Never Tell (May Moore Suspense Thriller #2) - Blake Pierce

PROLOGUE

Danny Charter stood by the shores of Eagle Lake, Minnesota, staring out in a calculating way across the waters. It was a beautiful early summer evening, just starting to get dark, but his mind was not on the aesthetic details of this serene view.

Instead, his brain was busy with the ways to get maximum value from the build of the hotel’s new wing, in this attractive setting, while also capitalizing on the surroundings.

He paced the shore, ideas for the build flooding his mind.

Proximity to the lake would be first prize, but of course one had to take flood lines into account. It became expensive to raise the foundations. And while he personally thought it was okay to encroach on wetlands, there were always those residents and environmental groups who’d start shrieking and screaming, and not all officials would overlook it. Bribery was part of the package but one didn’t want to overspend in that direction.

The locals in Tamarack County mostly hated progress. A backward lot, they complained about everything, from ruining the environment to breaking the zoning laws. They complained about the traffic and the increase in rates and taxes that progress would bring, and the noise.

He was likely to spend more time fending off their ridiculous objections than he was planning the actual build.

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully—then a cracking noise from behind made him jump.

He glanced around, looking dubiously at the thick, dark woodlands.

He’d heard this area of the shore, being more isolated, could be dangerous in terms of wildlife. Coyotes, even bears.

Danny shivered at the thought of being attacked by a rabid coyote. That kind of thing was rife out here in the countryside.

All he needed was to be attacked by a bear, while out of range of the safety and comfort of his BMW, parked at the end of the blacktopped part of the road. Not wanting to get it dirty, he’d walked the rest of the way.

Now, he was starting to realize how far from his car he was. Suddenly, this area felt a lot more threatening. It was strange how the entire atmosphere changed as night fell, he thought uneasily. What had been scenic and rural swiftly became dark and unfriendly.

And he really wanted to know what that noise was. It was a rustling, but it was louder than he thought it should be for a small animal.

He swallowed, his throat dry.

His hand dropped to his belt, to feel the reassuring shape of the pepper spray. If any wildlife attacked him, they’d soon regret it, he told himself.

From somewhere, he remembered that if a bear was approaching you should shout. Show aggression. Intimidate it.

Danny liked that line of thinking; it fit with his ethos.

“Scoot, bear!” he yelled. Whatever wildlife was lurking around needed chasing off. “Hiya! Get going!”

It was a little hard to keep his voice booming when he felt this unsure, but he did his level best.

There was a pause, then another crashing sound.

He felt relieved. His shout had clearly scared the wildlife away. He rubbed his hands together, triumphant. Nothing to worry about.

He turned around, using the proposed lobby as his starting point, and trod out the distance.

Precise measurements would be done in the next few days. He just wanted it clear in his own mind where the building would start and end, and if it would fit within the terrain.

A noise came behind him again, and wrapped in his own thoughts, counting the numbers, he was too slow to react.

It hadn’t been the bear noise this time. It was more like footsteps, running fast behind him.

And then, just as his mind was starting to realize this might be very wrong, he felt something bludgeon him over the head.

Danny staggered, stars exploding in his vision, dropping to his knees. He felt dizzy. Something, someone, had attacked him from behind.

He struggled to rise, but it was impossible.

He was moving.

Dimly he realized he was being dragged down the grassy bank where he’d so recently decided the flood line could safely be ignored.

Bump, bump, bump.

The world grayed out, but Danny was aware of cold water surrounding him. And strong hands, holding him down.

He opened his mouth to scream, but the hands were too strong, the pressure on his head too intense. The water covered him, cold and dark.

He struggled as the hands pressed down and the water rushed into his lungs. But he was no match for his attacker’s strength, and he needed air.

Gasping in a breath, he felt a choking surge of cold water rush