Place out of Time, A
Save her... The peculiar message proclaimed. But what did it mean? Found in an ancient box, the message was strange. Save who, from What?
Don't let her go into the fire... Don't let her come home ... or she will die... A desperate plea that he can't ignore, that sends a shiver up his spine.
Word Count: 81,957
Genre: Historical Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Amber Moon, December 2004
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
The slap was hard, much harder than those she endured before. She could feel the heat rise to her cheek where he backhanded her. He dragged her to the back of an alley to the side of the diner, away from the ogling of the pedestrians on the sidewalk, looking for privacy to scold her.
She would snort at the choice of words if she knew it wouldn’t earn her another slap.
Dusty touched the tender spot with her fingertips. There would be another bruise to explain.
This time on her face.
She had barely healed from the marks he left on her upper arms only a week before when he angrily grabbed and shook her. All over her inability to cook noodles long enough. He called her stupid then, telling her she was good for nothing, and then he dug his fingers so hard into her upper arms she felt her hands go numb. She shouldn’t have worn that short sleeve shirt when she went out that night, but Dusty didn’t realize that the shape of the contusions he left on her were obviously recognizable as fingerprints. She didn’t think anyone would notice. But they did. Those marks alone evoked a barrage of questions from her friends, but she told them she and Timothy were just goofing around--wrestling and it got a little out of hand. How would she explain this one? Well, at least she was able to hide the bruise on her back where he kicked her last month.
Dusty was sure he’d done damage to her kidney. Just thinking about it made her wince, the doctor’s lecture replaying in her mind, as he handed her a card with the domestic abuse hot line on it. She threw it away as soon as she left his office. If Timothy ever found it, he’d kill her.
"My God, Timothy, I was only ten minutes late."
The accident on the interstate, which caused rubbernecking drivers to pass by at a snail’s pace, nosing to get a look at the mangled mass of metal, was what had delayed her.
She should have used her cell phone to call him, but she didn’t.
Dusty had no desire to listen to Timothy’s ranting and raving. Her anxiety from being trapped in the highway gridlock, under the blaze of an eighty-five degree sun, had already put her emotions on overload.
With bewilderment, Dusty looked at Timothy. It wasn’t her fault, and she tried to explain.
His fuming expression remained solidly in place. It was always Dusty’s fault. "You were with him, weren’t you?"
Dusty shook her head.
Not this again.
Her thumb unconsciously twirled the two carat, diamond ring that circled her left ring finger. It was a nervous habit she had acquired--she didn’t know when--but it was a continuous reminder that he was the man she had chosen to spend the rest of her life with--shackled to, was the more appropriate sentiment.
"Who, Timothy?" Dusty forced herself to stare directly into his eyes, hoping he would see the truth there.
How had it come to this?
During the first year of their courtship, and before they were engaged, Dusty thought Timothy was her knight in shining armor, always attentive to her needs, calling her daily just to say, hello, showing up at her work or her apartment unexpectedly because he missed her.
In retrospect he was a little too possessive, obsessed even, but she convinced herself that it was because he cared. He would make an ideal husband. Timothy was intelligent and handsome, and quite successful. At thirty-five years of age, he was a highly regarded executive--President in Charge of Loans at the local division of Orbital International Bank. With the frequent business trips out of town and added responsibilities, it looked as though a major promotion was on the horizon.
Dusty assumed the increased stress from his job was what changed him. It was subtle at first. He started to become agitated and she became the target of his frustration.
But then he became aggressive.
The first time he hit her, she walked out on him. He begged for her forgiveness, making promises he would not keep.
She forgave him--and then she forgave him again. Eventually he stopped asking for her forgiveness and instead just blamed her--for everything.
That was six month’s ago and Dusty was finally beginning to realize that Timothy was not going to stop beating her.
Maybe it really was her fault.
Her friends knew. Brenda and Ellen tried to warn her, telling Dusty that there was something just not quite right with him. From the very beginning, two years ago, when she introduced Timothy to her friends, they had been suspicious of his exaggerated charm.
Dusty brushed aside their opinions. Her determination to make this relationship work, when she had failed at so many others, was overriding her reason. After all, at thirty years of age, she wasn’t getting any younger--as Timothy was always reminding her.
True, Timothy was demanding but she didn’t mind, or chose to ignore it. She wanted a strong-willed man, one who would take charge.
Am I supposed to marry a wimp?
It was a logical excuse. Not that getting slapped around was a picnic in the park.
Oh honey, Brenda had looked at Dusty with sympathy as she placed a gentle arm around her shoulders. Good men don’t hit their women.
He’s not hitting me.