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Authors: Jess Mcconkey

Tags: #Mystery, #Contemporary, #Adult

Love Lies Bleeding

BOOK: Love Lies Bleeding
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Love Lies Bleeding

Jess McConkey

Dedication
To my editor, Emily Krump, and my agent, Stacey Glick. This book never would’ve been written without your encouragement and support!

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

 

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

Chapter One

O
h God, they’re in the house!
How had they found her? Were they here to finish the job? The bitter taste of fear clogged the back of her throat, her heart pounded, and a scream tried to fight its way up from deep inside.
No, you can’t scream. They might hear you.
She swallowed twice.

Run. She had to run. She had to find Jackson, but her legs wouldn’t move. Why wouldn’t her legs move?

Her eyes flew open and she stared wide-eyed into the darkness.
Where were they? In the living room? In the hallway?
A soft moan escaped her lips as a cold sweat dampened her upper lip. She felt as though she could smell her terror lingering in the air.

Suddenly the darkness vanished. She winced and jerked her hands over her eyes, trying to block the blinding light. Footsteps hurried across the bedroom floor. Her breath came in short, swift gasps as she felt the bed dip and her hands were slowly pulled away from her face. A quiet voice pierced the roaring in her ears. Jackson’s voice.

“Sam, Sam, wake up. You’re having another nightmare.”

Images of men chasing her . . . hurting her . . . circled in her mind as she tried to raise herself from the bed. She couldn’t move her legs. Thrashing, she pushed with her hand while she fought to sit up.

“Easy, Sam. You’re tangled in the sheets. Let me help you,” Jackson said from where he sat on the side of the bed.

Her eyes locked on his face and the images faded.
Nightmare . . . it was only a nightmare.
Reality finally penetrated her sleep-soaked mind.

Inhaling sharply, she stopped her tossing and willed her body to relax while her fiancé pulled her upright and began to slowly unwind the sheets binding her legs. Awake but disoriented, she shoved her limp auburn hair out of her face while her eyes darted around the room, searching for something familiar.

This wasn’t their bedroom. Their bedroom walls were a perfect shade of Martha Stewart mocha, not knotty-pine paneling. In this room, plaid curtains, not sheer linen, hung over rough, slatted blinds. Where the hell was she?

Panicked again, she felt her heart kick up a ragged rhythm.
Not the hospital—please, not back in the hospital.

Wait. The walls in the intensive care unit were a cold, sterile green, not wood-paneled. She cocked her head and listened, but the only sound she heard was the pounding of her blood in her head. No whoosh-whoosh of the respirator. Her hand flew to the base of her throat. No plastic tube forcing sustaining oxygen into her lungs—only a small raised scar. Okay, so she wasn’t in the hospital. The thumping in her chest slowed.

She stared blinking at Jackson while the last remnants of shock lingered in her mind. He sat on the edge of the bed, leaning toward her, a book clutched in one hand. A lock of dark brown hair had fallen forward across his high forehead. Reaching up, he pulled his fingers through it repeatedly, brushing it back as he watched her.

“W-w-where are we?”

“Sam, we’re in Minnesota, remember? Renting a cabin at Elk Horn Lake for the summer?”

That’s right—away from the city, to rest, to help her battered body heal. Now she remembered.

Scrubbing her face with her hands, she tried to rub away the memory of the dream. Every night she feared sleep. Every night some variation crept out of the recesses of her mind to torture her.

“Did I scream?” she mumbled into her hands. “Did I wake you?”

“No,” he replied, setting the book down, “you didn’t scream this time. You moaned. I was still up reading. I thought you were having spasms again.”

He’d been reading in the guest room, she thought with a stab of guilt. Since her “accident,” as her mother liked to call it, Jackson couldn’t share her bed any longer. They’d discovered that his sleeping in the same bed only made the nightmares worse. In the beginning they’d tried to rationalize them away. Just the aftershocks of the trauma she’d suffered. They kept telling each other the dreams would eventually stop, but they hadn’t, and now she felt powerless as the intimacy they’d shared slipped away.

Dropping her hands, she caught Jackson staring at her legs. In her tossing and turning, her long nightgown had worked its way up her thighs. Her shriveled left leg now lay bare and exposed on the cool, cotton sheets. His eyebrows knitted together, and she watched as the corner of his mouth curled downward.

She grabbed the sheet and yanked it over her leg, hiding it.

