Buy the Book

"Above all else, I needed her to be happy. And, if somehow I could be connected to that happiness, then my indulgent, impossible fantasies would find life in reality."

Do you like what you've read here?

If so, please make a comment in the box at the end of this chapter.

05 – Victim

Kings Island

I had been looking forward to this weekend and dreading it at the same time.  Marcus was taking Ellery and Samantha about two hours north on a trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, so that they could visit a theme park called Kings Island and then spend the night and part of the next day at a water park resort called Great Wolf Lodge.

Those familiar feelings of intensified envy and emptiness consumed me as I thought about how lucky he was to be in charge of their happiness and care in such a literally hands-on way.  He touched her constantly, though not inappropriately, well, by most anyone else’s standards.  He would put his arms around or hold hands with both girls at the same time on a regular basis.  Marcus was privileged to listen to their conversations and join in, laughing and being amused, on the inside of every inside joke.   That was the part the burned so badly.  He was on the inside with the girl he loved.  It could me there, but instead of my sweet girl, it would be Samantha in that third wheel position.

I had to constantly remind myself that Marcus was an ally, and that his presence in Ellery’s life was a good thing.  If he wasn’t there fulfilling his role, who knows what path these girls could be on or what trouble they might get into?  He brought safety and control, and I had to admit, happiness to Ellery’s life.   He was our mutual friend.  But sadly, this was not reciprocal from her corner—at least not yet.

When I asked about it, Marcus didn’t know whether Ellery had informed her mother about their plans to cut school and take an out of state trip.  The group was split on that.  Max and Petra and I were of the opinion that due to the very close nature of her relationship with her mother, she couldn’t possibly conceal such a thing.  It was out of harmony with her character to be deceitful in any way.  She was extremely mature for a teenager, we each agreed.

Ray, Lidia and Marcus, on the other hand, were certain that she couldn’t possibly have informed her mother of her plans.  Otherwise, she wouldn’t be allowed to go through with them.  They acknowledged the close-knit relationship the two obviously shared, but emphasized the fact that Ellery’s mother was far too over-protective to ever sanction something like this, especially the cutting of school or the hotel stay with two other teenagers, particularly Goth teenagers.

I could see their point.

Our day at the amusement park had many facets.  It was exciting, challenging, interesting, enjoyable, and bitter-sweet.

There was excitement in the upending of normal routines.  The team would take turns trailing the girls and we would all have opportunities to ride the amazing variety of world class roller-coasters at this place I had never heard of before.    It was a considerable challenge to our abilities to remain transparent because there were so few guests visiting the park on this Friday morning in late April.  Many of its normal patrons were still sitting in classrooms for hundreds of miles around.

It became interesting when it was clear that our mark was going to ride roller coasters after all.   As a group, we had been split on that point as well.  Once again, I sided with the seniors in asserting that I couldn’t see Ellery riding coasters.  She seemed far too timid and fragile to be inclined as a thrill-seeker.    Lidia was very vocally opposed to this notion, suggesting that I give her some credit, and reminding everyone that Ellery had been thrilled beyond belief at her chance to drive a Corvette up over a hundred miles per hour at the Kentucky Speedway.

I could see her point.

As it turned out, both sides could claim victory on the issue.  Ellery seemed to know where she was going and led the others to a ride called “The Beast,” the anchor attraction of the theme park.   She looked unhappy, not excited like the other two, but she boarded the coaster and rode it.  I was impressed, until through the binoculars I could see that she actually kept her eyes closed the entire length of the ride, which was nearly five minutes.   Each time the car became visible in turns and tracks that passed my location, she was decidedly blind to the ride.  

What in the world?  Wouldn’t that make it worse?

I wished so much that I could ask her about what would make her do such a thing.  Her strange behavior on the ride would not have been apparent to the other two, who were busy enjoying the excitement of the very tall and long wooden roller coaster, that seemed to stretch back and forth and around for miles.

