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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, May 11, 2015

She has reached her ultimate breaking point - Dark Pursuit (Emily Stone #5) by Jennifer Chase

Vigilante detective Emily Stone has covertly hunted down killers and closed more serial cases than most seasoned homicide cops combined. Her exceptional profiling skills and forensic techniques, along with deductive crime scene investigations, have made her a compelling force that cannot be beat. 

Description:

From the International Award Winning EMILY STONE THRILLER SERIES: 

Vigilante detective Emily Stone has covertly hunted down killers and closed more serial cases than most seasoned homicide cops combined. Her exceptional profiling skills and forensic techniques, along with deductive crime scene investigations, have made her a compelling force that cannot be beat. 

She has reached her ultimate breaking point and now must face her toughest opponent yet – her biggest fears. 

With preciseness, the Tick-Tock Killer has taken his next child victim and promised to dump the body precisely four days later, mocking police and the community. Stone struggles to balance her inner demons and ghosts from the past, against the wits of a brutal and cunning serial killer in an all-out battle of psychological warfare. 

Can Stone save the next child in time? Dark Pursuit is an action-packed cat and mouse game that will take you to dark places rarely explored.

 EXCERPT 





CHAPTER ONE
Tuesday 2100 Hours

Car tires squealed as both sport utility vehicles skidded sideways across the narrow street.  The ear piercing screeches and waves of gravel spray ensued as the vehicles held the uneven surface, and then pivoted onto a bumpy dirt road. 
The pitch-blackness of the night illuminated with blinding headlights from the two cars – one pursuing the other. 
Motors revved and engines tacked well into the red zones.  The vehicle’s high beams bobbed and weaved among the trees, and then disappeared into the dense landscape of the forest.
Low fog plunged the chill of the evening colder than the current temperature of forty-three degrees.  Pockets of moisture were heavier in some areas allowing for little visibility.  With a murky blur, the cars continued the dangerous pursuit.  The country road quickly turned into a narrow trail, causing both cars to drastically slow in speed.
Emily Stone fought the dangerous off road conditions with every ounce of strength that she could muster.  She clutched the steering wheel harder, knuckles white, biceps flexed, concentrating on every sharp turn to remain alert, and to keep the car piloting straight. 
Her dark eyes remained unwavering through the narrow view.
The seatbelt dug into her chest with every bump and chuckhole in the road.  Fatigue had set in an hour ago, but she could not stop now.  Increasing weakness continued to edge its way through her arms and legs.  The escalating body aches vied for her immediate attention as her forehead pounded with a familiar piercing pain.
Pushing through her discomfort, she kept focused on the treacherous road and the vehicle in front of her. 
Another victim was at stake.
Another young innocent victim.
It was obvious that the lead driver was also having difficulties with the road as the vehicle bounced precariously close to the edge of the cliff.  The lead SUV skirted and swerved, but still miraculously maintained the right direction and gained a little speed. 
Pieces of mud showered Emily’s windshield, peppering the entire front end and undercarriage.  Low tree branches and bushes clawed at the doors and slammed across the roof.  At one point, she thought a branch might break through the sunroof and land on the front seat. 
The road hazards did not deter her.     
Emily pressed the accelerator even harder.  Her Ford’s RPM throttled to a dangerous level causing the engine and oil lights to flicker.  The dashboard lit up with several warnings that looked more like a carnival ride than an SUV.
“Emily!  Em!” a voice yelled from the cellular speakerphone.  “What’s your location?  Dammit Em answer me!”     
She ignored the plea from her partner Rick Lopez over the cell phone and turned it away from her.  They were more than partners – some would say they were soul mates.  Either way, he was her rock, her lover, and her only backup. 
They shared an unshakable love that drove them together toward the one essential goal –save a victim.  She did not want to look at the screen and see his face drawn and deeply concerned for her safety.  His usual dark handsome features would show the extreme stress with a furrowed frown.  She could not bear to look at him. 
There had been many other pursuits, some more dangerous, others just a routine investigation, but all were potentially risky and could result in death.  She had made peace with that reality.  She had the extensive experience of handing just about anything that came her way – and wore with dignity the physical and mental battle scars to prove it. 
They had spent the last few years hunting serial killers and child abductors, all under the radar of law enforcement.  They did not have to operate by the same rules of engagement or bureaucracy that tied the hands of cops.  Instead, the couple did all the investigative and forensic work for them and forwarded all of the detailed information – anonymously. 
They were a covert investigative team that procured results. 
A simple plan. 
It had served them well. 
This time it was an emergency of life and death – an all-out code red involving a ten-year-old girl by the name of Jeannie Sanders, abducted while walking home from a friend’s house.  The photograph of the little girl’s huge green eyes and sweet cherub face burned into Emily’s memory, which propelled her into situations that most people would take great lengths to avoid.
The imminent situation drove Emily to an almost desperate impulse – worse than any obsessive-compulsive disorder that could ever accomplish.  She never knew how far an investigation would take her both physically and emotionally, but giving up was not an option when a child’s life was a stake. 
The work was necessary to her like air and food.
A couple of years ago, Emily had come to terms with the fact that any of her dark pursuits could end with the inevitable.  She lived by her own set of rules and personal motto.  Life was not worth living if you cannot make a difference – right a wrong, catch a serial killer, or save an innocent life.
Her life was straightforward as that simple philosophy.    
“Em!” Rick’s voice insisted, this time with an exasperated breath.
