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Monday, May 13, 2013

Saving Rain Excerpt and Giveaway!!

Raina has tried to forget her past, forget the pain, but when she finds herself staring straight into the fury blazing in her ex-boyfriend's eyes, her dark past comes rushing back. Furious with herself for actually having chosen someone like her father, she uses that anger to her advantage and fights for her life...and for her future that she prays will involve the man she can't seem to get out of her head. Kas is a natural leader, a fierce fighter, the type of man you send in when you need to get the job done. He is a courageous hero who is used to risking his own life to save others, but can he save the one who has captured his heart from her horrific past and the men who are hell-bent on destroying her? As Kas and Raina try to navigate through the twists and turns of a deviously intelligent human trafficking group, they find solace in each other's arms. Can they infiltrate the trafficker's tight ring, saving the innocent lives from imminent danger before it's too late?


**Recommended for ages 18 or older due to Saving Rain having abuse and other issues.**


PROLOGUE



   I’m playing hopscotch with Jessie while I wait on my mommy to pick me up so I can go to ballet.  She is late and almost all of the other kids have left school.  Jessie has to go home now, too, so I sit with my teacher on the bench and wait for mommy.  It’s boring sitting on the bench, but my teacher gives me a cookie while I wait.  We aren’t supposed to eat anything in the after school lines but my teacher tells me it’s ok to eat the cookie today.  It’s my favorite, chocolate chip! 

   I finish my cookie as my teacher tells me that my ride is here, but it’s not mommy.  I get excited when I see Judge get out of the car, I love Judge, he’s so funny when he makes faces and makes me laugh.  I run up to Judge and wrap myself around his legs, holding on tight, hoping he will give me a ride on his feet like he usually does.

   “Hey, Judge, are you taking me to dance today?”
Judge ruffles my hair and picks me up, “You can call me Henry, sweetie.”

   I giggle when he says Henry.  I like Judge better, besides everyone else calls him Judge, well, they call him Judge Whita- Whet-, I can’t remember the second name they call him.  “Wanna see my new tutu that mommy bought me?  It’s purple and it shines!” Judge puts me in the car and buckles me up.  “We better hurry or I won’t have time to change,” I tell Judge, waiting for him to ask to see my shiny tutu. 

   “You’re not going to dance today, sweetie,” Judge tells me. 
   Judge is different today, he’s not making funny faces like he always does.  I was going to ask him why, but he turns the radio up really loud.  I love this song!  Mommy and I sing it together as loud as we can and she makes me laugh when she puts her L fingers on her head! 

   The funny song goes off and another one comes on, but it’s not as funny.  There are so many cars in my driveway when we get home.  “Are we having a party?”  I jump up and down in my seat and clap my hands.  “I hope mommy made chocolate cupcakes!” 

   Judge carries me inside and he’s still not making funny faces at me.  There are lots of people inside and I look for mommy and daddy.  Everyone looks at me and I scoot closer to Judge.  No one is laughing, this isn’t a fun party.  I want to find mommy and have her put in my princess movie.  I tug on Judge’s pants, “Where’s mommy?” I whisper because everyone’s so quiet.

   Judge gives me a hug and he looks sad.  He puts me down and holds my hand while we find daddy.  I see daddy and I run to him, maybe he will put in my princess movie.  I hug daddy but he doesn’t hug me back.  Daddy looks sad, too.  “What’s wrong daddy?”  Daddy won’t talk to me.  I tug on his shirt but he walks away.  I wonder why daddy is mad at me.  A lady with funny hair hugs me, she is crying.  I wonder if daddy is mad at her, too.  She kisses my cheek and it feels yucky so I rub it off of my cheek and run back to Judge.  “Where’s mommy?” 

   Judge has water in his eyes too.  “Oh, sweetie,” he says to me and kisses my cheek. 

   I don’t mind his kiss, so I don’t rub it off.  Judge walks over to daddy and I hear him ask daddy where he wants to talk with me, but daddy just shakes his head and turns away from me again.  I must have done something really bad, daddy is really mad at me.  Judge picks me up again and puts me on the spinney chair.  I spin and giggle.  Judge puts his hands on the chair so I can’t spin anymore.  I really don’t like this party.

   “Sweetie, I need to talk with you about your mama.”  

   Judge tells me that mommy has passed away but I don’t know what that means.  The lady with the funny hair hugs me again and tells me that mommy is in a better place now.  I want to go passed away and go with mommy to the better place, too.  Everyone whispers to each other and some cry.  I’m scared.  People hug me and keep talking about the better place mommy’s at. 

