Never stare at a shirtless hunk with green eyes. Gabrielle Madsen is drawn in by such a pair of eyes that captures her soul and leaves her a prisoner of an addictive kind of love–not that she’s complaining. But her educational trip turns out to be more than just a fun-filled summer escapade.
She’s faced with a life-changing decision that could affect the world around her. Her discovery of this ancient, legend-come-to-life proves to be deadly, but her heart can’t break away. She and Josh Van Ness fall in love and must battle the forces that want to keep them apart.
Away from the open menagerie was a path surrounded by dense trees. It was across a narrow decorative bridge built into the landscape. The thick greenery provided a shady side to the open garden. A spotlight created by the sun beckoned to me from inside and I walked away from the others. My eyes were fixed on the pink and red groundcover that glimmered with a hypnotic seduction. I ventured toward the fragrant breeze, unaware of how far I had strayed.
After only a few yards inside the cover of the trees, my body was seized again by a rumble and a frightening snarl. A chill blanketed me and I couldn’t move. I didn’t dare look around, for the back of my blouse had already been saturated by the heated moisture from the breath of the beast. My first instinct was to scream, but fear had stolen my voice. So I took a deep breath and held it. The scent of horror filled my lungs. It was familiar. Was I being stalked by the animal that lurked outside my hotel grounds?
Help me please, rang inside my head. My eyes squeezed shut as its sharp fangs pinched my shoulder. Tears filled my eyes and my hands formed a fist. I waited to feel my bones snap when suddenly, it let go. The leaves crunched. The sound grew fainter by the second, then nothing. My eyes remained closed as I trembled and listened.
“Miss?” A woman’s voice severed my nightmare. “I saw you come out here. We’re getting ready to go to another area. You don’t want to be left behind.”
Without hesitation I ran past her, clutching my throat and sobbing. The other tourists were boarding the van and I made my way to the back. The woman I believed saved me from certain death, came and sat beside me.
“Hi. My name is Kara. Are you okay?” She placed her hand on my shoulder.
“Did you see anything?” I searched her eyes for a confirmation. “An animal? It was behind me.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see anything,” she said and smiled.
“Was it a spider?” the little lady with the blinding yellow blouse asked.
“No. Never mind, Kara. I guess I’m just tired. Thank you for checking on me.”
“You’re welcome, you take care.” She quickly returned to her seat.
My body trembled as the bus came to stop. I ran from the tourist center to the hotel. Once inside the bathroom, I stripped and examined my shoulder. A painful bruise was both in front and in back. I cried out loud, shook convulsively, and then laughed hysterically. Was I going mad?
Juanita Aydlette is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and now lives in Texas. She’s the only girl in a family of four brothers. She love music, planting flowers and is a dog lover…that’s why she works at an animal clinic.
Twitter: @Juanita Aydlette