Total complete darkness. Alley – Fear. Small blade – Panic. Blood – Pain. Emma jerked up. “No!”

Excerpt from FALLEN REDEMPTION, Book 1 of the Trihune Series:

Emma woke in a dark room that was not her bedroom, Jenny’s spare room, or Sean’s. Moaning, she clutched her head with her hands, rubbing the temples with the pads of her fingers. Her head was killing her and her body ached. Did she have the flu?

“The headache will pass soon.”

A small scream of terror burst from her lips. She jerked to a sitting position. Her gaze bounced around the dark and she saw absolutely nothing. No light from underneath a door. Nothing from a window. It was couldn’t-see-the-hand-in-front-of-her-face dark. “Who’s there?” Emma’s voice shook as she uttered the stupid line. If someone had to ask who’s there they’d better start running because nine times out of ten they weren’t going to like the answer, especially if they were in a horror flick. With the night’s events rushing back in rapid succession, she was the main character in this scary movie.

Adrenaline kicked in and she rolled to the side to get off the bed.

He. She. It moved, too. Emma quickly backtracked. The noise—not footsteps, more like a rush of air—also changed directions. On hands and knees, she crawled, hopefully, to the edge of the bed. Stumbling on it quicker than planned, Emma pitched over the side and fell to the floor with a grunt. Surging to her feet, she stumbled, legs deciding to take a break for a moment. Bastards. Light suddenly filled the room. It blinded her. Her hands shot up to cover her eyes. Shooting pains erupted in her skull like a knife stabbing her temples.

“I know,” the deep voice said softly. “Light will make the headache worse. I’m sure with Lucas’s interference and the bump on your head, the pain is doubled, but I can’t have you bumping into the furniture or falling off the bed anymore, can I?”

The speaker was a man. His voice was closer to her than she’d have thought with the light just flicked on. Near enough that his breath brushed across her face.

Her eyes snapped open. She gasped and stepped back. It was the man from downstairs. The one who’d felt the bump on her head. He was supposed to do something to her. Erase her memory? No that can’t be right. Emma took another step back and tripped on the corner of the bed.

The man caught her by the arms. “Are you always this clumsy?”

“No.” Shit. Don’t give any information. No matter how insubstantial. Concentrate on getting out of here.

Inhaling, she tried to get her bearings. To calm her ragged breaths. She wouldn’t faint. For the second time, apparently. The light still played with her temples like sticks to a drum, but not as intense as the knives. Did she have a fever? She was chilled to the bone and weak.

“More blood has been taken than we’d hoped. Lie down. It will help your head as well. And,” his gaze traveled to her arms she’d wrapped across her torso, “keep you warm.”

Emma shook her head and grimaced when the knives returned.

His eyebrows drew together. “I will shut the lights off.”

“No.” She grabbed his arm before he could move. Emma didn’t want to be in the dark anymore. The memories swirling just below the surface would be worse than the pain in her head.

He froze, gaze locked on her hand squeezing his arm.

She snatched her hand back. What was the matter with her? Emma took a couple steps back, this time making sure to spot the corner of the bed. Relief spread. A part of the bed was in between them now. Except the door was way across the room. In the opposite direction from which she moved. Awesome job, Ace.

He was tall. She reached the tops of his shoulders and had to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. His black T-shirt did nothing to hide the muscles in his arms and shoulders. Emma wouldn’t be able to overpower him. But how fast could he run?

Shoulders back, feet planted, legs spread, indicated he was ready for anything. His body language said he was in charge, but the tilt of his head contradicted the attitude. Black, shoulder length hair covered half of his face. What was he hiding?

Didn’t matter. She shook her head. Ugh, bad move.

Running was out. What was left? Distracting him with her womanly wiles then escape. Ha. The fever must be messing with her brain.

He was staring at her like she was a museum piece. The man didn’t fidget or twitch. Didn’t blink from what she’d detected. His chest wasn’t even mov—oh, no there it went. So he was a breathing statue.

Emma licked her lips and cleared her desert-like throat. She’d kill for a glass of water. Stupid alcohol. Stupid sickness.

“When can I leave?”

“Soon, chemda. I promise.”

She paid attention to the movement of his eyes, the gestures of his hands and lips for telltale signs he was lying. He portrayed nothing. The man was either telling the truth or he was a psycho killer. Emma hoped for the former, but kind of suspected it’d be the latter.

“Soon as in a few minutes?”

The corners of his lips twitched. “Come. Lie down. I’ll have Jeeves bring you food and drink. You need to counterbalance what’s been taken from you.”

Emma made no move toward the bed. There would be no discussion about what was taken. “Jeeves?”

“Our butler.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “A butler named Jeeves? Are you joking?”

His forehead creased. “No. Why would we joke about his name?”

Emma shook her head then cringed. Knives. Gah. Stop doing that! “Forget it. No big deal.” How about half an aspirin? Exhaustion suddenly plagued her. She leaned back against the wall.

“Come, chemda,” he demanded. “You’ll feel better after you’ve rested.”

The bed did look inviting. The longer she stood, the more blood fought against gravity to pool in her head. Pump. Pump. Pump. She closed her eyes for a moment. A quick reprieve from the pain then she’d go for the door. Nice, homey quilt be dammed.

She was in the man’s arms. Her eyelids flew open. “Put me down. Put me . . .” The man walked two steps, pulled down the bed covers, somehow still holding onto her and deposited her onto the bed. He left her side and the lights went off.

Total. Complete. Darkness. No!

Alley. Fear.

Small blade. Panic.

Blood. Pain.

Emma shot up. “No.”

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