Sunday Snippet 03.22.15 - Ashley Ridge

I'm super excited to share an excerpt from my next release Ashley Ridge, set for launch on April 15, 2015. This launch date is significant for me in that I am a tax accountant. Not only will my book be released that day, but I will also be released from tax season on that day. 

Available for pre-sale on Amazon

Trapped in an affair with a blackmailer...

After Ashley Rivers is involved in a hit and run accident, she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to move on, but the tragedy ruins her friendship with the two people most important to her. To fill the void, she falls into a psychologically abusive relationship with a sociopath.

Estranged from the man she has always loved...

Giving up her place in the North Arkansas Paranormal Society isn’t easy for Ashley. She longs to go back to the old ghost hunting days with her partners, Josh and Gray, but the hurt Josh inflicted on her is hard to forget. Distancing herself from him is even harder.

Entangled in a dark web of deceit and revenge...

When a mysterious death on Ashley Ridge stirs up old haunting rumors, Lead Crime Scene Investigator with the Hill County Sheriff’s Office, Josh McCord, pulls Ashley into the investigation. Investigating the haunting draws Josh and Ashley together, but Josh fears Ashley will crush his heart again.

Can two wounded hearts repair the damage done by the past and find love on Ashley Ridge?

Here's the excerpt:

The desire to get back to Terrance’s cabin and get far, far away from the prison she’d found inside the mountain pressed on every one of Ashley’s nerves until her whole system was practically pinging with urgency. A panic attack was only one more heartbeat away, one more breath, one more gulp of heavy air. She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t think. The oppressive claustrophobia of being under tons of earth tore at her mind.
She finally made it all the way across the underground room and reached the entrance to the tunnel. Her heart pounded harder as she stared into the darkness. She flicked on the flashlight and began a panicked rush through the tunnel. Coming down, she hadn’t realized what a downhill slope the tunnel had. Her calf muscles ached from the slant as she trudged higher and higher up the path. She skidded to a halt when a loud bang echoed down the passage. The sudden noise caused her to gasp and release her grip on the flashlight. It hit the ground with a hard clunk, switched off, and rolled away from her. She dropped to the dirt floor, patting the mud with her hands, searching for the light.
Her fingers touched an assortment of strange textures. Debris that felt like bones and skin and hair. Surely, that was just her imagination working her into a frenzy. If anything like that had been in the passage when she first traversed it, she would have noticed.

Ashley used the slimy walls to push up into a standing position. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. Sucked in several heavy breaths of air. Shook out her arms and legs to relieve some pent up nervous energy. She reached out beside her and pressed her palm against goo on the rock surface. Her overactive brain imagined buckets of blood cascading down the tunnel walls.

Her mind kept conjuring intensely sick and horrid scenes from the last five episodes of Criminal Minds she’d watched. Why? She hadn’t really seen anything so terrible in the underground room. No blood. No guts. No chain saws or meat cleavers. Just a makeshift bed and a fenced in area with a gate and a lock. Nothing really to incite this kind of terror. Surely, there was a reasonable explanation for what she’d found. Some other reason besides the possibility that Terrance was a psychopathic pervert who kidnapped women and held them captive for days or months, feeding them little bits of dried bread and an ounce or two of stale water.

She forced herself to stop and logically consider her situation. There was a way out. It was above her. She just had to keep from going crazy before she could get to the exit. With some intense effort, she settled her jumpy nerves, slowed her breathing, and concentrated on doing what she needed to do. With the toe of her shoe, she searched the floor for the wayward flashlight. Finally, after several minutes of frustration, she gave up. No telling how far the stupid thing had rolled. She had no choice but to ascend to the surface in the dark. Rather than stare blindly ahead of her, she closed her eyes and took a few tentative steps forward.

When Ashley had gone a few feet, she became more confident in her ability to travel the tunnel, find the stairs, and get away. With a renewed burst of adrenaline, she moved faster up the tunnel and banged her head on a rock. Pain stabbed through her already aching head. She pressed her hand to forehead. No blood, but she was going to have a nice bruise.
With even more determination, she began again and kept going until she tripped and fell onto the bottom tread of the stairs. The pain in her knees hurt like crap, but she smiled to herself. She was doing it. She was rescuing herself. She didn’t need Gray or Josh or anyone else to come get her.

It took awhile, climbing steadily but very carefully, before she made it to a flat area that she believed was the top of the stairs. She relaxed a bit at her first glimpse of a small sliver of light that glowed beneath the door. She pressed her hands against the wood and shoved, but the door met resistance. She pushed harder. The door only budged a few centimeters, if that much. She banged on the wood. Pressing her hands on either side of the narrow landing to balance and keep from falling backward down the stairs, she managed to squat until she could study the slit of light at the bottom of the door. Tightly wedged underneath was the tip end of the crowbar.

She fell back on her butt and tilted toward the stairs, caught herself before she tumbled, and propped her hands onto the sludgy floor behind her. Unbelievable. Had the crowbar fallen and ended up wedged beneath the door…or had someone stuck it there to trap her underground?

The only person who knew about her insane fear of being buried alive was Terrance. Becoming trapped underground was nearly as horrifying.

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