Prominent Houston reporter Lynn McCane is exhausted when she boards a flight from Los Angeles to Houston. Stretched to her limits after working on a feature series for the past three months, all Lynn wants to do is sleep. Sitting next to her is Matt Grayson, Hollywood's latest heartthrob; he's looking forward to a much-coveted weekend respite. As the plane takes off, neither of them realizes that their lives will soon change forever.
Their plane is hit by lightning and crashes into the pine woods of East Texas, leaving Lynn injured and Matt profoundly shaken. Somehow they have survived, but only by the help of forces unknown to them. What follows is a baffling sequence of events-Matt is told Lynn has died, and yet encounters her again in Los Angeles, now believing her name is Linda McGowan.
They soon discover they are being used against their will as medical test subjects and are now embroiled in a conspiracy that involves government cover-ups, and scientific data-a conspiracy targeting the president of the United States.
In this compelling thriller, a reporter and a movie star must embark on a dangerous journey to stop those determined to gain control of an unthinkably powerful force.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)|
About the Author
Ms. Livingstone was a winner in the Writer’s Digest 2001 Writing Competition and has completed another novel, Emerald Beach. Currently she is working on several others, one of which is a sequel to Against Their Will. She has been writing both fiction and nonfiction over eighteen years.
A native North Carolinian, Nancy has lived all across the United States, from Houston, Los Angeles, and Kansas City, to various cities in her home state. Currently, she resides near Raleigh, North Carolina. If she is not inside writing, then you’ll probably find her strolling on one of North Carolina's magnificent beaches.
Read an Excerpt
The explosion knocked Matt to his knees. Rolling quickly to keep from crushing Lynn, he stared over his shoulder. Flames licked the sky, and an orange glow carved a niche in the dark space about them. What stunned Matt the most, however, was the silence. No screams, no sirens, no bustle of activity that signaled some type of help rushed to offer salvation. There was nothing but a roaring inferno.
They must be the only survivors. The only ones to walk away, to cheat death. Strangely, Matt was not happy about it. Those poor souls in the plane, trapped with no escape, doomed to the inferno's hell. His heart ached, and he wanted to scream in agony for families who would mourn, for those whose potential in life had not been reached, for those cheated of opportunities unfulfilled. Lynn groaned. Jerked back to his own reality, he climbed to his feet and cradled Lynn.
Matt pressed through the brush, blinded by tears and fear. Only orange flames dancing in the bleak night's blackness offered any beacon of direction. Their light was barely enough to outline the shadows of trees, a forest which seemed to go forever.
The piney woods of Texas. That must be where they were. Maybe near Kingwood or The Woodlands, possibly as far north as Conroe. So, where were the rescue vehicles, planes, helicopters, all the things that usually came screaming to an accident site?
Matt forged ahead, only the diminishing crackle of fire and the constant drumming of rain punctuating the silence. He didn't notice the slight weight of Lynn in his arms. He was focused. He knew what he had to do. His stubbornness, no longer an act, kicked in.
After more than an hour, woods still encircled them. It looked as ifthey'd made no progress. His only compass mark was the flaming plane, a faint orange glow in the distance. Matt was reasonably sure he'd not gone in circles. Yet, if they'd crashed in the pine woods near Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport, they should have encountered civilization by then. Not many places were left undisturbed in the midst of ever increasing development and expansion. So, where were those subdivisions when one needed them?
The cold rain numbed him, robbed him of feeling. His legs wobbled and his arms felt like they were on fire. Lynn was like a dead weight. He wasn't even sure if she was aware of the raw night and tenuous hold on life she claimed.
No longer able to run, Matt slowed to a trot. He wasn't sure how long he ran, or how far, but after a while he conceded he was exhausted. The pump of adrenaline that had sustained him had finally given out.
Gently, he set Lynn on the ground then searched about for any loose leaves or branches, anything for cover. There seemed to be nothing but wet pine needles carpeting the entire planet. Little else to do, he curled up beside Lynn and tried to shield her as best he could from the elements and prayed for morning light and salvation.
Curled against Lynn and trying not to shiver, Matt fought sleep. He had to stay alert, watch out, be aware. But, he was cold, damp, spent. His head nodded, and his eyelids drooped. Without realizing it, he slept.
Matt jumped, his heart hammering his ribs. Something poked him on the shoulder. Repeatedly, tapping, prodding. The vapors of his unconscious stupor faded, and he catapulted to a world of gray dampness. The black night had been replaced by a dark gray shroud. Fog swirled about them. Everything was wet, but mercifully the rain had stopped.
Lynn lay by his side, one hand moving, the one that tapped him. He pushed up to one elbow and gazed down at her. There was a large gash across her forehead, and her other arm was bent at an odd angle. Her skin was gray and cold to the touch. Shock. He knew it. And he had nothing to warm her with. Forgetting his own chill, his own shaking limbs, he climbed to his feet and pulled her into his arms and cradled her tightly against him.
As Matt ran, he found it harder in the murky light to find his way. There was no orange beacon to remind him which way to avoid. However, after an eternity, the trees thinned, and they burst upon a massive field. In every direction, the field seemed to spread for miles. At one time, it must have grown corn for the brown stubble of once vibrant, green stalks was scattered about the fading rows. He could see nothing else, except on the horizon, the outline of some type of building.
