Excerpt for The Daughter of Darkness by , available in its entirety at Smashwords




THE DAUGHTER OF

DARKNESS



DAVID MILLER









THE DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS



Published by Dark Road Publishing

www.darkroadpub.com


The Daughter of Darkness, Copyright © 2017 by David Miller

Excerpt for Stone of Destiny, Copyright © 2015 by David Miller


Cover Art, Copyright © 2017 by syberianmoon | DepositPhotos.com

Cover Design, Copyright © 2017 by Dark Road Publishing


The Daughter of Darkness is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarities or resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is wholly coincidental.


No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violations of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.




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THE DAUGHTER

OF DARKNESS









Rocky Hill

New Mexico


HAYLEE BAXTER SAT in the passenger seat as Tommy McClure nosed his souped-up Dodge Charger to the fence behind the high school grandstands. Home of the Rocky Hill Timber Rattlers. Eleven-thirty Saturday night the football stadium parking lot was empty. The stands were dark. Not like they’d been the night before. Friday night lights. The entire town there to cheer the Rattlers to a nail-biting 23-20 victory over their crosstown rivals, Franklin Prep.

Tommy shut down the rumbling engine.

The headlights shone through the shoulder-high chain link fence and across the freshly cut grass like white fire. He had his window down, his arm resting on the sill. Desert crickets and mosquitos buzzed the air. Tommy, the Rattler’s star quarterback, stared out over the field with a goofy grin on his face.

He’s reliving last night’s big game, Haylee thought. What else since he’d talked about it all through dinner and the movie.

He’d take the team to Nationals this year, the first time in nine years. Everybody said so.

In the glow of the dashboard lights, Haylee Baxter, captain of the cheerleading squad, stared out onto the field, too. Her hands folded one over the other in her lap. The two of them were on their first date. Seniors, he was Rocky Hill born and raised. She’d moved to town at the beginning of the school year with her mom after her bitter divorce from Haylee’s dad.

Rocky Hill was a world away from Princeton, New Jersey.

Tommy jumped out and ran around the front of the car. He pulled Haylee’s door open and took her by the hand. “Come on.”

“Where we going?” she asked, letting him pull her out of the car. The air was rich with the smell of fresh-cut grass. Cold once the sun went down.

He held her hand, leading her to an opening in the fence.

They walked the path around the football field toward the fieldhouse, where it was dark. A few dull yellow security lights fixed to the overhang of the low building formed pale circles of light on the walkway. Dark purple clouds drifted across the night sky as a rare October rainstorm approached, blotting the moon’s bluish glow from reaching the ground until they passed.

At the corner of the fieldhouse, pressed against the closed vendor window, Haylee shivered as Tommy leaned in to kiss her. It’s not that she didn’t want him to. She did. She’d been over the moon excited when he asked her to the movies.

And why not? He was the star quarterback, after all.

She put her hand on his chest, stopping him. “I’m cold.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes,” she snapped back. “Seriously.”

He slumped his shoulders. “Fine.” He took off his football jacket and swung it around, draping it over her shoulders. “There. That better?”

“Yes,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest and tugging the jacket tighter around her, covering herself up with it.

Tommy put his hand on the metal grille behind her and leaned in to kiss her again. She closed her eyes, letting him. It was nice. She let herself relax, deciding to enjoy the moment. He was the star quarterback, she reminded herself. On Monday, she’d be the envy of every girl at school.

She broke off the kiss and pushed him back. “What was that?”

His forehead creased with annoyance again. “What was what?”

“I heard something.” Haylee leaned to the side to look past him out onto the football field. She didn’t see anything.

“What?” Tommy turned to look over his shoulder, too.

“I don’t know…something.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

They stood for a moment in the silence. But she didn’t hear anything. Even the crickets and the mosquitos had gone quiet.

“Satisfied?” Tommy asked with an arched eyebrow.

“I…I guess.”

As they started to make out again, there it was again.

“Tommy, stop.” She pushed him back. “You heard it that time. You had to.”

“No!” Angry.

“Well, I did,” Haylee said, getting pissed off, too.

“What was it?” he demanded. “What did it sound like?”

“Scratching. Like claws.”

Tommy sighed. “Probably a cat. There’s strays around here all the time ’cause of the food. It’s nothing.”

