Bursting With Love

By: Melissa Foster

Twenty minutes later, the embers had burned to quarter-sized sparks of red, and Savannah had to pee. She wiped her feet and slipped them back into her socks before retrieving her shoes. She fished around for her flashlight, but in the silence of the night, every sound seemed amplified. The last thing she needed was to wake Jack and be growled at—and how could he go to sleep and leave the fire burning? She grabbed a package of wet wipes and the cell phone she wasn’t supposed to have with her and stuck it in her pocket. The flashlight app would be perfect to light her way.

Jack had been adamant about not bringing electronic instruments on the trip. The registration email had specified no cell phones, no iPods, and no radios. It’s not like I’m going to use the phone, but the flashlight? Everyone needs a flashlight in the middle of the woods, and I packed a battery powered one, but…Why am I explaining myself to…myself? She touched each tree as she passed, and when she was far enough from the camp that she was sure no one would wake up and see her squatting behind the bushes, she reached into her pocket for her phone. She heard a noise to her left and froze. She held her breath, listening intently for another sound. Her pulse raced and she remembered what Jack had said when Josie had screamed. A bear? Shit. She contemplated her options: Run back to the campsite? Scream? Turn on her flashlight app and look around?

A low growl tangled her thoughts into a tight web of fear. OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod. She took a step backward and smacked into what felt like a brick wall. Her scream was stifled by a powerful hand, and when she swung her elbow backward, her captor caught that, too.

“Do. Not. Make. A. Sound.” Jack’s voice was a deep whisper, but it was his hot breath on her ear and his hard body pressed against hers that made her pulse ratchet up another notch.

She turned toward his voice, breathing in the earthy smell of his hand. Her eyes were open so wide, they stung.

“Stay still,” he whispered in such a strong voice that it vibrated against her ear. “There’s a bobcat to your left.”

She stifled a whimper. Bobcat?

“No matter what I do, you cannot make a sound. I’m taking my hand away. Don’t make noise.”

He lowered his hand, and without it pushing against her face, her trembling turned to full-on shaking. Jack held tight to her right arm as he shifted his body between Savannah and the bobcat. Savannah grabbed hold of the back of his shirt. Her eyes finally adjusted to the dark enough to see what looked like an enormous powerful cat on the side of the hill, its shoulders pushed up below its ears, perched to attack.

Jack slid his knife from its holder on his hip and whispered, “Don’t move a muscle.”

Another low, rumbly growl replaced the silence.

Savannah was too scared to breathe, much less move. He reached behind him and pried her fingers from his back. His eyes never left the cat.

Her hands flew to her mouth. She hoped he wasn’t going to hurt it, and at the same time, she prayed he would kill it before it killed them. How the hell was he so calm when she could barely remain erect?

In one swift move, Jack lunged toward the cat with the knife leading the way. He made a loud, deep growling sound followed by a hiss. Savannah gasped a breath. She covered her ears and huddled behind him. The bobcat turned and ran up the hill, leaving another scary growl in its wake.

Savannah breathed so hard, she thought she might pass out. Jack turned and slid his knife into its sheath.

“It was a small one. You okay?” His eyebrows drew together. And as he stepped closer and reached an arm out, Savannah practically fell against him.

Tears fell instantly, and she hated herself for being such a wimp. This was not who she wanted to be in front of the guy who already thought she was too much of a city girl. Or a guy who made her stomach flip and her heart ache. She felt his body grow rigid against her, but she was too scared to break away. She couldn’t stop trembling. Or freaking crying. Damn it. She never cried, and here she was falling apart like an idiot.

SOMETIMES JACK REMINGTON forgot what it was like not to live in the wild. And, he realized as Savannah’s body shook and hiccupped with sobs against his chest, he’d also forgotten that sometimes women got scared. Even the tough ones. He put his arms around Savannah even though he knew he shouldn’t, and he told himself not to think about how soft and warm her body felt against him or how long it had been since he’d held a woman. When she nuzzled against his neck, he couldn’t help but smell the coconut aroma of her shampoo, and when his hand naturally moved up the crest of her back, pressing her breasts against his chest, the feel of her thundering heart beneath his palm loosened the leash on the sexual urges he’d so masterfully repressed. He grit his teeth and closed his eyes, trying to keep himself from touching her thick hair, but the urge was too powerful not to reach beneath those heavy, soft locks and place his hand on the back of her neck, feeling the gentle ridge of the top of her spine against his palm.

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