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Looking solemn, Rob climbed in and slammed the door shut.

Finally, Amaliya thought. I'm out of here.

Now if only her luck would improve.

***

Tammy entered the restaurant and looked around for the pretty tattooed girl with the raven hair. Hands on her generous hips, she looked over the tables and booths. There was no sign of the young woman and she looked over the counter at Rhonda, who was busy checking out a customer.

“You see a girl with pretty eyes and tattoos on one arm in here?”

“Yep,” Rhonda answered, and gave the tall man in the leather vest his change. Nodding as the man handed her back a few ones, she looked toward Tammy. “She left with Rob. ”

“You're kidding!”

“Nope. ”

Tammy sighed and shook her head. “I told her to let me get her a ride. Jackson was going to take

her. ” She gestured toward an older black man with a scrubby gray beard. “Shit. I can't believe she got a ride with that asshole. ”

Rhonda shrugged. “I have a feeling that kinda girl will do just fine with Rob. ”

Looking a little disgusted with Rhonda's words, Tammy shook her head and headed out to tell Jackson his passenger was gone. She was startled when a tall man with broad shoulders and very pale blond hair bumped into her and jostled her a bit.

“Sorry, madam,” he said in a prim British accent.

Despite herself, Tammy blushed deeply. The man seemed very out of place with his fine black silk shirt and gray silk trousers. He was holding a cola in one hand and a DVD in the other.

“S'ok. I'm fine. ”

The man smiled at her warmly. “Have a good evening,” he said and moved on to check out.

Despite herself and her husband back home, Tammy couldn't help but check out his posterior as he got in line. Feeling guilty in a good way, she moved on to talk to Jackson.

Chapter Seven

Propping her feet up on the dashboard, Amaliya played with the screw top of her soda that Rob had bought her. She thought it was a kind gesture, though she had no real desire to drink or eat. Once she had sated herself on the blood of the crazy woman, she had lost what she now defined as the “need. ” Rubbing the side of her nose with her finger, she felt the tiny stud in it scratch her skin. It was a comforting feeling for some reason and she let it sink into her.

It felt good to be moving again. She had felt downright claustrophobic in the hotel room with Pete laying on the bed like that. Knowing she could not go outside during the day had eaten away at her nerves. The memory of her crisped fingers was a pungent memory and repulsive to her. Another thing from the movies that seemed to be true. How many more would join her slowly growing list?

“Why you going to Dallas?”

Rob's voice startled her. He had been so quiet for the last thirty minutes, she had slowly lost herself in her own thoughts.

“It's just a stop along the way back home,” she answered, and pretended to take a sip of her drink. She was growing more and more reluctant to talk about herself and what she was doing. The more lies she made up, the harder it was going to be. Of course, she could just make up one really good story and stick to it, but that thought depressed her somehow. Besides, most of her life she had just lived on a whim and went with the flow. The only thing she had ever staunchly planned for was going to college. Of course, when she got there, she had no idea what to study or do with herself.

“Most people hitching a ride are doing it cause they're running from something,” Rob said softly, but his voice seemed big and full and filled the cab.

Well, that summed her up pretty well. She was notorious for running from any situation she didn't like. It was her natural instinct. Flee.

“Well, I'm running to something,” she decided. “I want to see my Grandmama before its too late. ”

Rob nodded. “Gotcha. ” He sank back into silence, his big meaty hands holding tightly to the steering wheel as the big truck rumbled down the long highway.

Glancing into the line of mirrors out the window, Amaliya studied the row of cars behind them. Most were jocking for positions to pass the big truck and she wondered briefly if Professor Sumner was in any of them. He had told her he would watch her and she believed him. Smiling slightly, she wondered what her score was so far. Was he taking notes? He was a damn psychology professor. Was he picking her apart? Examining her motives?

A rat in a maze. She had a feeling that was what she was to him.

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