The Tegen Cave

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Have you ever made a mistake that keeps coming back to haunt you?

On the run from her ex-boyfriend’s powerful criminal family, Sara Jones hides in Billings, Montana. But when people around her start dying from poisonous spider bites after she receives a mysterious package containing a hidden spider, she worries that the family has found her. Can she escape?

From its gut-grabbing prologue to its explosive conclusion, Goss’s debut story gives new meaning to the phrase “a blood-curdling adventure.”

Life takes an even more bizarre turn when Sara seems to be not only immune to the spider venom, but also surrounded by a sinister group of people using spiders to incapacitate their prey. Even her new boyfriend starts acting suspiciously. Just whom can she trust?Then to make matters worse Sara’s twenty-fifth birthday approaches, and her dark heritage begins to emerge. She is forced to make a life-or-death decision. And somehow, she must find a way to deal with the crime family.

An imaginative fantasy-thriller that will stimulate your senses.

Some things, like spiders trained to kill, may seem far-fetched, and cult members eating the flesh of cadavers may seem abhorrent, but Dracula set that table long ago. Besides, given Goss’s endowment of the cult with an air of historical respectability, the story is more imaginatively acceptable for anyone predisposed to the fantasy genre.


PROLOGUE

 

As they drove away from town, Candice placed her hand on his thigh and gently squeezed. He turned, his dark blue eyes glowing, and gave her a coy smile. She sensed something was wrong from his distant behavior at the restaurant. She peered out the side window as the city lights vanished behind them and thought, Does he know about me? Towering pine trees and leafy maples lined the road. Thick clouds snuffed out the moonlight. “The hotel was only a couple of blocks away,” she said. “I want to take you some place special.” Her body tingled as she leaned closer and caressed his muscular arm. “Your room was pretty special last night.” “This place you’ll never forget.” Candice could no longer spot any house lights through the dense foliage.

 

A ping of uneasiness flew over her since she had only known her date for less than two days. Wanting to make her weapon easily accessible, she snatched her purse from the floor and lowered it onto her lap. “How far away is this place?” “Right up here.” The blue-eyed man steered the car onto a dirt lane almost hidden by the overgrown shrubs and spreading trees. The corner of a stone house appeared, only lit by a sliver of the moon between the passing clouds. “Whose house?” Candice asked. Then she blinked as the harsh glare from headlights approaching behind struck the side mirror. “I thought we were going to be alone.” “Maybe the driver’s lost. Let me check.” He stepped onto the ground. Candice pushed her long, blonde tresses away from her eyes as she turned, looked through the back window, and watched a man climb out of the vehicle as her date walked toward it. The clanging sound of metal being hit echoed through the car. Candice swung her head around and saw a guy tapping on the car’s hood, flanked by two other men.

 

Her light hazel eyes darted between them looking for weapons. None were visible. Wondering what was going on, she stuck her hand into her bag, searched for her pistol, and smiled when she felt the cold steel. Her car door flew open and she gazed up at her date. “You a cop?” “Far from it.” He leaned down and slid his hand behind her neck. Something sharp scraped into her flesh. “Ow!” she yelled, tugging on his arm. “What have you got?” He flipped his hand over, revealing his palm. She stared at his fingers, trying to grasp what she was seeing as perspiration drizzled down her face. “What the..?” “Crimes have consequences.” “Who…what are you?” She attempted to raise her gun, but didn’t have the strength to free it from the bottom of her purse. He dropped a spider on her chest just above her low-cut sweater. She opened her mouth to scream. No sound escaped. “She’s ready,” he said to the other men. They lifted her limp body and headed toward the back of the house. Passing the stone structure, her date envisioned the pretty brunette he spotted in the hotel lobby and thought, She’ll be the next one I bring here.


THE PACKAGE
1

 

 

I stared at the brilliant crimson stone in the ring on my finger. He had given it to me when I moved into his home in Houston, Texas. Flashing back to what had been one of the happiest days of my life, my hand shook more than I expected when I slipped it off. I placed the sentimental ring on the shelf next to my cell phone and closed the locker door. I leaned against the wall with quivering lips, feeling I had betrayed him. With everything I had learned, I knew we could never be together again. Still, part of me wanted to leap out the side doors and apologetically run back to him. I couldn’t justify it to the voice inside me that screamed to never look back. My heart and mind warred against one another to rationalize my fear, obsession, and sense of justice into one clear guiding sentiment. I was left paralyzed and confused in the crossfire. Inhaling deeply, I forced myself to put on a pair of large, worn jeans and a plaid shirt with tattered cuffs, the frumpy clothes I had brought in my gym bag. Since I prided myself on stylish fashion, I hoped to avoid any recognition.

Then I tucked my long, brown hair under a floppy brimmed hat and hid my eyes behind a pair of oversized sunglasses. Grabbing my previously packed duffle bag, I headed to the fitness center’s exit. The clock on the wall read 7:45 a.m. I had fifteen minutes to get to the bus depot before my imaginary yoga class came to an end. I hurried through the parking lot to the sidewalk and began to jog the rest of the way. I resisted the urge to glance over my shoulder. It felt as though my past was catching up with me already. I started to sprint and held back tears as the wind bit my dry cheeks. I entered the brightly lit depot with floor-to-ceiling windows on one side. Sunlight shone on rows of seats filled with people, while others milled about. Despite the ban on smoking, stale cigarette smoke lingered in the air.

I peered out through the automatic glass doors. No one had followed me. My departure in 20 minutes was bound for Rapid City, South Dakota, but that was not my final destination. With potential danger lurking in any corner, I needed to get away fast, and that bus was the next one scheduled to leave Houston. I had purchased the ticket yesterday at a different location. It was here waiting for me under the name Ethel Martin, the name that appeared on a driver’s license I had retrieved from the lost and found at work. I hoped Ethel, whoever she was, wouldn’t get in trouble because of me. The picture on the license was hazy. I still held my breath when the ticket agent looked at it since, except for the brown eyes, the description didn’t fit me. I was 24, five-foot-eight, and weighed 125 pounds.

Ethel was older, taller and heavier. With my ticket in hand, I went outside and scanned everyone I passed. I sat close to the rear of the bus and stared at the passengers as they boarded. Two broad-shouldered bald men wearing reflective sunglasses, black suits, and ties entered the bus. They began walking toward me. I froze, thinking they were coming for me and it would be over soon. Was that bulge I saw under one arm a holster? They moved along the bus aisle with a wide gait, then sat in a middle row without looking back. I sighed with relief. A stocky, gray-haired woman made her way down the aisle. “Is this seat taken?” she asked with a warm smile. “No, not at all.” I dipped my chin at the seat to welcome her.


 

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Author

Inge-Lise Goss