From the book
Faith James wanted to fight what was happening. She wanted to shout expletives and punch somebody, but no one was in the car with her, and there was no time to stop and think about alternatives. She was a surgeon in a Miami hospital of merit, yet here in a remote corner of southern France she was out of her element, and feeling anxious.
Something felt off. And it wasn't just because she had left the last town of any notable size behind more than an hour ago. Her heart had been pounding for the past six miles of dusty one-lane roads. She had always been sensitive to feelings; almost supernaturally aware of things other people didn't perceive or care to acknowledge if they did. This gift was a boon in her work. A James family trait.
But jet lag tended to scramble everything up. Fear didn't help any, either, or the fact that bad feelings didn't come with a guidebook.
More to the point, it had become quite evident that some James females didn't cope well with the su-persize sensitivity of others. Her sister, Hope, for instance, instigator of this last-minute, nerve-racking trip to France.
"What the hell, Hope?" Faith muttered, driving too fast in the dark, taking an impossibly tight curve in a slide of gravel. "What made you leave that tour? What were you thinking?"
It was too dark to see the slip of paper lying on the passenger seat, but that was okay. She had memorized the name of the person the French police liaison recommended to help her find her sister. Mason LanVal lived out here, in the middle of nowhere, a recluse no doubt as crusty as this bumpy road.
It may have been well past the civilized hour for a house call to a person who didn't even have the courtesy to own a phone, but she couldn't have waited until morning to find LanVal. Her sister had been missing for seven days now. Way too long. She didn't want to imagine what that might mean, and kept her mind from going there by getting angry.
"Damn it, Hope. Where the hell are you?"
She swiped at the prickling sensation on the back of her neck, a subtle warning that at this time of night, in pitch-dark, with the forest canopy blocking out everything but the blue sweep of her headlights, she shouldn't have come here alone. Even for such a dire cause.
Her body was telling her this.
Vibrations surfed the bare, bronzed skin of her forearms. She wasn't breathing properly, couldn't get enough air. It was as if the trees used up all the oxygen they produced with none to spare, and every now and then she got a noseful of damp, alien greenery that nearly made her choke. Her knuckles ached from her tight grip on the steering wheel.
This place was everything Miami wasn't. Dark. Remote. Unfamiliar. Underpopulated. Hell, that was an understatement, she thought, since the area didn't seem to be populated at all.
"And it's too damned quiet!"
Other things lived here, of course, if people didn't. Not the kind of animals found on bustling Miami boulevards in fancy cars, but real animals. Furry creatures that kept darting out of the way of her tires, causing her heart to lurch. She felt that spike in her heart rate again now as her tires hit another pothole. Cursing, she glanced up and caught a glimpse of something large in the headlights that she had to pull the wheel hard to avoid.
The car swerved, missed traction, spun. Darkness swirled in a vortex of flashing lights, followed by a terrible screeching sound. Heat slammed into her. She missed a breath.
Reeling, Faith wrenched the door open and was out of the car and running, without regard for the steaming rental, its hood...