Caught by Menace(8)

By: Lolita Lopez

him. He wanted someone equal to the task of being his

partner and someone with enough life experience to

relate to him. He instantly skipped over their faces in

search of just the right woman. He only had once chance

to find his life mate. He had to choose just right or risk

years of unhappiness.

A familiar face caught his eye. His gut clenched. It

couldn’t be—but it was.

couldn’t be—but it was.

Menace frowned at the sight of the young woman who

had cussed him out in the market that day. From the

stunned look on her face, she remembered him too. Her

dark eyes narrowed to a piercing glare that silently

warned him to back off and leave her be. She shouldn’t

have wasted the energy. He planned to avoid her at al

costs. One taste of that waspish tongue was quite enough

for him.

His searching gaze skipped to her right. He spotted

her friend, the one from the flower stal who had

enthraled him with her sweet smile and kind voice. She

was exactly the kind of woman he had in mind. There

was no doubt now. He was chasing that one.

Menace’s brow furrowed as the bratty one leaned

over and whispered in her friend’s ear. They glanced

furtively his way. From the way they talked behind their

hands, it was clear they were strategizing. Vicious had

told him al about Halie’s battle plan for the day she’d

run. She’d almost beaten him. What if the mouthy one

helped the woman he wanted evade him today?

Bold as brass, the young woman with the dark, impish

eyes flashed him a big smirk and gestured rudely in his

direction. The crude one-fingered salute was a silent

direction. The crude one-fingered salute was a silent

version of the nasty remark she’d tossed his way that day

in the market.

He couldn’t believe her audacity. She laughed and

glanced away from him. Her behavior grated on his

nerves. He planned to tel the man who Grabbed her to

spank her—and often. Clearly she needed a little

discipline in her life.

The mayor of Connor’s Run climbed onto the stage.

One of the Harcos liaisons, who monitored the Grabs

and ensured complete cooperation by the people of

Calyx, joined the mayor. While the mayor read from a

piece of paper, the Harcos bureaucrat held his

touchscreen tablet at the ready. The liaison would make

sure al the rules of the Grab were folowed to the letter.

No violence against the women. No underhanded or

devious means to catch them. No bribing or trading

money or gifts to entice them.

Menace noticed the two women inching their way

toward the starting line. They obviously planned to be the

first out of the pen. The moment the mayor whacked the

bel, the pair sprinted from the crowd and quickly left the

other women in their dust.

Impressed, Menace stretched his neck and glanced at

Impressed, Menace stretched his neck and glanced at

his watch. The women had three ful minutes of running

before the men could enter the race. His hand drifted to

his shirt pocket. He felt the raised outline of the white

bride’s colar tucked safely there. It was the generic

colar given to every man boarding a shuttle bound for

one of the Grabs.

“Hey, Gunner!”

Without tearing his gaze away from his intended target,

Menace answered to the nickname usualy given to his

rank and specialty. “Yes?”

“You have your woman picked out, sir?”

Menace nodded and pointed toward the two women

he’d been watching. Little Miss Mouthy and her

gorgeous sidekick were sprinting into the tree line now.

“The one in the red shirt is mine.”

“And the sexy one in gray?”

“You can have her.” And good riddance.

* * * * *

“We aren’t going to make it.”

Naya glanced at Jennie. There was no time for a

reassuring smile as they sprinted through the woods. “We

reassuring smile as they sprinted through the woods. “We

stick to the plan, Jennie.”

“It’s a long way, Naya.” Jennie wasn’t breathing hard

yet. Naya took that as a good sign.

“We have adrenaline working for us today.” She cast

another glance over her shoulder. The coast was stil

clear but soon they would have to evade the grabby

hands of those giant, tattooed men in their frightening

black uniforms and boots.

A shiver coursed down her spine. She couldn’t believe

he was here. He had recognized her the same moment

she’d spotted him. The way he had looked at Jennie

unsettled her. He wanted Jennie. That much was clear.

No doubt he would be running their way soon.

She tried to ignore the frisson of unwanted jealousy

that stabbed her bely. The fact that he had skipped over

her so easily hurt her pride, but she would never admit

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