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The Stranger

An Abbie King Thriller

Mark Ayre

AFS Publishing

To mum

For being the first to read this book.

One chapter at a time, as I worked on it.

And probably buying it again now, even though you already know how it ends.


Get a Free Copy of Crossfire

By Mark Ayre

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Abbie King Returns…

Get exclusive Abbie King material

Thank you for reading

The Abbie King Thrillers

About the Author

Get a Free Copy of Crossfire

Meet Abbie King.

Pick up your free copy of Crossfire, an Abbie King prequel novella, when you join the Mark Ayre Readers’ Group.

Get your copy at: http://markay.re/readersgroup


Meet Abbie King.

A single-minded, ruthless defender of the innocent, Abbie is unable to turn her back on someone in need.

So when Abbie takes a late-night stroll and spies two men breaking into a bungalow, she follows them inside and saves the young homeowner’s life.

Abbie believes this will be the end of her involvement. But actions have consequences. And Abbie's interference soon gets her caught in the crossfire between a corrupt businesswoman and a deadly gang responsible for multiple armed robberies.

The stakes are high. Abbie was never supposed to become involved in this particular battle. But now that she has, she'll see it through to the end.

Even if it kills her…

Get your free copy of Crossfire at: http://markay.re/readersgroup

By Mark Ayre

Abbie King Thrillers

Crossfire (novella)

The Stranger

Deep Water

Miss No One

The Hide and Seek Trilogy

Hide and Seek

Count to Ten

Ready or Not

Adam and Eve Thrillers:

Fire and Smoke

Lost and Found

Cat and Mouse

Lock and Key

Cloak and Shield

Hope in Hell

James Perry Mysteries

The Black Sheep’s Shadow

All Your Secrets


Poor Choices


Abagail King awoke in the dark and knew without recourse to watch, clock, or phone that it was bang on midnight.

No sooner was she awake, she was sitting up. Losing her underwear as she crossed the hotel floor, she hopped in the shower, whacked it on full blast.

It was freezing at first. That was okay. The nightmare had begun fading as soon as Abbie woke. The cold blast was like a water cannon fired at a group of protestors, pushing them back, back. The nightmare was the protestors. As her skin exploded with goosebumps, the darkness of the night’s dream receded into the corners of her mind, shrinking with each passing second.

The face which had formed the nightmare’s focal point never diminished.

A face which might usually look ordinary but which had, in the confines of Abbie’s dream, been twisted into the extraordinary by pain, terror, anguish.

She had to find him—this perfect stranger.

Already, the clock was ticking.

Within a couple of minutes, the shower started to heat. Before then, Abbie was out, towelling herself. There was no electric dryer. Skin still damp, hair matted with icy water, Abbie threw on a loose tee, a pair of jeans, a hooded top. Scuffed boots. The rest of her belongings fit in one drawstring bag, which weighed next to nothing once full. Would have weighed half as much again if she could bring herself to ditch her battered and bruised copy of Stephen King’s The Stand.

No chance.

There were a couple more items in the car. Nothing that mattered.

Abbie left the room without making the bed. Earlier that day, she’d paid for the night. While passing through reception, she chucked her key onto the empty desk and stepped outside.

Now she did check her watch. 00:09 and bloody cold. As one might expect in the dead of night in the dead of January in this part of the world. She threw her hood over her head and jogged to her car. She didn’t look back as she left the hotel’s parking lot, driving as fast as the speed limit allowed. Never faster.

Time was running out. She couldn’t afford to surrender a single minute to a police pull-over.

A tiny town she’d never visited. Had never even heard of. But she knew this was the place.

If anyone had asked how she knew, Abbie would respond as a parent to a toddler who demands to know how mummy can be sure Santa has received their Christmas list.

Because I do.

Between hotel and town limits, Abbie kept her music loud and the heating high. Upon passing the welcome sign, she switched off the radio and spun the heating dial to OFF. Despite the fact Abbie could almost see the cold pressing against the car, a physical force, she rolled down the window. Her skin once more rippled with goosebumps, but she ignored the chill. Leaning towards the window, she listened.

It was 02:04. The town was quiet. It wasn’t silent.

No matter the time, no town ever is.

She followed the noise. Within five minutes, she was driving past a club at closing time. Bored bouncers operated the doors, ushering people out. Drunk men and women spilt into the streets, laughing, kissing, play fighting. One or two had swiped half empty or almost full glasses before leaving. If the bouncers noticed, they didn't care. Most the club's ejectees looked to be students at one of the local Universities. A decent chunk was in their later twenties and thirties. A few were older than that, a few couldn't have hit the legal drinking age of 18.

Abbie passed the road on which sat the club and swerved into the next street. Along a sloping lane lined on both sides with parked cars, she somehow found a space. It took forever to slot in. And maybe she'd never get out. That was okay. It was a rental. She switched up on the regular. The dealer could always collect while she got a bus home or to the next hotel.

Abandoning her car in its claustrophobic space, Abbie returned to the club's street. The former patrons were disappearing in all directions. A sizeable number were drifting up the road toward a glass-fronted

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