A Perfect Escape
A Romantic Suspense Novel by Maddie James
Available in June, 2008, from Resplendence Publishing
A changed identity. A secluded beach. A sniper.
Megan Thomas is running for her life. From
She runs to the only place she feels safe—a secluded cottage on an east coast barrier island.
Smyth Parker is running from life. From work, from society, from a jealous ex-wife—his only consolation the solitude of
But when Megan fears she’s been found, she runs to the only safe place she knows, and straight into the arms of the one person who might be able to help, Smyth. Her escape might yet still be perfect.
Or is it?
The cottage sat facing the ocean, nestled in the swale of a dune. It was a Nags Header, built in the early 1930’s, sporting sloping rooflines and sweeping porches. One step inside its walls and Meg felt thrust backward in time to an era of balmy breezes, deserted beaches and hot summer days when the screen door slapped hard behind you. The plank floors, ceilings, and walls lent a feeling of old-fashioned charm, along with the push-button light switches and the thick coats of peeling paint on the shutters.
Meg took a deep breath and then exhaled.
She’d made it.
A heated breeze lifted the hair from her shoulders and swirled it about her face. It kissed her cheeks with its salty mist and caressed her body with its warmth. She felt alive. More alive than she’d felt in years.
When she’d arrived, she’d run like a child between the dunes for her first glimpse of the magnificent ocean until she’d stopped still and drank in the essence of it all—drank it all in with her eyes, her lungs, and every pore of her being.
She was home.
Actually, it just felt like home. Her new home. She’d only been here once before at age five when her parents were still experimenting with family vacations as a way of saving their marriage. But they soon realized that the
Perhaps it was practice for dealing with
Closing her eyes, Meg breathed deeply, drawing the ocean air into her lungs. The sea lived in her soul now, the beach hers. All hers and hers alone. Everything in her life now hers alone. She felt stingy, selfish, but she’d given up so much in her life the past six years. She didn’t intend to give up any more.
She didn’t care. She’d live her life as she saw fit.
Any way she wanted. She’d sleep when and if she wanted. Eat when she wanted. Clean her house if she wanted and if she didn’t, she wouldn’t. If she felt like eating a whole damn chocolate cake, she would. And if she felt like starving herself to lose five pounds she’d do that, too.
She had regained control of her life. Her life. Not
That was all she needed. Time to heal. And the ocean breezes blowing through her hair.
Turning, Meg smiled at the cottage she’d rented. Though smaller than most of its kind in Nags Head, it suited her perfectly with its two bedrooms, one bath, and kitchen-great room combo. The odd little house sported huge windows gracing the front, a porch that swept the entire width and around one side, and only one door, as if an afterthought. But that was okay, it meant she only had one door to worry about locking each night.
And she called it home, at least temporarily until the rental agency could find her something more permanent and less expensive—probably not beachfront, though. So she intended to enjoy this one for as long as she could. The out-of-town owner didn’t usually rent during the early spring, but had consented to let her rent for two months until something else could be found in her price range.
The money she had wouldn’t last indefinitely. At some point she’d need to find a job.
But until then, this was home.
Of course, all that was accomplished on the road after she’d left
But that was all said and done. Seven days passed without a sign of
No black sedan sat outside her front door.
How good it felt to be rid of the black sedan.
Everything seemed all right, now, but that didn’t mean she could let down her guard. Not for a long time.
Seven days. One week. Meg let her mind drift for a moment as she turned back toward the ocean to rest her gaze on the rolling horizon. Cindy should have left by now and Bradford should be home from
But no way he could trace her to here. She’d seen to every detail. Had planned it for too long, all in her mind, the only place