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Authors: Cindy Dees

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Love Stories, #Suspense, #Erotica, #Special Forces (Military Science)

Line of Fire (11 page)

BOOK: Line of Fire
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Tingling from head to foot, she grabbed on to his belt once more and resumed the trek. The psychic link between them now held a distinctly sexual edge. Every time her hand rubbed along his spine, every brush of his leg against hers, every abrupt halt that brought her chest into contact with his back took on new sizzle.

The chemistry between them grew until its carnal energy buffeted them both in its grasp.

Finally, Tex stopped again. “Time for a rest break.” He listened for a long moment and Kimberly felt the release of tension as he heard nothing untoward.

“Come here,” he growled low under his breath.

She stepped forward, unable and unwilling to deny the power of what had been building between them for the last several hours.

“This is insane,” he mumbled as his arms swept around her, “but damned if I can hold out any longer.”

She exhaled on a breath of laughter. “If we’re going to die, we may as well snatch what pleasure we can from the jaws of death.”

He apparently bought that logic, because his mouth closed on hers voraciously, devouring her with raging hunger.

She flung herself into the kiss with abandon. Everything else had been stripped away from her in the past couple days, and only two things remained. Life and Death. Within that elegantly simple framework, their relationship became equally simple. He was Man and she was Woman.

She reveled in the way her body cushioned his, how her soft curves molded to his hard angles. Their mouths and bodies melded together like two molten bars of steel, flowing into one another until they became a single burning pillar of desire.

He carried her down to the cool ground, but it did nothing to slake the fire or temper the steel of their lust. They burned on, tongues and lips mating wildly, their arms and legs in a tangle, their bodies fitting to one another with seething, liquid perfection.

He pushed her hands up over her head, pinning her in place while his mouth slid down her throat, branding her his. His free hand slid under her sweater, pushing aside the soft knit and plunging into her bra to cup her flesh.

She arched up into him, frantic for more of his skin against hers. She felt the hard ridge of his desire and clasped her upper thighs around his heat, desperate to pull him into her, to make him part of her and her part of him.

His mouth closed on her breast and she bucked against the fiery heat of his mouth on her skin. His hips moved against hers and she matched the movement, their bodies completely synchronized over the last several hours.

She ached to cradle him even closer, to grasp his hardness with secret muscles, to wrench groans of pleasure from his throat that would mingle with the ones he was tearing from hers.

She yanked her hands free and ran them up under his fatigue shirt, relishing the smooth glide of flesh on muscle. She memorized the feel of him under her hands. Her palms slid to the small of his back, urging him nearer, pressing him closer to the aching, liquid core of her.

She wriggled beneath him and reached for his belt buckle. The clothes had to go. She wanted to feel all of him against her naked skin.

His hands closed over hers, his palms swallowing her fingers easily. “I’d give just about anything to finish this, sweetheart,” he gritted out, “but I’m not willing to give your life. We’ve got to stop.”

She closed her eyes in anguish. For a little while, a couple blessed minutes, she’d forgotten. It all came crashing back. The return of reality was almost more than she could bear after its momentary absence.

“I’m sorry, Kimberly,” he said raggedly. He didn’t sound like he was in much better shape than she was.

She peered up at his shadowed face, inches above hers. “Please tell me that meant
something
to you. You don’t have to admit that it blew you away. Just don’t let that have been a random moment with the nearest convenient female because you think you’re going to die.”

“Kimberly. You are not a groupie chick.”

“A…huh?” she asked, confused.

“Never mind. Believe me,” he breathed, his voice laced with laughter. “You’re most definitely not a convenient female.”

She punched his arm lightly. “Jerk,” she murmured back.

He dropped a light kiss on her forehead and pushed up to his feet abruptly. He reached down and pulled her up beside him. “We both needed that. Consider it a reminder to us of why we want to live.”

Kimberly stared at his back as he turned and offered her his belt once more. Was it also a promise of things to come if they got out of this mess alive?

A relationship with Tex Monroe? Her? Abruptly the thought didn’t seem far-fetched at all.

