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“Are you finished? Going to be a good girl for me?”

With a sullen little huff, she nodded her agreement. The dark blonde ponytail, littered with plaster dust, bobbed up and down beneath his nose.

“Okay,” he said.

Nice and slow he took a step back, reluctantly drawing his arms away from the warmth and softness of her. His eyes, however, didn’t stray from her for a second.

It didn’t take his girl long to react. An elbow flew at his face, and she spun around. Her own momentum delivered her back to him.

Their chests collided in a wonderful manner. He locked his arms around her, giving himself over to the thril of it. The press of her gorgeous, generous tits against him nearly stopped his heart. For a brief moment she wasn’t fighting him. For a treasured millisecond she stopped to regroup and his soul swel ed. She was his very own personal nirvana.

“You promised to behave,” he scolded. “Bad girl.”

“Fuck you.”

“Good idea, I love where you’re going with that. But let’s say we talk first? Get to know each other?” He gave her the biggest shit-eating grin of his life, the one that had been dying to burst out of him since she’d burst in.

What the hell. He couldn’t remember having this much fun in years, and definitely not in the last two months. The sound of his own voice was a novelty; having someone to hear him an absolute joy.

“You were going to tell me your name,” he said, but his girl still wasn’t done.

For her next move, she attempted to feed him his balls via her knee. He managed to block it by jamming his legs together to catch hers. Before she could start scratching or slapping, he pulled her wrists behind her back, securing them in one hand. This worked against him, however, because of the way her br**sts strained against the front of her t-shirt. The lace cups of her bra bore a mesmerizing pattern.

It drove him crazy, as though the flowers and curlicues bore the code to all of her deep dark secrets. Damned if he wasn’t going to pop a blood vessel trying to decipher it.

While he was distracted, the ingenious woman lunged at him with sharp little teeth. He fast risked losing a nipple to her fury.

“Now that hurts.” A sound smack to her rear produced a startled yelp. The jaws of death unlocked. Thank God. Daniel wrapped her ponytail tightly around his fist to prevent a repeat performance and got down in her face, nose to nose, grinding his teeth and feeling more than a little annoyed. “That was not nice. Stop and think. I have done everything possible not to hurt you. I only want to talk to you. You’ve shot at me, scratched me, kicked me, and now you start biting. Apologize.”

The woman jerked back, her eyes as round as the wheels on his trail bike.

“Well?” He waited with ill patience while she said nothing for a good, long time. More than long enough for him to notice she had a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks, like a scattering of sugar. He had never been into freckles but there was a first time for everything.

“What do you want?” she hissed.

“Let’s start with being friends, that’s probably going to chalenge you enough for one day.” He let out part of a breath. It wouldn’t do to let his guard down fully when the girl was this tricky. “Why attack me? We’re both on the same side, aren’t we?”

She snorted. Her eyes skittered away from him, her body twisting, continuing to test his grip.

“Behave for a while and I’l try the letting-you-go thing again. In the meantime, why don’t you try using your words? Talk to me.” He hadn’t thought her face could harden any further but she managed it just fine. Her mouth tightened, and stony, pretty gray eyes stared up at him, as if she was imagining the size of the hole she could blow in him with her big gun.

“I’m real y happy to see you,” he ventured. “You know we could go someplace safe, and share a can of stew. Or soup… Whatever.

Your choice. I don’t mind. Totally your call.”

For a first date, it sounded shit even to his ears. She seemed less than impressed. The woman glared at him like he had grown a second head, and it wasn’t any better than the first.

“Right,” he said, straightening his spine. “Then we’re just going to have to do this the hard way.”


Ali glared at the stranger with all the animosity she could muster. Having spent eight weeks hiding in her neighbor’s attic, living like a rodent while the world fel apart outside, there was a hoard of hostility at her disposal. An ample amount of petrified too, but hostility came in handier.

Do it the hard way? The f**ker. She wanted to go medieval on his ass, but oh man, he was big. She wasn’t tiny by any standard, but her neck ached from looking up at him. On a good day she would barely reach the notch in his chin.

Today was not a good day, which did nothing for her terror levels. Her heart tripped about in her chest like she was having a coronary.

She should have stayed at Mary’s house, safe and sound and starving. How could she have missed him, even crouched down, rifling through the cupboard? Al of the effort to be hypervigilant on her few trips out into the world, and yet here she was, caught. She had to escape. Civilization was gone. Law and order a distant memory. Who knew what people would do now that the rules did not apply.

Apart from his size, the stranger seemed normal enough, if appearances counted. A head of dark hair with traces of gray, broad shoulders, and a mind jam-packed full of plans, apparently. The way he stared disturbed her. And his long, lean face inched lower and lower, as if he planned to kiss her.

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