Her high heels dug into the soft earth beneath her.
Her skirt and blouse, damp with sweat, clung to her body.
The trees whistled above her, the wind whipping through the branches.
Her heart raced, slamming against her chest. Her right side ached, shooting the pain up toward her chin. Her mind raced as fast as her legs moved—escape remained her only option. A grimace twisted her lips, as the stitch in her side grew stronger.
Footsteps lingered behind her. Not far. Close. Veronica glanced over her shoulder, tripping on a branch beneath her. The soft earth padded her knee and braced her fall. Up. She shot to her feet, as her adversary threatened to close the distance even more.
Glancing over her shoulder, she saw only blackness. Nothing more. She strained to hear his labored breathing, but she heard only her heartbeat instead.
A shot rang out, slamming against a tree branch off to her left. Her head whipped around, as bark sprayed in every direction. A piece caught her cheek, slicing it, and she swiped it away with her left hand. Brushing it aside like a dead fruit fly.
The blood on her fingers lingered.
Saltwater dripped into her eyes, obscuring her field of vision. With the same hand, she wiped away the remnants of sweat—and transferred the blood to her cheek—as a voice called out to her.
“You won’t get far,” the voice said. “Daddy’s going to get you.”
She shook her head, just one quick motion to clear the voice from her mind. Her arms pumped at her sides, like two pistons working together. She grimaced as the darkness found her and a hand touched her shoulder. The hand was stiff, and it lingered longer than it should have. When she turned her head, she discovered it was a tree. An owl hooted above her, as dark shadows crept over her and the surrounding forest. The moon guided her. It was more than enough light to offer her a sense of direction.
She picked up her knees and pushed herself forward. Her hands pumped at her sides faster and faster, as the darkness nearly swallowed her whole.
She stumbled again. This time a rock caught the toe of her left foot. A knee glanced off a root and shot pain up her thigh. The stitch in her side continued to throb and grow with each passing second.
Another shot rang out.
Title: The Convenient Escape
Author: Robert Downs
To Veronica Baird, escaping from an underground dungeon and racing through the woods, is anything but convenient, even as her captor in rubber mask attire proves rather persistent in his continued pursuit. Despite her apparent independence, she considers a partnership, albeit reluctantly, with a former classmate who may still have feelings for her.
Pete Nealey still has flashbacks to Iraq and, with the bottle as his eternal companion, tends to fall off of barstools at the most inopportune moments or pass out face down in the tavern parking lot. But what he may lack in cheerfulness, he more than makes up for with his steadfast loyalty to the cause, even when he ends up handcuffed to an air conditioner in a shoddy motel.
But unless Veronica can learn to trust Pete for more than just intermittent intervals, the slipshod relationship, and her freedom, won’t last…
Robert aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he’d already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise his stories might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California. To find out more about what’s next on his list, visit the author’s website: www.RobertDowns.net.
When he’s not writing, Robert can be found reviewing, blogging, or smiling. Falling Immortality and Graceful Immortality helped him discover his true love: hard-boiled mysteries. LaCour’s Destiny helped him enter the mind of a female amateur sleuth with OCD tendencies. His fourth and fifth novels will come out this year with Black Opal Books.