Roseanna unceremoniously dropped the box of junk she carried. Her arms ached and she no longer cared if someone tripped over it coming in. She left it abandoned in the middle of the foyer along with the others and exhaled. A cloud of dust puffed into the air, clinging to the spikes of light breaking through the skylight. They hovered in the streams, glittering like pixie dust. Several pieces found new homes on boxes and plastic covered furniture. Ana left them where they landed.
Ana leapt out of the way just as her father rolled into the foyer, pushing a dolly ahead of him, piled high with even more boxes. Most she noted had no label, which meant they were miscellaneous, which meant they were the dead remains of her father’s ever obsessive collection of hobbies, which also meant … they would never see the light of day again.
“Where did we get all this stuff?” he muttered, dumping the load in the corner next to a tall tower of other unlabeled boxes. He swiped the back of his forearm across the sheen on his brow. He shook his arm, sending beads of sweat flying in all directions.
Ana discreetly shifted aside to avoid getting speckled. “I’m guessing it’s all the stuff you don’t want to throw away.”
A half-sulk, half-frown turned down the corners of his mouth. “It’s not that I don’t want to throw anything away,” he said defensively. “I just don’t like the thought of throwing something out and then needing it later.”
Which is basically everything! Ana thought, biting back the grin turning up the corners of her mouth.
“No! That isn’t what we discussed!” While the rest of them were left peeling their sweat-soaked clothes off their skin, Caroline French stalked into the house in a snappy pearl-gray suit and heels that may have been chopsticks in a past life. She had one manicured hand on her curved hip and the other wielding a cell phone the way some moms wielded butcher knives. She didn’t glance at Ana, or her husband, as she glared at something at the top of the stairs. Ana knew there was nothing up there. The source of her mother’s wrath lay back in Ontario. “Well, of course I wouldn’t sign off on something so ridiculously childish! My cat could write a better column than that.”
Ana exchanged amused glances with her father, both smart enough to stifle their grins.
“Where is Mitzy?” her father asked, resting an elbow on the handle of the dolly and leaning into the device.
Ana jerked a thumb over her shoulder towards the stairs leading to the second floor. “Locked in the bathroom. He doesn’t like it, but he keeps trying to run outside and I’m afraid whatever’s been hibernating in those weeds will eat him.”
Her father nodded just as her mother stabbed the phone off with a frustrated poke of her finger on the screen. She turned narrowed gray eyes on them, her dainty eyebrows tangled together.
“I work with idiots!” she declared, shoving her phone into the tiny pocket of her blazer. “I could run that company singlehandedly if we hadn’t…” She trailed off, cleared her throat and backpedaled. “If I could just find my fax machine.”
That wasn’t what she’d been about to say and everyone in that foyer knew it. That whole issue had been the main topic of so many arguments of late that no one dared bring it up for fear of causing another war.
Her mother was the co-founder of a major publishing company that specialized in distributing some of the top best-sellers. They published everything from self-help and children’s books, to magazines. Most of her work could have been done anywhere in the world, but Mom was a city girl, born and bred. She looked out of place in a small town like Chipawaha Creek, British Columbia. The town was so small and so remote that even their GPS couldn’t pick it up. There was one stoplight in the middle of downtown and it was broken. Before they left Toronto, Ana had tried to do a Google search of the place, but all she got was a faded, bronze-colored picture of a boy wearing a straw hat, giant overall shorts and no shirt. He was grinning into the camera, around a stick of straw stuck through the gap in his teeth. Next to him were three words: website coming soon! It had not been very encouraging, but Ana had made a timid sort of peace with their new situation. Her mother not so much. Only Dad’s promise that yes, Chipawaha Creek did have fax service, internet and cell phone reception had appeased her — and Ana, but Ana kept her relief to herself.
Being forced to leave her friends, the boy she liked, the people she knew and the places she loved seemed a little less dramatic if she still possessed a link to the outside world, if she didn’t feel completely cut off from everything. The move may just not be so bad … if she didn’t think about the fact that all the kids in Chipawaha Creek had grown up together, and had a sturdy relationship platform already built. But she wouldn’t think about that. She would never make it if she let her doubts and worries choke her. She was here now; making the best of it was all she had.
“Is everything here?” Mom asked, breaking the tense silence. She turned on her ice pick stilettos, doing a slow scan of the chaos spilling through the foyer and staking claim on the sitting room and dining room like a plague.
