Today I am sharing a new release from Peri Elizabeth Scott. A dystopian novel that's outside the normal genre of romance but which sounds utterly intriguing. Read on to find out more...
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com//dp/B00KS7B46Y
The quick retreat wasnât totally silent. She could hear the sounds of the others, moving quickly along parallel lines to her own painful effort. Wondering how long she could keep the burst of energy up, she noted the noises diminished as people worked their way outward like the spokes of a wheel. Four hundred paces and the air burned in her lungs. Sh e fought the tough terrain and avoided the thickening flora, the damn sled hanging up at each and every turn. Her arms burned with the desperate efforts to free the runners and the hound whined with pain.
Six hundred paces had her bent doubled over with a stitch in her side. She went to her knees when the ground sloped away into a small ravine, nearly causing her and Gehlert to tumble into its depths, the momentum of the heavy sled a terrible burden. It was the dog who saved them, digging his forefeet in and throwing his body weight back to settle on his haunches. She hugged him fiercely, his pants and thundering heartbeat mirroring her own.
Skirting the ravine took them well away from what she reckoned was a straight path outward from the original starting point. She scanned the treetops in a near futile effort to reorient herself. The filtered light told her the sun was at four oâclock, so she deviated slightly to her right and pushed on, wondering where the strength to do so had come from.
Having lost count of her pacing, she chanced another three hundred, using images of what would happen if they got caught to spur her on. Certain theyâd walked a half marathon, she chose a thick clump of gorse bushes, insanely wondering how theyâd come to flourish this deep in the woods. The hound stepped away from the harness the instant she freed him and staggered sideways to collapse on a bed of leaves and other organic debris. Doggedly working to separate the lower branches of the bushes and wincing at the spiny press of the remaining leaves despite the cover of her thin gloves, she managed to secret the sled, or at least muddle the outline of it. She bent thinner twigs to camouflage it further and made herself take the time to stand back and take as critical a look as she could. Satisfied, she found another clump of the same vegetation and crawled in backward, stopping only when her feet couldnât press any deeper. She then pressed a dog sized space open to her right.
âGehlert.â Even a whisper hurt her parched throat, but she was rewarded with a faint thump of his tail. âCome.â
The hound visibly considered her command, ears lowering and eyes drifting before he levered upward, limping to her. Heâd pulled more than his weight and was clearly on the brink of exhaustion. Even in the dappled light she could see where the harness had cut harshly into his hide, the thick guard hairs rubbed away. She wanted to cry. Blinking hard, she swallowed against the emotion.
âHere.â She patted the small space beside her and he obligingly wiggled in, somehow turning in place three times before he settled down. Draping an arm over him, she tugged a few branches into place over, poking herself in the cheek as she did so, then dropped her head onto the fertile earth.
After a time, her heart slowed and her breathing returned to normal, as did the houndâs, although he hitched from time to time with a little gasping noise. At last, she could focus on her surroundings and actually hear the forest sounds, the faint creak of living wood, the rustle of a small breeze among the remaining leaves, and the occasional call of a bird. The ground was reasonably warm, despite the approach of winter, and with Gehlert pressed close, she wasnât terribly uncomfortable. She only wished sheâd thought to bring one of the water bottles into her makeshift shelter, her body crying out for moisture after the forced march.
Time crept by and she became aware of how her pistol rested with solid intent against her belly, the barrel grinding into her hip. Seeing that her weapon was the only thing between her and whatever was out there hunting them, she cursed fluently under her breath and hitched up enough to worm a hand beneath her. With some judicious pulling and peeling back of the layers of clothing, she was able to free the butt and work the pistol out from under her, blessing her foresight to set the safety. She brought it up beside her head, one finger through the trigger, palm resting lightly against the pommel, before she flicked the safety off.
The hound stiffened beneath her lax arm and she strained her ears, suppressing a shudder. Perhaps it was one of the others, off course and passing by, still trudging those thousand paces, that had alerted him. Or an animal, picking its way through the trees. Alas, it was the base notes of a number of male voices she heard, far off, their words indistinct, distorted by the numerous trees and the uneven terrainâand the sudden escalation of her heartbeat. Stark terror froze her in place, chilling her blood, making her sex draw up in self-defense. Her belly clenched in on itself and goose flesh broke out all along her spine. Air rushed in and out of her nose as she tried hard not to pant, knowing how foreign the sound would be, how easily heard if someone cared to stop and listen. Her dog shivered in response to her angst and made a faint whine.
That whimper awakened her higher brain functions and she gained control. With a firm squeeze, she signaled Gehlert into silence. They huddled together and waited as she held her weapon at the ready.
Disjointed phrases drifted to her ears, accompanied by faint crashing sounds of something larger than a person.
ââ¦signs of at leastâ¦â
She was certain she felt a cold stare focused on their location, something malevolent and inhuman, and remained as still as possible, willing their hidden forms to blend into the surroundings. Nothing to see here. Just more trees and underbrush. She prayed there were no dogs, and cast her eyes down, refusing to risk even that chance of a flicker of awareness.
