Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Read an Excerpt from Hide My Heart #romanticsuspense #sweetromance

A sweet and inspirational romantic suspense from USA Today Bestselling Author Rachelle Ayala
Amber McKay ran away from home to find adventure. She found Hunter instead. Now Amber’s on the run again, and this time she isn’t alone.
Amber returns home to visit her dying grandmother. But she’s hiding from Hunter, and she has a big secret. She turns to the one man she's always trusted. Has he changed and will he help?
99c release week sale! Available on Amazon only.


I wish I could shut the voices.
I wish he’d leave me alone.
But I must keep running. Never stop running.
It’s not just me anymore.
A truck door slams and I jump. Grabbing my suitcase, I peek through the curtains, and my heart slides to the ground.
It’s Hunter.
“Amber! Time to go.”
What do I do now? I can’t go anywhere. Can’t hide. It’s his house, and he’s coming to get me. To make me.
The key slides through the lock. He stomps his boots, once, twice to remove the crushed ice.
“What’s that for?” He slips an annoyed glance at my bulging suitcase. Without waiting for an answer, he yanks my arm. “The appointment is at ten.”
“I’m not going.” I wince at his fingers digging in. For sure, I’ll have a bruise from his iron grip. “Take me to the bus stop.”
“No can do.” He twists my suitcase from me and shoves me out the door. “You’re going to get this taken care of, and you’re going to do exactly what I say.”
He dumps my suitcase in the snowdrift.
“Hey, I need my stuff.”
“Not for the clinic you don’t.” Marching at the pace of death, he strong-arms me to his pickup truck.
“What if I don’t want to?” I jut my lip, knowing I’m pushing him, asking for it.
He slams me against the truck bed and raises his fist.
Stupid me. I blink and cringe, and that’s when he smiles. He knows I’m scared, knows I’m helpless, and it makes him gloat.
“You have no one but me.”
My breath steams in the chilly winter air. “I’m leaving you.”
He snickers and cracks open the door to the cab. “Get in.”
When I don’t move, he picks me up and throws me onto the seat. A jolt of pain stabs and tightens my abdomen. I hold my breath, refusing to give him any satisfaction.
His nostrils flare, and a vein pulses in his temple. “You have nowhere to go, and you know it.”
Of course, he’s right. I have no friends, no money, no job skills. I was homeschooled and don’t know how to work a computer or those fancy little telephones with the screen, but I’m far from helpless. Maybe someone at the clinic can help. Maybe they can look up stuff on their little phones or they have a computer. I must remain calm. I swallow the nausea creeping up my throat and rest my head against the cool window glass as the discomfort in my womb subsides.
Hunter starts up the truck and backs it down the snowy driveway. “There’s no reason to leave after we take care of your little problem.”
“My problem?” As if he didn’t have anything to do with me getting pregnant.
“Look, don’t make me the bad guy here. Not many guys pay for the abortion, and thanks to you running away from home, you don’t have health insurance.”
I fight the tears welling. He’d been the one to take me on this great adventure. He made me believe he’d take care of me. If he cared about me, he’d want our baby, wouldn’t he?
“I want to go home.” I lift my chin stubbornly, knowing that home was the last place I could go in my condition.
Hunter knows it, too. He tosses his head back laughing, “The preacher’s daughter coming home knocked up.”
Chills whip through me. I squeeze my eyes shut and shudder. He’s right. I can’t go back. I didn’t obey my parents, and I’ve shamed them.
They never let me have a normal childhood. They kept me shut in, kept me away from everyone who’d be a bad influence. Which was everyone I could have been friends with. Is it any wonder I hightailed it out of there when I turned eighteen?
And now, I’m in trouble. And I can’t go back.
Hunter swings the pickup, fishtailing out of a turn onto a slushy highway. He reaches for my hand and squeezes it, always too hard. I try not to cringe.
No fear. No fear. I whisper under my breath.
“Babe, you’ll feel one hundred percent better after it’s over. It won’t hurt a bit, and afterward we can celebrate. I’ll take you to that pizza joint you always want to try.”
“Celebrate? The death of our baby?” The words bubble from my throat before I can take them back.
He guns the engine to pass a tractor trailer, then sweeps his hand over his mop of red-brown hair. Eyes blazing, he says, “Stop getting so dramatic about this. We agreed to get rid of it.”
Sure. He agreed and dared me to disagree. Same with everything else. That I move into his cabin, stinking with the pelts of foxes, beavers, and muskrats he traps for a living. That I stay home without a TV, without a telephone, and our nearest neighbor is miles away.
Stupid. You have no job skills. You don’t even know how to work a computer. You were supposed to be a preacher’s wife. Play the piano and pray.
He has me trapped. Just like my parents had. The irony almost makes me laugh. I do laugh. I slam my head back and hit the sliding window behind the bench seat and laugh. When Hunter swept me off with him last summer, I thought I was getting away from home. Seeing the world for the first time. On a grand adventure driving across the country.
“What’s so funny?” He swerves around a lump of frozen deer body parts on the highway. “Look, we’ve been over this a million times. I still want you. I’m just not ready to be a father. I can barely feed you.”
My stomach growls in agreement. I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink because of my appointment. A curl of nausea reminds me why. I cup my hand over my mouth and swallow the bile, noticing the lump in my throat for the first time. “Can’t we get help? Welfare?”
“No. I’m a man and I take care of my own.” He jogs my arm. “Look, I still want you. Care about you. Let’s get it over with.”
As if that’s any consolation. He wants me, but he doesn’t want my baby. Our baby. What kind of man is that?
Miles later, Hunter pulls the pickup into the driveway of a concrete building. Snow swirls around, dusting the windshield as soon as the wipers stop. Everything is a shade of gray, even the crusted snow.
Before he can get out of the truck, I swing open the door and make a run for it. The streets are bereft of bystanders, and a few cars slog through the snowy street.
“Hey, where are you going?” Hunter yells and comes after me.
I approach a man with a woman walking bent over and wrapped in a thick blanket. She staggers as I step in front of her.
“Can you help me? I need to use your phone.” I make my appeal as sweetly as possible.
The woman’s mouth drops open, and she swallows like she’s about to throw up. The male glares at me as if I’m about to mug them.
They avert their eyes and turn back the way they came. That’s when I notice letters missing on the double glass doors proclaiming it a Women’s Health Clinic.
Hunter snags my arm and throws me against the concrete wall. “What the hell you think you’re doing?”
“I, uh, nothing.”
He clamps my neck with one hand, and his pupils narrow into pinpoints. “You get rid of the baby, or I’ll hunt you down and get rid of it myself.”
He’s cutting off my air supply. I grasp at his hand with my fingers, struggling to breath. I can’t do anything but nod.
He lets up the pressure and smiles again. That wide wolfish smile like he knows I’m toast. I have no choice. After Hunter opens the door, a gust of wind pushes me into the clinic along with a flurry of snow.
Without letting me dust myself off, Hunter trudges to the receptionist with me in tow.
I keep my eyes to the splotchy red and brown patterned floor as Hunter signs me in. The waiting room is half full of people, but I don’t stare. Shadows huddle on the chairs, flipping through magazines or facing the flat screen TV tuned to a talk show.
“Amber McKay,” a nurse calls all too soon.
This is it. I don’t look at Hunter. I don’t look back.
I go.

End of Excerpt - to Read Further, buy Hide My Heart: Love and Trouble by Rachelle Ayala

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