Epiphany:Part One

By: Gemma James

His mahogany gaze haunts my waking hours, his touch ignites my dreams. I know him in intimate detail, but I’ve never laid eyes on him.

Until now.

I’ve always seen things I can’t explain, but the reality of him blindsides me, his mere presence a captivating force I can’t fight. What’s worse…I don’t want to. He burrows under my skin and unearths my biggest secret, even as he hides his own demons.

Then he warns me away. Stubborn man.

I’m already in too deep, and if staying means I’m the next victim of the Hangman’s noose, then so be it. Not even the threat of a serial killer can keep me away.

Part one of a three-part serial. Intended for mature audiences due to sexy adult situations, explicit language, and disturbing subject matter. Approximately 30,000 words.

Much thanks to three of my super fangirls (Momo, Rachel, and Melanie) who’ve loved everything I’ve written in the dark romance genre. I wanted to test this newer, sexier version of Epiphany on them, and they made this author very happy by agreeing. You guys are the best! I’m so grateful you guys were up for trying something a little different from me. I hope everyone else embraces Epiphany with the same enthusiasm.

I’ve also got to give props to Rebecca Berto of Berto Designs for creating such an amazing cover. Love your style, lady! Love your friendship even more. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the rest of the books in this series.

Thanks to Pam Godwin and Skye Callahan for not only your friendship, but for always being there to shoot the breeze about anything from writer woes to the headache of blurbs. Your opinions mean a lot to me.

As always, much thanks to my best friend Crystal, who amazingly still tolerates my madness after all of these years.

To my mom. Thanks for always being there.

I awoke in murky stages, the first being a nauseating sense of movement. The second was the realization that something was wrong. Horribly wrong. The third was the clearest and the most horrifying. My wrists were tied together as were my ankles.

I pulled at the bindings, and a low groan vibrated in my throat. Despite the persistent throb at my temples, I focused on the misty recollections; the wafting fog on the highway, the beam of a flashlight, the splintering sound of glass.

Forcing my eyes open, I met total blackness. My cheek rested against the floor of what I assumed was a van, and a putrid smell burned my nose, an odorous mixture of mildew and bleach. The van bounced over uneven ground, and I held my breath, my ribs hitting the floor hard with each lurch.

What the heck happened?

My heart beat out of control as I tried to remember, but I drew a blank. I couldn’t recall anything beyond a blinding light and an explosion of pain…then nothing.

“Don’t panic,” I chanted in a whisper as I tested the rope. Come on! I slid my wrists back and forth, and the knot loosened the slightest bit as the van came to a violent stop. The engine shut off, and I didn’t dare move or make a peep. A door creaked open before slamming with an echo. I ceased to breathe as footfalls drew closer, crunching on gravel with each step. I counted them.

One, two, three, four, five…

Keys jingled from the other side, and the handle squeaked and turned. The van dipped, and instantly, I knew who entered behind me. I wished I could see him, but I was lying on my stomach, completely vulnerable.

“Where am I?” It wasn’t the question I wanted to ask, the one I could barely think of.

What are you going to do to me?

My body went rigid as he came near. He rolled me to my back with rough hands, and his silhouette loomed large, a dark shadow blocking the light of the waning moon. He shifted, causing the moon’s beam to glint off the cigarette lighter in his hand.

“No…” My plea came out a squeak, an ineffectual cry for mercy. I was only an object to him, something to torture and kill for his perverse pleasure.

I squeezed my eyes shut and yanked at the rope, ignoring the pain biting into my wrists. Hysteria wouldn’t help my situation, so I held it in. In fact, from what I knew of the Hangman, my cries and pleas would only heighten his pleasure…his arousal. Vomit burned in my throat, accompanying the rancid taste of fear, but I forced my eyes open anyway.

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