Panic (Rook & Ronin #3)

By: JA Huss

Rook and Ronin, Book Three


Rook is chasing her dream—film school and a chance at a life beyond the one she ran from six months ago. But before she can become the girl she wants to be, she must deal with the girl she left behind.

Ronin is also chasing his dream—a family of his own and a life away from erotic modeling. And he too, has a past he’s trying to forget. A past that makes Rook question everything about their life together.

Lies, secrets, and shocking truths will rock the foundation Rook and Ronin have built. Can they put the past behind them and move forward together? Or is this just another too good to be true relationship that will crash and burn in the end?


DAY 1,110 in Captivity

Six Months Ago

Wayne, Illinois

Thirty-one days.

That’s how long it takes my face to heal.

I watch the girl in the mirror, looking for marks. She tilts her head this way and that, lifts her chin, stretches her neck for any sign of fingertip-shaped bruises, and then she sighs.

They are all gone. I can see a tiny scar on the edge of my lower lip, but it’s not as bad as it could’ve been if Jon hadn’t rigged up a rudimentary butterfly bandage so he didn’t have to take me to the hospital. It should’ve been stitched, but it wasn’t.

My pack is waiting on the floor of the bathroom. I wasn’t sure if today would be the day. I tried last week but there were still a few purple splotches on the skin under my eye and the lip was scabbed.

It’s been torture waiting to heal. And I kept thinking—what if he does it again? Before I heal? Then I’ll be stuck here even longer.

But enough of that. It’s healed now and I have an appointment. I take one more look in the mirror and give myself a little pep talk. “You’re going to live, Rook. You’re going to live. You might not have the best life, but it will be better than this one. No matter how bad it is at first. Things will get better.”

I really believe it too. Before all this mess with Jon—that’s what he calls it, the mess—I was what some people might call an optimist. A half-full kind of girl.

I think I can be that girl again.

I think I can.

My suitcase contains all my worldly possessions. It’s not much really, just some clothes and trinkets. A few softcover books I never finished, and some crap that meant something to me at one time or another, but no longer matters.

I just want to leave it all behind. Every bit of it. But I don’t want Jon to have anything of me. I want to leave this house and leave no trace of myself.

It’s impossible, I’m not delusional. I’m all over this place. I picked out the dishtowel hanging on the stove. I found the dishes at an antique store not far from here. I’m the only person to ever have used the oven. And I’m leaving behind an entire room of things I can’t bear to look at.

But I can’t change any of that. I can’t erase the imprint I’m leaving here.

All I can do is remove the few very personal items I have and stuff them in this suitcase.

Jon left the car keys today. And a list of errands he wanted me to do. Go to the store, buy his favorite foods, pick up a package at the post office—he was pissed about that, that it had to be picked up instead of delivered. But it was his fault. I couldn’t exactly open the door with my face all purple.

I take one more look down the hallway to the last door on the left. It’s closed. It’s always closed.

I hope it stays closed forever because I’m so tired of thinking about it.

The suitcase is very heavy since it contains all the things I’d rather throw away than leave with Jon, but I manage to get it in the backseat of the Toyota, then plop myself down in the driver’s seat and put my pack on the passenger side.

I’m remarkably calm for a girl who is about to run away. I expected my heart to beat wildly, like the last time I tried to leave.

I didn’t make it that time. But that was two years ago now. He’s made a mess of me so many times since then and I never tried to run away again, so I guess he figures I’m beat. He’s won.

The car protests with backfires and clouds of smoke when I turn the key. I just press the gas until it gets over it. It will work today, I know it will. I’m not worried about the car breaking down at all, and typically I worry about that even if I’m just going to the supermarket in town.

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