After that she settled herself in a sunny patch at a table near the food area of this section of the park and pulled out a very thick book, looking pleased and relaxed for the first time since her arrival.  Marcus and Samantha went their own way, and my day turned instantly, sublimely enjoyable.  I’d been able to pick my way inside an unoccupied vendor’s hut that provided a perfectly camouflaged yet unobstructed view of the most appealing site in the park, and the world.

I was fairly close, so there was no need for a camera’s zoom lens or binoculars to really inspect this lovely creature.  Today she had her hair, which was pale beige blonde, streaked with slightly darker golden blonde strands throughout, in a neat pony-tail, placed high on the back of her head.  Even so, her hair was so long that the thick bound cascade of spun golden perfection still reached down past the middle of her back.  She had started the cool morning in a blue, zippered, ‘Eastern Eagles’ sweatshirt, spirit-wear from her high school.  But as the sun warmed her, she tied it around her waist, revealing bare, ivory colored shoulders and a plain white, sleeveless tee-shirt underneath.  She wore khaki shorts and plain white sneakers with low cut socks that barely showed.  She was stretched out so that every part of her was kissed by the warming sunshine.

It felt like an indulgent fantasy come true to be able to study and gaze at her at close range without detection.  Yes, I was having an exceptionally enjoyable time today.

She was obviously enjoying her book, and was quite animated with her facial expressions while she read.  It was adorable to watch—the best show I’d seen in ages.  Of course, viewing her exquisite face in complete repose would be a five star attraction for me, but seeing the range of emotions as she pictured herself in whatever fictional destination was filling her mind was arrestingly pleasurable for me.  I had not anticipated enjoying myself quite so much in this place.  But there was more…

She had a flawlessly beautiful shape, which I appraised and pondered at length.  When I had seen her for the first time, over a year ago now, she had looked gaunt, with very little flesh on her tiny frame.

Comparing her form now to what it had been it was pleasing to see that she had filled out in the most appealing way.  She was still very slight of frame but now she had lovely contours gracing her shoulders and upper arms, around her thighs and calves, and yes, across her chest as well.  There was really no suggestion of the skin and bones shell of herself I’d observed that first night at the cookout in her backyard.   She was clearly much healthier now.  In fact, she glowed with vitality.  Ellery looked happier than I had ever seen her and it made me feel happy in response.  Above all else, I needed her to be happy.  And if somehow I could be connected to that happiness, then my indulgent, impossible fantasies would find life in reality.

Every hour or so Marcus and Samantha would return to check on her.  Sometimes she would put her book in her backpack and join them, and I would have to snap out of it and get to work, trailing and observing.  The only member of our team not joining us today was Lidia.  It was too risky because she was too noticeable—just another pleasure this day had to offer.  Ray and the Von Hirts took turns alternately engaging in our detail and then riding all the attractions.  They had a wonderful time in this place as well.

I only rode one attraction, the one I could get away with and not be seen while at the same time engaged in surveillance:   the old fashioned steam engine train ride that circled the park.  It would breathe out its deep, multi-toned, steam powered whistle when it departed and approached the station—a pleasing and nostalgic sound from a hundred years ago.  Even from fleeting glimpses in my place at the back of the train, I could see that Ellery particularly enjoyed this ride.   There were so many interesting and exciting attractions in this place, but of course, as far as I was concerned, nothing compared to the ‘Mayne Attraction’.

They had their fun and left the park behind at around four o’clock.  The day had gone by in an instant.  I was sad it was over.  The whole encounter had been bitter-sweet for me.  I’d spent time as close as I possibly dared to be to her, but she was still oblivious; totally unaware of my ardent, fervent, passionate devotion to her.  She was unequivocally the center of my universe, my reason to be.  But it was not simply a matter of introducing myself and courting her affections.  My involvement with her was tied to circumstances I did not understand.  And my insatiable addiction to her prevented me from effectively investigating our client and his motivations for engaging our services in the first place.  This would have required resigning my position or taking an extended leave of absence to make a proper enquiry and investigation and the threat of withdrawal pains made the very notion of time away totally unthinkable.  Then there was the bigger issue:  she was extremely young, too young, in fact, for me to court her in good conscience, though such considerations didn’t seem to restrain my counterpart, Marcus.

