Authors: Adria Wade
A Huntress Novel Spin-Off
A Huntress Novel Spin-Off
Copyright © 2015 by Adria Wade
Cover Design © 2015 Genevieve Scholl
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Edited by Genevieve Scholl
To my dad, for always telling me to never give up on my dream.
I love you.
Look for the other books in The Huntress Series
Three years ago…
The headlights in my rearview mirror were growing increasingly close by the second as I sped down the road. I took in a breath, feeling the adrenaline spike within; pushing, urging me to go faster…So I did.
I was in the middle of a race with my friend, Sean, who just so happened to be the king of drag racing. When he challenged me to a race, he made it a point to show how cocky he was, letting me know that there was no way in hell I was going to win against him simply because he was the best. So, I accepted his challenge. I wanted so much to beat him just so I could burst his bubble. So here I was doing just that at the moment, while Tessa, his girlfriend and my best friend, a green eyed, and light brown haired beauty, squirmed nervously in the passenger seat.
“Don’t get us killed, Paige!” she yelled over the music, drowning out
Bullet For My Valentines’
Waking The Demon
’ that I had blaring in the car.
I snuck a glance at her. She looked as if she was on the verge of suffering from a heart attack as she looked back at Sean’s silver,
Aston Martin DBS
I chuckled. “Relax, woman. I have everything under control.”
Because I did. I had the upper hand in the race and that was how it was going to stay. There were two ways to get to our destination and I took the one that would most benefit me at the moment. I had turned down a two way road, and there was no way Sean was going to risk passing me…so I thought.
I looked into the rearview mirror, only to see Sean’s car being jerked to the left as he entered the left lane and sped up beside me. His medium-length blond hair blew around from the wind.
I glared at him as he smirked and flipped me off.
Oh, it’s on, baby! You are going down.
I jumped and jerked my head straight ahead as the sound of a car horn went off, warning us of danger ahead. A black SUV was closing in on Sean.
My heart lurched into my throat as fear took hold of me. Afraid of what was to come, Tessa, who was practically hyperventilating, grabbed my arm and dug her nails in my skin. Because he was going so fast with limited space to prevent himself from crashing into the car ahead, I knew I had to help. As much as I wanted to win the race, Sean’s well-being would always come first. I eased off the accelerator to let him over. Sean realized this and accelerated his speed, giving him enough room to swerve over in my lane, just missing a head on collision.
Tessa and I let out a breath, relieving the tension that desperately needed release.
“Shit,” I breathed.
Sean slowed down momentarily. I guess the shock of what just happened sunk in. He sped up once more, flying down the road and leaving me in the dust. I pushed down on the accelerator, eager to stay on his ass as much as I could. I wasn’t brave enough to attempt to pass him after seeing what just happened, so I settled for second place for now.
Tessa growled and turned down the music. “Oh, I’m going to murder him!”
“Remind me again why you are dating an aspiring race car driver?”
his passion.” She ran a shaky hand through her hair then continued. “This isn’t my definition of fun, Paige. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“You’ll be fine. We’re almost there, okay, pumpkin?”
I gave her a reassuring smile, but quickly looked away from her scorching glare that made me want to sink low in my seat and turned up the radio. She was getting pissed, and an angry Tessa was not a sight anyone wanted to see. She was sugar, spice, and everything nice with a burning temper hiding underneath the surface.
As I sped down the winding road, tagging behind Sean, I saw that a sharp turn was closing in on us. I slowed down to make the turn, but it wasn’t enough. I was going too fast. I gasped as the car jerked to the left and I lost control of the vehicle. Fear numbed my insides as I saw flashing lights so bright that it blinded my vision.
“Paige!” Tessa’s screams rang through my ears.
I slammed on the brake as the car horn blasted, but I was too late. The impact of two cars slamming together was powerful, deadly, as it jerked me forward. The car went spiraling out of control as it spun, crashing into the guard rail. I realized then that my life had changed in a matter of seconds as my world fell to pieces.
