Read Line of Fire Online

Authors: Cindy Dees

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

Line of Fire (8 page)

BOOK: Line of Fire
10.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

She harrumphed. “What’s DEET, anyway?”

“Diethyl-m-toluamide. Industrial-strength insect repellent.”

“Insect repellent? Give it to me!” she demanded.

“Easy.” He snatched at the little bottle as she made to pour the whole thing on herself. “Just a few drops will protect you for several days. We’ve got to make this bottle last until we get home.” He added, “Not that I expect to be out here all that long, of course.”

She gave him the intent look of a woman thinking hard. That just couldn’t be good. She was already too smart for her britches.

Finally she announced, “You can drop the reassure-the-frightened-female act. I recognize a tight spot when I see one. And we’re there.”

He considered her in turn. He had been trying to reassure the frightened civilian, but he was surprised she’d seen past her own fear to realize what he’d been up to. She might be a city slicker and out of her element, but she was no dummy. He made a mental note not to underestimate her intelligence again.

At least she finally grasped the gravity of their situation. He should probably be thankful that she hadn’t fallen apart at the realization. He responded candidly. “You’re right. We are in a jam. We’re going to have to think our way out of this one.”

She stared at him a few more seconds and then sighed. “I’m going to have to eat more of these berries, aren’t I?”

He smiled ruefully. “‘Fraid so. We’ll need to stay on the move, and we’re going to have to eat whatever we come across.”

She shoved the beret and the remainder of the berries back into his hand. “Well, at least I won’t need that trip to the spa I had planned for next month to drop a few pounds.”

He blinked, surprised. “You? Drop a few pounds?” His gaze dropped to her bare torso. “Why? You look great.”

She laughed lightly. “Thanks. I needed that.”

He shook his head and mucked down the last few berries. Man, they were nasty. He waited for her to crawl inside the shelter before he shoehorned in beside her. It was a tight fit. Tight enough that her shoulder rubbed against his and her knees kept bumping into his as she shifted around trying to get comfortable.

He unfolded the space blanket and spread it out over Kimberly’s legs. An image broadsided him of their smooth length wrapped around his waist, urging him on. He cleared his throat huskily. “You should probably put your sweater back on. It can get cold at night out here.”

He gulped as she twisted and wriggled in the confined space, slipping the fuzzy sweater over her head. It hung up on her breasts, highlighting the swelling cleavage in a way that made him break out in a sweat before she yanked it down into place.

Hands off, pal,
he ordered himself.

Yeah, right,
his libido retorted.

Damn. He had a sinking feeling this was going to be a long night. He laid back and closed his eyes.

“What are you doing?” Kimberly demanded.

He cracked open one eye. “Going to sleep. And I’d recommend you do the same.”

“You’re going to sleep in here?”

He opened both eyes all the way. “Where did you think I was going to sleep?”

“Well, I just assumed you’d have your own bed or sleep across the entrance, or something.”

“Darlin’,” he drawled, “this ain’t no double queen bed suite. Besides, we’re going to need to share body heat to stay warm.”

“Share…” Her eyes widened.

“We’re both adults. What’s the problem?” he asked.

“Somebody out there’s trying to kidnap me, and you’re just going to lie here and sleep? Aren’t you supposed to protect me?”

He could try to explain the vital strategic importance of sleep in a situation like this, but he doubted she’d hear him past the panic darting in her eyes. He’d learned long ago that fear made people act stupid faster than just about any emotion except lust. What she needed was a good dose of riling up to chase that stark terror from her gaze.

He grinned up at her. “What ever happened to making me admit I liked that kiss?” He held out an inviting arm. “Now’s your chance, or did you give up on your threat already?”

She spluttered, “Aah! You think I’ll just fall into your arms if you so much as—”

He cut her off. “Get over yourself, Princess. I’m perfectly capable of sleeping beside you without giving in to uncontrolled lust.” He added for good measure, “You’re not that irresistible.”

Her gaze narrowed. Ah, yes. That pushed her mad button but good.