She balanced her cell phone on the dash praying that the signal would not disappear or smash from impact.  Flipping the smart phone over and slipping it into a console cranny, she glanced at the screen.  It was just as she had expected.  The deep drawn look of concern changed Rick’s attractive face.  Even on the small electronic device, his eyes could bore straight into her soul.  It was an expression that made her weak and sometimes to doubt her own capabilities. 
The lead SUV pulled ahead just out of view and disappeared into the fog.
A large patch of low-lying haze obscured the improvised roadway.
Emily reluctantly slowed her speed even more.
“I’m in pursuit.  We’re just three miles off the main Interstate on Deer Run Road,” she replied winded as if she had been running a marathon.  “I’m not backing off.  This is the first big break we’ve had…”
She slammed on the brakes from the hairpin turn to avoid the steep cliff on her right.  The Ford skidded in that direction and she countered the slide with quick steering and some luck.  The back tires spun several revolutions before traction took hold again.  She did not see the car or any lights ahead of her anymore, so she took her foot from the accelerator.
She stopped the SUV and cut the headlights.
It was dark in every direction.
She pressed the power button and lowered her window.
The distinct odor of a hot car engine and an overflowing radiator filled her nose.  It had a familiar sweet and earthy smell. 
The outdoors was strangely quiet and dark as a bottomless pit. 
Emily could make out a few outlines of large trees, but nothing more.   There was a slim opening in the fog.  The sky remained overcast in a blanket of clouds that obscured any view of the stars or moon.   
More deep aromas of the forest drifted into the car. 
It was odd.  If she closed her eyes and opened them, there was little difference in the view. 
Deep shadows. 
Extreme isolation. 
Taking a deep slow breath, Emily tried not to fixate on the strangeness of her position, along with the feeling of floating, which made her slightly nauseous.  She had struggled with anxiety in the past, the feelings of panic and the fight or flight responses.  As with most things in her life, Emily worked through them with tenacity and could overcome just about anything.  That was what made her get out of bed every morning in order to tackle every new challenge flung at her.
Realizing that she had been talking to Rick, she clumsily felt for the phone.  It was in sleep mode and the screen was dark.  She pressed the button and her display brightened casting a cartoonish light in the car, but there was no signal.  She had lost connection with him.  She was not sure if he had heard her location or if he could figure out how to locate her.  
What initially began as a routine surveillance changed, and then flip-flopped in an instant.  They were following another suspect when this SUV was caught in the middle of the surveillance, and reacted when he spotted them.  They divided the surveillance pursuit and Emily ended up following Kevin Werner, unbeknownst that he was the Tick-Tick Killer
Everything turned sideways immediately. 
She contemplated what to do next.  The soft ticking of her engine cooling kept a hypnotizing beat, soothing her nerves.  She knew that she had to move forward in order to save the little girl, but it seemed that the element of surprise would be the only approach.  There had to be a location where the abductor would hide – a cabin or an abandoned building.
Emily turned the key and her Ford roared to life, now with uneven timing.  The headlights illuminated the trees with a brash light, giving a weird depth perception of the forest.  She turned the lights back to regular beams, which made the area seem less ominous.  There was no sign of the other vehicle, no evidence of lights shone anywhere in the vicinity.
As she contemplated what to do, there were two logical choices, go forward, or turn back to get a cell phone signal and wait for Rick.   She weighed each option.  The predator was close; she sensed it.  That familiar tingly sensation rode roughshod throughout her body.  It was as if she could feel his breath on her neck.  There was still time to rescue the little girl.  All the other victims had been murdered and then their bodies dumped exactly four days after their abduction – down to the minute.
It had already been three and half days… and counting.
There was still time. 
There had to be enough time.
A loud gunning sound of a high-powered engine came from behind.  High beams flashed in her rearview mirror and briefly blinded her.  It took barely three seconds before the blue SUV rammed into Emily’s Ford.  Her body flung forward, snapping her neck and seizing her breath.  
The larger vehicle pushed her headfirst at a steady pace.  The thunder of the V8 engine roared like a wild animal attacking its prey.
While still holding firm to the steering wheel with her left hand, Emily grabbed the Glock 9mm from her side holster. 
It was not there. 
She remembered that she had not secured her gun before the pursuit.  Her Beretta was still in her ankle holster.  Carefully maneuvering her body and wrestling to maintain control of the brake as well as the steering wheel, she retrieved the small pistol in her right hand. 
Emily did not waste any time, turned her torso to the blinding light, and fired three bullets through the back window of the SUV. 
Glass shattered. 
The impact from the gunshots echoed in her ears.  Cool air rushed inside the vehicle.  The blast of bullets stunned the attacking vehicle.  The large blue SUV slowed its pace and opened a gap between both cars.
Emily caught her breath trying to inhale and exhale evenly.  Her anger escalated as she unhooked her seatbelt.  The little girl was the only factor pushing her forward.  She presumed that the girl was not in the vehicle, but hidden somewhere - close. 
The Berretta shook slightly in her right hand from the surging adrenalin pulsing throughout her body as she readied herself again for another assault.
The thunder of the pursuing SUV sprang into life and the larger vehicle slammed into Emily’s car once again.  This time it seemed to have more power behind the strike.  The killer was not going to go down without a fight – too much was at stake.       
It took all of Emily’s strength and concentrated attention to maintain control of her own vehicle.  No matter how hard she held the brake down with both feet; her car inched forward and gathered speed.  The tires slipped and gripped unevenly, and then the traction slipped again building momentum down the narrow trail.  Thick brush and branches scraped along the doors before Emily could see through the tight clearing ahead. 
The trail ended with a sheer cliff less than a hundred yards.   