Tommy had a one-track mind and again tried to kiss her. She slipped out from under his grasp. “Maybe its coyotes. Or a mountain lion.” She was from New Jersey, what did she know about New Mexico and what things could come out of the desert or down from the mountains?

Tommy made his eyes all wide. “Or maybe it’s the Loch Ness Monster.”

“In the middle of the desert? Don’t be stupid.”

“I’m telling you, Haylee, it’s nothing.”

From around the side of the building came a crash. A metal garbage can tipped over, crashing to the paved walkway. Haylee shrieked, and even Tommy jumped. He leaned around her, looking to see what it might be. She slapped his chest. “See? I told you I heard something. Go check it out.”

He snapped his gaze back at her. “What?”

“Go see what it was.”

“Why? We should just go.” He took her hand and started to pull her away.

She planted her feet, refusing to move. “I thought it was just a cat?”

“Cat’s don’t tip over garbage cans.”

“Maybe it is Nessie and you’re too scared to go see,” she said, teasing him back.

“I’m not scared.”

“Then prove it.”

Tommy swallowed and looked again at the corner of the building.

He started to move in that direction still holding onto Haylee’s hand, squeezing it. She huddled in behind him. Her heart was racing. Fear and excitement made her all jittery.

They reached the corner and Tommy leaned around slowly, like the cops do when they’re secretly trailing the bad guys in the movies. Haylee put the hand he wasn’t squeezing numb on his shoulder, trying to lean out past him so she could see, too.

“What is it?”

“Shush.” He whispered, “I don’t see anything.”

He relaxed, sounding relieved.

Disappointed, Haylee stepped back. “You’re sure?”

In response, Tommy McClure screamed. He jumped back, flailing his arms.

Haylee backed away, too. Fast. Her heart beating like a drum now, she covered her open mouth with her hands. “Tommy!”

Tommy twisted frantically, waving his arms, yelling, “Get it off me! Get it off me!”

In the darkness, Haylee couldn’t see what “it” was, only chaotic shadows and a flapping, beating sound. Something was around Tommy’s face. Like the leathery wings of bats. They beat the air. Then a hissing sound like a snake combined with the clicking, snapping noise of fangs gnashing. Hiss. Click. Snap. Hiss. Click. Snap.

Tommy spun and twisted. Panicked. His hands were around something smothering his face. He pulled. He stumbled and tripped over the fallen garbage can. He fell to the ground. Wriggling and kicking. All the time, screaming, “Get it off! Get it off!”

Haylee backed away. She bounced into the fence. The chain links rattled. She took a deep breath but didn’t know what to do.

Tommy rolled into the pale light cast from the fieldhouse security lights.

That gave Haylee her first look at what was attacking Tommy. Like nothing she’d ever seen before. A lizard, but big. Bigger than a raccoon. It had two short scaly legs with clawed chicken feet. It had big leathery wings that were flapping furiously. They made a sound that Haylee would never forget. The thing had a long snake-like neck and horns on its head.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

Its tail was as thick and long as the creature’s neck. It whipped around. It had a horned head, too!

The creature had two heads!

The front head was busy ripping through Tommy’s neck. Its fangs dug deep into his throat and tore great, bloody chunks of flesh away. The second head had shredded through Tommy’s T-shirt. It slashed through his stomach, was pulling entrails from the gaping bloody hole. It chewed and swallowed and spit, making horrible, open-mouth, wet smacking sounds.

Haylee recoiled and gagged. She put the back of her hand to her mouth to keep from losing her dinner, large popcorn with butter and a soda.

She thought: call for help. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket. Fumbling—her hands were trembling so badly—she dropped it!

It hit the walkway, clattered, and skidded away. “Damn it!”

The creature’s heads snapped in her direction.

Its eyes—two sets of them—were reptilian, with pupils that glowed yellow, like candle flames. They blinked wetly. Blood and gore dripped from its two mouths.

Haylee heard the dropped cell phone connect. From the tiny speaker she heard someone call her name. Mom. It sounded like her mom.

The creature gnashed its mouths. It hissed and leaped at her.

Haylee raised an arm and screamed.







CHAPTER 1



SARAH PRENTISS RODE into town in the middle of the night.

