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Chapter 23 – Day and Night

Raine

       

Adrenaline crashed through my rib cage and radiated out to my extremities, leaving my fingers and toes tingling. My skin felt too tight. Sweat beaded at the back of my neck. I had only one goal, one directive, and it wouldn't be denied... freedom!

I drifted silently down a long hallway in the opposite direction of Cage's suites until I located a back stairwell. Much of the layout was duplicated in various parts of the building. With any luck, this path would lead me toward the section of the building closest to the woods. 

With a quick flick of my wrist, I opened the door and slid through. Three flights of steps down and I crashed to a halt before exiting the stairwell. I bent over with my hands on my waist and gulped in large lungfuls of air to regulate my breathing.  A panting, wild-eyed human was sure to draw attention. If I had any chance of breaking free, I needed to control my outward appearance. I needed to appear cool, calm and collected, like I belonged in this section of the building. Not like the scared run-away that I was.

I forced myself to remain in place, and countedslowly . One, two, three...eight, nine...when I reached ten, I straightened and smoothed a hand over my wayward hair. Taking a deep breath, I turned the handle and exited the stairwell. A quick glance to the right and left confirmed the layout was similar to Cage's portion of the estate.

Yes!

I moved as quickly as I could without drawing attention to myself, through the complex maze of hallways, until I reached an exterior door. I examined the door for security sensors. There weren't any that I could see, but that didn't mean I wouldn't trip a silent alarm if I opened it. My heart thumped hard in my chest.

I turned away. It was just too risky. The vampires were smart. There had to be an alarm on the door. Shit, now what? I eyed the long hallway. There were multiple doors leading to unknown rooms. Maybe one of those rooms would have a better option to break through to the outside. I slunk toward the closest door and twisted the handle. It was locked. I bit back a sound of frustration and moved on to the next one. This time, the knob gave way! I inched the door open slowly, refraining from just barging into the darkened room. The odds were probably zero that Vlad could be inside, indulging his primal desires, but after the last time, one couldn't be too careful.

The room was empty. My breath whooshed out of my chest in relief. From the dust and cobwebs on the surfaces, it appeared it hadn't been occupied in a while. Perfect. I ran to the windows. They were much less likely to have sensors. I pried one open and wriggled my body through feet first. There was a six foot drop and then I was standing on the ground!

I didn't hesitate. Instead I ran like hell toward the forest a couple of hundred yards away. It was unlikely the vampires were looking out the windows in the middle of the day, but humans resided there as well. They wouldn't keep my secret if they saw me.

Adrenaline pounded out a drum beat in my head. My arms moved in tandem with my legs, pushing my body faster. This was the point I was most vulnerable. Out in the open.  As soon as I passed the first line of trees, I whipped around, keeping hidden behind the foliage, and looked to see if anyone followed me.  But it was perfectly quiet. No sound. No alarm.

I was free!

Now, I just needed to survive.

I spun around and headed into the forest. My plan was relatively simple. The map had indicated a large clearing about thirty minutes away. After that, I just needed to continue in the direction of the farthest mountain to the east. I could do that. Simple.

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