And then there were my colleagues, my friends, a group of intimate associates, all of them the best people I’d ever met, (or married to them); each enjoying the multi-faceted benefits of the best paying, most entertaining and enjoyable, comparatively low stress employment opportunity that any of us would ever encounter in our lives.

I was trapped in a void of inaction.  I could not act on my love for this girl.  For each of these reasons and likely many others I hadn’t yet considered, I could only watch her.  I could not have her.  Sometimes I wished I was dead.

Later that evening, when she nearly drowned, I realized that I was not actually trapped in ‘inaction’.  In fact, I had taken action so fast, that I surprised myself, Marcus and the lifeguard staff at the water park facility inside the hotel where they were staying for the night.

One moment I was enjoying the unexpected, extreme pleasure of seeing her perfect body in a bikini.  The next I was jumping into the deep end, fully dressed, trying to save my soul-mate from a watery death.

I had taken up a position in the bar area, along with Ray, near a group of other people gathered around a big screen TV.  This was located on an outside wall of the facility adjacent to the wave pool area of the park where the girls had claimed a table and chairs to put their things while they played in the water.

Though she was exquisite to look at, Ellery was obviously very self-conscious about her appearance.  I was surprised that she would even wear a bikini in the first place.  It was totally at odds with her normally ultra-modest fashion sense; another mystery to tag for further investigation in the future.

She also seemed very reluctant to enter the pool.  While Marcus and Samantha had excitedly plowed right in, Ellery hung back, entering slowly, an inch at a time, coming to rest in water that was only ankle deep.  She stood and observed her companions for a long time as they engaged in a decidedly romantic version of horse-play.

Her expression was sad as she took them in.  I knew that look.  I was feeling that way myself, that very moment.  She seemed to reach a breaking point, and turned on her heel, stepping quickly away from the water and back to their table.  The moment her back was turned, Marcus and Samantha had engaged in pursuit.  They snuck up behind her, taking her by surprise and forcibly by the arms, carrying her, while still facing backwards, back to the pool.

I watched it unfold with horrific certainty.  She couldn’t swim.  I knew it instantly.  It would have been my instinct anyway, but the terrified, desperate look on her face only confirmed what I knew in my heart to be true.  Their plan didn’t include checking first to see if she’d be physically capable of responding to their intentions for her.  They obviously intended to throw her into the deep end, and they made surprisingly quick work of it, though Ellery weighed practically nothing, so why wouldn’t it be easy?

I was out of my chair and running flat out in that direction by the time she’d hit the water.  Ray probably didn’t even realize I was gone because just the moment before he’d been turned watching highlights of the day’s action at The Masters on ESPN.

Just before they had grabbed her, the wave pool waves had started up.  These were surprisingly, aggravatingly high, and caused me to lose my pinpoint on her location.  I was searching desperately while running full tilt as I approached the deep end.  Then I saw her form, sickeningly motionless, under the water, between the waves.  Clearing the safety rail, I dove in head first, cutting into the water, swimming the distance to where she was floating, but now sinking.  I grabbed her lifeless, weightless body and pulled her to me, and then began towing her to the shallow end, swimming as hard and fast as humanly possible.  When I reached a shallower depth, I stood up and threw her over my shoulder, her stomach pushing against it, hoping this motion and gravity would work together to start draining the flood of water from her nose and mouth and lungs.   The jostling of this motion was miraculously enough to spark the beginnings of resuscitation, because she began to cough convulsively even before I had made it to the pool’s edge and dry ground.

I laid her carefully down on the pavement.  Next I moved her body into a sitting position, though she needed support initially, and was grabbing wildly at my hands and body, the unconscious body language of a person who is starving for air.

By this time Marcus and Samantha had fully realized their mistake and were sloshing and running through the water to join us at the shoreline.  Samantha was in hysterics.  Marcus was deeply angry…with himself.

“Oh God!  I’m sorry!  I’m so sorry!  Ellery?  Ellery!”

