Out of Control is set in and around a fictionalized Carlsbad Cavern. I visited Carlsbad once a long time ago and it captured my imagination. This was before I was writing, but I was thinking up plots, ‘what if’ as I walked thought that staggeringly beautiful cavern. It was all very safe, fenced off, well lit, for us. But what about the first person who went down? The stunning beauty, but you could only see as far as a lantern would allow. The floors were broken away and thin as glass, with pits, jagged rocks, below the broken spaces. How had their broken? How would a person know where to walk?
Did you know they have found THREE dead bodies in Carlsbad Cavern. No idea who they were or how they got there. One was wrapped in a sort of burial shroud. One had been covered with dripping limestone and looked like a giant as the limestone enlarged it. One was buried under bat guano so deeply that they estimate the body has been there for over 500 years.
The more I researched Carlsbad, the more desperately I wanted to try and capture what I felt for it in a novel.
The Kincaid Brides Series is my attempt to do just that. Out of Control is book one in that series.
Here’s a bit about Out of Control
Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father’s homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe–until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out. Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family’s cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch–and Rafe’s controlling ways–as soon as they were able. He’s haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn’t expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels–or to be forced to kiss her! Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he’s ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?
And this is cut from close to the beginning of Out of Control. Rafe Kincaid here’s a cry for help coming from the treacherous cavern. A cavern that is the location of his greatest failure, greatest shame. A cavern that led to the destruction of his family and in Rafe’s estimation that was all his fault.
“Are you hurt?” Rafe began talking as he tested the ladder. It felt sturdy. He swallowed hard, said a quick prayer and swung over the edge. It was like climbing down the throat of a monster.
“I’m coming to help you.”
He heard a stifled sob.
“Are you where you can see me?” One step at a time he descended the clinking ladder.
“Can you hear that noise? I’ve got a chain ladder.” His voice pushed against the dark but it was a solid thing, too deep to penetrate.
“I mean you no harm.” A thousand questions raced through Rafe’s mind. He suspected she wouldn’t answer any of them.
“We’ll get you out of here and I’ll help you get—get home.” Where in the world could home be? There weren’t any women around here. There hadn’t been any since the gold had run out. Well, a few Indians. But her little bit of talking told him she wasn’t one.
As he descended, Rafe felt the darkness of the cave press on him like a slowly closing fist, crushing him by inches. He quit talking so he could breathe. After what seemed like forever, he reached the ledge. Stepping off the ladder, he turned, listening. Her breathing was audible. She was close to the left side tunnel, as if she was poised to run down it, away from him.
“Please, don’t be afraid. I won’t harm you.”
In the silence, it occurred to Rafe that maybe he should be afraid. What if she got past him in the dark? What if she climbed this ladder and pulled it up behind her?
Chills stood the hair on the back of his neck on end, as he thought of being stuck down here, forever. That day when Seth had fallen. No one knew where they were. No one would think of coming here to search.
Just like now.
Listening with every bit of savvy he’d learned from living in this hard land, he climbed down the last twenty feet of rock.
“If someone hurt you it wasn’t me. But I can get you out. I will get you out.” Seth had begged Rafe not to leave him. And Rafe knew Seth didn’t really believe his brothers would abandon him, but it had been the fear talking. So it was most likely her fear, too, keeping her silent. “I won’t leave you.”
“No!” Something raced at him. A black figure in a black pit. For an irrational second he thought it was something monstrous swooping toward him. A shudder shook him until the ice in his veins nearly cracked.
Then something—someone—slammed into him. He staggered back against the cavern wall. Hands clawed at him. He caught at whoever or whatever this was. Solid. Not a ghost. Human, not a monster. He tried to make sense out of what he couldn’t see.
“Help me.” Definitely a woman.
“I’ll get you out.”
“Don’t leave me, please.” Her voice broke. Her arms clamped around him as if she was hanging on to save her life.
In her mind, she probably was.
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