• Cassandra Giovanni

Into the Darkest Night - Chapter One

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

I'm sharing the first chapter in my upcoming release, Into the Darkest Night (The Chaos Theory, #1). You can pre-order the book now for just $0.99! It will be $3.99 on release date. Available at all major retailers now! Click here to purchase.



The second my plane lands, the media swarms. Camera flashes attempt to blind me as I adjust my duffle bag on my shoulder. It holds the only possessions I have: a few pieces of clothing and my yumi -- bow -- made by hand and nothing more than two pieces of carved wood to the untrained eye. Two men in suits push their way through the crowd, their gold badges flashing against the fluorescents above us.

"Miss Jacobs." One reaches for my elbow, and I raise an eyebrow at him, stopping him in his tracks. "We're here to escort you."

"Are you now?" I narrow my eyes at him. He's my age, and I place him easily. "Peter Henrikson."

He licks his lips. "Ana. Come with us?"

I scoff. "Do I have a choice?"

The other gentlemen, a chubby man with a balding head, nods over his shoulder. "Or you can fight your way past them by yourself."

"I can handle them," I say, and Peter swallows. I know their orders are to bring me in. "But we might as well get this over with."

My chest rises as I inhale. My senses are on overdrive as the men position themselves on either side of me and push their way through the crowd. I fight the urge to take a different path -- the shortest and safest. As soon as my feet touched the linoleum floors, I assess the room.

The reporters.

The passengers and the exits.

The twelve security cameras lining the hall.

The cameras continue to flash, and questions are yelled at me from every direction. I ignore them focusing on the critical details others, like the arrogant cops flanking me, would ignore.

My eyes find a hooded figure standing just outside the ring of reporters, and he's in an offensive stance. At six-two and one ninety, he's solidly built. Lean muscle and power. The hair on the back of my neck stands, but my escorts keep their eyes on the exit and not the potential problem I see. As we reach the edge of the crowd, the hooded man moves, and my mind ticks into action. I know where Peter's gun is placed. I can grab it, kick his knees out, and shoot the guy before he can do the same to me if I time it correctly.

If I need to.

My blood rushes in my ears as I keep my eyes on the hood. I don't like the fact my back will be to him in ten seconds. I countdown, and the man starts to move. My fingers itch as he comes to pass in front of us. There's a flash of blue eyes from beneath the hood, and then he's gone out the door to the left.

I watch the shadow fade into the night as Peter holds the door open for me. My eyes flick to my surroundings as my feet hit the pavement, heading to the marked cop car. There's nothing unusual out here, and my muscles relax as much as they ever do.

We get into the vehicle, and Peter slides in after me.

"We just have a few questions for you." He runs his palms over his slacks.

"I'm sure you do," I reply, and I look out the window. My throat tightens as I watch the familiar city move passed us. The airport is in the upper-class Gold District, but the Police Station is in middle-class White Light, sitting on the border to Blue Light -- the slums.

It's been five years since I've seen this city I used to call home. I keep my face blank as my stomach piles with knots. We pass the playground Mom used to bring me to every day before she died in a tragic car accident. Father wasn't around when I was little, and he certainly wasn't there after she passed away. I had a nanny, barely older than myself, who was more interested in texting her friends than watching me or being my friend. I was glad when Father decided I was old enough to fend for myself. He dismissed her, handed me the keys to a car and a black credit card. We pass Hillcrest High's imposing rod-iron gates, and I close my eyes as I remember walking those halls with the other Elite. We were naive kids who had everything except our parent's love. I run my tongue over my dry lips as I open my eyes, and the school is gone along with the memories that have been clouded over by the last few years of my life. When the car pulls up to the station, the media is already there, and I watch as Peter shakes his head.

"Vultures," he mutters to himself. I withhold a chuckle because I don't think he's any better. He opens the door and offers me a smile as I follow him out. I don't return it, and he stiffens as he places his hand on my back to guide me up the steps. The doors open before we get to them and Peter’s hand drops from where it's been hovering behind me.

