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Chapter One ~ Dangerous Embrace ~ Dana Mason

Chapter One

The sky was on fire. At least, Sarah Jennings thought the orange glow resembled fire when she stepped out of the double, glass doors of Oakbrook Elementary School. Even with fire in the sky, the deserted school grounds were too dark for her taste.

She hated being the last teacher to leave. How stupid of her not to check the time, but she couldn’t refuse when parents showed up unannounced at her classroom door. Not even when it got her behind. It’d been a shock to see Noah’s mom and dad together. Especially knowing they were going through a terrible divorce. Noah looked more shell-shocked and withdrawn every day since school had started. Of course she put everything on hold to give them her undivided attention. She’d hoped this was a sign they were going to make him a priority and stop the petty fighting.

Sarah’s eyes scanned the grounds again before turning toward the parking lot. She kept her pace normal. She wouldn’t let old fear push her to run to her car like a coward. She wasn’t in the city anymore. This neighborhood was safe and quiet, and she needed to just breathe through it and move ahead.

In college, the dark, foggy San Francisco nights left her in a constant state of fear. Always afraid she’d been found, running through parking garages, looking for stalkers hidden in shadowed corners. She wouldn’t live like that now. It’d been too long, and she given up too much already.

Sarah gripped the purse on her shoulder and turned toward the ramp leading to the parking lot.

The school sat on a hillside, and the walkway connected the school grounds with the teachers’ lot. A waist-high, metal handrail bordered the elevated ramp with a ten-foot drop down to a gravel hillside.

Sarah started across, but stopped when a tingling sensation attacked her scalp. She waited and listened, her pulse a little quicker than a few minutes before. That’s when she heard running footsteps.

She looked up and met his eyes, a sick smile spread across his face. Fear dripped down her spine like a drop of cold water, and she knew she was in trouble. He moved fast considering his bulk, and as he got closer, his piercing glare became more menacing.

Sarah froze.

Breath caught in her throat and her body wouldn’t react to the fear. She’d always been a deer in the headlights type of person, and now she’d been caught off guard.

His shoulder slammed her chest, sending her against the metal handrail. He gripped her knees and lifted, sending her toppling backwards. She reached out for the rail too late. Her world turned upside down and she couldn’t grasp anything to prevent the fall.


Sarah wasn’t sure what brought her out of the unconscious state. It could have been his weight pressing down on her, or his clammy hands touching her, or the sound of her skirt being ripped open.

No...she didn’t feel any of that. Panic left her paralyzed and numb. She didn’t feel his hot mouth when he licked and bit her breasts. She watched the scene play out like a film instead. Her mind too distant, too frightened to allow her to feel anything.

Sarah couldn’t say which hurt worse, watching or feeling.

One of her arms lay twisted unnaturally at her side, the other restrained above her head, but she didn’t fight.

She didn’t move.

Tears ran down her face and quiet whimpers escaped her lips. This was wrong—she was wrong for not fighting. She could not let another man break her.

“No!” Not again—she was stronger, more powerful now and would not lose herself again.

His nails scratched and clawed at her, ripping her panties off, the material cutting her skin when he yanked them away.

“No!” she screamed again as her senses came back to life. Now she felt every injury, from her twisted arm, to the burning cuts up her back. His whiskey and cigarette breath wafted into her nose, and she had to swallow back the bile that collected in her throat.

“Get off me!” She grunted and kicked out, arching to throw him off. Adrenalin pushed her body into overdrive, thrusting her heart to a manic pace. She lifted up again, kicking with her bare feet at anything within reach.

He shifted, sliding one leg between her knees and the other over her right leg, relieving some of the pressure on her body. She inhaled a gasping breath, but when he punched his fingers between her thighs, her panic spiked.

Oh God, no! She could feel him—his fingers, his hand—forcing her thighs apart. She kicked off hard, arching again to push him off.

When he teetered sideways, she rammed her knee into his groin. He cursed and withdrew his hands to grab himself.

With her right hand free, she hit and flailed at his face, scratching, pushing, and smacking him everywhere.

