Scars by Renee Lovins by Renee Lovins - Read Online

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Scars - Renee Lovins

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Nine

Chapter One

Jarrod Slynth stared at the two flat tires on the rented convertible Corvette, his face the careful blank mask he’d trained himself to wear long ago. He walked along the remote mountain road, backtracking to where he first felt something. His hands remained loose at his sides not reaching for the pistol at the small of his back. Sharp hazel eyes scanned the road until he focused on a small box, roofing nails.

Accident then, not enemy action.

The smallest amount of tension eased from his back and shoulders as he stared at the box and the scattered nails on the road.

If I leave them, whatever help I might get could be impacted in the same manner.

He crouched, and with economical movements, picked up the nails and placed them in the box. A minute later he walked back to his car with the box in his left hand, right arm free against his side. Placing the box in the backseat he pulled out his phone with his left hand, twitching an eyebrow at the lack of signal.

He glanced around again, checking for any movement in the trees, reflections of light, anything that might indicate an ambush. This situation had the hallmarks of a perfect ambush.

The question was: who might know his location to try and arrange this?

Leaning against the edge of the car door he had clear visibility in all directions, Jarrod reviewed the past week in his head.

I received the contract Monday afternoon, I verified the man was who they said he was, and he did indeed run a child porn ring. I removed him around six hours ago, sent the proof to my client and left. I switched cars, and rented the corvette with an account that I haven't used in six months. I decided on the spur of the moment to take this scenic bypass, and no one expects me anywhere for another three days. There were no cars following me, I scanned for bugs and trackers at each transportation change.

Still scanning his environment, Jarrod arrived at the conclusion that this was, in fact, a random accident.

I hate random. Now how the hell do I get out of here?

The last town he passed would be at least a three hour walk. He had gear he really didn't want to leave in a convertible. But it was not in a bag conducive to hiking.

Note to self, next time make sure everything you carry can fit into a backpack or be left behind.

The corner of his mouth twitched at the idea of checking into first class wearing Armani and carrying a field bag as his carry on.

Dad would have never made a mistake like this.

The thought flashed across his mind, and the twitch of his mouth vanished like a heat mirage. The familiar knee jerk reminder that he wasn't his father, welled up inside. With the ease of much practice, he swallowed it down. Jarrod turned to assess what he could easily transport, but still carry without affecting his reaction time.

He placed a second pistol, a 9 MM Kahr, in a shoulder holster under his suit jacket. He paused when he heard a vehicle approaching from the direction he had. Always at the ready, he firmly gripped a .45 Glock with one round in the chamber.

An old Ford truck, maybe a 70’s model – he never paid much attention to cars – slowed as it approached him. The interior was shadowed, though from the silhouette he knew it was a woman. Which didn't mean anything; at least three professional killers he knew were females. One had tried to kill him, per a contract of course. He rather admired the attempt. It had been disappointing to have to kill her.

Jarrod watched for movement in that shadowed interior. The whole situation had his every instinct on high alert. He thought he heard a sigh, and maybe a muttered curse, before the driver shifted into neutral and set the parking brake leaving the engine still running. The driver side door opened and the woman stepped out, looking at him from her side of the truck.

Six years in the military, three of those as special forces, another five years working in every hell hole the world had to offer had shown him the worst of humanity. But he never expected to see something this bad in America, much less the idyllic hills of northern Kentucky.

Her hair, fiery red with short curls less than an inch long, crowned a face that looked like someone had taken a machete to it.

More likely a hunting knife.

The thought had a bitter truth to it as he looked at her. Ropy scars twisted over her face, though he noticed the attacker had avoided her eyes and mouth, which meant time had been taken to make those scars, but from the wobbles in the cuts, she must have been awake and fighting while the cuts were made.

Her gaze met his, calm, unwavering, and without shame. She assessed him, his car, then his tires.

Looks like you need a ride.

He ducked his head, for a moment he considered pulling out the old boy routine, but something about her said honesty would be