Dad shrugged, doing his own scan of their worldly possessions. “There’s nothing else in the truck, if that’s what you mean.”
Mom turned, opened her mouth only to be interrupted by a loud buzz. She held up one French-tipped finger while fishing into her blazer pocket with her other hand. She came up with her phone. With her finger still giving them the one-second gesture, she shoved her lifeline against her ear.
“Caroline French.” Her face puckered into what may have either been annoyance or deep deliberation. It was hard to tell sometimes. “No, I will not accept such a half-brained excuse! You put that monkey’s a … hello? Hello?” For a moment, no one spoke out of sheer shock. Ana was too stunned to even realize her jaw had dropped. Whoever was stupid enough to hang up on her mother was about to wish they’d never been born. “Hell …” Mom dragged the phone away from her ear and blinked at the screen.
Stared. Blinked. Stared. Like if she did it enough times it would change or cease to be true. Her wide, gray eyes snapped up to her husband. “I have no connection…” Disbelief colored her soft, slow murmur. “Richard?” Ice crackled in her tone. “Why don’t I have cell reception?”
Richard French had the decency to wince as though he’d been struck. Ana watched as he hurried over to take the device from his wife and stared at it himself, seemingly willing it to work before his flesh was torn into strips.
“Maybe this is just a dead spot,” he decided, moving quickly away from the fierce woman glowering at him, holding the phone up towards the ceiling.
The dead spot apparently ran throughout the entire house, except the front porch and about five feet into the foyer. Ana went into hiding before the fireworks started. She hurried up the stairs to the fourth door on the left, which was officially her room.
It was the second largest of the four bedrooms, but the only one with a window seat overlooking the sprawling wilderness of the backyard, including the cute little pond. She stood there now, staring past the hip-high grass, the massive population of weeds, wildflowers and random pieces of garbage. Most of the fence surrounding the property — the usual brown planks hammered into the ground — had been knocked over at the back. The boards flattened the grass, joining the yard on the other side with theirs. Ana wondered who lived in the other house, and why they hadn’t bothered fixing the fence. Whoever they were, the grass was neatly mowed on that side. Flowers bloomed in neat little boxes and beds. A vegetable garden thrived in one corner and a playground set was situated in the other. From all the dolls, trucks, skipping ropes and balls littering the yard, Ana guessed there was a boy and a girl living there. Then, she wondered if they needed a babysitter. Back in Toronto, she had babysat for four different families. It had been a good source of income even though she still got a weekly allowance from her parents. It had kept her in music, clothes and books quite comfortably. She couldn’t see why she couldn’t keep up that business in Chipawaha Creek. There had to be children somewhere in that town. Hell, she’d even walk dogs if she had to just to make a little extra cash.
A soft knock interrupted her moneymaking scheme. She turned just as the doorknob did and her dad poked his head in through the crack in the door.
“Hey.” He slipped into the room and quietly and carefully shut the door. “Listen, I’m going to run into town and see what’s going on with the cell service. Did you want to come?”
Ana grinned. “Mom on the war path?”
Her dad rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, staring a little too hard at the far wall. “She’s a little upset…”
Ana laughed. “Yeah, I’ll come.”
Ten minutes later, they were driving through the well-maintained streets of Chipawaha Creek. The main road that lead in and out of town was split into two with a cul-de-sac in the center of town square and shops sitting colorfully around it. Ana had never seen such clean sidewalks, well painted buildings or cheerful people in her life. Complete strangers waved as they drove past. When they pulled up in front of City Hall—a large, barn-shaped building painted a fire engine red—and got out, people actually called hello. It was all a little too Pleasantville in Ana’s mind, but she forced a smile, hoping it wasn’t too tight or awkward, and waved back.
“Cool, right?” her dad said gesturing with a nod of his head to the cul-de-sac where a brightly colored jungle gym had been erected and surrounded by a cute picket fence. Children were all over it, laughing and squealing. Moms sat on white benches, chatting amongst themselves. Older kids rode their bikes up and down the sidewalks. A small huddle of girls, roughly her age, sat on a picnic table, giggling and talking. Then, because the scene wasn’t postcardy enough, the air smelled of roses, warm blueberry pie and freshly baked bread. Ana frowned a little at the flawless blue sky and made a silent promise that if anyone, even one person, said gee, golly, or gosh, she was packing up and hitchhiking her way back to Ontario. There was only so much creepy one person could handle.
