Title: Defending Sophie
Series: GHOST #1
Author: PJ Fiala
Genre: Military Romantic Suspense
Release Date: May 14, 2019
murder and on the run, Sophie must turn to the one man she could never have.
her friend’s suspicious death, Sophie’s only source of information turns up
dead – and she’s the prime suspect. Forced into hiding, she turns to her
brother’s best friend to help keep her alive, clear her name, and find the
killer before she becomes the next victim.
longed for Sophie for years, and he’d do anything to keep her safe, but details
of the investigation aren’t adding up. Mounting doubts have him questioning her
story, even as his heart insists she’s telling the truth. The only thing he knows
for sure is he’ll do anything to prove her innocence, but will it cost him his
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Looking over her shoulder, Sophie exited the little gas
station just outside of Riverton, California through the back of the store and
opened the package that held a burner phone. Pulling Gaige Vicker’s phone
number from her front jean pocket, written on a crumpled piece of a discarded
newspaper she’d dug out of the dumpster at her apartment complex, she quickly
tapped the numbers into the phone. She regretted having to dismantle and toss
her brand new cell phone, but she knew they’d be able to track her with it and
she just couldn’t take the chance.
Throwing Gaige’s number into a nearby garbage can so no one
would connect them should she be captured, she quickly made her way across the
quiet street and ducked between a large boxwood hedge and a wooden fence.
Pressing her back to the warm wood, her eyes ever vigilant to her surroundings,
she remained wary. Her heart was still pounding hard from her run through the
woods. That bastard who was chasing her told her not to talk to another person
about what she knew, her time was up. Swallowing the bile that threatened to
rise at the thought of how close she’d come to dying today, she inhaled slowly.
By the third ring her heart began racing. “Come on, pick up,” She
mumbled into the phone.
“Vickers.” Her hand flew to cover her mouth as a
sob almost escaped. Ducking down further behind the hedge, she whispered,
“Gaige? Oh, Gaige, it’s Sophie. I’m in trouble and you’re the only one who
can help me.”
Taking a deep breath to regain her composure, she held her
breath as she waited for him to respond. “Sophie Turner?”
“Yes.” She hated that she sounded so desperate,
but she was. Glancing around to make sure no one was nearby, she swallowed
before continuing. “Gaige, I’m in trouble. I need help. I’m all
“What about your friend, Kate?” Closing her eyes
to stay the tears that threatened to spill, she took another deep breath.
“Kate’s dead. I’m in trouble. Can you come?”
“Okay, Sophie, tell me what’s going on.”
“I can’t, Gaige, I’m afraid they’re following me and I
have to make tracks. I’m scared to say too much on the phone. I’m just outside
of Riverton. Call me on this burner phone number when you get here.
“Sophie, you need to tell me something. What are you up
against? What kind of backup do I need?”
“I’m sorry.” Fighting a sob, her voice cracked.
“Can you come? Can you help me?”
She heard him exhale and knew she was asking a lot of him,
but she had nowhere to turn. Whispering, “please,” she heard his voice change.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Thank you.” She broke down sobbing, but ended the
call, nervous that she’d stayed put too long. Looking all around, she stepped
from between the hedge and the fence heading south toward Canyon Creek. She
could walk for hours, her Army training had conditioned her for that. Bonus
that she wasn’t carrying a ruck sack, so she was traveling light. She’d make
better time that way.
Attacked from behind, strong arms wrapped themselves around
her, she felt herself falling to the ground, face first and tried to twist to
land on her attacker. Not quite managing, her right shoulder took the brunt of
the fall but not before her attacker managed to reach around and punch her in
the jaw once, bringing stars to her eyes. She heard her phone clatter to the
ground and her eyes fell on it just in time to see it slide under a nearby
trashcan with wheels. Shit.
Fighting passing out, she began kicking back at her attacker
and heard him grunt when she managed a good solid kick to his shin. Taking the
opportunity, she threw her head back and connected with his nose. Hearing the
nasty crunch, she rolled away as he howled, scrambled to her feet, and took off
running. The pain slicing through her shoulder hampered her pace, but she was
determined to keep going. No way she’d allow them to kill her like they killed
Kate. No way in hell. The bastards.
Setting her mind to hear the music she played in her head
during their long and arduous runs in the Army, she steadied her pace and
refused to look back. Reaching the nearby woods, she ducked in, and carefully
watched the terrain as she navigated the downed branches and stumps of trees
long ago fallen. Listening for anything behind her, she finally ventured a
glance and saw that she wasn’t being followed. At least not closely.
Slowing her pace to a fast walk, she looked up through the
trees to see where the sun was in the sky. At 2:00 p.m., in California, the sun
was just beginning its decent, toward the west, so she adjusted her direction
and headed due south. The sun would still shine brightly for another five hours
or so. She could realistically travel ten to twelve miles in that time. She’d
done it more than once. But, she’d never been more determined than now to make
time and distance.
She’d find a place to rest tonight, then she’d find a way to
go back in the morning and retrieve her phone. That was the only place she had
Gaige’s number and it was the only way Gaige had to reach her. Hopefully, her
attacker didn’t see the phone slide to its landing place. If the grunt she’d
heard from him was any indicator, he was in a fair amount of pain right now. But
she wasn’t going back there to look in case he had help. That would be
been a desire my whole life. Once I found the courage to write, life changed
for me in the most profound way. Bringing stories to readers that I’d enjoy
reading and creating characters that are flawed, but lovable is such a joy.
writing, I’m with my family doing something fun. My husband, Gene, and I are
bikers and enjoy riding to new locations, meeting new people and generally
enjoying this fabulous country we live in.
I come from
a family of veterans. My grandfather, father, brother, two sons, and one
daughter-in-law are all veterans. Needless to say, I am proud to be an American
and proud of the service my amazing family has given. In trying to give back,
I’ve started a foundation, Authors4Veterans, with my friend and fellow author,
Stacey Joy Netzel. Our charities will rotate but will always support our
military and their families.