A shadow of disappointment prowled through my mind. He’d slammed on the brakes. I could’ve taken it as rejection. But he was no fool. He was bound to uncover the truth before giving too much of himself.
“We forgot to bring lunch,” I pointed out as we entered the cave.
“Oh yeah. I had other things on my mind. Maybe we’ll find some berries.”
“In May?” I giggled. “For that matter, why not root around in logs for honeycombs.”
He laughed. “We could do that.” Then he dipped his brows in a comical expression and said in a deep voice, “I’ll fight off the bears for you, my love.”
Love? He dropped the L-word? I stared at him. Was it a slip? Or a mere casual expression? After all, Europeans used it very casually. My thoughts went into overdrive. I hated when that happened.
“Let’s explore. Maybe the natives left behind some jerky,” he teased with a grin.
“The eternal optimist,” I countered. “I love it.”
We wandered deeper into the cave between moss-covered slate walls. Water trickled down the sides. The cave smelled musty. Something skittered across the rocky floor. I screamed and leaped sideways.
“There are creepy crawlies in here!”
“I saw that,” he said. “No worries. They’re more afraid of us than we are of them.”
“Uh…speak for yourself.” I shrieked again. “Jett!” I had jumped onto a ledge a foot above ground and clung to the wall. “I’m not this much country. Can we go please?”
“Okay, doll.” He smiled apologetically. “There’s nothing to see in here anyway. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
Something sticky brushed my face. I swatted frantically but seemingly had entangled myself in a web. The more panicked I became the worse things got. My flailing arms gathered more webbing. I slipped off the ledge in all my thrashing about and tumbled to the ground, scraping my arms and legs on the way down.
“Mia!” He caught my arms. “Stop. Baby, stop moving!”
“Oh no…” I whimpered. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” he replied calmly but apprehension snuck into his voice. “Just stay very, very still, doll.”
“Omigosh,” I cried.
He snapped a twig from a branch sticking out of the wall and in my peripheral vision his arm moved painstakingly slowly. I held my breath and didn’t dare twitch. A couple of agonizing minutes later, he tossed the stick aside then swept me into his arms.
“We should get the hell out of here,” he muttered.
I clung to him. “What was it?”
“You don’t wanna know.”
“Ew. Ew. Did it bite me? Am I okay?”
“Sshh, you’re safe now. It never touched your skin. It saw all that beautiful blonde hair and thought, hm, a perfect place to spell out the word radiant.”
“Omigosh. It was one of those…I can’t even say it. Ew. Ew. Get me out of here.”
He broke into a run with me in his arms. I didn’t take a full breath until we exited the cave.
“I need another bath.” I continued frenetically brushing my arms and head, still in panic mode.
We made our way back to the waterhole and I didn’t hesitate to strip down and dive in. I submerged myself, scrubbing my face and hair furiously. He dove in with me. When I finally calmed down, convinced I’d rid myself of anything that’d hitched a ride, I relaxed and casually swam around.
“Seems I’ve discovered your one fear,” he said upon swimming over to me. “You don’t like bugs.”
“No. I don’t. Especially the kind that makes webs.” I shivered at the thought.
“I’m really sorry.” He began to laugh. “I had no idea. I don’t mean to laugh. Honest. I’m not mocking you. But you were a sight back there.”
“Ha-ha.” I scowled. “Why’d you sound so urgent when telling me to stop moving?”
“I didn’t want it to bite you. Those things typically aren’t aggressive unless they feel threatened. And you, my dear, were definitely in a frenzy.”
“Now I’m cold, hungry, and freaked out. I’m never going into a cave again.”
Mia ~ Annika Noelle
Jett ~ Valerio Logrieco
About the Author:
Susan Zoe enjoys creating contemporary, paranormal, fantasy and romantic suspense stories with a gritty flair. Her stories are her own, and she typically writes outside the box. She’s always been a leader not a follower. Writing is her mental filter and how she processes the world around her, a fictional place where she can control the outcome at her comfort level with justice and happy endings. Her imagination is her greatest strength as it carries her away from daily stress.
As a survivor of hardship and chronic disease, she takes one day at a time and treasures the simple things in life. Susan Zoe is a Christian, loves animals, and practices being kind and generous every day. When not immersed in new stories, she enjoys watching movies, Motocross and Supercross, playing Yahtzee with her fiancé, and hanging out with her loyal 24/7 companion and trained service dog. She’s not a fan of sitcoms as they don’t offer enough mental stimulation. Losing herself in an intense story gives her brain the workout it needs to manage OCD, anxiety, depression, and stress.
Her achievements thus far include The Golden Wings Award for her debut novel The Satellite, the UK Nobel Pin and Editor’s Choice Award for her poem The Lonely Man, numerous 5 Star Reviews from Fallen Angels Reviews, Coffee Time Romance, InD’tale Magazine, Goodreads and more for current and retired novels. She was also a RONE Awards Finalist in 2017.
She loves to hear from readers and chat!
In her words, “Writing is the only time I’m truly free.” She’s happiest when her intriguing characters come to life and steal her away into their worlds where anything is possible.
Barnes & Noble/Print and eBook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/high-point-susan-zoe-bella/1143732985?ean=9798223585893
a Rafflecopter giveaway