Yet, she was edgy.
Something seemed off.
She looked over her shoulder.
She swiped the rain from her eyes and told herself she should have taken an alternate route. Unable to shake the sensation that whoever or whatever was following her was getting closer, she yanked the earbud from her ear.
Nothing but the steady drip of the rain.
You’re crazy, she told herself, and fumbled to put the wet bud back into her ear.
As she poked the earpiece back in, she saw something out of place in the shadows a half block ahead. Movement.
Her heart clutched.
Again, a quick flash of shadow and darkness . . . someone stepping from around the corner of a building, lurking? She squinted. Another jogger? A woman?
Brandi felt a moment’s relief. Just another night owl, maybe out to walk her dog, or have a cigarette or whatever. Nothing to get worried about. Still, she decided it might be wise to cross the street. The woman could be a crackpot or—
Holy shit! Was it . . . ? Wait a second . . . She couldn’t believe her eyes. Was the woman out here in the middle of the damned night really Cassie Kramer?
Rain collected on Brandi’s eyelashes. The night was blurry and wet. But the person looked like . . . no, no, no. Wait! Not Cassie. The woman in the shadows was Allie effin’ Kramer herself!
Brandi raised an arm. To convey that she recognized Allie, which was ridiculous. But now that she was getting closer . . .
No . . . she was just a woman who looked like one of the Kramer sisters. Her imagination, spurred by adrenaline and her own fears about this damned street, was running amok. She was mistaken. The darkness had confused her.
Nonetheless, the woman was closing the gap between them, coming nearer. As she passed under a streetlamp, she was more visible.
randi’s heart nearly stopped.
Something was off with Allie’s face. Or Cassie’s face. Or whoever’s damned face. Whoever this woman was, her visage seemed to be melting off her damned skull! Panic burned through Brandi’s blood. She lunged to the side, intent on crossing the street. Frantically, she unzipped a pocket on her running jacket, reached inside for her can of pepper spray, felt the metal cylinder. Good. Still running, she pulled the can from her pocket and it slipped, rolling off her fingertips to clatter to the street.
She kept running, didn’t have time to try to find the canister or chase it down.
Your phone. Grab your phone. Dial Jeff or nine-one-one or someone!
But the woman was too close. Brandi couldn’t slow down. Couldn’t risk dropping her cell.
Spurred by her own fears, she increased her pace, shooting past the other woman and watching from the corner of her eyes, as if in slow motion, the disfigured monster spin, raising her arm, a long-barreled pistol in her hand.
Brandi was sprinting now, her lungs burning, her legs aching. She cut to the sidewalk between two parked cars. If she could just reach the corner—