Staking His Claim(8)

By: Lynda Chance

She looked at him with dark eyes swimming in tears. "I wanted somebody else," she whispered quietly.

"What?" he questioned.

"I didn't want you to find me. I don't want your help again. I don't want to be yelled at right now and I was praying you wouldn't find me like this."

Damn. That cut him deep. He had been rough on her yesterday.

"Sorry, baby. You're stuck with me."

He reached down and as gently as he could, scooped her up with one arm under her back and the other under her knees. "Put your arms around my neck."

Elaina did as he said and collapsed against him. Her eyes shut and she let out a sigh of relief. It had been a long few hours.

He walked around to the passenger side of his truck and deposited her there, shutting the door. She was immediately closed in again and felt much as she had the day before when he had locked her in with him.

He started the truck, executed a reverse maneuver and headed down the road, back the way he came.

"Brian and Janie home yet?" he asked.

"No. Probably tomorrow."

"Right. I'm taking you to my house." It was a statement of intent.


"No. I d-don't want to go to--"

"Tough shit, Miss Ruiz."

Her eyes welled with tears again as she swiveled her head in his direction and impaled him with a vicious glare. "See? That's why I wanted someone else to find me."

Guilt and irritation trickled down his spine. Shit. She was young, she was alone and she was hurt. Couldn't he fucking rein it in with her and not act like a wad of shit? It wasn't her fault his body was screaming for her. He needed to remember that.

He kept driving and the silence in the truck was deafening.

Minutes later, he pulled into the circular driveway that fronted his house. He climbed out of the truck and walked around and opened the passenger door. He reached in to get her and was amazed she didn't put up more of a verbal fight about him carrying her.

He found out why seconds later as he climbed the steps to the front door with her in his arms and pushed it open.

"I have to pee."

He didn't answer her, just strode to the nearest bathroom. He flipped the light on, and carried her to the commode.

"Can you stand?"


He slid her down carefully and she put her weight on her good foot and balanced on the vanity next to the commode. "Thanks. I'll just be a minute."

"Call me. I'll hear you."

"Okay." She waited for him to turn and shut the door and then she sat down with a massive sigh of relief.

Five minutes later, she was sitting on the closed lid of the commode and he was kneeling in front of her, carefully taking her shoes and socks off.

"Damn, little girl, those are some badass skinned knees."

"Mr. Vega--"

He cut her off. "My name's Raul."

She lifted her eyes from her torn up knees and her gaze tangled with his.

His eyes were deep, unfathomable. "Say it."


"That's right, little girl."

She cleared her throat minutely. "You could start calling me Elaina."

His eyes stayed hot on hers but he didn't answer.

She tried speaking again. "Thanks for saving me. Again."

He did respond to that. "Not a problem. Better me than the next guy."

She still wasn't so sure about that. "You think?"


He turned away and came back seconds later with a tube of antiseptic ointment and a moistened cloth. He held the cloth in front of her and gently offered, "You trust me to do it?"

She puffed out a breath as something unknown passed between them. "Yeah."

He placed the cloth on one knee and then the next, loosening the dried blood, rubbing gently, carefully removing the sand and flakes of rock from the dried sores. It took awhile and she sat still, trying to distract herself from the pain by watching his hands on her.

He had large strong hands, with thick, blunt fingers. They were cool and capable as they touched her skin. Elaina felt a trace of heat hit her high in the breasts and slide down through her system, landing in a damp pool of need between her thighs. Shocked, she trembled softly and raised her eyes back to his face.

His movements stalled and she knew he felt the tremors in her body as his eyes left his task and lifted to hers. Incendiary heat passed between them. She licked her lips and stared at his male beauty.

She opened her mouth and tried to speak. "So--you're not always mean." The words were off the top of her head but they conveyed her exact thought.

His ministrations stopped completely and she felt his attention leave her abraded flesh and center wholly on her.

She sucked in a breath at the naked look of self-contempt in his eyes.

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