Death came on a two-lane highway.
Holly Janek saw the fast-approaching headlights in her rearview mirror. What could possibly be the hurry at a quarter to three in the morning? Drivers tended to be in one of two camps: too-slow idiots or too-fast maniacs. This one clearly belonged in the second category, as the car shot out into the oncoming lane looking to pass. Just as the car pulled alongside hers, it slowed and the driver flicked on his brights. Asshole. Blinded, Holly swore again and looked away from the mirror. Then the unthinkable happened.
In rapid succession, the blinding light turned towards her car, she felt a heavy bump, and the rear of the car slid to her right, threatening to take her off the highway.
Fighting the skid—one learned these things growing up in Minnesota—Holly steered into it. This is where the minuscule margin of error came back to bite Holly in the ass. Cranking the wheel to her left, Holly oversteered, sending her Camry into a clockwise spin. Holly could hear herself scream as the car spun out of control.
Abruptly, it was over. Dazed and banged up, Holly found herself in the ditch facing the wrong direction. Reaching for her cell phone—tantalizing inches from her grasping fingers in the center console—Holly didn’t think to release her seat belt. The violent images of the last minute cycled through her head. What happened? Where’s the other driver?
A tapping at the glass pulled Holly’s attention away from the phone. The silhouetted figure rapped insistently on the passenger window, gesturing to the locked door. Fumbling, Holly managed to unlock the door. It opened, and a man slid into the passenger seat next to her. He studied her for a long moment, and asked, “Are you all right?”
Illuminated by the glow of the dome light, Holly looked into his eyes, not sure she liked what she saw there. “What happened?” she asked.
The man smiled but his eyes remained as cold as any governor denying a stay of execution. “Just a little accident,” he said, his voice slow and monotone. “Just a little accident.” He reached over, clicking Holly’s seatbelt loose.
Holly’s tears ran down her cheek as the man reached toward her. An impartial onlooker would think a moment of tenderness passed between the two as the man smeared the tracks of her tears and gently brushed back her long blonde hair. The onlooker would be wrong.
Viciously grabbing her by the hair, the killer—yes, he had killed before and he would kill again—slammed Holly’s face into the steering wheel, feeling the impact all the way to the back of her head. Pulling his fingers from her hair, he pushed her limp head back against the seat. Blood flowed from her ruined nose.
The man paused, staring at her as if for the first time, though it wasn’t. Long blonde hair, white silk blouse, dark skirt riding high on her taut thighs. Shiny black stiletto heels. “Mmmm,” he murmured, running his hand up her thigh.
Forcing his eyes to look away, the killer slid his hand up her silk blouse. Almost tenderly, he undid her top button, enjoying the view of her cleavage. Her chest rose and fell as she breathed.
Not for long though, not for long.