Say When by Becca Lamb

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The things we can’t talk about…

It’s been four months since twenty-year-old Macy Nolan was nearly murdered by her stepbrother, Colin. With nowhere to turn, no one she trusts, and her attacker still at large, Macy finds herself squatting in an unoccupied house.

Gareth Powell has always felt like a coward. He has buried the shame of the secret that tore his family apart under layers of pain and pleasure, refusing to truly open his heart to anyone. After the middle-aged man comes home to find a hurt runaway sleeping in his bed, he offers her his help, and he becomes hellbent to keep her safe.

When Macy discovers Gareth’s BDSM lifestyle, the revelation makes her own thoughts go wild, and she begins to face the truth of what she wants. As the chemistry between them becomes impossible to ignore, she realizes she can never tell him her secret; he’d never touch her again.

But not all secrets can stay buried. When the past catches up to them, Macy and Gareth find both of their lives in jeopardy. They come to realize exactly how far they’ll go to protect each other. But will it be enough to keep them both alive? Or will the things they can’t talk about tear them apart.

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Excerpt from Say When © Copyright 2024 Becca Lamb

When the door creaks open, my heart lurches in my chest, and I instinctively ball up to cover my naked body. He’s seen every inch of me by now, but it doesn’t make the shock any less when I’m laid out like a serving platter, ready for him to devour.

Not again, please… I don’t know how much more pain my body can handle.

“Get up.”

Colin’s harsh voice floods the room, and I don’t dare defy him. My body is broken and overwhelmed with pain, but I stumble to my feet with my wrists still tied uncomfortably together. As he approaches me, I quake with fear. He undoes the ropes before pulling a gun from the back of his pants, and he jabs the cold metal barrel between my eyes. My heart jackhammers against my chest wall in desperation, knowing that at any moment, it’ll be lights out. Endless darkness; but no more pain. As afraid as I am knowing that I’m about to die, I’m also relieved that it’s almost over.

“Stand over there and turn around,” he says, motioning to the center of the room.

I force myself to take a few steps forward; ignoring the excruciating pain that’s kept me sweating bullets for the last day and a half, but I don’t turn around. Something stops me. I’d thought the last of my hope was long gone, but some small part of me still has to try.

I’m not an idiot. I’ve probably got a dozen broken bones and I’m half dead. He’s scrawny, not drastically bigger than me, but he’s far stronger than even the healthiest version of me. There’s no fighting him. He’ll only hurt me more, and I can’t take more. If I can’t convince him to let me go, I’ll turn around and let him execute me.

But I have to try to survive; just one more time.

“You don’t have to kill me,” I cry.

“You’re gonna die, Macy.” His heartless demeanor is a blunt reminder of how completely fucking insane he is, as if I could’ve forgotten.

“I won’t say anything. I know that’s what people say, but I mean it. Do you really want to be a murderer?”

“That ship has long fucking sailed,” he says. He jabs the gun at me, and I shriek and brace for the sound of gunfire, but it doesn’t go off.

“You don’t have to do this. We can put together some alibi to cover this up, and you can leave me on the side of the road somewhere. You’ll never see me again, Colin, I swear. You don’t need to kill me.”

He doesn’t flinch. “Shut up and turn around.”

That’s it, I see it now. He doesn’t want me to look at him when he kills me.

“Shut up and turn around, or I’ll use the bat instead. It’ll be slow.”

I let out a pained cry and give up. I tried. This is it. It’s almost over… But the one question I’ve been too afraid to ask flies out of my mouth.

“Why?”

His cold black eyes flare in anger, and I wince, but he doesn’t move.

“Please. Just tell me why…”

He lets out a harsh breath, his brows creased and tense. “Turn around.”

His ice-cold voice knocks the wind out of me, and I give up; it’s over. It takes all my strength, but I turn myself around and shut my eyes.

My heartbeat slows to a silent crawl, and the hellish room suddenly feels calm. I take one more deep breath before I let out two words in a strangled voice.

“Do it.”

I count the seconds as I wait for death to take me.

