For friends... do but look upon good Books: they are true friends, that will neither flatter nor dissemble.

Francis Bacon

Tác giả: Sandra Brown
Thể loại: Tiểu Thuyết
Biên tập: Bach Ly Bang
Upload bìa: Duy Phuc Nguyen
Language: English
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Cập nhật: 2015-10-22 15:11:14 +0700
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Chapter 4
hey came out of nowhere. The brush on either side of the road shifted and moved; suddenly, the truck was surrounded by guerrilla fighters who seemed to have sprouted from the trees.
Linc stamped on the brakes. They squealed as the truck skidded to a halt on the narrow gravel road. The children screamed in fright. Kerry, her screams mingling with the others, pulled little Lisa closer.
When the dust settled, everything was as motionless as a photograph. No one moved. Even the jungle birds sensed impending danger and were silent in their hideouts overhead.
The band of rebel fighters held M-16s and Uzis at their hips. The automatic weapons were, without exception, aimed at the truck and its terrified occupants. The guerrillas’ faces were young, but sinister. Some had yet to grow their first whiskers, but they had the implacable eyes of men who weren’t afraid either to kill or be killed.
From the looks of their clothing, they had been living in the jungle for a long time. What hadn’t been purposely streaked with mud for camouflage was stained with sweat and dirt and blood. Their muscles rippled. The glaring sunlight was reflected off their sweat-oiled skin. Their bodies were lean, hard, as unyielding as their menacing expressions.
Linc, having been in every war zone since Vietnam, recognized the unchanging, uncompromising expression of men who had been killing for too long. These men were inured to death. A human hie, even their own, held little value for them.
He knew better than to do anything stupid in the name of heroism. He kept both hands on the steering wheel where they could easily see them. About the only thing he, Kerry and the children had going for them was that they obviously weren’t part of El Presidente’s army. If they had been, the truck wouldn’t have been stopped, it would have been destroyed and they would be jungle fodder by now.
"Kerry," Linc called back to her, "stay where you ate. I’ll handle this. Keep the children as calm and quiet as possible. Tell the guerrillas that I’m going to open the door and get out."
She delivered Linc’s message in Spanish. There was no response from the ring of hostile faces. Linc took that to mean that there was no argument. He slowly lowered his left hand. Several of the soldiers reacted instantly.
"No, no!" Kerry shouted. Rapidly she begged them to hold their fire and explained that Senor O’Neal only wanted to talk to them.
Bravely Linc lowered his hand again and pulled on the door handle. Warily he stepped out. With his hands raised above his head, he moved away from the truck.
Kerry gasped inaudibly when one of the guerrillas lunged forward and snatched the pistol out of his belt. He was told to unholster the machete and, even though he wasn’t fluent in Spanish, he understood the threat underlying the barked order and complied without hesitation.
"We’re taking the children to a town near the border," he said in a loud, clear voice, "where there’s food and shelter for them. They’re orphans. We’re not your enemy. Let us-"
Linc’s explanation was brought to a violent halt when one of the guerrillas stepped forward and backhanded him across the mouth. His head snapped around, following the impetus behind the blow. Linc, who had mastered street fighting before he had cut all his molars, came back with his fist clenched and his teeth bared. Before he could launch a counterattack, however, the soldier punched him in the stomach. Linc went down in the dusty road. The corner of his lip was dripping blood.
Kerry vaulted over the side of the pickup and ran to where Linc was lying, clutching his bruised ribs. She ignored the automatic rifles pointed at her and faced the guerrilla.
"Por favor, senor, let us talk to you," she said hurriedly.
"I told you to stay out of this," Linc growled, coming up on one’knee. "Get back in the truck."
"And let you get beaten to death?" she hissed down at him. Swinging her long braid over her shoulder she faced the man who had hit Linc. The insignia on his beret designated him the highest ranking rebel in the group. "What Mr. O’Neal told you is true," she told him in Spanish. "We’re only taking the children to a safer place."
"You’re in a truck belonging to El Presidente." He spat in the road near her feet. Kerry held her ground and prayed that Linc would.
"That’s right. I stole it from El Presidente’s army."
One of the soldiers roughly hauled Joe out of the cab and conducted a search of it. He came back to his leader, carrying the uniform jacket and cap. The leader thrust them at Kerry accusingly.
She said, "The careless officer left them in the truck when he went inside a tavern to drink and enjoy the women." That produced a stir of resentment among the guerrillas.
