Authors: Shiloh Walker
“Oh, to hell with it.” Reaching up, he touched the tip of his finger to her lower lip.
Her mouth opened on a soft gasp and he dipped his head until only a breath separated them. “The second I saw you, I wondered what you’d taste like. If you’d rather me not find out, can you say something?”
Lena blinked. Wow. Her brain had just gone completely blank.
“Is that a back-off?” he asked.
“No. No, I don’t think so.”
His mouth came down on hers, easy and light, keeping it slow at first. She opened for him and shuddered as he traced his tongue along her lower lip. He tasted like coffee and chocolate cheesecake and man. Delicious. Lifting a hand, she placed it on his cheek. There was the faintest rasp of stubble under her palm, very faint. Curious, she trailed her fingers along his neck, dipped them into his hair, but as curious as she was about how he looked, the curiosity was slowly dying under the heat of hunger.
He could kiss.
Humming under her breath, she moved closer and brought her other hand up, resting it on his hip. Lean hips, she couldn’t help but notice that. And the body she pressed against was also lean, long and lean. Heat started to pulse through her, but that was little surprise. It had already been on a slow burn from the time she’d sat down next to him.
He skimmed a hand down her spine, resting it at the small of her back. She shivered under that touch and when he pressed her closer, tucking her lower body more firmly against his, the shivering got worse. She almost came out of her skin. Need tightened her belly and she rocked closer, all but ready to ride the hard ridge pressed against her belly.
And she just might have tried to do that—just might have asked him if maybe he’d come back to her place—just might have lost her ever-loving mind.
But a car horn blared, shattering the calm night air, and Lena pulled away, sucking air in desperately.
Her heart. Shit. It was pounding so hard, she thought it just might explode out of her chest.
Swallowing, she licked her lips and then she could have whimpered, begged for mercy, because she could taste him. Taste him, and it made her want to throw herself against him and kiss him. Again, and again … and then stop just long enough to lose all their clothes.
If You Hear Her
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Ballantine Books eBook Edition
Copyright © 2011 by Shiloh Walker
If You See Her
copyright © 2011 by Shiloh Walker
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
If You See Her
by Shiloh Walker. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
Cover design: Lynn Andreozzi
Cover illustration: Chris Cocozza
ER NAME WAS
The final hours of her life were brutal.
She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know how long she’d been there. By that point, she was so wracked with pain, so desperate for escape, she barely remembered who she was.
She was twenty-three. She was going to medical school. She was bright, eager, and before she’d fallen into this hell, she had loved life. Now she just prayed for it to end.
She had been stuck in that hellish darkness for hours, days, possibly weeks.
And she knew she would die there.
She knew he was coming back—the door creaked. It was like a death knell, heralding his arrival. As the door swung open, the ancient hinges protested.
A sob bubbled up in her throat as he laid a hand on her calf and stroked up. She cringed away as much as she could, but the restraints at her wrists, waist, knees, and ankles didn’t allow for much movement.
When he cupped his hand over her sex, her scream, long and desperate, split the air.
Her kidnapper, rapist, and soon-to-be killer watched,
amused … pleased with her terror. “Go ahead and scream, sweetheart. Nobody can hear you.”
“Please …” her throat was so dry and raw from how she had cried. How she had begged. How she had pleaded. She almost hated herself, for begging. For giving him that pleasure. Some part of her just wasn’t ready to accept the truth, wasn’t ready to give up.
Even though, in her heart, she knew it was useless. “Just let me go. Please let me go … I won’t tell anybody, I swear.”
He sighed. It was a sigh of long-suffering patience, the one a parent might give a child. He even patted her shoulder as he murmured, “Yes, I’m sure you won’t.”
A loud sound rasped through the air and she whimpered as she recognized it. A zipper. He was getting undressed—no, no, no …
Hysterical panic tore through her and she started to scream.
He raped her again.
Her voice gave out long before she was able to escape inside herself.
This time, though, her escape was final. She had retreated somewhere deep inside herself—somewhere where pain didn’t exist, where terror didn’t exist.
When he ended her life, she never even knew—she was already gone.
Her name was Carly Watson.
It was a lovely day, the kind of day you just didn’t get too often. The air was warm and mild, with clear sunshine beaming down. A soft breeze drifted by. Under the trees, it was just a bit cooler.
The perfect sort of day for a walk.
At least, Lena Riddle would’ve thought so. But halfway through, her dog started getting anxious. Puck didn’t do anxious. Not in the four years she’d had him. But there
he was, pulling against his leash, like he was determined not to let her take their normal route through the woods.
“Come on, Puck. You wanted to go for a walk, remember?”
She tried to take another step, but the big yellow retriever sat down. He wasn’t going to move an inch.
Just then, faintly, oh so very faintly, she heard … something.
Puck growled. “Hush,” she murmured, reaching down and resting a hand on his head. He had his hackles up, his entire body braced and tensed. “Easy, boy. Just take it easy.”
Standing in the middle of the trail, with her head cocked, she listened. The faint breeze that had been blowing all day abruptly died and all those faint sounds of life she could always hear in the woods faded down to nothingness. A heartbeat passed, then another.
It was utterly silent.
Then it came again. Something … muffled. Faint. An animal? Trapped?
She scowled absently, concentrating. There it was again.
Her brow puckered as she focused, trying to lock in on the sound better.
Puck whined in his throat and tugged on his leash, demandingly. Lena turned her head, trying to follow that sound. It was gone, though. The breeze returned and all she could hear now were the leaves rustling in the breeze, the sound of a bird call, and somewhere off in the distance, a car’s motor.
Still, the faint memory of that sound, whatever it was, sent a shiver down her spine.
“You know what, Puck?” she murmured. “I think you’re right. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
She only had a few hours left before she had to go to work anyway.