Home > Hero's Haven (Dark Protectors #11)(4)

Hero's Haven (Dark Protectors #11)(4)
Author: Rebecca Zanetti

She pulled out a small bottle of liquid. Soap had apparently changed from squares to liquid. “There’s no hot water.”

Of course. He took the soap and moved to the glass doors, eyeing the clear, clean water beyond the snow. “I shall bathe in the river, and when I am finished, we are going to cut this beard and my hair.” He looked over his shoulder. “Then we start playing what if, just for the remainder of this day. You and me.”

* * * *

What if. She’d agreed to play what if, and once she started, Haven couldn’t stop. If she wasn’t human, then she wasn’t crazy. However, if she was delusional, she’d gone bonkers.

While her scarred, hot-body of a hallucination bathed himself in a freezing cold river, she busied herself with cleaning up the dinner mess. A quick scrape of snow over the dishes and pot, and they were ready to use again. After stoking the fire, she piled her hair in a thick hat and bundled up in her coat, slipping her refractive eyeglasses on her nose. She’d noticed a small shed near the house when they’d arrived, and hopefully there was a generator with gas in there somewhere.

Slipping on her gloves, she opened the door and nearly walked into a county deputy.

She blinked. “Um, hi.”

The man, in full uniform, appeared to be in his mid-twenties. His bright blue eyes narrowed. “I noticed the tracks in from the main road. Where’s Hank?”

She plastered on her most innocent expression and glanced behind him. New snow had almost covered the Jeep’s tracks, darn it. One more day, and there wouldn’t have been any sign of her presence. “Hank isn’t here. Said I could borrow the cabin for a while and work on my paintings. It’s the perfect place.”

The cop’s eyes narrowed.

Oops. She smiled.

“Hank is the crankiest bastard ever born. No way would he let anybody use his cabin.” The cop moved fast, turning her toward the wall and grabbing her wrist behind her back to cuff.

The sound that came from the deck defied description. Animalistic and furious. She turned her head to see a blur of muscled motion across the distance. “Wait—”

Quade grabbed the cop and threw him full force toward the kitchen wall with one hand. The officer dented the wall and fell onto the stove before rolling onto the kitchen floor. “You are unharmed?” Quade’s eyes had gone from the usual aqua to a bizarre silver.

Gulping, Haven nodded.

“Good.” His chin went down, and he pivoted, heading for the downed man.

“No.” Haven rushed in front of him, planting a hand on his ripped abs. “Don’t hurt him.”

Snow matted in Quade’s hair and water glistened down his hard torso. Steam rose from his skin. “He touched you.”

“Yeah.” She turned and bent down to feel the cop’s pulse. Strong and steady. Good. “He was doing his job.”

Quade crouched, seemingly unconcerned with his nudity. He reached for the gun in the cop’s holster. “What is—”

“No.” Haven slapped his hand. “Leave that alone.” That’s all she needed. For a cop to have lost his gun. The guy would never stop looking for them. “Help me get him to the sofa.”

Quade looked at her, then at the cop, and finally shrugged. “I do not understand this world.” He leaned down and hefted the guy into the air, striding to the sofa and depositing him.

Haven followed, grabbing a blanket to drape over the unconscious man. “Get dressed and pack up everything we need.” She didn’t wait for his agreement but hurried outside, struggling past the patrol car and through the storm to the storage shed. Holding her breath, she fought the wind until the door opened and then looked inside. Shoot. No generator and no gas. Only a couple of garden hoses, several deflated inner tubes, and a manual lawn mower.

Okay. What now? She looked over her shoulder at the county police car. Stealing that would be a huge mistake. Right now, the cop only had her on trespassing, and that could be explained away by necessity. But Quade had hit the officer. That was harder to deal with— if this was all real. She was starting to actually believe that it was. So, what should she do?

The mental debate only lasted a minute. Sighing, she yanked an old garden hose free and shoved herself through the snow. It had been a long time since she’d siphoned gas, but what the heck. She bit her lip and inserted part of the hose in the cop’s gas tank. “Quade? I need a couple of knives,” she called out.

He appeared in the doorway with two kitchen knives, wearing the too small T-shirt and too short sweats. “If there is killing to be done, I am the one doing it,” he said, his hoarse voice determined.

She huffed out air in the cold. “Nobody is killing. Except for the tires. Give me a knife and then slash his tires, would you?”