CHAPTER TWO
Tuesday 2145 Hours

“Em! Em!”
Rick continued to yell her name several more times, but there was only silence.  He saw that the connection was lost and tossed the phone onto the passenger’s seat.  It did not make his frustration dissipate.  It only forced the developing anger to increase; he imagined all sorts of horrible scenarios from Emily lying in a ditch bleeding to the killer shooting her at point blank range. 
They had faced some dicey situations in the past, but something was different about Emily over the past few months.  She was distant and seemed to become more emotional about their investigations.  Something was about to give way to a much darker side of Emily, and Rick was not sure if even she was prepared for what that rough road would dish out.    
Rick increased his speed along the freeway and weaved in and out of traffic.  Sometimes he was too close to other vehicles, causing horns to honk from irate drivers that gave him the official middle finger. 
He steadily increased his speed even more and decided to take an off ramp that stated the names of two roads: Deer Run Road and Deer Creek Road.  The last word he heard Emily say before the connection dropped was deer
He knew how her thought process worked from previous cases; they had come to the same conclusion about this case.  It was Emily’s innate ability to deduce crime scenes and behavioral evidence, which connected the dots to three possible suspects on their list.  The dynamic skill she possessed to dwindle down the suspect pool to a credible number was what made their work so successful.  It was absolute luck that they bumped into the real killer while following another suspect.  
Rick fell in love with Emily the first time he spent time with her.  It was not only her unmistakable beauty, which was obvious to most.  It was her intelligence, her uncanny skill of hunting serial killers, and her tenacity, which further fueled his love for her. 
He had retired from his police position to become Emily’s partner hunting down predators as a phantom detective team.  It had served them both well with many solved cases.  It did not matter that the police did not know where the information came from because they benefited from the solve rates, but to Emily and Rick it was all worth the risk.
Picking up his cell phone, he redialed Emily’s number.  The call went straight to voice mail.
“Damn…” he muttered tossing the cell phone aside again.
A working laptop and tablet along with several files rode shotgun, which included all of the research and the groundwork of the investigation.  He and Emily worked this particular case longer than any other case to date.  It was one of the worst serial cases Rick had encountered. 
The news agencies named the serial killer the Tick-Tock Killer, which gave even more urgency to the victims and exponentially raised extreme fear and anxiety among the community.  Even when Rick worked investigations as a homicide detective, it still did not prepare him for such a horrifying case and so many young victims – the youngest was six years old.   
The local cops and detectives tried to investigate with some doggedness, but ultimately they became stymied and they were out of any plausible new leads.  It happened all too often.  This case had run the gauntlet of news stories and the possibility of anything new.  All sixteen cases in two and half years had gone cold until the latest abduction of Jeannie Sanders.  Emily needed to solve these cases and put a stop to the killer’s hunting as quickly as possible. 
Rick felt his stomach tighten the more he thought about the details of the case.  He had not eaten since early that morning and he realized that he was running on only fumes and too many cups of coffee.  He drove down the off ramp and made a sharp right.  He did not expect to see any other drivers on the back road due to the late hour. 
A large commercial utility vehicle took up most of the road blocking access to the two rural roads. 
Yellow lights flashed. 
One worker dressed in oversized reflective gear had just positioned several large orange cones to direct any traffic around the work.  The tall man with a beard prepared to board the bucket and ascend to the transformer.  The worker did not seem to notice or care that Rick skidded up to a stop.