I groaned and slowly opened my eyes. A sharp pain soared through my throbbing head. Oh, God, my whole body hurt. I reached my arm out toward Tessa. She was leaning against the car door; the side that was smashed into the guard rail. She wasn’t moving.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
Oh, please, God, don’t let her be dead.
I should have listened to her. She wanted me to stop racing, but I didn’t listen. Damn it! Why didn’t I listen?
“Tessa?” My voice was weak and shaky.
She didn’t respond. I tried not to panic. I tried to reassure myself that everything was going to be okay; that she was going to be okay, because I couldn’t cope with losing her—let alone being responsible for her death.
My heart thumped frantically against my rib cage as my breathing grew ragged. Spots clouded my vision and, despite trying to stay awake, I was fighting a losing battle with the darkness that was waiting for me to give in. I had to stay awake. I needed to stay awake for Tessa, but the pull to the dark was too consuming and I wouldn’t be able to resist much longer.
“Tessa, please don’t leave me,” I whispered as I fell unconscious.
I was surrounded by the darkness of the night, and I was terrified. I had never been so afraid in my whole life. Tessa was leaning on the car door with glass all around her as blood poured from her head. I wanted to make it to stop. I had to help her. I was the reason she was injured, so I had to fix her. I reached out to her, but I couldn’t get to her because I was weak myself, slowly fading into unconsciousness. The blinds were coming down over my eyes, but I still pushed forward, trying to delay the inevitable. She began to move away from me, as if I was being pulled backward by something unknown. No! It was separating us! I had to stay with her. I fought against the unknown source that sucked me backward, extending my arm out to her, but I couldn’t break the hold the unknown had on me. She was too far away now and I knew in my gut that the separation that was forced upon us was permanent, leaving every ounce of sorrow that could plague my body to fill my broken heart. So she faded out of sight as I traveled through nothing but pitch black.
“Paige,” a male voice echoed through the dark, and I suddenly felt a pull to go to him. I could feel a hold on my hand as it gently squeezed, warming up my cold skin.
“Paige, you have to wake up.”
It was my brother, Taylor. He was calling to me. He sounded so distraught. He wanted me to come back to him, and I knew I had to go. As much as it pained me, I had to leave Tessa behind.
I could now hear monitors beeping by my side and it took a moment for my mind to register that I was in the hospital. I could feel the nasal cannula pressing against my cheeks as oxygen flowed through the airways of my nose. I could feel and hear, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t squeeze my brother’s hand back like I wanted to. I tried to open my eyes, but my body, exhausted and weak, protested against me.
“What in the hell is going on with you lately?” I heard him sigh. “You have no idea what you’re waking up to.”
My mind immediately drifted to Tessa, and, suddenly, fear soared through my veins, hitting me in the gut.
Oh no, what did I do?
I tried to talk. I wanted so much to open my eyes, but again, my body would not allow it. I was fighting to wake up while my body was fighting to sleep. The dark’s hold on me was growing thicker, dragging me deeper into the land of unconsciousness. It was strong and unrelenting, so I gave in and let myself fall into a deep sleep.
The hold the dark had on me was lifting, making it easier to fight against sleep that I was forced to surrender to. Finally able to open my eyes, I winced as the bright light hanging on the wall above my bed sent a pain shooting through my sensitive eyes as the ache in my head worsened.
I looked down into my brother’s tired, red, hazel eyes. He had been crying. I tried to talk, but couldn’t seem to find my voice.
Taylor grabbed the remote and raised the bed to where I was sitting up before grabbing a cup of water and handed it to me.
My hand shook as I struggled to bring the cup to my lips. I was weak.
“Here, let me help you.”
He grabbed the cup and tilted it as the cold water filled my dry mouth.
“Mom and Dad are speaking with the doctors.”
I groaned internally. Great. The last thing I wanted to do was face my parents.
I cleared my throat and looked down. “I can’t see them right now.”
