This is the preview to the second book in the Vidarian Chronicles called Escape.
The first book is called Arranged, the overview for that one is here.
Adrenaline coursed through Kiara’s veins with such intensity her hands trembled on their own accord. She stifled her labored breathing and prayed that she would not be found. This idea had been foolish…and dangerous; she could see that now, now that it was too late, now that she had been spotted.
By breaking a simple rule, she had placed herself and those she loved dearly in very real danger.
With that thought, Kiara smashed herself into the dirty brick wall, trying to make herself smaller, willing herself to become one with the shadows. She could feel the harsh brick biting into her back, but pressed even harder. Her eyes flit to the dark night sky and she thanked the heavens for the cloud cover that allowed her to disappear into the darkness; if not for that, the moon would be showing like a spotlight.
Her heart leapt with fear, someone was coming. Is it him? she wondered. How could he have found me so quickly? She was a fast runner, very fast; however, he had one thing on his side, she didn’t know the city. She was completely out of her element surrounded by buildings and brick.
The footsteps drew closer then she distinguished another set of much lighter, quicker footsteps joining the first. Kiara eyed the gaping mouth of the alley with dread, wishing the wall of the building she was pressed against would open up and swallow her whole.
The muscles in her legs quivered, urging her to run, but she knew that movement would only draw attention. Her safest play was to remain still.
She pulled in a deep breath to calm herself and immediately regretted it. The alleyway was filthy and smelt strongly of rotting garbage and human waste. Ignoring the taste of it in her mouth, she tried desperately to concentrate over the pounding of her heart in her ears to listen.
There was no way that man would be able to find her in the shadows; her dark skin was designed for camouflage, her mind continued to try to reassure her. Then she saw a muzzle come into view. She stopped breathing, hoping they would move on by.
Attached to the muzzle was a furry face. Kiara remembered being told a story about the creature from her mother when she was much younger. It was called a…dog?
The dog continued walking into view, being controlled by a tether; a man held the tether and Kiara eyed the pair wearily. This was not the man that spotted her the first time; so despite her circumstances, she relaxed a little.
Then the dog lifted its nose into the air and sniffed. Tension made Kiara stiff. Will he smell me over the filth of the alley? In her mind, she urged him onward, biting her lip to keep calm.
The animal paused, its master grunting with annoyance as he tugged at the leash.
At that moment, the dog turned its face toward the dark alleyway and began growling.
Kiara’s throat went dry as she watched its hackles stand on end. Perhaps if she remained still she would not be discovered.
The dog lowered itself slightly, growling louder and pulling back its lips to reveal sharp, white teeth. It took a few quick steps forward, straining against its tether and barking loudly. The sound echoed through the alley, resounding to sound a hundred times louder than it was.
“Who’s down there?” the owner called out. Kiara could hear the nervous quiver under the loud show of bravado; the man was nervous.
Nevertheless, he was human and Kiara couldn’t chance being seen by another. Finally, she gave into the tension coiled in her muscles and turned to run the opposite direction. The dog barked angrily, obviously not understanding what she was.
Kiara clung to the shadows and ran as fast as she dared. The human began to tug at the tether. “C-come on boy,” he said.
She kept one eye on them and the other searched the dead end for a door or anything she could use to defend herself.
Her eyes skimmed across the filth-coated ground. There was a large container with bags of smelly garbage overflowing out of it; a few bags were split open, garbage littering the ground and filling the air with another layer of stench. The trash bin was hardly tall enough to help her scale the wall, even with her superior bound. A pile of cloth lay beside the dumpster.
As she drew closer, the pile suddenly shifted and she bit back a scream as a withered hand came into view. She quickly backed into the shadows, trying to ignore the smell of putrid waste that threatened to suffocate her.
The man in the pile of cloth shifted again and she heard a haggard cough. Desperately, her eyes skimmed the wall again; there was no way out but the way she’d come. She was trapped by humans at both ends.
“Who’s there?” the coughing sounded again. “I don’ want no trouble.”
She watched the hand disappear into the pile, only to be replaced by the whole arm and shoulder. He was coming out!
Kiara dashed around the corner, praying that the dog was gone. To her relief, the alley was clear. She sighed shakily, knowing she wasn’t out of danger yet. The man from the park had spotted her and given chase and he was still out there.
If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that she couldn’t stay in this alley; she’d be trapping herself with no exit and making herself easy prey.
Creeping to the mouth of the alleyway, her violet eyes cautiously peered around. The cobble streets were dark; only a few street lanterns glowed, breaking up the shadows at planned intervals. She saw no one around, not even the man and his dog. The buildings surrounding her remained quiet and loomed above her like sleeping giants.
She peered fearfully. Would someone spot her from above if she ran? That was a chance she’d have to take. She needed to get out of the city and back into the forest.
Quieter than a whisper, she slid out of the alleyway. Now, she was grateful for all of the dance training she’d had that taught her to be light on her feet. Back at home, she had grumbled at the thought of endless hours practicing the same moves over and over.