“Cool,” she muttered, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her black, skinny jeans. She dared another glance at the cluster of girls and glowered at their pretty sundresses. Did she even own a sundress?
“Well, good afternoon, folks!” A tall, thin man in his late seventies beamed at them from behind a glass case enclosing rows of … things; old, antique things. More antique things hung from the walls. It was like stepping into a very small museum.
Luckily, her father looked as confused as she felt, because he glanced at the muskets, oil lanterns, rusted scythes and old photographs mounted on the walls and said, “Hi! We’re, uh, the Frenchs. We just moved into—”
The man beamed, baring incredibly straight, white teeth — dentures, Ana mused. “I know who you are!” the man said with great enthusiasm, like only stupid people wouldn’t know the answer. “We’ve all been expecting you folks for days now!”
That is not creepy! That. Is. Not. Creepy! Ana told herself sternly when images of The Village flashed through her mind. This is a small town, she went on to reassure herself. You moved to a small town. That means people know stuff about you. It’s normal! Man, she missed the city.
“Oh … great!” her father said with a bright smile, but she could hear the hesitation in the words. “So, listen, we’re having some connection problems up at the house. The cell reception doesn’t seem to be working. Now, I was told—”
“Oh well, you need to talk to Jacob Whiley about that I’m afraid!” He jerked a thumb back over his stooped shoulders towards a set of wooden stairs leading up to a landing, then a door in the wall. “He’s the town technician. Knows all about them new age thingamabobs. Just go on up.”
Her dad thanked the man and started between two of the counters. Ana didn’t follow. She stood with her hands at her back and studied the display cases forming a blocky U around the room. Each case was long and glossy like the cases found in jewelry shops. But there were no gems here, just rusty daggers, old pocket watches, engraved flasks, the odd brass bracelet, pistols and bronzed baby booties. She wondered if this was their historical society or town museum.
“Ana?” Her father stared at her from the bottom of the stairs, hand braced on the railing, one foot already on the first step. “Coming?”
Ana shook her head. “I’m going to check this stuff out.” She hesitated, glancing at the old man. “If that’s all right?”
The man gave her a blinding smile. “Well, sure it is!” he said. “That’s what this is all here for. You go on then. Let me know if you see something you like.”
Ana’s eyebrows shot up. “Something I like? You mean this isn’t a museum?”
The man made a raspy, wheezy sound that she assumed was laughter. “Heavens no! This here is the town pawn shop.”
A pawn shop and electrician … inside City Hall. Yup. She was convinced. She was not in the city anymore.
Whatever her dad talked to Jacob Whiley about lasted fifteen minutes, in which time Ana had made a full circle around the room. She glanced up when her father ambled down the creaking stairs and knew immediately things had not gone well when she spotted the annoyed pinch in his lips.
“Didn’t go so well?” she asked as they left the shop with the old man’s farewell ringing after them.
Her father grumbled something as he rounded the truck and threw open his door. He hauled himself inside and slammed the door behind him. Ana hurried to catch up in case he forgot she was there and drove off.
“What happened?” she asked, strapping her belt into place.
He stuffed the key into the ignition and started the engine “Well, apparently.” The leather seat squeaked when he twisted his torso around to peer out the back window as he pulled into reverse. “He hasn’t had a chance to come out and fix that little problem, and why would he? I only gave him a month’s worth of notice. That can’t possibly be enough time to set up a router, or whatever that thing is called. Oh, and the cell reception? He can’t even fix that. So, if we want to use our phones, we have to go outside.”
So no internet. No phone. No TV. No cell service.
“Mom is going to kill you,” she said matter-of-factly.
He sighed, easing into the slow flow of traffic. “Yeah, well, it’s only until tomorrow. He promises to have all that fixed before the afternoon.”
“Do you believe it?”
Her dad snorted. “We’ll see, I guess.”
The fury that was her mother’s wrath only lasted about as long as it took for her cell — which she was forced to stand outside on the porch to answer — to ring. The clack of her heels cracked like thunder throughout the house as she hurried outside.
Ana looked at her father from across the island in the kitchen, over the half-eaten box of pizza, and smiled sympathetically. “Hey, at least she still has some connection to the outside world, right?”
