Valiant Page 21

Valiant lunged forward. The four of them sniffed the area and studied the tracks on the ground. The small impressions were harder to detect at night. ’’It\s not old.’’

’’That\s what the sheriff stated.’’ Tiger confirmed. ’’They took her about an hour ago. Do you think she got away from them?’’ He stared at the smallest tracks a female running. He glanced at Valiant. ’’How physically fit is she? Do you think she could outrun her attackers?’’

’’No,’’ Valiant snarled. ’’She\s small and no match for four males.’’

’’We better find them fast,’’ Brass growled.

The four men ran. They stopped where Tammy had been tackled and the signs of where clear to each of them that she\d impacted the ground. Valiant roared again when he discovered more of Tammy\s blood.

’’Easy,’’ Tiger snarled low. ’’We\ e all allowing our animal sides to rule but we\ e dealing with humans. Control your instincts while we hunt. They aren\ deer. Keep that in mind.’’

Rider growled where he crouched, examining the disturbed leaves. ’’One man is carrying her. His track impressions show the added weight.’’

’’He\s dead when I reach him,’’ Valiant promised. ’’Let\s go.’’

* * * * *

Tammy woke and softly cursed. Her shoulder, arm, back, and head hurt. She stopped listing what ached and tried to concentrate instead on what didn\ . Her feet and her ass were fine but that was about it. She forced her eyes open to stare at a blazing campfire. She rested on her side facing it, a few feet away from the flames. She turned her head, only to instantly regret it.

Four men sat on a fallen log glaring at her. One of them, Terry, had his cowboy boots off. Dried blood stained his chin and shirt. She\d head-butted that one. Another one had strips of his torn shirt stuffed up his nose that seemed to be actively bleeding, while another one had his hand clamped over his arm where bloody claw marks from her fingernails assured her he\d been one of the jerks in the back of the truck with her. The fourth man appeared unhurt.

She looked away from them and glanced at the trees surrounding them. She had been placed on grass but as she tried to lift up, she couldn\ move her arms. She tugged and realized they were bound behind her. She glared at the men.

’’My leather belt is wrapped around your wrists, you little hellion. You just stay down.’’ It was the unhurt man who spoke in an angry tone. ’’I still say we should just kill her. Look at all the shit we\ e in because of her. She broke Ned\s nose when she kicked him in the face on her way out of the truck.’’

Surprise registered to Tammy. She didn\ remember doing that but hid a smile, happy it had happened. She vaguely remembered using her feet to help kick off to shove her upper body from the bed of the truck. She\d thought she\d used the floor to do it. The fact that it had actually been his face made it better.

’’I think two of my teeth are loose. She slammed her head into my mouth,’’ Terry said and grunted while he glared at her. ’’I say I take my belt and blister her ass with it.’’

’’Stop all of that whining,’’ the guy with the scratched arm ordered. ’’We need her help. You heard what our informant on the inside of that animal land told us. One of those animals grabbed and carried her off. We need to convince her to go public and tell everyone what he did to her to gain support for our cause.’’

’’Like that bitch is going to do that.’’ Ned paused. ’’Right. She broke my nose. She\s as much of an animal as they are. Did she come with us peacefully the way a real lady would? Hell no. She fought as though she were an animal. Now here we are stuck in the woods without a truck. That car followed us and I\m pretty sure that guy went for help. He probably got the license plate. We probably have half of the state searching for us because she wouldn\ just be reasonable.’’

’’We should have waited, Paul.’’ Terry frowned at the guy with the scratched arm. ’’He ordered us to wait to take her when he arrived. You\ e the kon*** who thought she\d be easy enough to grab. You said it would be as simple as eating pie. The boss is going to be here in a few days and he\s going to tear you a new ass**le and us along with you since we were dumb enough to listen to your screwed-up plan. You know the boss wants her bad, he told you he has big plans for her. He said he could talk her into doing whatever we needed her to do but now it\s all turned to shit.’’

Chapter Five

Paul cursed. ’’I can fix this. We can convince her to tell the press what we want but it just might take a bit more time.’’

’’We don\ have that,’’ Terry ground out. ’’Our boss is going to have all of our asses for this mess. We screwed it up bad.’’

Paul glared at Tammy. ’’All you had to do was come peacefully. We\ e human, damn it. We\ e your kind. What did that animal do to you when he carried you off? Did he rape you? Did he take a bite out of you? Did he try to turn you into one of them? Tell us the truth right now!’’

Tammy glared at him. ’’He was a gentleman and brought me tea. After that, he asked me how my day was,’’ she lied. ’’He didn\ toss me into the back of a truck and crush me into near suffocation, nor did he drag me out into the woods and use a belt to tie my hands behind my back. He was actually intelligent and polite.’’

She hoped she wouldn\ go to hell over stretching the truth because while Valiant was intelligent, the polite part would be considered a little shady.

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