I can’t believe Release Day is tomorrow! There were many times in the past few years that I was sure this day was never coming…but now it’s only a few hours away. Suffice to say that I’ll be a jumpy mess today!
My stomach lurched when the wrinkled suit of the eighties guy I’d bumped into outside stalked toward me. Not surprised or angry—thank goodness—he had a confident, almost predatory walk. His smile didn’t convey excitement or happiness but voracious greed, his lips rising to fully expose his canines in a wolf-like grin. He was, in a word, creepy.
That’s it. Gotta go. I reached for my purse, but the strap caught on something. I’d just untangled it when I felt a heavy hand on the back of my chair.
“Hi. Would you like to dance?” he asked in an oily voice.
“No, thank you. I don’t dance.” Still.
“How about I join you then?” he asked and promptly sat in the chair closest to me. “I was rude when we ran into each other earlier. I’m Ron.”
Was that supposed to be an apology or a pick-up?
“What’s your name?” he asked, ignoring the fact he hadn’t let me answer his previous question.
Showing him the same level of courtesy, I scanned the crowd, searching for a lifeline. Chase and Linda were busy talking to his parents several tables away. Beth and Todd were dancing; Mitch and Ann were across the room, laughing; and neither Tricia nor Jason had reappeared. Welcome to wedding reception hell.
I picked up my water glass and considered dumping it in Ron-the-creep’s lap, but that would mean getting closer to him and his smelly suit. Instead, I took a long drink and inspected the five-tiered wedding cake in the far corner, avoiding his eerie stare. Would he get the hint if I refused to acknowledge his existence?
“So, are you a friend of the bride or the groom?” he asked, unfazed.
“Groom,” I nearly shouted, hoping this guy was as intimidated by Mitch as the Trojans were. “Close friends.” None too subtly I clutched my purse, thankful I’d remembered to slip my pepper spray in the tiny bag. “I should probably go congratulate him.” I tried to inch my chair away, but Ron held it fast.
“He’s busy with the other guests.” His head turned slightly, toward the newlyweds I assumed. “I’m a friend of a friend of the bride. She’s quite beautiful, isn’t she?” The covetous smile reappeared.
“Yes, she is,” I said. Coldness enveloped me when I realized all the tables around us were empty.
Options…I need options. The door closest to me was marked WOMEN—that’d do nicely. I tensed, planning to make a dash for the bathroom should Ron’s hold on my chair loosen even for a second.
He scrutinized me with hungry eyes. “Hey, let’s get out of here and take a walk in the garden. There’s a trail that goes down to the beach. I doubt a little hike would wear you out.” A cold finger grazed my back. Was he touching the ends of my hair?
I jerked forward, away from his hand, still unable to budge my chair. Ron was exceptionally bold, quickly moving from creepy to frightening. My thoughts turned from flight to fight.
“No thanks. I wouldn’t want to miss the action here.” I repositioned my purse in my lap so I could reach the zipper. As I did, the table moved—and another path appeared: tip the table and make a scene. Could I ruin Mitch’s celebration? What if I was misinterpreting Ron’s eagerness?
“Aw, come on, this stuff is boring anyway. It doesn’t look like anyone will miss us,” he pressed. “It’ll be a treat.”
A treat? I had to get away from this guy! Like a song stuck on repeat, the possibilities raced around my brain, along with an adrenaline-enhanced list of Ron’s weaknesses. Run, scream, fight, spray. Ribs, eyes, knees, groin.
Summoning all my courage, I gripped the edge of the table. Thankfully, Chase materialized beside me before I tipped it over.
“Hi. I’ve been looking for you.” He carefully avoided using my name, somehow sensing the fear surging through me. “We’re dancing as a group over in the corner. Come join us.”
I didn’t hesitate. “Okay.” Without a second glance at Ron, I pushed myself away from the table, catching my captor off guard.
In a flash, Ron wrapped his clammy hand around mine and squeezed it hard—too hard. I flinched, still trapped in my chair.
“She doesn’t dance,” he said, his nostrils flaring. I tried to free myself, but his fingers became a vise, tightening as I struggled against them.
“Get your hands off her!” someone snarled. Ron’s head whipped around, looking for the new speaker.
I took advantage of the distraction and ripped my hand out of his, jumping up so fast I slammed into Chase. He caught me, automatically wrapping a protective arm around my shoulders.
Ron rose to face him, his hands bunched into fists. My new savior intervened, equally incensed: Jason McAlister.
In less than 12 hours you can read the rest! Omnific Publishing even has a sale going for the holidays:
Authors! Have a book out? Are you under contract for publication? Make sure you join in the hop. This is a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are!