Megan's Mark(6)

By: Lora Leigh

"Shit." She wheezed. "Those were close. Hell, Lance, I really wish you would hurry."

She screeched as bullets ripped through the entrance again, hitting lower to the ground, spraying sand at her feet as she tried to crawl up the wall to prevent the deadly projectiles from tearing into her feet.

"Your girl needs to be spanked, Lance." The strange, arrogant voice coming through the receiver made her stiffen in shock as a tense silence suddenly filled the line.

Calm. Centered. There were no riotous emotions pouring over her as she heard the voice, no impressions of past pains or lost dreams. There was just an unbroken circle of peace.

She latched onto it. Felt it weaving around her, sensed the nearness of the voice despite the sardonic amusement within it.

"Where are you. Braden?'Lance sounded frantic as Megan dodged another volley of shots. Whoever was out there had obviously moved for a better angle into the shallow cavern. The bullets were coming closer to her, tearing chunks out of the wall and pelting more sharp projectiles of stone.

"Close enough." The rough, growling tone of his voice sent shivers up her spine as she pushed herself closer to the stone at her back.

"If you're close enough then take a shot, dammit." She covered her face with her arm as more shots rang out, sending a rain of rocks exploding around her head.

Stooping, she leveled her weapon and fired twice into the gully toward the estimated position of her assailant before she threw herself to the other side of the wall and watched in horror as the wall where she had been standing took five hard bursts of gunfire.

Okay, that was about as close to death as she ever wanted to come.

"Politeness counts, baby." The humor in his voice almost had her lips twitching in response as she moved farther into the cavern. "Say please."

Shock washed through her system as a chuckle sounded through the


"Please?'she questioned furiously, her amusement quickly dissipating.

"There you go. See, that didn't hurt a bit, did it?"

She screeched as hard arms suddenly surrounded her from out of the darkness and the voice blew a breath of air across her ear.

Her elbow slammed back into a hard-packed abdomen as she attempted to hook her foot around his ankle and throw him off balance. All she got in reward was a sudden tightening of his arms and the breath whooshing from her chest.

Adrenaline surged through her like fireworks out of control. He was holding her, restraining her. Shock, fear, and the overwhelming instinct to survive were all she knew at that moment.

For the first time in her life, the emotions of others, the frustrations, fears and angers of those around her weren't flooding her brain. Only the need to survive.

"Settle down. The cavalry's here. Or a version of it, anyway." His soft laughter did nothing to still the rush of fear and the instinctive need to fight.

"Can you extract?" She was only distantly aware of Lance barking the question into the headset.

"Can and will, if she would stop fighting me like a little wildcat." She was lifted off her feet as the dark male voice deepened. "You have a claim on her, Jacobs? I think I might like to keep her."

Keep her? What the hell, was she a trophy now? She grunted as she tried to elbow him again, fought to throw him off balance.

"Get her the hell out of there. You want to risk the second, it's your head. We're on our way."

"Let me go." Satisfaction filled her when she finally managed to land a blow that caused him to tense, his hold weakening enough for her to tear away and turn on him.

Dark amber eyes stared back at her, the color intensifying in the shadowed expanse of the cavern.

Calm. It wrapped around her, soothing the ragged edge of her own nerves as it forced her to center herself.

"If you're going to shoot, hurry up and do it." A growl seemed to linger in his voice as white teeth flashed in a sundarkened face. "Otherwise,

we're going to be hamburger meat if we don't get to my Raider before they get to us."

She could hear the voices outside the cavern now. Obviously more than one, and getting closer.

She lowered her gun, breathing harshly as control slowly returned.

"I don't think I like you,'' she snapped as he turned and began leading the way through a dark, nearly hidden crevice in the rock wall, the kind often formed when one of the tributaries of water cracked through the weaker portions of the caverns. It was barely wide enough to make their way through, deep and dark, stifling hot. Its confines wrapped the scent of man around her rather than death.

And oh boy, did he smell good. Dark and male, and like the land itself, hot and hard and rich with life. She liked that smell. Too damned much.

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