Thirty-seven seconds later, the room fills with the sound of a single gunshot. A sharp, hot pain pierces my back, followed by a wave of icy adrenaline that washes over my body. My mind goes blank, and I’m sure I’m dead as I drop. My head is wafted with pain as my skull slams against the hard floor.

With my eyes open, I feel myself drifting out of my body before every muscle relaxes and I go limp.

***

I come to with the sense that I’m alone. Loud music is blaring from above. I find the strength to lift my head and find that I’m lying in a pool of blood.

I take a sharp breath and instantly regret it. Something’s wrong in my chest like I’m breathing in razor blades. I force myself to take shallow, quiet breaths to avoid the pain, but it makes my panic burn even hotter.

How the hell am I still alive?

Other than the door, there’s only one way out of here; the high window. I’m nearly dead with a bullet in my back and I can’t breathe, but I’m not tied.

This is my chance. It’s the first chance I’ve had to escape. If I wasn’t terrified of whatever further pain he’d inflict on me, I’d just lay here and wait for death to take me. But if he comes back and I’m still alive, he’ll hurt me again.

That’s it. I’ve had enough.

I pull myself to my feet and push a chair over to the window, leaning against it to steady my gait. When I crawl on top with pain shooting through my abdomen like hot knives, I grimace with agony, swallowing the screams. I’ve never felt this much pain before, but I have no choice but to stomach it as I reach for the windowsill, ignoring the sensation that my organs are being scrambled. I can only just grab the edge with my fingers, but it’s somehow enough, and I pull myself up and push through the pain. Once I’ve got my upper body braced up high, I yank the sliding window to the side and punch the bug screen out. I wiggle my way out the small window, fighting back screams of agony with every inch, until I tumble out the other side onto my face in the wet grass, soaking my bare-naked body with icy morning dew.

I’m out…

I scramble to my feet and hobble around to the front of the house while my blood hums with fear in my veins. Colin’s truck is parked in our otherwise empty driveway. My car, the one I inherited from my mother, is gone.

I have one chance. We live at the end of a secluded forest road; the nearest house is too far. We have a few ATVs, but I’ll never be able to hold myself upright long enough to get help. If I can’t get in Colin’s truck and get it moving, I’m dead.

I hold my breath as I grab the latch of his truck. It’s unlocked. Grabbing the handle, I pull myself up and into the seat, landing with a heavy groan against the velvety cushion. I can’t bring myself to look at the ignition. Clenching my eyes shut as tight as I can, I reach down and bounce back in surprise when I feel a lanyard with several keys attached jammed into the ignition.

There’s nothing else of any use to me, no phone, clothing, or food, just a lot of takeout trash that smells rotten. Turning the key, the engine roars to life, and I put as much distance between Colin and me as possible. Less than five minutes later, I take a turn too quickly, and the truck gets air.

My head slams forward and bounces off the steering wheel, and pain seeps across my forehead like molasses. I whimper in terror and agony when I realize the truck isn’t moving. I’ve gone off the road and hit a tree. The entire front of the vehicle is crushed, and my legs are pinned under the dash.

“No, no, no please no,” I cry, clawing desperately for my buckle. My right knee is held in place, trapped beneath the crushed metal. I push back against the seat to give myself more room, but I can’t move or even reach the lever. I open the door but can’t force it more than an inch. The hinges must be crumpled like tin foil.

Pushing on the door with my shoulder, I try to slam it open, but the pain it sends through my body is excruciating. I let out a wail of misery, sending a flock of birds breaking from a nearby tree.

I’m not dead. Why am I still alive? How am I still alive? I throw my head back and sob, trying to scratch at the back of my shoulder where I got shot. If I can make it bleed more, maybe that’ll be the end. To my dismay and fury, I can’t reach.

Just as I let out another scream, something catches the corner of my eye, and I turn my head in time to see a blue car appear from around the bend. I hold my breath as I watch him pass. No one drives this far up here; there’s only one person it could be, and he has a blue car. Only a short moment later, movement in my cracked rear-view mirror has my heart rate plummeting. Through my dry squinty eyes and splitting headache, I see his face, and I panic.

“No… No, no, no!”

It’s Ty.

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