Minutes passed as she counted the seconds. Three hundred and sixty, then six hundred and sixty. Eleven minutes, give or take. The evil stare lingered in her imagination, or perhaps its owner was still out there, patient as a spider. The adrenalin leached out of her muscles, leaving her spent and far more fatigued than ever. She wouldnât move, wouldnât make it easier for whoever it was out there to find her, but felt as though she had nothing left to defend herself if he did. Her pistol seemed impossibly toy-like against the threat and her knife was still in her boot.
Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. After closing her private practice as a social worker and child play therapist, she joined her husband in running their season business where they pretend to work well together.
Writing for years, The Time is a departure from her usual romance genre, but it was a story that had to be told!
Peribeth also pens erotic romance under a different pen name and reads everything she can lay her hands on.
Childhood traumas lurk deep. Victoria Sparrow knows that. Especially when oneâs father rejects one as not being worthy. Her romantic relationships founder, until Logan Doherty. He gives her reason to believe in goodness and true love, and she commits her heart and soul to him.
No longer prey to her damaged, young self, Victoria eagerly looks forward to their upcoming marriageâuntil she meets Logan at the altar. He informs her the wedding is off before their assembled friends and family, and will not tell her why.
Cast back into the nightmare of rejection, a devastated Victoria undertakes the momentous task of putting her life back together, her trust broken, her worst fears realized.
Meanwhile, Logan is working equally hard to deal with the secretive events that led to that cruel rejection, and then he plans to make it up to his tattered bride. If she will forgive him.
The world narrowed to him and her, and a little slice of churning emotions she couldnât decipher. âYouâre calling off the wedding. Our wedding. Now.â Just in case she hadnât heard him correctly. This had the makings of a horrible, sick jokeâ¦
Shoving a hand through his hair, he obviously struggled to meet her stare. His tawny eyes were turbulent. âI am. I â¦ just decided. Itâsââ
âWhat?â Victoria tumbled to it, falling into the abyss of her history. Deep down, she knew why. Too bad heâd only just decided. Now. At this inopportune time. All her issues and stupid insecurities washed over her from wherever theyâd been banished to, banished by Loganâs resolute pursuit and sincere belief in her. Heâd addressed her fears, made her wholeâand now? Now her tender underbelly was exposedâwithout a shred of armorâfor the deathblow. The sublime lovemaking of a mere few hours earlier faded in the face of it.
âIââ Real pain and misery now seemed to burn in his eyes, and despite her terrified anticipation, she wanted to soothe him. Through set lips, he continued, âI donât have the words to tell you why Victoria. Iâm sorry. But the wedding is off.â
Still, she waited, believing he would somehow embellish, give her an explanation that wouldnât make this about her, but he stood there mutely, now staring someplace over her shoulder. She checked out the direction of that gazeâmaybe there was an answer there, but she saw only a watercolor of a pastoral scene. Please.
She let her pride crumble and begged. âLogan. This doesnât make any sense. Weâ¦ Only this morningâ¦â
He shook his head and straightened to his full height. âItâs off.â
Deep inside there was an utter certainty that it did indeed make sense. Heâd figured her out. Seen to the core of her the way others had. In despair, she gave up the fight to believe in him and their love in response to his firm declaration. The Victoria of her childhood emerged, in blind response, lashing out to hide from the truth.
âWas it the thrill of the chase? And then when you caught me, you became afraid you were settling? That thereâs something better around the corner?â
She didnât want to wait for a response. She had to leave. Now. What would get her past the sideways looks and the knowing stares? The church was full of family and friendsâand others who had probably predicted this very momentâ¦
âVictoria. You need to calm down. Itâs not like that.â
âCalm. Down?â She was aware her voice was climbing as she talked over him, and the small room, the one where she and Logan would have been closeted to sign the papers finalizing their marriage, wasnât soundproof. She modulated her tone the very best she could, humiliation and pain squeezing her very being. âWhat is it like, then, exactly?â
âI canât say.â
He looked away. âI canât.â
Dropping her beautiful bouquet of red roses, entwined with babyâs breath and white, embossed ribbon on the desk, the air currents disturbed the uncompleted marriage papers. They fluttered, mocking her. She stared up at the face of the man she loved. And faced the realization that she indeed still loved him. That part, at least, hadnât changed despite the mortification of being dumped at the freaking altar. Love. She thought it was love. Too bad it wasnât real.
âAnd Iâm supposed to take that and be calm!â
âYes, calm down.â His face was set in grim determination, his eyes hot. âWeâll â¦ weâll get through this.â
She narrowed her eyes and leaned into him. What couldnât she be one of those classy women who took this kind of thing in stride and walked away without making a scene? Maybe she could be. Drawing on a reserve of strength she wasnât aware she possessed, she said, âIâm calm. Dead calm. So shut up now. I never want to hear your voice again, let alone set eyes on you.â
Squaring her shoulders, she closed off his next attempt to speak. She avoided his outstretched hand and ignored the sudden abject despair written across his handsome features. Was he embarrassed? If he didnât want a scene, why in hell had he chosen this public place to dump her? Flinging the door openam to the main part of the church, she surveyed the people filling the pews. Those congregated there stilled into silence, with only an occasional murmur marring the quiet. Dozens of pairs of eyes looked in their direction. Victoria stepped forward. Classy. She could do this.
About the Author:
NEWSLETTER SIGN UP