Taking a chomp of his pizza, her father sighed. “It’s only for the one night. Things will be better tomorrow when the fax and landline are hooked up.”
Ana nodded, flicking a piece of green pepper off her pizza to join the small pile of peppers already collecting in the corner of her plate. Above their head, a low, guttural howl drew their attention to the ceiling.
Ana sighed, rolling her eyes. “I better go check on him, or I’ll have to sleep with one eye open tonight.”
Her father chuckled as she climbed off the stool and took her paper plate to the garbage bag hanging off a drawer by the sink. “Hey, I wanted a dog. You picked a cat.”
“Cats are self-reliant,” she said out of habit. “I don’t have to take him out for walks in the rain.”
“Lazy,” he mumbled around a mouthful of pizza.
Ana snorted. “Says the man who’s home one day out of an entire week!” She folded her plate into the trash, dusted her hands over the sink and turned to him. “Speaking of which, when are you leaving for work again?”
He didn’t answer right away. Instead, he took his time wiping his mouth and hands on a napkin, chewed his food, swallowed, and finally replied, “Tomorrow morning.”
Ana blinked. “That soon? Does Mom know?”
“Does Mom know what?” Somehow, Mom had pulled that stealthy ninja move of hers and appeared in the doorway without ever touching the ground with her heels. Now she stood there, staring at them with one eyebrow raised questioningly.
Ana stared at her father, who stared at his plate, and her mother stared at both of them, waiting.
“I, uh.” Her father wiped his mouth again. “I have to be on the island by tomorrow evening. I tried to get out of it, but they want the project complete by the end of the month and…”
Mom folded her long arms, sticking out a hip in a stance Ana knew meant there was about to be another war. “Well, that just can’t happen.” She held up the phone in her clutches. “I have to be in Seattle tomorrow to smooth over the mess they’ve made in my absence. Someone has to stay here and get this place organized.”
Her father shrugged, climbing to his feet. “I can’t. This is why we moved here, so I can be closer to my work. Not going to work kind of defeats the purpose of this move.”
Then it started.
“Well, maybe you should have found something in Toronto instead of moving us here to Godforsaken nowhere!”
Anger lanced off the green surface of her father’s eyes. “This job is paying us three times what I was making back East! Those phone bills of yours don’t pay for themselves!”
Her mother’s jaw dropped. “Excuse me? Oh no, no, no, I pay for my own bills, thank you! Or have you forgotten which of us brings in more money to this household?”
As quietly as she possibly could, Ana tiptoed past her mother’s rigid figure and hurried upstairs with the sound of their bickering nipping at her heels. She stopped in the hallway bathroom and rescued Mitzy from his cooped up prison. The cat growled at her, tawny eyes narrowed.
“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered, taking the orange tabby into her room and kicking the door closed with her heel. “I’m a terrible owner for not letting you just run off and get eaten by a bear or whatever is holed up in that jungle out back.”
The cat grumbled and growled deep in its throat as she placed him down. She let him roam her room while she unpacked the essentials like her bed things, pajamas and toiletries. She made her bed with the sound of her parent’s raised voices seeping through the floorboards beneath her feet. But she’d gotten good at ignoring it.
She was leaving the bathroom after the hottest shower on the planet with her toiletries in hand when her mother reached the top landing. She blinked in surprise at seeing Ana standing there in her flannel bottoms and over-sized t-shirt. But the look melted into one of guilt as she closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her thin nose.
“I’m sorry,” Mom said quietly, lowering her arm to focus on Ana. “We really don’t mean for you to see that.”
Ana shrugged, dropping her gaze to the chipped, pink nail polish on her toes from her last girl’s night with her friends back home. “It’s no biggie.”
Mom’s heels scuffed a little on the strip of carpet running the length of the narrow hallway as she crossed to stand in front of Ana. She raised a hand and touched the tight braid down Ana’s back. The light brown strands matched the neatly styled coif of her mother’s shoulder-length helmet, but the gold highlights were more pronounced in Ana’s hair from hours in the sun, and her hair went down to the middle of her back.
