Deanna drew in a sharp breath as her eyes swept over the barren earth. It had been cleared away, no longer natural, leaving evidence that something…or someone…had, in fact, been right there. And there was a dark, ominous stain in the center.
She squatted down to touch the dirt. What was this? She immediately backed up with a jolt and stood upright.
It was blood.
Earth that had been soaked—no, practically bathed—in blood.
For reasons beyond her comprehension, she felt like crying.
Falling to her knees and weeping.
What the hell?
There was such an overwhelming sense of grief enveloping her that she staggered where she stood. Unable to bring it under control, she knelt in the dirt and placed the flat of her palms over the bloodstained earth. “What are you?” she whispered, distraught. “Who are you?”
She lifted her hands and brushed the bloodstained dirt through her fingers. “And why do I feel like I’m going to die because of you…like I wish I could?”
She wrapped both of her arms tightly around her middle and started to rock back and forth, inexplicable tears streaming down her face. When finally she had shed her last teardrop, she wiped her eyes with the back of a dirty hand and stood. “Come back to me.” She mumbled the words nonsensically. “Please…oh, please…come back to me.”
Fearing for her sanity, she turned to run to her car but was stopped short by the presence of a skinny, brooding redhead sitting on the hood of her SUV. The woman had parked a pink Corvette behind Deanna’s Ford Explorer and was watching her with piercing, angry eyes like those of a tiger. Everything about the otherwise small woman screamed danger.
Just one more thing that made no sense.
Deanna appraised the stranger from head to toe as she raised her chin, held out her keys, and approached with caution. She hadn’t grown up in a perfect suburban world, and she knew how to handle herself if necessary. Under ordinary circumstances, she would never fear another female of such small stature, but these weren’t ordinary circumstances. And somehow, although she didn’t know how she knew, the woman sitting so brazenly on the hood of her truck was no ordinary person.
“Hello,” Deanna called pleasantly, figuring it might be best to get on the woman’s good side up front.
The girl popped a piece of gum, pushed away from the hood, and took a large, measured stride toward Deanna, kicking off a beautiful pair of spiked black heels as she stepped forward.
Oh shit, this isn’t good.
The redhead narrowed her eyes. “Two questions: Who the hell are you? And what the hell were you doing underneath that tree?” She took out her gum and tossed it on the ground. “Speak now, skank, or forever hold your peace.”