"What’s going on?" Linc asked. He was standing beside her now. A thin trickle of blood was oozing down his chin, and he was subconsciously rubbing his left ribs. Otherwise he seemed unharmed. Just virulently angry.
"He asked me why we were driving an army truck. I had to explain about the uniform."
Lisa began to cry. A few of the other children were whimpering in fright. The captain of the band was getting nervous. He glanced up and down the stretch of road. He rarely exposed his men to snipers for this long.
He rattled off a series of terse commands. One of his men jumped into the cab of the truck, ordering Joe into the back with the rest of the children.
"What now?" Linc asked Kerry.
"He’s taking us to their camp."
Linc muttered a curse. "For how long?"
"I don’t know."
"What for?"
"To decide what to do with us."
With rifles at their backs, they were nudged forward. Kerry called out to the crying children, telling them that she would see them shortly. She couldn’t bear the sight of their frightened, tear-streaked faces as the truck rolled past. The commander told the soldier who was now driving the truck to take the cutoff. Apparently the camp wasn’t far away.
The soldiers slipped through the jungle soundlessly. They moved through the undergrowth without disturbing a single leaf. When Linc tried to make further conversation with Kerry," he was warned to be quiet. The command was issued so threateningly that he obeyed it, though his jaw was bunched with anger.
They reached the guerrilla camp just as the truck was driven into the clearing from the opposite side. Kerry asked permission to go to the children and it was granted. They poured over the side of the pickup, scrambling toward her, seeking reassurance.
Joe was shoved against the side of the truck along with Linc. Linc’s camera bags were heaved over the side and opened. Each piece of photographic equipment was examined.
"Tell them to get their goddamned hands off my cameras," he shouted to Kerry.
She shot him a glance that warned him to keep his voice low and his temper under control. She faced the leader. "Mr. O’Neal is a professional photographer. He takes pictures and sells them to news magazines." He seemed impressed, though still suspicious.
On a sudden inspiration, Kerry looked at Linc, where he was being held at gunpoint against the side of the truck. "Do you have a Polaroid?"
"Yeah. Sometimes I use it to set up shots, to check the lighting angles."
"And film?" He nodded.
She turned to the guerrilla, whose dark eyes were moving over her in a most disconcerting way. She ignored his blatantly sexual appraisal. "Would you like Mr. O’Neal to take a picture of you and your men? A group portrait."
She could tell instantly that the idea appealed to the guerrillas. They began joking among themselves, poking each other playfully, using their automatic weapons like toys.
The leader roared for silence, and, as quickly as the joviality commenced, it ended. They all became stock still.
"Wanna fill me in on what the hell is going on?" Linc demanded in a tightly controlled voice.
Kerry told him what she had suggested. "We might bribe our way out of this with a few photographs."
Linc glanced around at the group of hostile men. "They might get their pictures but murder us all anyway."
"Then you think of something!" she whispered tartly. "Even if we do get out alive, this is wasting precious time."
Linc looked at her with grudging respect. Most women would have dissolved into hysterics after the ambush. He knew from experience that her sharp mind could devise alternate plans as the situation called for them.
"All right. Tell the leader to line them up, call off this bozo," he said, glaring at the man who had the barrel of his M16 embedded an inch in his belly, "and let me get my camera ready."
She told the rebel what Linc had said. When she saw that he still wasn’t as keen on the idea as his men were, she spread it on thick. "Senor O’Neal is famous. A prize winner. The photographs of you and your men will appear in magazines everywhere. They will demonstrate to the world your fighting spirit and bravery."
Sullenly the guerrilla pondered what she said, then abruptly broke into a wide grin of approval. His men, who had lapsed into expectant silence, began chattering and laughing again.
"Get your camera," Kerry told Linc. "Start with a Polaroid so they can see immediate results."
Linc thoroughly enjoyed shoving aside the soldier who had been ordered to guard him. He used the heel of his hand rather more roughly than necessary and was rewarded by a scowl. He bent over his camera bag, cursing as he dusted off his expensive equipment, which had been heedlessly dropped onto the ground.
While he was loading his cameras with film, having decided that these pictures would not only be lifesaving, but profitable, too, Kerry assembled the soldiers. They stood proud and tall, showing off their Uzis like fishermen with the day’s largest catch.
"They’re ready," she told Linc.
"How are the kids?" he asked, as he peered through the viewfinder and motioned for the guerrillas to move closer together.
