For my first chapter reveal today, I realized that Chapter One of my book is soooo tiny that it would be better to actually post Chapters One AND Two for you today. That way you can see a little bit of both Nik and Eva :). Enjoy!
*Copyright 2017 Sarra Cannon*
I checked again, just to be sure.
I’d been driving for nearly two days straight. I was exhausted and terrified, but with the windows rolled down, I could smell the salt in the air and the promise of freedom.
I was almost there.
For the past few hours, I’d been fighting just to keep my eyes on the road, but now I rolled down my window and let the wind blow my hair around. I turned the radio off and let my shoulders relax.
I had no idea where I was or what town I would be in when I finally hit the coast, but there was a single refrain running through my head for those last fifty miles.
I made it.
Two days ago, I had walked out of Mist Lake Towers, the place where I had been kept as a slave, gotten in the first car I could find, and started driving. I didn’t know or care where I was going, just as long as it was the coast and as far away from Dominic Moreau as possible.
By now, he would have all his hounds out looking for me, but I’d never gotten this far before so maybe this was the time they wouldn’t find me. Maybe I’d gone far enough that they would never find me again.
I hung my hand out the window, feeling the rush of the wind fly around my arm. God, it felt good. Freedom was something I had never known, and even if it was only mine for a few days, I would never forget how good it felt.
No one in the world knew where I was, and no one on this side of the country knew who I was or what I could do. This was going to be a fresh start for me, and even if I had to keep running every day for the rest of my life, at least I would be running free.
I breathed in the scent of saltwater and drove as fast as I could toward the sea. I wasn’t using any maps or GPS. I just kept going east and wherever I landed, that would be home. At least for a little while.
I passed a diner and thought about stopping to get some food or ask for directions to the closest beach, but I was too exhausted to stop.
It was well after midnight, and I was just anxious to get there and put my toes in the sand. I was struggling to keep my eyes open at this point, but the promise of the sea kept pushing me forward. Just a little farther.
Even if Dominic and his guys found me standing there, the waves tumbling across my feet, at least I would have those precious moments. That’s all I wanted.
I had never been to the ocean, but I had dreamed of it my whole life.
I was almost there.
I just needed to stay awake a little while longer.
There was a chill in the air as I walked toward the docks. I took long strides, anxious to get there quickly and get this over with. Jennings didn’t like to be kept waiting, and I really didn’t want to deal with his crap tonight.
My muscles ached, and I’d been looking forward to a couple shots of whiskey at Drifter’s before I climbed into bed. Even after ten years, I still wasn’t used to this human body and the way my legs ached.
The tide crashed against the shore as I hurried down the beach, and the ocean called me the way it always did. I longed to shed this earth-bound form and dive beneath the waves where I would feel weightless and free.
But that was my old life.
I was stuck here now, whether I liked it or not.
I pushed the soul-deep longing down into the pit of regret that seemed to grow larger with every passing day and kept my eyes on the ships that swayed in the distance. It was late, and it had been a long, hard day of work. I hadn’t expected to be coming back to the docks tonight, but I didn’t have much choice
I was a slave to the whims of my captor.
And apparently, her whims were becoming more frequent.
Jennings was already waiting for me at the dark end of the docks. He was a short man with a thick head of dark hair, and just the sight of him turned my stomach. The end of his cigarette glowed red in the darkness, and he flicked it into the water when he saw me.
My jaw tensed, and I had to bite my tongue. He’d done it just to make me angry. And because he knew there wasn’t a damn thing I could say to him about it.
People throwing their nasty trash into the ocean was like someone walking into my house and spitting on my floor. I might not be able to live in the water like the rest of the tritons, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t still my homeland.
“You’re late,” he said, not even bothering to glance my way. He kicked his boot against a large wooden crate next to him. “You know the drill.”
“I just took a shipment out there last week,” I said.
“And you’re going to take another one out there tomorrow,” he said. He finally turned to stare at me, his eyes glinting in the light of the nearly full moon. “Unless you’ve got a problem with that?”
Hell, yeah, I had a problem with that. These shipments were coming too fast. They were going to get me arrested. Or worse.
But Jennings knew there was nothing I could say about it. I had to do what I was told, and no matter how much I hated it, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter.
“How much this time?” I asked, eyeing the crate.
“Four more like these in the back of my truck,” he said. “Better get to work. I’ll wait.”
He lit another cigarette, and I had the sudden urge to snatch it from his hand and put it out on his face.
Instead, I swallowed my anger and walked down the wooden pathway toward the parking lot. It took me about twenty minutes to bring the other four crates down to the docks and load them in the small boat I kept tied there. I threw a thick tarp over the top of them and walked back to where Jennings waited.
