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A Killer's Trail

A Killer's Trail

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Main Tropes

  • FBI
  • Small Mountain Town
  • Victim Connection


A deadly killer in the mountains. One victim escapes. Can O’Reilly bring the perpetrator to justice, or will someone else succumb to their fate?

FBI Special Agent Aidan O'Reilly is no stranger to tracking down killers. So when a traumatized young woman escapes after being held captive in the remote Blue Ridge Mountains, he’s called on to assist in the investigation.

With the help of the woman's keen sense of awareness, the valiant agent works to track the predator and keep him from striking again. But will the killer outsmart O'Reilly and escape justice?

If you enjoy strong protagonists and satisfying endings, you’ll love Angela Kay’s novella as part of the Aidan O’Reilly serial killer thriller series.

This novella takes place after the events of book one and just before book two, however, can be read at any time.

Intro to Ch. 1

As the man next to her snored softly, she struggled against the rope binding her wrists to the bedpost. It wasn’t easy keeping her cries of pain to the bare minimum. Every nerve ending in her body hurt, not just from the sores embedded in her wrists but also from the harsh treatments she had endured over the past few hours. But she almost had it.

Gary—she didn’t know if that was his real name or something he’d come up with—promised to let her go when he was done with her. She didn’t think he would. She held onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, he’d let her go. But the longer he kept her captive, the less hope she had. Still, giving up wasn’t an option. She refused to let it be one.

He’d wrapped tape around her head to cover her eyes. The tape clung tight to her skin, triggering a relentless headache that pulsated with every heartbeat. The cold edge of the knife blade against her neck, as he pressed himself against her, was meant to be a warning against crying out. His hot breath against her ear as he told her it was almost over made her shiver, even as she thought of it now.

Over the short amount of time, she had begun to distinguish the subtle, yet distinct sounds that signaled his presence. The heavy, uneven gait of his walk, the unique timbre of his voice resonating through the small space, and the distinctive odor that lingered — a mixture of stale sweat and a strong, overpowering scent of something sweet. She couldn't quite determine what it was. At least not yet.

During their sporadic conversations, she had extracted details from him. She pieced together a sketch of the man based on his reluctant answers and the stories that inadvertently slipped from his lips. She committed every detail to memory, storing them away for the moment she could hand them over to the authorities. She was determined to be the one who would help put him behind bars. She was nothing if not determined, and she believed that it helped her survive his brutal assaults.

“Are you married?” she’d asked.


“What’s her name? Where does she live? Tell me about her.”

“Do you really want to know?”

She paused. “Yes.”

“Her name’s Brittany,” he’d told her. “She’s in Texas right now, visiting her sister. We live outside of the mountains, in town.”

“I’d like to see your house someday.”

“I wish that’d be possible. But we can’t tell anyone about us. You understand that, right?”

She’d fought back tears. “Yes.”

Later, he’d told her he had bought the cabin for his wife. But she hated it. It didn’t have a bathroom, and she hated going by the trees.

She learned a lot about him from talking to him. He’d also mentioned he had a daughter her age–

Another sharp pain shot through the sores on her wrists, and she sobbed. She stopped working her hands against the rope for several long minutes—waiting.

Thankfully, he didn’t wake up. Instead, the bed bounced lightly, and he draped his arms over her body.

A shiver crawled through her, just as it did the other times he touched her.

He held her close to him like a child would a teddy bear.

His breath reeked of the alcohol he had consumed the night before.

Once convinced he wasn’t waking up, she continued to work her hands free.

Then finally…

She bit hard on her lower lip, forcing back a scream as she managed to work the thick end of the rope enough for it to unravel. She whimpered, a mixture of pain, relief, and fear inching their way to her throat. Her wrist throbbed, feeling like part of her skin tore. The tape continued to block her vision as she turned her head toward the sound of his breathing.

She was free—almost.

But the thought of him waking up and killing her right then paralyzed her.

She said a silent prayer that she’d keep moving. That she’d have what it took to survive.

She couldn’t allow fear to keep her from escaping.

She needed to be strong, to find a reason to keep going.

She thought of her mother and how worried she must be by now. Did she think she was dead? Did she still have hope her daughter would be found again? Desperation swelled inside as she wished she could run into her mother’s arms, to feel the gentle love of the woman who birthed her. That was more than enough to keep fighting.

As gently as she could, she slid off the bed, away from his arms. With every move she made, she held her breath. The cabin was dead silent.

She reached her hands to her face, feeling along the tape blinding her sight. She couldn’t find the end to pull it off. Tugging at it didn’t work. Her fingers were weak, her wrist sore, and the tape continued to blind her. She wanted to see the sick creep who’d kidnapped, assaulted, and tortured her.

He had disturbingly allowed her to touch him as intimately as a lover might. The sensation of his smooth face under her fingers left a burning discomfort. If only she could really see him. Then she would know she’d give the police a better description. But she couldn’t waste the time removing the tape. Every moment she lingered increased the risk of her captor awakening and snatching her fleeting chance at freedom.

Her knees shook, barely able to support her weight.

With her arms outstretched, she cautiously moved forward, silently counting each step.

