Authors: Kay Hooper
|Random House Publishing Group (2011)|
New York Times
bestselling author Kay Hooper comes a classic love story about a man who lives by his own strict code--and the headstrong woman who's determined to crack it.
When car trouble leaves her stranded in a deserted corner of the Rockies, love is the last thing on Teddy Tyler's mind. But there's no denying the attraction that grips her the minute she lays eyes on Zach Steele, a rugged security expert staking out a gang of gunrunners in a remote mountain cabin. Zach has survived this long by adhering to a few simple principles: Travel light, travel fast, and travel alone. Now, to keep from blowing his cover, he must hold Teddy hostage for a week--if, that is, he can keep at bay his own simmering feelings for her.
Teddy’s not that easily confined, especially when her man’s in danger. So
when a simple surveillance job turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, she
must convince the original lone wolf to let her help—or see their chance at love
fall prey to one of Zach’s deadliest enemies.
BANTAM BOOKS BY KAY HOOPER
THE BISHOP TRILOGIES
Stealing Shadows • Hiding in the Shadows
Out of the Shadows
Touching Evil • Whisper of Evil
Sense of Evil
Hunting Fear • Chill of Fear
Sleeping with Fear
Blood Dreams • Blood Sins • Blood Ties
THE QUINN NOVELS
Once a Thief • Always a Thief
Amanda • After Caroline
Finding Laura • Haunting Rachel
CLASSIC FANTASY AND ROMANCE
On Wings of Magic • The Wizard of Seattle
My Guardian Angel
Yours 2 Keep
Golden Threads • Something Different
Pepper’s Way • C.J.’s Fate
The Haunting of Josie • Illegal Possession
If There Be Dragons • Rebel Waltz
Larger than Life • Time After Time
In Serena’s Web • Raven on the Wing
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1987 by Kay Hooper
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and the rooster colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Originally published in paperback in the United States by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc., in 1987.
Cover art: Scott Biel
Cover photograph of house: Sanna Pudas/Flickr/Getty Images
“Now this is the Law of the Jungle—
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.”
Tyler realized she’d made a mistake. Not a big one, really, except that it now looked as though she’d landed herself in a first-class
. She was miles away from civilization, it was after midnight, and her beloved old Impala had just given up the ghost.
Swearing, Teddy got out of the car and slammed the door, annoyed at herself rather than the Impala. She’d been warned, after all, that the car probably wouldn’t be able to stand the trip across the Rockies. And the poor
thing had groaned and wheezed when she’d started the engine hours ago in that little town.
“So what if their only hotel was a crummy one?” she told the car in disgust. “At least it had a roof. And there was a telephone. I could have put you in for repairs in that garage for a couple of days. I
have. Then we wouldn’t be stuck halfway down a mountain and miles from everything.” She glanced around at total darkness, adding a bit louder, “And on a deserted road, dammit. Except for us, there’s been no traffic for fifty miles.”
Dispiritedly, she kicked a tire gently and began to swear in a steady voice. It made her feel better. Her voice was a rational sound in the utter quiet of a deserted night, and comforting for that reason.
Teddy was accustomed to being alone, but she didn’t like being
alone. And since panic was alien to her nature, she began to get angrier.
“There must be somebody in this godforsaken wilderness. Maybe if I blew the horn—”
There was somebody in the wilderness.
When he reached out, the last thing Zach expected to gather to his massive chest was a small, soft, decidedly feminine armful with a fine talent for creative cursing and great survival instincts. He’d heard a woman speak, but she’d sounded
somehow, and it was too dark to see clearly.
He clamped one big hand over her mouth, cutting off the loud and colorful swearing, and tried not to hurt her while also trying to protect vulnerable parts of his anatomy from her rage.
“Hold it!” he growled hastily. “I’m not going to hurt you!”
She chose not to believe him. She also chose to bring her small, booted heel down squarely on his left foot, and since he wasn’t wearing boots himself, the contact was definitely painful. She also bit him.
“Dammit!” He grunted with pain, shifting his feet and momentarily releasing her mouth.
