Authors: Christine Edwards
PO Box 70515
Seattle, WA 98127
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover design by Sabrina Sun
Captured in Croatia
Copyright © 2014 by Christine Edwards
ISBN: 978-1-60381-550-5 (Trade Paper)
ISBN: 978-1-60381-551-2 (eBook)
oduced in the United States of America
wholeheartedly to my grandfather, the late Ronald H. Ferrell.
A proud man from West Virginia who survived the Great
Depression and because of it never missed a day of work in his entire life. I can never thank you enough for raising me.
This one’s for you, Papa.
d like to especially thank Emily H. of Fanny Press for your divine editing precision. It’s such a pleasure working with you!
Thank you to Jennifer M. and Catherine T. for assisting me
in bringing this book as well as several others to life. It’s such a wonderful honor to work with you ladies.
Special thanks to my dear friend Gordana Gehlhausen. I
appreciate your time with all the Croatian translations. Keep up the beautiful clothing designs, darling!
To Sia for her inspirational song “Soon we’ll be found.”
To Icona Pop for their fun and funky song, “I love it.” Always a must for ladies night!
To Florence and the Machine for their powerful song
“Cosmic Love.” With each and every listen, I envision the passionate love between Zoran and Carew.
* * *
Also By Christine Edwards
Claimed in Canada
Naughty in Norway
Nabbed in New Zealand
* * *
t will take a miracle of driving ingenuity to outrun his Maserati, but I’m simply out of options. I suck in a deep breath and repeat my relentless visual circuit: odometer, rearview mirror, road. He’s been on me for the past ten minutes now, ever since I hit the two-lane highway outside his boss’ mansion. Like a tenacious shark out for blood, he’s become increasingly more aggressive. More than once he’s been brazen enough to forcefully collide with the back bumper of my compact Nissan, probably hoping to send me into a tail spin off the dark road.
I can’t let him catch me, not after
I’ve obtained the crucial information I was sent halfway across the world to acquire. I need to get the hell out of here and become lost in the capital, where I can appear as just another innocuous traveler.
I see the exit closing in fast.
At the last possible second, I punch the clutch, shove the gear shift into fifth, and jerk the steering wheel hard to the right. The tires screech as I head up the curved, shadowed incline directly onto the A-1 South. My odometer reads 110 mph, nearly the maximum my little compact can go.
I glance back
, then smack my palm down in frustration against the steering wheel.
What I wouldn’t give to have my vintage Carrera Turbo right now instead of this piece of junk rental!
He anticipated my
latest maneuver and has stayed on me like a magnet, mirroring my every move.
All right, you big bastard, let’s see what you do with this ….
I swiftly weave across three lanes while dropping down to second gear and easing on my brake
. Yes, it worked!
His Italian stunner’s engine is far too powerful, and he overshoots my position, which buys me mere seconds to execute my favorite move. It’s one I’ve practiced countless times back on the track in Atlanta. At thirty mph, I whip the Nissan completely around to the left. The scent of burning rubber wafts up from my overly stressed tires. The force of the spin makes me lean hard into my seatbelt, but at least I’m putting more distance between us.
that I’m heading in the opposite direction, it’s just a matter of time before I lose him completely. I need to be smart about it, though, because if he catches up with me on this straightaway, my rental won’t stand a chance against his sleek Italian ride. Not to mention that he’s already proven his ability to drive like a total demon. Shuddering, I try not to think of what would happen if he caught me.
cautiously scan the overpass and the oncoming ramp for any sign of his distinct ride. There’s very little traffic this time of night and I seem to have lost him. His car isn’t visible in my rearview mirror, but I need to quickly locate the next exit and hide out until the threat has passed.
A split second
. That’s all it takes for the Maserati to gain on me. I recognize his slanted headlights immediately as his low-slung ride emerges from behind a big cargo truck exiting the freeway. He wastes no time and races right up to my rear once again, an arm extended out the driver’s window. I take in one gulping breath before my right rear tire explodes, courtesy of his direct shot. He’s
ere’s nothing I can do except try to control my speeding car, which starts to careen wildly in spinning chaos. The right side of my compact slams with explosive force against a steel outer guardrail. I hear the sickening crunch of metal as it strains and then rips open from the weight and momentum of my vehicle.
