Chapter 1- Jess
Fear covered Jess like a blanket. “Where’s Amanda?” She pulled desperately on the arm of a nearby boy. He shrugged her off, and she turned to another, who gave her the same response. Her heart pounded triple time in her chest as her eyes tore wildly around the room. She had known this was a bad idea; there had just been a feeling in her gut. If her past had taught her anything, it was that she was a good judge of character, and there had been something about Caleb that just seemed off to her.
The crowd of bodies pressed against her, surging to the beats of the pulsing music. She pushed back, fighting her way to the back of the house where the bathroom and bedrooms lay. He had to have taken her to one of them. A hand grabbed her wrist, and she whirled on a blond surfer type with long hair. At the sight of her angry expression, he let go, holding his hands up in apology. Jess shoved a tipsy blond to the side and reached the door of the bathroom.
“Amanda?” she pounded on the white wooden door. “Amanda open up if you’re in there.” The pounding of her heart was now reverberating in her head.
The lock clicked, and the door opened. A thin brunette stumbled out. “There’s no Amanda here.” Her words were a slur and her brown eyes barely focused on Jess.
Jess grabbed the girl’s thin shoulders and shook her. “Have you seen her? Red hair? She would have been with Caleb West.”
The girl shook her head and fell into the wall as soon as Jess released her. Rolling her eyes, Jess pushed past the girl and opened the first bedroom door. A couple was entwined on the bed, but the girl had blond hair and the face of the man didn’t belong to Caleb.
“Sorry,” Jess shut the door and moved on the next one. Another couple was heavily involved on this bed too, but again no Amanda.
The next door was locked. Jess rattled the handle, but to no avail. “Amanda?” She pounded on the door. “Hey, can you open this?” She grabbed the arm of a nearby male and pointed at the door.
“Sorry, I don’t live here.” The man shrugged and walked away.
Jess turned back to the door and rammed her slim frame into it. The door didn’t budge. She took a step back and kicked it. Not even a tremor. Cursing her weakness, she looked around for anything to wedge in the door.
“Jess!” At the sound of her name, she whirled around. Jared was fighting his way through the crowd. She had texted him fifteen minutes ago when she lost sight of Amanda, and his disheveled appearance said he’d either just woken up or thrown on clothes in a hurry or both. “Where is she?”
“I don’t know. She was right with me, and then I ran into a friend and started talking. They said they were going to get a drink, but when I turned around again, she was gone. It’s my fault.”
“It’s not,” – He ran a hand through his hair – “But we have to find her.” Anger and fear radiated off of Jared in waves and Jess wondered what else he knew.
“I’ve already checked those two rooms, but this one’s locked.”
“Step aside.” His eyes were wild, the eyes of a man in love.
Jess stepped to the side, and Jared pounded on the door. Still no answer came from the other side. He took a step back and rammed the door with his shoulder. The door trembled, but stayed locked. Jared took another step back and rammed the door again. A splintering sound of wood, and the door opened. Jess rushed past Jared into the room.
Amanda lay sprawled on the bed. Her shirt was open and her pants were undone, but still on. As Jared entered, Jess looked up long enough to yell for him to find Caleb, then she returned her focus to Amanda. Her eyes were open and scared.
Jess wrapped the blanket around her. “Can you move?” No head shake, but Amanda’s eyes moved left and then right. “Okay, it’s going to be okay. We’ll get you out of here. Any sign?”
Jared crossed to the bed. “No, the window is open, but he’s gone.” A tear slid out of Amanda’s eyes. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him. He won’t get away with this.” Jared patted her hair tenderly and wiped the tear from her cheek. Then he scooped her up and headed back out the door. “Let’s get her to the hospital.”
“An ambulance is on its way.” Jess said pressing the end call button on her phone.
Jared nodded as he pushed his way through the crowd. A few people turned to gawk, but most were oblivious and kept dancing to the loud beats or tipping back their drinks. Jess shook her head in disgust as she followed Jared out of the house and into the cool night air.
The ambulance roared up moments later, and Jess climbed in with Amanda.
“There’s only room for one,” the EMT said as Jared attempted to climb in too. “Besides, the cops want a statement.” He pointed to the police car pulling up.
“Go. I’ll stay with her, and when you’re done, we can switch,” Jess said.
Jared swallowed but nodded. As he stepped down, the ambulance doors closed and, lights and siren on, they roared to a nearby hospital. Jess held Amanda’s hand and sent a prayer up. She was still so new to this prayer thing that she could only hope God was hearing her heart, which was beating out of her chest. Though she’d only known her a few months, Amanda was quickly becoming a close friend, even though she hadn’t started out that way. The image of their first meeting flashed in Jess’s mind
As the ambulance braked, Jess shook the memory away. The back doors opened and doctors took over the gurney Amanda was on.
“Amanda? I’m Dr. Patrick, can you tell me what happened?”
“She can’t,” Jess spoke up, “I’m pretty sure she was drugged.”
The dark haired doctor turned to her, “And you are?”
“I’m Jess. I’m her roommate, and I found her. Her eyes were open and seemed responsive, but she couldn’t even shake her head.”
“Okay, we’ll take it from here. You can wait over there.” He pointed to the waiting area, and Jess stumbled over to a vinyl gray chair. As she sank down, her muscles gave out and the tears started falling.
Look for When Hearts Collide coming soon. In the meantime, you can get The Power of Prayer and Where It All Began
(the first two books) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.