Friday, August 23, 2013

A Taste of Friday: Stolen Woman by Kimberly Rae





Kimberly Rae
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 30, 2011)

 

Prologue

 
Asha shivered despite the intense heat. Why had she never considered the brutal fact that she, too, might get caught? Stolen. Sold. Bartered over like one of the pieces of blood-dripping meat in this filthy market.
Someone was following her.
Back home she would not have noticed, but weeks in India had taught her to be wary. All the noise and clamor along the busy Kolkata street could not distract from the shadow that appeared, then retreated whenever she turned to find its source.
The person following her was not very good at the game of stealth. That fact, however, did not make the predator any less dangerous. Who was it? And why was she the target?
Slipping around the nearest corner, a whisper of wind teasing her shawl out behind her, Asha dodged a wandering goat, then turned quickly down an alley to the left hoping to lose whoever was on her trail.
She was already late. But better to make Rani wait than to put her in even more danger.
If that were possible.
Could there be any danger worse than what her friend had already experienced? Sixteen-year-old Rani had traveled to the city following the promise of a well-paying job only to find herself deceived, stripped of all freedom, stolen from all that gave her dignity or hope.
Stolen and sold. Asha could not stop her body from trembling.
She flattened a shaking hand against the wall. Edging forward inch by inch, she angled her head to glimpse around the corner without revealing her face.
Was he gone?
She desperately wanted to remain where she was, clinging to the remote feeling of safety that curled around her in the small, dark corner where she hid. But how could she stay, avoiding risk, knowing that doing so would abandon a friend to the evil of the night while she remained untouched?
Asha’s whole body cringed. What a bad choice of words to think.
Mark had warned her about this. Mark. Just the thought of his lean, contoured face, muscles tensed along his jaw as he tried to convince her to keep away from the very street she was now traveling, gave Asha a sharp pain near her heart.
She should have listened. Should have asked for his advice . . . his help.
Why had she been so stubborn?
“God, help me,” she whispered. Summoning all her courage, she stood and stepped back into the alley, casting a wary eye in all directions before continuing toward the rendezvous point.
Was that Rani waiting beside the mounds of colored spices for sale?
A sudden glimpse of a following shadow stopped Asha cold. Her heartbeat shot up and she broke out in a cold sweat. She had not lost her predator after all.
A quick, desperate look left and right revealed several narrow, shadowed pathways through shanties and market stalls.
Should she run, leaving Rani to think she had not come? Should she meet Rani and quickly tell her they should go separate ways? Surely the public arena of the open marketplace would protect them as they spoke.
However, Asha knew with certainty that once they separated the predator would follow Rani, forgetting about her.
Tears stung her eyes. She took a deep breath.
She would run.
Turning to the left, she quickly chose the closest path. Three steps would carry her, and hopefully the person following after her, into a different section of the market, away from Rani’s watchful eyes.
One step. Two. Asha took one glance back at her friend, her eyes full of regret, when Rani saw her. Rani’s eyes lit up in recognition. She smiled.
Asha’s spirit groaned in defeat. Now what could she do?
She could not keep the fear and confusion from her features. She could tell the moment Rani saw it, too. It was as if Rani’s face immediately transformed from a woman holding on to a shred of hope to a child terrified of the monsters under her bed.
Or worse.
I’m so sorry. Asha wanted to say it out loud but could not get her lips to move.
When the shadow came closer then stopped only a few feet away, she closed her eyes, wishing all of it away. Wishing she could go back to that morning and change the choices that had brought her here into this web of danger and fear.
No, she would have to go farther back than that. Before meeting Rani. Before meeting Mark. Even before her arrival in India.
She would have to go back six weeks ago, to the day of her flight.  To the moments before she left home, when she kept an important truth from her parents. To the first time she decided it was okay to deceive in order to do good.
That first deceit had begun a pattern, a trail that had led her to this moment, this foolish choice to do things on her own without help.
A choice that might destroy her and the friend she wanted so desperately to help.
Waiting for the follower to approach, grab her, and possibly cart her off to a lifetime of slavery, Asha’s mind took her away from the marketplace and back, flashing scenes across her closed eyelids, rewinding through the choices she had made.
Back to the beginning.
To the day she left for India . . .
 

Kimberly Rae’s suspense/romance novels on international human trafficking and missions (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Find out more at www.kimberlyrae.com

 

1 comment:

  1. Kimberly, I love it! My kind of book. You captured me from the first. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete