The Alpha's Search (The Craven Trilogy, #1)(10)By: Natalie Shaw
“I have been looking for you. I never stopped looking.”
“For five years?” You can't have been looking very hard.”
“I've been searching for you for almost forty years.”
“Forty years?” I laughed. “My bad. Of course you have. I should have realised that you've been looking for me since fifteen years before I was born”
I stood up. “I'm done here. If I see your sorry arse anywhere within a mile of me again, I'll get the cops on you.”
“Louise wait!” He held out a hand, but I brushed it away. Alison was at a table close to the door. I motioned towards the exit, and she nodded.
“You need to tell the police,” Alison said. “The man's a sandwich short.”
I'd just given her Cliff Notes of my conversation with Craven.
“Forty years? Was he high?”
“God knows. I should never have agreed to meet him.”
“Why did you?”
“I thought he might have known me from before the accident.”
Alison nodded. She knew how my past—or lack of it—played on my mind. I'd tried to move on with my life, but there were always the nagging doubts. What had I left behind? Who had I left behind? My parents? Who were they? Were they still alive? Did I have siblings? Friends? If I did, why hadn't they come forward? How could I have disappeared without anyone noticing?
“I thought I might actually find out who I was.” I couldn't hold back the tears any longer.
“Come here.” Alison put her arm around my shoulders. “Let's get you home.”
Alison could be a pain, but she was also a good friend. She called a taxi, and took me back to the flat.
“I think I'm going to have a lie down,” I said. “My head feels like it's going to explode.”
“You go back to town if you like. I'll be okay now.” I tapped two aspirin from the bottle.
“Nah. I'll stay here. I'd only spend money I don't have.”
I wasn't sure if I'd sleep, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I'd gone.
I could hear footsteps echoing around the cave—coming from somewhere behind me. I was running—trying to get away. The footsteps were getting louder—getting closer. My throat was on fire, and my legs felt like jelly, but I had to keep going. Ahead, I could see a pin-prick of daylight. I had to get out of the cave. The footsteps were louder still—only a few feet behind me. I couldn't let him catch me. I ignored the pain in my lungs, and pushed forward. Not far now!
A hand grabbed my ankle.
I sat up in bed. My heart was racing. I ran a palm across my forehead which was moist with sweat. Would these damn nightmares ever end? At least my headache had gone. I glanced at my phone which was on the bedside cabinet. Ten to four? I hadn't intended to sleep for so long.
“Alison?” There was no sign of her in the lounge or kitchen. “She'd probably succumbed to her retail addiction, and gone back into town. Her bedroom door was ajar.
“Alison?” I pushed the door open. She was lying face down on the bed. “You asleep?”
No response. I was just about to leave when I noticed something on the white pillowcase. Something red.
“Are you okay?” I walked over to the bed. “No! Oh God! No!”
The pillowcase and bed cover were stained red. Alison's eyes were wide open, but she couldn't see me. “No! No!”
“Louise.” The voice came from behind me.
He slammed the bedroom door closed. His eyes were dead; there was blood on his lips. I tried to speak, but my brain wouldn't connect with my mouth. I glanced again at Alison. I must still be dreaming—another nightmare—this couldn't possibly be real.
“Louise,” he said. “Did you really think you could escape?”
“What do you want?” I'd found my voice, but it sounded as feeble as I felt.
“I think you know.”
I had no idea. The last time I'd seen him was when he tried to deliver a parcel to the flat earlier in the day. “Who are you?”
He smiled, and I could see traces of red on his white teeth. The man was obviously insane. I had to get out of there, so I made a dash for it, but before I could grab the handle, he'd put his body between me and the door.
“There's no escape.” He sneered. “This day has been a long time coming.”
“Please. Let me go.”
The next thing I knew, I was choking. He had his hand around my throat, and had lifted me off my feet. I couldn't breathe. I scratched at his face, and kicked him, but it had no effect. I tried to scream, but could make no sound. I fought to stay conscious. A sickening smile was plastered on his face as he stared into my eyes.