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Hiding by Katherine McDermott

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  • Teresa Worthington escapes her abusive boyfriend, Alex, and flees to Paris to pursue a dream career in art.  Alone and wary of men, she gradually makes friends and explores her new home. She is distraught to learn that Alex is still stalking her but is determined to create the life she has always wanted.   
     
    Handsome, compassionate, and brave, Serge Gervais, a young Frenchman, slowly wins her trust.  He shows her the sights of France and promises to protect her from Alex.  Teresa finds herself falling in love for the first time until the unspeakable happens.  Alex tracks her down and forces her into the catacombs beneath the city.  Will Serge find Teresa in time to prevent Alex's vengeance?

    Excerpt:

    The gruesome conduit beneath Paris narrowed.

    “Crawl!” Alex ordered, shoving her down gruffly.

    Teresa dropped to her hands and knees. Her cotton pajamas reeked of smoke and now sopped up the disgusting, muddy water. Discarded cigarette butts and other litter floated past them. She could barely see ahead in the dim light of Alex’s flashlight. Her neck and back ached.

    “Where are we going?” she asked.

    “Just keep moving.”

    “Do you know?” she demanded.

    “Don’t test my patience.”

    The water was rising, and Teresa felt nauseated. She gagged but did not retch. “I feel sick.”

    “Move! We’re almost there.”

    Then Teresa saw ahead to a gaping hole in the right side of the cement pipe. Obviously man-made, she wondered momentarily if Alex had used a pickaxe to create the aperture. The lower part of the hole was higher than the level of the rancid water.

    “In there,” Alex ordered.

    She stared into the blackness. “What is it?”

    Alex illuminated the crypt with his light, and Teresa tried to interpret what she saw: uneven walls, a doorway surrounded by orbs, a floor littered with dried reeds. No, they weren’t reeds; they were bones. And the orbs were skulls! The catacombs! Her heart pounded in her chest like a jackhammer. Alex had withdrawn his knife. The blade glittered in the dim light of the torch which cast luminous shadows on the walls. What better place to kill someone? What was another set of bones among the many? Lord, as you helped the Christians long ago who met secretly in catacombs, help me.

    ****

    Serge took a flashlight from the glove compartment and crossed the street. More than ever he cursed the awkwardness of the crutches that made movement cumbersome. Once inside the abandoned building, he checked each room methodically, painstakingly. He ripped open every cabinet and closet. He even shined the light up the several chimneys. Last, he descended the basement steps.

    In spite of the low hanging cobwebs and scampering cockroaches, Serge tapped the walls keenly listening for a hollow sound. At the panel behind which Alex and Teresa had disappeared, he paused and rapped his knuckles against the wood. Leaning down, he examined the edges and removed the panel revealing the water conduit.

    This is how they vanished. Moving back up the staircase with speed and dexterity, he glanced out a window and saw Monsieur la Salle flashing his headlights. Serge didn’t care. He exited the house and purposefully accosted Officer Ayme.

    “I thought I made it clear—” the officer began, but Serge interrupted.

    “I found out how they disappeared. Check the basement. You’ll see for yourself. I can’t spare a moment of time.” Serge strode across the street, digging in the crutches with determination at each step. He panted from exertion and dripped perspiration.

    “We need a map of the city’s underground drainage system,” he told Monsieur la Salle as he slid into the passenger side of the car. “They escaped through an underground conduit.”

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