Chapter 7

T
hat was truly insane.
Tex plowed forward through the jungle, completely stunned by what he’d just done. They were running for their
lives
from kidnappers who were right on their heels! Every second, every step, counted, but he’d taken time to stop and roll around on the ground with the woman whose life he was responsible for.

He realized he was all but jogging through the underbrush. He slowed his steps to a more reasonable pace. No sense running Kimberly into the ground. It wasn’t her fault he couldn’t keep his hands off her.

Sexual tension had been building between them for hours. He’d finally reached the breaking point where he couldn’t take another minute of the sensual promise of her fingers against his back, her knees bumping into the backs of his, her breasts pressing against him every time he stopped abruptly. It had gotten so bad he’d made excuses to stop fast just so he could feel those mounds of sweet flesh collide with him.

The precious minutes lost had bloody well been worth it, though. He’d never experienced a kiss like that before. It incinerated him from the inside out. God Almighty, that woman drove him out of his mind with lust. Kissing her didn’t just blow him away, it blew him completely out of the water. Completely out of the solar system!

Stopping her from ripping his clothes off had been one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do in his entire life. Now,
that
had been an act of heroism. He ought to get a damned medal for that act of self-discipline.

Tree branches were whipping past his face again and Kimberly was breathing hard behind him. He slowed down for a second time.

Suicide.

The word came to him unbidden. But as soon as it popped into his mind, he knew it to be true. Messing around with Kimberly Stanton here and now was pure suicide.

He’d been a damned fool to give in to his lust. And he
was
going to get them both killed if he didn’t pull himself together and get his mind back on business.

The kidnappers had a general idea of where they were and were using their superior numbers to surround a large area and close the net, just as he’d described to Kimberly.

Tonight’s trek might buy them a day or so, but no more. She’d held up well so far and was in good physical condition for a civilian female. But there was no way she could move as fast as they’d have to for them to outrun the net behind them.

If she were a trained commando, they could double back and slip through the net of rebel soldiers. But that also wasn’t an option for him with a complete amateur in tow.

Their only choice was to go along with this herding maneuver, realizing that they were headed for some kind of a trap. Their survival was going to hinge on his seeing the trap soon enough and finding a way out of it before the rebels sprung it on them.

The end game was going to be chancy at best. He was going to have to be at the very top of his form to get them out alive.

And to do that, he damn well had to lay off of kissing Kimberly.

He dug deep for the determination that sustained him in the toughest of situations. He channeled it, shaped it into a kernel of pitiless self-discipline. He ripped every thought out of his mind but one. Staying alive.

Brutally he suppressed the feel of her soft hand at his waist, squashed the memory of her mouth opening beneath his, her tongue dancing and enticing his, her body welcoming him.

Staying alive, dammit!

Lust later. Survival now.

He pushed forward through the jungle. When his watch read 5:00 a.m., he called a halt. Kimberly sagged beside him. He didn’t bother to make a shelter. He just crawled beneath an overhang of thick vines, spread the space blanket over them, and went unconscious.

His watch alarm vibrated silently against his wrist an hour later.

Grimly he fought off the insidious pleasure of Kimberly’s warm, sleek body against his. He denied himself the lingering wake-up kiss that was his first impulse to give her, and he merely shook her lightly awake.

“Time to go,” he bit out past the rigid wall of his self-restraint. He folded the space blanket and stuffed it into a pocket, ready to resume their flight.

* * *

Kimberly rubbed her eyes and looked around, groggy. She’d been deeply asleep and was having trouble orienting herself.

Tex was frowning impatiently.

But then, he’d been that way for a while last night. The searing kiss they’d shared took on an unreal, dreamlike quality in her mind.

Had it even happened?

It had to have. No way could she have imagined the uncontrollable passion that had consumed her, especially since she’d had no idea such sexual fury existed until Tex wrapped her in his arms and carried her to the ground.

He moved out, and she fell into place behind him. There was enough light to see by, so she didn’t grab on to his belt. But she missed the subliminal link between them.

He seemed so…distant…this morning.

