Read Two Alone Online

Authors: Sandra Brown

Tags: #Contemporary, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Vietnam War; 1961-1975, #Northwest Territories, #Survival After Airplane Accidents; Shipwrecks; Etc, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #Wilderness Survival, #Businesswomen

Two Alone (4 page)

about
cats in the dark. But personally, I prefer safer, more com
fortable
surroundings to screw in. So just go to sleep, will you?"

Rust
y grit her teeth in outrage. She held her body rigid and put a barrier between them, if not physically, then mentally. She
tried
to ignore his body heat, which permeated her clothing, and
his
breath that drifted over her neck each time he exhaled, and
the
latent power in the thighs that conformed to the backs of
hers.
Gradually, and with the help of the brandy she'd drunk,
s
h
e
relaxed. Eventually she dozed.

It
was her own moan that woke her up. Her leg was throb
bing
,
painfully.

"
What is it?"

Coo
per's voice was gruff, but Rusty didn't think it was because he
’d
been roused from a deep sleep. Intuitively she knew that he
had
been lying there awake.

"Nothing."

"
Tell
me. What's the matter? Your leg?"

"
Yes."

"Is
it bleeding again?"

"
I
don't think so. It's doesn't feel wet. It just hurts."

"
D
rink some more brandy." He angled himself away from her
and
reached for the flask of brandy, which he'd brought in
t
o the
fur
cocoon with them.

"I'm
already woozy."

"
G
ood. It's working." He poked her lips with the uncapped
flask

and tipped it forward. She either had to drink or drown. The potent liquor burned a fiery path down her middle. At
the very- least, it took her mind off her painful wound for a few seconds. "Thanks."

"Open your legs."

"Pardon?"

"Open your legs."

"How much brandy have you had, Mr. Landry?"

"Do it."

"Why?"

"So I can get mine between them."

Without giving her another chance to argue, he slid his hand between her thighs and raised her injured leg. He wedged his knees between hers, then gently lowered her right leg to rest on top of his. "There. Keeping it elevated will help relieve the pressure. It'll also keep me from jostling it in the night."

She was too flabbergasted to fall back to sleep immediately; too uncomfortably aware of his nearness. And there was something else keeping her awake: a nagging guilt.

"Cooper, did you know any of the other men?"

"Those on board the plane? No."

"The men in the front two seats were brothers. While we were weighing our luggage, I heard them talking about getting their families together for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. They were going to show them the slides they'd taken this week."

"Don't think about it."

"
I
can't help it."

"Yes, you can."

"No,
I
can't. I keep asking myself why I'm alive. Why was
I
allowed to live? It doesn't make any sense."

"It doesn't have to make sense," he said bitterly. "That's just the way it
is
.
It was their time, that's all. It's over, forgotten."

"Not forgotten."

"Force it out of your mind."

"Is that what you did?"

"Yes."

She shuddered. "How can you be so unfeeling about another
hu
man
life?"

"Practice
.
"

The word affected her like a hard slap on the cheek. It had been cruelly delivered to shut her up, and it did. But it didn't
s
top her from thinking. She wondered how many of his buddies
Coo
per had seen killed in Vietnam. Dozens? Scores? Hundreds? Stil
l
, she couldn't imagine ever becoming inured to death.

She'd had practice dealing with it, but not to the extent that
he
apparently had. It wasn't something she could block out,
dis
miss, by an act of will. When she thought about her losses,
she
still ached.

"
My mother died of a stroke
.
" she told him quietly. "Her
deat
h was almost a relief. She would have been severely incapaci
tate
d. I had a week to prepare myself for it. But my brother's
dea
th was sudden." Cooper wouldn't care to hear about any of
this
but she wanted to talk about it.

"Brother?"

"
Jef
f.
He was killed in a car wreck two years ago."

"No other family?"

"On
ly my father." She drew a gentle breath. "He was the man I was with at the lodge. The one I said goodbye to. Not a sugar
daddy
. Not a lover. My father."

She waited for an apology, but it never came. If his body hadn't been so tense, she might have thought he'd fallen asleep.

Finally he broke the silence by asking, "What is your
f
ather going to think when he's notified about the crash?"

"Oh, my God!" Reflexively, she clutched Cooper
'
s hand where it still rested against her stomach. "I hadn't thought of that."

She could imagine her father's despair when he heard the news. He'd lost his wife. Then his son. Now his daughter. He would be disconsolate. Rusty couldn't bear to think of the suffering he would go through, the hell of uncertainty, of not knowing what had happened to her. Hopefully, as much for her father's sake as her own, they would be rescued soon.

"The guy looked like a real mover and shaker to me," Cooper said. "He'll ride the authorities until we're found."

"You're right. Father won't give up until he knows what happened to me."

Rusty was certain of that. Her father was a powerful man. He was dynamic and had both the talent and the means
t
o get things done. His reputation and money could cut through miles of red cape. Knowing
that
he'd leave no stone unturned until she was rescued gave her an optimistic thread to cling to.

