Bursting With Love

By: Melissa Foster

He planted his boot-clad feet in the dirt and opened his arms. “Welcome to survivor camp. You’ll notice that there is no formal name for my program, and that’s because emergencies don’t come packaged neat and tidy with cute little names. We’re preparing for survival. I’ve spoken to each of—”

“I’m sorry. The landing was a little nerve-rack—”

The woman from the airport made her way around the plane, cutting him off midsentence. As she flashed a broad smile at the others, he remembered her name. Savannah. Savannah Braden.

She glanced at Jack, and their eyes caught. Her smile faded; her green eyes narrowed. She was taller, curvier, and even more beautiful than he’d realized when he’d run into her at the airport.

Jack clenched his jaw. He cleared his throat and looked away, then continued.

“I’m Jack Remington, and I live on this land.” His eyes drifted toward Savannah and he paused, then looked away and began again. “I served eight years as a Special Forces officer with the United States Army. I can get you in and out of here alive if you listen and work together. Let’s keep the land clean and the attitudes friendly.”

His eyes swept over Savannah in one quick breath—a breath that carried hope rather than the breath that had carried the pain of loss when he’d left his home earlier that morning. She was tall and slim with auburn hair and killer breasts. Too fucking pretty. It took all his focus not to stare, and out of his peripheral vision, he watched her brush dirt from her jeans. He allowed his eyes to follow her hands as they stroked her lean thighs, and when she glanced up, he dropped his eyes to the ground. Cowgirl boots? He shifted his gaze back to the rest of the group, silently chiding himself for looking at her in the first place. How the hell was he going to keep himself from looking at that gorgeous face and killer body? Fuck. I must be losing my mind.

“Let’s get your bags. Then we’re going to hike up the mountain to base camp. If you need to go to the bathroom, the forest is your toilet.” He ran his eyes across the group, stopping short of Savannah to avoid getting lost in hers again.

“Cool,” Aiden said.

“I think so.” Jack smiled at the wide-eyed boy. “I assume you all met on the plane? Got to know one another?”

“Yes, we introduced ourselves.” Lou pushed a wayward dreadlock from his shoulder. “Well, most of us, anyway.” He shot a look at Pratt.

Pratt stood with his hands in his jeans pockets, looking away from the group. Damn it. Another prick. Even as the words ran through his mind, he knew he shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Some people would consider Jack a jerk, too, and they’d be right. Some broken men were assholes, and that’s just the way it was. He made a mental note to try to talk to Pratt, but for now, he had to nip this shit in the bud.

He narrowed his gaze and spoke in his favorite cold voice—the one he usually reserved for beautiful women. He didn’t have time for them any more than he had time for a kid with a bad attitude.

“See those woods behind me?” He turned sideways, as if clearing a path for Pratt’s eyes to follow—which they didn’t. “There are bears, snakes, poisonous plants, and all sorts of scary shit out there. You may find yourself in need of someone’s help, and if you’re a di—unkind—to the group, no one’s gonna rescue you.” He crossed his arms. “I suggest you introduce yourself.”

Elizabeth and Lou exchanged a guarded glance. Then they each put a hand on Aiden’s shoulder.

Jack hadn’t caught his poor choice of words quickly enough. He knew he was being harsh, but bad attitudes caused accidents, and there was no room for accidents in his camp.

Pratt clenched his jaw and held Jack’s stare. His tall, lanky body was no match for six-four, two-hundred-thirty-pound Jack Remington, but the hurt and anger in Pratt’s eyes looked familiar, and Jack knew he wasn’t contemplating anything physical. A spear of guilt ran through him. There was no turning back now. He’d taken a hard line, and backing down would leave him in a position of lesser authority.

Savannah touched Pratt’s shoulder. She narrowed her beautiful green eyes and set them on Jack. Her smile remained on her lips, but behind the facade, he saw a challenge. His pulse sped up.

“Why don’t we just call him John for now?” she suggested in a firm, nonnegotiable tone.

What the hell are you doing and why? As he pondered her motives, he couldn’t help but notice the way her jeans clung to her lean legs and curved over her hips, then dipped in at the waist. And the damned tank top she wore was now spotted with perspiration and clinging to her breasts.

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