Rick searched for the road signs and glanced at his GPS for confirmation.  He had a fifty-fifty chance of choosing the right road that Emily had taken.  It could make the difference between life – and death. 
They both had decided to split up to check out possible suspects to cover more ground, especially with the new suspect in the mix.  He wished that he had taken Kevin Werner instead of Sean Mitchell.  Mitchell was a dead end and did not fit the profile.
Damn.    
Rick decided to take Deer Run Road.  Navigating the SUV toward the left, he slammed on the breaks.  There was a huge branch down blocking the roadway about the girth size of a weight lifter.  It lay precariously on its side.
“No!” he slammed his fists on the steering wheel.
Rick quickly jammed the car in reverse and pulled to the side of the road.  He jumped out of the vehicle to assess the damaged area and any other possible access.  The limb was large and had several smaller branches shooting in different directions making it impassable.  It was what had caused the local power outage.  He hoped that it was a dead branch easy to maneuver to the side, but no such luck.  It would require a chainsaw and the burning of precious time before it would budge enough to pass.
The more Rick thought about the roads, the more he bet that Emily had taken Deer Run Road.  It was not a just a guess, but a deduction.  The road travelled deeper into the forest and paralleled the large state park.  It was a perfect cover for someone not wanting to be found, which allowed for extreme privacy.
The fog continued to float in and the rural area became dense as the precious minutes ticked onward.  It chilled Rick.  The mist camouflaged the solid row of trees that he had seen as he exited the freeway.
“Sir? Are you lost?” a voice interrupted.
Rick turned and faced the county worker, who had a quizzical look on his face.  He was older than Rick had assumed – at least mid to late fifties.       
“I need to get through on Deer Run Road.”  Rick replied.
“Hmmm…”  The tall man scratched his beard and took a moment to size up Rick.
“Is it possible?”
“Of course… just not now.  This is one of three trees down in the area.”
Rick did not know if the man was slow or just did not care.
The worker continued, “The County has had so many cutbacks that I’m the only one.  It’s going to take a bit.”
“Look, I need to get through on that road.  It’s urgent.”  Rick emphasized the word urgent without sounding sarcastic.
The man looked suspiciously at Rick as he said, “There aren’t any residences out there, just a few cabins. What’s your hurry?”
There was no other choice, but Rick had to bluff the man. “It’s police business, I need to get through.”  He decided to try another angle to get the man to comply with what he wanted.  “We’re on a manhunt, and we have reason to believe that the suspect is hiding out there.”
The man’s eyebrows rose accompanied by a surprised expression.  It seemed to resonate something inside him.  Rick knew that he had to act fast and play upon the man’s emotions in order to work in his favor.  He did not want to have to answer too many questions or for the worker to call a supervisor. 
“What do you need for me to do?” he asked.  
“Do you have a chainsaw?”
“Uh, yes,” he replied slowly.
“Get it.”  Rick stated flatly.  He turned and headed back to his car, shed his jacket, and glanced quickly at the cell phone.  There was still no message or text from Emily.
Time battled against Rick.
He rolled up his sleeves as the worker approached carrying a chainsaw and a pair of safety goggles. 
“There are no live wires I could come in contact with, right?” Rick stated.
“No, you’re good to go.  You know how to operate one of these?”
“Of course.”  Rick took the tool from the man.  It was heavier than he thought.  “Thanks.”  He had never actually used one before.
For a moment, the county worker hesitated as if he thought better of giving a perfect stranger a chainsaw. 
Rick hurried to the large branch, fired up the device, and began cutting.  It was louder than he expected – ear splintering.  Small fragments of the limb showered all around Rick; he worked as fast as he dared and slowly made headway. 



