Today’s featured author is Sandra Harris, who has written the novel, Love, Encoded.
Do you really know who you are? What you are?
Earth: Near Future
Experience has taught Sarah Rasmussen that hot guys don’t go for geeks like her. Their retreat speed is usually proportional to the value of her IQ. However, for every rule it seems there is an exception—or in her lucky case, two.
When confronted with the disturbing fact she has been genetically manipulated in order to save an alien race stranded on Earth for a thousand years, she needs the strength of the men’s devotion to deal with the life-changing news. But when she learns that the love of the two men she has come to care for deeply is not quite as it appears, it could shatter her heart forever.
Nick Bannister and Adam McKeoun will never stop fighting to convince Sarah she is their world, no matter what the source of their emotion. They will let nothing stand in their way of forging a happiness that will transcend any challenge, especially not a calculating and determined enemy bent on Sarah’s destruction.
Fear coated Sarah Rasmussen’s harsh, rapid breath.
Her feet pounded over the uneven, dirt track and she pushed her body hard to keep the pace up a rise. Through the thick, early morning mist the familiar stippled trunks of spotted gum loomed like every nightmare she’d ever had. Her heart beat a frantic rhythm against her ribcage and her ears strained to catch the slightest sound of her pursuer.
She pulled to an abrupt halt, heaving cold air into her starved lungs, then struggled against her desperate need for oxygen to smother her gasping breath and listen. Through the mist the echo of footsteps slowed, halted. Sickening apprehension corkscrewed through her stomach. A shiver prickled her heated skin.
She tried to force some semblance of calm over her panicking wits, but her instincts would not be denied. The fact that initially an unseen runner seemed to play cat and mouse with her had spooked her. They’d remained out of sight, had not responded to any of the hails she sent into the mist. She’d even taken a small sidetrack to try and throw them off.
The footsteps picked up again and the possibility of what might happen if she were caught speared a surge of black fear through her heart. Adrenaline charged through her body and she took off, feet flying over the rough surface of the track. The sole of her shoe landed heavily on a small rock. Her ankle collapsed and she lurched sideways, straining every muscle to remain upright. Twisting, burning sensation ripped through her right calf. She choked a cry as she tumbled to the hard ground, her running shorts and sleeveless top providing little protection. Every bone in her body jarred to the cruel impact.
A whimper of frustration and dread escaped her lips as the strangling pain of cramp throbbed through her leg. She made to stand. Agony tore through her lower limb and she collapsed back to the hard dirt. Desperation and pain stole her strength and for a moment she huddled on the ground in a limp mass. She dragged determination from the depths of her soul and pulled herself together, raised a shaking fist and pummelled it into the tight knot of her muscle. Again. Again. Her weak punches had no effect.
Footsteps approached. Terror twisted her nerves. Her skin felt like it wanted to crawl off somewhere and hide. She’d love it to do just that, so long as it took her with it.
Maybe I’m just being fanciful.
Her fears seemed to think otherwise, coiling nausea through her stomach. She pushed herself to her hands and knees. Sharp-edged pebbles and forest debris dug into her flesh as she crawled off the track. She thrust her back to the wide girth of a big gum tree and forced her breath into slow, deep inhalations. Heart faint and fingers trembling, she pulled her cell phone from a pocket again. And again hope died at the lack of coverage bars.
That shouldn’t happen. Not here.
She closed her eyes tight and bunched her fists against escalating terror.
Get a grip, Sarah. Get a grip.
The cool air brushed a clammy hand against her hot skin. A soft footfall and the rustle of clothing drifted through the mist. She snapped her eyes open. Gravel crunched. Her heart exploded into a wild gallop. Frantic, she scanned the ground for a weapon. Anything. A rock . . . sand . . . broken glass left by a careless hiker . . . anything. The smooth, pearl grey bark of a discarded ghost gum branch poked through yellowing clumps of grass. She lunged for it, wrapped her fingers around its width and lifted. The weight of the solid, four-foot piece of wood eased a little confidence into her mind.
Yeah, and now I’m being self-delusional.
Despite her doubts, her resolve strengthened. Looming shadows snatched her attention to the edge of the mist. Dark shapes moved towards her. Her heart leapt to her throat. She struggled to her feet, put her back to the tree and hefted the branch across her shoulder.
Two big, jeans and T-shirt clad men stepped clearly into her vision.