"Can I get you anything?" Peter asks as he nods to an office up ahead that has his nameplate on it. "Coffee? Tea? Water?"

My mouth is dry. "Water."

He opens the door to his office for me and lifts his chin to the seat across from the desk. "I'll be right back."

My eyes scan the room, flicking over the hidden cameras so quickly that no one would notice I know they are there. I rub my hands over the edge of the seat as if I'm nervous and not searching for the hidden microphone. I feel the small bump where it is and then pull my hands back into my lap. Three cameras, and if my seat is any indication, microphones under each chair.

It's an interrogation room set up like an office.

Peter walks back in and hands me a cup of water.  As he goes to his seat, I sniff it, looking for the sign of any drugs. There's none, so I take a small sip. I'll wait three minutes, the amount of time it would take me to start feeling funny if there was any, before I take another.

He sits down and opens a file on his desk. His eyes rise to mine. "Missing person's report."

I nod.

"Let's start from the beginning, Ana. What do you remember about the night you went missing?"

My eyes blink too fast as I fight back the memories. An ache works its way up my neck to my forehead where it slammed into the ground, and my free hand rubs my temple. The thoughts overwhelm me before I can wrench them back where they belong.

My head hit the ground hard, and I could taste the salt in my mouth as the tears streamed into it. My screams were cut off as my head struck the mahogany floor again, and the darkness hinged in over me. The part of me that still wanted to fight the truth screamed Daddy, while the part of me that knew it too well kept the sound in. 

He was in the living room on the floor below. There was no way he didn't know they were here.

They dragged me down the stairs, and my body jumped with each hit. The world spun, and then I saw him: my father. His eyes had run over my limp body before he nodded for them to take me away. Then the blackness hit, along with an agony I’d never experienced before.

He ordered this to happen. The cruelty I'd seen him use against others was now being used against me.

I’d be lucky if I survived.

“Ana?” Peter’s voice is far away, and I shake my head as the metallic taste of the memory fills my mouth.

“Not much. Two men grabbed me from behind and dragged me down the stairs. I hit my head pretty hard and blacked out. I never saw any faces.”

“Do you know how you ended up in Japan?” He pushes as he writes notes.

“I didn’t know I was there until I finally escaped the island a few days ago,” I reply, and I chew my lip to add some innocence to my appearance.

I'm lying.

I found out where I was shortly after I woke up and was branded as a prisoner. The scar on my arm tingles and I rub it. It's just one of the many marks on my body that signify what I've been through, and I know what they mean will scare doctors here.

Damaged doesn't quite cover me, and I'm positive they'll have me paraded in front of a line of psychologists to make sure I'm okay.

Every one of them will have the same answer: miraculously, she's completely stable.

Peter looks at me expectantly, and I give him a small smile to indicate he should continue his questioning.

He clears his throat. “You ended up at the same consulate as Levi Bennett.”

Levi Bennett. The boy I had a massive crush on throughout high school, but he ignored me, so I ended up with his best friend, Robbie Bisson. Who just happens also to be the last person who saw me alive.

I widen my eyes as if this information is new to me. “Levi was in Japan?”

Peter nods, opening another folder. “His disappearance was due to a plane crash. He was going to study abroad and crashed down right where Naraka is.”

An extremely unhappy coincidence.

“Naturally, when we heard where you were coming from we brought him in again.” Peter runs his tongue over the inside of his mouth. “He said he never saw any women on the island.”

I make my hands tremble as I pick up the paper cup of water and take another sip. This one is deeper since I’m not having any ill effects and know it's not tainted.

His lips curve up slightly in mock concern. “I understand if this is hard for you.”

I swallow. “I was the only one that I know of.”

Peter twists the folder around, and to show me pictures of Levi. He's shirtless, and scars mar a good portion of his body. I don't react. Instead, I let my eyes rise to Peter’s.

