Primal Obsession

Primal Obsession by Susan Vaughan Read Free Book Online

Book: Primal Obsession by Susan Vaughan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Vaughan
going to be easier than he thought. Easy to show his cleverness, his skill. No one could make fun of him. Use him. She’ll never shut me away again. I’ll show her. I’ll--
    He broke off, confused. A moment later, he pulled himself back, focused.
    Then he saw the bitch. Alone.
    His ultimate victim, so near. Sweat poured and his heart raced.
    She was alone in the camp. Maybe she’d go off alone into the woods. So naïve, so trusting. She disappointed him. Like the rest of these fools.
    None was any match for the Hunter. He was master of his natural element.
    Not even the guide. Drooling over her kept him from noticing the danger around them.
    People were so gullible. She had an inkling of the Hunter’s accomplishments, but only the iceberg tip. He’d thought they had a rapport. She’d led him to confide in her. And then she deserted him, left him like some assignment.
    Perhaps he’d confide the rest of his exploits before he did her. Too bad she’d never be able to write his full story. At the thought, blood pumped through his body, turning him painfully hard. He needed relief.
    But that could wait. He could wait. He would ready himself for this hunt. In the meantime, he’d make things interesting. Confusing. Aggravating. He knew just the tricks to play.
    How long would it take for the bitch to catch on? For fear to build? To paralyze?
    She was alone now. He knew exactly how to begin.

 
    SIX
     
    After organizing her sleeping bag and duffels inside her tent, Annie changed into her tankini. She walked along the shore with the bag of Emma’s ashes tucked in the crook of one arm. Wild raspberry bushes lined the rough path. The sun’s warmth and the sweet tang of overripe berries filled the air.
    Scanning the water for dangers, she waded one step at a time into the tepid water. “Idiot. No sharks here. Only Sam.” She frowned. Never mind that Emma would’ve laughed at her fears. And at her resistance to the attractive guide.
    The water was clear enough to distinguish individual grains of sand on the bottom and the herringbone pattern on the sandals’ straps. A school of minnows swirled around her calves. When she dipped her hand toward them, they darted away. Tiny silver arrows.
    Except for the hum of bees and a lilting spiral of birdsong, the forest behind her and the lake lay in silence. She could no longer hear her companions’ voices.
    “Well, Emma, here you are.” Tears choked her voice as she unzipped the plastic bag. “May the beauty and purity of this wild lake bring you peace.”
    She sprinkled the small amount of ashes over the waters along with a generous helping of tears.
    After the ashes sank, Annie swam until her sore arms forced her to stop and lather up with her biodegradable soap and shampoo. Feeling marginally better, she waded out and dried off. Sensing a presence behind her, she glanced back at the berry bushes and the dark forest beyond. No birdsong. No breeze.
    Nothing.
    She shook off her paranoia and spread her towel on a flat rock. A little work on her tablet was what she needed. She booted up and opened the folder labeled Hunter . A spreadsheet detailed each murder—victim description, place and time of abduction, body’s location.
    The police had no leads, no suspects and few clues. She owed Emma and her mother to do whatever she could to find Emma’s killer. After fleeing the city to return to Maine, she’d found a confidante and mentor in Rissa. The two women had helped her through the dark days.
    Immersing herself in this alien wilderness had to help her understand the monster that had taken Emma and the others. “I’ll find him, Emma. I promise,” she whispered.
    A rustle in the bushes lurched her heart into a rapid tattoo. She leapt to her feet and peered into the gathering shadows. A moose coming to drink? A bear eating berries?
    Another thump and she catapulted toward the path, her towel flapping behind her.
    A hand clamped her shoulder.
    A scream rose to her throat and

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