Between the two of us, we might get him out of his apartment and back among the living. He brought the bus close to the curb and slowed to a stop at the corner of Henderson.

“Thanks, Charlie.”

“You watch yourself, girl.”

“I will.”

“Tell Mr. Packard I have a front seat saved for him,” he said and hit the button. The doors swished closed, and he gave her a wave through the glass.

Dynah waved backed and watched as the bus pulled away from the curb. Adjusting the strap of her shoulder bag, she started the walk to campus.

Henderson Avenue was a long, pretty street with old-growth maples and neat brick houses with snow-covered lawns. In the city park located a block south of the campus was a small community-center building used by students interning as youth leaders and teachers. In two years, she would be working there.

The center housed a daily preschool program in the morning and youth activities through the afternoon everyday of the week except Sunday, when everything in town shut down for worship services. Only a few businesses, mostly nationwide chains, stayed open.

As Dynah came abreast of the park, she paused, frowning.

The car with the Massachusetts plates was there, just across the street, parked beyond a cobblestone driveway beneath a canopy of winter-bare branches. She peered at the vehicle, anxious, then noticed with relief that no one sat in the driver’s seat. The man must have found his brother after all. He had said he lived not far from the campus.

A twig snapped to the right, and her nerves jumped. She turned and saw a tall dark shape moving toward her. A man.

Every instinct screamed “Run!” But surprise made her hesitate-and within a few seconds she knew she had made a terrible mistake. A couple of seconds. That’s all it took for the man to have a hold on her.


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