The sleek, metallic black Kawasaki Ninja 1000 rumbled with a throaty authority as she drove down the quiet Main Street of Rocky Hill, New Mexico, with its one traffic light and its center of town roundabout, a statue of Cochise, the great Chiricahua Apache chieftain, in the middle of it.

She circled it and continued on her way past the corner grocery store and the movie theater offering only one showing, the latest superhero blockbuster. A former mining town, the storefronts were all mom and pop shops, a local pharmacy, a five-and-dime store, a hardware store owned by Haywood & Hart. From many of the stores American and New Mexico flags hung limp in the still night air.

No big national chains had invaded Rocky Hill. Not worth the investment to their bottom line.

At the corner Sarah turned right, drove the half mile down Cuchilla Road to the general hospital. The two-story brick building sat basking in bright light. An ambulance was parked, idling, in a space marked for emergency vehicles only.

She pulled up on the sidewalk beside the emergency room doors, flipped the bike’s kickstand down, twisted the ignition key to off, and removed the shiny black helmet and visor from her head. Sarah shook out her long, straight black hair and hung the helmet from the handlebars as she got off and stretched.

She loved the Kawasaki but four hours riding without a break made Sarah’s muscles ache and her bones creak. She checked the small padlocks on the saddlebags, in which everything she owned in the world—not much—resided. Not that the simple metal locks would keep anyone out if they really wanted to steal her stuff. That was what the hexes put upon them by Wicapi Waken, her maternal grandmother and a Dakota Sioux shaman, were for.

The hospital’s emergency room doors swooshed open.

Sarah tugged off her leather riding gloves as she strolled past the sleeping security guard behind the desk. At the bank of elevators a passing nurse noticed her and changed direction to come over to her.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I’m looking for a patient. Haylee Baxter. Can you tell me what room she’s in?”

“You can’t see her now,” the nurse said. “It’s way past visiting hours.”

Sarah put her hand on the woman’s forearm. As their skin made contact, the nurse’s features relaxed. Sarah smiled. “What room did you say she was in?”

“Two twenty-three. I can take you there if you’d like.”

“No,” Sarah said. “I think I can manage. Have a nice night.”

“You, too,” the nurse said, walking away. Her placated expression remained along with her flat if somewhat confused smile.

Sarah stepped into the elevator and hit the button for the second floor.

She reached Haylee’s room without encountering anyone else. The door was ajar. Sarah slipped into the room, leaving the door untouched.

Inside, the only sounds were the soft steady beeps from several monitors. The overhead lights were off but the yellow, red, and green hue from the monitors filled the room with a dim ethereal glow. More light spilled in through the Venetian blinds covering the windows, the slats only partially tuned down.

Haylee had a private room, making what Sarah had to do that much easier.

The girl had a large white dressing over the left side of her neck. There was another, smaller bandage on her forehead. The girl’s face was marred with numerous lacerations—claw and teeth marks. It appeared a chunk of her hair had been ripped out as well. Lines from two IVs fed into the back of her hand.

The girl slept, snoring softly.

Sarah didn’t want to wake her but she had no choice.

“Haylee,” she called out softly. “Haylee, wake up.”

The girl’s eyes fluttered. She turned her head, resisting the disturbance.

“Come on, girl. Wake up.”

Her eyes popped open. She saw Sarah and reacted with a start.

“Easy.” Sarah placed her hand on the girl’s shoulder. Under the stark white hospital covers the girl wore a pale blue hospital gown. “It’s okay.”

“Who are you?” Haylee asked once she found her voice.

“I need to ask you some questions. About what happened to you?”

The attack had occurred less than five hours earlier.

“Are you a cop?” Haylee looked Sarah up and down, taking in her black leather motorcycle jacket, her black leather pants, and her Five Finger Death Punch band T-shirt. “You don’t look like a cop.”

Sarah ignored the question. “Tell me about what attacked you, Haylee?”

The girl frowned. “So you can call me crazy, too?”

“You said the thing that attacked you had two heads.”

“That’s right.” Defiant. “A lizard or a snake thing-y with two heads, but it had feet, too. Like a chicken. And leathery wings, like a dragon. And fangs.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “Look what it did to me with its fangs.” She waved her hands at her face, at the lacerations that were deep enough to scar. A beautiful girl, she would deal with those scars the rest of her life.

“Anyway, everybody says I’m nuts.”

“You’re not. You were attacked by an amphisbaena.”

