Now, in case you missed the last excerpt I released for the book, here's what I included in my newsletter...
Eight days ago
Mairi Tanner was escaping. She knew tonight was the only chance she would ever get. Drake was gone, and only one of his security personnel remained, posted outside the door to her room. But he wasn’t going to be a problem.
Earlier, the nurse had given Mairi sleeping pills, which she promptly pretended to swallow. In reality, though, she had only kept them under her tongue. The moment the nurse had left, she had taken them out of her mouth and crushed them in an iced cold glass of lemonade. It had been served with her dinner, but she had opted to drink straight from the tap, knowing she would need the lemonade for her plan.
Tiptoeing to the door, careful not to make any sound, Mairi pressed her ears to the door. Snores greeted her. Her heart raced in anticipation at the sound, but Mairi suppressed her excitement. The pills had done its job, but her problems weren’t over yet.
Even though it killed her not to do anything, she went back to her bed and tucked herself in. And then she waited. The minutes ticked by. Outside, silence hummed, punctuated by random snores. But Mairi remained in bed, keeping herself still, ready to close her eyes and pretend she was asleep.
The door opened. Her eyes closed. She kept herself still as she felt the nurse move around the room. This would be the last round of checking until tomorrow morning. When Mairi heard the door close behind the nurse, she waited for a full minute before opening her eyes.
She was alone again.
Her gaze went back to the wall clock.
…thirty-five, thirty-four, thirty-three.
…three, two, one.
The minute hand moved to nine. It was time.
She got out of bed quickly, knowing there wasn’t a second to waste. She had practiced her steps over and over in her mind, knowing she couldn’t afford to make a mistake. If she failed and her aunts learned of her attempt to leave, she knew they would make it seem she was a danger to herself. If that happened, there would be no escape. They would do it out of love, she knew, never realizing that doing so would kill her.
She needed to be with Damen Leventis.
She needed him like he was the reason her heart was able to beat for another second.
She needed him, and she no longer cared if he didn’t really need her the way she needed him.
Taking a deep breath, Mairi walked towards the door and placed her hand on the knob. Closing her eyes, she prayed, the kind that didn’t really need words. God would see through her heart. He would know it only beat for Damen now. He would understand.
Her gaze returned to the clock.
…five, four, three, two, one.
It was now three in the morning.
Quietly, Mairi turned the knob and opened the door. Relief hit her as she saw the guard dozing on his chair. As was his wont, he had folded his trench coat over the back of his chair, and Mairi reached for it with not-so-steady hands.
He didn’t stir.
So far, so good, Mairi thought as she shrugged into the trench coat, which she needed to hide the fact that she was wearing a hospital gown. Since she had been admitted into a private posh clinic, the gown was made of the most expensive type of cotton. However, it was still a hospital gown, and she couldn’t leave the place still dressed in it.
After tying the coat’s belt tightly around her waist, Mairi walked straight to the fire exit and raced down the stairs. Her heart beat faster with every step she took. She knew it couldn’t be this easy, but she couldn’t help but hope.
When she reached the door to the ground floor, she took a peek, and another sigh of relief escaped her when she saw no one standing outside. The fire exit led out to the clinic’s lavishly landscaped gardens. It was bordered by eight-foot walls, but she was confident she would be able to scale it.
What she did not count on, however, were the dogs.
Three German Shepherds, salivating and gazing at her with eerily menacing eyes. They were chained to ornamental lamp posts that lined the garden’s pathways. Those were really thin chains, Mairi thought with a swallow.
She took one step out of the door.
The dogs tensed, their tails standing up, their eyes following her every move.
“G-good dog,” she whispered.
Wrong words, as it seemed.
They lunged towards her, snarling, and Mairi ran towards the walls. A second later, she heard the sound of metal snapping. The chains had given out. She tried to run faster at the sound, her heartbeat so loud it eclipsed everything else.
One of the magnolia trees in the garden had a branch drooping close to the top of the walls. Mairi headed over it immediately. As she tried to climb the tree, looking for something for her foot to rest her weight on, one of the dogs finally caught to her.
Razor sharp teeth had clamped on her leg, and she bit her lip hard to keep herself from crying out. When her other foot finally found something to step on, Mairi took a deep breath before kicking the dog away. Taken by surprise, the dog released its hold on her leg and she moved immediately, making sure to climb up fast and keep herself out of reach.
The climb was a hundred times harder now, the pain in her leg making her feel woozy, but Mairi didn’t stop moving. Damen, she whispered to herself. She had to get to Damen. He had been calling out for her name the last time. He needed her right now. That was all that mattered.
The world around her blurred. The jump from tree to wall had seemed so easy a while ago. Now, it felt like she was jumping from one end of a cliff to another.
From afar, shouts started to be heard and beams of light from torches began to pierce the darkness.
Below, the dogs barked more noisily, angrily.
Damen, she thought again. Damen was outside, waiting for her.
She went over the wall, landing on all fours. When she looked down, her knees were bleeding, too, and her wrists hurt badly. The pain made her feel woozier, but she forced herself up. She had to get moving before people figured out she was gone. She had memorized the name of the hospital Damen was in when she caught it on TV. Now, she had to find a way to get there, without money, without a phone, without anything. But she would get there. She had to. She needed to get to Damen, no matter what.
Mairi closed her eyes for a moment.
Damen’s face filled her mind. So sinfully handsome, with his wicked silver eyes and---
She choked back a sob, her eyes flying open as the Damen in her mind changed. Now he looked horribly beaten, his eyes swollen, his mouth bleeding.
Oh God, she had to get to him. It didn’t matter what she had to do. Walk, hitchhike, or call for an ambulance and get herself driven there. It didn’t matter. The pain in her leg blazed, but Mairi was numb to the hurt. All she could think of was him.
Damen, I’m coming. She would get to him. She would. She needed him. He needed her. And so for as long as Damen needed her, Mairi would be by his side.