Slowly she stretched out beside him. Her hand landed in the middle of his chest and began wandering over the suddenly tight muscles there. Her leg rubbed against his. And then her thigh started to climb his, inching toward parts of him that were abruptly at full attention. Her body moved sinuously against his side.

“What in the hell are you doing?” he growled.

“Sharing body heat,” she answered, all innocence.

Damn. Maybe he shouldn’t have riled her up quite so much.

* * *

Kimberly huffed. Not that irresistible, indeed. She’d felt the surge of sexual heat from him when he kissed her earlier, and it was pouring off him again now. She’d show him, by golly. She traced his rib cage, counting the bones beneath slabs of heavy, hard muscle. Everywhere she touched him he was like steel.

The men she knew wore suits and battled with words and money and power. But Tex was a throwback to another time. He was a warrior. He lived off his brawn and quick thinking. A thrill of purely female appreciation swept through her. Whoa, more than she’d bargained for, here.

Her inner thigh swept high along his leg and she started as she encountered the heavy bulge of his desire. A low, warning growl rumbled in his chest.

She ignored a thrill of trepidation. She’d make him admit he wanted her one way or another.

His pectorals leapt under her hand as it slid upward. The muscles and tendons in his neck formed tense cords when she scratched her fingernails lightly across them. She ran her fingers around his ear, revelling in the shudder that rippled through him.

The motion of her arm moved her breast back and forth across his chest, rubbing her sensitized nipple against his unyielding strength. She gasped at the sensation, galvanized by the ripples of pleasure that shot through her belly and tingled out to her fingertips. It was absolutely indecent to crawl all over a man like this. Shameless.
She moved her arm again. Oh, that was very nice.

This time the warning came from inside her own head. She was in danger of losing control, in danger of giving in to him completely, of begging him to make love to her.

In danger of breaking out of your shell and finding some real pleasure for once,
a little voice whispered in her heart.

That gave her a start. Was she that inhibited? That much of a control freak? Did she never let go of herself and just enjoy the moment? She became aware of Tex once more, stretched out rigid on the ground beside her, breathing heavily. His self-control was a palpable thing between them, a fragile barrier he was determined not to cross.

But what if he did cross it? What if they both did?

The possibilities spun in her head until she could barely see straight. Abruptly she knew. With utter certainty. They would create a passion between them that was so hot, so overwhelming, they’d bring the jungle crashing down around them.

She moved against him, seeking more of the piercing pleasure touching him gave her. She lifted her mouth to his neck, tasting the salt on his skin, smelling the lightly musky scent of him.

She couldn’t get enough of it. She pressed even closer to him, dying for more. His jaw was as hard as a rock as she explored it. Tension rolled off of him in thick waves that made her giddy with anticipation.

He lurched and somehow she was abruptly on her back with him looming above her, his hands pinning her arms to the ground. “Enough,” he growled. “No more games.”

She stared up in the darkness at the black, unreadable shadows enveloping his face. His breathing was ragged, like he’d just run a race. So much for him claiming to be able to resist her. Triumph coursed through her.

The way he collapsed back onto the ground beside her with an arm thrown over his eyes was solid evidence that he knew he’d given himself away. He might not have admitted out loud that he wanted her, but he didn’t need to. She’d felt his heart racing, his body’s reaction to her, the tension in his jaw.

She settled down beside him, snuggling against his warmth. After all, she could be patient. She knew off balance when she saw it, and she had Tex Monroe reeling. He blew first hot then cold, and went from nice to nasty in the blink of an eye. He obviously didn’t know whether to clobber her or kiss her senseless. No doubt about it. He wanted her. As much as she reluctantly wanted him.

He’d eventually admit that he couldn’t resist her. And when he did, she’d bring him to his knees!

“Is everything about power with you?” Tex asked her abruptly.

She started at the uncanny accuracy of the question. Had he read her thoughts? “Isn’t everybody ultimately chasing after power of one kind or another?” she retorted.

He rolled on his side to face her. “That’s where you and I are different. I see the world in black and white, and you see nothing but shades of gray.”

She frowned. “That’s not true.”

“Sure it is. I know your type. You think nobody’s a good guy just for the sake of being a good guy. Everyone’s working an angle of some kind. You see a world where everybody’s out to feed their own greed and lust for power.”

