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Home > Darkest Before Dawn (KGI #10)(12)

Darkest Before Dawn (KGI #10)(12)
Author: Maya Banks

“Give me what intel you have,” Hancock said to Bristow, determination and resolve Bristow couldn’t possibly miss in his tone. And Bristow had seen him in action long enough to know he didn’t offer his assurances lightly. “I’ll find the woman and bring her to you.”


HONOR clutched the heavy makeshift garment covering her entire body with one hand to keep the hem from swirling in the high wind. Not that it mattered, traveling at night as she was, with no one to see whether parts of her were exposed. But the habit was already deeply ingrained in the days she’d been running. Trying to avoid discovery.

The cloth she’d fashioned into a pack was lighter than it had been in the beginning as more and more of her supplies dwindled, so it gave her two hands to tamp down the unmanageable material instead of the one she was accustomed to having to use to wrest control of the wind-driven folds of fabric. Though her tangible burden might be lighter, the ones unseen were slowly eating away at her, pressing down on her with oppressive strength. Bone-deep weariness assailed her. And she had miles to go this night.

The sudden poetic quip that had slipped into her thoughts, amusing her, caused sudden alarm. There was nothing remotely humorous about her circumstances, and she was shocked that she could even conjure the trait. Maybe she was succumbing to the horror and stress of the last days. She thought “days” in general and purposely didn’t cite the number of days because she’d lost track of time in the aftermath of the massacre and her frantic efforts to free herself. She had no idea how many days had passed because she’d had no opportunity to stop, slow down, process and then compartmentalize her grief so it didn’t incapacitate her. And it would. She would lock down, unable to get past the horrors she’d witnessed firsthand. She couldn’t afford to allow herself to think. She had to act. To keep moving. Because if she stopped she would lose.

She refused to say die when referring to possible failure. Nor did she say live or survive when she fantasized about making it to safety. She’d made it a game. Hide-and-seek, Rambo style. The most epic game of hide-and-seek ever. She was hiding and they were seeking. Because to give in to the terrifying truth and acknowledge that grim reality was to breed the very thing she fought with everything she had and had been thinking in terms of life and death as being the ultimate prize. Which was exactly what it was. So she retreated into denial and formed an alternate reality where it was simply a game. Or a twisted version of those reality television shows when people were forced to fend for themselves against difficult odds and the person to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and outlast the others was declared the winner.

She was in an impossible situation. She had to fend for herself. It was her only choice. And when she outlasted her pursuers and passed over the border where there was a U.S. presence, she won. She would defeat evil and she had to believe it. It was as simple as that. She was smart. She loved challenges—though this was not a challenge she’d ever purposely choose. And she wasn’t afraid of adversity, though her perception of adversity had been irrevocably changed the day of the attack. There was adversity and then there was this. There was nothing that could describe what she was up against. And if she had any say in the matter, she’d never face this kind of adversity again. Nothing in her young life had prepared her for such a horrific ordeal, and it had made her rethink her calling a hundred times as she’d fled for her life, having to stay a step ahead of her pursuers or . . . die.

She shook her head, refusing to let reality creep back in. She hadn’t come to this area without being prepared. She hadn’t woken up one morning and decided to come here on a whim. She was fluent in several of the languages in the country, even the more obscure ones, and had extensively studied the culture, the many different dialects and subtle differences that signified a different region. She knew how to blend in and what the laws were for women. Never had she been so glad for all of that information as she was now.

Her mouth was dry, her lips parched and cracking. She was nearer to the village she’d been traveling toward for the last three days, but she had to find a place to rest, a place where she could survey the village and its inhabitants from a distance and study it closely before she ventured into it.

She’d traveled strictly at night, knowing she risked too much by spending prolonged periods of time in the daylight. One wrong move. One misstep. One lapse in her rigid disguise and she’d draw notice. And she knew her adversaries were close. Maybe even ahead of her and in the village already searching for her. She didn’t want to go into the village, though she’d chosen one that was small and hadn’t yet drawn the ire of the bloodthirsty savages who’d executed her fellow relief workers. She’d stuck to a strict regimen of sleeping by day and walking at night, keeping to the shadows, always on her toes and expecting the worst. It was a terrible way to endure and it was fast draining her reserves.

But she was running dangerously low on supplies, and she had to chance going into the village to restock the essentials. She’d traveled as long and as far as her injuries and exhaustion allowed, wanting to put as much distance as possible between herself and the site of the attack and the men who now hunted her. She would go without sleep today as she usually did and she would walk this next night, so it was imperative that she find the safest possible refuge before dawn so she could sleep as many hours as possible before nightfall.

She stopped a distance from the village and then surveyed the area for a place to rest and wait. She needed one that afforded her not only safety and protection, a place where she was undetectable, if such a place existed, but also a good vantage point where she could see the activity when the people awoke and began their daily routine.

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