David heard the tell-tale hum of a transport beam a split second before the circle of light appeared in the center of the clearing. Liv’s sharp intake of breath provided the soundtrack for his anticipation.
“Is that what I think it is?” Her voice caressed his ear as she leaned over his shoulder. He nodded in response, eyes glued to the landing spot. Two people materialized in the circle.
“Friend or foe?”
“Foe.” He didn’t recognize the smaller of the two, a spindly man with a shock of dark hair and the unmistakably arrogant carriage of a military leader. His jaw tightened at the thought. The fact that the rebel alliance touted themselves as soldiers of the righteous cause pissed him off to no end. His family had fought in the Great War, fathers and mothers alike. They’d put their lives on the line to keep the peace and save what was left of their civilization. Everything that the alliance had tried to destroy, all for the sake of power. And none of them was more ambitious than the other man standing one hundred yards from his clenching fists.
David may have growled.
“You know them?”
“The big one is Taryn Thar.”
“He has Mazie?” An iron edge crept into her voice that had David’s chest swelling with pride. She was a warrior, his Liv. Even if she didn’t know it.
“I wasn’t sure until now.”
“She’s just a little girl.”
“Doesn’t matter to them.”
Like all Thars, Taryn had never let anything like morals stand in his way. Towering to almost seven feet, and half as broad, Taryn was built for battle. Even now his hand hovered over the pistol at his side. Expectant. David’s eyes scanned the area for more activity. Where was Mazie? If they’d done anything to her, anything at all, he’d kill them without hesitation. Liv’s hand slid over his bicep, sending his blood racing away from his brain.
“She’s okay, David. They need her, right?”
As many times as David had fantasized about having Liv – Olivia – this close again, it was proving to be a distraction. The scorching chemistry between them, enhanced by their shared ancestry, acted as fuel to the flames of their rekindled attraction. That kiss, brief as it was, had seared him.
“Right. You’re right.” He dared a glance at her full mouth. Heat radiated in the small space that separated their bodies as they hid in the shadow of a large oak. The low hanging branches provided the perfect cover for seeing while not being seen. He pressed closer to the thick trunk. Liv hovered close behind him.
Every inch of David was aware of every inch of her.
Her elevated heartbeat, her shallow breaths, even the slightly floral-scented perspiration on her fine skin. There was fear, yes, anger too. But also desire. He fought a similar war.
He had Liv.
In the dark, on Spencer Hill, she clung to him. It was his high school fantasy realized, and his body responded to the conjured memories of their time together. Before everything had gone off the rails. He wanted to explain more about her origins. About them. Really needed to, and she deserved nothing less. He’d thought he had time. But now she was in the deep end with him, without preamble. And yet she’d come along, no questions asked, as he knew she would. Yeah, he had Liv.
And the rebels had Mazie.
Every fiber of his being wanted to charge into the clearing and rip to shreds anyone that had laid a hand on his precious girl. Cowards.
A cylindrical object appeared at the top of the beam and descended slowly toward the men below. Taryn’s eyes darted between the cylinder and the horizon. They swept over their hiding space. David tensed, but Taryn’s eyes never paused. Liv exhaled behind him, long and slow. When the object reached the ground, Liv gasped behind her hand.
There, encased in four feet of crystal-clear glass, like Snow White, was his daughter. Only the hand gripping his arm stopped him from rushing the clearing.
“Wait. Look.” Liv pointed toward Mazie’s reclined form.
“She’s still breathing,” Liv whispered. “She’s alive.”
Sure enough, David could make out the steady rise and fall of Mazie’s little chest. His heart clenched. They’d likely drugged her, the bastards.
Oh yeah. He was going to kill them.
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