I was just informed by my publisher today that my new novel Forbidden Realm will be coming out in October instead of November. I am very happy about this news and have decided to share an excerpt from the story with my readers. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek.
Erin Simone, Author
“No, Jason, forget it. I am done. It is over!” Mina Moore yelled into her cell phone as she slammed it shut. “Damn him.” She crammed her phone into the pocket of her heavy jacket and scowled at the dreary weather. The skies above Seattle were a typical gray and a fine drizzle fell. Mina lifted her chin and let the rain sprinkle over her face to calm her shattered nerves. She heaved a heavy sigh, worn out from her long shift at the hospital.
“Thank God for vibrators, I’m so sick of men,” she muttered to herself as she left the covered eave of the building. Her night shift at Harborview Hospital, where she worked as a trauma nurse, was finally over. It was early Friday morning and Mina was about to start her weekend. She had plans to go away for the weekend with some friends and had already packed. All she needed was to stop and get some gas on her way out of town. This trip was just what she needed to escape the heavy weight of emotions pressing in on her again. Her work was a good distraction, but it was not enough. Her shift was over, and the heartache returned with a vengeance.
“I just need to clear my head, and a weekend with friends will help.” She sighed heavily, unconvinced. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia curled up on the couch, in my bathrobe, with a good book sounds better. No, I promised. She was supposed to meet up with friends to stay at a cabin in the woods near the Queets River. She wasn’t going to flake. Maybe the fresh air would do her some good.
She’d recently gone through a painful breakup with the guy she planned to marry. She met Dr. Jason Palmer two years earlier while they were working at the same hospital in San Diego. He was an intern in the emergency department. His specialty was emergency medicine. They fell in love quickly—too quickly. Maybe that should have been her first warning.
One night on her way home from a shift at the hospital, she had decided to stop by his apartment to surprise him with dinner she’d picked up at a local restaurant. She used the spare key hidden above the ledge and walked inside to discover that her boyfriend had company. A nurse from his staff was there, straddled across his lap, naked. Mina stood in the open doorway flabbergasted by what she witnessed. Her boyfriend and some young blonde were too busy to notice that she had even entered the room. Her pulse raced as anger and betrayal spread through her. The memory of their gasps and grunts as he fucked the stupid bitch still echoed hollowly in her ears. She wanted to turn and run, but also felt the need to do or say something before she left. Seconds ticked by as she stood there frozen like a dumbass, locked in the shock of what she was witnessing. In that moment her eyes refused to believe it was real. Seconds seemed like hours as she stared at the woman straddled over her lover. Her happiness was stolen in that instant, replaced by such a feeling of betrayal. From under the naked woman, her asshole boyfriend finally noticed her standing there. The look of surprise was almost comical. He jumped to his feet, dropping the girl on her ass as he fumbled to pull up his pants.
“You sleazy son of a bitch” was all she managed to get out before she spun on her heels and ran out the door without looking back. Outrage, betrayal, loss, and anger flooded through her in dizzying waves. She shuddered at the vile memory. At least we don’t work at the same hospital anymore. If I had to see that jerk every day, it would be hard to be professional around him.
He had tried to apologize to her for his infidelity by calling, sending flowers. It was the usual stupid shit that womanizers do when they’re caught with their pants down. The bastard even had the nerve to show up on her doorstep a few nights ago with an engagement ring. Part of her wanted to believe it was just a one-time incident until she found out from colleagues at work that he had cheated on her many times in the past. His reputation with the nurses on staff had been well-known to everyone who worked with him, except her. It was humiliating to learn how naive she had been.
Mina shivered and pulled her jacket closed. The knot in her stomach gnawed painfully. A sympathetic colleague had offered to write her a prescription for a mild antidepressant. He said it would help her cope. She didn’t like taking drugs so she declined his offer. Heartbreak was a part of life and an opportunity to grow. It’s a good philosophy. At least that’s what she kept trying to convince herself of anyway. It’s hard to tell your mind to stop loving someone when your heart is still hurting though.
