In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue... (10 page)

BOOK: In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue...
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When the trio didn’t respond, Gano signaled for one of the kneeling men to fire another warning shot which ricocheted off the side of the boat and into the water.

“It’ll take more than a few weak slugs to penetrate old Cordella,” Doug snickered.

Gano signaled for a third man to take a shot and as he aimed his gun, Doug fired a shot into the bone of his shin, causing him to topple over and grab his leg in pain. The other men distractedly looked over at their fallen comrade and Desmond took the opportunity to pick off the other three: one in the hip, another in the
abdomen, and the third in the kneecap. Frustrated, Gano dropped the megaphone and brandished his own weapon while a few more officers came up to the shore, some to replace the fallen positions and others to tend to the injured. Desmond fired a few more shots and then leaned against the wall of the boat when they retaliated. Meanwhile, unable to directly locate where Doug’s shots were coming from, a few more went down with hits to the legs and groin.

“Larke, I need you to do me a favor,” Desmond requested. Putting in another round of
ammunition, he jerked his head towards the front of the boat. “If you go through those doors, you’ll find where the controls are. I need you to go in, start her up, and get us as far away from these shots as possible. The boat will hold up for only so long and they have more resources than we do.”

She rose and
began moving to the front of the boat, but the sound of another shot bouncing off of the exterior sent her to the floor, frozen.

“It’s okay,” Desmond coaxed. “Stay low. Doug and I have your back. Just get to the front for me.”

She closed her eyes to block out the sounds of the bullets and began moving forward again, crawling along the floor. Even though her heart leapt out of her chest whenever a bullet resonated, she knew that if she stopped, instead of the frame of the boat, one of those bullets could possibly connect with her body.

Once she was inside the captain’s quarters, she cursed when she realized that the
only part of the vessel that she recognized was the steering wheel.

“Dammit
, Desmond.”

She began to look
around for anything else that might be familiar, and then her eye picked up a rope chain hanging from a shiny metal key stuck into a port in the boat. Crossing her fingers, she turned the key. After a few seconds, the boat sprang to life.

When he heard the boat’s engine roar, Desmond plastered himself against the wall again and glanced down at Doug. “Do you think that you can hold them off while I
shove us off?”

Doug fired a few more shots. “Of course man. This is just like the old days.” He
jerked his chin towards the cabin. “Get us out of here.”

Desmond moved swiftly to the cabin where Larke was still examining the controls. Moving around her, he slammed his fist into a red button and the boat teetered as the anchor pulled its way up into the ship. When it was finally dislodged, he pushed the boat in
to high gear and steered away from the dock. Larke sank into the captain’s chair and Desmond stood behind her, placed a hand on each shoulder, and pressed a quick kiss on the top of her head. As his adrenaline surge abated, he could still feel her quivering underneath his grip.

“I love the fact that you still spring into action even when under pressure,” he whispered against her hair. “I thought to myself not too long ago that you would have made a solid
Navy SEAL.”

Larke laughed softly and covered his hand with one
of hers. “Never. Courtroom for me all the way. I don’t have the nerves for this.”

He let her hand linger over
his for a minute before pressing another kiss atop her head, giving her shoulder a final rub, and going back out to check on Doug. He found him still on the floor on his back with his gun to his side, and his hands relaxed behind his head. The bullets ceased as they got farther out into the water, but he could still see the men at the shore.

Desmond stood in the frame of the small port window and hoped that Gano could at least see his silhouette so that he knew that he hadn’t abandoned Larke. He wanted
the man to then do his research and find whatever he could on him—his military and special forces background, his accolades, his accomplishments—then he wanted Gano to understand that getting to Larke meant getting through him, and that there was no bullet on the Earth that could pierce that deep.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

 

Even though the chaos had ended, Larke’s body was still on alert. Any quiet knock that she heard turned into the sound of a bullet hitting the side of the boat. Sometimes her imagination would stretch the event, allowing one of those bullets to penetrate the boat’s exterior and drill its way into the center of her chest, right through her heart.

Desmond and Doug were still in the other room going over documents and she was thankful to have a few moments to herself. The two had handled the incident as though it was as commonplace as taki
ng a trip to the grocery store, but for her, it was the closest to a bullet that she had ever gotten in her life. Feigning toughness was no longer an option. She wanted to plaster herself into the corner, wrap her arms around her body, whine, and beg to go home. She thought of her mother’s soft voice waking her up in the morning for school when she was eight, and her father sneaking her a sip of his “special roast” coffee when she was twelve. She wanted that sense of safety and normalcy back, where walking through DC wasn’t culminated by her ducking into a Macy’s to avoid a red dot on her skull. It was all becoming too much and she wasn’t quite sure how much more she could stand.

“Are you okay?” Desmond’s reassuring voice burst through her thoughts. Facing him, she shook her head and he came over, tilted her face up to
wards his, and flicked his thumb across her cheek to wipe away a tear that she hadn’t even realized was there. Embarrassed, she vigorously scrubbed her face.

“Tell me Larke, when was the last time someone tried to kill you?”

Her eyes widened in shock. “Minutes ago, Des.”

Spotting a stool lying against the wall, he pulled it over and sat facing her. “And how many times in your life has that happened?”

“Never.” She placed her hands over her ears. “I can still hear them, Des. The bullets. I can still hear them hitting into the side of the boat. I keep thinking that one is going to get through and hit me right in the chest. Then, I keep seeing my parents, not like they look now, but how they looked to me when I was a kid. My father’s crooked smile and my mother’s thick, curly hair. I don’t see myself as I am now, an adult with a career, I don’t see that.”