“A what?”

“A two-headed serpent. It’s a mystical creature, their existence dates back to Fifth Century B.C. Where they’re from, people call them Twee-kop serpents.”

“Mythical? Like don’t really exist. Now who sounds crazy?” Haylee huffed, folding her arms over her chest. Her forearms were heavily bandaged.

“You rather believe it was a coyote attack and that you’re crazy.” Sarah shrugged. “Fine by me.”

“Call it whatever you want. I know what I saw. That was no coyote.”

“How did you get away?”

“After it attacked Tommy, after it…killed him, it leaped at me and started biting at my neck and my face. I don’t know how but I beat it off. It dropped to the ground and I ran. I ran as fast as I could.” She shuddered at the memory. “I made it to the car, to Tommy’s car, and got in before that Tweet-whatever you called it could get me.”

“It’s pronounced twee-a-culp.”

“I don’t care. It slammed against the car. The whole car shook. I’ve never been so afraid in my whole life. Then, sitting there, I realized the driver’s side window was open. I didn’t have the keys. They were still with…” Haylee paused, her thoughts turning, Sarah was certain, to Tommy McClure and how he died. “…with Tommy. Thank God it’s an old car, refurbished. It’s got handles you roll up. I put the window up before the thing realized it. It banged and banged at the car, but it couldn’t get in. I sat there, shaking, crying. Scared I was gonna die until the police showed up.”

“What happened when the police arrived? The Twee-kop serpent? What did it do?”

Haylee frowned and shook her head. “I have no idea. It was gone. Scared off. Knocked itself senseless, I don’t know and I don’t care. I was just glad it was freakin’ gone.”

“How’d the police know you were in trouble?”

“My mom. I dropped my phone. Must have butt dialed her. She called the cops. They said they traced it.”

“And the serpent was gone by then?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Sarah tugged on her leather gloves. “If I need to come back and ask you some more questions, that’ll be okay, wouldn’t it?”

Haylee shrugged. “Sure. I guess.”

“Get some rest. It may not feel like it now, but you’re a very lucky girl.”

“How so?” Her tone made it clear she didn’t believe it.

“You survived. That’s no small thing.”

Sarah left the girl to sleep, once more slipping through the almost but not quite closed door.

When she turned from the room, she stopped short, coming face-to-face with a stern-looking county sheriff. He appeared relaxed, but his hand was on his holstered gun. Made it clear he’d draw it in a heartbeat.

“Sweetheart, you’ve got some explaining to do.”







CHAPTER 2



SARAH ASKED IF they could go to the all-night diner she’d passed coming into town. It had been over a day and a half since she’d had her last good meal. Since then she’d been living on bottled water and three protein bars.

Sheriff Wade Iron Bear was amenable. “The pie at the Red Eagle Diner’s to die for.”

There, they took the booth closest to the door.

The red plastic seats squeaked as they slid across them, facing each other. His uniform was tan with dark brown trim and pocket flaps. His sun-baked, bronze complexion indicated he was of mixed heritage, white and Native-American. In his mid-thirties, he was trim and fit, kept himself in good shape. Probably a sportsman. Spent a lot of his time outdoors: hunting, fishing, working a small ranch in his spare time. Good hands.

The waitress came over with a pot of coffee. “Hiya, Wade. What can I get’cha?”

“Dorothy. What’s the pie today?”

“Good old American apple.” Dorothy poured coffee in both their cups.

“My favorite,” Wade Iron Bear said. “I’ll take two slices.”

“You got it. What about you, hon?”

“Breakfast,” she said. “Two helpings of French toast, eggs over easy, hash browns, a side of bacon and sausage links, fruit, and leave the coffee.”

Dorothy looked at Sarah’s tall, thin frame and whistled. “I don’t know where you’ll put it all, girl, but it’s coming right up.” She placed the coffee pot on a napkin and headed off to the kitchen to place the order. “Wake up back there, Ralphie! We’ve got us a couple of hungry ones out here.”

Wade Iron Bear sipped his coffee then settled his cup back in the saucer. He sat back and stretched his arm out along the back of the booth. “So, what’s your story, Sarah Prentiss?”

“I don’t have a story.”

“Sure you do,” he said. “Everybody does. Some of ’em are just more interesting than others.” He smiled. “I’ve got a sense yours is a doozy.”