She toyed with the idea of maybe moving back to California. She missed her family and friends. Seattle rained too much for her liking anyway. Maybe a change of scenery would do her some good. She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and pulled it out to see who was calling. “Fuck! Why can’t he just leave me alone?” She made a mental note to call her phone carrier on Monday and stuffed her phone back in her pocket. She was done with men for a while.
She pulled out of the hospital parking lot, lowered the window, and cranked up the radio to tune out the world around her. She was determined to move on with her life. I’ll get through this even if it kills me.
The majestic forest of tall pines was a welcome sight. She was ready for a few days off. She got on the freeway and headed down Interstate 5 to the 104 toward the Olympic Peninsula. The area was serene and peaceful. Its beauty was unmatched by anything Mina had ever seen before.
“I need clarity,” she whispered. At twenty-nine Mina felt like she was more than ready to settle down with a good man. It was too bad they were an endangered species. She pushed down her visor and looked in the mirror at the sad reflection staring back at her. Her silky black hair was twisted up behind her head into a large clip. Her skin was pale and her intense green eyes had dark circles from a lack of sleep. The corners of her mouth turned down and sad eyes stared back at her. She flipped the visor closed. “Jeez, I need to smile more,” she whispered to herself.
Large Douglas-firs lined both sides of the freeway, and the smell of fresh pine mixed with the scent of the ocean on the breeze filled the air. The trees were coated with thick cloaks of moss and the bark was a rich chocolate brown. The misty skies and dark thunderclouds grew thicker with each passing mile. I guess they weren’t kidding when they said this place receives about thirty inches of rain a year. She was so captivated by the scenery that she didn’t see the crumpled body lying in the middle of the road until she almost hit it.
“Oh shit!” She slammed on her brakes and swerved to the left to avoid hitting the body on the road. She stared out her window in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me. This is supposed to be my fucking day off for God’s sake.” She pulled out her cell phone from her jacket pocket and dialed 911. “Great. No cell service. Nice way to start my weekend.” She knew she couldn’t just drive away and leave the poor guy lying on the road. “I guess this is your lucky day, buddy. What are the odds?” She reached in the back for her first-aid kit, then turned on her hazard lights and stepped out of the car. She looked around nervously to see if anyone else had stopped. There were no other cars traveling in either direction. She walked over to the victim and knelt down. It was a man, heavily muscled with long black hair. It looked like he was either attacked by a wild animal or maybe hit by a car. She placed her finger on the side of his neck to feel for a pulse. There was one, but it was weak. He let out a soft moan and turned his face toward her.
“What the hell happened to you, Mister? Did you get hit by a car or something?” She stared into his bloodshot eyes.
“Run!” A slow gurgle escaped from his lips as blood poured out of his mouth.
“It’s okay, I’m a nurse. Let me help you.”
“I’m not leaving you,” Mina soothed. She continued to check his vitals and felt around his arms and legs for any broken bones. He’d lost a lot of blood and was probably going into shock. “I need to get an ambulance out here so we can get you to the nearest trauma center.”
“No,” he moaned, pushing her hand away. “Get out of here!” He continued to spit up blood.
“Shit!” His words made her edgy, but she quickly dismissed his warning. The man let out a strangled breath and passed out. She tried to dial 911 again, but there was still no service. She rolled the large male onto his back to get a better look at him. “Jeezus,” she gasped, seeing the deep slashes on his face and neck. She guessed him to be in his mid-thirties. She shuddered, looking around again. Her hands trembled as she opened the first-aid kit. His lips were turning blue. She grabbed a face shield, ripped open the package, and placed the shield over his mouth. She liked to use a face shield out in the field when blood was present just in case a victim had AIDS or some other disease like hepatitis.
“Remain calm, Mina. This is no time to freak out. He needs your help,” she whispered to herself, letting her training kick in. She had done plenty of triage out in the field because she started her career in medicine as a paramedic while going to nursing school. His statement did freak her out a little, but there was no way she was going to leave him on the road to die. Another motorist should be by soon.
She cleared his airway, tilted his head, then placed her mouth over his to begin CPR because he had stopped breathing. Just as she was about to give him a second breath, she heard branches snap behind her. “Oh shit!” She looked over her shoulder and was momentarily blinded by a flash of light before she lost consciousness.
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