Blind Trust releases in two weeks, and I thought you might enjoy a sneak peek at the first scene.
The trip to Montana was supposed to be a celebration. Instead it had become a nightmare.
Lindsey Garcia’s pursuers were so close she imagined she could feel their hot breath on the back of her neck. The narrow trail that cut across a steep hillside offered nowhere to hide, and she could see the men a few turns back, running toward her with purpose.
A shot of adrenaline pushed her forward on blistered, half-numb feet, but her muscles were twitchy and uncoordinated from dehydration and fatigue.
Don’t give up. Meg was counting on her to get help. Sucking air, Lindsey tried to match her breath to her pace, out for three steps, in for two, just like she did when running on the beach back home. Except she was nowhere near her typical pace.
Unless she could somehow round the bend and scramble up or down the hill before they realized what she’d done, the men would be on her in minutes.
Sidling up to the trail’s edge, she peered into the brush-covered valley. Yesterday, she and Megan had marveled at the resplendent yellow of the faraway aspens that stood out from the pine like torches. Today, the mountains appeared treacherous, the mood only enhanced by the low clouds snagged on the peaks, breaking the sun into a thousand shards of light.
One wrong step and she’d break her neck.
Maybe the better option was to find a weapon and lie in wait, get the jump on these guys somehow. Squinting against the sun’s glare, she hobbled around a curve, searching the ground for anything she might use to defend herself.
Oof. Lindsey collided with something solid.
Make that someone.
Oh, God. Had one of the men circled around to cut her off?
Scrambling backwards, the rubber shower shoes she’d been forced to flee in slipped on the loose dirt.
Her legs flew out from under her.
As if on ice, her feet shot right off the edge of the trail. Her hip slammed the dirt, following her legs over the precipice as the ground beneath her gave way in an avalanche of rocks, twigs, and soil.
She screamed, her stomach bottoming out as debris scraped along her ribs and her hands scrabbled for purchase on the soil.
I’m sorry, Megan. I tried.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Lindsey prayed her parents knew how much she loved them, prayed that someone would find her body so they’d have closure.
Something caught her wrist in a tight grip and her body jerked to a halt with a wrenching pain in her shoulder. What the hell?
“Hang on,” a deep voice said from overhead.
Lindsey opened her eyes and blinked up at the man. Despite his fair complexion, it was obvious to her now that he was a hiker, not one of her pursuers. He lay on his stomach, dark aviator glasses shielding his eyes under a gray brimmed cap. A large backpacking frame covered him like a turtle shell.
His long, muscular arm hung down from the now-ragged edge of the trail, shaking with the effort of arresting her descent. “I’ve got you.”
The flip-flops dropped from her feet and she found a toehold on a tree root, using it to ease some of the man’s burden.
His other arm extended down. “Can you grab my wrist?”
Her throat had cinched so tight she couldn’t speak, so she nodded and reached up, her arm trembling. Where was that superhuman strength you were supposed to get when threatened? She couldn’t lift herself, let alone a freaking car. Instead, she curled her fingers around the man’s forearm in a death grip.
“I’m going to pull you up slowly, alright?” he asked, the barest hint of a twang in his strained voice.
He grunted, biceps bulging as he hoisted her up the rocky hillside, snaking backwards as he tugged her closer. His hat caught the wind and sailed away, revealing thick, red hair that flopped over his brow. Sweat slicked her palm, but she held tight and tried to help by pushing with her toes until her arms rested over the edge. Then, he grabbed her shoulders and helped her scramble onto flat ground.
She rolled onto her back and closed her eyes for a moment, catching her breath, tremors rolling through her body like an earthquake.
She should be dead.
“Are you okay?”
Lindsey scoffed. She was so far from okay it wasn’t even funny. None of her limbs would move, and everything hurt, but she was alive. “I will be.”
She finally opened her eyes. Her rescuer had removed his pack and sunglasses, and sat on the ground next to her, breathing hard. He wiped the sweat from his face with the hem of his T-shirt, revealing chiseled abs, before he scanned her from head to toe with brilliant blue eyes. Dirt streaked his cheeks and dusted his auburn whiskers, but did nothing to hide how handsome he was.
“I’m Todd.” He frowned. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Lindsey,” she said, without thinking.
His pale brows furrowed at the sight of her bare feet. “You’re the first person I’ve seen on this trail today.”
Oh, shit. She sat up, still shaky. For one blessed moment, she’d forgotten about—
“And now you’ve seen three,” a man said.
She gasped, her gaze locking onto the two men. The tall one was JJ, the shorter, thicker man went by Harris. Both made her stomach turn.
“Are you okay?” JJ asked, the apparent sincerity in his voice belied by the permanent scowl on his rugged face.
“I’ve been better.”
He nodded, his cruel green eyes hidden behind mirrored lenses. “Let’s go.”
“Hold up.” The redhead looked between her and the men as he stood. “Do you want to go with them?”
Not a chance in hell. But she couldn’t let some innocent guy—one who’d saved her life no less—take a bullet trying to protect her. Especially when it was two against one and his death would be in vain. She hadn’t made it to town to get help for Megan, but she could help this man. Assuming JJ would let him go.
“It’s okay,” she said, blinking back tears as she pushed to her throbbing feet. “Thank you for saving me.” Somehow, he’d reached down like the hand of God and snatched her out of thin air, and the only way she could repay him was to protect him from these two assholes.
“Are you sure?” Her hero looked at her then, his Pacific-blue eyes full of concern and confusion.
Let him think she was a battered wife or something. The truth could get him killed.
She nodded, trying to mask the pain and frustration coursing through her. If she thought she had a chance, if she thought the pair to her right wasn’t armed to the teeth, maybe she’d fight. Instead, she lifted her chin and looked up at JJ. “Yes, I’ll go.”
Want more? Preorder Blind Trust now from your favorite bookstore and it'll show up on your e-reader on the 26th.