She was also surprised to discover that Cooper hadn't been as withdrawn and impervious as he had appeared to be. Before they boarded the plane, he had kept to himself. He hadn't mingled with the othe
r passengers. But he'd noticed e
ver
yt
hing. Apparently her companion was an observant student of human nature.

Nature was having its way with him right now. While she'd been talking, Rusty became nervously aware of his sex snuggled solidly against her bottom. She blurted, "Are you married?"

"No."

"
E
ver?"

"No."

"Involved?"

"Look,
I
get my share of sex, okay? And
I
know why you're
su
ddenly so curious. Believe me, I feel it too. But I can't do
a
nything
to help it. Well, actually I can, but as we discussed
earli
er, that isn't a very workable solution under the circum
stan
ces. The alternatives that come readily to mind would
em
barr
ass
us both I'm afraid."

Rusty's cheeks grew hot and rosy. "I wish you wouldn't." What?"

"
T
alk
like that."

"How?"

"
You know. Dirty."

"
You
just left a big game hunting lodge. Didn't you intercept dirty jokes? Overhear some lewd comments?
I
thought
you’d
be used to bawdy language by now,"

"
Well, I'm not. And for
y
our information, I went on that
hunt
ing
trip for my father's sake. I didn't particularly enjoy myself."

"
H
e forced you to go?"

"
Of
course not."

"
C
o
e
rced you to? In exchange for that fur coat, maybe?"

"No," she grated with irritation. "The trip was my idea.
I
sug
gested
it that we take it together."

"
And
you randomly chose the Northwest Territories? Why
no
t
Ha
waii? Or St. Moritz? I can think of a thousand other
places on
th
e globe where you would have fit in better."

Her
sigh was an admission that he had her correctly pegged.

On a big game hunt she was as out of place as a rusty nail in an operating room. "My father and brother always went hunting together. Four weeks every year. It was a family tradition." Filled with remorse, she closed her eyes. "Father hadn't been hunting since Jeff was killed.
I
thought the trip would be good for him. I insisted that he go. When he hesitated,
I
offered to go with him."

She expected murmurs of sympathy and understanding— perhaps even whispered praise for her unselfish and noble gesture. Instead all she heard from him was a grumpy "Be quiet, will you? I'm trying to get some sleep."

"Stop it, Rusty."

Her brother's voice echoed through her dream. They were wrestling, as only brothers and sisters who either hate each other intensely or love each other intensely can. With Jeff and her, the latter had been true. They were barely a year apart in age. From the time Rust
y
took her first steps, they had been bosom buddies and playmates. Much to their father's delight and their mothers aggravation, they had often engaged in rowdy hand-to-hand combat and always came up laughing.

But there was no levity in Jeff's voice now as he clasped her wrists and anchored them to the floor on either side of her head. "Stop it, now." He shook her slightly. "You

re going to hurt yourself if you don't stop flailing around."

She came
awake and opened her eyes. It wasn't Jeff's w
e
ll-re
mem
bered, well-loved face she stared into, but the man's. The
l
oner
's. She was glad he was alive, but she didn't like him very m
uc
h. Wha
t
was his name? Oh, yes. Cooper. Cooper...? Cooper something. Or something Cooper.

"Lie still," he commanded her.

She
stopped thrashing. The air was cold on her exposed skin,
and
she realized that she

d kicked off all the furs he'd piled over
t
hem
f
or the night. On his knees, he was straddling her chest
and
bending over her. Her wrists were stapled behind her head
by h
is hard fingers
.

"
G
et
off
me."

"Are you all right now?"

Sh
e
nodded. She was as all right as a woman could be upon
wa
king up to find a man the size and shape of Cooper Landry—
that
was it, Landry—straddling her with thighs that rose like
colum
ns above her, coming together... She averted her eyes
f
rom
that
mouth-drying juncture. "Please," she gasped. "I'm fine."
He
e
ased himself off her. She sucked in frigidly cold air that
hur
t
her
lungs. But God, it felt good against her hot face. It felt
goo
d
for
only a second. Then she shivered with a chill and her
teeth
started
clicking together. Coopers brows were drawn
together
worriedly. Or crossly. She couldn't tell. He was either
concerned
or annoyed.

"
You
're
burning up with fever," he told her bluntly. "
II l
eft the
bed
to
build up the fire. You were delirious and starred shouting
for som
ebody called Jeff."

Other books

The Anatomy of Addiction by Akikur Mohammad, MD
The Summer of Winters by Mark Allan Gunnells
What's Yours Is Mine by Tess Stimson
Dial M for Ménage by Emily Ryan-Davis
Real Men Don't Quit by Coleen Kwan
The Pity Party by William Voegeli
The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence
Making a Comeback by Julie Blair
Moron by Todd Millar


readsbookonline.com Copyright 2016 - 2023