She dipped carefully into the shadows, gulping in a huge lung-full of clean air.
At that moment, a trio of men with lanterns stepped around the block corner. Kiara froze. She recognized the man in the lead. Even in the dark, his broad shoulders and long bushy beard gave him away, the man from the park!
As silently as she could, Kiara moved to slip behind a bush for cover. However, as if he were watching the shadows, the broad shouldered man zeroed in on her.
“There!” he said quickly, pointing directly at her and without pause, the trio began to run.
All thoughts of secrecy forgotten, Kiara darted down the street. People could explain away seeing a “creature” in the night, but if she were caught, her entire race would be in danger of being hunted down until they were all killed.
Humans had a way of destroying what they didn’t understand; it happened out of fear mostly. Kiara thought back to the gruesome history of her people and knew just how violent humans could be.
She padded quickly down the sidewalk, thankful for the dimly lit streets because some coverage was better than none. The sound of the three men charging after her resounded through the air. Their breathing was becoming labored as they tried to keep up with her.
Kiara not only had a head start, but she was used to moving around quickly as she flowed with the movement of the street, instead of pounding against it.
She tore around a corner and nearly slammed into an elderly couple. The woman gasped as she was nearly trampled. The man adjusted his glasses, but by then, Kiara was already ducking around the next corner. Her chest heaved as she looked desperately for a place to hide. The street was bare, therefore providing her with no cover.
As a last resort, she climbed up a thin tree and pulled herself into the branches, trying to camouflage herself in the leaves.
The tree was hardly any help to hide her; she had to do something. Forcing herself to concentrate around her frazzled nerves, she willed the tree to listen to her and bend. Normally, she was much kinder to nature when she wanted something done, but time was of the essence. She flexed her jaw as the tree began to groan and bend its branches around her to help shield her from the street below.
When Kiara opened her eyes, she was more out of breath than before; nevertheless, she was better hidden. She hoped that the men would be so busy running that they would simply pass her by.
She could hear their footsteps pounding the sidewalk. The sound echoed off the surrounding buildings. It was a miracle that no one had come out of their houses, with all this noise.
They appeared below her and she held her breath, her hands gripping the branches tightly, ready to spring if necessary.
To her relief, they continued past, their hard eyes scanning the shadows as they ran. Kiara didn’t let out a breath until they were well down the block.
Coming to the city was a horrible idea. If she survived this, her father would punish her severely. In fact, the entire council would punish her.
She pushed her thoughts away. Now was not the time to wallow in the consequences, now was the time to escape.
The trio had almost reached the corner. How long until they discovered she wasn’t there? Wasting no time waiting to find out, she slid from her perch quietly. Her feet touched down and she crept the opposite way of them. The elderly couple had gone, probably deciding there was too much excitement tonight for them.
Kiara darted back the way she had come. She hated backtracking, but the men hunting her were headed the other way. As she rushed past the alley she had hidden in, she shuddered at the thought of the dirt and grime. Humans are disgusting.
Hurrying past the alley, careful to stick to the shadows, she peered around the block corner.
No one in sight.
Hope began to bloom. Maybe she could get herself out of this mess.
All of a sudden, a dog barked in the apartment above her. She nearly jumped out of her skin then clung tightly to the wall. It barked louder, followed by a light turning on in the window.
Without a second thought, Kiara rushed across the cobblestone street, just as the three men came into view. It seemed they had circled the block. She heard a cry of triumph as they spotted her.
Kiara picked up her speed, disappearing behind another house. Her eyes darted around wildly for a place to hide. There! A block down was the park she had originally hidden in to watch the humans.
Her heart raced with adrenaline. If she made it to the trees, she would have a greater chance of disappearing. Giving it everything she had, she pumped her arms as she breezed through the short alleyway.
Footfalls sounded behind her. Two sets. A frown stretched over her mouth, wasn’t there three men?
She ignored the thought and kept going. She was only a few yards from the mouth of the alley. She launched herself over a fallen trash bin and smiled; the humans wouldn’t stand a chance once she was in the trees.
She chanced a glance behind her shoulder. The man with broad shoulders and one of his cronies weren’t far behind, but Kiara could tell they were tiring fast.
When she turned back around, she gasped in surprise. There, at the mouth of the alley, was the third man, breathing heavily, but blocking her way and trapping her between the three. By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late to stop, too late to dodge.
Her world seemed to slow down as she slammed into him. Immediately, his arms wrapped around her, securing her. However, her momentum made him lose his footing and they fell, hard.
Kiara squeezed her eyes shut; her hands flew out to brace herself. The man twisted, trying to catch himself while keeping a hold of her. As they landed, Kiara slammed harder into him, her palms skidding painfully into the ground. A grunt sounded from him as he slammed his elbow into the street. As their bodies collided, her head knocked hard into his. Pain flashed through her and at that moment, her heart froze.
They caught me, she thought and then her world went dark.
There's a little teaser for you. The rest of the book is in the works. Let me know what you guys think!