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CHAPTER 6

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As Wolf drew back, set to haul Sarah to her feet, she whirled around under him, and slammed her elbow into his chin. The blow tossed him aside, his body rolling in stride, coming to a stop a few feet away. Sarah's fingers sank into a thick layer of snow covering the ground. The icy tendrils spiraled around her hands as she pushed up and caught a glimpse of Wolf trying to gather himself. A realization hit her like a block of ice. She had to move. Now. She sprang to her feet and took off down a walking trail.

Without looking back, she became aware that he was on her tail again. The audible sound of his hands and feet swiping at the snow, desperate to find purchase, and then the treads of his boots mashing into the frozen precipitation, each lunging stride more solid and determined than the last. It took him three decades to track her down, he'd probably die before he gave up trying.

At the top of the hill, the tree cover thickened into rows of bark-laden trunks and evergreen needles that could offer shelter to a deer fleeing the canines of a ravenous wolf. Or a woman on the run from a government operative with a thirst for blood. Sarah hustled up the rise and leaned into a curve on the other side. Believing she'd dipped below his plane of sight, she planted her foot and cut between two oaks, darting into the wooded area. The further she went, the canopy overhead grew darker as she left the lights of the city behind. The trees became smaller until she entered an older section of the forested park. Limbs clawed at her face, narrowly missing her eyes. A branch scraped her right brow. She winced from the pain that raked across her skin. She swiped her hand over her forehead and discovered a warm wetness covering her fingers.

A crimson stain appeared black in the feeble light of the forest.

A rumor had floated through the space station about Wolf.

She knew it couldn't be true, that he didn't really have the ability to smell the scent of her blood. The thought unsettled her nerves even more, made her legs churn harder, blazing a trail through the tightly woven maze of limbs.

Sarah stormed through the white laced cluster of evergreen needles, broke into a clearing and stopped. She wasn't breathing heavy, even after running so hard. She listened. Silence, save for a breeze moaning through the pines and cedars like a ghost. She sucked in a breath, satisfying her lungs while taking in the eerie quietness of the park. As snow began to fall again, she wiped her hand over her wound and slung the blood onto the ivory accumulation. Flakes collected on tree limbs and the forest floor with faint clicks. The setting was picturesque. She would've thought it beautiful if not for being chased by Wolf. She scanned the clearing, trying to pick out the familiar path she had mapped out in her mind. The snow didn't help matters. Her surroundings were disappearing beneath an ever growing blanket of white.

"The sky is falling, Sarah," a gruff voice said from behind her.

With a start, she spun around. Her mouth opened, but all that came out was a steamy breath that evaporated in the frigid air.

"I placed a tracker on you at the bridge." A victorious grin spread across Wolf's face as he pocketed a phone that appeared to be nothing more than a piece of glass. He bit the end of a glove and pulled it off with his teeth. Did the same with the other glove. With a finger, he rubbed the bottom of his lip. "You're feisty. I can appreciate that, but I have to bring you in."

"Why? So they can stick me with syringes until they drain the life from me?"

He screwed his face into a frustrated grimace. "Don't make this hard, Sarah. It doesn't have to be. We can be civil about this."

"I told you I'm not going back, I'll never work for the admiral again. Arcturus was the last straw."

"We need you, Sarah...and...we discovered something, something you'll be interested in."

"I've had a lot of time on my hands." She shifted sideways, raised her fists up. She felt good, light on her feet. "I didn't sit around twiddling my thumbs. I prepared for the day we'd meet again."

"Didn't you hear me?"

"You have nothing of interest to me."

Wolf smirked, opened a palm to her. "You wanna fight? Seriously?"

Sarah inched toward him, waiting for the right moment. She'd spent years in gyms across the States while on the run, her fists and feet pulverizing punching bags. She refused to train with a sparring partner, fearing she'd hurt someone. One gym in Kansas banned her after one of her flying kicks tore a bag from the ceiling, startling and perplexing the women and men working out at the time. There was no reasonable explanation for her strength. She didn't look that strong, but she was.

Sarah lashed out with a lightning fast jab to his nose, holding back the punch as much as she could. She drew back her hand, cocked it for another blow as Wolf backpedaled. Before he recovered, an opportunity opened up for another weapon in her arsenal. Sarah whirled around and delivered a roundhouse kick to his abdomen, again, restraining from using full force, having no desire to seriously hurt anyone unless it became absolutely necessary. The bottom of her boot flattened his gut, rocking his abdomen. The blow was well placed beneath his sternum in the center of his solar plexus, a wad of radiating nerves that if properly targeted, could stop an attacker dead in their tracks. The kick knocked the wind from Wolf's lungs, but avoided cracking ribs and damaging the organs those bones protected.

Wolf flew backwards to the ground.

Incapacitated, he reeled in pain, groaning and grunting, his face an intense red from the blood rushing to his cheeks. Sarah watched as he rolled onto his hands and knees, gasping for air. With her attacker momentarily stunned, Sarah bolted for the edge of the clearing.

Her chance to escape.

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