CHAPTER THREE
Tuesday 2210 Hours

Emily did not have a choice.  If she did not want to end up broken and burned at the bottom of a ravine, she had to jump from the SUV and hope that she could catch herself before another long drop. 
The pursuing SUV gained more power, fiercely pushing the engine and torque capabilities to the limit, and kept contact on Emily’s car like a bulldozer.  It was mere seconds before the plunge.  High-pitch scraping and squealing of the metal compression between the two vehicles filled the night. 
Braking did not slow Emily’s speed. 
Mud mixed with leaves and various forest debris made it impossible to gain any tire traction.  She had no other choice but to steer straight and countdown her last seconds before escape.  She grabbed what she could and slipped her cell phone into her jean pants pocket.  There was no time to put on her jacket or grab more ammunition for her Beretta.  She only wore a white t-shirt and it would not suffice long in the damp weather, which would soon drop into the low forties. 
It was less than ten seconds before the end of the road.
Emily put one hand on the door release and wrapped her fingers around it tightly.
Seven seconds…
She held firm with her right hand on the steering wheel, managing to keep the car moving straight.
Five seconds…
She counted down in her mind and hoped that Rick would find her.
Three seconds…
 She stiffly readied herself.  Jamming the gearshift in reverse, allowing her vehicle to grind and groan in protest.
One second…
Emily pulled the handle, pushed the driver’s door open with all of her strength, and jumped.    She hit the ground hard jarring her bones, careful to cover her face as bushes and branches scraped every inch of her body.  She rolled for what seemed like minutes, but it was only three or four seconds.  Her arms and legs flopped as she rolled, hitting uneven lumps of earth as she freed herself from the oncoming SUV. 
Her fall was not over yet. 
The ground seemed to give way underneath her and she felt like she was floating in space, her body lifeless and isolated, ten million miles away from earth.  She could hear a car engine idling in the distance and it seemed to move slowly away. 
Her surroundings were dark. 
Blinking her eyes numerous times to bring anything into focus, the night remained shadowy.  She did not see any car headlights and wondered if she had hit her head hard, becoming blinded upon the sudden impact.  
With a hard body blow, Emily hit the earth again and continued to roll and slide in a downward motion.  She descended downhill.  She stiffened her legs and tried to dig her heels into the dirt, while reaching her hands outward to grab onto anything.  The large forest turned into a rollercoaster ride.  She kept trying to stop the momentum using her hands and feet.  It took a few more seconds before she halted abruptly in between two large pine trees.                          
Emily sat upright with her legs out in front of her.  She tried to slow her breathing and remained quiet.  It was unclear if the killer had seen her jump from her vehicle, or if he assumed she took the plunge with her car over the edge of the cliff.
The loud pounding in her ears was just her heavy breathing returning to normal.  She slowly moved her arms and legs judiciously, but nothing seemed to be broken.  Her left hip and foot developed a throbbing pain almost instantly.  She ran her left hand gently over her body to see if she had any gaping or bleeding wounds that needed immediate attention.  
The distinct metallic taste of blood filled her dry mouth.  Emily felt the right side of her lip and down by her chin, which was wet with blood.  As she sat in the same position for several minutes, her eyes became accustomed to the darkness.  She could see the tree outlines and the steep grade she had tumbled down.
The forest stood quiet all around her. 
Tall. 
Looming. 
Trees, branches, and various sized bushes remained still – not a leaf moved.  There was not a sound from the wildlife or the gunning of a car engine.  It was motionless and strangely silent all around her.
The moist air and fog clusters dominated Emily’s sinuses.  The chill crept in and made her shiver.  She knew it was not as cold as she felt.  The trauma of the impact of falling and lack of warmth made her body acutely aware of the environment. 
Sleepiness battled her focus and attention.  A strange numbness tried to overtake her. 
She clenched and released her fists trying to regain strength and circulation.
Emily leaned forward and swung her legs underneath herself before she stood up.  Wobbly at first, she managed to stand up straight using a tree trunk for support.  She was not sure if she suffered from dizziness since her vision of the night was dim.  Shadows floated around her and the forest layout seemed to morph and change each time she tried to study the outlines of the trees. 
The main objective was still the same.  Locate and rescue Jeannie Sanders.  It did not matter how much Emily’s body hurt or the fact that she was scared of the unknown, she knew that Jeannie was alone and terrified.  That purpose was more important than some bumps and bruises.  It was only a matter of time before the killer returned to his special hiding place and killed the little girl.