Her story was indeed a doozy. Dark, and one that involved murder. Two, in fact. “I’m not comfortable discussing my story with you, Sheriff. Am I obligated to?”

He shook his head. “Nope.”

Sarah moved to get out of the booth. “Then I guess we’re done here.”

The sheriff put his hand over hers, where she had it on the table. “Don’t go. At least not until you eat. You don’t want to talk about yourself, that’s fine. We’ll table that conversation for now. I do want to know why you’re bothering Haylee Baxter in the middle of the night.” He squeezed her hand. “On that one I’m not taking no for an answer.”

Kitchen noises came from the pass-through into the back behind the service counter. Dishes clattering, pots banging, the sizzle and pop and smell of meat frying on the griddle. Sarah’s mouth watered. She was hungry and she wanted to eat.

“I wanted to know more about the thing that attacked her.”

“It’s no mystery. It was a rabid coyote or maybe a bobcat.”

“You believe that, Sheriff?”

He shrugged. “What else? Wild animal attacks aren’t uncommon around here. Coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, even.”

Sarah asked again, “Really, Sheriff?”

Rather than answer, he sipped his coffee.

Sarah pressed him. “Haylee said it was reptilian. A snake.”

“A two-headed snake,” Iron Bear corrected her. “With wings. And chicken feet. She tell you about the eyes? That they glowed like candle flames?”

“She didn’t mention that part.”

“Well she did to me. I was the one rolled up on her at the stadium. I saw the dents in the side of Tommy’s car, the cracks in the window, from something hitting it. Hard. No snake I’ve ever seen could do that. A mountain lion, yeah. Maybe a coyote could, big enough one.”

Dorothy brought their food. They ate.

“Are you trying to convince me, Sheriff, or yourself?” Sarah asked between bites of French toast.

“I was born and raised on the reservation just north of here, been the sheriff going on ten years. I know every kind of animal native to these parts. There’s no winged, two-headed snakes with or without chicken feet ’round here. Never was. Never will be.”

“There is now, Sheriff. And who said it’s native to here?”

He frowned. “Why are you here, Ms. Prentiss? Really?”

“I told you, to learn more about Haylee’s attack.” She followed up with a question of her own. “This wasn’t the first one, was it?”

The sheriff nearly choked on his piece of pie. “Where’d you hear that?”

“On the Internet.”

“Oh, because everything on the Internet is true.” He washed down the statement and his pie with more coffee.

“How many?”

Iron Bear sighed. “Two before this one, first one was ten days ago.” He glanced over at Dorothy behind the counter. She was busying brewing more coffee. The kitchen was quiet. Without any more customers to cook for, Ralphie had probably gone back to sleep. “We’re keeping it quite so as to not panic everyone. But I’ve got three dead. A homeless man, an elderly Native-American nursing home patient, and now the high school’s star quarterback.”

“Is he more important than the other victims?”

“Jesus, no, that’s not what I meant. It just makes keeping a lid on this that much harder.”

“They weren’t coyote or mountain lion attacks,” Sarah said, definitively.

Iron Bear, accepting she wasn’t buying his narrative, leaned forward and lowered his voice conspiratorially. “Not like any I’ve ever seen. The coroner, either.”

“What makes them different?”

Now that he’d started talking, the sheriff was all in. “The wounds. The girl’s right. They’re more consistent with snake bites, too large for anything indigenous, but definitely reptilian. The coroner found some sort of venom on the first two victims. But he couldn’t classify it. Certainly not any variety you’d expect, like rattler or a coral snake, which are common to the area. He sent a sample to the crime lab in Albuquerque. We’re waiting on the results.”

Sarah wiped her mouth with a paper napkin. Her plate was cleared and the pot of coffee was empty. Wade Iron Bear who’d been doing most of the talking was only halfway through his second piece of pie. He signaled to Dorothy for more coffee.

After the waitress delivered it and had returned behind the counter, Iron Bear said, “You know more than you’ve let on, Sarah Prentiss. Your turn. Spill.”

“You will not believe me.”

“Try me.”

She told him all about the amphisbaena. When she finished, his rich, Native-American skin had paled. He realized he was holding a forkful of pie. He put it down on his plate, staring at her.

“You’re serious?”

“I am.”

