, etc.
Her hope was that her erratic movements would appear more like an animal, and that Patrick would go to where the second tracker was first. Just as it had for him that morning, it would buy her a little time, which was what she needed most. The closer she could get to the boundary before he caught up with her, the better.
Knowing she had to be close and wishing she’d kept the tablet out to keep track of her progress, she stopped beside a thick tree to catch her breath, just another quick stop in her planned erratic movements. She bent over to breathe, putting her hands on her knees for a moment. Her shirt hung heavily, soaked with sweat and the trousers he’d given her were ragged strips at the bottom. Survival was hell on clothes. The thought inexplicably made her want to laugh as she remembered the huge closet full of delicate fabrics suitable for wall street back home.
When she stood upright again, Patrick was standing just ten yards or so away.
“You found me,” she said, doing her best to look more alert than the bedraggled rat she felt like. “I guess that means it’s time to fight to the death then. Or something like that.”
She knew a wink and a smile wouldn’t do it for this guy, but she made eye contact and held it, feeling that unwanted rush of attraction take over, and seeing the change as it hit him too.
He nodded. “Something like that.” Taking a step toward her and then another, he never broke eye contact. She felt like she’d been put under some sort of spell when he reached her, and she still hadn’t moved away.
His hand came up to cup the side of her neck, and she flinched. Swallowed hard. But still didn’t move.
He leaned in, tugging her forward and placed an experimental kiss on her lips. She returned it and when he pulled back, she moved closer, pressing her body to his, flicking his lips with her tongue.
He stepped back again, and again, she followed, frowning when he turned his head away from the kiss she offered.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, moving a couple steps away from him. She wasn’t sure what to do – seducing guys had never really been an issue for her. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d initiated contact and been rejected. Leave it to Patrick to be the odd man out.
He raised his eyebrows at her, as if she should know. “You tell me, darlin’. Seems like right about now, you’d be wondering what’s right. And you’re not. So I think it’s time you followed me. I have a surprise for you.”
Nicole shook her head. “No. We get everything settled right here and now. If you don’t want one last turn with me, that’s just fine, but I’m not going anywhere else with you. This ends now.”
Patrick chuckled. “Now that’s more like the Nicole I know.” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned one shoulder against a nearby tree, all casual-like. “Well then…I’m all yours. Finish me off.”
Nicole bent and slid the knife from it’s sheath, knowing it wouldn’t be that easy. Maybe even impossible. She’d counted on having the upper hand, quite literally. This…was an entirely different matter. But she still didn’t intend to go down without a fight.
She just wasn’t sure exactly what to do next, since she was fairly certain he wasn’t just going to stand there and let her slice open his throat. That was the only problem with her weapon of choice. To use it, she had to get close. There really wasn’t any good way to do that.