I scream out in total terror. It’s dark and I don’t have a good read on how far up we are. My wild eyes strain to focus as I try to peer below. The murky drop could be twenty feet or two hundred. I reach for the door handle, thinking that it’s better to face him than to fall to a certain death. Without warning, the decision is made for me.
My relentless scream
s echo within the car’s cramped interior. I’m falling fast, and the weightless free-fall feels surreal. The car flips over its front end as I try desperately to shield my head and neck from imploding glass and metal. I’m petrified that I’ll be blinded. The windows are fractured in patterns of delicate crystal.
the second jarring roll, my left wrist is shoved viciously against the hard plastic dashboard. Pain explodes across my hand and lower arm. Somewhere within the enclosure, I’m aware of my own rasping cry of pain.
what’s left of my car finally comes to a rocking, overturned halt, I give a loud moan, fully aware of the gravity of my situation. My heart is racing so hard it feels as if it’s tunneling out of my throat.
, please let him have taken off! Let him think I’m dead!
Slowly, rational thought returns.
I had to ditch my GPS earpiece while leaving the club earlier tonight for fear of being outted. My extraction team should be here soon to assist me. They had to flee separately from Juric’s thugs once we were spotted hauling ass away from his mansion twenty minutes ago. My car has a signal tracker attached to it, and assuming they’ve lost their tail by now, they should be making a beeline for me at this very moment.
re still being tailed then my only hope is that a concerned passerby might have already phoned the police after seeing the bizarre accident. But there were no other cars on the highway aside from the semi truck that exited earlier.
Not a good sign, Carew.
my eyes and look around. Still buckled into the seat, my body hangs suspended and my arms dangle below me. Everything hurts. Before I’m able to assess how bad my condition really is, I hear the loud crunching of steady footfalls growing closer with each beat of my heart. They’re making their way straight toward my overturned car.
I suck in a frightened breath
and try to reach down for my seat buckle, but I can only manage a weak groan with the slight, torturous movement. My body aches all over, and I must have a concussion, because my stomach is roiling and everything is spinning, as if it’s the morning after I gulped down an entire bottle of Perrier Jouet Fleur.
’m out of my mind with terror because this scenario is a nightmare’s nightmare
. It’s him. I know it
. Soon the black muzzle of his gun will be the last thing I see on this green earth ….
I fumble awkwardly, feeling around for the seatbelt latch at my hip. My fingers are trembling badly and the pain from being battered back and forth is mind-boggling. No matter, I have to try at least to get away from him. It’s futile, I know, but I can’t throw in the towel, not just yet. I keep pressing down on the button but nothing happens.
Maybe it’s jammed?
and then the noise abruptly stops. My long pale hair hangs all around my face and it’s difficult to see through the mass, but I make out a pair of large, polished black leather dress shoes through my shattered window. I bite down hard against my bottom lip in an attempt to quell the fresh wave of raw panic and pain overrunning my exhausted body.
I try to still my body, but
I can sense how erratic my breathing sounds. Knowing he won’t be able to miss that I’m still alive, I tremble softly with the fear. It’s hopeless. He’s going to kill me, and in this position I’m completely defenseless. All my training is for naught. Shit! How did it come to this?
I can’t help it
. I have to watch because I would rather know what’s coming than go out like a complete coward. My brave father stared death straight in the face and flipped it off when it came for him, and so will I.
Through the veil of hair
I make out that he’s lowered himself into a crouch beside me. He’s mere inches away.
I watch him
warily as he tilts his handsome face to the side. He looks like a dark angel of death prepared to claim a victim.
He bashes in what’s left of the window and pulls away the shattered glass so that there is only air between us.
In a calm voice that sounds like silk falling through a black tunnel, he says, “
Vi ste moja sadasnja, princeza
You’re mine now, princess.