   Judge takes me to the kitchen and lets me sit on the counter as he makes me my favorite sandwich and pink lemonade.  It’s dark outside now and everyone starts to leave.  Judge goes to talk with daddy.  I pick up the picture of mommy and me at the fair, mommy was laughing at me in the picture because I had cotton candy all over my face.  I hug the picture tight, hoping mommy will come back from the better place soon.  Judge gives me a hug bye and kisses my head.  Daddy gets another drink of something that smells funny.

   “Daddy, when’s mommy coming home?” 

   Daddy finally looks at me but he looks mad.  He yanks the picture of mommy and me away and it hurts my hands.  Daddy throws the picture against the wall and I get scared as he yells, “She’s never coming home!”


CHAPTER ONE


   NO, NO, NO!  How could I have let it get this far? Raina silently screams at herself as she sees the dangerous glint in Chris’ eyes.  It takes all of her strength to fight the fear from over taking her.  She takes a deep breath, trying desperately to calm herself while she scans the room for some possible weapon, but there’s nothing within easy reach.  Pungent fear spirals through her like a lightning bolt and she feels a strong wave of nausea roll through her stomach and up her dry throat.  Her mind runs through the few self-defense moves that she knows and she wonders if the moves even matter when someone as small as her is going up against someone as large as Chris.  His hands are so strong, her thoughts betray her as she tries to prepare her psyche that she can escape, no …. that she will escape this. 

   Chris closes the distance with one step and, with harsh accuracy, lands the back of his hand hard across her cheek.  The blow knocks her to the ground.  The salty, mineral taste of blood spills across her tongue again as he reopens the cut on her lip that he gave her last night.  She wipes away the blood with the back of her hand, trying to ignore the throbbing pain radiating through the entire right side of her face.  Fury fills her as she stands up, defiantly raising her chin and glaring right into his cold eyes.  She knows she’s no match for him, but she will not back down anymore, not this time, not ever again! 

   Chris twists his lips into a cruel, taunting smile as he steps towards her again, but, this time, she’s ready.  She quickly steps to the side and rams her elbow into his ribs as hard as she can before kicking the side of his knee cap with so much strength it surprises her.  She can’t help but inwardly cheer as he goes down.  She spares no time with her triumph as she pushes him all of the way over and races for the door. 

Her pounding heart thumps so loudly in her ears that it’s hard to hear anything else as she runs down the hall and bursts through the front door.  Relief floods through her as she realizes that she is almost to the woods, almost to safety. 

   On any other night, she would spend time enjoying the ethereal light of the early April moon and the magnificent cherry tree blossoms that only present their exquisite beauty this time of year, but tonight she barely registers anything as she flees into the welcoming darkness, oblivious to the bewitching spring night.  Her relief is short lived as she feels an angry hand grab her arm, jerking her around so ferociously that she feels dizzy.  Before she can steady herself, Chris punches her in the stomach and she doubles over from the intensity of the pain.  Her earlier panic returns with a vengeance, as she desperately gasps for air that refuses to fill her lungs. 

   She’s still fighting for a sweet breath as he pushes her onto her back and rips open her shirt, causing the buttons to go flying.  Time seems to slow as she watches the buttons hit the ground in slow motion, and she absently thinks of how mad she is that he just ruined her favorite shirt.  Chris straddles her and she knows his intentions.  She knows that she must get him off of her.  Her brain doesn’t seem to be functioning, and she idly wonders if maybe it’s the lack of oxygen that is causing her to feel as if she is in her own body but out of it at the same time.  As Chris runs his tongue across her neck, she floats even further away, distinctly hearing the distant roar of a plane in the night sky.  The soft night breeze blows her hair, and she becomes fully aware of the sweet scent of the cherry blossoms as she is finally able to take a small, ragged breath. 

   As quickly as they left, her senses come rushing back to her, and she pushes against Chris with all of her might as he undoes the button of her jeans.  She barely moves him from her disadvantaged position and the panic and fury rage like a wildfire inside of her when he laughs wickedly and forcefully grabs her bra, breaking the strap.  Her mind flashes back to that awful night four years ago, the night she has tried to no avail to lock away, deep in the dark recesses of her memory. 

   His hot breath rasps against her neck and her whole body shakes in revulsion at the uninvited touch.  Time plays tricks on her again as she is thrown back and forth between the past and the present.  The familiar, sickening feeling of utter helplessness is overwhelming and nausea rips through her again. 

   She feels the bile rise in her throat as his hand moves lower.  She can’t let this happen, not again.  DO SOMETHING, her conscious screams at her.  With every ounce of the strength she has left, she pushes him again and he is momentarily unbalanced.  She takes advantage of this and knees him hard in the groin. 

   Chris blanches, and now it’s his turn to try to breathe.  She knocks him the rest of the way off of her with her leg, then quickly scrambles away from him.  She is back on her feet and running so fast that her lungs burn from the sheer exertion.  She wants to take a peek over her shoulder but doesn’t dare take the chance to slow even a fraction of her momentum, so she keeps running, despite the protest of her shaky and weak legs. 

