Absolutely delighted to be sharing an exclusive chapter of this exciting and original read this week as part of the blog tour Road Trip!
You can Start from Chapter 1 at A Little Book Problem – or catch up with the previous epidode which featured earlier today on
If you have been eagerly following the tour across the week, I’ll keep you waiting in suspense no longer – here you go…
Turn back to the blog tomorrow to catch up with my featured review…
ST. VRAIN, NEW MEXICO—
207 MILES TO ALBUQUERQUE
Cait sensed it before it happened, something tingling at the back of her neck. The sound hit her next. It was nothing at first, the buzz of an insect above the hum of the engine, but it grew louder, quickly, and just like that a pair of headlights was blinding in her rearview mirror. The truck was charging up the road toward them, fast. Too fast. The buzz became a roar.
The truck passed on her left, a blur of sound and steel, before swerving back into her lane and hitting the brakes. Cait had to slam on her own brakes to keep from rear- ending it. “What the fuck?”
The truck was moving slowly now, the speedometer barely edging thirty. “What is he doing?” Rebecca asked.
“I have no idea.” It was a two- lane highway, and there was no one else out there. Plenty of room to pass. Cait moved into the left lane. He swerved in front of her. She moved back into the right. The truck followed. She leaned on the horn, hard. “What the hell is he doing?” The truck slowed down again. Twenty now. Fifteen. “Jesus Christ.”
“Maybe he wants you to pull over,” Rebecca suggested, but Cait shook her head.
“We shouldn’t stop. We don’t know . . .” She didn’t have to finish the sentence. They’d read articles, watched films, read books, listened to podcasts, existed in the world as women. They both knew how the story could go if they pulled over.
Cait’s eyes scanned the road. There wasn’t a barrier in place, so if she could get up onto the hard shoulder, she might be able to get enough room to pass…
She hit the gas and jerked the wheel to the right. Rebecca let out a little yelp as the Jeep surged forward. Cait didn’t have time to apologize. She was even with the truck now, though he was drifting toward her into the shoulder. She wrenched the wheel again and the Jeep stuttered into the dirt, the wheels slipping underneath until they found traction. She swept in front of the truck and hit the gas.
“What an asshole,” Cait muttered as the truck’s headlights dropped back.
But the truck accelerated, and soon it was tucked tight behind them. “Shit. I can’t see a damn thing,” she said, squinting to see through the windshield. The truck’s headlights mixed in with the Jeep’s, casting an eerie yellowish glow on the tarmac. The truck’s high beams flashed on and off, and its horn began to blare.
Cait stepped on the gas, but the engine was slow to respond, and the truck surged ahead, keeping pace with her for a few long minutes before it passed them clean on the left- hand side and swung back in front of them.
Once again, the truck’s speed slowed to forty, thirty, twenty. “What are you doing?” she shouted. They were crawling now. She moved into the passing lane. He moved, too. She moved back into the right lane. He did, too. She laid on the horn, hard. Nothing.
They were down to ten miles an hour now, and he was straddling the median, blocking her from passing on either side. She squinted out of the windshield, trying to get a glimpse of the driver in his mirror, but there was nothing but black glass reflecting her own headlights back at her.
“What do you think he wants?”
“I don’t know.” Cait saw Rebecca close her eyes.
She scanned the road. The last time she’d seen another car was a half hour ago. Clovis was twenty miles back, and the next town was still a good ways up the road. Plenty of time for him to do whatever it was he wanted to do. There wasn’t a single other living thing except the jackrabbits burrowed in their dens and rattlesnakes coiled tight underneath the shrubs, and neither was of any use to them if they found themselves stranded out here because the psychopath in front of them had driven them off the road or worse.
She’d have to try to get past him. She tossed a glance at Rebecca.
“You’re wearing your seat belt?”
“Hold on. C’mon, baby,” she murmured, and cranked the wheel to the right. The tires spat gravel as she swerved off the shoulder and back onto the road. The truck swerved, too, but not quickly enough. It clipped the back edge of the Jeep as it slipped past, a little nudge that Cait knew wouldn’t leave more than a scrape in the already- dinged- up fender.
The truck’s horn blared.
She sank the pedal to the floor. The Jeep could still move when she needed it to. Soon they were up to seventy. The truck was dropping back in the rearview. “I think we got him,” she murmured. She stayed at a steady high speed with her eyes trained on the mirror until the headlights were nothing more than pinpricks fading into the night. “We lost him.”
“What . . . who was that?”
Cait exhaled. She hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath. Her heartbeat was a flutter caught high in her throat, and her palms were slick with sweat. She’d thought they were goners back there. “I don’t know.”
“Do you think it was the man from the diner?”
“I don’t know,” she said again. She’d been wondering about it herself, but she couldn’t see why he would have waited that long to make his move. Unless . . . unless he wanted to make sure they were out in the middle of nowhere, where no one could hear them. But how would he have tracked them this far without her seeing him? “I don’t think it was the man from the diner,” she said finally, as convincingly as she could.
Rebecca didn’t look convinced. “I couldn’t see the driver at all. Could you?”
“No, nothing.” She glanced in the rearview again. Nothing but empty road behind them now. Whatever it was, it was over. No need to dwell on it. No need to scare the poor woman even more than she already was. “Honestly?” she said, making her voice light. She needed to keep things on course; she couldn’t let them get off track. “It was probably just a bored teenager looking to cause trouble. We did stuff like that all the time when I was a kid— drag racing, playing chicken. It’s what happens when you live in the middle of nowhere: you make your own entertainment.”
“They could have killed us. We could have been run off the road. We could have— ”
“I know, but we’re okay now. Nothing happened.” Cait took a deep breath, willed her pulse to ease up a little. “Teenagers, that’s what I’m betting. Little shits. We’ll be fine now. They’ll find somebody else to pick on.”
The two of them looked out at the long stretch of dark road. Neither of them pointed out that, out here at this time of night, there wasn’t anyone else.
Catch up with Rina Reads tomorrow, to find out what Cait experiences next in this unforgettable and heart-stopping read
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