Rachel’s last chance for love!

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In just a few weeks, One Last Chance, Rachel’s story will be released. Readers of the Oak Grove series met Rachel briefly in One Last Risk. And they were concerned. What was going on with her? Why was Lucas alarmed?

In One Last Dance, readers are give more of a glimpse into Rachel’s life, seen through the eyes of bystanders Joey and Brittany. Brittany is the one to recognize what no one was ready to admit – that Rachel was in an abusive relationship. Brittany provided insight and support to Joey as he struggled to find a way to help his sister.

Women in abusive relationships won’t leave until they are ready. And Rachel wasn’t ready. Not then.

Fast forward a couple of months and things have changed. Rachel’s situation with Shane has gotten worse, she rarely leaves the house anymore, and she doesn’t recognize the person she’s become.

One night, things got a whole lot worse and Rachel did the one thing she’d never done before – she called for help!

Enter Sawyer. He’d buried the feelings he had for Rachel growing up, struggling with his own nightmares brought up from his time in Afghanistan. She didn’t deserve the broken man he’d become. But he couldn’t ignore what was happening right in front of his eyes. He’d spent many a night punching the bag at the gym until his hands screamed out with the pain he felt seeing the woman he loved being hurt. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone.

Until one night when 9-1-1 rang out with the call he’d been waiting for.

Read the first chapter of One Last Chance below for a glimpse into what Rachel has been dealing with. And pre-order your copy of One Last Chance to be delivered onto your eReader on July 11th.

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Chapter One

“Shane, no—stop!” Rachel darted behind the smallish kitchen table, her eyes never leaving her boyfriend. At least the barrier would give her some protection against his rage. Very little, though. This wasn’t the first time he’d chased her around the table, stretching his grubby hands across the top to grab her. Sometimes she got away. Sometimes she didn’t.

A glazed look filled his bloodshot eyes. Good… maybe he’d pass out soon. Five, maybe ten minutes. She just had to hold out until then.

She rubbed her throbbing cheek, the sting from his hand still fresh.

Shane lurched across the table and wrapped his thick fingers around her wrist. Even though her skin throbbed, she tried to yank her arm away. He just squeezed harder, pain radiating up her arm. She pulled and struggled, but she couldn’t free her hand from his vice-like grip.

“You bitch. Where’s my goddamned beer?”

“I didn’t do anything, I swear. You drank the last one this afternoon.” Please believe me. She’d convinced him before that he’d just forgotten, but the times that she hadn’t, he’d blown up. Each time worse than the previous one.

He raised his fist, keeping her wrist clamped in the other. The harsh smack of his palm burned her cheek. Her hand flew to her face. The table rocked and Shane pitched forward, still holding her. She stumbled and struggled to wrench away from him. Tears welled in her eyes but she wouldn’t let them fall. Tears just pissed him off.

Where was loving Shane she’d met and started dating? When had he turned into this monster? And why did she stay with him?

She didn’t deserve any better—that was what she’d told herself when huddled under the blanket at night, feigning sleep so he wouldn’t reach for her. So she focused on trying to meet Shane’s definition of “good” and steer clear of him when he was in a mood.

But just being “good” wasn’t cutting it. Not anymore. She’d had enough. She deserved better, no matter what her mind tried to convince her. She had to get out before he killed her.

Her cell phone sat on the counter. If she could get over there, she could call one of her brothers or even 9-1-1. Only once before had she tried to call during one of Shane’s attacks. She hadn’t been able to reach Joey, and Shane had slapped the phone away before she could talk to someone at the bar. No one came. Not until the next day, after Shane had thrown her against the wall and sprained her wrist. What if no one came again? His attacks were getting worse.

His fiery gaze darted to her phone and his eyebrows rose. “No way, bitch. This is between us.”

Damn, he’d seen her. But she was determined to get to the phone. She darted around the table and dashed to the counter. Shane’s strong arms snaked around her waist. Almost there. She stretched for the phone. When her fingers brushed the cell, it went skidding to the floor. Shit. She lunged but couldn’t reach the one lifeline from a beating. Shane yanked her away, threw her against the couch, and followed her down. His fingers dug into her arms. His putrid breath turned her stomach, and she clenched her teeth so she wouldn’t vomit.

“Is this what you wanted?” He slammed his mouth down on hers. She clamped her lips shut. How could she ever have thought she loved this man? He kissed her again and she didn’t fight him. If she acted like she wanted to be with him, he’d release her and she could scramble to the phone. That was her only hope. Without moving her head, her eyes darted to where the phone had landed on the floor. Only a few steps away.

She let her body go limp and he released her. “That’s better. See? We’re good together, baby. Aren’t we?”

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat, putting more force into her words. “We are.”

He kissed her again and she squeezed her eyes shut. A little bit longer and she might have an opening.

“Come on.” Shane stood and stomped toward the bedroom.

Finally. She crept closer to the phone. With his back turned, he couldn’t see when she bent to retrieve her cell. And he also didn’t notice when she flipped it open. She pressed 9-1-1.