“Looks like he got the better end of the bargain.”

Peter takes a sharp breath. “Were you tortured, Ana?”

“Was Levi?”

His Adam's apple rises as he closes the folder.

“What can you tell us about the people who did it?”

“Nothing. They wore masks.”

Peter inhales slowly, pinching the bridge of his nose. I assume he’s heard the story before from Levi.

“Levi said an explosion ruined the prison.”

I blink hard as I remember setting the devices. “Yes.”

“Yet you were there two years longer than him,” Peter's eyes wander over my face. He wants emotion, but I’m hollow from the events I’m doing my best to keep shoved back inside my mind.

“As I said, better end of the bargain,” I reply, and I bite my lip for added drama.

“There’s nothing you can tell me?”

I shake my head, and Peter sighs.

“Your father never chose to have you declared dead. That said, you were already made aware of his situation, correct?”

His situation.

That’s an interesting way to refer to being dead and leaving your daughter penniless due to a vigilante hell bent on writing the wrongs of the Inner Circle. I nod.

“We’re actively pursuing the Nightwatchman.”

I look down at my hands and then inhale before lifting my gaze back to his.

“My father was not a good man, Peter. What the Nightwatchman did was justified.”

He shakes his head. “Whether he was good or not isn’t relevant. The Nightwatchman acts outside the law. He stripped you of what would’ve been your inheritance. You understand you have nothing?”

“I had a small savings account that should help me get on my feet,” I say before standing. I don’t mention the wad of cash in my duffle bag. It’s payment for my services in Japan.

And that is certainly outside of the law, here and there.

Peter reaches out, putting a hand on my arm. “Based your circumstances being similar to Levi, we do need to have our doctor look at you.”

I lock eyes with him. “You’ll only end up with more questions I can’t answer.”

His jaw clenches. “You spent three years in a prison being tortured and two years on an abandoned island, Ana. We just want to ensure you’re healthy and get you any help you may need.”

“I assume I don’t have a choice?”

Peter shakes his head.

“Let's get it over with then.”~~~


The second my plane lands, the media swarms. Camera flashes attempt to blind me as I adjust my duffle bag on my shoulder. It holds the only possessions I have: a few pieces of clothing and my yumi -- bow -- made by hand and nothing more than two pieces of carved wood to the untrained eye. Two men in suits push their way through the crowd, their gold badges flashing against the fluorescents above us.

"Miss Jacobs." One reaches for my elbow, and I raise an eyebrow at him, stopping him in his tracks. "We're here to escort you."

"Are you now?" I narrow my eyes at him. He's my age, and I place him easily. "Peter Henrikson."

He licks his lips. "Ana. Come with us?"

I scoff. "Do I have a choice?"

The other gentlemen, a chubby man with a balding head, nods over his shoulder. "Or you can fight your way past them by yourself."

"I can handle them," I say, and Peter swallows. I know their orders are to bring me in. "But we might as well get this over with."

My chest rises as I inhale. My senses are on overdrive as the men position themselves on either side of me and push their way through the crowd. I fight the urge to take a different path -- the shortest and safest. As soon as my feet touched the linoleum floors, I assess the room.

The reporters.

The passengers and the exits.

The twelve security cameras lining the hall.

The cameras continue to flash, and questions are yelled at me from every direction. I ignore them focusing on the critical details others, like the arrogant cops flanking me, would ignore.

My eyes find a hooded figure standing just outside the ring of reporters, and he's in an offensive stance. At six-two and one ninety, he's solidly built. Lean muscle and power. The hair on the back of my neck stands, but my escorts keep their eyes on the exit and not the potential problem I see. As we reach the edge of the crowd, the hooded man moves, and my mind ticks into action. I know where Peter's gun is placed. I can grab it, kick his knees out, and shoot the guy before he can do the same to me if I time it correctly.

If I need to.

