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Here is a short sample from the book:
– 1 –
Nina Holt woke with a start. Her heart jack-hammered, but instead of gasping for breath like she desperately wanted to, she held it in, kept her eyes closed and didn’t move a muscle. Bad dreams were a regular occurrence, so she felt no need to reach for the bedside lamp to chase away the darkness. Besides, she wouldn’t dare wake Michael.
Lying motionless, she waited for the fog to clear from her mind, waited for reality to seep in and tell her heart there was nothing to fear.
She almost smiled at that ridiculous thought. Almost. There was always something to be afraid of in this house.
Slowly, her other senses returned, revealing something far more unsettling than the fading nightmare.
Nothing except the sound of blood swirling through her ears. Her pulse stuttered. Where was her husband’s steady breathing, his soft snore, the sounds she’d listened to every night for over a decade?
For a sliver of a second, she wondered if he’d died in his sleep, then dismissed the idea. She’d never been lucky, so why would luck bestow a favour upon her now?
No, the room held a discernible emptiness.
Which meant she could move.
As Nina tried to roll onto her back, she discovered her body refused to cooperate. She’d become so conditioned to remaining motionless for fear of waking Michael, she hadn’t noticed that something was terribly wrong when she came out of the nightmare.
The effort to move her legs seemed insurmountable, as if her limbs were being pressed against the bed by an invisible weight, forcing her to use every ounce of concentration to make the appendages obey her commands.
Gradually, her left leg inched toward the edge of the bed, and as it did so, the realisation that she’d experienced this laden sensation before hit her hard. Michael had drugged her.
Although his use of chemicals on her had been few and far between, Michael had always slipped her just enough sedative to keep her conscious, yet totally defenceless. He wanted her to know exactly what he was doing to her. After all, that was part of the fun.
But this time, she couldn’t even remember saying goodnight to her son, let alone climbing into bed, which meant Michael had gone against his nature and given her enough to totally knock her out.
She managed to pry open an eyelid. The illuminated numbers on the bedside clock glowed red. Six minutes past one. That surprised her. If Michael had given her a high dose of the sedative, she should have slept until morning. Maybe the nightmare induced adrenalin rush counter-acted the drug, at least enough to wake her mind, but her body remained useless and heavy.
With immense effort, Nina rolled onto her back. As she caught her breath, she tried to get a sense of whether or not Michael had sex with her while she’d been unconscious. She didn’t ache anywhere, and her underwear was still in place, still dry. Dread filled her. If he hadn’t drugged her for his usual purpose, then why? What was he up to? Where was he?
Like a large spider, she didn’t want Michael anywhere near her, but needed to know exactly where he was at all times. Better to stare him in the eye than know he lay in wait, ready to scuttle out from some unexpected hiding place to inject his venom. Knowing where he was, what kind of mood he was in was the only way she could anticipate his needs and keep his violence at bay—at least for a moment.
As she contemplated Michael’s reason for drugging her, a terrifying thought bloomed in her mind.
What if Michael had taken Sam away? Hidden him where she had no chance of ever finding him? The thought stole her breath. Sam was the only light in her dark world. If it wasn’t for her son, she would have checked out long ago. Michael knew that all too well. Taking Sam would be his cruellest torture of all.
Nina knew he wouldn’t hurt Sam, that he loved the boy just as much as she did. But because of their affection for each other, Michael could easily convince Sam to play a cruel prank on her. That was his style.
She had to get up and make sure Sam was still in the house. Though she felt like she was at the bottom of the ocean, weighed down by water as thick as molasses, a new surge of adrenalin helped her limbs move more fluidly.
Finally, her feet sank into the thick luxurious carpet. She rose, tested her legs. They were weak but stable enough to hold her weight. As she took silent stilted steps toward the bedroom door, she glanced through the open plantation shutters. The full moon stared back, seemed to mock her with a promise that what waited down the hallway would be everything she feared.
As she crossed the master bedroom’s threshold, she broke into a panicked run. Stumbling along the hallway, she tripped over her own feet and landed with a thump on the carpet outside Sam’s room.
From the floor, she couldn’t see him.
Using the doorframe to haul herself to her feet, her knees almost buckled when his small form, safely tucked in bed, came into view. She clung to the doorframe with relief. The moon hadn’t been mocking her after all. Instead, it provided enough light to show her that her son was exactly where he should be.
Once her breathing slowed, Nina shuffled into the room, stood beside his bed and watched him sleep.
Only 9-years-old and already handsome. Although she wasn’t sure about the existence of a God, someone was on her side, because every day she was grateful Sam looked nothing like Michael. With blond hair and blue eyes, Nina saw a mixture of herself and Sam’s own uniqueness every time she looked at him. Of course, Sam would be appalled by the very idea. He wanted to look like Michael, wanted to be like Michael.
And day by day, Michael’s behaviour and attitude ingrained itself within her only child.
Sam adored his dad, idolizing him to an extent that made it easy for Michael to drive a solid wedge between herself and her son. It filled her with dread, not only because Sam was becoming a pint-sized version of Michael, but because of the promise she’d made to herself. When Sam was a toddler, she promised that if he ever exhibited even a hint of Michael’s vicious side, she’d have no choice but to take him and run. She might not care what happened to her, but she cared about her son and the type of man he would become. She would risk her life to prevent him growing into a monster.
That didn’t stop fear racing through her heart at the mere thought of running, though. Running would mean bringing down the wrath of not only Michael, but his brother, Greg.