Devil's Lair (Molotov Obsession #1) by Anna Zaires



1





Chloe





A car backfires and the storefront window to my left explodes, blasting shards of glass in a wide radius.

I freeze, so stunned I barely feel the glass biting into my bare arm. Then the screams reach me.

“Shots fired! Call 911,” someone on the street is yelling, and adrenaline floods my veins as my brain makes the connection between the sound and the glass explosion.

Someone is shooting.

At me.

They found me.

My feet react before the rest of me, propelling me into a jump just as another sharp pop! reaches my ears, and the register inside the store explodes into splinters.

The same register I was blocking with my body a second ago.

I taste terror. It’s coppery, like blood. Maybe it is blood. Maybe I was shot, and I’m dying. But no, I’m running. My heartbeat is roaring in my ears, my lungs pumping for all they’re worth as I sprint down the block. I can feel the burn in my legs, so I’m alive.

For now.

Because they found me. Again.

I make a sharp right, sprinting down a narrow side street, and over my shoulder, I catch a glimpse of two men half a block behind me, running after me at full speed.

My lungs are already screaming for air, my legs threatening to give out, but I put on a desperate burst of speed and dash into an alley before they round the corner. A five-foot-tall chain-link fence cuts the alley in half, but I climb up and over it in seconds, adrenaline lending me an athlete’s agility and strength.

The back of the alley connects to another street, and a sob of relief bursts from my throat as I realize it’s the one where I parked my car before the interview.

Run, Chloe. You can do it.

Desperately sucking in air, I sprint down the street, scanning the curb for a beat-up Toyota Corolla.

Where is it?

Where did I leave the damn car?

Was it behind the blue pickup truck or the white one?

Please let it be there. Please let it be there.

Finally, I spot it, half-hidden behind a white van. Fumbling in my pocket, I extract the keys, and with violently shaking hands, I press the button to unlock the car.

I’m already inside and jamming the key into the ignition when I see my pursuers emerging from the alley a block behind me, each with a gun in his hand.





I’m still shaking five hours later as I pull into a gas station, the first one I’ve seen on this winding mountain road.

That had been close, much too close.

They’re getting bolder, more desperate.

They shot at me on the fucking street.

My legs feel like rubber as I step out of the car, clutching my empty water bottle. I need a bathroom, water, food, and gas, in that order—and ideally a new vehicle, as they might’ve gotten my Toyota’s license plate. That is, assuming they didn’t already have it.

I have no idea how they found me in Boise, Idaho, but it might’ve been through my car.

The problem is, what little I know about evading criminals hellbent on murder comes from books and movies, and I have no idea what my pursuers actually can track. Just to be safe, though, I’m not using any of my credit cards, and I ditched my phone the very first day.

Another problem is I have exactly thirty-two dollars and twenty-four cents in my wallet. The waitressing position I interviewed for this morning in Boise would’ve been a lifesaver, as the café owner was open to paying me cash under the table, but they found me before I could do a single shift.

A few inches to the right, and the bullet would’ve gone through my head instead of that storefront window.

Blood pooling on the kitchen floor… Pink robe on white tile… Glazed, unseeing stare…

My heart rate spikes and my shaking intensifies, my knees threatening to buckle underneath me. Leaning on the hood of my car, I drag in a shuddering breath, trying to get the mad drumming of my pulse to slow as I shove the memories deep down, where they can’t squeeze my throat in a vise.

I can’t think about what happened. If I do, I’ll fall apart and they’ll win.

They might win anyway because I have no money and no clue what I’m doing.

One thing at a time, Chloe. One foot in front of the other.

Mom’s voice comes to me, calm and steady, and I force myself to straighten away from the car. So what if my situation has gone from desperate to critical?

I’m still alive, and I intend to stay that way.

I extracted all the glass shards from my arm a couple of hours ago, but the T-shirt I wrapped around it to stop the bleeding looks strange, so I grab my hoodie from the trunk and put the hood up to hide my face from any security cameras that might be inside the gas station. I don’t know if the people after me would be able to get access to that footage, but it’s better not to risk it.