Cole listened to the soft sounds of her breathing, wondering how he’d allowed himself to get into this situation. He was not a cuddler. Yet there he was, his arm numb and asleep where it rested under Savannah’s cheek. She had no problem staking her claim and getting comfortable in his bed, even if that meant using his various body parts as a pillow. Her favorites seemed to be his chest or shoulder. Though right now, his bicep was a close third.
He didn’t want to move her, didn’t want to rouse her from sleep. He’d promised her she’d be okay and found himself unable to break that promise in any form. If she needed to be close to another warm body while she slept, what hardship was it for him? Other than the awkward erection and numb arm—he’d live. She sighed contentedly and rolled in closer, throwing one leg over his hip which did nothing to help the blood flow racing south.
He knew if he crossed that physical boundary with Savannah he wouldn’t be the gentle lover she deserved. The overwhelming feeling of want she stirred within him wouldn’t allow for that. He’d f**k her hard and fast. And since he was pretty sure she was still a virgin, she deserved someone who would be careful, soft, and take his time. Another reason why he wasn’t the man for the job. Cole shifted her knee to relieve the pressure of her warm thigh against his groin and tried to relax.
During times like this his mind often wandered and he couldn’t help but remember the first time he’d laid eyes on her. She’d been a startled little thing, huddled in the corner, watching him with wide eyes. Even then she’d roused in him all kinds of protective instincts, made the alpha male inside him come out in a big way. And if his current cuddling status was any indication, she still did. He tightened his grip around her unconsciously drawing her nearer. Even if he couldn’t act on the desire he felt for the woman in his bed, he sure as f**k wouldn’t let anyone hurt her.
Savannah squirmed in her sleep, murmuring lightly. He brought his free hand to her hair, sweeping the tousled strands from her forehead to quiet her. She was too vulnerable, too damaged, which was exactly why he needed to stop thinking with his dick. Pronto.
What a cluster f**k. Cole had seen some messed up things in his day, but the scene before him took the cake.
A stream of people fled through the front doors and others jumped from the first floor windows of the large grey compound. Then again, what had he expected when his squad gassed the place?
After waiting for the fumes to clear, and most of the bodies to filter out, he ran toward the building, rain pelting his jacket. He ducked through the door and removed his gas mask taking a tentative breath to test the air around him. There was only a slight tingle in his throat. It would do. He didn’t plan on hanging out in the front area where the canister had crashed through the window anyway. His goal was to seek out the back rooms and find anyone still lingering inside. And bonus points if he found the cult’s leader, Jacob, before his commander did. If Jacob was guilty of even half the crimes they had him on, Cole wouldn’t mind punching the guy square in the jaw.
Jacob was a certified whackjob. He claimed to be a spiritual healer, and had about forty people swallowing his bullshit. When the FBI learned this morning of his plans to lead his followers in a suicide mission, they’d moved fast, warrant be damned. So far, it appeared they’d made it in time.
Cole adjusted the strap of his rifle and treaded along the hallway. He turned the corner, the lighting dim from the lack of windows, and listened for any sounds. Dead silence. Hearing nothing to indicate a threat, he entered the room on his right.
A young woman was huddled in the corner of the bedroom. She sat slumped against the wall, knees hugged to her chest. Her breath came in quick shallow gasps.
For a long second, Cole couldn’t move, couldn’t think. Something about this woman captivated his attention. Eyes, the color of emeralds, stared up at him in fear and confusion. Trembling hands hugged her legs tight to her chest. Unshed tears burned in that brilliant green gaze.
Snapping out of his daze, Cole stepped closer. The woman flinched and shrank back against the wall. She was shaking uncontrollably but her eyes followed his movements. He scanned the bedroom, checking for other victims or threats, but found only several bunk beds, clothes strewn across the floor, and a crib in the corner. Once the room was secure, Cole lowered his gun.
Procedure dictated he shout his command before taking action. But his gut told him a different tactic might be required.
“What’s your name?” he asked, gazing down at her petite form.
“S-Savannah,” she stammered, her voice raspy.
He pulled in a deep lungful of air and crossed the room, his boots thudding against the tiled floor. She pressed back hard against the wall, watching him approach. He slung the rifle’s strap over his shoulder, letting the weapon hang free and lifted his hands—palms out, fingers splayed—facing her. “It’s okay. I’m here to help.”
She watched him with wide eyes that held a flicker of curiosity. Though she remained hunkered down, she lifted her chin as he approached.
He considered helping her up, but he instinctively knew her hands would remain tightly locked in her lap.
He had two choices: pick her up and carry her out, or win over her trust. Trust took time. Making a split second decision, he crouched down and lifted her, securing one arm behind her knees, the other around her waist. A startled gasp escaped her throat, but as soon as Savannah was in his arms her body relaxed. She rested her head against his shoulder and let out a deep sigh, as if she’d been carrying around some great burden and was suddenly free now that she was in his arms. She laced her fingers behind his neck and buried her face in his chest, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Momentarily stunned by her warm body wrapped around his, it took him a moment to get his feet moving.