Bittersweet: Sanctuary (The Bittersweet Series Book 1) by Tam D’Lyte
Putting her black ops past in the rear view mirror, Terese hit the road like a modern day gypsy, pounding along the asphalt highway, staying nowhere long enough to be found. She’d saved a few lives . . . and took a few that needed taking. The death, the blood, the dirty deeds, stored in a corner of her mind she never visited. But there was one life she couldn’t save that would never go into that dark corner. That one was constantly there, day and night, that small face looking up at her.
And then Alex. The man who wanted her, loved her, struggled to understand her, but above all, offered something to her she’d never had . . . a normal life. How could she allow someone like Alex into the mortal peril that pursued her? He’d be eaten alive.
She’d only failed the one mission. But it had been the most important one. Can she forgive herself for the evil of others? Only second chances will tell . . .
The girl’s slight form turned to face her and she briefly considered the child’s quietness. The lack of questions about motives or plans. No need-to-knows . . . no what-abouts . . . just the willingness to submit. To obey. Certainly, not a typical kid.‘Course, this isn’t a typical life we lead. Or flee.
“I love you, mama.”
Looking at the solemn expression on the child, she recognized the narrow glint of fight still sparking in those ancient eyes full of pain and degradation. The same glint fired in her own when she cared to look in the mirror.
“I love you, too, honey.”
A shudder of fear coursed through the small body when she grabbed the girl’s hand. Her breath squeezed tight in an agony of doubt. Indecision, denial, burning hatred . . . revenge.
Messing with your head, woman. Get to work. It’s only a job. Get through it and break down later.
Riding the wave of silent conviction, she breathed in the shuttered atmosphere of the mansion at night as they eased out the bedroom door. Shadows cloaked them as she allowed the air currents to wash over her, to touch any life force around her, making it possible for her to decipher any threat in the vicinity. The soft, bird-like flutters of the child behind her and her own strong heartbeat were the only indications of movement filtered through her heightened senses.
They crept down the stairs into the palatial living room. Every sound intensified to a keening edge, she felt every moment drawn out like the high note of a chorus ringing in her ears.
She waited for the crack. The break of the final note that’d send them crashing over the edge. Her thighs and arms screamed with the need to move quicker. To get out. Only the gossamer strands of restraint held in the small grip of the child behind her, wrapped around her heart, held her back.
Her nostrils flared at the rancid smell of violence. Old blood and fear. Imagined? She couldn’t convince herself of it. The cold, icy gazes of the carved alabaster sculptures on their marble pedestals and antique credenzas stood in silent censure to the ongoing brutality of the dwelling. Sneering, she struggled to hold back a snarl of contempt, wanting to break every last benign expression for their inaction. For watching and allowing.
Though the twice-damned bastard she’d married was out for the night, his many cohorts prowled the mansion, guns at the ready. Built like hulking trolls, she preferred not to tangle with them while distracted by the presence of her small charge. A tactical necessity, though she squirmed to release the buildup of adrenaline.
A sound caught her attention. Not even so much as that. A breath of movement. She knew he was silent as darkness, damn near insubstantial as a hidden intent. His mere thought preceded him like smoke on water.
No, no, no . . . you’re not supposed to be here, yet!
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About the Author: Tam D’Lyte
When I was seven, I was bored. That happened a lot when I was a kid since I’m an only child! 🙂 I whined to my dad, “I’m bored!” His response, with a magnanimous wave of a hand, “There’s a bookcase. Go get a book.” So, I grabbed the biggest, brightest book there (a college biology book) and began from the beginning. It took a long time, a looong time to finish that book. Never one to do anything by halves, I wanted to be an actress, a vet and an astronaut–simultaneously, of course–but decided to be a horse trainer instead. (Really? A horse trainer? Yes, what of it?) No, I’m not a horse whisperer. A horse doesn’t care what you whisper at it. A horse wants apples, carrots and cookies. Especially cookies. Just like people. 😉 I’m also not a cowgirl (cows scare me!) and I don’t race my horses. Sigh . . . I’ve heard it all a million times! LOL Anyways, my mom was a reader, books tucked everywhere around my childhood home, and my dad was a writer, little half-finished stories under the coffee table and between the cushions. I’ve acquired both habits on a grander scale (remember, nothing by halves? LOL) and have boxes of books above your head filling up a whole room and my computer hard drive filled up with bits and bytes of half-finished stories. It’s a disease, I kid you not!