Samantha slid to the ground and began beating Ellery’s back while she continued to spew out pool water, choking for air, but making advancement every second.  When I’d first laid her down she was unmistakably blue, now she was coloring back up to normal, on her way to a full blush, hopefully.

Marcus stared deep into my eyes, beseeching me for forgiveness.  Because she was breathing, I would allow impunity, just this once.

“I’m sorry, man,” he offered, quietly. Then he turned his attention to Samantha.

“Just give her some space.  She’s gonna be alright,” he said with calm authority.

He gently disengaged her from the beating she was extending to her fallen friend.

“Honey, she’s gonna be fine.  Look, she’s sitting up.  It’s fine.  She’s fine.”

If Ellery could hear Marcus’ assessment of her current condition, she certainly wouldn’t be in agreement.  She did not look fine to me.  She looked like a person who’d nearly died moments ago.

I had a decision to make.  She was semi-conscious at this point.  I could leave now and it would be like I’d never interfered.  Or I could do what I wanted:  grab ten towels, wrap her up tight, and see to her convalescence personally in my room behind a locked door.

“Get her some towels, and get her out of here,” I ordered at Marcus.  Then I turned and stormed away.  About fifty people watched my dripping wet back as I moved through the exit, in search of dry clothes in my lonely room.


If you would like to be notified when ‘In The Shadow’ is released, please sign up for ’Mayne Attraction’ updates via email, located on the home page of this site.

Are you enjoying this chapter? What do you like about it? Enter your comment below. Thank you!

Chapter Index | 52 Comments

52 Comments (Leave a comment »)

  1. Hi…just checking to see when the next 2 books will be out. Looking at the comments on the site it was planned for end of 2011….I just want to check to ensure I am not missing out on the hidden location where readers are enjoying the books :) I have read through the short stories and excerpts from Ash and I absolutely love it all to bits!!! i have a 3 year old daughter but I ignored her for a day to ensure I completed the first book!!!

    Comment by Neha — November 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

  2. Can’t wait to the full story to be released. Ash is my favorite!!

    Comment by Kami — October 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  3. Im in love with this series, Im constantly checking for the new books! I know you are super busy, but I hope they will still come out! You are such a talented writer and these little sneak peaks are killing me! I cant wait!

    Comment by Jaci — October 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

  4. It’s been 2 yrs since read the first book (5 stars!!!) I have purchased the 2 short stories as follow ups. Trying to patiently wait for the 2nd and 3rd books. Wondering if there is an anticipated release date for them.

    Comment by Kristen — April 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm

  5. Love love love this. His simple love and action that he takes not thinking about his position and then having the strength to leave her to her friends when he wanted to take her for herself. Ann again your writing style has me there as Ash is splashing through the waves.

    Comment by rebeckah — February 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm

  6. Ann, your writing style is fantastic! I love the detail and the different perspectives. Thank you for the G rated romance and suspense that I can’t read fast enough yet want it to go on and on. You sure have a new fan!

    Comment by Kim — January 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm

  7. Can’t wait for the next books. Huge fan of this series.

    Comment by Roxanne — January 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

  8. Maybe it’s just me but It’s seems like Trevor has hidden feelings for Ellery as well. I kind of got that vibes especially during that sled ride based on his action towards her. I wonder if he found out how Ash feels about Ellery and decided to back off. Wouldn’t it be cool if Trevor has his own POV on his time with the girls….maybe it might reveal whether or not his feeling is romantic or just brotherly.

    Comment by Ann — December 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm

  9. Mayne Attraction has found its way to my top five favorite book series of all time. It’s SOSOSOSO hard to find well-written, clean romance that makes you want to die from suspense…

    Gray is a jerk, but I find I can sympathize with him… sometimes. My heart is all for Ash. He deserves Ellery.

    That’s another thing about this series. I actually LOVE the heroine. Unfortunately alot of romance heroines are awful, either gals who just want to do their own thing and grab the reins inconsiderately, or else swoon in their loved one’s arms without a second thought. I love Ellery because she wants to live her own life yet she understands how marriage works. Amazing.