Her mom played with the elastic tied at the end. “I always forget how big you’ve gotten. Sometimes it feels like it kind of snuck up on me.” She smiled a little wistfully. “It was bound to happen I suppose. Doesn’t mean I like it.” She dropped the braid and peered into Ana’s green eyes. “I know we didn’t really ask you if you wanted to move here—”
“Mom,” Ana interrupted. “It’s fine. I know how important this move was to Dad and … I can make new friends.” She tried not to wince or look directly into her mother’s eyes as the rehearsed lie slipped her lips. “The old ones were getting kind of old anyway.”
Her attempt at humor was met with pursed lips and narrowed eyes. “Don’t downplay it. I know how much this hurt you.”
The floorboard under Ana’s feet gave a low groan when she shifted her feet. She jerked a shoulder. “Whatever. It’s not a big deal.”
Her mother exhaled, placing a hand on Ana’s shoulder. “You’re a good kid, Ana.”
Ana said nothing for a moment, and then asked, “So, are you guys leaving tomorrow?”
Mom’s hand fell away, leaving the spot she’d touched chilled by the sudden exposure of air. “Yes, but,” she added quickly as if afraid Ana would protest, “your father has promised to return Wednesday, and I’ll be home on Friday. So you’ll only be alone for the one night. Is that okay?”
No, but what choice did she have?
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Ana shifted in bed. Fabric rustled as she drew the sheets higher up around her shoulders. The chill in the air against her skin had her curling onto her side, drawing her knees up to her chest. Weeks of packing, lifting, moving and then moving again and unpacking pushed against her, willing her not to rouse from the warm cocoon of sleep.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She stirred again. “Mitzy, knock it off,” she grumbled into her pillow.
At the foot of the bed, the cat mewled his indignation. Ana blinked into the thick darkness pooling through the unfamiliar room. The red letters on her digital clock winked back at her, marking the hour precisely at three in the morning.
Ana groaned. She dragged the sheets up over her ears. She shut her eyes.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. BANG!
Something slammed into the wall outside her door. Ana bolted upright. Fear coiled in the pit of her stomach, rendering her mouth dry. Her hands shook as she reached for the lamp. She flicked the switch. Nothing. She flicked it again. Trembling, she scrambled onto her knees and dragged the lamp closer. She snapped the switch again and again. Darkness continued to blind her, swathing her in icy terror.
“Dad? Mom?” she called, hoping it was only one of them making their way to the bathroom.
A heavy silence pushed against her. Sweat slicked her palm as she yanked on the cord. Her breath panted as the end came into her hand, unplugged.
Cursing, she dropped it and lunged off the bed.
The icy floorboards burned beneath her bare feet as she scrambled across the room to the light switch. She flipped it on with a violent sweep of her hand.
The same chilling silence thrummed around her, shattered only by the drum of her frightened heart. Her limbs trembled as she strained all her senses, listening. A scream sat wedged on her tongue, just waiting for the slightest noise to be released.
But when minutes ticked by and nothing happened, Ana began to wonder if she’d imagined the noise. If she had maybe dreamt it. It’s the only possible explanation, she thought, pressing a clammy hand to the front of her shirt.
She inhaled shakily as she padded back to the bed, but all hopes of sleep were gone. She gave a frustrated yank of the covers and pitched them back. Mitzy grumbled at her from his resting place when the covers landed in a heap on top of his head. He untangled himself and hopped off the bed with a grunt. He cast her a nasty glare before curling up on a nearby box and going back to sleep. Ana rolled her eyes as she snatched up her fluffy pink robe and threw it on. She shoved her feet into her sneakers and tiptoed downstairs.
Several steps creaked and she made a mental note to remember which ones for the future. She wasn’t the sneak-out-of-the-house sort, but it was something handy to know. At the bottom, she turned down the hall to the kitchen and frowned. The basement door was open. Not all the way, but open enough to show a slit of pure blackness where it gaped. Ana thought nothing of it as she hurried forward and shut it. She continued on into the kitchen and maneuvered her way around the boxes to the sink. It wasn’t until she went through all the trouble to get there that she realized she had no cup and she was in no mood to go box diving.
Wishing she’d thought of that before coming down, she turned, only slightly deterred by the prospect of making the journey back through the maze of boxes. She swayed a little as her weary body protested all the movement. She stuffed her knuckles into her eyes and rubbed the grit collecting in the corners. She yawned. And that’s when she saw it, a bright, sparkly bit of light where she thought there shouldn’t be any. Her thigh caught a box as she twisted back to the sink and the source of light poking through the lace curtains over the window. The stone basin felt cold under her hand as she leaned over and pulled back the fabric to squint into the night.