“Try living in Washington, D.C., for a while,” she replied. “It’ll make a cynic out of you in no time.”

“Maybe you need to get out of D.C. more often,” he murmured.

“I’m sure as heck out of there right now.”

His slow-as-molasses smile unfolded, warming her all the way to her toes. “You are at that. Maybe I should readjust your outlook on life while you’re out of the asylum.”

“My outlook’s just fine, thank you very much,” she said tartly.

“I dunno. You’re wound about as tight as a bronc with his bucking strap cinched too hard. From where I sit, you could use a little unwinding.”

“And you think you’re the man to do it?” she challenged.

His eyes gleamed like black diamonds. “I’ve tamed wilder fillies than you, Princess.”

And with that he rolled on to his back and promptly went unconscious.

Fillies? Fillies! He’d compared her to a horse? He was the one who resembled a horse. Or at least the hind end of one. In a huff, she turned her back to him. Tame her, indeed. She’d show him.

Chapter 5

imberly eased out of a deep slumber to the tantalizing sensation of Tex’s lips moving against her ear. Mmm, that was nice.

He breathed, “Someone’s out there. Don’t move and don’t make any noise. Understand?”

She jolted wide-awake. Adrenaline slammed through her bloodstream. She nodded fearfully, holding her breath and listening hard. A hundred completely unfamiliar sounds disturbed the night air. There was a low, loud buzzing noise, like a cricket on steroids. Something clicked rhythmically. Probably another insect of some kind. A bird, or maybe a monkey, screeched in the distance.

And then she heard it. A swishing noise, just like the one she’d made all afternoon as the leaves and branches rubbed against her.

It was close. Really close.

Oh, God. What if whoever was out there found the guy that Tex had tied up? As soon as the rebel was cut loose, he’d tell his buddies where they were hiding! Tex must be regretting his decision not to kill the guy.

Tex moved very slowly beside her. He eased one of the rifles across his body into a firing position.

The swishing noise retreated a little ways. And then it stopped. She could picture someone out there, standing stock-still, listening as intently as she was.

A quiet mumble of Spanish.

An answering mumble.

If only she spoke that language! She spoke Italian so beautifully it would make the Pope weep, but that didn’t do her a darn bit of good right now. Frustration mingled with her helpless terror.

She glanced over at Tex. His jaw rippled with tension and his expression was grim, but he didn’t show the slightest sign of fear. Thank goodness he seemed to know what to do, because she was clueless.

She blinked, startled by the thought. Never, ever, had she been able to tolerate helpless females. Her mother had been that way in the face of her father’s aggression. Revulsion at the memory of her mother’s biddable meekness surged through her. She’d sworn ever since she was a little girl that no man would ever have such power over her. But here she was, perfectly happy to have a strong, macho,
male beside her.

She really hated the idea of depending on Tex. But what choice did she have? She had no idea how to survive out here, let alone how to evade her would-be captors.

The whole idea of being chased by kidnappers had seemed distant and surreal even after she accepted that this wasn’t a training exercise. And then a rebel put a knife to her throat. And now these quiet Spanish voices nearby. The danger facing them was suddenly very real indeed to her. Fear clogged her throat and made her light-headed. She struggled to breathe normally but only marginally succeeded.

The swishing started again. She inhaled on a gasp and held her breath until she thought she’d pass out. The noise moved away until she couldn’t make it out anymore. Tex continued to lie still. She took her cue from him and made like a statue.

While she waited a dozen lifetimes for Tex to call the all-clear, she prayed frantically that the bad guys would go far, far away from them. She prayed that Tex had the skills to get them out of this alive, and she prayed for a second chance to stay out of his hair and not give him any grief as he tried to save her neck.

Finally he eased the gun back down. “They’re gone,” he murmured.

“Who was it?” she whispered. “Could you understand them?”

“Yeah. They were poachers. Talking about their prey.”

She sighed in relief. Thank God it hadn’t been the Gavronese rebels chasing after them. “What were they hunting?”

BOOK: Line of Fire
10.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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