"Fine. Joe’s watching them." She knew now why Linc had all those web-fine lines radiating from the corners of his eyes. He squinted into cameras a lot.
"Tell them to hold still," he said. She did. "Okay, on the count of three."
"Uno, dos, tres," she counted.
The shutter clicked and the camera ejected the exposed automatic film. Kerry took it from Linc and asked, "Can you take another?" "Yep. Give them the countdown."
After several had been taken, Kerry took the Polaroid pictures to the leader. His men inched closer, looking at the snapshots until they were fully developed. Laughter broke out. Mild insults were exchanged. They were apparently pleased with the results.
While they were passing the pictures around, Linc ripped off several frames with his power driven Nikon. Some of these men, had they been born elsewhere, would be gloating over high school graduation pictures and toting baseball bats instead of machine guns. The contrast between their innocent delight over the snapshots and the grenade-decorated belts at their waists would make photographs that bore the famous Linc O’Neal stamp of excellence. His photographs were wordless editorials.
"Now, while they’re in a good mood, let’s get the hell out of here," he told Kerry beneath his breath. "You do the negotiating, since you seem to be so good at it."
Kerry didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult, but she didn’t dwell on it. They needed to be on their way as quickly as possible. Every hour counted. They had only two more days to make it to the border in time. Traveling with the children was slow. They hadn’t covered nearly as much ground as they should have, though Linc had been driving them relentlessly.
Kerry tentatively approached the band of guerrillas. As unobtrusively as possible, she got the leader’s attention. "May we leave now?"
As though a switch had turned them off, the soldiers fell silent. They all watched their leader closely, gauging his reaction and anticipating his decision.
The opinion of his men was important to him. He wanted them to hold him in the highest esteem and wouldn’t dare lose face in front of them. Knowing this, Kerry pleaded her case.
"You are brave fighters. It doesn’t take much courage to terrorize children. El Presidente’s men are the cowards who make war on women and children, not soldiers like you." She made a gesture that encompassed the entire group.
"Would you butcher helpless children? I don’t believe you would because you fight for liberty, for life. You’ve all left behind children of your own, or brothers and sisters. These could be your children." She nodded toward the truck where the children were huddled. "Help me. Let me move them to a safer place, away from the fighting."
The leader focused on the children. Kerry thought she discerned a flicker of compassion, or an emotion very near to it, in the man’s impenetrable eyes. Then he looked at Linc and his expression became hostile again.
"Are you his woman?" he asked Kerry, hitching his chin toward Linc.
Kerry glanced at Linc over her shoulder. "I – "
"What’d he ask you?" Linc didn’t like the look on the rebel’s face.
She met his burning gaze across the clearing. "He asked if I was your… woman."
"Tell him no."
"No? But if he thinks-"
"He’ll use you to get to me. Tell him no, damnit!"
She faced the commander again. "No. I’m not his woman."
He stared at her with cold calculation. Then, in a move that dismayed Kerry, he began to smile. The smile broke slowly across his dark, foreboding face and grew into laughter. Soon he and all his men were laughing at something only they understood and found amusing.
"Yes, you may go," he told her in Spanish.
She looked at her feet in an attitude of humble appreciation. "Gracias, sehor."
"But first I want your man to take my picture again."
"He’s not my man."
"You lie, "he said softly.
Kerry shuddered at the triumphant gleam in his eyes. "No. He’s not… he’s not anything to me. I only hired Mr. O’Neal to help me get the children to safety."
"Ah," he said expansively, "then he won’t mind if I have my picture taken with you."
She met his gloating sneer with an expression of astonishment and fear. "With me?"
Several of his men grunted their approval and congratulated him on his shrewdness with hearty slaps on the back.
"What the hell is going on?" Linc, standing with his hands on his hips, was demanding an answer from her as she slowly turned around.
"He wants his picture made."
"So move out of the way and I’ll take one."
"With me. He wants his picture made with me." Her gaze skittered up to Linc’s. His face looked as dangerous as any belonging to the men who were crowding behind her. He cast a malevolent look toward the leader.
"Tell the bastard to go to hell."
She smiled a wavering smile of gratitude. She was afraid Linc might have considered it expedient for her to have her picture taken with this animal. Proudly she turned and walked back to the leader. His eyes, directed toward Linc, were filled with malice. He reached for Kerry, encircled her wrist in a grip as hard as iron, and yanked her toward him.
"Let me go!" She wrestled out of his grip. Several machine guns were snapped into readiness, but she kept her chin up. Her expression was one of haughty contempt. "I won’t have my picture made with you."
