Author of 70 novels, she has 66 New York Times-bestsellers, juggling the historical romance and thriller genres. Coming from a very artistic family background, Coulter was raised by her mother, a concert pianist, and her father, a singer and painter. Her grandmother, who died at 37, is also a writer. She displayed an inherent talent in writing at an early age, claiming to have written her first two novels at the age of fourteen. While she is taking her undergraduate degree at the University-of-Texas, she wrote poetry and is engaged with the literary events of the university. She also expressed interest in European history and culture.
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Her mind felt dark, as heavy and thick as chains, and she knew the darkness was deep as well, and knew to her soul there was violence just beyond it. She smelled something rancid, oil with a layer of rot and decay. What was that smell?
What did it mean? But she knew she had to, had to fight it or—what? The smell grew stronger, and she wanted to vomit. She had to move, to wake up. She swallowed again, nearly heaved when the acid in her throat mixed with that rancid smell. She tried to breathe lightly, concentrated all her energy on opening her eyes, on feeling her body, on tearing herself out of the black shroud where she was unable to move or speak. Her head felt heavy, her throat burned, and her mind—where was her mind?
There, gnawing at the edges of he rbrain, were sharp bits of pain and fear, sweeping away confusion, coming closer, breaking through the numbness. She heard voices. But she knew that what the voices were saying was bad. For her. The smell was so strong it burned her eyes and her nose. Suck it in, suck it in, get yourself together.
She breathed deeply, ignored the nausea, and at last she felt her brain jitter, felt edges of consciousness spear up, tear through the black. It was dead fish she smelled, overwhelming now, and the smell of boats, of diesel fumes overlaying wet.
They were picking her up—who were they? Keep breathing, keep breathing. She heard wooden planks creak, heard night sounds—crickets, an owl, the lapping of water. Her eyes flew open when she went airborne. She hit the water hard on her back. The slap of pain snapped her back into her brain and her body. Instinct made her draw in a big breath before the water splashed over her face, closed over her head, before she was slowly dragged to the bottom.
Move, move. Her feet were tied and tethered to something heavy—a block of cement, she knew instinctively. Too many Mafia movies. She was tied to the cement with the same thick rope that bound her ankles tightly together. She could do this, she could. She quickly shimmied away the rope around her chest, then her fingers went to work.
She dug her fingernails under the knot and patiently, so patiently, worked it loose. Her chest began to burn. She ignored it, concentrated on the knots. It was so hard to keep her mouth shut, to keep from breathing. Her eyes were blurring, the water shimmering, the pressure in her chest building and building until it nearly burst her open. The knot came loose. She kicked off the cement block and shot to the surface. When her head cleared, she wanted to haul in a huge gulp of air, but forced herself to take short, quiet breaths through her nose.
Her brain was in full gear again. She heard the light lapping of water against the pilings of a wooden pier. She eased back under the water and swam under the pier to hide behind the pilings. She forced herself to take calm, light breaths. She was alive. Slowly, her breaths became deeper and deeper. She filled her lungs. It felt wonderful. She heard feet clomping on the wooden pier, heard a car engine, heard the car drive away. She swam out from under the pier and saw the taillights of a car in the distance.
How had they drugged her? Where had it come from? She smiled. No one would know where she was. She pulled herself out of the water, shivered as she slapped her hands against her arms and looked around. There were no houses, no lakeside cottages with narrow docks and tethered boats, only a two-lane road winding off into the distant darkness. She came upon a sign: Black Rock Lake. Where was Black Rock Lake? She had two legs that worked fairly well. She began to walk in the same direction as the car.
It seemed like forever, but maybe it was only fifteen minutes when she saw the lights of a small town—Oranack, Maryland, according to the small black-and-white sign. It was late. Two people sat in a booth next to the glass, a limp waitress standing beside them, a pen poised over her pad. She saw a taxi sitting outside the diner, saw the cabbie at the counter drinking coffee, and she smiled.
Was it really only three, four hours ago? It seemed a lifetime. She drove her white Charger through the quiet streets until she reached the Beltway.
But she had no choice. She ate two candy bars, felt a brief spurt of energy. She had to think, had to plan. She had to hide. She forced herself to drive through the night, surviving on hot coffee and a half dozen more candy bars and, at eight A. She awoke fourteen hours later, groggy at first, every muscle in her body protesting, but her strength was surging back. Fear, she thought, an excellent energizer.
No way would she put them in that kind of danger. She realized with a sort of depressed relief that she had no close friends to call, to tell them not to worry about her. As far as she could think, there was no one to even wonder where she was. No one, she thought, no one to worry, to wonder. Could Quincy and Laurel have been involved? Yes, she thought, they were capable of anything. She always came back to Quincy and Laurel.
She meandered along back roads in Virginia until she ended up the following morning at a small motel in Waynesboro. She knew where she was going, but then what? She watched local TV news, listened to the radio, and thought. If only they knew, she thought, Jimmy had been so much more.
And there was the other thing. It would wait. She smacked he palm against the steering wheel, got herself together. Yes, drink up. Until she was ready to take them down. Other books in series.
TailSpin (FBI Series #12)
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