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Excerpts from Truth, Lies, and Alibis

Even if I’d had a crystal ball, I couldn’t have predicted what my life would become. It was hard for me to grasp all that had happened in the last eighteen months—the roller coaster that had plunged me into the abyss and the unlikely savior who had excavated me from it.

The first seventeen years of my life had been privileged; some would have called it charmed. I was happy, carefree, sheltered, and naive. I wanted for nothing.

My father’s career had taken us around the world, where I was introduced to unique people, cultures, languages, art, music, and philosophies.

It was a solitary life, but it made me independent—sometimes scared and sometimes brave but mostly a combination of both. I put on a good show anyway.

I’d graduated from high school like other kids my age and was ready to embark on a new and exciting phase of my life. Then everything was demolished, my momentum coming to a screeching halt, sentencing me to drown in a suffocating inertia.

I was so anxious to see him that I ran upstairs to the darkened office and rushed through the door. I wanted to share my excitement with him. I knew he would be proud of me, and a little melancholic.

I could see pieces of paper curling up into the breeze, and I clumsily reached out to try to catch them. It was odd that there was a breeze in his office. That didn’t make sense.

When I looked at my hand, I saw that it was covered in something wet and red. I yanked it back to look at it more closely, and I instinctively knew it was blood. My heart started racing as my confusion mingled with panic. I looked around in the darkness and could see floor-to-ceiling shelves brimming over with books.

Suddenly I couldn’t breathe, and I was shocked to discover that someone was choking the life out of me. I clutched at the tightening hands, desperately trying to break free, but they were too strong. Then I was staring into cold, pale blue eyes that seemed to scorch with hatred like a white-hot flame, and I knew he would kill me, that I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight him off.

As the hands on my neck tightened, I tried to scream, but I couldn’t force any sound out of my throat. That’s when I started to see black spots closing into the periphery of my eyes, so I kicked him in the abdomen as hard as I could. He doubled over and dropped me to the floor like a broken doll, and I frantically tried to scramble away.

I cried out loud, my voice finally resurfacing as he quietly crawled into bed. “What time is it?” I gasped, my head groggy and my heart racing.

“Almost four. I’m sorry I woke you. Shhh . . . go back to sleep now. I’m here,” he murmured, his familiar satin voice hiking my anxiety nearly as much as it calmed it. It still startled me when he arrived in the middle of my dreams like this. Although I was fiercely glad he had woken me. For some reason on this night, or early morning as it was, I was particularly on edge, after the familiar nightmare I’d been having.

I was scared, felt real fear in the pit of my stomach, icy twinges in my legs. As the mattress shifted slightly under his weight, I battled my own mind to rationalize the time and place. I couldn’t let myself dwell on the fear or the decisions I continued to make. I rolled over, my hands reaching through the dark, searching for my improbable lifeline.

“What’s wrong?” he whispered, as I wriggled myself closer to him.

“I’m scared,” I said, almost breathless, like someone had punched me in the stomach.

“What are you scared of?” he asked, his voice still barely audible, trying to soothe me I guessed. I thought about his question for a minute.

“I don’t know,” I finally said as I clung to him. At least, I couldn’t articulate it. The list was too long.

He stroked my hair back where it stuck to my wet forehead, sending a scorching hot chill pulsing through my body. I shivered and inhaled deeply again, savoring his powerful masculinity.

I was a little embarrassed that he still made me react this way, although I was thankful he did for a number of reasons. It made me feel silly and angry, and young and inexperienced, like I was when we first met. I lost myself for a moment, remembering when things were so much simpler. He pulled me tight against his hard, warm body, his clean scent hinting at citrus and eucalyptus or a sea breeze. He smelled so delicious I wanted to crawl under his skin. I could feel that he was naked, and my heart started racing again. Would that ever change? Was I really awake this time? I heard him breathe deeply, as his mouth found my neck, then my jaw and my trembling lips.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said with certainty, as he ran his hand down to my thigh and pulled up my nightgown. If only that were true, I thought. As he rolled me underneath him, I tried to forget I was scared. He was so good at making me forget. Maybe I was feeling that thrilling kind of fear—the thrill of anticipation.

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