Read an Excerpt
You're still alive.
The taunt hissed across Oliver Shaw's foggy brain, bringing with it an unwanted sense of awareness. Cold concrete pressed against his cheek. A bead of moisture leaked out from under his eyelids, loosening the dried blood that had crusted there. His stomach heaved. He sucked in a breath and choked on bile and the stench of excrement and putrid food.
Open your eyes, you gutless coward.
He gritted his teeth and dragged his eyelids open. A sliver of light speared into his retina, blinding him with a sharp ache to the back of his skull.
The light bulb.
That single fucking bulb. Always on. Always grounding him in its glaring reality. He couldn't take anotherday in this hellhole.
He shifted, biting down on his lip and letting the metallic taste of his blood fill his mouth. Cement scraped his bruised stomach. The movement set fire to the hundreds of cuts across his back. He stiffened and pulled a hiss through his teeth, concentrating on the tracks of dirt and dried blood covering his arms while he waited for the burning to dial down to an acute throb.
His kidneys throbbed from dehydration and repeated kicks to his lower back. A chunk of his long, matted black hair fell into his eyes. He tried to brush it aside, but his tingling hands refused to work properly. He flexed his fingers against the tattered fabric of his cast-aside shirt until the digits cooperated in an awkward dance that pulled at his joints. Sliding his palms against the pitted concrete, he combed the crevices hoping for a sharp piece of metal, a rusty nail, anything he could use to pierce the thick artery pulsing in his neck.
His fingers closed around a jagged rock. Relief spilled into his gut and diluted the gnawing hunger there. He inched over onto his back. Fresh blood oozed down his arm. He blinked the nasty laceration into focus, and a new clarity edged into his vision.
This wasn't his cell.
The wall was rough cement where it should have been scarred metal, the floor more heavily pitted. Memories assaulted him, of his last caning, more brutal than the others, the ropes that had dug into his raw wrists and ankles, angry voices that jarred his skullthen nothing. How long had he lain here, unconscious?
Irrational fear squeezed at his heart, making it race. He dug his knuckles into his coarse, tangled beard. How many days since his capture? They'd made him lose track. How could heif he didn't knowoh, Jesus, he'd been holding onto his sanity by a thin thread and now those bastards had cut his only life line.
How many days? Five hundred? More? Less?
His breath choked past his lips, the garbled sound knocking some sense into him. Who cared? One day was the same as any other. His reasons for counting the days were long gone. He didn't exist. Not to the Central Intelligence Agency which would deny his very existence, nor to his family, of whom he had none. And Catrina
His throat tightened. Flashes exploded in his head, voices and faces of those he'd failed. He was the only one left. His captors delighted in reminding him of that fact, rubbing his nose in his own judgmental stupidity. He had nothing but his own self-righteous integrity to blame for his predicament. If he'd only broken, like his teammates were willing to do, and let himself be used as propaganda against his own government, maybe they'd have allowed his friends a respectful death without suffering.