   She has almost made it to the woods when she hears him behind her.  NO!  I can make it!  She wills herself to go faster, pushing through the pain and exhaustion.  He is faster, and she feels the air leave her body again as she is thrown to the ground with such force her head bounces and she slides.  The abrasiveness of the damp grass and dirt scratches against her cheek as her slide comes to a halt.

   “You’re going to pay for that,” Chris snarls at her as he raises his fist.  The sharp pain of his blow plunges all the way to the bone in her cheek.  Suddenly, everything goes out of focus as his strike disorients her.  She feels his breath on her again, this time against her ear, as he whispers, “Let’s move this to a place a little more private.” 

   She tries to scream but can manage only a slight, pathetic whimper as he roughly grabs her arms, jerking her upwards, over his shoulder.  Dazed and distracted, she notices how pretty the grass is with the beads of the fresh dew sparkling in the moonlight.  As she bounces like a rag doll over Chris’ shoulder, she wonders how it would feel lying in that dewy grass, wrapped in Kas’ arms. 

   The abstract thought startles her back into focus, despite her disorientation from his brutal punch and her humiliation from her dangling position.  Wistfully she thinks of Kas, of his large size and powerful strength, of how he’s so different from the other men in her life.  She thinks of how his laugh reaches all the way up to his eyes and how his touch was so gentle as he examined her bruised cheek and lip.  Is this why Chris is doing this?  Did he sense that I had feelings for Kas before I realized them myself?

   She shakes her head in self-directed fury as she reminds herself that it doesn’t matter if Chris sensed anything, it wouldn’t matter if she had slept with Kas or anyone, he has no right to do this to her!  Welcoming rage fills her again, causing her to bite and viciously elbow him.  Relief pours through her veins as Chris groans in pain and releases her to grab his shoulder and wounded side.  She once again starts to run but he grabs her before she can even start her escape this time.

   AHHHHH!  Frustration rips through her as she lashes out with years of pent up fury.  She gets in a few good hits before Chris restrains her arms.  She fights back with all that she has left and lands a solid kick to his shin, only to be rewarded with another hard backhand.  She doesn’t fall all the way down this time, due to his bruising grip on her right arm.  She shakes her head, trying to clear the buzzing his last strike left ringing in her ears.  Chris tries to pull her towards the cabin, but she twists and turns and kicks again.  He mercilessly punches her in the stomach and she collapses onto her hands and knees.  Before she can even focus on the searing pain and loss of breath, he kicks her viciously in her ribs, landing her flat on her back and sending fire burning the length of her torso. 

   Vaguely she feels him on top of her again, before darkness starts to slowly sweep over her.  Faintly she hears the squeal of tires in the distance and a voice yelling her name.  As the voice screams her name again, she realizes that she recognizes it, just as the darkness totally consumes her and she sinks into a deep, oblivion….

͠
   Twenty minutes earlier.

   “How’s she doing?” Chase asks Kas as they walk out of Kas’ favorite restaurant. 

   “She says she’s fine and she’s being stubborn about staying at the dean’s house for a few days while he’s on vacation, even though we both insisted,” Kas mutters, while running his hand through his short, dark curls. 

   Chase glances at his friend and knows that he’s on edge, “So, she didn’t agree to go, yet?”

   Kas shakes his head in frustration, “Not even after I told her that it was his place or mine.” 

   Chase fails to suppress his laugh and Kas shoots him a pointed annoyed look.  “That must have been after you threatened to camp out in her cabin 24/7, before she shot that down, too.” 

   “She thinks she can handle everything on her own, that she doesn’t need any help.  She’s completely minimizing the seriousness of the situation, telling me that she’ll be fine, as I was looking right at the bruise on her cheek, which proved otherwise.” 

   Chase studies his friend, his best friend for as long as he can remember, and he knows that his usual ‘psycho crap’, as Kas refers to it, won’t work on him.  He does what he always does with Kas, and gives his honest opinion, no matter how brutal it may sound at times.  

“She’s done everything we wish every victim of domestic violence would do.  She got him the hell out of there the minute he struck her, she immediately reported him to the police, and she changed her number.  We both know that it is best if she stays somewhere else for a while, until things can calm down some, but she said she doesn’t have any family around and she doesn’t have any close friends.”

   Chase chooses his tone carefully for his next words, “I know you want to protect her, but demanding her to go somewhere else doesn’t seem to be working well with her.”

   “So, I should just let her stay alone at her cabin, in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no security, and hope for the best?” Kas spits out angrily.

   Chase shakes his head at his friend, feigning mock hurt.  “Man, you should know me better than that!  I think you should do exactly what you’re doing,” he starts as he nods to the food Kas is holding in the carry out bag, “stock up on sustenance so you can stake out her place tonight when Chris makes bail.”

