Contrition by Lee Strauss
Publication date: September 26th 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Zoe, Noah and the other plane crash survivors are stranded in the Arizona desert.
They all have secrets,
and reasons to hide.
But they’re not alone.
Humans and humanoids.
Who can be trusted?
Zoe’s life is in danger.
Noah must make an impossible choice.
Will their love survive their brokenness?
Will the world as they know it end before they can find out?
I allowed myself to fall into his arms. He held me for a moment, an embrace, and I didn’t pull back. I felt lightheaded and weak. The strength of his arms around me, his body to support me, was a comfort I needed. I quivered, and his hold tightened.
He stroked my hair. “You’ve had quite a night,” he whispered.
I pinched my eyes to hold back the emotion. I’d been hunted, shot, chased, and now I’d survived a plane crash, all in one evening. Too many kinds of fear and terror, all twisted into a morbid bow in my gut. I was safe now, but I couldn’t’ release the horror.
I wanted to be in Noah’s arms. He was the one I wanted comfort from, but it was Taylor who offered it. I’d take it from anyone.
“What was Tucson, like?” I asked. It was code for were there pictures of my face?
Noah stared at the ground. “It was busy, just like any other city. Lots of people. Traffic. Noise.”
His eyes caught mine. “And lots of billboards. They’re still after us, Zoe. The reward for your return has been upped to two million.”
My heart whooshed. “And you?”
“The same. But the president doesn’t care if I’m brought in alive.”
Fear gripped my throat. “You can’t go into Tucson, anymore, Noah.”
He brushed it off. “Ah, the picture of me makes me look like I’m a twelve year-old boy. I didn’t get a second glance.”
“It’s true,” Taylor said. “Your photos look hot, but his, meh.”
I laughed at Taylor, and he grinned back at me before disappearing into the tech cave. I watched Noah as he unloaded the last of the items from the buggy. He caught me staring, and I glanced away. My shoes were suddenly very interesting. I dug at the sand with my toe. I casually looked up again from under my lashes. Noah’s eyes were on me now. I stayed locked on his gaze. What is he thinking? Did he feel the pull of attraction I felt? Did the longing for something more make his soul ache like mine did?
And if so, would he ever give into it again?
Sweat dripped between my breasts and down my spine. I felt dizzy and slid to the ground with a thump. Thankfully, the others were all busy focused on other things and didn’t notice. I held my chest, willing my heart to slow.
Something was wrong with me.
I didn’t know what, but I should be stronger. I should actually be the healthiest. Well, along with Taylor, though technically I’d been a GAP for longer.
When my heart calmed, I reached into my bag for a “clean” shirt and mentioned to Hannah that I was going to the stream to freshen up. The sun was low on the horizon, and I wanted to make it back before it got dark.
I’d collected the soap and shampoo on my way out of the cave looking forward to the shock of cold water. My hair hung in greasy strands, long enough now to tie back at least. I removed the tie, along with my clothes, and slipped in.
The water was strangely warm. Something was weird, but I wasn’t going to complain just yet. I’d tell Taylor when I got back. I made good use of the soap and was about to reach for the shampoo when I heard movement.
I startled at the voice. “Noah?”
“Sorry, I didn’t know you were here.”
So, now you do. Why are you just standing there, staring? I was fully aware that, though submerged, I was naked. Noah’s eyes zeroed on mine, and I could sense the debate going on in his head. He wanted to stay.
Suddenly, all the oxygen felt like it was sucked out of the cave.
I took a chance. “Would you… like to join me?”
“Yes,” he said, “against my better judgment.”
“If it helps, I want you to.”
Perception (Book 1):
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Lee Strauss writes historical and science fiction/romance for upper YA and adult readers. She also writes light and fun stuff under the name Elle Strauss. To find out more about Lee and her books check out her facebook page.
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