Title: Hidden Monster
Series: The Monsters Among Us, Book 1
Author: Amanda Strong
Published: November 4th, 2014
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count: 297
Genre: YA Mature Paranormal Romance
Content Warning: Violence, minor language, and adult themes
Recommended Age: 16+
For seventeen-year-old Samantha Campbell, running backwoods trails usually means freedom from her less-than-perfect life. That is, until the day a morning run turns into a living nightmare. When Samantha wakes up to find herself bound to a dirty, pinstriped mattress, she realizes she’s anything but free. With a masked abductor repeatedly injecting her arm with an unknown substance while holding her captive, Samantha tries in vain to find out what he wants, but he refuses to speak. Until the day he breaks his silence and his twisted words are worse than what she’d imagined. He promises her one day she will fall in love with him, but the best part will be that she won’t know who he is… until it’s too late.
Finding herself freed from captivity, with her captor still at large, Samantha is on guard against everything and everyone around her. Unfortunately, walling up her heart proves difficult when eighteen-year-old Blake Knightley moves in next door. When Samantha starts experiencing strange changes within her, she realizes her captor may have left her more damaged than she originally thought. Now she must turn to Blake for help in order to unearth the truth behind the monster who started this all… or risk experiencing worse things than just falling in love.
Step, step, breathe, breathe, step, step, breathe, breathe. My shoes kept a steady rhythm with my burning lungs. I veered off my regular path, opting to hear the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. The image of my mom’s disapproving face was ignored as I leapt across a gurgling brook. Breathe, breathe, crunch, crunch.
If I wasn’t mountain biking, I was running. I craved speed and freedom. I had to escape the oppressive perfection of living in the Campbell home. Thinking of my two older sisters, one model and the other a star volleyball player, my legs lunged, lengthening their stride. Not good at team sports and terrified by cameras, I knew my family felt my height was wasted on me.
Even Jeremy gives me a hard time.
A stitch pinched my side. Breathe, breathe. I knew I was going too fast, not pacing myself right. Something was urging me on, pushing me to scale the hill before me, and plunge deeper into the woods. I refocused on my rhythm, my inhales and exhales, and my body realigned itself, goose bumps shooting across my arms. There it is. I’d hit my second wind and I surged on, not caring where my feet led.
It’s freedom! Complete and—
There was a rush of air, a whistling in my ear, and a sting to the back of my arm. Instantly, I tumbled to the ground, sliding into the damp morning dew. Cold dirt filled my nostrils as blackness enveloped me.
I heard my own labored breathing long before I realized I was somewhere in between awake and asleep. Forcing my eyes open, I gasped. My senses took everything in at once—the smell of wood shavings, the scratchy ropes on my wrists and ankles, and the pressure of the mattress beneath my body. I screamed, but the empty room with wooden floors and stacked logs for walls was empty. No one burst through the door in the corner.
Realizing it was useless and only making my throat raw, I fell silent. Panic flooded me. How did I get here? I pressed my thoughts to retrace my steps, but my mind felt sluggish. My last memory was running in the woods just before sunrise. I could still feel the burn from the autumn air hitting my lungs. Now the solitary window painted a yellow rectangle on the floor. The room felt stuffy. It’s probably late afternoon. But is it the same day?
The minutes rolled slowly into hours, the silence suffocating. What had my therapist said to do when I was scared? Breathe deeply and don’t panic. It was too late for that; all the years of therapy after my childhood accident were rendered useless. I’m drowning all over again. Only this time, it wasn’t water filling my lungs but pure fear and terror pressing down on my chest. I gulped in dry air, my eyes burning with tears.
No one’s coming to save me. A sob escaped me as the real horror of the situation washed over me. I’m tied up. Someone knows I’m here. What would happen when they came back? As the last rays of light were snuffed out by the shadows of the night, that someone came through the wooden door.
About the Author:
Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. Because of The Awakener’s success as a non-published book, she was asked to talk on 1400 KSTAR about her story.In September 2013 Amanda Strong signed with Clean Teen Publishing. The Awakener is the first book in an all-new young adult paranormal romance series called The Watchers of Men.
When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions, you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.
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