THE BRIDGE

By: Carol Ericson

Chapter One

He wanted to kill her.

“Elise.”

The whispered name floated along the fog, mingled with it, surrounded her.

Her eyes ached with the effort of trying to peer through the milky white wisps that blanketed the San Francisco Bay shoreline, but if she couldn’t see him, he couldn’t see her.

And she planned to keep it that way.

A foghorn bellowed in the night, and she took advantage of the sound to make another move toward the waves lapping against the rocky shore. If she had to, she’d wriggle right into the frigid waters of the bay.

She flattened herself against the sand, and the grains stuck to her lip gloss. It now seemed ages ago when she’d leaned over the brightly lit vanity at the club applying it.

“Elise, come out, come out wherever you are.”

His voice caused a new layer of goose bumps to form over the ones she already had from the cold, damp air. Her fingers curled around the scrubby plant to her right as if she could yank it out of the sand and use it as a weapon.

If he caught her, she wouldn’t allow him to drag her back to his car. She’d fight and die here if she had to.

The water splashed and her tormenter cursed. He must’ve stepped into the bay. And he didn’t like it.

She drove her chin into the sand to prop up her head and peered into the wall of fog. The lights on the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge winked at her. The occasional humming of a car crossing the bridge joined with the lapping of the water as the only sounds she could hear over the drumbeat of her heart.

And his voice when he chose to speak, a harsh whisper, all traces of the refined English accent he’d affected outside the club gone.

What a fool she’d been to trust him.

Another footfall, too close for comfort. She held her breath. If he tripped over her, she’d have to run, find another place to hide in plain sight. Or at least it would be plain sight if the fog lifted.

The damp cover made her feel as if they were the only two people in this hazy world where you couldn’t see your hand two inches in front of your face.

Who would break first? The fog? Her? Or the maniac trying to kill her? Because she knew he wanted to kill her. She could hear the promise in his voice.

“Elise?”

She wanted to scream at him to stop using her name in those familiar tones—as if they were old friends. Instead of predator and prey.

She didn’t scream. She pressed her lips together, and the sand worked its way into her mouth. She ground it between her teeth, anger shoving the fear aside for a moment.

If this guy thought she’d give up, he’d picked the wrong target. The Durans of Montana were nobody’s victims.

A breeze skittered across the bay, and debris tickled her face. White strands of fog swirled past her, and for the first time since she’d hurled herself from the trunk of her captor’s car, she could see the shapes of scrubby plants emerge from the mist.

She swallowed a sob. When she’d least expected or wanted it, the cursed San Francisco fog was rolling out to sea.

A low chuckle seemed to come at her from all directions. He knew it, too.

Time to make a move.

Elise pinned her arms to her sides and propelled herself into a roll. Once she had the momentum, the rest was easy as she hit a slight decline to the water.

Arm. Back. Arm. Chest. Around and around she rolled. She squeezed her eyes shut and scooped in a breath of air. Her preparations didn’t make the impact any easier.

When she hit the icy bay, she gasped, pulling in a breath and a mouthful of salty water with it. She choked it out and ducked her head beneath the small waves.

The bay accepted her in a chilly embrace, and she clawed her way along the rocky floor. Fearing the swift current, she didn’t want to swim away from the shoreline, but the water might just be enough to hide her from the lunatic trying to kill her.

She popped up her head and dragged in another breath. The wind whipped around her, blowing her wet hair against her cheeks.

The fog dissipated even more, and she could make out the form of a man loping back and forth, swinging something at the ground.

She took a deep breath and went under again. The current tugged at her dress, inviting her into the bay. She resisted, scrabbling against the rocks. The current snatched her shoes anyway.

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