When Hearts Collide - By James, Kendra


To my sister Jacqueline,

who has been there for me through the best times and the worst.

She has also turned out to be an awesome editor,

picking up all those missed prepositions and changes in tense.

And to Lenore Ross. If I could pick another sister, you would be it.


Writing is a lonely profession, or would be but for all the wonderful people you meet along the way. I want to thank everyone who has helped me attain my dream, those who have been there at the beginning, and those who continue to be a part of the process.

My first writers group, Diane Lawrence, Marlene Stead, Paulette Williams, Donna Knezic, Gill Villanueva, and the amazing writing teacher, Sheila Martindale, who brought us all together and showed us how creative we could be.

To my present writing group. Kelley Armstrong for constantly encouraging me that I can do it, and to get my writing out there. John Jeneroux, Pat Brown, and John Weiler for their invaluable suggestions and editing help.

Thanks also to Claudette Savoie Foy, Jane Gloor, Michael Rieder, Gary Joubert, Tina Gowing, Sue Atchinson, Kristel Jute, Leesa and Elly Keough, Cathy Mott. They have all been there helping to make my dream come true. Nicole Dietze for her encouragement, her editing, her Facebook expertise, and her highlights.

Brian Henry, who continues to teach and support writers to attain their goals. Lee Child, who graciously read my WITHOUT CONSENT and gave me that all important pre-pub blurb. Michael Palmer for his kind words acknowledging my writing talent and for giving me the encouragement to persist.

And so many others, too many to name, who have supported my in this awesome journey. support.

Chapter 1

“No one ever said life was fair.” Molly clutched the leather-wrapped steering wheel of her Elantra, her grandmother’s favorite saying echoing in her head.

Well, wasn’t that the truth. Fight or flight. Those were her two options. But was fleeing the right decision?

The sun had set an hour before, and the cloudy sky overhead hung like a mantle of coal. Molly tried to banish the fatigue descending on her. She should have stopped at that last motel, even if it did look like it would qualify for a five-star roach award. She could add that to her list of regrettable decisions.

The highway, arrow-straight when it left Hillsborough, now twisted and turned like a corkscrew. Pine trees bordered the roadway, encroaching like shadowy ghosts. Scenes from horror movies with lonely highways sent a shiver down her spine. Why hadn’t she left while it was still light?

Molly tried to suppress a yawn. Wake up girl, you need to stay alert.

She flipped the airflow to maximum. Maybe the cool air would keep her going for a few more miles. She glanced in the rear-view mirror—no one else on the road, nothing to distract her, nothing but blacktop and an inky saw-toothed line of trees. She turned the radio up and listened to the lonesome country tunes.

It wasn’t working. She switched to a rock station. “I’m not ready to make nice, I’m not ready to back down.” That was better. Just the way she felt. Molly sang along. Opening the window, she let the pine-scented breeze slap her awake.

A car approached, its bright headlights flickering like fireflies between the thick trunks of the evergreens. At last, a sign of life, the first she’d seen in the past half hour. The lights came closer, causing the pavement to take on the appearance of a striped swamp snake. The roar of a high-powered engine amplified as the distance between them shrank. Thankfully, the high beams switched to low.

Molly jerked herself alert. What’s wrong with you? He’s on his side of the road, and he isn’t speeding. Why did she have a sudden sense of apprehension? Calm down. The road’s wide enough to share.

There was a flash of movement. A white-tailed deer darted across the highway fifty feet in front of her. Instinctively, she white-knuckled the steering wheel. Her foot eased off the gas, and the car slowed.

At least something was going right. Her hands loosened their grip, and she settled back into the seat. A screech of tires broke into her thoughts. Her back stiffened and her heart rate spiked. She clutched the steering wheel again, but her palms were sweating and she had trouble maintaining her grip. The oncoming car veered towards her, its headlights hitting her full in the face, momentarily blinding her. Molly froze. Oh God, no. Her breath wedged in her throat. There was nothing she could do. Her

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