“I’ll live,” she managed to grind out. “Back off…I told them I wasn’t going back and sending a pretty boy isn’t likely to change my mind.”
He’d taken a hit, but not enough for a concussion.
“Sweetheart, I think you’ve got me confused with…”
“I’m not your sweetheart.”
Okay, he could work with that. “I hear you, lovely lady. You’re hurt. Let’s get you out of the car then check your injuries.”
She grimaced then glared at him. The blood from her lip slowed, so maybe she just split the inside of her cheek. Minor injury. The force had to be tremendous, as it shook him and she’d appeared unconscious when he got to her.
The sound of an engine approaching reached him. His cell was in the truck, but backup might not be a bad thing if he couldn’t calm her down.
“Back. Off.” She pushed the two words out with effort.
His gaze dipped to her chest. Short, shallow breaths.
“I have a knife, and you’re having trouble taking a deep breath. Can you free your seatbelt?” He set the extinguisher down.
Her focus sharpened on him as disbelief rippled across her face. “Are you stupid or something? I’m pointing a gun at you.”
“Is that a problem?” Covering the gun with his free hand, he removed it from hers, leaving her blinking rapidly. “There, all taken care of. Need help getting the seatbelt off?”
The engine continued to draw closer, but the winding roads of West Virginia weren’t crowded. He’d been taking the back way on purpose to delay returning home to visit his parents after helping Flint clean up a mess in Virginia. Where the hell had she been going so fast? He hadn’t even seen the Jag before it plowed into him.
“How did you…?” She couldn’t finish the statement as her breath wheezed. Enough of an answer for him—he sliced through the seatbelt holding her rigid and she sagged with a whoosh. Folding the knife closed, he tucked it back into his pocket then set the gun next to the fire extinguisher.
Only idiots tucked a weapon into their pants. He liked his junk right where it was.
The doorframe was pretty shot, but he let her get some needed oxygen while he worked on wrenching it open.
The acrid smell increased, and a faint trail of smoke rose from beneath the crunched hood. Time to go. Putting his back into it, he managed to get the door open then wedged wider. More glass fell, but he ignored the shards. They were falling outside, not into the car on her.
“All right, pretty lady, my name’s Ben—friends call me Cannon. I’m going to pull you out of there. Try not to bite me.” He waited until her shock-eyed gaze collided with his to wink. “I might like it.”
“Who are you?” She found her voice and speaking revealed her white teeth. Only one showed stains from the blood, which was a good sign. After sliding an arm beneath her legs, he eased one behind her back. He was used to dealing with pain—it was just weakness leaving the body. Didn’t mean he wanted to hurt her more than she already was.
Her hiss told him he’d definitely ticked something aching on her. Lifting her out, he balanced her easily. Until he had a better grasp on her injuries, he wanted to avoid the bump and jerk. Once clear of her car, he circled the truck to the driver’s side. He got the back door open and lifted her up into the rear passenger seat.
“My bag…” She groaned. “I need it.”
“Stay,” he told her before jogging back to the damaged vehicle. The smoke intensified, so he grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprayed it over the cracked engine. The smoke vanished, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Collecting her gun, he reached across the seat and lifted her purse by the straps. It was one of those huge duffle-bag-wannabe looking jobs and weighed as much as a training ruck. What the hell was she carrying?
Though he could still hear an engine, no vehicles put on an appearance. Clocking the noise, he returned to the injured woman and handed her the purse sans the gun. Her fingers closed over it, giving him a good look at the bruises on her fingers, and the barely scabbed over knuckles which were cracked and raw.
“I need to move the truck back. You good?”
Not waiting for an answer, he closed the door and climbed back into the driver’s seat. The engine running was his, but it wasn’t the sound he’d heard. Instinct told him to move, so he moved. In the field, he trusted his gut and that hadn’t changed since he’d gotten home. The damage to his truck might be negligible, but it was annoying.
He’d just picked this bad boy up after totaling the last one in a barn.
Story for another day.
He put the truck into reverse. Somewhere after the crash, he’d managed to put the gear into park. Whatever, auto-pilot worked, and he didn’t want waste another second. Metal dragged with him as he retreated from the smashed Jag. At three hundred feet back, he slowed and pulled over onto the shoulder. Well, what there was of it.
The stop she’d blown past was visible just beyond her car, and there were trees all around the road he’d been following. Touching a finger to his nose, he checked to make sure it wasn’t broken. Adrenaline waning, the feeling of his pulse thudding in what was sure to be a bruise ached. Nothing he couldn’t live with though.
Putting the truck in park, he twisted to look at his passenger. She stared back at him, blinking slowly. Ignoring the throb on his cheek, he grinned. “Okay, that went well, all things considered.”
The truck’s engine rumbled, but there was another engine noise—and it increased as it drew closer. His passenger’s eyes widened, and Cannon whipped around in time to see another car bearing down on them. This one had a man hanging out of the side, and he opened fire.
“Put the seatbelt on and get down,” Cannon ordered. The Glock 26 was a nice gun, but he preferred his own. Freeing it from the lockbox between the seats, he put the truck in drive and floored it. It was like playing chicken with a semi-automatic. Fortunately, their bullets sprayed wide. The peppering of pops mostly hit the blacktop, but one found its mark on his truck.
“Dammit,” he muttered. Brand new truck. Another pop and he was pretty sure it caught a tire. Fortunately, he was rolling on eight, not just four. He didn’t bother to shoot at the oncoming car. He could shoot with his left hand, but he was a hell of a lot better with his right.
Whipping around her damaged car, he hit the control to lower the window on the right, then fired at the car as he accelerated.
“Sorry,” he called back to his passenger.
“For what?” came her muffled reply. More words. Great. More words was always good.
The second bullet he fired hit the leaking gas on the ground. The spark jumped, then there was a whoosh and he lowered the gun and dropped the accelerator all the way to the floor. In his rearview, the car racing toward them disappeared as the fire roared over the Jag and then there was a very loud boom as metal sheared off metal.
Cannon grinned. “For that.” It wasn’t funny, not really. Her car just went up in flames and someone was shooting at them.
A tire bounced off the hood of his truck leaving an unholy dent.
His grin faltered but returned.
“Why are you smiling?” Disbelief and horror twined in his passenger’s voice, and it still sounded like she was lying down on the seat. Their would-be pursuers hadn’t gotten around the burning Jag.
“Because it went boom. Boom’s pretty funny when you’re not the one going boom and no one you know or like is going boom.” Then it occurred to him. “They weren’t friends of yours, were they?”
Crap. What if he’d blown her people up? That would not be funny.
“No,” she exhaled. “Definitely not…”
“Good.” Free to enjoy it, he checked his rearview then ahead. He had no idea what road he was on, or who the hell she was, or what had just happened.
The only thing he knew was he didn’t have to go back home and that was all right. “So,” he called over his shoulder. “Let’s try this again. I’m Ben Stone, friends call me Cannon. And you are?”
Long, Heather. Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Protecting Pilar (Kindle Worlds Novella) (Special Forces & Brotherhood Protectors Book Series 4) (Kindle Locations 59-129). Kindle Worlds. Kindle Edition.