Pretty When She Dies (Page 12)

“That's weird. It Mexican? Lots of Mexicans up here now. Not that I don't like Mexicans, just lots of 'em here now.”

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“It's Russian, I think. My Mom had a thing for names.”

“I'm Ruth.”

Amaliya nodded and wished the woman would shut up. It was now obvious that she was drunk and should not be on the road at all. Plus she reeked of liquor and cat urine.

“We'll be in Greenville in five hours, I think.”

“I can't go to Greenville,” Amaliya said softly. “Just drop me off near Dallas.”

“If you are in my gawddamn truck, you're going to gawddamn Greenville!” The woman's voice was shrill and demanding.

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“Hey, aren't you supposed to wait a few hours before you act crazy,” Amaliya snapped back.

“Don't you dare speak to me like that in my fucking truck! You're in my truck and you will do as I say!”

“You're out of your freaking mind.”

“You will do as I say or I will get you!”

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The truck was now weaving all over the road.

Amaliya couldn't believe that not even five minutes had passed and now she had to deal with a batshit crazy woman.

“You got in my gawddamn truck so you'll do as I say. I'm going to go shoot the sonnabitch and get my kids.”

“Great! You're a homicidal crazy drunk.” Amaliya shook her head. “Just fucking great.”

How the hell had she ended up with the craziest woman in the area? It was good to see her luck was holding up.

“Look, whore, you're the one pimping yourself out by the side of the road begging to get fucked and killed. You're lucky I stopped and saved you from that!” Flecks of spittle hit the windshield as the woman screeched at her.

Amaliya looked down at the woman's feet to see a shotgun tucked down on the floorboard. With wry amusement, she saw the woman was wearing socks with plastic shoes.

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“Oh, fuck this.”

Amaliya grabbed the wheel with one hand and punched the woman as hard as she could with the other. There was a sickening sound as the woman's head snapped back and she collapsed against the driver's door. Quickly sliding over toward the woman, Amaliya tried not to pay attention to the stench and pushed her foot onto the accelerator.

“That went downhill fast,” she muttered. But then again, who was going to pick up someone on a darkened road other than someone who was crazy?

With a little effort, Amaliya managed to keep the truck moving until she saw a turnoff. It was a narrow country road and she almost had to sit on the smelly woman's lap to maneuver onto it. The old truck sputtered along until she found a place to pull off under a canopy of trees. Shoving the vehicle into park, she slid back down the seat to the passenger side and sat there staring out at the night.

This had always been her luck. How she had not been beaten and raped when she had hitchhiked as a kid was beyond her. She had hoped to get to Dallas tonight, but this was not a good sign. Checking the clock, she saw it was nearly nine o'clock. It was four to five hours to Dallas depending on traffic and construction. Once there she would have to find a place to stay during the day.

Beside her, the awful woman was gurgling and snorting. Blood was trickling out of her nose and something was off about her breathing.

Turning on the overhead light, Amaliya saw more blood than she expected and flinched. She was stronger now and had to remember that. Despite the horrible smell emanating from the woman, the blood filled her senses with a heady promise. Flipping the light back off, Amaliya sat back in her seat and pondered the situation. She was a vampire, she needed to eat, and she needed to get to Dallas.

“Ah, fuck.” She sighed and eyed the woman.

The woman was slowly dying beside her. Her shallow breathing was annoying and the gurgling that occasionally came from her throat didn't sound good, but Amaliya was beyond caring. From the sound of the woman's heart, she would be dead soon. The stench of her was making Amaliya feel nauseous, but it was a relief to feel the woman's blood in her veins. Life filled her and she relished it.

Shoving the door open, Amaliya pulled her bag out and looked back at the crazed woman. It was better this way. The battered, stained and mutilated divorce decree that Amaliya had found on the floor revealed how warped the woman was. The kids and the ex-husband were safer with her gone.

Slamming the passenger door shut, she walked back toward the highway. There was no way in hell she was taking the old beat up truck. It stank too much and she didn't want to deal with the crazy bitch's body.