She jerked and tried to scoot away, fighting to get free. She managed to get one leg out from under him. She lifted it and came down on his hip with her heel over and over as hard as she could.

The attacker tried to scramble back over her, but she kept kicking and pushing with her free foot, landing several blows to his lower back and hip.

She continued to fight, screaming with each blow. “No—get off me!”

Her vision tainted red, her jaw clenched like a vice, and her pulse pounded like a base drum in her ears. Sarah kicked out again with all her power, while using her uninjured hand to push until he was off her.

With her legs free, Sarah lifted up and kicked out, putting her weight behind the kick. He cried out this time as he reached for his lower back. She jolted upright and jumped up, the gravel pinching her bare feet.

As she gained her balance, he grabbed her injured arm and tried to pull her back down. Pain almost forced her surrender, but Sarah fisted her right hand and plunged it into his face. She felt the crack. When she pulled her fist away, blood gushed from his nose.

She took off running into the darkness without looking back. Her feet pounded harder and harder, letting the distance grow between her and her attacker.

The air was knocked from her lungs when she plowed into him. He felt more like a brick wall than a person, until she knocked them both off their feet. His arms came around her as they skidded to the pavement together. They hit the ground, but she only felt his secure grip.

She fought hard again. Punching at his chest and pushing with her uninjured hand, but his words made her stop.

“Hey, hey, you okay?”

Despite the concern in his voice, her panic spiked again.

He loosened his grip when Sarah pushed away.

“It’s okay,” he said, and in the glow of the streetlight, she found a pair of intense, blue eyes staring back at her.

A scream bubbled in the back of her throat, and her entire body vibrated with fear. He said something again, but she couldn’t hear him over her own cries.

“Where is he?” Sarah finally heard him say when their eyes locked on each other’s again.

Her breath came out in gasps. She shook her head and began to sob.

The man holding her, shifted and placed her on the concrete next to him. Sarah felt hands on her shoulders and jumped, ready to fight again.

“It’s okay,” a woman’s voice said, soft and hesitant.

“Mom, help her.” The man got to his feet. “I’ll be right back. Here’s my phone, call 911.” He pulled off his jacket and laid it over Sarah’s shoulders.

The woman reached out for him. “No, Mark, don’t—“

“I’ll be right back,” he said, and rushed into the dark in the direction Sarah had come.

Sarah hugged herself and dropped her head, trying to breathe. When the jacket fell off her shoulder, she looked down at her ripped clothes just as her vision narrowed into a dark tunnel.

Copyright Dana Mason


Since I've previously reviewed this book, I'm sharing it here again, because I can ;) 

As an avid reader of romantic suspense I can say with certainty Dana Mason and her breakout novel Dangerous Embrace are winners! The opening page grabbed me and took me on a journey into Sarah's soul; twisted and destroyed and now dependent on one man, Mark, to protect her. What I loved about the story was the realness of the characters. There is no question that neither are perfect and Ms. Mason did an amazing job in letting us see their strengths THROUGH their weaknesses. The twists in the plot were just enough that you had to turn the page just one more time to see if you were right. Ms. Mason kept the suspense tightly controlled until the very end leaving you breathless and smiling. Dana Mason is an author to watch and I will certainly be back for the second book in her Embrace series. Kudo's Ms. Mason on a well written, captivating story written from the heart about the soul.
I give Dangerous Embrace five stars!

About the Author

Dana Mason started writing about ten years ago after being overwhelmed by a story that wouldn’t let her sleep until she wrote it down. The story, Dangerous Embrace, was published in 2012 and won Best Mystery/Suspense from eFestival of Words Best of Independent eBook Awards in 2014.
Dangerous Embrace is the first book in her Embrace Series. The second book in the series, Precious Embrace, was Runner-Up for Best Hero from eFestival of Words Best of Independent eBook Awards that same year. Her third book, Broken Embrace, was awarded Best Indie Book in 2015 in the Romance Category.  Dana loves turning your worst nightmares into happy endings. She lives in Northern California with her husband, children, and her writing companion and mighty protector, Mia the Chihuahua. 

Where to find Dana:

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