Wrong Side of Town
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by Cindy Spencer Pape
Description: Zach Shannon is back in town, and tiny Hawthorne, Texas will never be the same. When the local military hero comes home and starts working for his father, the sheriff, one of his first cases is a string of minor fires that everyone seems to blame on a handful of teens from the wrong side of town. Even worse, Zach is rapidly falling for Laney Burroughs, a quiet librarian whose Goth nephew is the suspected ringleader. Their attraction deepens, but both have too many responsibilities and too much baggage to make it easy, especially with Zach's wealthy family, Laney's nephew, and the entire town looking on.
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2011 November
eBookwise Release Date: March 2012
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [266 KB]
Reading time: 169-237 min.
The metallic odor of blood mingled with the thick dust and acrid smoke from the explosives. The muffled sound of crying slithered through the noise of the bombs and the cracking timbers of the roof.
As the building collapsed around him, Zach Shannon dug through the rubble with his one good arm. He had to find the source of the sobbing. Someone was alive. It didn't matter if it was the enemy. It sounded like a child. He couldn't leave it to die.
With a strength born of pure adrenaline, he shoved a rough wooden table out of the way, and saw the girl, covered in debris, but mostly protected by the heavy furniture. Habiba. He'd met her a half hour earlier when he entered the house. She was maybe two, with a ready smile and huge dark eyes. Blood and tears streaked her face and clothes. Her mother lay beside her, dead. The woman's neck was bent at an impossible angle, and her dark eyes stared blindly, but the girl was alive. Zach could get her out, if the damn bombers gave him time.
Friendly fire. Yeah, right.
He tossed aside more scraps of broken plaster and eased the child out of her mother's arms, cradling her against his chest. He'd come here to talk to the father, had heard he was willing to sell some information about the dissident group who'd been targeting the American supply convoys. He'd feared that the dissidents would bring the wrath of the American military down on the small village and had hoped to protect it. Ironically, the bombing had begun just as the man had begun to speak. Now, he was dead, along with his wife, and damn near along with Zach and the little girl.
Zach was badly bruised and battered, but his legs still worked. His left shoulder was dislocated, so he carried the girl awkwardly in his right arm, whispering soothing nonsense to try to calm her. She still cried, but at least, she didn't fight him, just wrapped chubby arms around his neck and hung on. He made it to the door, or what was left of it. If he could get to his extraction rendezvous point, he knew his team would see that she got to a hospital. Then he could pass out, after the doc popped his shoulder back into its socket. Keeping the thought of clean sheets and good painkillers in his mind, he carried Habiba through the ruined streets of her village, hoping she didn't see all the carnage as they passed.
He almost made it. Just before he reached the jeep he had stashed, the planes began another sweep. Light flashed in front of his eyes, blinding him at the same time as he was deafened by the blast. He felt himself falling and did his best to protect the child within the curve of his own body.
When Zach woke, the world had gone eerily silent. Slivers of sunlight filtered through gaps in the rubble that covered him. In a heartbeat, he remembered where he was, understood that the small form cradled in his arms was the child he'd been trying to save. She, too, was silent and far too still. Frantically, Zach used his one good arm to dig them out of the debris, then looked down at the limp form beside him. Her big, dark eyes stared blankly, and his shirt was soaked with her blood.
"Noooo!" Forgetting the dangers of drawing attention to himself, since there were already scavengers picking through the ruins, he screamed. Because of the damage to his hearing, even his own scream was silent to his ears. "Noooo!"