My blood rushes in my ears as I keep my eyes on the hood. I don't like the fact my back will be to him in ten seconds. I countdown, and the man starts to move. My fingers itch as he comes to pass in front of us. There's a flash of blue eyes from beneath the hood, and then he's gone out the door to the left.

I watch the shadow fade into the night as Peter holds the door open for me. My eyes flick to my surroundings as my feet hit the pavement, heading to the marked cop car. There's nothing unusual out here, and my muscles relax as much as they ever do.

We get into the vehicle, and Peter slides in after me.

"We just have a few questions for you." He runs his palms over his slacks.

"I'm sure you do," I reply, and I look out the window. My throat tightens as I watch the familiar city move passed us. The airport is in the upper-class Gold District, but the Police Station is in middle-class White Light, sitting on the border to Blue Light -- the slums.

It's been five years since I've seen this city I used to call home. I keep my face blank as my stomach piles with knots. We pass the playground Mom used to bring me to every day before she died in a tragic car accident. Father wasn't around when I was little, and he certainly wasn't there after she passed away. I had a nanny, barely older than myself, who was more interested in texting her friends than watching me or being my friend. I was glad when Father decided I was old enough to fend for myself. He dismissed her, handed me the keys to a car and a black credit card. We pass Hillcrest High's imposing rod-iron gates, and I close my eyes as I remember walking those halls with the other Elite. We were naive kids who had everything except our parent's love. I run my tongue over my dry lips as I open my eyes, and the school is gone along with the memories that have been clouded over by the last few years of my life. When the car pulls up to the station, the media is already there, and I watch as Peter shakes his head.

"Vultures," he mutters to himself. I withhold a chuckle because I don't think he's any better. He opens the door and offers me a smile as I follow him out. I don't return it, and he stiffens as he places his hand on my back to guide me up the steps. The doors open before we get to them and Peter’s hand drops from where it's been hovering behind me.

"Can I get you anything?" Peter asks as he nods to an office up ahead that has his nameplate on it. "Coffee? Tea? Water?"

My mouth is dry. "Water."

He opens the door to his office for me and lifts his chin to the seat across from the desk. "I'll be right back."

My eyes scan the room, flicking over the hidden cameras so quickly that no one would notice I know they are there. I rub my hands over the edge of the seat as if I'm nervous and not searching for the hidden microphone. I feel the small bump where it is and then pull my hands back into my lap. Three cameras, and if my seat is any indication, microphones under each chair.

It's an interrogation room set up like an office.

Peter walks back in and hands me a cup of water.  As he goes to his seat, I sniff it, looking for the sign of any drugs. There's none, so I take a small sip. I'll wait three minutes, the amount of time it would take me to start feeling funny if there was any, before I take another.

He sits down and opens a file on his desk. His eyes rise to mine. "Missing person's report."

I nod.

"Let's start from the beginning, Ana. What do you remember about the night you went missing?"

My eyes blink too fast as I fight back the memories. An ache works its way up my neck to my forehead where it slammed into the ground, and my free hand rubs my temple. The thoughts overwhelm me before I can wrench them back where they belong.

My head hit the ground hard, and I could taste the salt in my mouth as the tears streamed into it. My screams were cut off as my head struck the mahogany floor again, and the darkness hinged in over me. The part of me that still wanted to fight the truth screamed Daddy, while the part of me that knew it too well kept the sound in. 

He was in the living room on the floor below. There was no way he didn't know they were here.

They dragged me down the stairs, and my body jumped with each hit. The world spun, and then I saw him: my father. His eyes had run over my limp body before he nodded for them to take me away. Then the blackness hit, along with an agony I’d never experienced before.

He ordered this to happen. The cruelty I'd seen him use against others was now being used against me.

I’d be lucky if I survived.

“Ana?” Peter’s voice is far away, and I shake my head as the metallic taste of the memory fills my mouth.

