“Stella,” I heard Atlas growl from the end of the hall. Only a few dozen feet of expensive hardwood floor separated us.
The sound of his deep and commanding voice pushed one more burst of will through me. I could hear my own cries as I punched the rest of the shards away. The glass digging into my skin didn’t register in my mind as I tried to push my body through the thin opening. I was able to fit the upper half of my body through before I felt a hand grab my leg.
“You fucking bitch.” One of the goons had my leg and yanked me roughly back.
“Let go!” I cried and kicked. My bare foot connected with a hard body and I was released.
Hearing my name called once more, I used every ounce of strength to pull myself the rest of the way. Glass and wood scraped at my skin, but I didn’t stop. I could feel the cool night air on my skin. I could smell the rain that had recently fallen and saw the moon hidden in the clouds in the sky. I was outside!
The night was so dark I couldn’t see a more than few feet in front of me. I actually couldn’t see any light in the distance at all.
My heartbeat thumped and my breath came in hard pants as I ran away from the house. I could hear the shouts for me, and Atlas barking commands, but I couldn’t look back. It didn’t matter that I had no idea where I was going. My bare feet hit the gravel and my body cut through the night air as I sprinted up the gravel drive. I had to keep going. I had to lose him and find help. I just had to keep running.
“Stella! Stop!” My heart stopped when I heard Atlas’s voice behind me.
In a panic, I turned off to the right into the tall grass. I could hear him cursing as he entered the thick brush behind me. The grass and branches slapped my bare skin, stinging me. This would be my only hope to lose him and get away. I kept running, ignoring the pain and shortness of breath until I couldn’t hear him any longer.
Bent over with my hands on my knees, I struggled to breathe. Every gasp of air burned and my entire body ached. I couldn’t see in the darkness, and all I could hear was my own heartbeat pounding. Even the moon had been swallowed by the clouds. Goosebumps trailed over my sweaty skin as I noticed how very lost and screwed I really was.
“There’s nowhere to go, Stella,” his voice surrounded me. “You won’t get away.”
Fuck! Just when I thought I was alone, he had found me. A cry escaped my lips and I tried to run, only to be pulled back. My back hit a hard body behind me at the same time a hand clamped over my mouth. My cries and screams were muffled under the pressure of his hand. Another arm snaked around my chest and fingers wrapped around my throat.
“Shh,” Atlas whispered in my ear. “That was fucking stupid. So stupid. You’re hurt now.”
I lashed out against him but it was pointless. The hand around my throat tightened in warning. His hold was strong and held me immobile in his arms. I slumped against him in defeat and despair. All the strength and determination leaked out of my body.
He found me. I ran and he caught me. I was warned how foolish it would be to run and now I would have to face the consequences. Tears streamed down my face and over his hand as the adrenaline wore off and reality sank in. Everything hurt and it was only Atlas holding me up on my feet.
His lips brushed my ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “Don’t you dare fucking scream, understand?”
I nodded once and his fingers slowly lifted from my mouth and wrapped around my waist. I pulled in a deep breath, feeling the pain in my ribs with the inhale. Atlas tilted my head back while still keeping his grip on my throat. Even though I couldn’t see his face, I felt his hard stare on me. Anger was rolling off his body in hot waves, and every muscle pressed to me was rock hard.