Author: Courtney Rene
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
We made it to the wireless store and quickly found the cells we were looking for. After being talked into a basic phone with full keyboard and a card for one hundred minutes, we were out the door in less than half an hour, cell phone set up and ready to rock. I was a bit lighter in the purse, but seventy-five dollars for the lot sounded pretty good.
“I wonder how long a hundred minutes will last?” I said.
Tory smiled at me and said, “Well, you’ll find out soon enough. Hey, what time is your curfew?”
“Eleven.” I looked at my watch. It wasn’t even ten yet.
“Want to get something to eat before we head back?” Tory asked as she pointed across the street at a pizza place.
“Sure,” I said. Before we could cross the street though, I felt it. He or it, whatever it was, had returned. I felt their stare. The hard feel of it firm against my skin. Goosebumps lifted along my arms. I looked over to see if Tory noticed it. She didn’t seem to, so I pretended I didn’t either. I didn’t even try to locate it that time. I ignored it. Completely. If they wanted to spend their Friday night staring at me, fine. Let them waste their time.
“You should come over tomorrow. We can go through my clothes. See if we can find you anything to add to your…wardrobe.”
“Hey,” I said and gave her a friendly shove. “My wardrobe isn’t that bad.”
“Yes. It is.”
Yeah, it was. “I wish I could, but I work most of the day tomorrow. I could on Sunday? After church.”
“You go to church?”
I laughed. “Mrs. Brown’s rules. Church every Sunday, no excuse, unless you’re dying or dead.”
“Okay, how about…Jesus! Gracie, look out!” Tory screeched.
I turned to see what had made her eyes widen to the size of saucers and grab my arm in a grip as tight as a cinch. Two blinding lights were barreling down on us. A car, a big one, was headed fast, right to where we stood, in the center of the crosswalk.
A heavy weight hit me from behind with a hard-smacking thud. The impact pushed the air from my lungs in a woosh. I flew through the air to land in a sliding grinding halt on the sidewalk in front of the overcrowded pizza place. Every eye right on me as I lay in a heap on the ground
“Ow,” I said, trying to hold back tears of pain as I got slowly to my feet. Blood ran down my arm where it had rasped against the concrete. My knees stung. I most likely skinned them as well. My shoulder ached. I had a feeling it took the brunt of my weight on the walkway when I landed.
I saw Tory in the same condition next to me. “Tory? You all right?”
“Yeah. What happened?” she asked as she tried to smooth her hair back into a semblance of order.
Before I could answer her though, I was roughly grabbed around the upper arms by a huge dude. He lifted me up to dangle with my feet off the ground and shook me like a rag doll.
“You stupid…girl!” he shouted right in my face. His dark blue eyes sparked in anger.
“Hey!” Tory yelled and shoved him from behind. “Get off!”
He whipped around to stare down at Tory. His long straight blonde hair flew around his shoulders like a cape. “Don’t,” was all he said.
Tory’s face turned white and she took several quick steps back. With a shaky voice she said, “Gracie?”
My feet finally back on the ground, the guy shoved a finger almost in my face and said with such quiet anger that I felt the blood wash out of my face as well, “Get home where you belong. Now.”
I looked at Tory and shrugged at her. Who the hell was he? I was shaking in my sandals, but something made my back straighten and my pride set in. I slowly but firmly shook my head at him and said, “No.”
I watched as disbelief and maybe a hint of rage crossed him face. I stepped quickly around him and grabbed Tory by the hand and made to go inside the restaurant.
“Grace Ann,” he growled. “Don’t push me anymore tonight. Go home, where you are safe.”
How did he know my name? I glanced at him once more. He was tall, well over six feet. He was stocky with muscles and bulk, but not quite huge and overwhelming. It was his face that drew me in though. It was beautiful. Even as angry as he was, he was lovely. Big dark eyes surrounded by long full eyelashes snapped at me with anger. His eyes, they pulled at me. Spoke to me. With surprising effort, I pulled my gaze away from those eyes and stepped inside the pizza place. The dark shadowed interior wrapped around me like a blanket and hid me within its depths.
“Is he gone?” Tory asked.
I tried not to, but I couldn’t help but glance outside where he’d stood, to see if he was still there. “I don’t know. I don’t see him.”
“Who was that?” she asked as she craned her head around me to do her own looking.
“I have no idea.”