"Then your man will die," the fighter warned sibilantly.
"I don’t believe so. You’re not a cold-blooded murderer." She rather suspected that he was, but knew that wasn’t the image he wanted to project to the free countries of the world.
Joe ordered the children, some of whom were crying, to stay where they were. He moved to Linc’s side. The leader ordered two of his men to watch them. The rest of the soldiers scattered around the clearing. All of them kept their guns trained on the photographer and the adolescent boy, whose face was working with fury.
The guerrilla leader laughed nastily and wrapped his large hand around Kerry’s neck. She kept her posture stiff, her body unbending. "Take your hands off me." He only drew her closer.
"Damn him," Linc snarled from behind her. "Let her go!" he shouted to the commander.
"Why are you being so stubborn, gringa?" the rebel asked in a lulling voice. "You deprive yourself of much pleasure."
Suddenly, Joe burst into the open. He was tripped by a booted foot and went sprawling in the dirt. The soldiers laughed, none louder than the leader. The guerrilla who had tripped him, put the barrel of his automatic rifle at the base of Joe’s skull and ordered him not to move.
"Oh, God," Kerry breathed. Was her stand against the whims of the rebel going to cost Joe his life? She vacillated.
"Tell him you’re a nun," Linc said.
"You read the newspapers, Linc."
Right. He did. Churchmen and women were no longer spared bloody deaths. Indeed, they were sometimes the targeted victims of the cruelest executions.
The leader took hold of Kerry’s long braid and began winding it around his meaty fist.
Linc lunged across the clearing. A rifle butt was slammed into his middle. He went down with a grunt of pain, but came up fighting.
"Linc, no!" Kerry cried as she spun around to see what was happening.
The leader pulled a pistol from the holster at his hip. He took quick aim on Linc.
Kerry grabbed his arm. "Por favor, no."
"Is he your man?"
She stared into his obsidian eyes, knowing that what he had wanted most to do was frighten and humiliate them. "Yes," she declared defiantly. "Yes, yes, he is. Please don’t kill him." Again and again she repeated the imploring words. Finally the guerrilla lowered the pistol to his side. He issued orders sharply and quickly.
Kerry rushed to Linc’s side and assisted him to stand upright. "Hurry. He said we could go."
Wincing, holding one arm across his middle, Linc glared at the leader. He wanted to pound that arrogant face to a pulp, and if it weren’t for Kerry and the children, he’d risk his life to do it. But she was tugging on his sleeve and pleading with him to get into the truck. Knowing that he was doing the wise thing, if not the thing he wanted to do, Linc turned away from the open challenge in the guerrilla’s eyes.
He gathered his cameras and film rapidly as Kerry herded the children into the back of the pickup. Bravely, she pushed aside the soldier who was holding the gun on Joe and helped the boy to his feet. The glower he gave the leader was as malevolent as Linc’s.
"Please, Joe, get inside the truck," Kerry said. "I’m fine and we’re all alive. Let’s go."
She stepped into the back of the pickup and gathered the smaller children against her. Linc came to the end of the truck. "I need my pistol and machete." She asked the leader if he would return them.
"Tell your man to get in the truck and close the door."
Kerry relayed the order to Linc. He grudgingly carried it out. The guerrilla swaggered over to the truck and laid the machete at Kerry’s feet. "I am no fool. I will not return the gun."
Kerry passed along the message to Linc. He seemed inclined to argue, but changed his mind. He engaged the gears and drove the truck out of the clearing. Following the winding track through the jungle, they soon reached the road.
Before pulling onto it, he braked and stepped out of the cab. "I know it will he hotter than hell, but pull that tarp over you. We’re not going to take any more chances."
He helped spread the canvas covering over the group of huddled children and gave Kerry a piercing look.
"Did he hurt you?"
"I’m fine," she said gruffly, lowering her gaze from that incisive, golden one.
He pulled the tarp over her. Moments later she heard the door closing. The truck wheezed into motion.
"What do you think?" Kerry asked in a low voice.
"It looks deserted."
At the edge of the jungle, they had been watching the sugar plantation house for several minutes. There had been no sign of movement.
"It would be wonderful to spend the night under a roof."
Linc glanced down at Kerry. When he had finally stopped the truck – having accidentally spotted the roof of the vacated plantation house – and peeled back the tarp, she and the children had looked like a wilted bouquet. Some of the children had fallen asleep against Kerry, burdening her even more. But not a single complaint had been forthcoming. Her endurance seemed unflagging. But now he saw the traces of weariness around her eyes and mouth.