“Let go of me, you big oaf!” she said, then drew a deep breath.
Since he couldn’t afford to let her scream, Zach covered her mouth again. Her response was a series of indignant kicks and a few violent and improbable wiggles. A bit indignant himself, he lifted her completely off her feet and tightened his grasp with the care of a large and powerful man who knew his own vast strength to the last ounce; he was still hoping he wouldn’t hurt her.
Speaking in a soft voice near her ear, he said, “I’ll uncover your mouth if you won’t scream—and if you do scream, I swear I’ll deck a woman for the first time in my life!”
She bit him again.
Hampered by having to hold her and desperately determined that she make no sound, Zach briefly considered his options. They weren’t promising. The last thing he wanted to do was knock her out. She was reacting fairly reasonably to her situation as she saw it, and had done nothing to deserve a forced nap. Besides,
if Zach had any soft spot at all, it was for little women with more courage and temper than sense. Like her.
hurt you,” he repeated, switching to a soothing tone and managing to set her on her feet just long enough to pull a handkerchief from his pocket. Before she could start kicking again, he distracted her by removing his hand from her mouth and quickly replacing it with the handkerchief. He had her gagged in just a few seconds and had her back off her feet before she could give vent to her renewed rage.
The sounds she made now were muffled and unintelligible, which was all he could hope for; he was silently praying the noises reached no more than a few yards in any direction. He had to work quickly and quietly, and his mind was racing over those few options.
He couldn’t let her go even if he could get the car running again. In her mood, she was sure to drive straight to the nearest town—a scant ten miles away—and report her encounter with a murderous fiend on the roadside.
Even if he could explain his behavior, which he couldn’t, he didn’t dare attract attention. He couldn’t tie her up and leave her in the car; if anyone found her, it would likely be the wrong people. And if he kept her with him, she was sure as hell going to prove a royal pain in the rear—whether or not he could convince her he was on the side of the angels.
Swearing softly and being unconsciously fierce about it, Zach finally managed to wrestle her over to a slender tree and used his belt to bind her wrists together behind it. Then, ignoring the blue-tinted noises coming from behind the gag, he approached the car and used his pencil flashlight to check it out. The rusting Impala was over twenty years old; it didn’t take Zach five minutes to realize the car had died and that its resurrection depended on nothing less than a new engine.
He stood beside it for a moment, gazing thoughtfully in the dark down the straight stretch of road. Finally, with a philosophical
shrug, he reached inside and got the keys. The unlocked trunk revealed a couple of swollen suitcases, which he retrieved and put by the side of the road. Then he got in and methodically went through the car, gathering every shred of paper he could find and stuffing them into the pocket of his flannel jacket.
There was a large leather handbag inside, as well as a thermos and a tote bag filled with various snacks, and he put those by the side of the road. Just to be sure, he also searched beneath the seats and under the floor mats. He found a roll of electrician’s tape in the glove compartment and used that to lock the steering wheel in place, then knocked the car out of gear and released the emergency brake.
He got out and went around to the rear of the car, standing still for a long moment as he listened. Sound carried in the mountains, and he knew he’d hear if another car was within miles. There was no sound. Bending, he pushed hard, his considerable muscles bunching with the effort. The car began rolling, and thirty seconds
later Zach watched the last faint glint of it disappear silently into the darkness.
This stretch of road ended, he knew, in a gentle curve overlooking a small lake. The car wouldn’t make the turn. Several minutes passed before Zach heard the distant splash of something heavy finishing off a high dive into the lake in grand style.
A muffled wail came from behind him, and Zach sighed as he loaded up the woman’s stuff and carried it into the woods. It didn’t take long to get the bags to his place. Minutes later, he was back at the tree, gazing at her. Despite highly developed night vision, he couldn’t see much, but judging by her movements, the lady was still furious.
He couldn’t really blame her.
He was more worried at the moment, however, by their proximity to the house. He glanced in that direction, relieved to find no light shining through the trees. With any luck at all, he decided, they hadn’t made enough commotion to attract attention.