New FEVER Excerpt
A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. At least Teague doesn’t, until his escape plan developes a fatal flaw: alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives, he can only give her lies, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever…
A fun little excerpt from FEVER.
Setup: My hero, Teague Creek, has escaped prison with accomplice, Taz, a white supremacist, and taken my heroine, Alyssa Foster, hostage. Alyssa has been terrorized by the ordeal and recently smacked across the face by Taz. They are now driving along their escape route after narrowly missing being captured at a roadblock. Alyssa has seen hints of Teague’s abnormal body heat, benefited from but disbelieves his healing abilities and senses a strange attraction to him.
Excerpt: Alyssa rested her head against the car window, questions swirling in her brain like a dirt devil. Was she having some kind of chemical reaction to the metal? An allergy she hadn’t known of before? Sensitivity to a new cosmetic or medical supply?
Even with the cool glass pressed against her cheek, her face still felt like it was going to split. Although, she had to admit, the pain had ratcheted down after Creek had touched her, which was another oddity logic couldn’t explain. Along with the way her libido skyrocketed in reverse proportion to her pain.
This whole situation was beyond bizarre. She was caught somewhere between scared-out-of-her-mind and freaking-ready-to-jump-him every time he touched her.
Snapped. She’d finally snapped. Just like her mother and brothers said she would if she didn’t slow down. Didn’t ease up. Didn’t stop working and start living. What they’d never understood was that her work was her life. Only, maybe that’s where she’d gone wrong, because look where that had gotten her.
By the dashboard clock, they’d been driving an hour and a half. With every minute closer to nightfall, Alyssa’s anxiety amped. Her fatigue also dragged at her, not to mention the grind of her stomach reminding her she hadn’t eaten in nearly twenty hours. And the way her mind pinged around beneath her skull didn’t help with the developing stress headache.
Where were they going? Why did they keep her? What were they going to do to her? She found herself wondering about death, what it would be like to get to that final moment. Those lead to thoughts of her patients, ones she’d lost, ones she’d saved, which then lead back to her work and her future. And the circle started all over again.
Taz had mellowed with time and blaring classic rock. He sang along with an endless lung capacity, his chorus almost more painful than her throbbing face, aching wrists or morbid thoughts.
“Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty,” Taz belted, completely off key. “Oh, won’t you please take me hooowooome…”
Creek hadn’t looked at her for over an hour. At least not directly at her. He sat as far on the other side of the bench seat as he could get without climbing out of the car. Every time she moved so much as her little finger, he cast a surreptitious side-glance at her. Since the incident with the roadblock, he’d dropped the whole idea of her changing clothes, which was good. She was not getting naked, or even close to it, in this car with these guys. For any reason. Ever. Period.
Despite the sheer noise level and her mounting anxiety, Alyssa had to force her eyes to stay open, her mind to catalogue landmarks. She needed a plan. Several plans. One for every situation that held the possibility of escape. But right now her brain felt as numb as her butt and if she didn’t get blood flowing, she’d definitely pass out—Guns and Roses at a hundred and thirty decibels, or not.
Alyssa straightened away from the window. That one movement gave her Creek’s complete attention. He stiffened and twisted toward her, fingers curled into his hands, resting on his thighs. And she had to admit, he looked more human in street clothes. A lot more like one of those intriguing bad-boys. But she’d already seen the tattoos. She knew where he’d come from. He was not the typical good-looking, rough-around-the-edges man she liked. He had hurt her. Would hurt her again if he deemed necessary. Had told her so himself. Yet…something about him suggested that wasn’t entirely true. Maybe his attempts to ease her pain. Maybe his efforts to shield her from Taz. Of course, maybe it was just her own warped psyche bending reality.
She lifted her cuffed hands and gingerly peeled the tape off her lips, grimacing as it pulled at the tender skin. Creek made no move to stop her, only watched with a guarded expression.
She looked directly at him, meeting those very light, intense blue eyes. “I’m car sick, I’m hungry and I have to pee.”
One brow lifted. His mouth quirked. “You’re sick and hungry?”
With that one look, Creek turned into a regular guy off the street. Only he was a guy who would stop traffic. A guy who would warrant double-takes. A guy she would have tripped over herself to meet under normal circumstances. She had to glance down at her cuffed hands to get her head on straight. In less than a second the anger and fear swung back around full force.
“I always get sick in the back seat of a car,” she lied, “and I haven’t eaten since midnight. But more important, my bladder is going to burst if we don’t stop for a bathroom.”
Creek heaved a sigh and rubbed his eyes. “Stop somewhere, Taz. A quiet gas station with a bathroom in the back would be good.”
“Screw that,” Taz said. “Why should we give a shit about what she needs?”
“Because it was your decision to kidnap me, and it was your decision to keep me.” She’d had enough. The tension, the bizarre emotions, the uncertainty had turned her into someone who said and did irrational, extreme, uncontrollable things. Someone she didn’t care to recognize. “Now you have to deal with the consequences. As opposed to you, I’m human. I have human bodily needs. If you don’t address them, we’ll all be very uncomfortable, very soon.”
“Put the tape back on that big mouth of hers, Creek, or I’ll stuff it with something that’s sure to shut her up.”