She worried about stepping on a loose board and the creaking would wake him up. There was one somewhere on the third step. She paused for a brief moment, to pull the map of the cabin's layout out of her head. For a brief time, he had removed her blindfold, allowing her to eat or use the restroom. In those moments, her eyes had darted around, absorbing every detail, every possible exit, every weak point in her prison. She took a step closer to freedom.



Three—there it was. Stepping over the board, she reminded herself there was a doorway.





Moving her arms slowly, she found the door. It was left open, so she kept going. She kept counting.

After the twentieth step, her hands touched the wooden siding. While at first, fear stole her thoughts when he kidnapped her, she was grateful she’d gathered what little information she could. She had counted their steps when he brought her here. She counted his steps as he came and went. The noises he’d make as he cooked, washed his hands—they told her she was likely in a single room, at the most, two.

She felt along the siding, keeping her ears alert.

She’d survived this long without dying, and she was almost to safety. Almost. She kept telling herself that like a mantra that would keep her fighting.

Her hands brushed against a knob. Yes! Finding the door bolted, she unlatched all the chains she felt, praying again that he wouldn’t wake up.

Hearing a cough, she let out a breath, her muscles tensed.

A second later: “Where do you think you’re going?”

Not wasting a minute longer, she flung the door open and sprinted outside. The ground cut through her bare feet. She stumbled, pain shooting up with each step as she forced herself to keep running, every fiber of her being focused on survival, She ran, ignoring his calls. Extending her arms as shields, she ran blindly into the unknown. In her mind, she had rehearsed this escape a thousand times, each scenario carefully crafted during the periods he forced himself on her. It was the only way she got through it. She had timed her movements, syncing them with the rhythmic sound of his snores that reverberated within the cabin walls, a grotesque lullaby that now served as her cover.

Tripping, she screamed, tumbling downward, smashing her face to the ground as she came to a halting stop.

Her hands clawed at her skin in desperation, frantically peeling at the tape that bound her to blindness. A curse came out of her as she struggled with the tape that mocked her with its adhesive.

Her skin pulled, along with her hair, as she removed the tape. She choked out a sob, finally able to toss it aside, hanging her head. She let loose the feelings of anguish and fear. Her heart pounded furiously, its beats echoing in her ears and rising to her throat. Her head pulsed. Her body shook. Her vision blurred, and she blinked several times in an attempt to see clearer. When her sight slowly came to focus, she looked around, but didn’t see him. Was he watching her behind a tree? Was he smiling, deciding it’d be fun to hunt her like a deer? Were there dangerous animals around? She didn’t know. She knew nothing but an overwhelming sensation of entrapment, a suffocating dread that clung to every pore. The air she breathed felt like a prison, tightening around her.

He’d taped her eyes when he took her and put her in a trunk when they came here, so she wasn’t sure where she was. Dirt, rocks, and trees surrounded her with no end in sight. Although getting lost seemed more likely than finding a road, she clung to the slim hope of encountering a hiker in the woods.

It was cold. Much too cold. It was a cruel way mother nature aided her captor. The sky was jet black except for a sliver of a moon behind an array of trees.

She had collapsed in front of a hill, where a large clump of shrubbery drooped down, offering a meager hideout. It wasn’t much, but seemed like it’d help keep her out of sight so she could steal a few extra minutes to gather her bearings and strength. She flattened herself as close to it as possible.

Now what? Her mind buzzed as she considered the next steps that would lead her to safety. It was dark, but the moon shed some light. Enough light to see an arrow carved in a nearby tree. She instructed herself to remember that tree. If she could make it out of the mountains alive, maybe it would help catch the man who’d taken her.

“I’ll kill you!” His angry words cut through the air, startling her. She clamped her hands tightly against her mouth to keep her heavy breathing muffled. He sounded nearby. “I know these woods better than anyone. I’ll find you and I’ll kill you. I’ll take my time, too. Inch by inch. Limb from limb. You hear me!”

Taking a chance, she slowly gazed up, her heart sinking as she saw him looming directly above her. Her breath heaved, and tears escaped from the corners of her eyes as she clamped her hand to her mouth.

She couldn’t see his face in the darkness. But he had a scar along his left ankle. His stomach hung slightly over the boxers he wore.

Her eyes darted through the woods, met only by an endless sea of trees. Silence engulfed her. Even the birds and insects were quiet. Was there anyone nearby?

A sigh of relief escaped her as the sound of his receding footsteps, accompanied by the rustling leaves and cracking branches under his weight, faded away.

Though desperation screamed within her to escape, she forced herself to wait. He could still be nearby.

A shiver coursed through her as the icy wind bristled by.

Her body ached, and her eyes were heavy, but rest wasn’t an option. Not until she found help.

Slowly, she craned her neck to peer over the hill that was her moment of solace. She was alone.

In her mind, she was as good as dead. Injured, tired, and hungry, she saw no way to survive the night.

But hope filled her heart. Maybe, just maybe, help was within reach, lurking just beyond the next tree or hill, a fragile glimmer of hope – one to which she clung desperately despite the unknown dangers lurking in the darkness. Maybe she’d reunite with her family before the night ended.


“But a lot of maybes won’t save me,” she said softly to the trees surrounding her. With a deep, steadying breath, she closed her eyes for a brief respite, then, summoning every ounce of her resolve, she dashed out from the overhang.

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