Authors: Paige Weaver
Tags: #romance, #contemporary romance, #New Adult
Promise Me Light
Copyright © 2013 by Paige Weaver
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted,
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead,
any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from
the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published by Paige Weaver LLC, P.O. Box 80016, Keller, Texas 76244
ISBN 978–0–9892698–4–1 (eBook)
ISBN 978–0–9892698–6–5 (Print)
Cover design © Sarah Hansen
Somebody once said that when darkness fell, we would be shown the
light. I wasn’t sure that was true. Darkness had descended on my world
and all I saw was despair.
The United States was fighting a war on its own soil. Society was
crumbling. Millions were starving. Thousands were dying.
For me the days were dark. I was no longer a carefree college
student. I was now a survivor. A fighter. A woman lost in grief.
In my dreams, it haunted me. In the light of day, it stalked me. In
the blackness of the night, it tortured me. It captured my life and
refused to let go.
It was grief and I was now its prisoner.
It started the day that Ryder rode away. As I watched him leave,
intent on rescuing my best friend Eva, I felt darkness surround me. I
knew it would stay with me until I saw him again.
For two weeks I waited. I paced. I prayed and begged for Ryder to
return home. I was like the epic heroine from an old time novel,
yearning for her one true love to return to her.
But life wasn’t a book and I wasn’t a heroine. I refused to sit
and wait. I was going after him.
I stuffed bread and bottles of water in my backpack. Next went the
box of shotgun shells and bullets for the 9mm stuffed in my
I zipped up the backpack and swung it on my shoulders. As I was
picking up the shotgun, a noise echoed through the house. A dull thump
in the stillness of the day.
I stopped and listened. Nothing. Only silence greeted me.
Looking around the bedroom one last time, I closed the door quietly
Hurry before you change your mind,
inner voice whispered.
I darted down the hallway, my worn tennis shoes making very little
noise on the hardwood floor. I could hear oxygen rushing in and out of
my lungs and the blood pounding in my ears.
I hadn’t gotten very far when morning sickness made me stop in my
Not now! Please not now!
Placing a hand on my flat stomach, I took deep, calming breaths,
trying to push through the nausea. When it passed, I reached into my
backpack and pulled out the bottle of water. I took a small sip, hoping
it would help settle my stomach. It didn’t. A sheen of sweat appeared
on my forehead as the urge to vomit grew. Tears threatened to spill from
Keep it together, Maddie. You can do
When the nausea finally passed, I walked quicker down the hallway. As
I passed the living room, my eyes darted around nervously, expecting to
see someone. Only curtains blowing gently in the breeze made any type of
I’m still alone. I can get out of here
without any problems.
Holding my breath, I opened the front door,
cringing when it protested loudly.
Bright sunlight blinded me but I didn’t have time for my eyes to
adjust. I flew down the porch steps and out into the yard. Dry grass
crunched beneath my feet as I raced toward the woods.
I have to go.
I have to find him.
I couldn’t ignore the terrible feeling that coursed through me day
Cicadas sang in the distance - a noise that was as familiar to me as
my own voice. Somewhere a cow bellowed, sounding lost and hungry. This
was home. Here I was safe, but it meant nothing if Ryder wasn’t with
I kept my eyes focused straight ahead, glancing neither left nor
right. The woods were a hundred feet in front of me, teasing me to
hurry. I quickened my pace and pulled the backpack higher on my
I’m so close. Just a few more
“Where are you going?”
I stopped. The voice behind me was high-pitched and full of
authority, sounding like the mother I never had. Stiffening my spine I
turned around, ready with an excuse. But it died on my lips.
Janice stood with her hands on her hips, frowning at me under the
sunlight. A small breeze picked up a few strands of her dark hair and
swirled them around her face, catching them on her eyelashes.
“I’m going after them,” I answered her firmly.
Telling the truth will set you free.
I almost had to
laugh when that thought popped in my head. The truth would not give me
Janice drew her eyebrows together with determination. I could see the
blue specks in her eyes and the wrinkles around her downturned lips.
There were more lines on her face now than there had been before, all
thanks to our new way of living. But I don’t know if you would call it
More like existing to me.
“Are you crazy, Maddie?” she asked. “You can’t go after
I didn’t answer. Maybe I was a little crazy. Taking off on my own
during a time of war and upheaval was not the smartest thing to do. I
was almost two months pregnant, loaded with guns and ammo. Enemy
soldiers roamed the countryside, rounding up Americans like cattle. But
for Ryder, I would put myself in danger. I would do it all. For him and
our unborn child.
