It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on my blog, let alone any of my own work. So, if you’ll indulge me, this is the first draft of the prologue from the fourth book in my “It Happened” series – It Happened at Lake Louise.
This book is darker than the earlier books in the series, in that the main character suffered an abusive childhood.
That voice. Lori’s blood ran cold as if ice water coursed through her veins and her heart pounded so hard it threatened to burst through her chest. Only one person ever called her that. Even her parents always used her full name – Abigail. If she was in trouble then it was Abigail Laurie Brownell.
The Great Dane exited a low rumble of a growl. Her left index finger worked its way between the bracelets to the scars on her right wrist. Raised welts from years of cutting and a deep gouge where she’d taken a chunk out of her arm.
This couldn’t be happening. She arranged to meet Wolfgang’s owner near the Chateau Lake Louise to ensure his safe return to him and his home in Fort Mac. People came and went in droves here. The phrase safety in numbers suited this place to a T. No way would she have met a stranger at her apartment in Calgary. Who knew what creeps waited to prey on a single white female? She’d been a victim as a child and into her teens. Not anymore. A steady stream of pedestrians strolled past where they stood. They’d help her if needed. Wouldn’t they?
The person Lori communicated with via text messages and Messenger didn’t come across as the type who would cause such a reaction in their pet. She turned around her movements awkward from an old injury.
“Unc … how?” She stammered, unable to form the words she wanted to say. Her worst nightmare had come true. She thought she put the past well behind her when she finished school and landed a job in Calgary. Moving out of Saskatchewan wasn’t enough.
“Abigail Laurie Brownell. Did you think we’d never find you?”
“My name is Lori Brownlee,” she spat. Those words came out too late. Her momentary sense of bravado disappeared. She had given away her true identity with her first reaction. Gawd, sometimes she was so stupid and trusting.
“Aren’t you just the clever clogs?” he sneered. “I see you still haven’t had that ankle fixed. I offered to take you to the hospital when I found you at the foot of the stairs.”
“Because of you, I fell down the steps in the first place. I was trying to get away from you, you pervert.”
The dog at her side continued to growl, but now the rumblings sounded menacing. Her uncle may have frightened her when she was a child, but not anymore. Yeah right. Her entire body vibrated with fear as his face loomed in front of her and the memories of her unhappy, abusive childhood flooded to the surface.
“Lori! Lori Brownlee?” a man’s voice called from behind her.
Afraid to take her eyes off her uncle, she didn’t turn in his direction. “Are you Chris? Christopher Scott?”
“Yeah. Sorry I’m late. An accident backed the traffic up for miles.”
The Great Dane beside her wagged its tail so hard its entire body shook and tugged on her hand, holding the leash.
“Wolfgang! Come here. boy,” he said.
Lori released the lead, and the dog left. She couldn’t bring herself to turn away from her uncle, despite wanting to see Wolfgang’s owner. She didn’t trust her uncle now and she shouldn’t have trusted him then. Soon, the Great Dane leaned against her left leg, and a tall man sporting a moustache and beard stood next to the dog.
* * *
“I want to thank you for rescuing Wolfgang. I’d seen clips of him on the news broadcasts. No one else could get near him but you.”
“No problem,” she replied, her eyes still held fast on the man before them. “I’d seen him on the news, too. I tried to team up with the other animal rescue groups, but I was too late. Still, I’m happy I got him out of the danger zone.”
There was something in her expression. Sadness? She’d probably grown attached to the gigantic dog in the time she’d cared for him. Returning Wolfgang to his owner? No, not that. It was something deeper. Fear? Possible. Of him or the man facing them? Since his arrival, she hadn’t turned and looked at him once.
“You okay?” he asked.
A barely perceptible nod was the response. Christopher didn’t believe the gesture. Something was amiss. Despite the bright sunshine, a dark cloud of gloom appeared to surround Lori. A breeze caught her blonde-streaked brown hair and blew in her face. When she reached to tuck the errant strand behind her ear, her ice-cold hand brushed against his arm. A scar, visible now that she secured her hair, followed her hairline for approximately two inches. A childhood injury from falling off a bike?
He had quite a few battle scars from his youth, too. Broken bones from playing on the high school football team. Stitches from skateboard accidents and tumbles from bicycles. The worst happened on a night he and his pals, Ron Smith and Nick Jones, spent joyriding in Nick’s father’s car. Nick lost control and the car careened over an embankment. Chris got off lucky because he wore his seatbelt and sat in the back, behind the driver’s seat. The other two were worse off, although they survived. It was hard to say which was worse, the accident, the police involvement or facing his parents after his discharge from the emergency department.
There was a resemblance between Lori and this man — maybe not enough to be siblings, but family.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” the man asked.
“Let’s get out of here,” Christopher suggested. He draped a protective arm around Lori’s shoulders and they turned and started for the parking lot where Chris left his truck.
“If you’ve not experienced it yet, she likes it rough,” the man yelled.
“Who is that creep?”
So there you have it. I’d love to know what you think. You can leave your feedback in the comments.