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How in the hell do I get myself into situations like this?
Andrea Lockhart screamed and tried one more time to summon help. Not an easy thing to do while swinging from a rope, upside down, in the middle of nowhere.
Like some stupid pendulum on a clock. Ugh!
"Hello?" she yelled and immediately gasped for breath. She closed her eyes and struggled to subdue the panic attack that was clawing its way past her lungs toward her brain. Her heart had been trying to pound its way out of her chest for a while now. This wasn't helping.
Easy, Lockhart. You've been in tighter spots than this and survived. Just ease the hell off from thinking about it. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Everything is going to be fine.
Everything is going to be fine.
Opening her eyes, Andrea listened for a response as she reached toward the ground for somethinganythingto steady herself with, but all she heard was the distant call of some birds deep in the forest. She had been traipsing through these woods, looking for footprints or other evidence to support the article she was writing, when she'd heard a loud snap, felt her legs jerked out from under her and found herself looking at the world upside down.
Some idiot had snagged her in the type of trap she'd thought was only used in bad B movies.
Yep, I'm so putting in my résumé at Starbucks if I can ever get myself down from here.
Her jacket swung around her face and heightened that panicked feeling of claustrophobia. Pushing it aside, only to have it fall back in the way, Andrea couldn't hold back a desperate laugh at the absurdity of her dilemma. She'd witnessed and survived gang shootouts in South Chicago, gone toe-to-toe with corrupt police officials and barely escaped riots in France and the post-Katrina looting in New Orleans. But she'd never been strung up like this before. Oh yeah. This was definitely a new one.
A ring tone for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly shattered the silence, and Andrea sighed long and hard, as she considered the rectangular object just out of her reach. Too late, she realized her mistake. Her breath tore out of her chest in a hacking cough that drowned out the familiar melody.
Her heart was still beating overtime. The whooshing sound of its frantic throbbing threatened to make her deaf to everything else.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
Her only salvation, it seemed, lay just out of reach.
Once she'd gotten over the shock of what had happened, she had grappled with and lost her grip on her cell phone. Now it taunted her, half-buried under a mound of leaves, alternately buzzing and pelting out the tune. It was as if the stupid thing was laughing at her.
She was sure it was Brandon calling. Oh yeah. I would really love to give him a piece of my mind right now.
Best she could tell, she was more alone in these woods than a nerd on prom night. The sun had lowered in the sky, peeking through the trees like an unwanted observer. Andrea glanced at her watch. Had she really been hanging here for half an hour already? It seemed so much longer.
When did it get dark around here? Maybe another hour or two?
Come on. You've been in tighter spots than this, Lockhart. Think.
Andrea tried to lift her arms and grab the rope clamping both her ankles together from the tree limb above. If she could just
The sound of a stick breaking nearby caught her attention. She dropped her arms, felt the blood rush to her head again, making her dizzy as her body swayed like crazy.