Authors: Dianna Love
She lost her grip ... and clenched her muscles, waiting for the impact. She plummeted through a black vortex. Sharp points stabbed into her shoulders and hips when she landed, but no excruciating pain from a broken bone.
She’d been spared by a boxwood hedge.
Like a turtle on its back in a bed of nails, she lay still, panting hard against the pain in her ribs. The insides of her legs throbbed and wet bullets of rain pelted her face. Drawing a deep breath, she kicked both feet and rolled to her side, dropping into a crouch to listen.
No thud of heavy footsteps – yet.
Time to get moving. Through the darkness, she counted memorized steps across the lawn. Lightning crackled and fingered through the dark sky. When grass changed to concrete, she sidestepped around the Olympic-size pool. Raindrops slapped the chlorinated water.
Her feet met grass again exactly on count. She picked up the pace. Her shoulder bumped against a stone arbor strangled by jasmine vines. She tripped on a thick stem and went down hard, scraping her palms.
She gulped a deep breath. Listened for shouts, boots splashing across wet ground, any sound of being hunted.
Jumping up, she lunged into the blackness, running hard, fighting the panic exploding in her chest.
Heel to toe, heel to toe. Don’t smack the ground
Finally, the big elm came into view during a quick flash of lightning. She stepped around the tree, sucking in short gasps of air. Running a marathon was easier than racing a hundred feet through the dark, expecting to get shot. Her heart hammered with terrified beats. She had to calm down and stick to her plan. Her hand shook violently as she made two stabs to press the button that illuminated her watch face.
Four minutes and twelve seconds.
Plenty of time if everything stayed status quo.
For the past ten days she’d pretended to be afraid of her shadow. Maybe the ruse had paid off. As long as no one rushed to be Mr. Efficient and cranked the generators ahead of schedule.
She sprinted eight big steps forward and stopped. Drenched to the bone, trembling from fear, she reached out in the darkness to grasp the ten-foot-tall security fence. Survival instincts stayed her hand at the last second, but there was only one way to know if the electricity was activated.
She stuck a finger on it.
She glanced up at the angry heavens.
The current normally surging through the steel mesh could toss a grown man like a discarded rag doll. She grabbed a handhold on the fence.
Kenner’s roar of anger from the balcony reached her.
He’d found her empty bed.
Clenching one handhold then another as fast as she could, she struggled up the fence.
Freedom was only a foot away. She hauled herself over the top. Her hand slipped. Soft flesh tore on the twisted ends of the chain link. She bit down hard to swallow a cry of pain. No sense giving Kenner a tip on which direction she’d run. He’d find out soon enough anyway. She slipped, kicking frantically for any foothold. Falling from this height could mean a snapped ankle, and speed was her best weapon right now. She caught a toehold, scrambled down the other side, and leaped away from the fence.
Lights blazed on across the compound. Two minutes early.
She froze. Wet chain link sizzled with renewed power.
Every survival instinct she had screamed at her to tear through the woods like a madwoman. But hitting a tree might knock her out or daze her. Instant capture. Instead, she backed away from the fence, her feet on autopilot when she turned and plowed forward. Every time lightning streaked across the sky and lit up the woods, she raced ahead, dodging trees. Thick underbrush clawed at her arms. Pain from the cuts burning her skin demanded attention.
She pushed harder.
Sheets of rain blasted through breaks in the trees. Thunder boomed overhead.
How far could Mason’s men track her?
Would the storm interfere with the bracelet’s signal? She hoped for that miracle since God had been accommodating so far.
A jagged branch snagged the edge of her thin shorts and ripped a searing gash across her thigh. An adrenaline spike masked the pain, but her lungs begged for oxygen.
She was an endurance runner, not a sprinter.
At an unexpected opening in the brush, she stumbled to a stop, sucking air. Snatching the gold paperweight from between her breasts, she flipped it to the compass embedded in the top. She got her bearings during the next brilliant lightning display.
The small airfield she’d seen on a map in Mason’s office should be dead ahead.
Tucking away the compass, she started to move then jerked around at a noise.
