Rivers Edge<br/>

Author: Jan Abney
Publisher: Janet Abney
Published: 2011-09-13
ISBN(s) 978-1463765217
Pages: 248 pages
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Romance & Friendship Read Excerpt >

She had no trouble getting to sleep as soon as the sun went down and she snuggled into the sleeping bag. With more room made by moving the boxes around for the night, she stretched out and closed her eyes to the world as soon as her head met the pillow.

As she drifted off, she heard the breeze gently rocking the tops of the tallest trees in a most soothing lullaby.

Everything was quiet, except for the tapping she had heard somewhere on the van. It came again when she was fully awake, coming from the front of the van, passenger-side door. It wasn't loud, just enough to disturb anyone sleeping inside.

Celia moved carefully, trying not to make any sound or sudden movement so whoever was out there wouldn't know she was inside. Kneeling behind the passenger seat, she peered out the window. The moon was either in its new stage, or a small crest, the darkness was almost complete. She could see the stars plainly, but they didn't give her much help.

A movement just outside the window, a woman, Celia could make out. The tapping came again, quiet, but there seemed to be an urgency to it. Slowly she came around the seat, cautiously reaching for the window roller. Giving a crack to the glass, she whispered, "What is it?"

"Please." The whispered word was in desperation. "I need help. Let me in, please. I'll hide just until he's gone."

"Who?" Celia didn't move.

"My boyfriend." The woman whispered a little louder. "Please."

Reaching for the lock, she pulled it up and felt the door being pulled from her as the woman climbed in through the small crack. She quickly closed the door to shut off the interior light.

Celia had scooted to the seat behind the wheel as the woman came in. "What in the world is wrong?" She didn't know what else to ask her.

"He's trying to kill me. He thinks I have another boyfriend. He's jealous." The woman still whispered, ducking down past the window. "I don't know what I'll do if he comes here. Is there somewhere you can drive me?"

"Drive you?" Celia wasn't sure she was awake. The woman's image flashed into her mind, what she had seen of her when the light was on.

"Yes. Please. He's bound to have seen the light when I opened the door. He doesn't miss much, especially when he's hunting. He's a good hunter." She spoke the last in such a tone that would convince anyone.

"Where do you want me to take you?" Celia didn't want to stay around after the thought of a half-crazed man with a gun in his hands hunting this woman down, came into her head.

"In town. Anywhere." Now the woman was crawling into the back of the vehicle. "Please, go now."

The whispered words echoed in Celia's ears. Turning the key in the ignition, the engine purred to life. She would have to use the headlights, which meant he would see them leave, put two and two together, knowing what was going on, but she had no choice. Backing out of the small area she'd claimed, she put the transmission in drive and sprayed gravel behind her as she gave it as much gas as she could without stalling the engine.

In the rear view mirror she saw something behind them, but it was too dark to know if it was a tree or a man, and she was afraid it was the latter. Glancing again in the mirror, she was terrified to see a flash come from a rifle. Hearing its sound, the woman in back screamed, and the left rear tire went flat.

It all happened at the same time, but Celia kept going, ignoring the strange way the van acted on the dirt road. Her heart felt like it was in her throat, chest and stomach at the same time. She was shaking all over. She could hear the boxes of her personal things falling and the woman behind her mumbling something inaudible.

"You didn't tell me he was actually hunting you!" She kept her voice down, though she felt like screaming. What right did a person have putting someone else in danger? Why couldn't people keep their arguments to themselves?

It wasn't a calm that came over her, it was something she didn't know what to put a name to. The thought had come into her mind as to what she would have done if she were in that situation. Surely she would have sought the nearest thing that offered some safety also.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do." The voice behind her was trembling. "He's going to kill me."

"Never mind. I understand. I've got to concentrate on the road." Celia drove as fast as she could, having a lot of trouble keeping the van on the dirt path-like road.

"I really am sorry." The woman repeated. "He'll come after us. He's driving a pickup. It's not too far from where you were. He'll be behind us any second."

The deep sigh that came from her sounded as if it came from someone else. She felt her chest heave, then fall back in place, shaking terribly. She couldn't remember being so scared in all her life. Not even when she was a child and she had a terrible nightmare after seeing a scary movie. She knew she had to look for a place to turn off, and shut off her lights. It was the only thing that could possibly save them.