"You stay here. I’ll take Joe and scout around."
They were back in ten minutes. "It doesn’t look like there’s been anyone here in a long time. I think it will be all right. Do you want to ride or walk?" he asked her, getting behind the steering wheel of the truck.
"I think we’ve all had enough of the truck for today. The children and I will walk."
She escorted the children across the sprawling yard of what must have been a lovely estate. It, however, like everything in the Central American country, had suffered the ravages of war. The white stucco walls were scarred and pockmarked with bullet holes. Vines had flourished to a fault. They had choked to death the other plants growing beneath the wide veranda, which now sagged in disrepair. Most of the windows had been broken out. The front door was missing.
But the large rooms had been shaded from the merciless sun and offered a welcome coolness that felt wonderful to Kerry and the children after having spent silent, sweltering hours beneath the tarpaulin in the back of the truck.
There was no electricity or gas in the kitchen, and Linc vetoed the idea of building a fire, so their supper consisted of cold beans straight from the can and sliced Spam. Luckily, even though the pipes were rusty, the water that came out of them was cool. Kerry bathed the children’s faces and hands and put them on pallets in one of the well ventilated rooms.
From his lookout post at one of the wide front windows, Linc watched her as she moved among the children. She patiently listened to their lengthy prayers and told them of all the glorious things that awaited them in the United States.
The moon had come up over the tops of the trees and shone onto her hair through the windows. Earlier she had unraveled her braid and combed through it with her fingers. Now her hair shimmered like a skein of black silk over her shoulders and back, catching the silver moonlight on every strand, as she moved from one pallet to another. She lifted Lisa onto her lap, kissed the top of her dark, glossy head, and rocked her gently as she softly hummed a lullaby.
Linc wished to heaven he had a cigarette, anything in fact, to distract him. Even when he wasn’t looking at Kerry, he was aware of her every movement. And, curse him, he felt twinges of jealousy that it wasn’t his head cushioned on her breasts.
He would surely be damned. He deserved to be. Because even now, knowing that she was chaste, he was hard and hot with the desire to be inside her. He wanted to touch her again. But not in the same way. He didn’t want to subject her to his caresses. He wanted to treat her to them. He didn’t want her humiliated and tearful beneath his hands. He didn’t want her still and unmoving with defiance and disgust. He wanted her responsive and receptive, moaning with pleasure.
God, what was the matter with him? His thoughts were no purer than those the guerrilla fighter had no doubt been thinking. He didn’t want to consider himself on that low a level, but apparently that’s where he belonged. He was going to hell for what he was thinking, but he couldn’t for the life of him stop thinking it.
He had been without a woman too long, that’s all. But he’d been without women for long stretches of time before and had survived. He hadn’t ever been consumed with the thought of having a woman as he was now. And his desires had been focused on the female sex in general, not a single member of that group.
Never before had he been unable to concentrate on anything except his feverish, thick, aching sex, which embarrassingly strained the front of his pants at inconvenient and unexpected times, like when Kerry had turned to him with a cup of water between her hands – giving him a drink before taking one herself, bearing it like a peace offering, proffering it with a silent thank-you in her deep blue eyes.
He was angry with himself for seeing her as a desirable woman and not as what she was. His anger sought an outlet. There was no dog to kick, no missed nailhead to curse. His only scapegoat proved to be the woman who was responsible for making him act and think like a goddamned fool.
"They’re all asleep," Kerry said softly as she moved toward the window.
Linc was sitting on the sill, one knee raised to ease the pressure in his groin. Kerry seemed oblivious to his black mood, oblivious to everything but the unspoiled beauty of the night. She drew a deep breath, unaware that it made her breasts lift and swell and push against her shirt until their shape was emphasized for the man who couldn’t keep his eyes off them to save his soul.
"Why didn’t you tell him right away that you were a nun?"
She looked at him quizzically, surprised by the harsh question. "I didn’t think it would do any good."
"It might have."
"It might have also turned his attention to one of the girls."
Unspeakably vile things like that happened in time of war. Men would do things they ordinarily would find abhorrent. Linc couldn’t argue the point with her. He knew she was right. But an inner demon was compelling him to hurt her, to make her suffer as he was suffering.
"I just don’t get you, lady. You make out like a saint, but you seem to enjoy using that body and face of yours to drive a man crazy. I ought to know."