He eyed her for a moment and then strode through the snow on his bare feet to hand over one of the knives. “What are you doing?” Snow gathered on his dark hair and lashes, and he studied the cop car as if he’d never seen one before.

“Getting gas.” She sliced through the worn hose to make it slightly smaller. “The tires.”

He frowned. “You are a bossy female.”

She looked over her shoulder. “Some guys like that kind of thing.”

“I do not.” He said each word slowly, looking over at her Jeep. “Tires?”

Okay. The guy didn’t know anything. She rubbed snow from her face. “Let’s say I believe you about my being inhuman and traveling at least with my mind to other worlds—I take it you were on another world. When did you leave this one?” Her life had taken a way too bizarre turn.

“I was born in 601 BC, lived about four hundred years, and then left to guard a dangerous enemy.” He spoke absently, studying both vehicles intently. The snow whipped his shirt up at the waist.

She swallowed. “You’re telling me that I’m hanging out with a two-thousand-year-old vampire-demon hybrid?” Right. She wasn’t crazy. Nope. Not at all.

“I suppose,” he murmured. “Though I lived lifetimes in that place, so I am probably older, actually.”

They didn’t have time for this. “Slash the tires. The four round rubber things are filled with air, and if you puncture them, the cop won’t be able to follow us.” Sure, he’d have his radio, but it’d take an hour for anybody to come get him, and she planned to be long gone by then.

Quade’s nostrils flared, but he bent to do her bidding. “Way too bossy,” he muttered.

Chapter Four

Quade held his hands before the heat as the female maneuvered what he now understood to be a vehicle down the icy roadway. Although he did not yet understand how the Jeep functioned, he would figure it out soon. Tension emanated from her, elevating his heartbeat. “If you need me to take care of an enemy, just say so.”

She looked into the mirror between them again, biting her lip. “No killing. We already discussed that.”

Most females in his time would’ve let him help. Insisted upon it, actually. “I need to find my family,” he said. How, he had no idea. Now that he was home, probably, his brothers had to be somewhere. Since Haven was unaware of immortal beings, she would not know where to look for them. However, she did understand the world. “Do you have any ideas?”

“Ideas?” Her voice rose as she turned a corner and increased their speed as they drove up an icy ramp. “Yeah. Get out of Idaho, drive through Montana, and end up in Wyoming before the Idaho police chase us down.” She lowered her chin, squinting into the swirling storm outside. “I had on my hat, so he didn’t see my hair color—that’ll make it hard to identify me. Also, snow covered most of the Jeep and my license plate, so we’re clear there.” She continued as if talking to herself. “I was wearing my light-refracting glasses, so my different-colored eyes weren’t a tip-off.”

He sighed, and the world tilted around him again. The dizziness had to disappear soon, or he would go mad. He did not like being at the female’s mercy, especially since she did not know a thing about him or his people. Plus, the mating mark on his hand, even though he could never use it, made her his duty to protect as long as he could. “I am accustomed to leading,” he murmured.

She glanced at him sideways. “Don’t like independent women, huh?”

He blinked. “Independent? Sure. But not bossy.” His hands now warm, he placed them on the sweats, which extended to his mid-calf quite nicely. “In my time, many women were leaders. Humans had a problem with that. Not us.” How could he explain his position?

“I see.” She looked him over. “The cop did get a glimpse of you, I’m afraid. After we’re out of Montana, we need to cut off that beard and most of your hair. With some conditioner, we can save most of it above your shoulders. Maybe not quite all of it.”

He would love to rid himself of the long beard. His stomach pained him. “Once we find shelter, I will hunt for supper.” The area appeared rife with deer.

“Right.” She drawled the words. “As soon as we hit Montana, I’ll go to a drive-through. Get you some food.”

Her words were so foreign he did not bother to ask for clarification. As the snow billowed down and the heat warmed his chilled body, his eyelids closed on their own accord. Hopefully when he awoke, he would be himself again and not such a lost soul. Or perhaps his soul would always be lost.

Unfortunately, the woman next to him seemed even more adrift than he in this odd new world. “Our chances for survival appear slim,” he murmured sleepily.

“Speak for yourself, buddy,” came her quick retort.

He fell asleep with the feel of a smile on his face.

* * * *

The big guy finally stirred next to her as she paid for their order. Haven blinked her eyes several times to keep herself awake, tucking the fast-food bag between them and driving back onto the Interstate. She had both lanes to herself in the storm, which suited her just fine.

He jerked fully awake. “Where are we?”

   
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