As she trudged along, her bag swinging against her back, she sighed. It was freaking hard to be a poor-ass Texan vampire. Nothing about it was easy or fun.

Reaching the highway, she didn't even try to hitch. If someone stopped, good, if not, she'd keep walking until she got somewhere.

Though her mother had always wanted her to travel and experience life, she was sure this was not what Mom had hoped for.

An ambulance siren echoed out of the distance and she turned to watch it barrel down the road. With sad eyes, she wondered if it was Pete on the way to the big hospital in Nacogdoches. Silently, she prayed he would be okay. Or maybe it was more of a wish. She wasn't sure she could pray anymore.

She trudged along for almost twenty minutes before another small truck pulled over. The cab was crammed full of Mexicans as was the truck bed. They all looked tired and sweaty from a long day's work somewhere and two reached out to help her up into the back.

“Muchas gracias,” she said, hoping she didn't slaughter her Grandmother's language too bad.

They just smiled at her in response and then went back to staring into space as the truck sped back onto the highway. They all looked terribly fatigued and dirty. She was glad she had fed off the crazy woman and that their blood stained knuckles held no attraction for her now. She was sated and it was good.

Without her having to ask, the driver pulled into a truck stop that was brightly lit by huge lights that pierced into the darkness. Again, the men helped her down, and one handed her bag over. A few waved to her as the truck sped on and she raised a hand, feeling a hard lump in her throat at their kindness.

The heat from the truck stop was overwhelming. Massive semi-trucks sat growling in long rows. People were moving about, checking on their vehicles as others moved toward the huge building that housed a restaurant and convenience store. Walking across the asphalt, she felt a cold trickle flow down her back.

Whirling about, she looked into the darkness, fear blossoming inside of her.

He was here.

She knew it.

Felt it.

Walking backward, she stared out into the night and listened to the cars speeding down the highway and the engines rumbling all around her. The whine of air brakes and the laughter of men filled her ears, but still she could hear the Professor's voice in her mind.

Still alive? Doing well? I'm impressed.

She turned around and fled to the building as fast as she could. Holding down her cowboy hat as she ran, she could feel the big bag beating against her back. In her haste, she tripped and fell smack into a puddle of oil and grimaced as it splattered her face. Terrified that she was being pursued, she quickly rolled onto her hip and looked behind her.

There was no sign of her tormentor.

Scrambling quickly to her feet, she rushed past a few truckers looking at her in surprise, shoved open the door to the building, and stumbled in.

A bored-looking girl, with her hair heavily gelled and pulled back into a very tight ponytail, looked up from where she was reading a tabloid behind the counter. There were a few truckers prowling the aisles, looking for snacks and other supplies. Through an arched doorway in the wall, Amaliya could see into the restaurant. Business seemed to be better on that side.

“Showers are over there,” the girl said in a bored voice, and popped her bubblegum. She pointed across the heavily-stocked aisles to a large sign that read Restrooms and Showers.

Startled, Amaliya said, “Thanks,” and headed down an aisle, feeling embarrassed of her appearance. Inside the truck stop, it felt so normal and mundane. The ominous presence she had felt earlier was gone. She felt safe among the mortals.

Eh, she thought. I'm among mortals. Gawd, that's lame.

Her luck was definitely staying the course. She was covered in dirty oil and smelled like the crazy woman she had fed on.

The shelves around her were stocked with all sorts of things she didn't usually see at convenience stores. She hadn't realized so many products were personalized for the truckers on the road. A few of the drivers glanced toward her curiously, but mostly they just wandered the aisles looking at DVDs, mini-TVs, resin statues of Indians and clothes.

Sighing, she entered the room labeled Showers that had a silhouette of a woman over it. The only other occupant was a woman with curly black hair, blow drying her hair. As if by mutual agreement, they ignored each other. Amaliya headed to the end of the room and sat her bag on a bench. For the second time that night, she pulled out fresh clothes and her toiletries. She headed behind the curtained off area for a quick shower.

A few minutes later, she sat on the bench next to her bag and tugged on her boots. This time she was in black jeans and a black AC/DC t-shirt. The curly headed woman was now putting on makeup.

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