Sunday, October 13, 2013

How Do You Escape a Recurring Nightmare? Face it, Head On! Undercover Lovers, by Fiona McGier


Ameena has never been able to forget what she endured on her last assignment before she left the agency.  She was the only female agent to live through what The Executioner did to his victims, but she still bears the scars, both physical and psychological.  When he escapes from his prison cell, her ex-handler brings two agents with him to tell her that one or the other will be her shadow until her torturer is caught again...only this time he will allow her to kill him.  Having kept herself too busy for romance, she is caught off-guard by the sudden insertion into her life of two gorgeous men, one who actively pursues her and one whom she finds more attractive for his shyness.  Will she live long enough to make a choice?  And is that the end of the story...or the beginning?


     She woke up to find herself tied to a rack. Her wrists were burning from the tight ropes that held her arms extended out as if she was tied to a cross. With a quick turn of her head back and forth, she saw that the ropes were red with her blood. Panic began to rise like bile in her throat. She could also feel her ankles tied down, so that she was upright, in a spread-eagle position; she was also naked and vulnerable from both the front and the back.
     Her years of training had prepared her for many things. But nothing could prepare her for the frantic feeling of helplessness that she now felt. She was supposed to be resourceful enough to be able to get herself out of almost anything. She tried not to remember that others just as well-trained as herself hadn’t made it alive out of this man’s secret dungeon chamber. And that she had volunteered for the task, angrily indignant that he’d brutally tortured then murdered one of her close friends.
     She wondered why she had been asleep?no, not asleep, passed out. The last thing she could remember was the stinging of the whip as he punished her for crying out. And why had she cried out? With horror she looked down at her naked torso to see that she hadn’t been imagining things and that there was a reason for the throbbing pain she still felt. There really were burn marks on her breasts; a design that he said he found preferable to her unblemished, smooth, light brown skin. Some of the burns were deep. Some were bleeding. She bit her lip not to cry out. 
     Then the thwack of the whip on her back made her whimper at her own helplessness and pain, and the low laughter came closer, as he licked the side of her neck then whispered into her ear, his hot breath blowing at her hair, stinking of cigar smoke and cheap bourbon.
     “ Just you wait, honey. I haven’t even gotten to the really fun stuff yet.”
* * * *
      Ameena sat up with a start. She was sweating despite the cool temperature in her bedroom, and her heart was racing. Nervously she glanced around, trying to get her bearings. She spoke aloud, trying to calm herself.
     “ Damn it! Just when I think the dreams are done, he comes back into my nightmares all over again! Am I never going to be free of that asshole?”
     She got up and pulled a robe around herself; she belted it tightly around her waist, suddenly feeling underdressed in her silk nightgown. She went into the living room to check to be sure that the front door was locked and the chain was still on it. It was. And the security alarm system LEDs were green, indicating that the system was functioning. No breaches.
     With a heavy sigh, she headed for the kitchen and quickly found her half-empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka in the freezer. She pulled out a glass and poured enough to fill it to half-full. She headed back into her room to her jeans, rummaging in the dark to find her smokes and her lighter.
     She manually disabled the alarm system on the sliding glass doors before walking out onto the balcony to light a cigarette, inhaling deeply, drawing the hot smoke into her lungs, still trying to convince herself that nothing was wrong. She leaned her head back and drank a big swallow of the icy vodka, then choked slightly as it hit the back of her throat. She sank onto the large wicker chair leaning against the wall next to the sliding glass door she’d just come through, and she peered into the night sky.
     She had a fabulous view of the city of Los Angeles’ nightlights when she looked in one direction, and a view of the ocean in the other direction. Since it was so late, the water was just a vast, dark, inchoate entity in the distance. But the lights from the surrounding buildings comforted her, indicating that she was still surrounded by a vast collection of humanity. She wasn’t alone, except in her condo. The rest of the world was right outside of her door.
     Gradually she felt the tension in her chest start to lessen. She took another large swallow of the icy, burning liquor, and noticed how it enhanced the taste of her cigarette as well. She concentrated on enjoying the physical pleasures of taste and touch. She listened to the sounds of the city at night. She could even smell the city, since it was a cloudy night and the downdraft was forcing the still-awake inhabitants to breathe in what they normally emitted out into the sky, but ignored unless forced to notice it.
     Yes, I haven’t exorcised that damn demon. He’s still in my head. He probably always will be. But he’s not here right now. And that has to be good enough. I have way too much to do tomorrow, to lose a whole night’s sleep over what’s in the past.
    Resolutely, she stubbed the cigarette out in the ashtray on the table next to her chair. She swallowed the last of the vodka, savoring the burning in her throat that warmed her down to her toes. She reached up and felt her hair. She’d stopped sweating. The curls had kinked up with the humidity, but the night air was cool and had dried her hair.
     And she would shower in the morning. When you’re the boss, you have to look good. Especially in this business. That means hopefully no bags or dark circles under my eyes. Best to get back to bed and try not to dream any more tonight.
     Ameena walked back into her condo, carefully shutting the doors behind her. She reset the alarm, comforted by the female voice that told her, “All systems functioning at optimal level.”
     She peered into the living room quickly, reassuring herself that the alarm system’s LEDs were still green on her front entrance door. Then she took off her robe and lay back down in bed. She pulled the covers up to her chin and stared up at the ceiling for a while, the mirror reflecting the city lights shining in through the glass doors and the still-open blinds on the window further along the wall. She concentrated on her breathing, listening to it as it went into her lungs then back out again. She concentrated on her toes, feeling them lose sensation as they went to sleep. She kept mindfully feeling parts of herself relaxing in peace; she made it up to her navel before she was asleep.
     And the vodka earned its expensive price, ensuring that she had no more dreams that night.
***Copyright 2011, Fiona McGier
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Hint: Keep checking back for info on this book being in a 2-in-1 edition that saves you money!


Debby said...

I cannot imagine being tortured and then learning he escaped.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Fiona McGier said...

Debby, because you commented twice, you'll be entered twice into the drawing.