With a shake of his head, he raised his eyes to her face. “It was a bad one this time, wasn’t it?” he asked in a low voice. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

“First, I heard a window break, then voices. They were talking while they ransacked the house,” she said, plucking at the sheet covering her left leg. “They said they were going to kill us. They were laughing about what they’d do to us.” A shudder shook her shoulders, and Jackson’s hand reached out for her, but stopped short of touching her. “I thought they’d found me again,” she finished in a whisper.

A soft sigh stirred the air between them. “It was just a dream. Those assholes aren’t looking for you. The attack happened because you were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. A hundred and twenty miles from here . . .” He paused. “They didn’t know your name then, and they don’t know it now.”

“How do you know? They’re still out there, aren’t they? The police never made an arrest.”

“Sam, you’re safe,” he said, lowering his head and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Your father’s influence kept your name out of the press, and your credit cards and ID were still in your purse.”

“But—”

He held up a hand, stopping her, and his voice took on a hard edge. “Again, Sam . . . it was just a dream. You can’t continue to let your fears torment you.”

She threw off the sheet and scooted across the bed to sit on the opposite side, making sure to keep her leg covered with the corner of the blanket.

“But it seemed so real. Just like the ones I had in the hospital.” She looked over her shoulder at him. “The voices stopped, and all I could hear was my heart. I didn’t know if they’d found you. I tried to get up, but my legs wouldn’t move.”

Jackson shifted his position to face her. “Have you discussed this with Dr. Weissinger?”

Dropping her chin, she stared at the floor. “Of course.”

He braced his arm on the bed and leaned closer. His brown eyes, once full of charm, were now full of concern as he tugged on the corner of his mouth before speaking.

“Have you really?”

Here we go again,
she thought
. Sam, are you taking your meds? Sam, did you do your exercises? Sam, you need to try harder.

Irritation shot through her and she stood awkwardly. “What? Now you want to add lying to the list of grievances against me?” She walked to the window, her left leg dragging slightly on the hardwood floor.

“I never said you were a liar,” he replied gently, “but I don’t believe you’re always honest with Dr. Weissinger. He’s your psychiatrist, Sam, but he can’t help you if you don’t tell him what’s going on.”

“I know that.” Suddenly chilled, she rubbed her bare arms. “I’m not stupid.”

Jackson gave a soft groan. “I never said you were. But Dr. Weissinger might be able to give you some different meds that will help with the nightmares.”

“Right,
Dr.
Van Horn.” She twisted around to look at him. “That’s the answer you doctors have for everything, isn’t it? Write a scrip, make it all better—better living doped up on meds,” she said in a rough voice. “That’s what the antidepressants are supposed to do, isn’t it? To make it all better. But they’re not working, are they?”

“You have to give it time, Sam. You suffered a serious trauma. You’d be dead if the security guard hadn’t acted so quickly. You need time to heal.”

“Time? Ha, what do you call eight months?” She felt the bitterness snake through her. “Eight months since they made me beg, on my knees, for my life.” Her voice rose. “Eight months since that son of a bitch cracked my skull with a tire iron.”

Jackson shook his head as his eyes traveled to the nightstand and the array of pill bottles. Seeing a picture frame lying facedown next to them, he picked it up.

Sam felt her heart squeeze. It was a picture of them on the ski slopes at Vail, taken the week Jackson had proposed. He’d put it in an expensive walnut frame and had insisted that she keep it on her nightstand.

“Why did you turn this over?” he asked, holding the picture frame toward her.

Looking away, she shrugged one shoulder. “I must’ve knocked it over during my dream.”

“Then why aren’t the pill bottles—” He cut himself off. “Never mind,” he said, setting the picture back on the nightstand.

Her eyes returned to the smiling faces in the picture staring at her from across the room. Smiling faces now surrounded by pill bottles. The woman in the picture had never taken pills to stop her dreams, pills to stop her fear. She’d been strong and capable.

And you’ll never be that woman again,
jeered a voice inside her head.

Unable to bear looking at the person she’d been, she turned away. She felt Jackson wrap his arms around her. “It’ll be okay,” he whispered. “We’ll get through this.”

She jerked away from him and limped toward the bed. Why did Jackson and her parents think a simple pat on the head with a “Don’t worry, Sam” would make it all go away? They didn’t get it.

BOOK: Love Lies Bleeding
9.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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