I LOVE this series by Shayla Black…oh who am I kidding I love all of Shayla’s stories. So when I was asked if we wanted to spotlight this series with an exclusive excerpt I said yes.
RED splattered her once-pink shirt. She pressed her lips together to hold in a scream. If she couldn’t stay quiet, something bad would happen.
Terror made her heart thump in her chest, drum in her head. As she looked around the ransacked house, splashes of red marked the walls in nearly every room. She was afraid to look closer. Time to get out. But as she ran down the hall, she slid in more of the red stuff, nearly losing her balance. It lapped at her toes, warm and sludgy. Some scent she didn’t like tinged the air. Her stomach turned, but she kept running.
Finally, she made it to the door and reached for the knob. But her hands were covered in red. Horror assailed her.
The wind blew the back door open. With a silent screech, she darted outside. Cold. Snow had fallen recently. The ice bit into her feet, but she kept charging as fast as she could, until she couldn’t breathe, until the tears turned icy on her face. Until she came to another road.
She walked what seemed like forever, past animal pens and pastures and dormant trees. Her feet had long ago gone numb. Quiet smothered her. The absence of noise—even the call of a bird—somehow scared her more.
Where was she going? Where could she hide? She didn’t know. Would she walk forever and never see anyone again?
Then an old blue sedan pulled over. A woman with a kind face and brown hair opened the door and gave her a look that held both pity and horror.
“What’s your name, little girl?”
She didn’t know. She should, but all she knew now was that she felt cold and shivering and afraid.
The man dashed around the side of the car with a phone mashed against his ear. Concern creased his face as he held out a hand to her. She reached for him, praying he offered warmth and safety, but she caught sight of her hand again. The terrible red had seeped into her skin, dripped under her fingernails . . .
Bailey’s eyes flew open and she gripped the sheet. That damn nightmare. Again. Even in her warm nightshirt, she shivered.
Panting in the silence, she looked around the room frantically. The dream still flashed vivid images in her head, as it always did. She’d been having these same visions almost nightly for as long as she could remember. Her parents had told her repeatedly it was just a dream, assured her that no part of it was real. Even the psychologist they’d insisted she see as a kid had explained that the subconscious can confront a person with their greatest fears and make the dream-state experience seem very real, yadda, yadda, yadda. But everything about the nightmares sure felt as if she’d been through that hell.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Bailey tried to compartmentalize the fear, remind herself that it wasn’t genuine or rational. She lived alone in a little house close to downtown Houston, not in the middle of farmland somewhere snow fell thick and heavy. She’d never been covered in blood. For heaven’s sake, she’d grown up in suburban Houston with every advantage a kid with two attentive parents could have. Mom had homeschooled her until ninth grade. Dad had worked for a small company that believed in family, so he’d been home for dinner every night. She had been to every dance class they could afford, then attended a high school for the performing arts. Everything had been picture-perfect in life—except their deaths in a car crash shortly after high school graduation and these damn dreams.
Why did the visions plague her almost every night when she closed her eyes?
Whatever. She refused to let the fear drive her from bed again. She’d danced hard today and she had another round of grueling rehearsals tomorrow. No way she’d get through it without sleep.
Roll over. Cuddle up to your pillow. Think of something happy.
Bailey sighed. That tactic hadn’t worked before. It probably wouldn’t work now.
Flinging her blanket aside, she opened her eyes, pondering what might be on TV. Maybe she’d just go into the kitchen and make some popcorn and watch a movie.
Suddenly, a shadow eclipsed her—one in the shape of a man. Before she could scream, his hand clamped over her mouth. She tried to scream around it, but the sound came out like a whimper. A thousand terrible possibilities pelted her brain at once. She remembered hearing on the news last week that there was a serial rapist in the area.
Oh, please God, no . . .
His other hand came closer. Would he rip her clothes? Defile her? Bailey tried to writhe and thrash. Escape—she had to. Somehow. She was an athlete. A fighter, damn it.
In the next instant, Bailey noticed something in his darkened hand. He brought it closer. Before she could fight or flee, she felt a prick in the side of her neck.
Shock jolted through her system. Then . . . nothing.
Racing against time, NSA Agent Joaquin Muñoz is searching for a little girl who vanished twenty years ago with a dangerous secret. Since Bailey Benson fits the profile, Joaquin abducts the beauty and whisks her to the safety of Club Dominion—before anyone can silence her for good.
At first, Bailey is terrified, but when her captor demands information about her past, she’s stunned. Are her horrific visions actually distant memories that imperil all she holds dear? Confined with Joaquin in a place that echoes with moans and breathes passion, he proves himself a fierce protector, as well as a sensual Master who’s slowly crawling deeper in her head…and heart. But giving in to him might be the most delicious danger of all.
Because Bailey soon learns that her past isn’t the only mystery. Joaquin has a secret of his own—a burning vengeance in his soul. The exposed truth leaves her vulnerable and wondering how much about the man she loves is a lie, how much more is at risk than her heart. And if she can trust him to protect her long enough to learn the truth.