by Jane Leopold Quinn
eBook ISBN: B00TKXN6KO
[ Contemporary Romance ]
Rowdy Pierce-warrior. Sara Stewart-artist. Macho mercenary rescues posh jewelry designer. Lives collide in a rescue in the desert. Sara falls for her body-to-die-for hero. Rowdy is fascinated by the luscious woman. He doesn’t expect to lose his heart. Will their lust turn to something deeper back in the real world?
Rowdy Pierce confirmed the girl’s location when he heard her terrified screams. He shattered the rickety wooden door of the wattle and daub hut with a kick from his size twelve and a half boot. In the flickering light of an old-fashioned kerosene lamp, the young woman flailed her arms and legs at the man on top of her. He dove across the dim room, yanked the bastard off her, and without a second thought, slit his throat, dumping the son of a bitch face down into the dust.
When he turned back to the woman, she’d scrambled to a sitting position against the wall, wrapping her arms around her drawn up knees to cover herself. She stared up at him with a wide-eyed look of horror and revulsion. He didn’t blame her for that. She’d been traumatized, possibly raped, and didn’t know the big, bearded man had come to rescue her. She didn’t know that for all his adult life, rescuing people was his job, first in the military, and now with his own company. He wiped the blood from his knife on the terrorist’s clothing, sheathed it in his boot, and approached the girl. There was no time to waste.
Sara Stewart fought back the horror of this nightmare. Jewelry designers from Chicago weren’t generally kidnapped and held hostage on vacation.
Suddenly, no one was on top of her, the attacker thrown against the far wall of the hut. Terrified and freezing cold in the nighttime of the Egyptian desert, she hugged her knees tightly to her chest. In this room, she’d been punched in the stomach, slimy fingers had squeezed her breasts, and she had bruises up and down her arms and legs. She knew it would be bad when the guy slapped her face and slammed down on top of her. He was going to rape her, and she wasn’t about to let him.
She could breathe again. Dazed, part of her mind wondered why she wasn’t screaming. It felt like her own heart stopped beating when the man viciously slit her attacker’s throat and wiped the knife on the dead man’s clothing. He straightened, and then turned to look at her with a crazed, blood lust expression in his eyes. Did this guy kill his buddy so he could take his turn? Well, she’d fight him off to her last breath, if she had to.
Her mouth hung open as she looked up and up to find the man’s face. Wild hair, beard streaked with gray, and a black eye freaked her out when she thought she was numb. The man loomed above her, legs parted, white-knuckled fists clenching aggressively. In camouflage pants and shirt, and big brown boots, he looked every bit as ugly and dangerous as her vile captors. Whoever he was, why ever he was here, she’d kick, scream, and scratch him too. He may be bigger and stronger, but he wouldn’t get an easy rape.
The man slowly crouched down to her eye level. She barely breathed, bravado almost deserting her. Green. Her captors were dark-eyed. This man’s were green. In the flickering light, his warm eyes glowed with bits of gold and rust in the irises.
“It’s okay now. You’re safe, Miss.”
The low, curt sounds coming from his mouth didn’t register at first, with the horror of all this still foremost in her mind. She stared into his compelling eyes and finally processed his words. English. He spoke English. American English.
“Are you Sara Stewart?”
She nodded, tears of relief trailing down her cheeks. “Are you American?” she croaked, her throat sore, voice scratchy from screaming.
“Yeah,” he said again, clipped. “We gotta get out of here.” He stood and scanned the room. “Where are your clothes?”
“T-tore ’em,” she whispered falteringly and hugged her knees more tightly.
“Here.” The green-eyed man stripped off his shirt and wrapped it around her. “Put your arms in,” he ordered.
She did, even though the action exposed her bare breasts. This was no time for modesty. Good God. His chest was all she could see—his hard pecs, bulging biceps, and flat belly. Dragging her gaze to his big, brown hands buttoning the shirt down her front, she clenched her teeth to control the panic. “Who’re you? Did my dad send you? How’d you know where I was?”
He gripped her shoulders and ducked his head to look into her eyes. “My name’s Rowdy, ma’am. I’m getting you out. Don’t be afraid, but we’ve gotta go now!”
He stood, pulling her to her feet. She’d known he was big, but the man was a giant. And thank God for that, because his shirt was long enough to cover her almost to her knees.
“Can you walk? I could carry you, but I’d have to tip you over my shoulder, and I don’t think you’d care to flash your ass, er, your bottom. So, you need to walk under your own steam.” He steadied her with hands on her shoulders. “Okay?”
He was being considerate, but his body vibrated with impatience. His gaze galvanized her, and she nodded. She’d do whatever she had to. It hardly mattered that her feet were bare. “Okay.” She shook so hard her teeth rattled.
“You’ll be all right.”
The assurance came in a deep, confident rumble. No smile, but then he wasn’t a cheerleader. He was her hero.
Stepping in front of her, he drew a gun, opened the door, looking right and left. He wrapped his big hand around hers, and drew her out of the hut behind him. Right now, his confidence was all she had, and she tightened her grip on him. He swept the gun slowly from side to side across the open space. A full moon, bright enough to glimpse his face, showed his fierce, intently aware expression. She ignored the pebbles cutting her feet as they crept along. Any pain was worth it just to get out of this hell.
“Where’re we going?” she whispered.
“Shh…stay behind me.” He tugged her in closer.
His deep voice did little to calm her. She’d believe they were out of there when they were out of there. Her heart still thudded in fear, and his body was rigid with tension.
Suddenly flattening both of them against a wall, he spread his palm across her stomach. He grunted a wordless warning.
Her heart rate kicked into double-time. She could barely hear with her pulse pounding in her ears. Holding her breath and digging her fingernails into the wooden wall behind her, she was afraid to touch any part of him, not daring to distract him. He was her only protection.
For what seemed like hours, two men nearby spoke Arabic to each other, then finally drifted apart. Her rescuer and she had been invisible in the deep shadows.
He held still a moment longer, took her hand, and whispered directly in her ear, “Run.”
She tucked her sweaty hand into the hot, dry lifeline of his and took off. He hadn’t asked if she could run, just took it for granted. And by God, she had no intention of failing him.