“Not much. Two men grabbed me from behind and dragged me down the stairs. I hit my head pretty hard and blacked out. I never saw any faces.”

“Do you know how you ended up in Japan?” He pushes as he writes notes.

“I didn’t know I was there until I finally escaped the island a few days ago,” I reply, and I chew my lip to add some innocence to my appearance.

I'm lying.

I found out where I was shortly after I woke up and was branded as a prisoner. The scar on my arm tingles and I rub it. It's just one of the many marks on my body that signify what I've been through, and I know what they mean will scare doctors here.

Damaged doesn't quite cover me, and I'm positive they'll have me paraded in front of a line of psychologists to make sure I'm okay.

Every one of them will have the same answer: miraculously, she's completely stable.

Peter looks at me expectantly, and I give him a small smile to indicate he should continue his questioning.

He clears his throat. “You ended up at the same consulate as Levi Bennett.”

Levi Bennett. The boy I had a massive crush on throughout high school, but he ignored me, so I ended up with his best friend, Robbie Bisson. Who just happens also to be the last person who saw me alive.

I widen my eyes as if this information is new to me. “Levi was in Japan?”

Peter nods, opening another folder. “His disappearance was due to a plane crash. He was going to study abroad and crashed down right where Naraka is.”

An extremely unhappy coincidence.

“Naturally, when we heard where you were coming from we brought him in again.” Peter runs his tongue over the inside of his mouth. “He said he never saw any women on the island.”

I make my hands tremble as I pick up the paper cup of water and take another sip. This one is deeper since I’m not having any ill effects and know it's not tainted.

His lips curve up slightly in mock concern. “I understand if this is hard for you.”

I swallow. “I was the only one that I know of.”

Peter twists the folder around, and to show me pictures of Levi. He's shirtless, and scars mar a good portion of his body. I don't react. Instead, I let my eyes rise to Peter’s.

“Looks like he got the better end of the bargain.”

Peter takes a sharp breath. “Were you tortured, Ana?”

“Was Levi?”

His Adam's apple rises as he closes the folder.

“What can you tell us about the people who did it?”

“Nothing. They wore masks.”

Peter inhales slowly, pinching the bridge of his nose. I assume he’s heard the story before from Levi.

“Levi said an explosion ruined the prison.”

I blink hard as I remember setting the devices. “Yes.”

“Yet you were there two years longer than him,” Peter's eyes wander over my face. He wants emotion, but I’m hollow from the events I’m doing my best to keep shoved back inside my mind.

“As I said, better end of the bargain,” I reply, and I bite my lip for added drama.

“There’s nothing you can tell me?”

I shake my head, and Peter sighs.

“Your father never chose to have you declared dead. That said, you were already made aware of his situation, correct?”

His situation.

That’s an interesting way to refer to being dead and leaving your daughter penniless due to a vigilante hell bent on writing the wrongs of the Inner Circle. I nod.

“We’re actively pursuing the Nightwatchman.”

I look down at my hands and then inhale before lifting my gaze back to his.

“My father was not a good man, Peter. What the Nightwatchman did was justified.”

He shakes his head. “Whether he was good or not isn’t relevant. The Nightwatchman acts outside the law. He stripped you of what would’ve been your inheritance. You understand you have nothing?”

“I had a small savings account that should help me get on my feet,” I say before standing. I don’t mention the wad of cash in my duffle bag. It’s payment for my services in Japan.

And that is certainly outside of the law, here and there.

Peter reaches out, putting a hand on my arm. “Based your circumstances being similar to Levi, we do need to have our doctor look at you.”

I lock eyes with him. “You’ll only end up with more questions I can’t answer.”

His jaw clenches. “You spent three years in a prison being tortured and two years on an abandoned island, Ana. We just want to ensure you’re healthy and get you any help you may need.”

“I assume I don’t have a choice?”

Peter shakes his head.

“Let's get it over with then.”

© 2019 CASSANDRA GIOVANNI.