“I trust you’ll see those safely to the other side by noon tomorrow,” he said.
“Don’t I always?” I asked.
His lips twisted into a mean smile. “Yeah, you’re a good little worker bee, Nik,” he said. “If you would adjust your attitude, you could graduate from this petty smuggling and make something of yourself.”
He sniffed the air and made a face.
“Maybe get yourself a nice suit and wash the stench of fish off your skin for a change,” he said.
“What? And be like you?” I asked. “I’d rather die.”
Jennings laughed and flicked another cigarette into the water that lapped against the docks.
“Ten years and you still hate me just as much as you did the day we met,” he said. “That’s got to be some kind of record.”
“You mean everyone who works for you doesn’t hate you this much?” I asked. I was running my mouth too much tonight, and as usual, that was bound to get me into trouble, but I was tired of holding back.
“You’d be surprised,” he said. “Most guys start out like you. Bitter about the life they left behind. But once they see what’s possible when they move up in rank, they usually fall in line. You’re stubborn, Nik. I’ll give you that. I have a feeling Selena will find a way to break you, eventually, though. She always does.”
His words sent a cold chill down my spine that had nothing to do with the cool October air.
I had seen the kind of things Selena could do, and I should be counting my blessings that the worst she’d done to me was leave me here in Willow Harbor to rot. She could have done a lot worse, and if I didn’t do as I was told, there was no telling what she would come up with for punishment.
“If we’re done here, I have some whiskey calling my name,” I said.
“Oh, we’re done,” he said. “For now. I’ll see you around, Nik.”
Jennings walked back to his truck and revved the engine before peeling out of the gravel parking lot and disappearing into the darkness. I double-checked that the tarp covering the crates was secure and started walking back toward Drifter’s when headlights shone through the trees.
I paused. Had he forgotten something?
This part of the docks was usually only busy during the daytime when the fishing boats were out. If anyone from town wanted to take a walk on the beach, they usually drove out to the boardwalk or the public beach. Not here.
As the headlights approached, I realized they were too low to the ground to be coming from Jennings’ truck. Whoever was driving was either drunk or half-asleep, judging by the way the car was weaving back and forth across the gravel path.
If they didn’t slow down soon, they were going to end up in the water.
I ran forward, waving my arms to try and get their attention, but the car didn’t slow down at all. My heart raced as the car swerved off the path and headed straight for the tree line.
Something was definitely wrong.
I pumped my aching legs as fast as they would go, but there was nothing I could do to get there in time. The car crashed into a tree, the metal bumper screeching against the wood.
I made it to the edge of the woods moments later and threw open the door on the driver’s side. It had all happened so fast, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was shocked when a woman with thick, auburn hair practically fell into my arms.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She was dazed and disoriented, and her entire body trembled as she reached for me. “I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I was driving, and…”
Her voice trailed off, and her eyes closed as she slumped over. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her from the car. I took my jacket off and set it on the ground so I could lay her down in the grass.
The interior light of the car illuminated her pale, delicate features. I mostly kept to myself around Willow Harbor, but I know I would have remembered a face like hers. What was she doing out here in the middle of the night?
I quickly checked for a pulse and sighed in relief when I found that it was strong. I took out my cell phone to call for help, but she grabbed my wrist, her green eyes open and terrified.
“Don’t, please,” she said. She tried to sit up, but decided against it and shook her head. “I’ll be fine. I just need a minute. Please don’t call the cops.”
“I was going to call for a doctor,” I said.
“I don’t need a doctor,” she said. She closed her eyes and lifted her hand to her forehead. She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, but there was blood streaked on the edge of her hand and wrist. “I just need some time to rest. I’ll be fine in a minute, I promise.”
I knelt beside her and stared at my phone. What kind of guy would I be if I didn’t call a doctor? She’d just rammed her car into a tree. And she was bleeding.
Except a closer look at the blood on her hand told me that it wasn’t fresh. What the hell was going on here? Willow Harbor didn’t exactly get a lot of tourist traffic, so there was no way she’d ended up here on accident. So, who was she? And what was she doing here?
“I think I need to call someone,” I said. “Is there anyone here who might be able to help you?”
She opened her eyes again, and the emerald green of them shot straight through to my heart. She was scared and shaken, and I had a strange feeling it had nothing to do with her accident.
“Where is here?” she asked, attempting to sit up again and getting a lot farther this time. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked around, even though there wasn’t much to see out here at this time of night.
Did she honestly have no idea where she was? Nobody ended up here if they didn’t belong, so how had this woman made it through the town gates and all the way out here to the docks without a clue as to where she was headed?
I shook my head and raised an eyebrow. This night had just gotten a lot more interesting.