Cabin 1 (steele shadows security) Excerpt

Hidden deep in the remote mountains of Berry Springs is a private security firm where some go to escape, and others find exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Welcome to Cabin 1, Cabin 2, Cabin 3…

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Chapter 1

Darkness swallowed me as a cloud drifted over the full moon, taking my sight along with it. I didn’t stop.

I couldn’t stop.

Rocks, sticks, and God knew what else cut into the bottom of my feet as they flew over the rocky terrain. Thump, thump, thump against the dead leaves and pine needles scattered on the forest floor. I couldn’t see a thing, so I focused on the sounds around me—but even that was drowned out by my hammering heartbeat and gasping breaths.

The woods at night. Magical, alluring, still. No, not that night, that night it was a thinly veiled evil, a muted witness to my death if I were to get caught. That night, the woods were my escape, my refuge, my only chance for survival.

The clouds shifted, a silver glow washing over the mountains, casting shadows along the ground like ghosts swaying back and forth. I blinked, adjusting, and heaved myself over the boulder I was about to slam into. My body tumbled to the ground like a sack of potatoes, the breath knocking out of my lungs when I hit the cold, wet dirt.

I froze, my eyes shooting open.

Did he see me? Hear me?

Holding my breath, I flattened against the ground, my heart a thundering staccato. I focused on the moon above me, like a spotlight hellbent on pinpointing my location. A breeze whistled through the trees, the almost-bare branches moving like slashes through the moon.

Dead leaves, dead trees. Autumn in the mountains had never looked so haunting. Or been so cold.

Snick.

My eyes widened in terror. I willed myself to fade into the night, into the ground—fitting, considering that’s where he wanted to put me.

I didn’t blink, didn’t breathe as the seconds ticked by.

Had I lost him?

A rustle of leaves had my pulse kickstarting into panic mode again.

I knew I couldn’t stay there.

I stayed, I died. That simple truth had me gritting my teeth, forcing myself off the ground and taking off again, pushing into a sprint once more.

Branches sliced my skin as I ran blindly through the pitch-black forest with only slivers of light cutting through the thick canopy of trees to guide my way. I had no idea where I was, no idea where I was going. All I knew was that forward was my only option. My only option to preserve the life that he wanted so badly to take away. So badly to ravage, control, and use like a blow up doll with a bottle of lube. As if that was all I was worth. As if the thirty-three years I’d lived on this planet were worth nothing. As if my entire life had led to that moment. To him. The life that the last thirty minutes had rewritten in the cold hard scripture of sexual assault.

You want to know the kicker of it? I wasn’t sad, defeated, crippled by fear or sudden depression. No, I was pissed. Infuriated. An indescribable rage for the two men who thought they could treat me like that. The two men who thought they could take everything away from me.

Screw. That.

I hadn’t stopped shaking, deep from within the confines of that newfound fury coursing through my veins like speed. Fury… and perhaps an adrenaline rush from killing one of them.

I’d stopped wiping the blood from my face when I was certain that my blood had washed his away from my skin.

His blood.

His blood that had sprayed me like a tortured artist madly flicking paint against his canvas, an upward sweeping motion designed to let me know I’d hit my target. Although, truthfully, there was no target. Only an animalistic need for survival that overtook all else. A desire to live. A power that came from somewhere else… somewhere I hoped to God I never had to pull from again. A switch had flipped inside me. A switch that if I wouldn’t have had, I’d be lying in a bloody heap in the middle of a ditch, dissolved to nothing more than scavenger bait.

I was always a cautious woman. I’d taken self-defense, never ran with headphones, always carried a shiv in the hem of my leggings. Alert, ready, even a few times playing out an attack in my head, imagining what I would do, and how I would defend myself. I would defend myself, I knew, with the brute force that my skinny arms, legs, hands could provide. That would be enough, right?

Then, it happened. All those badass fictional Jolie fighter scenes I’d created were thrown out the window in seconds flat. Truth was, there’s nothing to prepare you for it. The moment they pinned me to the wet, moldy, dirty ground, I surprised myself. I told myself I wasn’t going to be a victim. I wasn’t going to let these bastards take anything from me. Nothing. I was going to fight, and fight until death if I had too.