Eventually, they reached an old barn. It looked as if it had been forgotten, left behind in time. Missing planks allowed weak light to fall on a muddy floor. There was no fresh hay, nor any animals to be seen, heard, or smelled. In a corner, tucked behind a rusty, ancient plow, Matt found an old horse blanket. Grabbing the rough, tattered cloth, he wrapped it as tightly about Lynn as possible. Next, he stumbled outside and searched for any sign of life.
The empty landscape before him was daunting, and his hopes shrank like skin exposed to cold too long. But, Matt Grayson wasn't going to let a windswept, never ending field stop him. He couldn't. The prospect of failure was too frightening, completely unacceptable.
Matt started running. He pushed his feet as fast as they would go, toward what, he wasn't sure. The bleakness was infinite, but his energy was finite. His legs trembled, and his vision blurred. As his steps seemed to take him nowhere, he began to believe they'd either fallen off the face of the earth or been sucked into some crazy space-time continuum. Both possibilities suddenly became quite believable.
A hidden stone caught his toe, and he tripped and fell, knocking the wind from him. For some uncounted time, he fought and pled with his sore, ravaged body to get up and run. But, he simply couldn't coerce any more movement from his limbs.
He stopped groaning and strained to hear. Growing from the silence came the wheezing, stuttering cough of an engine. Eyes squinted, Matt stared. Soon, he caught the image of a man bumping along on a loud, hiccupping tractor. The driver spied Matt and waved grandly as if glad to find a long lost buddy.
Weakly, Matt moved his hand back and forth, and then fell back to the ground. The chugging tractor continued its journey and soon stopped beside Matt.
"My goodness," Matt heard a deep voice say. "What've we got here?" The man, though appearing to be in his sixties, slipped from the seat as easily as a twenty year old and stood over Matt.
Matt looked up to see a weather beaten face staring into his. "We need help. There's a woman. She's in shock. Please..."
"Slow down son," the man said as he grasped Matt's arms and effortlessly pulled him to his feet. "Looks like you've had a bit of a time, you have."
Matt took a good look at the man's machine. It must have been at least forty, fifty years old, certainly made long before he'd worked on his own farm. How was it still running? He thought the same of the old man. He was missing all his teeth except for one in the middle of his upper plate. His face was lined by years in the sun. Hair nearly non-existent ringed the perimeter of his bald globe. Despite time's erosion on the man's features, there was a vitality in his smile and eyes. It enveloped Matt, wrapping him in a strange sense of well-being and warmth.
The farmer asked, "Now what's this about a woman?" With a broad, hard hand, he reached toward Matt and touched the dried scab of blood over his left eye. "Looks like you're the one who's been roughed up."
"No. She's over there." Matt pointed at the old barn. "We ran there. It was the first place we could find. We were in a crash."
"Crash? Now what kind of crash would that be?"
"Plane. Last night. A few miles from here. Certainly you heard?"
The man smiled slowly, giving full exposure to his prized tooth. "Naw, don't reckon I did. All was quiet 'round here last evening. No commotion. No nothing." He frowned as he studied Matt. "Sure you're not pulling one on me?"
"No!" Matt shouted. "Please. Would you just drive me over to your barn?"
Matt thought he'd die from frustration. "Well, whose ever it is, that's where this woman is. If we don't get her help soon, she'll die. Please, will you just take me there?"
Without a word, the old man climbed into the tractor's seat. He pointed to the side step. "Stand there and hold on!" He didn't wait for Matt to reply. As soon as Matt was in place, he jammed the gear, and the old machine sprang to life and chugged eagerly across the bumpy field. In what seemed like seconds, they pulled up to the old barn.
Matt fell from the tractor before it stopped, but picked himself up and ran into the barn, not waiting to see if the old man followed. Lynn was just as he'd left her, wrapped in the old blanket, unmoving. Matt beside her and poked her gently. She didn't stir.
"Lynn! Please, Lynn wake up!" Matt's didn't realize he was shaking her until there was a gentle touch on his shoulder.
"Son, not so hard. She'll wake. Just be patient." The farmer knelt beside Matt and reached past him as he lightly touched Lynn's forehead. She stirred, then groaned.
With surprising ease, the old man lifted Lynn and carried her outside. At the tractor, the farmer gave Lynn to Matt while he climbed into his seat. Settled, he extended his arms, and Matt handed her to him. Then, Matt climbed onto the step and held on to the man's seat for the ride. To where, he didn't know.
After bumping forever across the never-ending field, they entered a patch of thick pines. It seemed they wound through the pines for miles before they stopped in front of a small farmhouse. Its whitewashed sides were in need of a new coat, and the garden was nothing but brown stubble waiting for renewal in the spring. But, the front door flew open as they approached, and a woman, nearly as old as the farmer, ran to greet them. When she saw Matt and Lynn, her broad smile turned to a frown, and she shouted at the old man.
"What is it, dear? What have you found?"
"Martha, get some blankets. Start some hot tea, and get a warm bath ready. We've got injured!"
Martha didn't answer. She was already running back into the house. Matt took Lynn into his arms, and with the old man, ran inside just as the murky sky split open and dumped a cold hard rain.