    Also I can’t wait to find out who killed Ellery’s grandfather!!!!!!! Fuming mad at whoever done it… O.o if it’s one of the more likable characters then it’ll make me VERY upset but would be an amazing plot twist. Besides, they didn’t intend to kill him, which if it WAS someone good whodunit then it would be unexpected but rationally possible…

    My imagination is flying off the walls. Please finish!!! :D

    Comment by Elizabeth — October 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

  10. i soooo can’t wait till the next books of this series come out every month i’ve been waiting for an email saying one of them is out

    Comment by mina — September 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm

  11. Just got done reading the excerpt and all I can say is when is the rest going to be finished?!? I love the characters and can’t wait to read more! I’m like a little kid with a piece of candy when it comes to these books, I cant be happy with just a little taste I want MORE! LOL

    Comment by Tanya — August 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm

  12. so amazing! i love it! need more!!!!

    Comment by Kaylee Barnes — August 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  13. Just love reading things from his perspective! Great to see the story behind the “Sorry man” comment. And though information in the first part of In the Spotlight is very subtle, I suspected Trevor to be an inside agent – really funny to read from Ash’s perspective to call him Marcus.

    Comment by Lee-Anne — August 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

  14. I’ve been waiting 2 years, and counting for this book to come out. Hopefully I’ll be able to read it soon. Totally worth the wait, though. Great series!

    Comment by Alayna — July 3, 2012 at 3:29 am

  15. Really need the next book now! When is it to be published?

    Comment by Margaret — June 30, 2012 at 6:26 am

  16. Love the book.
    When will the next one be out?

    Comment by Tanya — May 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm

  17. I love this series and can not wait for the future titles to be released. On the edge of my seat from a book I nearly deleted at first, I was lost on the intro but once I learned it was based in my hometown, I got interested and now the story… I just cant get enough.

    Comment by Alecia — April 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  18. Please PUBLISH the book already!!!! Its killing me. Been looking for MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Ready for the next — February 22, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  19. Seriously…publish the flipping book already!!!! :-)

    Comment by Jess — February 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm

  20. Ash’s point of view on this scene was very powerful for me. You don’t really grasp how serious Ellie’s swimming accident is until you hear (read) it from his view.

    Comment by Kathy — January 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm

  21. So when will the Mayne Attraction come out on dvd? I’m sorry to jump the gun, but your book is so full of details that I feel as if I’m watching it on dvd. I am so hooked on your book. Will there be a second set? I love Ellery, Ash and all of your characters. They have come to life in the first book, but the more you tell us about them the more I see it in a movie format in my mind. Thank you for your wonderful book! I’m so excited for “In The Smoke” and “In The Shadow”! Please keep up the good work! :)

    Comment by Shawna — December 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  22. These little tidbits are just making me want the other books to come out that much faster. Lol! It is such a tease to only be able to read this little bit of Ash’s thoughts. I can’t wait til I can get another book to read!!!!!!

    Comment by Jessica — December 5, 2011 at 2:18 am

  23. Ok I’m HOOKED! Loved In the Spotlight and reading about the place I grew up! I also live in the Cincy area now too! Can’t wait for the next book!

    Comment by Kathy — November 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

  24. I knew there was more to Trevor!! Love, love, love this whole story and all of its facets!!! Can’t wait for more!!

    Comment by Donna — November 3, 2011 at 10:22 am

  25. What a great series! Read the first book yesterday,I can’t wait to continue. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Carrie — October 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

  26. Hi Brie~
    Thanks so much for your enthusiasm for the next installments of Mayne Attraction! Writing is my hobby but my other two careers (foodservice marketing and home/family management) keep getting in the way. I am working on it though–a little every week. I’m hoping to have something to release this winter, but I can’t commit to a release date right now. I’ll make an announcement to my friends on the Mayne Attraction Update List as soon as I have something to announce. Thanks for hanging in there–I’m working very hard to make it worth the wait…

    Comment by Ann Mauren — October 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

  27. can u give us a ball park idea on when these books r gonna be released? i have a nook and i wld prefer i cld download them but im getting very impatient and i will purchase the paperbacks now if i can. please tell me i can buy them? im going CRAZY!!

