Will a deadly manhunt lead to love?
An idyllic Caribbean vacation turns deadly when hostages are taken at one of Mexico’s most popular Mayan ruins. The kidnappers believe the abduction will be a simple way to negotiate the release of a colleague from a Texas prison, but the stakes become much higher when they realize one of their hostages is the daughter of a powerful U.S. Senator and another, an ex-Army Ranger who has no intention of playing by the rules.
After a daring escape the Senator’s daughter, Jessica, and the ex-Ranger, Jack, must endure a terrifying manhunt and a desperate fight for survival. While trying to stay alive in the unforgiving jungle they forge a bond that will last a lifetime and find love neither wanted, but were unable to avoid. Purchase now at www.inspiredromancenovels.com!
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“The last stop on the tour will be at the sacred well. The sacred well is a sinkhole about sixty-five feet across and is located a half mile from here. Legend is that the sacred well was used for human sacrifices. Skeletons of about fifty people have been found at the bottom, giving credibility to the story. It’s a magnificent feature of the ruins, but if anyone is not up for the hike, you can wait here or meet us back at the bus.”
Many of the older participants in the group decided to wait at El Castillo, fearing the half-mile walk might be too much for them in the oppressive humid heat of late afternoon. The sun blazed down and no clouds offered any hint of relief as the rest of the group strolled toward the final stop on the tour.
The group encountered few other visitors as they walked to the sacred well. At the well, the guide went into detail about how the sacrifices were carried out. Jessica felt he was being a little melodramatic and started to tune him out until he abruptly stopped talking. His silence jolted her back to attention.
The look on the guide’s face sent shivers down Jessica’s spine. His eyes were focused on something behind the group which only he could see. Jessica’s eyes darted from Amber to the other twenty-five people standing around her and could tell they were all aware something was wrong. As if on cue, the entire group eased around to face what stood behind them.
One of the young college girls screamed, but the sound was cut short by the butt of a rifle being slammed to her temple, knocking her to the ground. An old man moved to go to her, but stopped as a gun was raised to his head.
Two gunmen held automatic rifles at the ready and motioned for the group to turn back around and face the tour guide. Everyone quietly complied except for the young woman still lying on the ground, bleeding and whimpering.
Jessica reached for Amber’s hand and squeezed it hard as they looked at the shaking guide with a pistol pressed to his temple. The gunman said something to the guide in Spanish and the guide translated.
“He says do not move and do not make a sound and no one has to die today.”
Everyone obeyed, the silence broken only by the birds singing in the trees, a sound too pleasant for the situation. The gunman again said something and the group eagerly waited for translation.
“Everyone lay face down on the ground and clasp your hands behind your neck. Do not move, do not make a sound and do not look up.”
Jessica hated to release Amber’s hand, but knew they had to comply. She stayed as close to Amber as she could while easing down to the hard-packed ground. She joined her fingers behind her neck and turned her head to the side so she could breathe freely and still see her friend.
She heard a whimper as someone was drug to her feet. The noise was feminine and sounded young, so Jessica imagined one of the college girls had been grabbed. She waited and listened. This time she heard a yelp, followed by a slap, and another person being drug to their feet.
Another heavier, clumsier shuffle sounded, but little else.
Jessica lay on the ground, fighting the urge to scratch the itching caused by biting insects, feeling the vibrations of boots hitting the ground as footsteps neared. She bit her lip and held her breath. A gunman grabbed Amber by the hair, crouched down and stared at the terrified woman for a moment before dropping her head to the ground and stepping away.
Momentary relief flooded Jessica that Amber hadn’t been hurt or taken, then the pain hit. A fist yanked her by the hair and pulled her face up. She opened her eyes, looking directly into the cold dark eyes of a gunman. She wanted to scream, but pulled it in before a sound could escape. He scanned her face and he was so close she could smell the acrid odor of cigarettes and booze on his breath. He continued to hold her head up until another man came to his side. The other man looked at her and nodded, and she was abruptly yanked to her feet by her hair.
Jack and Zach made a move to stand at the same moment. A boot crashed hard into Zach’s back, forcing him to the ground while the man’s gun swung around and aimed at Jack’s head.
“Don’t move or he’ll shoot you!” the guide screamed.
Everyone froze. Two of the college girls and a balding middle-aged man huddled in a group not far from the man with the pistol to the guide’s head. Jack stood about five feet away, but didn’t move.
“¿Cuántas?” asked the man holding Jessica’s hair.
“Cinco,” replied the man with the pistol.
Jessica was pushed in the direction of the two girls and balding man, while the third gunman jabbed his gun in Jack’s back, forcing him to follow Jessica.
“Stay on the ground with your heads down. If they hear anyone move they’ll shoot one of the hostages,” the guide stuttered.
Jessica watched in horror as the guide’s head was bashed by the butt of the pistol, knocking him to the ground. The assailant then joined the other gunmen, seizing Jessica’s arm, and the three men began herding the group away from the ruins.
They were forced into a slow jog. The balding man’s gut bounced as he tried to keep up and each time he slowed to rest, he was jammed in the back with the barrel of a rifle. Jessica couldn’t see Jack behind her, but she could hear heavy male breathing so she suspected he was close.
She wanted to turn and confirm his presence, but the man’s grip on her arm was strong as he pulled her along and she doubted he would tolerate even the slightest pause. His fingers dug into her skin, bruising her, though at the moment bruising was the least of her problems.
Everyone in the group was gasping for breath by the time they arrived at a battered old van. Two men pushed the hostages into a line facing the vehicle. The third man moved through the group and claimed every visible bag or pack. He then focused on each person individually. He started with Jack and quickly frisked him, removed his wallet from his back pocket, tied his hands behind his back, placed a strip of duct tape across his mouth, and shoved him into the van. The gunman repeated the process with the older, balding man before turning his focus on girls.