He would pass them, she would wait until he was past them then go out the other way. It was a longer road to travel, getting out of the area and onto the highway, but it would give them a little more time, she hoped. But what about the tire? Would she be able to drive all the way to town like that? Definitely not. She wouldn't even make it to the highway.

"Keep going." The woman called to her, seeming to know what Celia was thinking. "I'll pay for the tire and wheel. Anything. Just don't stop."

"I can't go very far. If I could without endangering both our lives, I would." Celia didn't want to continue talking to her, it kept her mind off what she was looking for. And she thought she could see something up ahead that would help.

Turning off her lights, she slowed the van down. No brakes, she told herself. Putting it in low gear helped bring the speed down to twenty miles per hour, and slowing.

"What are you doing?" The woman screamed.

"Be quiet. I'm doing the best I can. Just be quiet." As she came to the spot she hoped was some kind of a road, she began turning the wheel, guiding the vehicle between the trees. Still she used no brakes, hoping there was nothing in front of her. When she thought she was in enough cover, and the vehicle had slowed to only five miles per hour, she prayed and threw the gear stick into park. The van jerked and stopped, throwing the woman in back past the front seat, boxes coming forward behind her. Celia thought she had braced herself, but hit the steering wheel.

"What the hell?" The woman was getting up, rubbing her forehead where she'd hit the console.

"Sorry." Celia put her hand to the stinging area on her cheek. "I couldn't use the brakes and light up the place, could I?" She felt a hot, sticky liquid on her hand and knew she had a cut from hitting the wheel.

"No, I guess you couldn't." Her voice sounded repentant, as she realized that Celia might have done the only possible thing. Looking up toward the woman she raised her voice again. "But you could have warned me." She pulled up into the passenger seat, watching out the back window. The pickup headlights could be seen on the road behind them, then it passed.

They could hear the engine as he sped up, trying to catch up with them. Being a dark night and in the rage that he was in, their tire tracks wouldn't be visible to him. The woman sighed, sounding relieved.

"I don't know if we should stay here long. He'll soon discover we aren't in front of him."

Celia sat back against the seat, resting her head on the headrest. She was dizzy, but couldn't let that override her senses. She had to get out of there. "You're right."

"What the hell kind of driving do you call that?" A masculine voice full of anger came from outside the van.

In the darkness, Celia could barely make out his form. His hand was on her door handle, but the lock was still in place.

"Open this damn door," he demanded.

"No." Celia felt frightened all over again, if the first bout had ever left her.

"You open this thing, or I'll rip it off the hinges." His voice had raised slightly.

Somehow Celia knew he could. He had a commanding voice that she couldn't do anything but obey. Without lifting the lock, she pulled the handle on the inside and the door opened with a jerk. She didn't have much of a chance to say or do anything. No sooner had the door cleared his body, than his hands were around her waist, lifting her out of the van and her feet were touching the ground, but his hands didn't move a fraction of an inch from her. He held her in front of him without much pressure, and she knew any kind of struggle would be fruitless.

"Just what the hell kind of driving do you call that?" His repeated question was more demanding. "You know another foot and I would be under this damn thing?" His voice was shaking, but out of fear or anger, she wasn't sure.

"I'm sorry." Celia couldn't find anything else to say.

"Sorry?" He yelled back at her. "Do you know what it's like to wake up and find someone driving almost into your camp, into you?"

"No." Her voice shook, her body shook. She wanted to sink into the ground, or into his arms. She needed something to steady her. Without thinking she reached up, putting her hands on his bare forearms. A queasy feeling came to her, then a cold sweat broke out on her forehead. She was sinking, feeling a blackness all around her.

"Oh, no you don't," the man said, and she felt his arms go around her, doing their best to hold her up. That was all she heard and felt.

Rivers Edge   by   Jan Abney   |   See Bio >

Celia has to leave California. Her father is dying. Once back in the Missouri Ozarks, she finds her brother is bitter, and refuses to let her visit with her parent..

Camping along one of her favorite childhood rivers, one night she charges into a neighboring campsite.

Jess had been sleeping in his tent when Celia's van nearly runs over him. She's not sure what to do with Jess, and all he wants is to be her knight...rescuing her from the disasters she finds all along the way.

Losing her father is not easy, but with the help of the Hospice women, she and her brother learn to cope together. Jess is there when she needs him.

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