In the midst of recovering from a blow to the head, theater actress Alicia Coleman comes to know the man whose home she awoke in and realizes the two of them share a complicated past.
A series of dreams prompts Alicia to suspect the most outrageous of possibilities—that the man holding her prisoner may actually be her lover. Surrounding threats cause her to realize that proving her theory true—or not—may be her only chance of keeping her attacker from coming after her a second time.
“Stay away from me you son of a bitch!” She fumbled around on the floor and secured what appeared to be a chisel. Springing to her feet, she lunged at her attacker, aiming the weapon at the center of his chest.
But before she could strike him, the man grabbed hold of her wrist. He squeezed her flesh with an iron grip, causing the chisel to slip from her fingers.
“What the hell’s gotten into you, huh?” Fiery brown eyes tore into her as a blip of thunder shook the barn like a row-boat in the middle of the ocean. “If you never want to speak to me again that’s fine, but you need to get back into bed. You can walk back to the house, or I can carry you kicking and screaming. It’s your choice, Alicia.”
He believed her name was Alicia. And the more he said it, the more she came to believe it was her name, too. She experienced a strong feeling of familiarity each time he said it. Though, she didn’t have a clue in hell as to what her last name might be, or remember anything else about her life prior to waking up in that bed.
Prying her wrist free, she darted forward and found herself crashing into a table that was covered with tools. Her abductor took her by the waist. He pulled her forcedly against him.
“Enough!” he roared. “I’m taking you back to the house before you get both of us killed!”
He proceeded to push her forward and she had to take gigantic steps to keep from losing her balance. After closing up the barn, her abductor forced her to stand in front of him, as though he didn’t trust that she wouldn’t attempt to run away again if he wasn’t watching her every move. The rain had lightened up during the last couple of minutes and there was only a mist sprinkling down on them as they trudged across the muddy ground. Her self-appointed prison-guard said nothing as they descended the hill but he urged her to keep moving, taking her back through the field, toward the enormous house in the distance below.
As they approached an unfamiliar patio, a row of arborvitae bushes, and what looked to be a tennis court, she realized that there were countless questions she wanted answers to. But as she was guided past the gated section of asphalt, she could only seem to articulate one. “Who are you?”
Confusion darkened her captor’s features. Then, he laughed. “That’s very funny. Come on, I’m taking you back inside before you catch pneumonia.”
“It isn’t funny at all. You’re obviously getting some deranged kick out of all of this but I don’t have any clue in hell as to who you are.”
“That’s good,” he said. “That’s really good. Nice to know that even in the middle of a crisis your theatrical skills are still as sharp as ever. But the act is kind of in poor taste even for you, don’t you think?”
He thought she was playing with him. Or else denying that he had any idea what she was talking about was part of his game, to get her to loosen her defenses. God knew what he was planning on doing with her if he succeeded. She wasn’t sticking around to find out.
Lunging forward, she pried herself free of her attacker’s death-grip only to succeed in making her head hurt even more than it already did. She attempted to run but realizing she didn’t have the strength to do it, she placed her fingers against her aching temples and said, “I don’t know what sort of a game you think you’re playing with me, but it ends right now. I don’t know you and your California blonde hair from Adam. Tell me who you are and how I got here, before I decide to rip every last strand of that yellow mop right out of your head.”
Rainwater splashed across her captor’s grim expression. “I’m sure you’d prefer it if you didn’t know me. I don’t really blame you for feeling that way but unfortunately for you, Leesh, I’m all you’ve got at the moment. Just come back inside with me so we can dry off. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you!”
She came at him, attempting to punch his face. But as she swung her arm the pain in her head spiked to a deadly level. Unable to remain standing, she lost her balance and fell sharply forwards. Her captor caught her just before she collapsed onto the grass.
The pain in her forehead was making it almost impossible to keep her eyes open. But she forced herself to do it and stared at the unfamiliar face looming above hers. “Tell me who you are and what you want with me, you bastard!”
Bewilderment sparkled about her captor’s eyes. “I brought you here. It’s me, Leesh. It’s Nick.”
She didn’t know anyone by that name. It sounded completely foreign to her, as did everything short of the name Alicia. She couldn’t even be sure that Alicia was her name, though it seemed to ring truer than anything else did. She supposed that might mean something.
Her captor pushed several strands of hair from her face as he studied her through widened eyes. His palm touched her forehead and for a second, the gentle brush of his fingertips was almost comforting. Disturbed that he could have that sort of effect on her, she attempted to turn sideways but found that she was too weak to move. Her captor tried to help her stand. When he saw she couldn’t do it herself, he scooped her up as though she weighed no more than a feather and cradled her against his chest.
Pressed against his hard frame, she became aware of how very strong the man holding her was and welcomed the blast-furnace of heat seemed to emanate from his body. He smelled of leather and spice, and she found herself resting more comfortably against him as he carried her toward the house she had escaped from. The mansion was several stories tall. It had a brick exterior and a spacious back porch which was shaded by an even larger awning. A row of lights caused her eyes to sting as she was brought beneath them.
She studied the objects around her, hoping that the wooden armchairs or the table beside them might strike a familiar chord. But as they moved beneath a particularly bright bulb the pain in her forehead made it impossible for her to think at all. She groaned, a sound which became a louder cry as an ache that felt like a knife-stab shot through the center of her skull. Her eyes fell closed. They remained that way, as though they had been welded shut.
Faintly she heard her captor shouting to her, but she no longer had any perception of what he was saying. As her last bit of strength seeped from her body she went limp against his chest, watching the world around her turn from white, to gray, to black.