“Well, you’re going to have to suck it up. They aren’t going to leave.”
“So it takes me landing in the hospital for them to actually pay attention.”
“Yeah, well, that’s our parents for you.”
My mother and father definitely weren’t parents of the year. They were always off doing other things, leaving Mrs. Belle, our housekeeper, to take care of us. It had been that way my entire life. On the rare occasions we were all together, I wished we weren’t. Despite them being divorced, they still fought like they were married. Most of it had to do with my mother cheating. They just simply couldn’t stand each other. What a loving family we were. It was not that my dad didn’t care; he was just too consumed with his work to make time for us.
He was Maximus Jacobs, one of the top highest paid defense attorneys around, whose intimidation, wits, and drive helped him to win most of his cases. He did try, though. Every once in a while he surprised us with a family outing. Spur of the moment vacations to the Maldives and Paris; traveling to Alaska to see the northern lights, which was breathtaking. So, in a way, he kind of made up for the lost time.
My mom, however, was a different story. She chose not to care. She was a social ladder climber, who cared more about her appearance and friends than her kids.
Taylor ran his hands through his messy, dirty blond hair and exhaled as he sat back down in the chair beside my bed.
We sat in silence. I didn’t know what to say. The turmoil I caused was written all over his face, and I hated having to see it. I wanted to ask about Tessa, but a part of me wasn’t sure if I wanted the answer. I wasn’t ready to face the truth.
“Sean told the police you were driving and just lost control of the vehicle, but I know better than to believe that was what really happened. You were drag racing, weren’t you?”
I took in a breath and shook my head. The accident flashed across my mind. Tessa lying there. The broken glass. So much blood. I squeezed my eyes shut, wishing the bad memory away.
No, I don’t want to talk about this.
I had to force myself to forget. Bury it deep within myself.
My cheeks grew warm as I fought the tears that surfaced. “I just lost control.” My voice was shaky, and I wondered briefly how I was even able to get the words out.
He narrowed his eyes. “You’re lying to me. He’s a drag racer, so I know you were racing and I know that’s why you crashed. Lucky for you, he is pretty determined to protect you. He has been trying to visit you, but Dad won’t allow any of your friends here.”
I wasn’t used to seeing Taylor this way. For weeks, he had lost his humor and turned into the serious brother… and I knew I was the cause of that.
“I’m sorry.” For everything.
“Sorry doesn’t cut it this time, Paige. You really made one hell of a mess. You shouldn’t have been operating a vehicle without an adult in the car, anyway; you only have a learner’s permit. Pretty damn stupid if you ask me.”
I bowed my head, letting my warm tears flow from my eyes. “I was only having fun. No one was supposed to get hurt.”
Taylor sighed and laid his hand over top of mine. “I’m sorry. I’m pretty pissed at you, and I’m not doing a very good job with hiding it. You’ve been unconscious for a couple of days so you’re probably feeling like total shit and I’m not sure you will be able to handle everything that has been going on.”
The temptation to ask about Tessa had hit me once again. Her name was on the tip of my tongue and my curiosity was willing me to ask, but the fear of knowing what I possibly did was holding me back. I knew, though, that I had to ask him, because not knowing was going to drive me insane, even if I didn’t want to hear it.
“Tessa?” I asked.
His eyes locked with mine, but not one word slipped through those lips of his. My breathing seemed to slow and my stomach twisted in knots as the silence dragged on. And suddenly, the fear of knowing was deepening, getting worse, and I was beginning to regret asking. Waiting for his response was like torture.
“That question is a little too heavy at the moment.”
“She needs to hear it, Taylor. If she is old enough to put herself in this predicament then she is old enough to face the consequences.”
I froze as soon I heard my father’s deep, stern voice. My eyes stalked him, watching his every move as he shoved his hands in his black dress pants pockets and came to stand at the end of the bed. His light brown hair had that same old, messy, running my hands through my hair because I’m stressed about winning my next case look. Only this time, I was his client.