Preying Game (Decorah Security Series, Book #15)

By: Rebecca York

A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel

Chapter 1

He was watching her, enjoying her pain. Alice couldn’t see him, but she felt his appraising gaze as she ran on the treadmill, her sneaker-clad feet pounding the moving belt. The machine was not under her control. She could feel the belt speeding faster—faster. She gasped, struggling to keep up. If she fell, she would rub the skin of her leg raw.

Or she could jump off, but she knew the punishment for that. Dry cereal and water for dinner.

Gripping the handlebars, she forced herself to keep going. Her legs ached. Her heart pounded. She dragged in as much air as her lungs could hold. She wanted to close her eyes, but she knew that would be disorienting, and she might lose her balance.

Then, to her relief, she felt the machine slow. When it stopped, she flopped to the rubbery surface, feeling the ache in her leg muscles as she gulped in air. She lay for a few moments, using the hem of her tee shirt to wipe away sweat that trickled toward her eyes. When she felt able to stand, she tottered to the water cooler in the corner and filled one of the small, cone-shaped paper cups. Because it held very little, she had to repeat several times before she had quenched her thirst.

After throwing the cup in the trash slot, she heard the lock on the solid metal door click—her cue to step into the hall, where low-wattage bulbs burned in caged outlets. Once she had tried to reach through and unscrew a bulb. For her pains, she had gotten an electric shock. Now she kept her gaze fixed ahead until she came to her cell.

It wasn’t like jail cells she’d seen in prison movies. Instead it was a bit more comfortable, with a single bed, a shag rug on the cold floor, a dresser with exercise clothing, and a shallow closet where nightgowns hung on wall hooks.

When she’d first come here, she’d been squeamish about getting undressed. She’d gotten over that when the dried sweat on her gym clothes started to stink. Still she never undressed in the bedroom—only the bathroom. In the small cubicle she stripped off her sopping tee shirt and shorts and dropped them in the chute at the side of the room.

She was sure he was watching her in here, too. Too bad about that. She had tried to find a way out of this nightmare. So far she had struck out at every turn. The doors were locked, there was nothing she could use as a weapon, and the block walls of her prison were solid.

When the temperature was adjusted in the shower, she stepped under the spray, enjoying the heated water pounding down on her body that was pale from weeks underground.

The shower was one of her few pleasures, and she made the most of it, shampooing her dark blond hair, then soaping her skin and rinsing until the water suddenly cut off.

With a sigh she stepped out of the shower and dried off, then toweled her hair as best she could and brushed it. She would have liked to cut it shorter, but of course he wasn’t going to trust her with a pair of scissors.

She pulled on one of the nightgowns hanging in the closet and turned to the slot in the wall where her dinner was always delivered. Tonight it was bland chicken, mashed rutabaga, and green beans, without much seasoning—one of the standard meals. Healthy fare, she supposed.

The lights darkened to almost nothing as soon as she finished and returned the plate. In the dim light, she crossed to the bed, pulled the covers over herself and clenched her hands around the edge of the sheet.

Finally, she felt like she was alone, although she knew it was only an illusion. Closing her eyes, she returned once again to the fantasy that had kept her going.

Last year she’d read a book called Wild Talent about a boy named Paul Breen who could reach out with his mind and silently communicate with other people. In the book, the ability had caused Paul a lot of problems, and she’d felt sorry for the way his life had turned out. Now she spent every evening before she went to sleep trying to do what he’d done—connect with someone, anyone who could help.

Can anyone hear me? She silently pleaded. If you can hear me, please answer. My name is Alice Davenport, and I need your help. A man is holding me captive in some kind of underground bunker. I don’t know exactly where I am now. But I was in western Maryland, working as a counselor at a girls’ camp for the summer. I went off on a wilderness trek by myself, and he took me prisoner. He says nobody is looking for me, because they think I’m dead. But I’m not dead. This is me—Alice Davenport. He told me to call him Hayward. I don’t know if that’s his first or his last name, but I know he’s going to kill me. I have to get away, and I need your help.