Calculated Risk (Triumph Over Adversity #1) - Lynn Shannon Page 0,1
Shelby, Addison’s cat, scrambled across the carpet and disappeared down the hall toward the bedroom. The Siamese mix hated storms and had since the day Addison brought her home from the shelter.
“Poor kitty.” Shelby had a hiding space under Addison’s bed. Chances were, the cat was headed there to wait things out.
Lights flickered. The home security system beeped and then went dark. Addison crossed the room to rearm it. Her fingers flew over the keypad, but nothing happened. Frustration nipped at her. The security company had been out earlier in the week to repair the system. Clearly, it wasn’t successful.
A thump came from the rear of the house. Addison froze. Had her cat knocked something over in the back room?
Or was someone in the house?
Her heart rate skyrocketed. Addison held her breath, straining to listen for any sound over the classical music playing on her speakers. Nothing. Indecision waged within Addison. The memory of Michael’s glare from court earlier that day rose in her mind. She had a laundry list of clients whose significant others were just as violent.
Silently, on stocking feet, Addison crossed back to her desk. She opened the drawer. A small can of mace rested inside. She wrapped her hand around it. After her ex-husband violated his restraining order and tried to hurt her, Addison had taken boxing and self-defense courses. Ten years of practice had honed her skills, but a real-life confrontation was far different from a controlled environment.
A creak echoed down the hallway. Addison’s breath stalled in her chest. She knew that sound well. It came from her bedroom door. The hinges needed oil.
Someone was in the house.
Lord, please help me.
Addison scooped up the cell phone from her desk but didn’t pause long enough to call 911. The priority was to get out of the house and to safety. She raced across the living room carpet. Double dutch doors opened to a large backyard and the woods beyond. She could use the trees for cover. Or better yet, she could go to her neighbor’s house. Jason was former military.
Addison unlocked the door with trembling fingers. Her thundering heart made it impossible to hear anything. Where was the intruder? Was he coming for her?
Sucking in a breath, she twisted the knob. The door swung open. Frigid air raced over her heated skin. She slipped into the darkness. The lights from her neighbor’s house—five yards away—glowed like a welcome beacon.
Something shifted behind her.
Addison whirled. A large figure tackled her and sent her flying. Pain vibrated through her body as she collided with a patio chair. The cell phone and mace flew from her hands. They clattered across the cement and landed in the grass.
She scrambled to get her knees under her. The assailant charged, and Addison lashed out with her foot. It landed in his stomach. He grunted in surprise and backed up a few steps.
She got to her feet and ran. Her ankle throbbed, injured in her tumble with the chair. It hindered her progress. Sucking in a deep breath, Addison screamed, but was cut off as the attacker slammed into her again. They tumbled to the ground. All the air whooshed from Addison’s lungs as the weight of the man crushed her.
She shot out an elbow but couldn’t get enough force behind the move to make it count.
The attacker slammed a fist into her head. Stars exploded across her vision. His weight was a cement block she couldn’t dislodge. Addison’s world narrowed to her masked attacker and the frantic beat of her heart. She screamed.
The man’s hands went around her throat and squeezed.
Jason Gonzalez jerked awake as a wet nose nudged his face, but let his eyes drift shut again. He groaned. “What is it, Connor?”
The German shepherd nudged him again. More insistently this time. Jason peeled his eyes open. He’d fallen asleep on the couch with all the lights on. And no wonder. He was exhausted after completing several new paintings for an art show next week in record time. The latest one rested on a nearby easel. The landscape was wintery with snow-capped mountains, bare trees, and a frozen lake. Menacing clouds rolled in from the west, but light still filtered through a sliver of space, cutting a path across the darkness. He called it a Beam of Hope.
Working as an artist had never been Jason’s dream career option. No, his goal after leaving the military was to become a police officer. But an IED had destroyed that aspiration. He wouldn’t pass the