Glinting stars stared back at her. She couldn’t ever recall having seen so many claiming the heavens before. They were nonexistent in the city. Below, a pond shimmered beneath the glow of the moon. The wind whistled through the tall grass. Crickets chirped. It was such a drastic change from the commotion of the city. Even at that hour, people were rushing to get places. Not in Chipawaha Creek. Everyone was sleeping there, except her … and the pale boy standing over her pond.
Ana squished her knuckles into her eyelids and rubbed. She blinked her eyes and stared hard at the slim, unmoving figure peering down at the ripples in the water. Around him, a white glow seemed to halo him, like he had swallowed a lamp and the light was spilling out of his pores, illuminating the space around him. He stood with his back to her, hands in his pockets, blond head bent. She couldn’t make out much, except he wore a long, black cape draped over his hunched shoulders. The wind lifted the corners, making it flap like wings around his legs.
Ana wondered if she should get her parents. They would certainly know what to do. But the boy didn’t look like a threat. He looked about her age. Plus, he just seemed really sad. Maybe he’s lost, she thought, pressing her nose against the glass. It made sense. Why else would he be standing in her yard in the middle of the night? Or maybe he was hurt and just needed to call someone to come get him. But he didn’t seem hurt.
More and more, she contemplated waking her parents. They could go out there and deal with the kid. But each time she was reminded that her parents had to be up early in the morning to leave for work so if it turned out to be nothing, just some kid trespassing, they would be furious. Maybe she should just leave him alone. Eventually he would need to go home … unless he was lost.
“Ugh!” Ana stuffed the heels of her hands into her eyelids where a steady throbbing had begun. This is not solving anything, she told herself. She would just go out there and ask if he was all right. She would stay on the porch, far enough away so that she was safe.
Pushing around boxes, she made a path to the back door. She flicked on the porch lights, unsnapped the locks and yanked open the door. Muggy, August air caressed her face, taunting her with the scent of night, wildflowers and dead, rotted things. She drew her robe more tightly around her as she stepped onto the porch and opened her mouth to call out. But no one was there. The spot by the pond where she’d seen the boy was empty.
“Hello?” she called, daring a step down the porch stairs. “Is anyone there?”
Bullfrogs croaked from somewhere near the pond. Crickets chirped excitedly. Somewhere, wind chimes tinkled. Still there was no sign of the trespasser. She edged another step, then another until she was at the bottom, on a curving stone path that sliced through the jungle. Most of it was buried beneath grass, but she could make out some of it leading to the pond.
Cautious but curious, she started along the trail, ears strained for even the slightest unusual sound. Her gaze searched the night. In her chest, her heart rampaged with fear. A nagging voice in her head warned her to turn back, and she started to when something stopped her. It was a sound, a giggle of all things. Ana wondered if maybe there was more than one person out there hiding, or if maybe this had been some kind of joke on the new girl. The idea turned her blood icy. She turned to run back to the house when a movement caught the corner of her eye. Another giggle had her frowning. The bushes just a few feet away rustled. Ana speared her hips with her hands and stiffened her spine. This was her home. No one had the right to make her feel scared.
Armed with sheer grit and stupidity, she marched towards it.
“Hey! You, behind those bushes!” she called, silently patting herself on the back for keeping her voice firm. “Get out before I start shooting!” It was probably a bad idea to announce she had a weapon when she didn’t. Plus, it could have been a possum she was yelling at, or some other animal that lived only in small places like Chipawaha Creek. “You have five seconds! One. Two. Three…!”
The bushes rustled loudly, splitting the night with the crack of branches breaking and very rude, very human cuss words. Then, like some stripper in a birthday cake, a boy lunged out, naked from the waist up. Something long and silver was clutched in his hand. It caught the light from the porch and sparked like fire.
Panic slammed like a fist in Ana’s chest as she scrambled back. The scream left her throat about the same time as something caught her ankles and sent her colliding with the hard ground. Pain sliced through her hip and up her entire left side. The air careened out of her lungs, paralyzing her from crying out again. Then, the maniac was on her and the touch of cold steel kissed her skin.
“Quiet!” a gruff, male voice hissed into her ear.
Title: Betraying Innocence
Release Date: November 17, 2013
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