Maybe he was feeling the stress. He’d gotten as little rest as she had, and she was absolutely beat. The idea of even five or six hours of uninterrupted sleep sounded like heaven. She stumbled along behind him as the jungle faded from gray to pale mint to a hundred shades of vibrant green.

The rainforest was growing decidedly more moist. The ground was spongier beneath her feet, the soil black and damp. Humidity-loving orchids and ferns abounded, and the foliage became almost impassably thick at times. Even the animal noises sounded richer and more abundant.

The terrain began to slope gently but steadily downhill. It was a relief to her sore muscles, but it also worried her. Did it signal the beginning of whatever trap lay ahead of them?

Tex hadn’t said it in so many words, but something bad waited in front of them. Unfortunately the rebels hadn’t left them any choice but to walk into whatever it was.

Tex was grouchy and taciturn this morning, which wasn’t like him at all. Something was up.

“So, Tex, what’s on the agenda today? Swinging on vines and wrestling lions with our bare hands?”

He grunted and didn’t deign to answer. That was odd. He was always quick with a snappy comeback. He just kept walking.

She frowned at his retreating back. She’d started to believe that he was different from her father. But this brooding mood of Tex’s was very similar to ones she’d seen from her dad. Particularly right before he had one of his blowups.

The old fear tickled just beneath the surface of her thoughts. She found herself falling into old patterns of trying to become invisible, of not provoking Tex in any way.

They stopped briefly to harvest more of the ginger root, but Tex made her eat it on the move. When its pungent taste and woody texture started to get old, she thought about termites and the tough root suddenly held gourmet appeal.

They walked for what had to be several hours without any breaks at all. Kimberly began to feel light-headed. Her feet stopped cooperating, and she felt on the verge of collapse. As badly as she didn’t want to trigger a blowup in Tex, she had no choice. “Tex,” she called quietly.

He turned around with a scowl.

“I’m sorry,” she gasped, completely out of breath. “I’ve got to stop.”

His scowl deepened noticeably.

“Just a minute or two,” she added apologetically as she sank to the ground.

He was beside her instantly. “What’s up?” he asked shortly.

“I feel lousy.”

“Dizzy? Sick to your stomach? Light-headed? Weak? Hot?”

“All of the above,” she gasped.

“To be expected. Fatigue, hunger, stress…they’re all hitting you at once. Your blood sugar’s probably dropped off the bottom of the chart. We’ll give your liver a few minutes to dump its emergency store of sugar and then you’ll feel better. Put your head between your knees and breathe normally.”

Like she could do anything normally at the moment! Her heart raced weakly. Dear God, please let him not blow a gasket right now. She was too tired to protect herself from it.

She put her head down on her knees and breathed deeply. Gradually she felt blood return to her head and the rumbling nausea in her stomach subsided.

She looked up. Tex stood over her protectively, rifle at the ready, his gaze roving all around as he waited for her to get up and get going again.

“Are the bad guys that close?” she asked.

“Close enough. I figure we’ll be wherever they wanted us to go in the next twenty-four hours or so. We need to get there before they expect us to.”

Wherever
there
was. Fear of what lay ahead clenched her stomach in yet another nasty knot. She took a couple deep breaths and climbed to her knees gamely. God, she felt awful. But when the choice was awful or dead, she’d take the former.

Tex held down a hand to her. Gratefully she took it and let him tug her to her feet. He didn’t let go of her hand. He tugged again, pulling her gently into his arms.

“You okay?” he murmured.

Relief washed over her like cool rain. He hadn’t lost control like her father would have. There’d been no raging, no frightening outbursts. Just a quiet question of concern.

“I’m better now,” she breathed.

He pressed a fleeting kiss on her forehead and released her. It happened so fast, she almost wasn’t sure it had happened. She blinked up at him in shock. Such a gentle gesture. One of reassurance. Affection, even.

He looked at her for a long moment with those beautiful turquoise eyes of his, like he wanted to say something. Finally he just nodded and turned around. She fell into place behind him, bemused. What in the world had that been all about? Had she read his intent correctly? Was he starting to have feelings? For her?

BOOK: Line of Fire
6.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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