{twenty-seven}

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So much darkness in the light.

So little light in the darkness.

It wrapped her in its soothing warmth. A voice called to her from the fog. Alessandra desperately wanted to go there. Knew that whatever was waiting would be better than this. Jet black ebbed at the edges of her vision. Her eyes were heavy. Glorious sleep. Just for a little while. Then she'd wake up and this dream would be over.

Except this was reality.

Pain permeated her brain as she forced her eyes open. She could move now, but her legs were cramping. The tingling overpowered her nerve endings, but she wiggled her fingers.

Her hands were tied down in front of her. Damp wood and rubbing alcohol singed her nose. Alessandra tried to kick up, but there wasn't much room to move. She tried the same with her head and barely moved half an inch.

Great. He had her in a coffin. No doubt he knew what it would do to her. Her breathing was already affected. Alessandra closed her eyes and attempted deep breaths; blinked against the gathering tears.

Nate had done this to her but why? She'd gone from being so close to getting another break in this case and then nothing.

Losing it all.

Again.

This time there would be no picking up the pieces and trying to move on.

She had no doubt Alex would be looking for her. That was if he knew she was even gone. She'd been thinking about the Thanksgiving dinner they'd be enjoying in a couple of weeks. Now they wouldn't have it at all.

And Mel. Alessandra's plan had been to visit her friend when this was all over. But now? The case would be finished but not the way she thought.

Then there was Dylan. Bad luck just came with the territory when it came to her personal life it seemed. She'd finally entertained the idea of them having some semblance of a future together. Now it was over before it started.

Pat would jump all over this too. If only any of them knew where to start. Too bad Alessandra had no clue of what to do to show them any direction. She'd been so insistent on creating a scenario where she could use her self-defense training.

But she'd been caught unaware. And now she was trapped like a caged animal, unable to do anything. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Raw fear clawed at her, left her paralyzed. Alessandra gasped for air but still couldn't catch her breath.

No.

She couldn't go out now. Not like this. Time to throw on her big girl panties and focus. Or else she would die here having not done a thing. Besides Mel and Alex, this guy knew a lot about her. She couldn't stick to what she usually did and also couldn't be unwilling to adapt. Yes her stubbornness outweighed her common sense at times, but this wouldn't be one of them.

She had to get the hell out of here. And if that didn't happen then making sure they knew who did this was her only other goal. Even if she never saw any of her friends and family again...

Slow, deep breath. One more. And another. She didn't know how much time passed before her breathing returned to normal.

Alessandra tried to listen for something outside to give away her location. Shuffling feet, footsteps, opening doors. All she heard was the wind howling. It made its presence known by banging on the windows.

Then she caught a scent. It wasn't from beef or a pig. Raw iron and wet earth. Human blood. Judging by the smell it had been there for a while.

Where was she?

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