Excerpt from Anew by Chelsea Fine
With the phone still in her hands, Scarlet smacked at the wall beside her until she found the light switch. Flicking it on, she saw Tristan hurry to the base of the stairs and look at her with wild eyes. “Scarlet, get out of here!”
She noticed a deep gash on his forehead bleeding down the side of his face. Several gashes marked up his arms and chest, coating his shirt in blood.
Words tumbled over themselves as Scarlet quickly pushed them through her mouth, “What happ—? Are you ok—? Who was—?”
She was shaking and her lungs were tight with fear.
Tristan sharply motioned to the front door with a bloody hand. “Get outside.” His green eyes bore into her without mercy, without debate. “Now!”
Scarlet blinked once before rushing out of her house, Tristan right behind her.
“Get to my car.” Tristan commanded, his hot breath brushing against the back of her neck as they ran across her front lawn.
Without question, Scarlet headed to Tristan’s black car.
He hated her.
He didn’t want her around.
But, for whatever reason, Scarlet trusted him implicitly. If he told her to get in the car, she would get in the car.
Scarlet’s breathing became tight and rapid.
Tristan barked out orders like, “Keep your head down,” and “Don’t look back!” but Scarlet barely heard him above the roar of her pounding heart and the shallow air squeezing through her chest.
With burning eyes, she ran through the darkness and let herself into Tristan’s car. He followed suit, jumping into the driver’s seat, and immediately peeled out of the neighborhood.
It wasn’t until they were speeding away from her very small and, usually, very safe Avalon neighborhood that Scarlet was able to catch her breath. “What…what just happened?”
Tristan kept his eyes on the road. “I don’t know.” He was out of breath, too.
Panic darted through Scarlet’s body. “Is someone following us?”
“No.” He cursed. “I don’t know.”
Scarlet turned around in her seat to look out the back window.
“What are you doing? Turn around and keep your head down!” Tristan’s eyes shot to Scarlet with a dangerous gleam.
She twisted back around, faced forward, and shrank down in her seat.
She was terrified.
Not because Tristan was yelling at her like she was a disobedient puppy, but because Tristan was scared. And if he was afraid, then there was something to be afraid of.
Several minutes went by in silence, the only noise the growling of the car engine.
“Are you okay?” Tristan asked in a rough voice, not looking at her. “Are you hurt?”
Scarlet shook her head and looked out at the road, her body shaking again. “Who was that guy in my house? Was he a thief? What did he want?”
“I don’t know,” Tristan said shifting in his seat. He winced in pain as he reached into his back pocket. He threw a knife, wet with blood, on the dashboard.
Scarlet’s eyes widened.
Then he held up an unfamiliar object. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
It looked like a wide headband. It was black, made of plastic, and lined with wires. And on one side of the band was what looked like a tiny, sharp crystal.
Scarlet eyed it, her confusion growing. “No. What is it?”
Tristan shook his head. “I have no idea.”
Scarlet blinked. “What do you think he wanted?” she asked again, because she was scared. And nervous. And confused.
“I don’t know,” Tristan snapped, anger in his voice, like Scarlet’s questions were annoying him.
Scarlet raised a brow. “Well, what were you doing in my house?” If Tristan wanted to be snotty, she could be snotty. “I certainly didn’t invite you in.”
Tristan let out a frustrated sigh and checked the rearview mirror without answering.
“What were you doing in my house, Tristan? Did Gabriel send you?”
Tristan’s flexed his jaw. “No.”
Scarlet shifted in her seat to look at him. “Then what? You were just hanging out upstairs while I slept? That’s creepy.”
Tristan shook his head. “I was outside of your house when I saw that guy walk in your front door.”
Scarlet blinked. “You saw him come inside?”
Tristan nodded. “I thought it was weird that some stranger was entering your house in the middle of the night while your guardian was out of town, so I followed him in. Turns out he was a bad guy. Big surprise.”
“What do you think he wanted?”
Tristan said, “I’m not sure. But he knew you were inside and he was willing to kill me to get to you.”
Scarlet shuddered. “We need to call the police.”
“What?” Scarlet looked at him incredulously. “Someone just broke into my house and tried to kill me…or something. We need to call the cops.”
Tristan shook his head. “Uh-uh.”
“You’re insane.” Scarlet pulled out her phone to dial 9-1-1 for the second time that night.
Tristan snatched the phone from her hands and, with one swift movement, rolled down his window and threw it into the heavily wooded area on the side of the road.
Scarlet stared at him in disbelief. “What the hell, Tristan?”
“You don’t get to make phone calls right now. You need to listen to me, closely.” Tristan looked at her briefly, his eyes connecting with hers in a way that comforted her and scared the crap out of her at the same time.
“That guy back there wasn’t your normal, everyday burglar. He was after you specifically and he had this,” Tristan held up the headband thingy again as he looked back at the road, “ready to use on you. So, you don’t get to pretend like you have a normal teenage life right now. You are different, Scarlet. Somebody came after you tonight. You could have died. Or worse.”
A few tense moments passed, silent but for the car engine and Scarlet’s drumming heart.
She puckered her lips. “Still. Did you really have to throw my phone out? Couldn’t you just have asked me to put it down and talked to me like a grown up?”
Many thanks to Chelsea for stopping by today, and for offering an ebook copy to give away to one lucky reader! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win an ebook copy of Anew for yourself!