Two lovers! A deadly conspiracy! A race to freedom!
When Carringby Industries, a government-contracted arms manufacturer, is raided by what appear to be terrorists, the CEO’s secretary, Belinda Reese, is rescued by Brandon Drake, a dashing young AWOL soldier. Using an experimental test aircraft, he flees with her to his remote, isolated cabin in the mountains of Aspen.
While assisting in the design of military weaponry, Brandon discovered a plot within his own government to attack its own facilities, under the guidance of immoral politician, Senator Garrison Treadwell. Belinda’s body was not found among the dead at Carringby Industries, and Treadwell suspects that Drake was responsible for rescuing her. In an effort to entrap him, Treadwell arranges for an all points bulletin to be placed on Belinda.
Deeply in love, Brandon and Belinda attempt to escape from America, only to endure one harrowing experience after another as they try to evade and expose Treadwell’s corrupt faction.
But on the run, with danger around every corner, Brandon makes a discovery so devastating that it shatters the very foundations of his reality. Excerpt: [Belinda] dropped to the floor and pushed the door open only to be met with a wall of flame, causing her to instinctively recoil. She gave herself a moment to compose herself before seizing a break in the fire. Darting to the left, she found herself in the maintenance stairwell. Below her was an inferno. It wasn’t possible for her to go back down. In a desperate effort to escape the fire, she ran up the steps, but the smoke continued to engulf her. By the time she’d reached the next flight of stairs, only a few steps from where she’d started, she fell to her knees in a coughing fit. Her eyes stung, watering from the smoke, but she persisted. Despite her initial determination, she became convinced she wasn’t going to make it. She couldn’t see anything ahead of her, and her consciousness was slipping away . . . She thought she could see a dark shape coming down the stairwell toward her, through the smoke. As it came closer, she could make out a human decked-out in black.It has to be one of them, she thought. Through her squinted eyes, she could see he wore a shiny black helmet, similar to the type worn on a motorcycle, although far less bulky. It seemed to cover his head with a slender, streamlined fit, and there was a reflective visor covering his face. In her weakened condition, she resigned herself to the belief that she was going to die. The fight was leaving her, and smoke inhalation stole her consciousness. She couldn’t be certain whether or not she was dreaming the man in the black helmet. And then, she felt strong, gentle hands cradling her face for just a moment. “P-please don’t kill me,” she mumbled. “I’m not going to kill—” Belinda passed out. She woke without a sense for how long she’d been out. Had she been unconscious for seconds? Or days? Why was everything upside down? She felt a tight grip on her legs below the knees, and she was moving quickly with a jerking motion. The smoke seemed to clearing, and the blood rushed into her head, bringing her back to consciousness. She saw the white surface of the steps from her inverted position, and she suddenly understood. He was running up the stairwell while carrying her over his shoulder. Moments later, the ground turned black and she sensed herself being turned upright in the freezing cold. In her dazed state, it took her a few moments to realize that she was outside. The stranger knelt down beside her and she shivered. “W-who . . . are you?” she asked. “Your only way out of here.” “Where . . . where are we?” “We’re on the roof. We can’t go back down. The place is a torch.” Belinda couldn’t place his tone, but there was a masculine depth to it that was genuine and sincere. “Please, trust me,” he implored her. “Can you stand up?” “Y-yes, I think so,” she said, but her coughing resumed. He waited for the attack to abate before speaking again. “I’m going to get you out of here. There’s only one way.” As he helped her to her feet, she realized how high up they were with the skyscrapers all around them. “I need you to listen to me,” he said. “What’s your name?” “B-Belinda. Belinda Reese,” she answered quivering, and hugged herself tightly against the chilling effects of shock and the brutal February wind. “All right Belinda, I need you to come over here with me.” He motioned toward the edge of the roof. “There’s nothing to worry about, trust me.” As a show of good faith, he walked toward the edge before her. Once he was standing on the ledge, he reached out and beckoned her to join him. Trembling, she placed one foot in front of the other, but she froze when she saw him taking a gun-like device from his tool-belt. “It’s OK,” he said in a reassuring tone. “This isn’t what you think it is. I swear to you on my own life, I’m not going to hurt you.” With great trepidation, she resumed her steps toward him. “That’s it,” he encouraged her. “Just a little closer.” As Belinda stopped inches away from him at the ledge, he aimed the device toward a skyscraper opposite and brought a small targeting sight to eye-level. Although it bore a resemblance to a gun, it didn’t have a barrel, but rather a tennis ball-sized bulb held fast by his palm. He depressed a button on the top of the metallic casing and a thin, high-tensile steel cable jettisoned from the nozzle toward the building opposite. The cable reached the other side and a small steel claw at the end of line clasped a maintenance rail in the center of the roof. He pulled on the cable to ensure that it was secured, and stepped away from the edge. He hurried across to a maintenance stairwell next to the entrance and climbed three steps. Once he was in position, he wrapped the wire around an iron step above him repeatedly. From the height of the roof’s ledge, the step would be approximately twelve inches above his own height. Reaching height. With a flick of a switch on top of the bulb, the cable was locked inside the casing. Belinda watched him, bewildered. “What are you doing?” Intensely focused upon his task, he didn’t reply. He returned to her and took another device from his belt–a black metal tube, approximately fourteen inches in length, from which he pulled out two hand-grips from either side. Belinda noticed a small pulley wheel on the underside of the tube, which he clipped onto the wire. He created a zip-line between the two buildings. Upon that realization, she panicked, believing that he intended for her to hang from the hand grips and glide across to the adjacent building. “I can’t do this. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t do it.” He stepped back up onto the ledge. “You don’t have to. I do. Now, take it steady and join me here.” She raised her right leg so slowly that she thought she would never put it down, but eventually, the tip of her shoe settled onto the ledge. He gently placed his hand upon her shoulder. “All right, now grab hold of me.” She permitted him to grasp her under her armpits and lift her onto the ledge. She trembled with vulnerability and vertigo. “Oh, God, please don’t let me fall.” “You’re not going to fall.” He carefully placed her arms around his chest. She immediately detected the solid base underneath his black, bullet-resistant attire. It was clear that, beyond the Kevlar; he was muscular, heightening her sense of safety with him. With shaking hands, she held onto him for dear life. He gripped the pulley with his left hand and lifted the visor with his right. Belinda looked into his deep green eyes. He looked exactly the same to her as his voice sounded: strong, but kind. The moment ended and he pulled the visor back down into place. Holding the right hand grip, he looked at her again and gave her the most unnecessary piece of advice she had ever heard: “Hold on!”
Peter Darley (P.D. to his friends) is a British novelist, whose professional history is in showbusiness. He is a graduate of the Birmingham School of Speech and Dramatic Art, and he studied television drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA.) His television credits include guest-starring roles is UK productions such as BBC’s Crime Ltd, Stanley’s Dragon for ITV, The Bill, and Sky One’s Dream Team, and numerous TV commercials. He has also worked as a model, presenter, and voice-over artiste for ten years, and has acted as an agent for several variety acts.
His lifelong admiration of heroes, and love of roller-coaster-style thrills have been a huge influence on his writings.
He is a keen athlete and body builder, and lives with his partner in rural England.