Storm feels inexplicably drawn to a mysterious house in her neighborhood—and to its exotic and dangerous occupant. When she discovers his plans for her, she wants to run away. He has other plans.
Storm Harper lifted her arms above her head and stretched to the left and right, loving the pull on her muscles as they loosened in her back and upper arms. A bead of water ran down between her breasts, the hot and muggy promise of an early autumn rain surrounding her. Above her, the dark sky was obscured by a thick blanket of black and gray clouds that turned the dim light of dusk into a gloomy night. The lights above her flickered on, illuminating a small segment of the street as she finished her last warmup and began to walk at a rapid pace before increasing her speed to a full run.
Tonight there were not as many people in the park as previous evenings. Many had probably decided to wait out the uncertain weather. She didn't mind. Most evenings the park was so busy she had to dodge around baby carriages, speed walkers, and the elderly. Ahead of her, the synthetic rubber tartan track looped around a small pond and through a tunnel before ascending to a tree-covered picnic area. She hated that part of the park, because it was further from the carpark and had the least amount of lighting. Several times when she'd had to run late in the evening, she'd felt as if someone was watching her. She'd had chills every time she passed the overgrowth of hedges that surrounded several of the park benches. Tonight was one of those times.
Storm increased her speed and pushed herself to go faster. The faster she got there, the quicker she would get through it.
Storm slowed after she passed the benches and steel picnic tables. The sensation of someone watching her returned, the skin prickling on her arms and the back of her neck. She was headed back down the path that led to her home when she looked behind her and saw a pair of glowing red eyes peering out at her from a tall thick bush. At first she thought it was some kind of animal, until she saw a thin man step under the dim overhead light. The man stepped close to the shadows, his face unidentifiable as he moved rapidly up the side of the path toward her. A shiver of fear assaulted her as he opened his mouth, his sinister smile giving Storm a glimpse of razor-sharp teeth. She glanced around her, looking for other people, but at this time of night, no one was around.
"Help," she screamed as she turned and sped down the path as fast as she could. The park was backed against an apartment building, and surely someone would hear her. Someone would call the police to help her if she kept screaming.
Storm ran around the tennis court to a small brick building that held the restrooms. If she could get inside, she could lock the door. Storm slammed into the door and pulled on the handle. It was locked! Turning away, she heard the sound of running feet behind her—and then nothing but silence.
She looked back over her shoulder—the path was empty, and the man was gone. Just as she turned around, she was grabbed, dragged, and slammed face-forward against the cement wall. Her hair was seized from behind and her head pulled to the side. The man growled as his sharp teeth barely broke the skin on her neck—just before he was ripped away from her.
It took her a second to comprehend that she was free and bolt down the path. Behind her, she could hear the sound of a scuffle—grunts and blows of fists striking skin. Storm didn't dare look back, not even to see who had saved her. Pulling out her cellphone, she rushed out of the park and dialed the police. She waited anxiously at the end of the car park, and soon the sounds of approaching sirens rent the air. A black and white police car with a gold shield pulled up next to her, the door opened, and a tall, dark-haired Hispanic officer approached her. She showed both officers her neck as she described what had happened, the man with the sharp teeth, and her fear that whoever rescued her had been injured.
The officer and his partner drew their guns and walked back up the trail with her creeping behind them. "Stay back, miss. We don't want you to get hurt."
She stopped and stepped back, returning to where the police car was parked. A few minutes later, the officers returned alone. "There's no one out there," one of them stated, giving her a puzzled look. "There’s not even a sign of struggle."
"But I know what I saw," she insisted, looking around the policeman toward the stillness of the park.
"Come on. We'll keep watch for both men, but first let's get you home," his partner said with a smirk. "Just in case the boogey man comes back and tries to jump you."
She looked back down the path again and saw a pair of silver eyes glinting in the dark before they disappeared.