Justin’s friend Cody has disappeared, and Brinn is determined to find out why. Despite an escalation in the tensions between them over Cody and Brinn’s complicated friendship, Justin agrees to join her on a journey that leads to the mysterious jungles of Colombia, where whispers of human trafficking bring them face to face with an old enemy.
Brinn and Justin join forces with friends to do the unthinkable—enter the dangerous jungle on a rescue mission, sparking a battle for the lives of eight young boys and a fight for their own survival. Brinn’s haunted past rears its ugly head as she is forced to once again take on a brutal killer. But in risking her life to save her friend, will she lose the one man who has sacrificed everything for her?
Follow Brinn, Justin, Cody, and a cast of new characters through a series of novellas (30-40k word short novels). Each story will bring a new adventure, another crime to solve, and more danger for Brinn and company as they delve into the world of human trafficking and beyond.
“Are you okay?” Cody and I asked simultaneously. I laughed.
“Yeah. I’m okay.” The feeling was beginning to come back to my leg and other than a deep ache in the upper thigh, the only damage was to my pride for so easily being brought to tears. I’d sworn I would never be anyone’s victim again, and there I was, bound and about to be tortured and sold into slavery.
“We need to get out of here,” Cody said as he fought against the ropes. He grunted in pain with every movement. “Any ideas?”
Things had quieted down outside, but light continued to stream through the cracks in the old barn door, illuminating the space enough for me to make out shadows. I wiggled and strained for another minute while I formulated a plan. “I’ve almost got these…ropes…off.” With one last sharp pull, my thumb dislocated and the rope slipped off my wrists, taking the bandages with it. Searing pain shot up my arm. I sucked in a breath, freed my arms, and yanked on the thumb. It popped into place, bringing immediate relief. Taking no time to shake out the ache, I untied the rope around my ankles.
“That was impressive,” Cody said as I proceeded to free him.
“It’s going to do us no good if we can’t find a way around all those guards.” We kept our voices low, and my gaze darted to the door to make sure no one was coming. “There are now two guards out front, and once the fire I started behind the dining hall is under control, there will be more patrolling the grounds. Not counting the swarm of men blocking every exit of the compound.”
“Leave them to me.” Cody stood and then wobbled. I wrapped an arm around his waist and ducked under his shoulder to help support him. Our eyes met and even in shadow I saw the tender look of admiration, affection, and gratitude in his eyes. “Thanks for coming after me. I wish you hadn’t,” he added, a stern quirk of his swollen lip making him wince. “But I appreciate the sacrifice.”
“Not a sacrifice,” I said, giving him the same admonishing tone. “You would have done the same for me, right? We can do this.”
“Right.” He gave my shoulder a squeeze. “Which leads me to the fact that it’s going to be tough getting Rick out of here. We’re going to need to borrow one of their trucks.”
“I know where they keep them,” I said.
“First things first.” Cody managed to walk on his own after a few steps and limped toward the back of the barn where the crates were stored. “Can you check on Rick for me while I see what I can scrounge for weapons?”
I nodded and left him to his task, hurrying to Rick’s side. His breathing was even more shallow than before. I untied his hands and feet. He groaned when I turned him onto his back, and his eyes fluttered open.
“You’re a pretty sight,” he croaked in a whisper, forcing a quick smile.
The dark sticky fluid beneath him and the fact the wound in his side was still oozing meant he’d lost a lot of blood and would likely not make a long trip out of the mountains—even if we could get him into a truck and escape the compound. My hands shook as I tucked my jacket under his head.
We had to try. I remembered the herbs I’d stuffed into my pockets back in the garden. Calendula and comfrey weren’t ideal, but they might help slow the bleeding and keep out infection. I dug out the aromatic herbs and crushed them between my hands, pulverizing the flowers and leaves together.
“Sorry, Rick. This is going to hurt.” I lifted his shirt, exposing the raw, blackened hole, the skin around it dark with bruising from the soft tissue damage. There appeared to be no exit hole, which meant moving him in the slightest would be a risk. He nodded and groaned as I packed the wound and placed his hand on top. “Hold this in place as best you can.” He flashed a weak grin and complied, gritting his teeth against the pain.
“Jackpot,” whispered Cody loudly from the back of the barn as he pried open a crate with a crowbar he’d discovered nearby. “Looks like a weapons stash.” He lifted out an AR-15 and continued his search, looking for crates of ammunition. My gaze went back up to the small vent leading to the outside. It would be tight, but I was the only one who could fit through.