Emily retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and pressed the button to activate it.  The light of the screen brightened, casting an unnatural glow around her.  Her phone still worked.  The screen had a jagged crack across it horizontally, but she could still read the apps and numbers.  The signal symbol still showed no connection. 
Emily exhaled noisily. 
She felt defeated and extremely alone. 
Gathering her wits and strength, she moved forward because there was no time to feel overwhelmed and there was no other choice but to climb back up to the main road.  There she could reevaluate the location – one-step at a time.
Alert and hyper-aware of her rugged surroundings, Emily made slow progress of climbing back up to the road.  Her teeth chattered from the falling temperature.  Her exposed arms were numb from the night air even though she could feel trickling perspiration running down her back.   
There was no actual trail to follow so she drifted to the left near where her SUV took a dive.  From her cell phone clock, it revealed fifteen minutes had passed after she reached the spot where she had started her descent.  She kept her cell phone in her pocket, careful not to attract attention with the light if the killer waited in the darkness for her to return. 
Emily stood on the high edge and tuned toward the forest.  She listened for anything that did not belong in the natural setting – anything – a soft snap of a twig, a footstep, or the sound of a cooling engine. 
Nothing.
Fatigue and determination worked together, which fueled Emily’s mind back through the investigation from the beginning.  The suspects, the evidence, and the victims knitted together the clues. 
The name Tick-Tock Killer made her skin crawl.  Her anger rose because of everything it stood for, and all of the innocent victims that had been lost.  By naming a serial killer, news agencies and the public did not realize that they were helping the killers with their celebrity status with a catchy name.  All of those serial killer names resonated with the public and became synonymous long after the killer’s crime sprees ended, and the newness of the crimes faded away.  Those given names lasted forever.
Emily peered over the rim of the cliff, not venturing too close to the edge.  It was just as dark as the rest of her surroundings – one big black hole.  She wished that she had grabbed her flashlight, instead of treading carefully in the dark hoping that she would not fall into a hole or walk off the edge. 
Looking up at the sky, she saw a small area where the clouds and fog had parted.  More light illuminated the forest.  Emily saw that there was another trail on the far side of the road.  It must have been where the killer disappeared to so easily. 
She glanced at her phone.  The signal wavered in and out of range.  She took a chance and sent a text message to Rick: End of road east location. SUV gone. On foot. Running out of time.  Put cops on standby.
Emily knew that Rick would understand her cryptic message and that she would not stop searching until she rescued the girl.  They had a secret protocol to follow, which they both knew well.  From most of their searches, they found the victim, alive or dead, and then emailed the information to the cops anonymously. 
Sometimes the situation was a little more complicated.
She decided to walk the small roadway and kept to the side as far as she could in order to blend into the shadows.  The path was surprisingly smooth compared to the main road.  It was as if someone had taken a heavy piece of earth moving equipment and leveled it out.  It had fresh fine gravel that crunched under foot.  Still, she moved to the farthest side of the roadway in the soft dirt where her footsteps became silent.   
The cloud cover moved around overhead.  Sometimes the light from the partial moon would be bright enough to see the leaves on the trees and the gravel on the ground.  Other times, she could barely see her hand in front of her face. 
Emily estimated that she had walked a mile to a mile and half.  The walking motion made her bumps and bruises a constant, uncomfortable pain.
A low hum cut through the quiet night.  It kept the same rhythm.  It sounded strange, even otherworldly.  Emily knew that it would not be someone working in the state park or a utility worker doing routine maintenance.  She hoped it was the killer and she would catch him before it was too late.
Emily quickened her footsteps and headed deeper into the wooded area.
There were only five bullets left in her gun.  It would have to suffice.   



About the author:
Jennifer Chase is an award-winning author and consulting criminologist. She has authored six crime fiction novels, including the award-winning Emily Stone thriller series along with a screenwriting workbook.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor degree in police forensics and a Master's degree in criminology. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling. She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

1 comment:

jchasenovelist said...

Thank you for hosting DARK PURSUIT today!