Someone was in the house.
Sara stared into the bedroom’s darkness, wide awake when she’d been asleep seconds earlier. She wasn’t sure what had woken her from the first good sleep she’d had in weeks, any more than she knew why she was suddenly certain she was no longer alone in her home.
She simply knew.
One hand instantly moved to her belly. The other reached into the bedside table. Her fingers closed around the gun she’d put there for this very reason. Protection. A single woman living alone needed some way to defend herself.
Careful not to make a sound, Sara pulled the weapon to her and strained to hear any signs of an intruder. The pounding of her heart in her ears drowned out everything else. Even so, she didn’t think she detected anything. There was only the steady drone of the air conditioner, cranked up high because she was always hot these days. Eyes wide, she tried to spot anything that didn’t belong there in the darkness. Nothing moved, nothing seemed out of place.
Still, the certainty remained.
She slowly uncurled herself from the body pillow that was the only thing that had let her get any sleep the past several months and rolled onto her back. The lamp switch was just out of arm’s reach. She’d have to push herself up to get to it. Or should she even turn it on? Would it scare off whoever might be out there or simply alert them to her presence and wakefulness, especially if she made too much noise shifting on the bed?
She should have gotten a dog, a big, scary one trained to ward off intruders. A dog would know if someone was in the house, confirming or dismissing her fears instead of leaving her searching for something that might not even be there. But she hadn’t known what she’d do with the dog when she went to the hospital. There was no one she could ask, and if she went into labor suddenly, the dog would be left behind alone in the house for days–
Her frenzied thoughts must have distracted her from her silent vigil. One moment the doorway yawned with emptiness. The next, so suddenly it seemed to have appeared there in the time it took her to blink, a dark figure stood there.
It made no sound as it moved into the room, seeming to float through the passageway. Two others followed close behind.
She took no joy in the knowledge she wasn’t imagining things. Terror gripped her so suddenly she couldn’t restrain a gasp.
The sharply indrawn breath didn’t go unnoticed. The figures came to an abrupt stop, hovering there in the darkness.
“You’re awake,” she heard a low voice murmur in surprise.
“That’s right,” she said calmly, somehow managing to keep the fear out of her voice when every instinct wanted to scream. “And you’re trespassing.”
They began to drift closer again, undeterred by her words or her awareness. Suddenly she realized the one in the lead was raising his hand. The pale threads of moonlight peeking through the slats of her window blinds glinted off something he was holding.
Her heart jumped as recognition slammed into her.
She instinctively spread her fingers wider on her abdomen, as though the small gesture could provide greater cover, more protection, to the child inside her.
“Don’t worry, Sara,” the voice came again, closer now, softened in a parody of a soothing tone. “This won’t hurt at all.”
Her response was to cock the weapon in her hand, the sound loud in the silence. The figures froze.
She aimed right at the head of the one with the needle. “This will.”
Copyright © 2009 by Kerry Connor. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.