Megan's Mark(7)

By: Lora Leigh

Because suddenly it wasn't the danger following them that filled her; rather, it was the scent of the man ahead of her and the sensual forks of sensation it sent careening through her body. He made her think of sex.

"Good. Conflict just makes life more interesting."

He was insane. She loved it. She could feel her heartbeat racing with the danger, adrenaline heightening her senses, surging through her with a natural high that almost made her giddy.

They moved quickly and within minutes the slender threads of sunlight began lighting their way.

"We're out,'' Braden announced as they moved through the entrance and ran to his Raider parked just in front of it.

"We're on our way,'' Lance replied. "Get her out of there_"

"No!" She turned on the brawny, wild creature that jumped into the driver's side of the Raider as she turned in the passenger's seat.

For whatever reason she could no longer feel the rage, the need to kill, the terror and the fear that had echoed from the valley. With the arrival of this man, and the calm that seemed to reach out from him like a shield that blocked those jarring emotions, she was centered once again.

"I can do this." She needed to fight. To prove to herself she could. "We can't afford to let them get away. They killed, and they were waiting for me. We need to know why."

He turned, his oddly colored eyes reflecting amused approval as a crooked grin tilted his hard, sensual lips.

"Let's get them then_"

"Hell no," Lance all but screamed then. "Damn you, Braden, get her the hell out of there."

She continued to watch Braden as he looped a length of leather around his long, tawny-gold hair and tied it at his nape.

"Megan Fields." She extended her hand as excitement poured through her.

"Braden Arness." His grip was strong, firm. It sent a pulse of energy whipping through her arm, echoing along her body. But there were none of the riotous emotions coming from him that she felt from others.

Emotions that normally left her drained, unable to think clearly. She felt the remnants of the earlier violence dissipating, the horror of a death not her own easing, as though the calm he projected extended to those around him.

"Braden, she's not experienced enough. Get her back to Control," Lance ordered again. "We can handle this."

Braden's eyes narrowed as he watched her. Casually he disconnected reception by flipping the mic up while his eyes stared into hers.

"Do you like to live dangerously?" His eyelids lowered, a hungry, almost sexual expression crossing his face.

A smile trembled on her lips as she flipped her mic back as well. "I live for it."

Braden turned in his seat, revved the Raider's powerful motor and took off. No seat belts, no word of warning as he turned the wheel sharply, sending the Raider skidding along the sandy ground as it headed back toward the gully.

"Wheel protectors and bullet shield engaged." She activated the security settings before checking her weapon and lowering the window at her side.

The bullets would clear the security field with no problem, but anything shot into it would explode harmlessly before touching the vehicle. Most of the time, anyway.

"Wrong weapon."

Megan turned, her eyes widening as Braden reached to the floorboard between the bucket seats and pulled an automatic, laser-guided rifle forward. "Try this one."

Illegal to the max.

She loved it.

She opened her mind to the calm that reached out from him, centering on it, letting it merge with her own fragile shields and finding it easier than she could have imagined as she tested the weight of the weapon he handed her.

The trim-line, fully automatic laser-guided rifle fired a deadly accurate blast that left a hole in a man the size of the Grand Canyon.

As with the man, even the weapons he owned carried no residue of violence or rage. They were tools, nothing more.

"Dead men don't shoot back, sweetheart," he reminded her as she cast him a gimlet stare.

"Lance will shoot us both." She grimed in delight.

"Yeah, but his bullets don't kill." He grunted. "Damned police-issue crap.

What happened to the good ole days?"

She turned. bracing the rifle's barrel on the window as they sped around the curve into the gully where her own Raider sat. Gunfire blasted against their shields.

"Three o'clock." He yelled out the position. "Give 'em hell."

Her finger tightened on the trigger as she further braced the rifle against her shoulder, allowing the weapon to pound against her as she held the trigger back and sliced an arrow of death through the gully wall.

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