Caught by Menace(9)

By: Lolita Lopez


that aloud. It wasn’t easy to swalow that the man who

had starred in her dirtiest fantasies found her utterly

unattractive.

But this was so not the time to even think about that.

“Just keep running, Jennie. Josef is waiting for you.

That’s al that matters.” She shot Jennie a quick grin.

That’s al that matters.” She shot Jennie a quick grin.

“We’re going to make it.”

A loud war cry of a whoop shattered the stilness of

the woods. Naya’s heart leapt into her throat. The men

were loose and they were gaining ground.

“Is this where we split up?” Jennie asked, her voice

unnaturaly high and anxious.

“Yes. Remember the plan, Jennie. We’ve run this

route a dozen times. We’re going to make it.”

Jennie nodded and took off one way while Naya ran

the other. Even though she’d just given Jennie that pep

talk, her stomach pitched violently. This was nothing like

the dry runs. There were men hel-bent on capturing them

hot on their tails. One mistake and their plan was toast.

They were toast.

The crackle of ground covering snapping under heavy

boots echoed in the forest. Naya gulped and pushed

herself to run even faster. She took a chance glancing

back and spotted one of the Harcos men a hundred

yards or so behind. He wasn’t as big as the man from the

market but he ran fast. Too fast, she realized and turned

her attention forward.

Her gaze jumped around the forest. She hooked a

quick right and ran straight for a tricky spot in the terrain

quick right and ran straight for a tricky spot in the terrain

that only the locals knew wel. A dry creek bed, some

falen logs and shifting, loose rocks were a disaster for

the uninitiated. The idea of causing an injury to the

monstrous man wasn’t one she relished but she wasn’t

about to be Grabbed by him. Hopefuly he’d be smart

enough to sense the danger and stay back.

Sure-footed as a rabbit, Naya hopped from log to

rock and crossed the dangerous creek bed with the

speed and efficiency of practice. The monstrous hulk in

his black uniform didn’t let the new obstacle slow him

down. Stupidly he leapt onto a log that quickly began to

rol. He fel forward and cracked his knee on a rock. His

roar of pain filed the air. Naya winced at the discomfort

he must have been feeling but didn’t stop to render aid.

She had to keep moving.

Cutting through the woods, Naya checked the forest

for signs to help her navigate. This tree, that rock

formation, the winding empty creek beds—al of them

helped her stay on course. She estimated she was less

than ten minutes from the safe zone and the spot they’d

chosen to rendezvous with Josef.

“Naya!” Jennie’s bloodcurdling shriek ripped through

the forest. Spurred into action, Naya sprinted even faster

the forest. Spurred into action, Naya sprinted even faster

in the direction of the scream. Her stomach clenched so

tightly she was sure she would heave her guts. Legs

burning and sides aching, she burst through some thick

underbrush into a clearing. The slap of the thorny

branches left her bare calves nastily scratched, but she

couldn’t think about that now.

Naya’s stomach dropped at the sight of Jennie trying

to evade the clutches of the sky warrior with the pale-

white hair and green eyes. Refusing to let him Grab her

best friend when they were this close to the safe zone,

Naya reacted without thinking. She raced across the tal

grass separating them and slammed into the man’s side,

wrapping both arms around his upper thighs and taking

him to the ground.

His shocked grunt ricocheted off the trees. Stunned

she’d been able to throw him off balance, Naya

scrambled to her feet before he could recover and

grabbed Jennie’s hand. She roughly tugged on her friend.

“Move. Now! ”

They ran as if the flames of hel licked at their heels.

Naya ignored the pain accompanying every breath. She

was certain she hadn’t broken anything, but she’d

was certain she hadn’t broken anything, but she’d

definitely bruised her shoulder and right side tackling that

behemoth.

“Come back here!” he growled menacingly and

chased after them. “You won’t make it. Not both of

you!”

Naya refused to even consider that possibility. They

were so close to making their escape. She couldn’t give

up hope now.

“Jennie!” Josef appeared at the tree line. He sucked in

ragged breaths, his sweat-soaked shirt clinging to his lean

frame. “Jennie! Hurry!”

Relieved by the sight of Josef, Naya shoved her friend

forward. “Move, Jennie. Move! We have to— aargh!”

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