Alyssa’s back went up. Her mouth opened to spew something fierce and foolish, she was sure. But someone touched her first. She jumped and turned toward Creek. His big, warm hand closed over her forearm with just enough force to send a message. The same message he delivered with that potent stare: don’t antagonize him.
He didn’t look away from Alyssa as he talked to Taz. “You find me a private bathroom, and I’ll make sure I tire her out good.”
Alyssa jerked her arm back. Why she’d thought for a flicker of an instant they were on the same side she didn’t know, but his nasty retort put everything in perspective. When would she learn men were all the same? Crude. Selfish. Controlling. Competitive. Self-serving.
And these men were the worst of the worst.
“What’s wrong with what you got, Creek? If I’d known you were gonna waste all this time, I’d have made you drive. I know just how to fill a couple hours with a dink like that.”
Alyssa’s throat convulsed. The thought of rape pushed at the edges of her mind, but she shoved it right back out. Someone would die first. And it wouldn’t be her. She’d already catalogued every possible way she could use her own body to end another’s life, because her body was her only weapon.
“Just take the first exit with a gas station once you hit highway five,” Creek said. “Pick the lousiest dive you can find.”
“This is a shit hole, man, everything is a dive. Nothing but niggers and spics live here.”
“Just find something and stop.”
They slowed and traveled down the ramp. Taz hummed with anticipated trouble. “I don’t like it.”
Alyssa shifted in her seat. She did have to pee—bad—but, more, she needed to develop a plan for when they stopped. “How long?”
“Couple minutes.” Creek surveyed her, mouth turned down in disapproval. “Take off your shirt.”
She scrunched one side of her face in contempt. “No.”
“The blue thing has the hospital logo on it.” He gestured at her with one careless hand. “Everyone’s going to be looking for you in those…”
“Scrubs,” she finished for him. “And, let me rephrase so you understand—hell no.”
He met her eyes with determination and a set jaw. “Take it off, or I’ll take it off for you.”
“Aw, yeah,” Taz piped up. “Now we’re gettin’ some action.”
Alyssa had to press her mouth tight to keep from telling the idiot to shut up. When she made no move toward taking her shirt off, Creek slid over the vinyl bench and snagged the hem that had come untucked hours ago.
Alyssa leaned away, her cuffed hands pushing at his. A sweep of panic heated her chest. “No. Don’t. Leave me alone.”
Taz laughed and chanted “go-go-go”.
Creek grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled it up and over her head. Then yanked the fabric down her forearms to rest in a bundle where her hands came together in the cuffs. The cool air prickled her skin beneath the white tank top remaining. She curled in on herself to keep the exposure to a minimum. That’s when she noticed the hole in her scrubs, irregular brown marks along the edge. She wasn’t imagining things. He had burned her.
Taz kept glancing in the rear view mirror, and hit a curb as he pulled alongside a closed gas station-slash-mini mart, where painted blue circles delineated men’s and women’s restrooms. He shoved the car into park, twisted and laid one arm over the seat.
“Look what the skinny bitch was hiding under those baggy clothes.” Taz’s excited, bright eyes raked over Alyssa and fastened on her breasts as if he could see through her clothes. “Thought I felt a melon in there. Keep going, Creek. I wanna see that rack.”
Stomach in her throat, Alyssa scanned the area, searching for an escape route. For someone who could help her. But the gas station wasn’t closed as she’d first thought. It was abandoned. Tendrils of panic coiled around her lungs.
Creek put one big fist over the cloth around the chain between her hands, shoved the door open and dragged her across the seat. Would he beat her? Burn her? Kill her? She forced her mind back to the vulnerable areas of the body she would target: a fist to the temple, flat of the hand to the nose, knuckles to the philtrum, side chop to the adam’s apple—
“Keep watch,” Creek said to Taz as he pulled Alyssa to her feet and grabbed the smaller bag of clothes from the floorboard. “Don’t do anything. No stroll, no smoke. Nothing, got it?”
Taz jerked his chin. “Am I gonna get a piece of her when you’re through?”
“We’ll see.” Creek slammed the door and towed Alyssa toward the bathrooms.
No. She couldn’t go in there with him. She’d be trapped. But running wasn’t much of an option either. The landscape around the deserted gas station was a barren sea of flat dirt and scraggly shrubs. Nobody within screaming distance. No haven within running distance. But the approaching darkness might actually be her friend.
Without any solid plan, Alyssa gathered all her strength, drove down with both hands then jerked upward. To her utter shock, her hands wrenched free of his grip. A second seemed to float, suspended in time, before she could make her feet move.
As the surprise cleared from Creek’s face, he swiped a grab for her hands. Alyssa spun and pushed into a kick start. Gravel slipped beneath her feet. Creek grabbed the back of her tank. Fabric ripped. Bra snapped. He whipped an arm around her waist. Twisted her body. Slung her over his shoulder. Just that quick, as if he’d done it countless times before.
“Fucking A,” he growled. “You are the biggest pain in the ass.”
“Let me go.” Alyssa beat on his back with the cuff edge, kicked her feet, twisted. Nothing loosened his grip. Nothing broke his stride. And his body heat had ramped up again.
Creek was still muttering as he kicked in the bathroom door. The bang made Alyssa flinch. Taz’s full-bellied laugh followed them until Creek slammed the door shut.