The following is an excerpt of my latest published novel: Jewell, a romantic suspense. It is available at Smashwords.
"Walk," he said, sending her forward up the gazebo steps. It was a death march to Jewell for the knife dug sharply into her back. He stopped and stood her in the centre of the gazebo. One of his hands was round her neck; the other was holding the knife.
"One minute," he said slowly and distinctly. "Count!"
"What?" She didn't understand him.
"You have one minute to live," he repeated. "Count!"
Jewell drew a long breath and felt her body tremble. She had been submissive long enough, reasoning as best she could and relying on her wits to stay sane. But she refused to count down the seconds to her death. When she remained silent, he began the countdown himself. "Sixty — 59 — 58..."
Jewell braced her legs into the snow-covered gazebo floor, as if they might stodgily support her when the blow came. The sweat on her wrists had created a slack in the tape, giving her some flexibility to work it. She squeezed her eyes tightly shut and her quivering voice interrupted his counting. "No one knows that the crash was not an accident. You don't have to kill me. I don't even know your name. I can hardly see you, I can't identify you." She hoped he would be stupid enough to believe that and maybe he would soften and just run away.
"Fifty-four — 53 — 52..."
He ignored her speech leaving her brain scouring for a new interjection. Somehow she had to get his attention, throw him off guard, and she had about forty seconds left to do so.
"Thirty-nine — 38 — 37..."
Jewell stiffened. She could feel the surge of adrenaline sweep over her body. She rehearsed her movements. His sweaty left hand pushed against her chin. Jewell opened her mouth as wide as she could get it and felt her jaws crack, then vehemently bit down with all her might. When he let out a yell and pulled his hand away, she raised her right leg and stomped on his foot. When he momentarily loosened his hold on her, she spun to face him. The look on his face, in the gleaming moonlight, held both surprise and confusion. With no time to waste, Jewell kneed him in the groin with a force she didn't know she possessed. He lunged out for her but she lurched out of his way. Then he buckled at the waist, holding his private parts, the knife still glinting in his hands.
With one great wrench she plied the tape from her wrists. She was free.
"Damn," Eric grumbled. His flashlight died. He was almost home so he kept going and entered the back porch. He knew his dad always kept stuff on the shelves out there. As he rummaged around the shelves he could hear laughter from inside. He heard Aster squeal and to the delight of all in the room, she started babbling her baby talk.
He spied a small flashlight, grabbed it quickly and snapped it on. The light was small but bright. Shoving out the back door, he returned to the sidewalk and retraced his steps. He knew the light had died somewhere around the Hanley's house. He would be able to pick up the tracks there, and he hoped he hadn't messed them up too much by going to his house. He had no idea what or why he was following them, but instinct told him that he had to.
Jewell abandoned the idea of taking the woods path. She jumped from the top of the gazebo steps and almost slipped at the bottom. Her heart pounded so hard she could hear it in her head. Her head felt almost ready to explode, but the adrenalin was still with her and she ran like a marathoner, expecting at any minute to feel him close in on her. It was like having the devil one step behind her. Her legs rotated so fast that she could no longer feel them. She moved forward...dreamlike, hoping at any minute to wake up and realize it had been a terrible nightmare. She reached the end of the driveway and made a sharp right turn, smashing squarely into something dense and hard.
The wind knocked from her and darkness closed in.