Book Excerpt – Cayenne
by Janice Pernell
Publication Date: Jan 14, 2019
List Price: $0.99
Format: Kindle eBook, 57 pages
Imprint: Amazon Digital Services
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Parent Company: Amazon.com, Inc.
Copyright © 2019 Amazon Digital Services, Inc./Janice Pernell No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.
Nia eyed Michael with a mixture of defiance and loathing. The man who’d captured her heart in the past three months was now her captor, in a very literal but surreal way.
She combed through her memory, trying to piece together the last things that had happened before she woke up bound and gagged. She’d had dinner in downtown Chicago with a close friend and discussed her break-up with Michael. Afterward, she’d walked to the less busy side street where her car was parked. Two elderly women standing next to a Mercedes situated behind her Honda Accord were loudly commiserating about how confusing it was to get around in ‘the big city’. They were on a cross-country road trip that was at the top of their bucket list, but they kept getting lost because they couldn’t remember how to set their next destination in Google Maps on the smartphones their grandchildren had bought and insisted they use.
Nia remembered taking the phone one of the women had held out to her. While pulling up Google Maps for the real-life Thelma and Louise, Nia had been caught completely off guard by someone who crept up from behind and covered her face with a cloth saturated in a strong-smelling substance that instantly induced an anesthesia-like effect on her.
Her world had gone black before she could even scream for help.
Now she found herself in the back seat of a car inside a strange garage, at the mercy of Michael Parks.
Tall, muscular frame. Full lips. Strong jawline on a clean-shaven, milk-chocolate face. Was this the same Michael she’d met at a mutual friend’s wedding? The man she’d fallen hard and fast for because he’d made her laugh, made her think, made her grow? The one who’d made her giddy with anticipation each time he made the three-hour commute from Bella Vista to Chicago to see her? The one who’d proclaimed his undying love for her, then ripped her heart out and unceremoniously dumped her after she caught him cheating?
He reached toward her face.
Nia recoiled, snatching her head away as she mumbled, “Get away from me,” through the gag still in her mouth.
Her body tensed when he got out of the car and stood by the open back door.
“I need you to hear me out,” he pleaded as he reached in the car, raised her feet, sat down, and placed them on his lap. “I can imagine everything that’s running through your head, and none of it’s good. But if you listen to me, it’ll all make sense.”
With slow, deliberate movements, he fished a switchblade out of his shirt pocket, keeping his eyes latched onto hers. He held it up. “I’m going to get that gag out of your mouth first, and then I’m going to cut that rope off your wrists and ankles.”
Nia was a strong, resourceful woman. The powerlessness she now felt unraveled her resolve. She inhaled a deep breath through her nostrils, tilted her head back and closed her eyes. When they fluttered open, she could barely see through the tears that clouded them. She scanned his face and came to terms with the fact that her options were few.
Either he’s going to cut me loose, or he’s going to kill me.
Releasing a pent-up breath, she gave Michael a small nod.
He held her gaze and nodded in return. Reaching around to the back of her head, he lifted the ebony mane off her neck and sliced into the knot on the gag.
She opened her mouth to speak, but a stinging pain where the tight gag had broken the skin at the corners of her mouth made her swallow her words. She worked her jaw from side to side for a moment.
The rope around her wrists had nearly cut off her circulation. He sliced through the coarse twine. Opening and closing her
hands, she winced at the pins-and-needles sensation she experienced as the feeling returned. As he freed her ankles, he said, “I need your help, and it’s a matter of life and death.”
“Whose? Mine?” she snapped, yanking her feet off of his lap and almost losing her balance.
He grabbed her by the shoulders to steady her, holding on longer than she thought necessary. She pursed her lips, looked down where he was touching her, then shot a warning his way with her eyes. A familiar ringtone interrupted their standoff. Michael let go of her, got out, and dug his cell phone from his pants pocket. Walking a few feet away, he touched the screen to accept the call. “Yeah, Brian here.”
“Brian?” Nia wasn’t sure who the man before her really was, and she didn’t plan on sticking around to find out.
With a glare that penetrated through her, he put an index finger to his mouth, signaling for her to stay silent as he said into the phone, “Don’t worry. I’ve got everything under control on my end, Angelique.”
He ended the call, and Nia went ballistic.