“What in the hell are you doing?” Shane roared and rushed to her in two huge strides.

As she pressed Send, Shane smacked the phone from her hand, and it clattered to the floor. Please let the call go through. She couldn’t take much more of this.

He shoved his hand into her hair and twisted his fingers in the stringy strands hanging lifelessly down her back. She shuddered.

This was the final straw. As soon as she got free of his grip, she was leaving. Please, someone, please come help me.

Shane yanked her head back and hung his face right over hers.

She clawed at his hands. “You’re hurting me!”

“Who’d you call?” Spit flew out of his mouth and splattered on her face.

She cringed. Swiping at her face just pissed him off even more than the tears. “Nobody. I swear. I wanted to check the time.”

“Who cares about the fucking time? You got somewhere to go?”

Fire swirled in his eyes, his square jaw clenched, and her stomach dropped. She had no hope of getting away from him now. The asshole was just getting warmed up.

With his hand still wrapped in her hair, he dragged her toward the bedroom. She yelped and he tugged harder. Tears rolled down her cheeks but she couldn’t hold them back any longer. She’d hidden her feelings for months. What Shane wanted always mattered more. He came first. That’s what he always said. But she did matter. She did count. Her tears proved there was still something worth saving buried deep inside her.

She was taking back her life. This would be the last time she would ever let him beat her, to force her to do what he wanted. She may not have his muscles, but she could fight back.

She dug her heels into the carpet and grabbed the edge of the counter. No way would she let him drag her into the bedroom. He could screw a hole in the wall for all she cared.

He released her hair. Thank God. But her relief was short-lived. He pinched her arm and pried at her fingers that gripped the counter. She couldn’t let him pull her away. She clung harder to the wood and braced her feet. Only a few more steps to the front door and she could dash into the yard. She’d have to keep running, though. The trailer sat a long way down a deserted dirt road. They didn’t have any neighbors close by. If she had to, she’d find a place in the woods to hide. Anything to wait Shane out. Eventually he’d pass out. He had to… it was her only hope.

Shane had burrowed himself into her life as he was burrowing into her fingers now. She didn’t have any friends left. Her family had given up on her. What she wouldn’t give for one of her brothers to come knocking on the door right about now. They’d tried to help her, repeatedly, but she hadn’t believed she needed them. Or anyone.

But Shane had never been this bad before. The wrath in his eyes made her heart lurch. For the first time, she questioned whether she could break free of him or whether she’d be alive tomorrow to tell someone about his attack.

With his jaw clenched, lips pursed, and brows furrowed, he stared a hole straight through her. Pure evil filled his eyes. Had his hatred always been there, hiding until he chose the right time to reveal his true self? After she was trapped with him, with nowhere to go?

Shane finally pried her fingers off the counter and she fell back. He towered over her, his hands on his hips, and spit on her. She swiped at her cheek, wobbled, and smacked against the hard floor, butt-first.

She brushed his revolting, beer-filled saliva off her face. Bile rose in her throat but she shoved it down. She refused to give him the satisfaction of knowing exactly how revolting she found him.

He always poked her, prodded her, figured out how to hurt her the most. He made her question her own actions time and again. On the floor, she was at his mercy. She couldn’t get her feet beneath her to stand. He usually didn’t actually grab her… just threatened to. That was how Shane operated. The mere threat of his wrath was usually enough to keep her in line.

But she’d had enough, and she would fight back. With her hands behind her and her feet beneath her, she scrambled backward like a crab. What would he do? He could try anything, but each crawl took her a bit closer to the door and freedom.

With each of her backward lurches, he took one step forward. One, then another, matching her movements toward the door. “You think you can get away from me, bitch? Think again.”

Together they inched closer to the door where the phone lay open and the lights on the keypad shone bright. Maybe she had connected the call to 9-1-1 after all. Help had better be coming, because she couldn’t keep holding Shane off. And if she couldn’t…

Somewhere in the distance, sirens wailed. Please let them be coming for me. Hopefully Shane hadn’t heard them yet. He wasn’t afraid of the deputies, and why should he be? He’d talked himself out of worse situations than this one. Had his Daddy get him out of the stickier jams. Of course, her unwillingness to speak up for herself helped his cause. Why had she refused the help that her brothers… and Sawyer, their friend… had offered her so many times?

She crept closer to the door. Only a few more steps and she’d reach freedom before he grabbed her.

The sirens grew louder. Thank God. With no one else in the area, they had to be coming for her. Shane lifted his head and scowled before he snapped back to her, fire in his eyes.

“You bitch.” He kicked her in the side. All the air in her lungs escaped, and she crumpled onto the floor. But only for a moment. Ignoring the pain, she rolled onto her stomach and scrambled toward the door. Her fingers clawed at the carpet, the stink-ridden fibers and layers of dirt getting under her nails.

Shane’s big arms gripped her around the waist. He pulled and she slid against the carpet.

“Shane, stop. Let me go.”

“No way. You’re mine. And you always will be.”

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