April 8th, 2012
Ian Howl cradled the delicate, unconscious, girl in his arms as he swiftly made his way through the maze of a mansion to get to the garage. Her head rested on his chest and his arms supported her back and legs as he held her close. The swell of her feminine curves against his body felt all too consuming; the warmth of her skin was like a sweet yet biting burn. Tapping down on his ill-placed desires, Ian forced himself to focus on the present: their escape.
He ignored the hulking guard that sat in the security room who called to him as he rushed by. Turning a corner, Ian glanced over his shoulder to see if he was being followed. He hoped for a confrontation-free getaway, but the odds were against them.
Gently, he lowered the arm that cradled the girl’s legs so that they slowly slide down his body until he balanced her on the balls of her feet. Holding her close to his chest, he placed his thumb to the security scanner on the wall. He vaguely thought of her bare feet touching the cold floor, but it was something he couldn’t help right now. He needed to get her out of there and a chill was the least of his worries.
Three heartbeats later, the door that lead to the massive garage swung open with an air-locked swoosh that brought his hope soaring to new heights. They were almost free.
Ian noticed his car was blocked in, so he grabbed a random set of car keys from the wall hook and pressed thedoor unlock button. The headlights of a beautiful Porsche flashed, but the vehicle was in the rear of the garage and several cars surrounded it. The third set of keys he tried unlocked a luxury sedan that wasn’t blocked in and was close to the garage doors. Ian had eased the girl into the passenger seat of the sedan and was securing the seatbelt around her when he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“Where do you think you’re taking that car, kid?”
Ian turned his head around to see Brad... Or was it Brent? He didn’t remember the guard’s name, but Ian knew the guy was built like a defensive tackle. Striking first would surprise Brad/ Brent. So he grabbed the hand on his shoulder and pulled the guard into his elbow, targeting his large, beefy face. The guard stepped back, holding his gushing nose. Ian spun around; he thrust the base of his palm upward into the man’s shocked, bloody, face causing him to stumble back again then fall to the floor. The guard didn’t get back up.
“Please,” the girl whispered.
Ian whipped his head around to see that she was still unconscious and strapped in the car. Rushing to the driver’s side of the commandeered vehicle, he hopped inside and started the engine. The automatic doors to the parking garage opened when the car tripped the underground sensor and they barreled down the path toward the front gate of the property. Luckily there were still party guests inside because usually those sensors only allowed vehicles with an installed security plate placed under the hood to pass through without human intervention.
Again, the underground sensor allowed the vehicle to pass through. The large main gates had opened, but they were not in the clear yet.
Ian didn’t floor the gas pedal until he was clear of his uncle’s property. He wasn’t being followed, but he continued to check the rearview mirror, knowing their absence would soon be reported.
The girl moaned, pulling his gaze from the road.
Her long dark brown hair was matted to her head, practically covering her delicate face, so he brushed some of it away. Bruises covered her body but her dry lips, puffy red eyes, and the darkening hand prints on her throat were the most obvious. She was in bad shape, and Ian feared that the thin sheet wasn’t enough to keep her naked body warm.
“Help me,” she moaned.
“I’m taking you to a hospital,” Ian told her. He fought the bile that rose from his stomach. Disgust and shame assailed him, but right now he couldn’t think of his role in what had happened to her. He had to get her medical help, but he didn’t know Howard County, Maryland, all that well. The only time he even came to this part of Maryland was when he visited his uncle.
Ian brushed the back of his hand over her bruised cheek and was about to place it back on the steering wheel when her eyes popped open, jarring him a little.
She didn’t move right away. She just looked at him with a hollowed gaze as if her mind had to reboot. Then those chestnut-brown orbs changed from confused to feral in a flash. Before he could react, she was screaming, “No hospital! No cops!” over and over as she kicked at him and pushed at the passenger door with her hands. Ian grabbed at her feet, but his hand slipped and she nailed him hard on the side of his head with her foot.
“All right, no hospitals!” Ian yelled her as he slammed his foot on the brake, causing the car to skid along the nearly empty road. The force of the sudden stop propelled her forward and the side of her head collided with the dashboard. Her body went limp.
“Shit!” he yelled as he slammed his hands on the steering wheel. Ian pulled the car off to the side of the road, took his cell phone out, and dialed his father’s cell. The phone rang several times, then the voicemail picked up. He listened to his father’s commanding voice, but he disconnected before the taped greeting ended.
“Damn it, Dad, this is important!”
Ian glanced up at the rearview mirror, peering out into the quiet darkness, lost in thought. The weight of his cell phone in his hand made him find his focus again. He turned the phone over in his hand twice before shutting off the power. Ian stared at the cell phone in his hand for a long moment as he unconsciously rubbed at a spot under his armpit.
“They will be looking for me, us.”
He glanced at the girl then felt under his arm again. As long as she was with him, they would find her.
When Aria Cole turns eighteen, she wants nothing more than to trade childish balloons and sugary confetti cake for Dirty Martinis and dancing all night. Determined to shed her Perfect Princess image and surround herself with guys who don’t know she is the daughter of an overly protective small town Sheriff, Aria decides a fun-filled night in the big city is the answer.
Being assaulted and marked for death is not what Aria envisions.
At twenty-one, former child prodigy Ian Howl finally agrees to work for his uncle at Howl Industries. Independently wealthy, he needs a change from his idle playboy lifestyle and wants a challenge. To celebrate his new position, a lavish party is thrown in his honor.
However, Ian’s version of fun didn’t include being drugged and mixed up in a murder plot.
A chance meeting brings Aria and Ian together but what they endure links them forever. Ian wants answers and revenge. Aria wants to forget that awful night. But forgetting is not an option when you know too much.
Hunted and terrified, Aria must rely on and trust a stranger with her life. Haunted by guilt, Ian’s primary concern is Aria’s safety and if he has to unleash hell to achieve it, then so be it. Neither of them could anticipate the events that tie them together but once their mutual passion and power are realized…many lives are forever changed.
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Name: Ian Howl
Eye Color: Smoldering Gray
Hobbies: Martial Arts and Learning New Things
Favorite Book: The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
Favorite Color: Chestnut Brown
Interesting Fact: Graduated High School at Thirteen, is a Leap Year baby, and comes for Old Money.
Name: Aria Cole
Eye Color: Chestnut Brown
Moto: What's done is done
Interests: Shopping, Hanging with friends, and crushing on boys
If stranded on a deserted Island?: Books, hair comb, and an endless supply of fries.
INVIDIOUS Betrayal © is under copyright and is the protected property of Shea Swain
Cover Art: Savana from Blue Sky Designs
Copyright 2013. Shea Swain. All Rights Reserved.