I knew that arguing with Janice was pointless so I walked away. I
heard her following but I didn’t stop. She was not my mother nor was
she my protector. She couldn’t stop me from leaving. She could only
slow me down.
“You can’t leave! It’s too dangerous!” Janice said
I ignored her and continued walking.
I just have to
get to my horse then I’m outta here.
I had left the quarter
horse tied up in the woods, hidden. In fifty feet I would be in the
saddle and on my way.
“We promised that we would wait here, no matter what,” Janice
“And they promised they would be back in a week,” I retorted.
Turning, I faced her again. “It’s been fourteen days, Janice, and
they aren’t home.”
“Maddie, please,” she pleaded, imploring me to listen.
Her hand reached out to touch me but I twisted away. I didn’t want
her touching me. If she did, my anger might disappear. I needed to hold
onto it. The rage was the only thing keeping me going. It covered the
grief and pushed it down deep inside. Without the rage I would be
“You have to stay here. We
here,” Janice insisted as I walked away.
I heard the desperation in her voice but I didn’t slow down. I had
to find him - my best friend.
“Ryder made me promise to keep you safe.”
Those words stopped me. Hearing his name made tears swell behind my
eyes. Constant worry squeezed my heart painfully. I took a deep breath.
“Please,” she urged, out of breath from trying to keep up with
I closed my eyes to the sadness I heard in her voice.
I will not fall apart. I will not fall apart.
Helplessness rose up in me, consuming everything. I pushed it to the
back of my mind, burying the despair deep within me.
Opening my eyes, I looked at Janice. I saw Ryder in her features. It
only reminded me how much I missed him.
“Janice, I need to find him,” I said, my voice hollow and
Sympathy smoothed the lines on her face and erased her frown. “I
know but Ryder wouldn’t want you riding off. He would want you here.
I nodded and stared off into the distance.
would kill me for leaving but what choice do I have? They should have
been back by now.
I could never live with myself if I did nothing
while he was out there somewhere, possibly hurt, needing me.
I started walking again, adamant. “I’ll stick to the woods near
the road. I know the area like the back of my hand. It’ll lead me
straight to town. I’ll stay on the outskirts and ask around. Someone
might have seen him,” I said, glancing over my shoulder at her. “I
can do this, Janice. Trust me.”
“Listen to me, Maddie…”
Fifteen feet now.
I could see my horse
standing behind some large trees, waiting for me. Within minutes I could
be on her back and riding away.
I was almost there when a shout rang out. Shielding my eyes from the
sun, I peered into the far distance. Roger was running from the barn
with a shotgun in his hand.
I glanced to the area he was heading.
What I saw made my heart race.
Men on horseback rode down the overgrown driveway. Each looked ragged
and tired, almost unable to stay upright in their saddles. I should have
been frightened; outsiders posed a threat. Without enough food and water
in the country, citizens were fighting each other just to get a decent
meal. People were being killed for a container of water or a cup of
rice. Strangers traveling along a deserted road might be desperate for
supplies and willing to kill for them.
But these men were not strangers. They were family.
In seconds I was flat out running, dropping my backpack and shotgun
on the ground. Tall grass slashed at my legs, burning as it whipped
against me. My shoes gripped the earth, carrying me closer. I flew, my
gaze never wavering from the riders.
Time stood still as I crossed the yard. Janice stayed right on my
heels, just as eager to get to them as I was.
The implication of that pierced
my mind but I didn’t slow down. The sun was unmerciful, heating
everything in its path. Sweat rolled down my back but I refused to
A yard from me, the horses were jerked to a standstill. Their sides
heaved and their coats glistened. One or two of them stomped their
hooves, creating little dust storms that rose upward, adding another
thin layer of grime to the riders.
I stopped, out of breath and unable to process the faces of the men.
My heart was beating too hard and my hands were shaking too badly. There
was a painful stitch in my side from running and the roaring in my ears
made thinking impossible.
Then I heard it - a familiar voice that sounded sweeter than honey. I
felt weak with happiness and light with relief.
I watched with tears in my eyes as Eva slid off of the saddle from
behind Brody, landing heavily on her feet. She was crying softly, tears
streaking down her dirty cheeks.
I took a step forward, unsure if she was real or not. But when she
looked at me, I knew I wasn’t dreaming.
“Eva!” I cried out.
She met me halfway, throwing her arms around my neck and holding on
for dear life. “Oh, Maddie!” she cried over and over.