Into the Light (The Light #1)


by Aleatha Romig

PROLOGUE

An impenetrable fog cloaked the woman’s thoughts, seeping into her being, binding and erasing everything she’d ever known. Before was gone. The only thing that mattered, with increasing urgency, was the present.

Desperately she tried to see past the darkness.

Nothing but black.

She winced with every turn, razor-sharp metal slicing her hands as she fought to escape the mangled cage. With only the howling wind as her guide, she searched for freedom, persisting until her bloodied fingers slid upon the vehicle’s slick exterior.

As she lifted her face to the wind, sleet pelted her cheeks and frigid air contracted her lungs. Each breath was more painful than the last. Her heart raced and adrenaline surged while a low hiss and an overpowering stench of gasoline assaulted her senses. With a final shove, she freed herself from the wreckage, falling onto the wet, hard ground.

Still unable to see, she created visions in her mind. The offending odor of fuel wafting through the icy air became a monster’s putrid breath, that of a dragon from a fairy tale capable of exhaling fire. Her imagination sounded an alarm that was both a nightmare and a beacon.

I need to get away.

As her other senses heightened, she moved to her hands and knees and began to crawl.

Right, left, then right again.

Without warning the dragon’s fiery breath bellowed and heat rolled in waves around her, thawing the frozen air and knocking her flat. Thanking God that she’d awakened and gotten out of the vehicle in time, she hoarsely screamed to the darkness.

The darkness didn’t reply.

She righted herself again and—inch by inch, foot by foot—crawled away from the dragon’s heat, her confidence and speed building with each yard.

Then, suddenly, her head collided with an unseen force that struck her left cheek. Before she could process what had happened, a deep, commanding voice shattered her isolation.

“Don’t!”

The single word echoed around her as pain, surpassing anything she’d ever felt, struck her lower leg. Crumbling, she collapsed to the icy ground.

“No! Stop!” she begged, unsure of what was happening.

With no sympathy for her pleas, the assault continued. Air left her lungs as her midsection sustained blow after blow. Turning into herself, she shielded her face and pulled her good leg to her chest.

“Stop!” the voice demanded.

Paralyzed by fear, she lay still, tears freezing upon her cheeks and her chest heaving with great, ragged breaths. Footsteps shuffled nearby before a new excruciating pain shot through her. She cried out as strong, masculine arms lifted her from the ground.

The clouding fog returned, settling upon her like a heavy blanket and lessening her pain with each of the man’s steps. The scent of leather and musk replaced the odor of gasoline as the simplest question came to her mind.

Who am I?

Unable to find the answer, the woman settled her cheek against the man’s chest. Her unseeing eyes closed, and she surrendered to the fog and the dark.

CHAPTER 1

Sara

In a place without light, I began to heal. Wrapped in protective nothingness, cold and pain no longer existed, concerns and deadlines were things of the past. I welcomed the dark, relishing its armor as it buffered me from the outside world. Slowly small recollections returned, flickers that made my body tense until I physically trembled. I recalled intense agony and an explosion of heat, yet my cocoon of blackness smothered the impending fire, keeping its flames at bay.

My mind sent signals that my body didn’t obey. Helpless, my hands, feet, and even the lids of my eyes sat heavy and immobile. Occasionally actual voices penetrated my cocoon and infiltrated my darkness. With repetition they became familiar. They wanted me and, finally, I wanted them.

“Sara, can you hear me?” the strong, deep voice called from beyond the darkness.

“Keep talking, Brother. We aren’t sure what a person hears while unconscious.”

“Sara . . .” Warmth enveloped my hand as it was lifted from my side. “I’m here. It’s Jacob. I’m not leaving you. You aren’t leaving me.” His voice cracked with emotion. “Come back.”

Sara . . . Sara . . . the name echoed in my mind.

Brother? Is he talking to me? Am I Sara? Who is Jacob?

The obvious emotion in each syllable of his request impelled me to answer him, to ease his distress, but I couldn’t. My mind and my body were still at odds.

The cocoon’s layers that had been my refuge now swallowed my will. No longer did they protect—they strangled and suffocated, muting my ability to speak. The warmth of Jacob’s hand and even the sound of his voice slipped away as I once again surrendered to the nothingness.

Smidgens of life scratched and tore at my darkened world. Slowly sounds returned, not only to register, but to linger—particularly one steady voice that called out over and over, repeating the name Sara.

The name ricocheted through my consciousness, and I searched for more, for more names, for faces. There were none. My only memory, the smallest semblance of recognition, was of piercing blue eyes. I couldn’t remember the entirety of the face, but blue eyes filled the voids when the voices stilled and my world quieted to the steady rhythm of mechanical beeps. I longed for the familiarity of that gaze.

With time I grew stronger, until finally I was fully cognizant of the world beyond me. As if a switch had been flipped, my battered body was suddenly present. I was no longer floating in nothingness—now there was a bed below me and a blanket upon my chest. The beeps that had been the backdrop of my unconsciousness became clearer. A clean, sterile scent permeated the stagnant air painfully filling my lungs. Exhaling slowly, I opened my eyes.

Adrenaline flooded my system, accelerating my heartbeat and sense of panic.

I can’t see.

Lifting my too-heavy arm and reaching for my eyes, I heard a voice. The voice that had stayed with me through the darkness splintered the stillness with a welcome sound.

“Sara? Are you finally awake?”

A spark of recollection flickered in my dark world. Jacob. I’d heard the name repeatedly in my unconscious state. Instead of reaching for my eyes, I reached toward the hoarse voice, toward his face. At the first contact, I flinched; even the tips of my fingers were tender. Trying again, I connected with his scruffy cheek and traced his strong, defined jaw. With each caress I tried to imagine what I couldn’t see, but my mind’s canvas remained blank.

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