Another tear bubbled forth and before she could wipe it
away, he grabbed her hand.

“There’s nothing wrong with crying,” he reassured. “Your mind is just trying to find a happy
place, a memory from your life that will help you cope with all of this madness. It’s trying to do its best to soothe you so you don’t drive yourself crazy. It’s exactly what I’ve been through, Larke, and I don’t want you to deal with this the way I did.”

She leaned in closer to him. “And what way is that?”

“Denial,” he admitted for the first time. “After I saw my father kill my mother, I sat there with my mother’s head in my lap for eighteen minutes before the police came. I didn’t even call them. A neighbor heard the commotion and called 911. When the paramedics arrived, I was sitting there with my mother’s blood and my tears soaked all over my shirt. I don’t even remember them prying me away from her. After that day, I became something of a robot and although I made friends because of my brothers in the military, they all knew that there was a line in front of me that I’d drawn that no one, and I mean absolutely no one, was ever going to cross. I trained and focused hard in my work. I made my way up the ranks and eventually became skilled enough to work in Special Forces. It was perfect for me since I never had to have any feelings. I only had to react.”

He interweaved their fingers just like she’d done at Ivor and Eva’s.

“I opened up my agency because there was nothing else that I could see myself doing other than protecting people. What I didn’t realize was that in all the people that I’d protected, I was trying to make up for not being able to save my mother. But, I wasn’t dealing with what was going on inside. Now that I look back at my life, I realize that I have made a pretty lonely existence for myself and that’s what I want to avoid happening with you. Don’t take this traumatic experience and turn it into your focus, Larke. You’re kind and giving and accepting, and I don’t want that to ever change. Don’t become a Desmond clone.”

She
smiled at the remark.

“So what’s wrong then, with crying?” He asked, wiping another tear. “What’s wrong with being scared whe
n you’re supposed to be scared? You made the decision to trust me and followed me along every step of the way. Putting your faith into someone that you
barely
know isn’t easy. I was expecting you to fight with me or veer off to find your own path, but you didn’t. You worked with me. We formed a team. That takes courage, Larke, and that’s why you’re one of the bravest soldiers I’ve ever met.”

She sighed. Here he was, a man who’d survived a past unlike anything she had ever
personally encountered, telling her that she was brave and courageous. The compliment meant much more coming from him than he would probably ever realize. It even meant more than she’d realized.

“Thank you
,” she replied before he pulled her into his chest. She sobbed against the fabric of his tee and forced images of her parents standing over her open casket out of her head.

“Please don’t sell yourself short,
though, Des,” she spoke into his chest. “So far, you’ve beat all the odds that fate stacked against you. You channeled your anger into a service. At the end of the day, when I look at you, all I see is a man with a huge, incredible heart.”

Then she looked up at him, merely a few inches from his face
, and he realized that he wanted to kiss her. He wanted to taste the caverns of her sweet mouth again, fasten her body to his, and strip off the dress that she wore so that he could feel her skin against his. He wanted to meld their bodies together and lose himself in the heated crevices of her flesh for hours, never letting her touch get more than a few inches away from him, and draw her so close that no air could pass between them.
Closer than any other man had ever gotten before…

His thoughts died as his mind recalled that Ivor had said the same about his
father’s reaction to his mother.

“I’m going to go check on Doug and figure out what we’re going to do from this point on,” he abruptly announced, releasing her from his grasp.
While disappointed by the lost contact, Larke only watched as he disappeared through the doors. Turning back towards the controls, she basked in the few seconds of warmth his embrace always left behind before it was replaced with the cold loneliness that was certain to follow.

 

Desmond joined Doug in the main room of the boat and flopped down on the sofa. Running his hand over his face, he tried to banish the thought of him doing to Larke what his father had done to his mother. In his heart, he knew that he could never hurt anyone the way his father had, but there was no way to be sure.

Over the years, he’d managed to distance himself from any sembla
nce of a romantic relationship, and although it had been generally easy to meet women, none of them had ever crossed that line. None of them had ever gotten close enough to learn any intimate details about him.

Only this one.

His rules had consisted of no deep conversations, morning sleepovers, or any form of physical contact unless it had to do with sex. All of his “relationships” were emotionless physical interactions with women whose families he never expected to meet, and whose birthdays he never expected to remember. It wasn’t as though there’d been something wrong with them. In fact, many of the women had been decent, well-educated, and successful. However, it was the only way that he could prevent them from expecting more. Laying out those expectations in the beginning helped assuage any guilt he felt when one ended up wanting to get closer, and he shoved back in the other direction.

But Larke
had been different. He’d been drawn to her intelligence and hidden strength. The sound of her lively laughter and the curve of her lips when she smiled commanded his attention, and the slow, alluring way she blinked when looking at him had virtually hypnotized him. Eventually, he found that the more he’d learned, the more he wanted to know and unfortunately, the more he tried to push her away, the more his next action was to immediately pull her back even closer.

Dammit.

“Are you okay over there, man?” Doug asked, swiveling around to face him. “Getting a little bit woozy? Need some Dramamine? Lost your edge?”

Desmond playfully scoffed. “Lost my edge? You’re the one who’s out here living on a two-dollar dingy.”

Doug leaned back in the chair, folded his arms, and stretched long legs that almost covered the space between the two of them.

BOOK: In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue...
10.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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