Valiant Page 27

Tammy kept moving even though some bullets tore up tree trunks around her but she didn\ stop. She left the campfire behind without feeling anything strike her body and managed to avoid running into any trees. Once the firelight faded it left her totally blind.

She ran until her shoulder slammed into a low branch and the impact sent her sprawling to her knees. She fought her way to her feet and painfully leaned against the rough bark, trying to catch the breath that had been knocked from her lungs and ignored the roughness against her skin.

A male screamed behind her a horrible, painful sound, but it motivated her to keep moving. She jerked her wrists but the leather still refused to give. Frustration and fear battled as she stumbled forward. She wanted to put distance between the bullets and her.

She walked and prayed her vision would adjust to the darkness. It sounded as though a war was being waged behind her with guns going off and all the yelling that shattered the night. Tammy could finally make out dim shapes and her pace increased to a fast walk. She didn\ make it far until something suddenly shifted into her path. The shape moved in from the side something big, whatever it was, and it came right at her.

She opened her mouth to scream as she attempted to twist away to run in a new direction but it moved faster. Large hands grabbed her waist.

’’Tammy,’’ Valiant rasped.

She froze. The hands pulled her against a cloth-covered chest. She inhaled the masculine scent she hadn\ forgotten. In that moment she admitted she\d missed it and him. His big body felt warm and large with his arms secured around her waist in a hug. Her knees gave out but she didn\ fall. He kept her firmly against him.

’’I\ve got you.’’

Tammy\s fingers itched to grab hold of him but she couldn\ . She sniffed and fought her tears of relief that he\d found and saved her. She\d been terrified. Those men had hurt her but she knew safety in Valiant\s arms. Her nightmare had ended. He\d make sure they didn\ get a chance to take her again. She had absolute faith in that.

’’I\m going to sit you down and give you my shirt,’’ he softly rasped. ’’Your skin is cold. Do you understand me?’’

She nodded against his chest and Valiant softly growled as helped her down to a patch of chilly grass. She stared up at his dark shape when he crouched in front of her. He wasn\ more than a big, comforting shadow in the darkness with a raspy voice. Cloth brushed her leg.

’’Raise your arms for me.’’

’’I can\ . My hands are bound behind my back.’’

He cursed. ’’I forgot. I\m so enraged it\s hard for me to think straight.’’

Valiant wrapped his arms around her once again. Tammy appreciated and felt comforted by his warmth and the security of being inside his arms. He worked the leather belt with gentle fingers and yanked it open to free her wrists. She moved her arms forward and whimpered at the pain that shot up both of them. Even her shoulders ached from being secured in the same position for too long.

’’I\m going to kill them,’’ he growled. ’’Every one.’’ He leaned back until some space opened between their bodies and he gripped her wrists gently to brush his thumbs over her injured skin. ’’I smell blood on you.’’

Valiant lifted her hands to his face and inhaled. He did the last thing she expected. She jumped but didn\ yank away as his tongue gently licked the painful, burning area of her wrist. It actually made the excruciating sensation fade. He turned to her other wrist and used his tongue on it.

’’What are you doing, Valiant?’’

’’Does it hurt less?’’

She nodded but remembered he probably couldn\ see well in the dark either. ’’Yes.’’

She noticed when it suddenly grew unusually quiet. The sounds of the forest completely died along with the gunshots. Only the soft breeze in the tree branches above sounded in the eerie moment.

’’They will come soon and I need to get you clothed,’’ Valiant urged softly. ’’I\m going to put my sweater on you.’’ He released her hands.

’’Who\s coming?’’ Fear gripped her, hoping he didn\ mean the men who\d kidnapped her.

’’My people will search for us and it won\ take them long. Don\ worry. Those men who stole you are taken care of one way or another. Lift your arms for me.’’

Between the two of them they managed to put his sweater over her head and damaged wrists. The thick, soft material was still warm from his body and it smelled of Valiant. He helped her to her feet and she realized his sweater hung down to her mid thighs, more of a minidress on her shorter frame. He rolled the sleeves to her elbows.

’’I don\ want the material to rub your injured wrists,’’ he explained.

’’Thank you.’’ It touched her that he\d be so thoughtful.

Tammy saw his form shift in the darkness as Valiant stepped back and his arms rose. The little moonlight straining through the treetops reflected something white. Material ripped. ’’Hold still for me, Tammy. I\m going to carry you and I\m using my tank top to protect your modesty. I\ll use it to fashion you some shorts.’’

He dropped down to his knees in front of her. His head was level with her chest even on his knees. He is freakishly tall, she remembered. He pushed his sweater up to just under her br**sts. She wasn\ even embarrassed to be na**d with him. He softly urged her to hold it in place.

From the feel, he slid part of his shirt between her legs and tied each side at her h*ps to cover her panties. It reminded her of what a Sumo Wrestler would wear. He stood and she let the sweater drop. Valiant stepped closer.

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