Rachel was running. Running for her life. Air burning like acid in her chest, feet pounding the tarmac. Everything around her, the shops and passers-by, lampposts and railings, smudged, a blur of shape and colour.
She risked a glance behind, hair whipping in her eyes, almost losing her balance as one ankle buckled, and she saw the car was gaining. He was at the wheel, his face set with intent, eyes gleaming, mouth curved in a half-smile.
Running her down, running her to ground. For a moment, her legs stalled, numb, weak as string, before she took flight again. Arms slicing the air, throat parched, sweat cold across her skin and the thud of her heart ever louder in her ears. Then the roar as he gunned the engine, the screech as the car leapt towards her, close enough for her to smell burning oil and petrol fumes high in her throat. Dizzying.
The thump of impact. Hurling her forward, a bone-cracking crunch and Rachel fell, sprawling along the gutter and into the pavement’s edge, legs twisting the wrong way beneath her, skinning her chin and shoulder and the length of her forearms. Smacking her head against the kerbstone. A jolt that turned the world black and brought vomit scalding her gullet.
The engine cut out and then she heard his footsteps, the smack-smack of best Italian leather on the gritty stone.
She tried to draw away but was pinned, paralysed, and her attempt to shuffle brought scarlet pain licking through her hip. She tried to cry for help but her voice was frozen too and all the people had gone. She was alone with him.
‘Rachel,’ he said sadly, ‘Rachel, Rachel, what will I do with you?’