I’m Melanie Jayne, the author of “A Change in Predicament” that is a part of the Stranded Anthology. The two characters are introduced in my book Better which part of the seven-book Change Series. I fell in love with the suave gang leader, Vador Ulloa, but I couldn’t come up with a way to redeem him in the series. The plan was to forget about him and consider it a baby-author lesson learned— Don’t fall in love with the irredeemable character.
In this series, many of my characters are broken, and Dr. Mary Lamb certainly falls into that category. She was abused by her first husband and Forde Limited helped gather evidence during her divorce. She developed an unrequited crush on Lucas Forde. She buries herself in work as an ER doctor and then volunteers at the local free clinic and is burned out. She isn’t enjoying life and doesn’t have the energy to change or any idea how to.
In this story, who holds the power is ever-changing. Vador has the gun, but Mary has a plan. Each, in their own way, feels hopeless and trapped by their current lives. They have the know-how but do they have the courage to change? They talk about how they wish to improve our lives but can they commit to doing so? Even if it means walking away from everything?
I’m thrilled that I could write Vador’s story and give Mary the future that she deserves. I’m very grateful to Delilah Devlin for giving me this opportunity.
Excerpt from “A Change in Predicament”
A doctor with a death wish and a history of bad decisions uses her wits to survive a kidnapping by the wounded leader of a dangerous gang
What the Fuck am I doing? How did this happen? How am I going to get out of this? Those questions had been on repeat in my head for the last two hours, and I still had no answers. I was breathing so hard I could see my boobs rise and fall by the Escalade’s dashboard lights. My forearms burned from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. I tried releasing my right hand, but it started to shake so badly that I returned it to the “two o’clock” position. My vision blurred with tears. This was not good since I was doing ninety on the nearly deserted interstate.
I only cry when I’ve reached my maximum limit, and surely this more than qualified. In my job as an ER doctor, I excel because I can think clearly under pressure. Some might say that I’m an adrenaline junky. However, I wasn’t prepared for this…these last thirty hours.
I had already been running on little sleep after my double-shift at the hospital. I’d grabbed a four-hour nap before my scheduled time at the Free Clinic on the west side of Indianapolis. Still, I handled the man who pointed a gun to my forehead with cool logic. Where else were they going to find a doctor at midnight? I’d dared him to pull the trigger. I hadn’t freaked out when my abductors had covered my head with a black hood, although every time I think about it, I swear I felt a creepy crawler in my hair.
I’d successfully treated the patient—meaning he wasn’t dead…yet. I did get some satisfaction knowing that, as the high-powered antibiotic Vanc spread through his veins, it burned like acid and the ice pack that I’d applied to his groin to help lower his dangerously high temperature had to hurt like a bitch. When gunfire had awoken me, I’d followed his instructions, and I hadn’t fought when he’d grabbed my wrist to pull me out the back door leaving his men behind to provide cover.
Now, I was traveling down I-65 with an unconscious Salvador Ulloa riding beside me. The infamous leader of the Cancerberos gang of Indianapolis’s west side was now my responsibility. Christ, what was I going to do?
Luckily, I saw the sign for a rest area. I needed a minute to get my shit together, to figure something out and come up with a plan. I signaled and took the exit, slowing to the stated speed. Surprisingly, at three a.m., there were several cars in the lot. I pulled in and shut off the engine. It was then I let out a long sigh and rested my forehead against the steering wheel.
“What are you doing, Mariah?”
I started, sitting up straight and whipping my head around to the man in the passenger seat. “I needed a minute.” My voice sounded strained.
The security lights allowed him to study me intently. “Where are we?” he asked casually.
“About an hour south of Louisville.” I was on full alert. My flight instinct was causing adrenaline to course through my veins.
“Fuck!” His dark eyes flashed with anger. “They photograph your license plate on the toll bridge at the state line.”
“I…I didn’t take the bridge,” I told him quickly. “I drove city streets.” I hated that I sounded fearful.
Again, he scrutinized me, and then he smiled. He really was beautiful. “Very good, mija. You have a talent for this, no?”
“Nobody’s following us,” I blurted. Too much was happening. I’d relied on every car chase movie I’d ever seen, constantly checking the rearview mirror.
“Muy bien.” He glanced at the clock on the dash. “And now, we should continue.”
How could he seem so calm and in control, when yesterday, he’d been near death, and three days before that, he’d taken a blade a half inch above his kidney? I shook my head. “No.”
“It’s not up for negotiation.”
“Just give me a minute!” I snapped. I was exhausted, feeling helpless, and terrified. I’d sworn I would never be in this position again.
Although this time, my companion hadn’t broken any of my bones…yet. I took in two long, deep breaths. “I have to pee. If I don’t take care of it, then I’m going to do it here, all over the leather seat.” I forced myself to look straight into his eyes. I had some power. I knew where we were and was in the driver’s seat. He might be the most formidable bad man in my city, but at this minute, the scale might be tipped in my direction.
A car pulled into the space right beside us, ending our staring contest. We watched a man climb out, move to the back door, and help a toddler out of his car seat. I caught a glimpse of a woman and another child asleep in the car.
“Very well, Mariah,” he said, his tone dead even. “You have five minutes to take care of your bladder. If you don’t come back or are late, I will shoot the people next to us.”
“What?” I looked down at his hands.
He was holding a gun.
“Where…?” How had he gotten a gun?
His laugh was menacing. “I will kill the child first.”
“Don’t,” I said the word through gritted teeth. Meaning he didn’t have to lay it out, I would do as he said. I felt my limited advantage slip away.
“Do not call attention to yourself or try to use a phone.”
I couldn’t. How would I ever explain this situation? “I won’t. I promise. Okay? Don’t hurt anybody, please.”
Again, he examined me as if he was analyzing my words and my body language. “Clock’s ticking.”
Get your copy of Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology here!
A Change for the Good — FREE READ
1st Book in The Change Series