Valiant Page 13

She instantly tossed it aside and dropped to her knees beside his body. She checked Valiant\s pulse, found it strong and steady, and her fingers brushed through his hair where she\d hit him. She could feel a slight bump forming but there wasn\ any blood. His chest rose and fell easily as she climbed to her feet, sure that he wouldn\ be out long. She needed to leave before he woke. She was pretty sure he\d be super pissed at her for knocking him out.

’’Son of a bitch.’’ Her hands shook as she quickly finished dressing and shoved her feet into her shoes. She shoved her destroyed bra down the front of her pants, not wishing to leave it behind but wanting to keep it hidden after she left. A glance at Valiant showed he remained sprawled on his side on the floor. She took a step closer, hesitated at leaving him, and a twinge of regret flooded her. Maybe I should stay and No! What am I thinking? He wants to keep me forever and we\ e strangers. That would be nuts! She fled.

He\d locked the bedroom door and she had to unbolt it to leave. She glanced down the hallway at a few closed doors but the stairs were within sight. She ran for them. When Valiant came to she knew he would be really upset. She\d hit him with his own lamp and knocked him out cold. It was very doubtful he\d understand she\d done it to make sure he wasn\ hurt and she didn\ want to stick around to find out if she could reason with him.

She ran down the stairs to the large entryway. She unlocked the double doors, tossed them open and stumbled from his house.

She slammed the door behind her and walked quickly down the path. Her arms crossed over her chest to hide the fact that her bra was missing. She hoped no one would notice since she didn\ want to have to explain. She spotted her work van, four Jeeps, and the other catering truck parked on the other side of the fence. Men had already entered the yard through the gate.

They were New Species. All wore black fatigues with NSO emblems in stark white on their chests and they carried real guns along with what she assumed were tranquilizer guns. She\d seen a few of the New Species officers from a distance at the front gate when she\d entered Reservation. A thirty-foot wall protected the boundary of it and men dressed in those same uniforms had patrolled the top of the wall. The ones in Valiant\s yard stopped.

’’Hi.’’ Tammy didn\ look at their faces, keeping her gaze averted instead. ’’I\m fine.’’ She walked faster toward the gate and around the men who stood blocking her way.

’’Tammy!’’ Ted rushed forward. ’’Are you all right?’’

She kept moving and nearly plowed into one of the NSO officers, but he jumped back.

’’I\m fine, Ted. I\m going home. I\ve had a stressful day but I\m really fine. We talked and he let me go. Problem solved,’’ she flat-out lied.

A man moved into her path when she walked through the open gate to where the vehicles were parked. ’’Are you all right?’’

She recognized the deep voice immediately as being Tiger\s. She stopped and lifted her chin to peer into his strange features, not shocked that he appeared to be part feline. Not only did his name give it away but he had some features that were similar to Valiant\s.

This guy stood a few inches shorter though and was not as broad chested as Valiant but he was still huge. Tiger\s catlike eyes were an amazing blue and he had the same distinctive cheekbones and the same flatter nose as Valiant. He had sandy brown hair with red and blond streaks throughout. The red color wasn\ nearly as bright or beautiful as Valiant\s.

’’I\m fine. I think I\ll just go home now and relax. It\s been a weird day.’’

He inhaled and his gaze widened slightly. ’’I\ll take you to our medical facility.’’

Tammy tensed, alarmed that he\d say something she didn\ want him to reveal in front of her boss and guessed he could smell Valiant all over her. They did seem to have a really freaky-strong sense of smell. She shot him a warning look, silently hoping he\d understand.

’’I\m not hurt. Nothing happened.’’

’’What did that bastard do to you?’’ Ted gripped her arm, spinning her to face him. Ted stood about five-foot-nine, only five inches taller than Tammy, and he looked unusually pale. ’’Did he touch you? Did he hurt you?’’

She met her boss\s worried gaze and hoped she appeared calm. ’’I\m fine. Nothing happened. We just talked, he saw reason, and he said I could go home. It\s that simple,’’ she lied.

Ted\s features relaxed. ’’Thank God. They were going to go in and get you. The tranquilizer guns finally arrived and more of their men showed up to storm his house. I imagined the worst and I heard you scream once and a roar.’’

’’He was scary.’’ She jerked her arm out of his hold. ’’I just want to go home. It\s been an ordeal and I have a pounding migraine,’’ she lied again.

Ted nodded. ’’Of course. I\ll pay you for today. I\m so sorry about the mix-up with the directions and I\m just glad you\ e not hurt.’’

’’I\m absolutely fine,’’ she muttered, silently wondering if she should keep track of how many lies she told, but quickly dismissed the idea. The truth would be much more of a hassle and she didn\ want to go there.

Ted stepped back with an uncertain smile. ’’It\s been an exciting day, huh?’’

’’Yeah.’’ She forced a smile. ’’I\m out of here. Do you mind if I take the van?’’

Her boss hesitated. ’’I need it. You\ e carrying most of the food for the party. It hasn\ been canceled.’’


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