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Truth or Lies?

Fireborn Publishing, LLC.

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 35,477
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When Wade comes to in the basement of a remote cabin, he has no idea who he is or why he's there. All his memories are gone, possibly the result of blows to his head. After escaping from the cabin, he sees his picture in a newspaper--but without his name--which gives him a clue to where he should begin looking for answers.

Answers that involve the police--who know his name, as he's done jail time--and Abbott, a government agent he seems to have worked for. Apparently he was involved in a robbery as part of a sting to capture one Dunstan Parker, a man Wade seems to hate. Intent on finding out why, he searches for Dun.

When he finds him, Wade gains more answers. But are those and the ones he's gotten from Abbott the truth or lies? Can he learn the truth--and survive if he does?

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Excerpt

He raised his head and looked around, wondering where the hell he was. One thing he knew for certain... It wasn't anywhere he recognized. Dim light revealed... He presumed it was a basement from what he could see. One with dirt walls and floor, no electric lighting. More like pale moonlight, he thought, coming through a window high on the far wall.

It was then he realized two things. One, he was tied to a chair, his hands lashed together behind it, his ankles restrained to the metal legs. Secondly, he had no idea who he was. That scared the shit out of him. Not that being restrained and--he looked down--almost naked, exactly made his night. But not knowing his name or why he was there? Yeah, not good. Not good at all.

As he contemplated his dilemma, he thought he heard movement behind him and started to turn to look. He let out a yelp when someone grabbed his hair. A second later his hands were free and something was dropped on the floor by his feet. Then there was the sound of the person rapidly retreating before he could get a glimpse of them.

Bringing his hands forward, he flexed his wrists and shoulders. They ached. He figured that was probably from him having been restrained in one position for a while. His chest hurt as well, as if someone had pounded on it, although it was too dark for him to see if there were bruises. He peered down at the floor. His...captor?...rescuer?...had left the knife they'd used to free his arms. He bent, picked it up, then sliced the ropes around his ankles.

He staggered to his feet, grabbing the back of the chair to remain standing, his mind whirling with questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where is "here"?

He looked around the basement. It was small and empty, except for the chair. A flight of rickety-looking stairs led up to a door. Gripping the knife in one hand, wishing he was wearing more than a pair of briefs, he made his way to the top of the stairs then tested the door handle. To his relief, it turned. He eased the door open an inch, peering through the crack, expecting at any second that someone would discover he was trying to escape.

Nothing. No sounds. No movement. He opened the door wider. There was light, although not much more than there had been in the basement. He stepped into what turned out to be a kitchen--one that hadn't been used in quite some time, he decided, from the layers of grime on the counters and stove.

He was thirsty and starving. Going to the sink, he turned the tap, getting a trickle of water. He scooped some into his hands and drank, immediately spitting it out. The taste was beyond foul. He searched the cupboards. Empty. The same with the ancient fridge.

Across from him was another door. It opened onto a second room, vacant except for a battered sofa and chair. Off to the right was what had once been a bedroom, if the mattress on a metal bed frame was any indication. There was also a tiny bathroom. "More like a shower room," he said under his breath, since that's all it held, other than a sink and toilet.

Above the sink was a cloudy mirror. He tested the light switch by the doorway, not really expecting it to work. To his surprise, it did. He closed his eyes against the glare from the ceiling light. Hardly a glare, he realized when he opened his eyes again. It just seemed bright compared to the dim moonlight coming through the windows in the other rooms.

He swiped his hand across the mirror to remove a film of dust, then stared at his reflection. The face he saw there wasn't one he recognized, although common sense told him it was his--too long dark hair, hazel eyes, full lips, the beginnings of a beard and mustache, which told him he'd probably been a prisoner for at least a couple of days, if not more.

"Who are you?" he asked his reflection. "Who am I?"

He saw what could have been dried blood caking the hair at his right temple. Turning the tap gave him a dribble of rusty water. A soiled rag hung on the towel rack by the shower. Dampening it, he scrubbed his forehead, wincing at the resulting shot of pain. The rag was rusty red when he looked at it, proving it was blood in his hair, not dirt or something else.

So I was hit, probably knocked out, at some point. Attacked? No shit. He ran his hand over his head and found another tender spot behind his ear. They wanted to make sure I was out, whoever "they" are.

Stepping away from the mirror, he checked his body--not hard to do, considering what he was wearing or wasn't wearing. His wrists and ankles were abraded from the rope that had been used to tie him to the chair. There were deep bruises on his upper body but no wounds. Got those when I fell, after they knocked me out? Or did I put up a fight? Since he had no memory of what had happened, he could only guess at that.

"Clothes," he muttered, wondering if he'd find his...or anything he could wear. His own would be preferable, since there might be a wallet with ID in a pocket, he hoped.

A search of the place turned up nothing but a pair of gray coveralls in the bedroom closet. They fit, although the shoulders were tight and the sleeves and legs were too short by an inch or more. "I ain't glamorous, but it's better than nothing." He went back to the bathroom to get the knife, which he'd left by the sink, putting it into one of the coverall's side pockets.

Figuring he was as ready as he could be at that point, he went to the back door off the kitchen and stepped outside. The first thing he saw was trees--lots of them--surrounding a barren backyard. Turning, he looked at the place where he'd been held captive. It was a rustic and very dilapidated cabin. But then, he'd sort of figured that from the interior.

"Where the hell am I?" he muttered, "In the middle of nowhere?"

It seemed like it, from what he saw as he walked around to the front of the cabin. Trees surrounded it, leaving only a few yards of dirt between it and them. He frowned, then squinted at what might be a narrow lane leading through the trees, just wide enough to accommodate a car, if the driver was careful.

"In for a penny," he said under his breath, starting down the lane. It was dark, the full moon above the trees fighting a losing battle to light his way. He trod carefully after stepping on a stone--reminding him he was barefoot.

It seemed to take forever before he came to a two-lane, badly paved road.

Now, which way? There has to be civilization somewhere, and maybe I'll recognize something when I get there. More to the point, maybe someone will recognize me. Then I'll at least know my name.

After a quick eeny, meeny, miny, moe, he headed right, staying to the edge of the road, in case a car came along. No such luck, he discovered, when he followed the twists and turns as the road meandered through the forest on either side. One thing he did figure out... He seemed to be going downhill.

Eventually, the moon set. It occurred to him since it had been behind him when that happened, that he must be moving eastward. Not that that tells me anything.

He was about to give up and turn back the way he'd come, when he thought he saw a light ahead of him. He hurried toward it, stopping when he saw it was a sign for a gas station--a closed one, at the moment.

At least they might have a restroom and snack machine. Right now, he had no problem with the idea of breaking into either or both.

As he got closer, he saw what he needed most--the restroom. After taking care of his most pressing needs, he washed his face, finally getting rid of the blood in his hair. He dried it with a handful of paper towels, gulped down some tap water, then went in search of something to eat. Luck was with him. There was both a soda machine and one with snacks. Looking around, he saw a good-sized rock and used it to get into the machines. "Hell of a meal," he grumbled, after going through two packs of cheese and crackers and a can of orange drink. Still, it was better than nothing and it helped sate his hunger.

It was then that he noticed a newspaper machine inside the front door of the station. The security light above the door gave him just enough illumination to see a photo on the sidebar of the newspaper's front page. It read Have you seen this man? He had, just moments ago in the bathroom mirror.

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