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THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT by Laura Thomas
Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9/ Chapter 10 / Chapter 11 / Chapter 12 / Chapter 13 / Chapter 14 / Chapter 15 / Chapter 16 / Chapter 17/ Chapter 18 / Chapter 19 / Chapter 20
MADISON SPUN AROUND AND LUNGED toward the winding pathway and her refuge, desperate to avoid his powerful clutches.
Three strides and he had her.
She writhed and kicked with all her might, booting Blue Eyes in the shins numerous times. But he was a beast and held her with such a grip, she could barely breathe. It didn’t help that he covered her screams with his huge, bearlike paw. Again.
Adrenaline crashed, limbs like jelly. She was in trouble. No way she could escape on her sore ankle even if she could get out of the behemoth’s clutches. Her attempted screams turned to sobs at the thought of what punishment might be dealt out. What frame of mind was Sam in? He never used physical violence with her before, but he reached a whole other level by kidnapping her. And there was no question Blue Eyes would use brute force if required.
Having overpowered her with ease, he lifted her from the ground as if she were a bag of flour and carried her toward the jeep. Utterly exhausted from the run and the struggle, she couldn’t do a single thing to stop him.
“You’re in big trouble. The boss is awful upset, you know.” He spoke in clipped tones, and Madison braced herself for what might come next. These men wanted their money—who knew what they would do to ensure they received it?
Madison was shoved into the back of the jeep. As soon as Blue Eyes removed his hand from her mouth, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Would someone from the little house below hear the commotion?
Her efforts were rewarded with a hard slap on the cheek. Madison tasted blood and her whole head ached from the impact. She covered her face with her hands as the man pinned her down with one arm.
Blue Eyes snarled. “Special delivery, boss.”
Boss? Madison peered through her fingers and gasped when she recognized Sam’s profile in the front passenger seat. She needed to see whether it was him yet felt the urge to press her eyes shut so she didn’t have to face the horrific truth.
Sam shifted around to look at her. He was calm, considering the vicious struggle playing out around him. It was unnatural and almost otherworldly, as if he observed something from afar. Psychopath.
The sound of his voice made her shudder. It was condescending and impatient, a far cry from the gentle man she once loved. He looked the same with his perfect wavy dark hair and mysterious eyes. She once found those eyes exotic and enchanting, but now as he narrowed them and bore right through her, they held a real presence of danger.
Blue Eyes jumped into the front of the jeep and started the ignition. “Home sweet home, boss?”
“You can head that way. I have something else in mind.” He pulled a shiny gun from the dashboard and waved it at Madison. “In case you have any other ridiculous ideas about escaping. You might as well sit back and relax.”
A gun? Madison swallowed and then found her voice. “Sam, why are you doing this?”
“You ruined everything, Madison Grey. You didn’t think I would vanish into thin air, did you? I have been working on this life plan for many years, my darling.”
As they sped down the road, Madison watched the palm trees she had run past and felt the blood drain from her face. “Years? What do you mean? How many years?” A pit formed in her stomach.
Blue Eyes laughed from the driver’s seat, but she needed to concentrate and hear the answer from Sam.
“Tell me. What are you talking about?”
“You only know the half of it, my darling. Your poor parents and their pathetic little plane with the mechanical issue. It was such a shame. When would Mr. Grey ever learn to check, double-check, and sometimes even triple-check his flying equipment?”
Madison gasped. She must have misheard. Even Sam wouldn’t stoop that low.
He continued in a monotone voice. “Your father taught me well in the business world—I’ll give him that. He took me on when I was young and desperate and gave me the tools I needed to read people and get my own way. But he was too trusting by far. It’s where you inherited it, don’t you think?”
“Wait.” Madison shook her head. Too trusting? “Are you telling me you did something to their plane? You sabotaged their aircraft? After all Daddy did for you? What kind of a monster are you?” She couldn’t breathe.
“The wealthy kind. You were an added bonus along the way, although you were so needy. As you discovered, I would have ditched you in no time. This kidnapping part of the plan is a mere inconvenience, but I’m rather enjoying it now. My muscular friend here has been a tremendous help planning with me this past year. Now all you have to do is play along and maybe I’ll leave you alone to live your sad little life in comparative poverty.”
Madison clung to the edge of her seat as they sped over potholes. “But why? I don’t understand. What did our family ever do to deserve this?”
“Nothing at all.” He adjusted the collar of his polo shirt. “I always knew I would be successful in my endeavors. I used to dream about moments like this when I was a boy. As you know, I am a patient man, and I had to bide my time and find a suitable family to help me get where I wanted to go. You were a pawn. A beautiful pawn.” He reached out and touched her bruised cheek.
Madison flinched, and then her whole body tensed. “You’re a murderer,” she said through gritted teeth.
“And we were so close to being married. How bizarre would that have been?” He winked.
Panic welled in her chest. She had to escape. He was insane. “You won’t get away with this.”
“Ah, but I will. I have a new life in a new country ready and waiting for this nice little injection of cash. Added to the bonuses I gave myself from your father’s company over the years, I’d say I’m set for life.”
“You stole from our company as well? You really are heartless, aren’t you?”
Sam examined his perfect fingernails. “Yes, I believe I am. Blame it on a crummy childhood.”
Madison’s head throbbed from complete exhaustion and the thought of this latest revelation. Her ankle ached. Her face stung. Could this night get any worse? “What are you going to do with me?”
“Pull over. We need to do this now.” The car screeched to a stop and she watched Sam reach into a bag near his feet. He pulled out a cloth, which he passed to Blue Eyes.
Now. This was her one chance to escape. In the seconds it took for Blue Eyes to jump from the driver’s seat, she pulled herself up with the grab handle and swung her legs over the passenger side. She landed on the gravel. Pain shot up from her ankle. Run.
Two steps and she was lifted from the ground. The behemoth squeezed her arms against her torso while she screamed in vain. They had her. She writhed and kicked with all her might, but they had her.
Blue Eyes laughed. It was pure evil. “Where do you think you are going, Miss Grey? The boss has somewhere special for you to go now. You won’t even try escaping from there. I warned you not to run, didn’t I? You hold nice and still, princess. I’ve got something to help you sleep.” He threw her into the back seat and maneuvered his bulk above her.
“No.” Madison turned her face away from him. She scrambled to the other side of the back seat, but there was nowhere to hide. He lunged after her and laughed while he flaunted the cloth.
Madison smelled the leather of the seat as she buried her head away from him, and then that obnoxious mixture they used on her early that morning filled her senses. Not again. Her breathing slowed and her arms stopped flailing as fabric smothered her mouth and nose. She flinched when he pressed the cloth against her stinging cheek, and then her vision dimmed as her eyelids drooped.
Heaviness covered her like a thick, warm blanket.
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