Distant barking and howls broke through the deluge. Mason’s dogs trained by expert trackers.
Between the animals and the stupid bracelet, they were on her trail.
She pushed on with one thought – surely someone at the airfield would help her.
What if they knew Mason?
What if someone at the airport worked for Mason?
At the very least, he flew in there and might be a client who paid for hangar space.
“What ifs” would get her killed if she slowed down.
She ran her fingers compulsively over the band of coins strapped around her waist. Those eight rare coins were as important as her next breath.
She’d sworn once that she would
go to jail again. Her one and only conviction had not been her fault. The police hadn’t believed her story then.
They’d laugh in her face this time – right before they handcuffed her.
Saint-Gauden’s Double Eagle
coins had stamped her death warrant. But they didn’t belong to Mason either. He’d stolen the rare pieces from a museum to trade for what he called a once-in-a-lifetime find. Some panel made out of amber from back in the fifteenth century.
She smiled in spite of her pain.
Mason would be empty handed when it came time to deliver the coins on Sunday.
One more way to pay that bastard back
. If she didn’t get caught by Mason or the FBI first.
The FBI should be thrilled to have the stolen coins returned, and her testimony on Mason’s international crime ring. But no one would listen to her until she could prove she had no part in the original theft.
Mason claimed he had evidence that would implicate
in the theft. And who would the authorities believe? A local dignitary or a nobody ex-con?
As if someone had thrown a switch, the downpour fizzled into a steady shower. She burst through a break in the trees and slowed while her eyes adjusted, but moved forward steadily.
The ground fell away. She stumbled down a short drop into a ditch, landing on her knees. No pain because adrenaline still rushed through her, but she’d have bruises on bruises after this. She climbed up and touched pavement.
The good news? No fence around this airport. She scrambled to stand and drew a quaking breath. Freedom got closer by the minute.
The bays of pursuit dogs pierced the night. They were closing in.
A fence at this point might’ve had merits.
Searching past the runway, she spotted the bright glow of an open hangar a quarter of a mile away. With no time to waste, she sprinted toward the illuminated area.
Running felt good in spite of how her thigh throbbed. Blood trickled from the deep gash. Forcing her heart to pump harder only made her bleed more, but she’d survived worse.
She softened her steps as she neared the hangar then crept to the edge of the building. A tall, lanky man in mechanic’s coveralls loaded boxes into a sleek twin-prop cargo plane.
When the worker finished, he walked across the spotless floor toward a brightly lit office.
She could just make out two men on the other side of a glass door. The mechanic pushed the door open and announced the airplane was ready to go.
Angel hesitated. She’d always obeyed the law before. Now, the “slightly illegal things” she never would have done in the past just kept stacking up. Clenching her jaw against the unavoidable twinge of guilt, she made her decision.
That was the old Angel.
The new one wanted to survive and accepted that she’d never outrun those dogs on the ground.
One way or another, she was leaving on that plane.
available now print and e-book
“Thanks again for reading and if you have a moment to post a review – your support is deeply appreciated!”
New York Times
bestseller Dianna Love
Don’t forget that I love to hear from readers. Email me at
, or message me on FACEBOOK at
Dianna Love Fan Page
Dianna Love Street Team
or by snail mail at Dianna Love, 1029 N. Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 335, Peachtree City, GA 30269.
To collect FREE “signed” glossy cover cards of
and Dianna’s other books, please visit
About The Author
New York Times bestseller Dianna Love once dangled over a hundred feet in the air to create unusual marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies. The first book she wrote won a RITA® Award and sold out in six weeks. She writes high-octane romantic thrillers, releasing four novels in the Slye Temp series during 2013. Dianna also co-authors the bestselling Belador urban fantasy with #1 NYT bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon. To collect “signed” cover cards for free, visit
When not in the writing cave, Dianna is touring the country on her BMW motorcycle. She lives in the Atlanta, GA area with her husband, who is a motorcycle instructor, and a tank full of unruly saltwater critters.
For Young Adult Fans – check out the explosive new sci-fi/fantasy series by Micah Caida, starting with
(February 2013). To read an excerpt, go to