“Where did it come from? How did it get here?”

“Originally from the blood of Medusa’s head, spilled across the Libyan Desert.”

“Oh, stop it. Now you’re just messing with me.”

“Believe me or not.” Sarah frowned. “But it needs to be stopped or more people will die.”

“On that point, we agree.” The sheriff picked up his fork of pie, looked at it, and put it down again. He wiped his hands with his napkin and balled it up, dropping it on his plate. “Say I believe you, and Lord knows I’m not saying that I do, how do you know all this? You study it in school or something?”

“Over the last few years I’ve had encounters with similar, stranger things.” She drank her coffee. “When I do, I sometimes get flashes of” —she searched for the right word— “insight. I suddenly know things that I don’t have any business knowing.”

“Things about the impossible. Things that don’t exist.”

“They exist, Sheriff. We wouldn’t be having this conversation and three people wouldn’t be dead if they didn’t exist. Better to think of them as” —she arched an eyebrow— “oddities.”

“Oddities are what you see in the freak show at the county fair,” Iron Bear said. “This, this twee-cup thing is more than an oddity. It’s killing folks.”

“Which is why I’ll take care of it.”

“Wait? What? You’ll take care of…”

“Yes.” Sarah said. “I’ll deal with the creature. You have nothing more to worry about, Sheriff.” Sarah started to get out of the booth. “Thanks for breakfast.”

“Wait. No.” Iron Bear moved to the end of the booth on his side. “You’re not going after that thing by yourself. It’s already killed three people. Look at you. You’re what, all of eighteen?”

Actually, she was twenty-three. She stood up. “What’s my age got to do with it?”

He stood up, too. “Okay, nothing. But I’ve been hunting in these parts my whole life. And this is my county. We go after that thing together, or you can get on that fancy bike of yours and ride the hell back to wherever you came from.”

“That wouldn’t be a wise course of action.”

“Yeah, why not.”

“Because in all likelihood you’ll end up dead.”

“Me? And not you?”

“Exactly.” Sarah said.

The sheriff’s face reddened. “Well, we’ll see about that.” He dug a handful of bills from his uniform pocket and dropped them on the table.

Sarah headed for the door with the sheriff close behind her.

He called out, “Thanks, Dorothy. As always, it was great.”

“’Night, y’all,” She waved snapping her chewing gum. “Come back and see us real soon.”

Sarah and Iron Bear walked down the steps to the parking lot. The night had turned cold. Bugs buzzed around the high lamps illuminating the lot. Other than her motorcycle and Iron Bear’s sheriff’s cruiser, the lot was empty except for a tow truck parked a good distance away in the far corner.

Sarah zipped up her leather jacket pulled her leather gloves from her pockets. She began tugging them on. He squared his hat on his head and adjusted his gun belt on his trim waist.

“So, what’s our next move, hunter lady?”

“Give me directions to the closest motel.”

“Motel? Why?”

“The Twee-kop is a nocturnal creature. It only comes out at night.”

He looked at her, wondering if she was trying to be funny. “I know what nocturnal means.”

“It’ll be daybreak soon. Nothing more we can do until nightfall. I’ve been up nearly twenty-four hours, I’m tired. I need some sleep.”

“Oh,” Iron Bear said. “That makes sense. In that case—”

He turned to point down the highway.

As he did, a man wearing a pair of dark blue auto mechanic coveralls appeared behind him.

Older than Iron Bear, easily in his early sixties, with a bald head except for a buzz cut halo of gray, he was bear-like and solid. He’d come out of the darkness from behind the parked sheriff’s cruiser. Over his left pocket the patch on his coveralls said his name was Bob.

“Jiminy, Bob,” Iron Bear said. “Where’d you come from? You ’bout gave me a heart attack.”

Bob ignored the cop. He stared at Sarah with fierce, intense eyes. “He knew you would come.”

The sheriff stepped up to the man. “Bob, what are you going on about? How do you know—”

Bob swiped his arm. His thick forearm slammed Iron Bear across the chest and the blow lifted the cop off the ground, sending him sailing back through the air. He cried out and waved his arms before he landed a dozen feet away on the ground, hitting hard. He grunted and rolled.

Bob had his attention on Sarah.

“He knew you would come,” Bob repeated. His voice deep, as if it came from the depths of Hell.


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