Chapter 1

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Jenna Browning lifted the wooden spoon to her lips to taste the pasta sauce she’d spent the last half hour making.  It was perfect.  She glanced up at the clock hanging in the brightly colored kitchen and sighed. 

Talia, her roommate, should have been home by now.  If she wasn’t home soon, Jenna would call her.  Talia had said she was meeting some friends, and she’d be home by nine, and now, it was almost 10pm.

Living in New York City was unsafe for two young women, especially at night; and Jenna and Talia always kept each other aware of where they were.

She glanced around the kitchen for her phone to call Talia, and just as she spotted it laying on the end table in the living room, she heard the sound of keys in the door lock.  Jenna breathed a small sigh of relief and turned her attention back to her sauce.  

“Jenna!”  

She rushed out of the kitchen at her roommate’s cry, the spoon in her hands all but forgotten as she dripped sauce across the floor.  “Good grief Talia, must you be so dramatic about everyth..”  She cut herself off at the sight of her roommate.  

Talia Sanders stood in the doorway bent over, her hands clutching her stomach as blood seeped through her fingers.

“Talia!” Jenna shouted.  “What happened?”  She dropped the spoon and ran over to her friend, helping her onto the couch.  Talia carefully stretched out on her back, as Jenna pulled her hands away before lifting her shirt.  Four long slashes crossed her stomach and blood oozed out from the deep cuts.  

“I was attacked,” she murmured, biting her lip to keep from saying anything more.   

“By what?” Jenna shouted, staring in shock at Talia’s exposed stomach.  The slashes looked deep, and like they’d be made by an animal.

“Jenna, go grab some towels.  I have to get this bleeding stopped.”  Talia pulled her shirt down and rested her hands over her wounds, grimacing in pain.  

Her head spinning in shock, Jenna ran down the hall and grabbed some towels out of the closet before rushing back to Talia and gently placing the towels over her stomach.  Jenna looked Talia over for any more injuries, and noticed slashes on her neck as well.  “Talia, your neck is slashed too.”

Talia reached a hand up to her neck and sighed.  “They’re not bad,” she said, closing her eyes again.  

“What happened?”  Jenna demanded again, keeping pressure on her wound.  

Talia opened her blue eyes and met Jenna’s green ones.  “I …” she sighed.  “I was attacked in Central Park.”

“We need to call the police.. “ Jenna started before Talia grabbed her arm with surprising strength, cutting her off.

“NO!  We cannot get the police involved,”  Talia shouted.  She let go of Jenna’s arm and started to get up.  

Jenna frowned as she took a step back, trying to figure out why Talia didn't want the police involved?  She had been viciously attacked, maybe even by a wild animal from the look of her wounds.  Someone needed to do something.  Others could get injured if the attacker wasn’t stopped. 

Talia stood, still clutching the towel to her stomach, and turned to face her friend.  “I absolutely cannot get the police involved.” She reiterated, pushing her long blond hair back behind her ear. She winced when some of it stuck to the bloody scratches on her neck.  

“Will you at least go to the emergency room?” Jenna pleaded, as she too stood.  Talia in general was pretty easy going, but once she made up her mind about something, there was no changing it, and arguing with her was a waste of time.  

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