Valiant Page 28
’’I\m going to lift you. You\ e barefoot and injured. You\ e safe now and no one will hurt you.’’
’’I know,’’ she said softly. ’’Thank you.’’
He remained silent for a long moment. ’’You never thank me for protecting you, Tammy. You\ e mine. It\s my duty and my honor.’’
His words stunned her into silence. She\d never had a man say that to her before, never expected one to either, but everything about Valiant was special. She couldn\ see any of her past boyfriends charging into the woods at night to try to save her life. Tears filled her eyes and she rapidly blinked them back. She feared he\d get more upset if she totally lost it and crumbled into sobs at his big feet.
He leaned in and very gently wrapped one arm behind her back and hooked his other arm behind her knees to cradle her in his arms. He did it easily, as though she didn\ weigh a thing. Without hesitation, Tammy wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
His bare skin comforted her. She rested her head on his hot skin near the curve of his shoulder when Valiant walked with her. Exhaustion and pain had drained her both physically and mentally. The sway of Valiant\s careful stride soothed her.
Noise roused Tammy. She realized she\d either passed out or fallen asleep. Valiant still carried her. She inhaled his wonderful scent and his warmth surrounded her as firmly as his arms did. He softly growled.
’’Humans are ahead of us. We\ll walk out of the woods soon but I\ll warn you now, I go where you do. They will want their doctor to examine you and I would insist on that, Tammy. Just tell them to allow me to stay at your side. I\ll fight anyone who tries to take you from my sight.’’
’’Just don\ roar or growl at anyone, please.’’ She lifted her head. ’’You\ e scary enough without that.’’
He stopped walking for a moment. She could barely make out his face in the dim moonlight but he nodded. ’’Just don\ think I\m going to let you go. I did that before and look what happened. You might have been killed tonight. Those men wouldn\ have been able to take you if you\d stayed with me. No one would have gotten that close to you without dying first.’’
Guilt ate at her. ’’About that lamp...’’
His face snapped in her direction and he growled low, his chest vibrated and he sucked in air. ’’I don\ want to speak of it.’’
’’I didn\ want you to get hurt.’’ She said the words quickly.
He turned his head away, sniffed the air, and proceeded to walk. ’’We\ll speak later. You\ e safer with me. I will protect you, and don\ try to flee me again. It would be foolish.’’
She couldn\ argue with his statements. She didn\ want to admit it but she didn\ want Valiant to go far from her either. She\d spent the last five weeks missing and thinking about him. It could be the trauma she\d survived and the fact that he\d saved her life, had come for her even though he had to be angry at her for hitting him with the lamp, but being in his arms felt right.
Valiant stared into her pretty eyes. The day she\d fled from his home she\d gotten the drop on him, sneaked right up behind him, and he\d never sensed her coming. He\d underestimated her and it had been a costly mistake that had allowed her to leave him. Regret was an easy emotion to read on her face and he liked that he could identify her emotions.
’’I was distracted by the males coming for you.’’
’’I know. I totally used that to my advantage. Did I hurt you?’’
His head wound had quickly healed but inside he hadn\ . He\d wanted to keep her but she\d abandoned him. He remembered the rare times females had been brought to his cell when he\d been a prisoner. A lifetime of rejection filtered through his memories.
Most of the Species females had been too terrified of him to allow his touch. A primate female had shrieked and cried until one of the techs had returned to take her away. He\d known none of them had wanted him to breed with them but some had taken pity on the lonely male he\d been.
Seeing his kind had been rare and engaging in se* with them had been even rarer. Tammy had rejected him at first but she\d responded to his touch as no other female ever had. He didn\ have the breeding skills that most of the males had learned but he hadn\ felt inadequate with Tammy in his arms and on his bed. He\d been very motivated to use every se*ual bit of advice the females had given him during those rare times they had allowed him to mount them.
Tammy mattered to him and it worried him deeply that she\d want to leave him again. He\d known confinement and didn\ want to do that to her. Making her a prisoner inside his home might make her hate him. To threaten was one thing but in reality, he never wanted to hurt her in any way. He\d have to convince her to stay of her own free will.
He wasn\ sure how to do that and needed to figure it out quickly. The humans would want to take her away from him. Many of them feared Species, believed they would harm humans, and he knew his appearance didn\ help. He looked less human than the other males of his kind. Not that they would fit in with a group of humans but they weren\ as intimidating. There wasn\ anything he could do about his looks but he could try very hard to act more civilized.
He held back a growl. Playing nice with humans and acting docile wasn\ something he would ever have believed he\d do for anyone. Staring into Tammy\s eyes changed everything though. It was all a matter of what he wanted to keep most. Her or his pride. It was a difficult thing to swallow but he made a decision.