Dream Shard(5)

By: Mary Wine



She dragged him away from where the waterfall had deposited him and reached out to grip his wet clothing and turn him over. He coughed, spitting out a mouthful of water, but his eyes remained closed. His chest rose though and there was the thin presence of a heartbeat beneath her fingertips.

She strained to move him farther toward the shore. Even with the water supporting most of his weight, she struggled to pull him the remaining feet to the shore. She scraped her shins as she yanked him up onto the gravel, crawling on her knees as she tried to get him out of the water.

He was ghostly white and his skin far too cold. He might be breathing, but hypothermia could easily end his life. She strained and dragged him farther up the bank. At last, even his boots were out of the water. She attacked the thick black vest he wore, opened it and hesitated when she found a chest harness. The butt of a hand gun glistened with water. His shirt was green-and-tan camouflage fabric. She pulled it open to expose his chest.

The man was sculpted to perfection. Every muscle detailed. She hesitated only a moment before lying down on top of him and pressing her chest against his own.

He felt even better than he looked.

Unprofessional…

Yes, her thought was unprofessional, but under the circumstances, she was doing the best she could. If the cold blood in his extremities made it back to his heart, he could go into cardiac arrest. Her body heat was the only thing she had to use. It was an extreme, stab-in-the-dark treatment choice, but she had no other alternatives.

Her gaze focused on the butt of the gun. She shivered, and it had nothing to do with the chill from the water. Whoever he was, he wasn’t a nice guy. The ridges and hard muscle she was pressed against were just other weapons in his arsenal.

Maybe she shouldn’t help him.

She cringed at the thought. Hating the cynical idea. Ten months ago, she’d never question the impulse to help an injured person.

But the butt of the pistol was hard, irrefutable evidence that there were people who valued life far less than she did.

He jerked, his body convulsing. She lifted her body off his, looking at his face to assess his condition. His lips were curled back and his teeth gritted as he reached out and grabbed her throat. She recoiled, but he had a firm hold on her, the delicate bones feeling like they might snap.

He blinked, staring at her nude breasts. His grip relaxed and she scooted back as fast as she could. She scraped her knees again and landed on her bare bottom, but she scrambled onto her feet as he rolled over and shook his head. He struggled to plant one foot on the ground and rise to rest on his other bent knee. The muscles along his neck were corded as he strained to lift his head.

She grabbed her pants and jerked them up. He snarled softly as she grabbed the sweatshirt and fought her way into it. Her wet skin didn’t make it easy, but at least she wasn’t buck naked anymore.

“I have a phone at the cabin.”

“No calls,” he barked. He staggered to his feet, reaching for the gun.

Terror tried to freeze her, but her nightmares rose up to shatter the hold. She reached out and smacked his hand.

“You don’t need that. You need to get down to my cabin and out of those wet clothes.”

He had to be a foot taller than her and outweigh her by fifty pounds of hard brawn, but her tone was pure emergency-room-nurse dictator. She lifted her arm and pointed down the trail.

She tipped her head back so she could make eye contact with him. His scowl was enough to curl her toes. She swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Do it now, mister, because I don’t have a wheelchair to move you with once you collapse.”

He blinked at her and then looked down the hill. Every moment he hesitated might just cost him his life. Men like him didn’t die of disease. They were struck down by injury or exposure.

“No calls,” he ordered, but his voice was failing him. His first steps were shaky, but at least his stride was long.

“Use your strength for walking,” Kalin countered and ducked beneath his arm to help him.

He growled but leaned on her as his body shuddered. His breathing was labored as they covered the distance to the cabin door. He stumbled up the two steps and fell against the door. She struggled to open it, pushing him to the side to clear the way.

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