   Kas lets out a cathartic laugh, “You always did know everything I was thinking.”

   “Need company?” Chase volunteers, knowing that Kas will stay up all night watching Raina’s cabin, making sure Chris doesn’t make another impromptu visit in the middle of the night.  Kas’ cell rings before he has a chance to answer.

  “Agent Pierce, it’s Officer Hunt, Mr. Sutton made bail an hour ago.  I’m sorry, I know you wanted to be called before he left but it must have happened while I was trying to separate the fighting drunks and---.”

   Kas swears and closes the phone before Office Hunt has finished.  He dials Raina’s number while Chase holds up his hands and looks at him quizzically.  Kas swears again as he closes his phone a second time.

   “Two cuss words in thirty seconds, this can’t be good,” Chase only half-jokes, knowing that it must be serious because Kas very rarely swears.

   “Chris made bail an hour ago,” Kas quickly explains as he quickens his pace to the jeep, “and Rain didn’t answer her cell.”

   Chase nods grimly and slides into the passenger side, barely having time to close the door before Kas tears out of the parking lot.

   It’s dark when they pull into the driveway of Raina’s cabin, and Kas’ heart stops when he witnesses Chris brutally punch Raina.  Fiery rage fills his every pore as he sees Chris kick her so hard that the impact flips her onto her back.  “RAINA!” he yells her name as he races through the field, his heart beating so hard it feels like it’s going to come straight through his chest.  “RAINA!”

   Kas reaches them after what seems like eons and tackles Chris at full speed.  The forceful impact doesn’t faze him and he immediately grabs Chris inescapably with his left fist as he lands a crushing right hook to his jaw with the right one.  Kas delivers another punishing blow before he roughly handcuffs a barely conscious Chris.  He has never wanted to kill a man before tonight and it takes all of his self-restraint to keep from beating him like he was Raina.  The only emotion stronger than his fury is his desire to get to her. 

   Kas leans over Raina as Chase kneels beside him, “The ambulance and police are on the way.”

   Seeing the bruises on Raina’s face sends shots of pain through Kas, as if someone has plunged a knife deep into his chest.  He quickly scans her other visible injuries.  Murderous thoughts threaten to take over his self-control when he sees the large bruise already forming on her red, scraped ribs.  He takes off his jacket and gently covers her exposed skin.  “Rain,” he pleads as he carefully cups her face in his trembling hand.  “Rain, come on baby, talk to me,” he implores, praying she’ll open her eyes. 

   “Her pulse is strong,” Chase encourages while he holds her small wrist in his hands.

   Kas strokes her hair while he continues to plead for her to come back to him, but Raina doesn’t respond.  She continues to remain cold and motionless as the minutes drag by.  He’s still pleading for her to awaken as the sirens blare and lights flash, causing the dark field to be illuminated in blinking red and blue. 

   Kas has never felt more helpless than he does at this moment, watching Raina being lifted onto a hospital gurney and rolled into the back of the ambulance.  He starts to climb into the back with her when one of the medics holds out his hand to stop him.  Kas flashes his FBI badge and glares at the medic, not giving any room for discussion.  The medic lowers his hand and steps aside, knowing it wouldn’t be wise to argue. 

   “I’ll meet you there,” Chase calls to Kas as the ambulance doors are closing.

   Kas stays out of the way while the medics do their work with Raina, checking vital signs, assessing injuries.  He blanches as one of the medics mentions possible internal injuries. 

   He grasps Raina’s hand as soon as the medics are done with what they can do before they arrive at the ER.  He rubs her cold hand between his as he whispers to her over and over again, “You’re going to be alright, Rain, you’re safe now.”

   Hope fills his soul as Raina’s eyelids flutter and he brushes a soft kiss across her knuckles, blinking back tears.  The sound of the siren and the passing traffic fade into the background like white noise as he stares at Raina, willing her to be alright, praying she will be.    



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Author Bio: 

Karen-Anne Stewart has always enjoyed reading and how a book can sweep her far away, engrossing her deep into the story.  She has enjoyed writing from an early age and became interested in becoming an author after one of her college courses.  When she started writing Saving Rain, the intended novel quickly turned into a trilogy.  She knew that the characters of Kas and Raina could not be compressed into a single book.

When Karen-Anne is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her first love, her family.  She shares a home with her husband and daughter, their two dogs and their cat.  She enjoys reading, hiking, and visiting new places.  She plans to continue writing and sharing her stories with her readers. 




Twitter handle:  @SKarenAnne

Saving Rain Facebook Page link:  https://www.facebook.com/






1 comment:

Sapir V said...

I entered the giveaway!! Thanks for hosting it (:

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