    Comment by brie Pateron — October 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

  28. when are these books coming. I need to have them LOL

    Comment by mary — September 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm

  29. Shhh! It’s a secret that only people who come here are allowed to know about! But yes, Trevor’s real name is Marcus Graves, and there is much more to him than his two best friends, Samantha and Ellery, realize. Ash will explain more about who Marcus really is in “Shadow”, so stay tuned, won’t you?

    Comment by Ann Mauren — August 18, 2011 at 10:37 pm

  30. Thanks for a fantastic read! Just to clarify – Marcus is Trevor?
    Can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

    Comment by Itza — August 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm

  31. I think i may have missed something, is marcus an agent like Ash? Is he older as well? And does he really love Samantha or is she just a cover?

    Comment by brie paterson — August 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm

  32. I absolutely love the first book and can’t wait to read the other two. I love the excerpts I’ve read and can’t wait to devour the books.

    Comment by kristyl — July 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

  33. I am starting to think she should be with Ash but I guess when I read Gray’s point of view I may change my mind. Sooo hard to decide!

    Comment by GraceWinfree — June 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

  34. I love the Mayne Attraction. What guy is going to get her: Ash or Grey? They both love her. Who loves her the best?

    Comment by Gracealma — June 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm

  35. Lol I want more…..When can we expect more from Ash? I’m just loving it……

    Comment by Shemeka — June 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm

  36. What was his response to her mad dash to the bathroom when she thought she was going to be attacked in the theme park? There’s no way he would have missed it if he were watching her so closely.

    Comment by LH — June 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  37. Amazing. I am completely in love with the first book and on tenterhooks for the next two.

    Comment by Natasha Bowyer — June 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

  38. Omg!!! I am loving this series!! When do you expect to release the next book?? Ash, Ellery and Gray make the best love triangle. Cant wait to read more!!!!!

    Comment by Allison — June 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

  39. I loved the first book, will either of the other two go any further or just reiteration from each point of view?

    Comment by Chrys — June 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  40. perfect!!!! I cant wait for these to be available to my kindle!! I hope these two have even more adventures in their lifetimes and that we are honored to be a part of them.

    Comment by Jean — June 7, 2011 at 1:24 am

  41. I’m really enjoying this series.

    Comment by Brandi — May 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm

  42. When will this book be available to purchase? Can’t wait to read more!

    Comment by Michell — May 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm

  43. Can’t wait for more – love it. Thank you

    Comment by Steph — May 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm

  44. Ellery reads lots of things, including very popular sagas and such… :)

    Comment by annmauren — May 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm

  45. Is the book Ellery is reading is Twilight???

    Comment by Venessa — May 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  46. Thanks for your feedback! I’m having lots of fun writing about Ash’s view of the world in general and his view of Ellery in particular ;)

    Comment by annmauren — May 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm

  47. I like Ash’s point of view and i can’t wait for the rest of the book to be finished.

    Comment by Venessa — May 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm

  48. I can’t believe it I feel so bad for him not being able to be with the one he loves! :(

    Comment by Taylor — April 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

  49. I love Ash’s point of VIEW!

    Comment by Hikari — March 22, 2011 at 1:43 am

  50. I am really enjoying Ash’s point of view.

    Comment by beth — March 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  51. Ash just makes you wish you were Ellery!!! He is obviously madly in love with her if he got enjoyment from just watching her closer than normal at an amusement park!! His details about her make her even more beautiful. Then to top that Ash in action is totally amazing! He didn’t think twice about jumping in the pool to save Ellery! I feel bad that he struggles with the fact that he is in her life but not in her life.

    Comment by Enjoli — February 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm

  52. Ash in action, YES! I love that he just dove in without thinking to save his love :-) His descriptions of her are awesome, I enjoy the details, it gives a really great picture in my mind while reading. The way he feels for her is absolutely adorable!

    Comment by Danielle — June 20, 2010 at 5:16 am

Leave a comment