He slid from the window sill and loomed over her. "Is that how you religious types get your kicks? Is that part of the convent training? Flirting, but never coming across? Promising, but never fulfilling?"
"That’s disgusting, even coming from someone as low as you. I became an unwilling pawn between you and that ape in a stupid masculine contest of wills. I stood up to him, which apparently earned his respect. Then I begged him to keep you alive."
What she said had merit, making him all the madder. "Don’t do me any more favors, okay? Or were you enjoying the attention so much it didn’t even seem like a favor?"
"I put up with his lewd flirtation because I had to. Just as I did with.vow."
"And both times you sacrificed yourself for the children’s sake," he sneered.
"That’s a hoot."
"I’m not surprised you don’t understand. You’ve never thought of anybody but yourself. You’ve never loved anybody but Lincoln O’Neal."
His hands shot out, grabbed her by the shoulders, and jerked her up against him.
Joe instantly materialized out of the darkness. His liquid eyes glittered in the moonlight. They were murderously focused on Linc.
Linc cursed, released Kerry, and turned away. He was angrier at himself than at either of them. He was the one behaving like a madman. "I’m going to take a look around. Stay here." He stalked out, wielding his machete as though he would welcome something to slash into.
Kerry watched his tall shadow blend into the others on the far side of the yard. Joe worriedly whispered her name. She laid a reassuring hand on his arm and smiled halfheartedly. "I’m all right, Joe. Don’t worry about Senor O’Neal. He’s just edgy."
The boy didn’t look convinced. Kerry wasn’t convinced herself. It was a mystery to her why Linc was so angry. Why did their conversation always end in a shouting match? They swapped nasty insults like petulant children. The horrible episode with the guerrillas should have drawn them closer together, created a bond, instead it had wedged them further apart. In a very real sense they had saved each other’s life today, yet to hear them, one would think they were bitter adversaries. Her feelings toward him were ambivalent. She needed time and space to think them through. "I’m going to take a walk outside, Joe." "But he said to stay here."
"I know what he said, but I need some air. I won’t go far. Keep an eye on the children for me."
Joe wouldn’t deny her request. Kerry knew she was taking unfair advantage of that as she left him standing watch over the sleeping children. She slipped through the dark rooms of the plantation house and, wanting to avoid Linc, exited through a screened porch at the back of it.
The stones of what had once been a terrace were broken and crumbling. Grass was growing up through the cracks. Kerry wondered how many parties had been held there. What had happened to the people who had enjoyed a gracious life-style there? They had obviously been affluent. Had they exploited the land and the laborers, as the propaganda posters proclaimed?
And Kerry Bishop wondered if she had ever met the owners of the house. In that previous lifetime, had she been introduced to them in a gracious salon while wearing a designer dress and nibbling on canapes?
She pushed that disturbing thought aside and strolled down a weeded path. The evening was blissfully cool. She followed the path through the formal garden and beyond. The sound of running water attracted her attention. She almost stepped into the flowing stream before she saw it. It was an uncovered treasure. In the moonlight, it looked as sparkly and bubbly as champagne.
She hesitated only a moment before sitting down on its rock-strewn bank and unlacing her boots. Seconds later, she was standing in swirling, cooling water up to her knees. It felt delightful. Reluctant to leave it for even a second, she stepped back onto the rocks and unfastened her khaki pants. When she went into the water the second time, she was wearing only her shirt and panties.
She submerged herself in the natural whirlpool. The gurgling water washed her gritty, sun-baked skin, which was salty and itching with dried sweat. The swift current worked like massaging fingers to rid her muscles of their fatigue and tension. She ducked her head and let the water close over her scalp and flow through her dusty hair.
Her bath would have been divine had Linc’s words not come echoing back to her. How could he possibly think that she had enjoyed the guerrilla soldier’s attention? Strange, that while the guerrilla’s touch had repulsed her, Linc’s caresses hadn’t. Originally she had been just as frightened of him, mistaking him for a man as bloodthirsty as the ones they had encountered that day. But she’d never been revolted by his touch. Disturbed, yes. Aroused, yes. But never had she found his kisses repulsive. And should he ever kiss her again –
She never got to complete the thought.
An arm closed around her midriff just beneath her breasts and hauled her out of the stream. Before she could utter a single sound, a hand was clamped over her open mouth.
The Devil's Own The Devil's Own - Sandra Brown The Devil