Promise me, before I get on my bus and leave town." "Okay, I promise, Jo." "Swear." "I swear, Jo." Jolene hugged her tight.
She couldn't leave Buffalo tonight with that last image of her friend standing in her memory.
And tonight, every instinct told Jolene that something was wrong. Funny, Jolene thought, during the day this was a middle-class sanctuary where people walked, jogged, even took wedding pictures near the water. Most locals, living their happy lives, were unaware that after dark, their park was where hookers took their dates. She arrived at the dirt parking lot, part of an old earthen service road that bordered the pathway meandering alongside the creek. She knew the hidden paths and meadows, where drugs and dates were taken and deals completed. She was nearly there when a scream stopped her cold. She stepped on nothing and the ground rose to smack her. There was movement ahead, shadow play in the moonlight. Jolene didn't make a sound as she reached into her bag, her fingers wrapping around her pepper spray.
As crickets chirped, Jolene took stock of the area and the treetops silhouetted against a three-quarter moon. Her cry came from the darkest section of the forest near the creek. Branches slapped at her face, tugged at her clothing. Her eyes had not adjusted; she was running blind over the undulating terrain. Jolene had done it before with freaks who'd tried to choke her. Heart pumping, she strained to see what awaited her.
Jolene Peller gazed toward the woods then paid the driver.