After reading my excerpt, look for the link to the Blog Hop and more chances to win prizes at Guilty Pleasures and Under The Covers. Then there are 130 other authors in this blog hop and LOTS more chances to win, too! Read on for a link to the blog hop --and a chance to download a copy of Masters at Arms, the introduction to my series.
Be sure to comment below for a chance to win a bookmark, Romance Trading Cards, a purple pen, AND an e-book of your choice in the Rescue Me series!
His irritation showed as he leaned toward her and she tried not to let him intimidate her, but he did. “Hey, chica, you just showed up on my doorstep out of nowhere, beaten up and on the run. You’re the one who asked me for help, so don’t go getting all defensive. I’m just trying to figure out what the hell’s going on.”
He took a longer draw on his beer, draining it, and lowered the empty bottle to his crotch. She averted her attention from that part of his anatomy, reaching up to twirl her hair. A wave of discomfort crashed against her. She hadn't been alone in a room with a man for a very long time.
“I felt safer changing my appearance.”
Her hand froze on the curl as her heart thudded against her chest, robbing her of even more oxygen. Did he know? She looked up at him again, studying his face for some time. “What about him?”
“Is he the one who roughed you up and sent you running?”
He didn't know. She relaxed into the sofa and took another swig of the soda, buying time as she tried to will her heartbeat to slow down. “No. He’s been out of my…out of the picture from day one.” She'd tried to find Damián when she'd gotten strong enough to function after Mari's birth, but hadn't been able to find him.
“Let me see where you’re hurt.”
She refused to make eye contact. “No. I’m fine.”
“Bullshit, chica.” When she looked up at him again, he held her gaze. “Your choice—me or my friend? Which will it be?”
Anger ripped through her again. She hadn't come all this way to have him expose her to her father's hound dogs by leaving a paper trail, which is what would happen if he involved medical personnel. She glared at him for a moment, but he refused to back down. Leaning forward, wincing at the shortness of breath before she caught herself again, she laid the soda can on top of a magazine on the coffee table.
She sat back against the sofa. “It’s nothing. Really. Just a bruise.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. I have some…expertise with bruising. Remove your jacket.”
She continued to wage a silent battle of wills with him, but after a few moments decided they needed to get beyond this or she'd never get anywhere with getting him to help them. She raised a shaking hand to loosen the belt of her jacket, then tried to control the shaking in her hands as she reached up to undo the top button.
“I haven’t ever hurt you, Savannah. Have I?”
Savi remembered those first few years when she'd fantasized about Damián coming to rescue her. Fantasies of his being a daddy to Marisol. Before she'd shut down emotionally. Still, she'd wanted him to look for her. He'd broken her heart by not doing so.
Don't be ridiculous, Savi. He wouldn't have come looking for you. He'd have looked for Savannah Gentry. And she was dead.
Choosing not to answer the question, she finished unbuttoning the jacket and peeled it off, then leaned against the back of the sofa and pulled the tail of her shirt loose from her slacks. His gaze went to her abdomen and she saw a flash of rage cross his face as his mouth tightened.
His words sounded angry and she felt fear clawing at her throat again. She wouldn't let herself be placed in such a vulnerable position with him. “No.” She took a deep breath and stood up, wincing as the movement robbed her of breath. “I’d rather stand.”
He stood as well and leaned closer to her, reaching out his hand. She gasped even before he touched her. When he gingerly touched the bruised area on her left ribcage, below her breast, she held her breath and tried not to move. After a moment he pulled away.
“I need to ask Doc what to do.”
Didn't doctors have to make reports of violent acts to the authorities? She couldn't risk seeing a doctor. But he didn't wait for her to express an opinion as he pulled out his phone and pressed a button. After a moment, someone must have answered
“Sorry to wake you, man, but I need your help.” He paused and glanced at Savi. “A friend of mine has been in…some kind of fight and she has some bruising over her ribs.” He seemed exasperated by the other person's response and wondered what he'd said “Man, this is serious. It’s not from impact play."
How could violent impacts against someone's body be considered play?
"She’s been punched by a fist, it looks like. Under her breast. Where the ribs are. The bruises are still dark in color. Happened at least two days ago.” He looked to her for confirmation and she nodded and held up two fingers. The man apparently did know his bruising. How did someone who wasn't in the medical field become an expert on bruising?
He listened a moment, then shook his head. “Can’t do that."
"What’s plan B? What can I do?” Once more, he listened. Savi could hear a garbled voice coming through the phone, but couldn't make out any of the words. After a long while, he said “Hold on” and lowered the phone to the coffee table. Damián looked at her. “Take some deep breaths. Really fill your lungs.”
Lost in his gaze, she did as he told her, then caught her breath and winced again. She'd forgotten to be careful how she breathed. He picked up the phone again and said, “Might be a problem with her breathing, Doc.”
Refusing to appear injured, Savi stood taller. "No, there isn't. I'm fine"
Damián glared at her until she heard the voice coming through the phone again.
"Shoot." He listened to his friend's instructions. “I didn’t take anatomy, Doc.”
What had he asked? Damián's gaze went to her breasts and she grew uncomfortable. Don't look at me like I'm a dirty slut.
“Be right back.” Damián laid the phone on the coffee table and moved closer to Savi, and she fought the impulse to turn and run. “I need to check for a broken rib. Just try and relax.”
Now she did take a step back. No effing way.
“Hold still, querida.” He maintained eye contact with her, but rather than calm her, she felt the need to escape; to go to her safe place.
Savannah ran along the beach, ignoring the broken shells that cut into the bare soles of her feet. Where were her flip-flops?
The cave. She'd left them at the cave. She needed to get back there. After climbing over the sharp rocks, she walked into the opening of the cave, then halted. Instead of her mother, she found Damián leaning against the wall of the cave. No! Where was maman?
Then she remembered how safe she'd felt with him here once upon a time. A very long time ago.
“Savi? Look at me.”
She blinked and found herself transported instantly back into Damián's living room. She stared at him.
“Where’d you go?”
My cave. Wait! He couldn’t know about that. “Go? I didn’t go anywhere. Just check for the broken rib and get it over with.”
Damián placed his left hand in the middle of her back and she jumped.
“Wait! I’m not ready yet.”
“You don’t have to get ready for anything. Just look at me, querida.”
No! Not yet! She tried to convey her fear with her eyes, but he ignored her.
“Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.”
She couldn't do this. Her breathing became shallow, rapid. She tried to force herself to release the tension in her shoulders and neck. I can't do this!
His words had a slight calming effect on her until he placed his right hand against her chest again. Her breathing became shallow and she felt her heart beat wildly. She drew another breath, sharper this time.
“Just relax. I’m going to press here, but tell me if it starts to hurt.”
He applied an incredible amount of pressure against her chest wall and she cried out in pain. Oh dear Lord, it hurt. She'd always been able to block out pain. Why hadn't she been able to go to her cave? He abruptly let go of her and gave her a look as if she'd just landed on earth from outer space. He reached for the cell phone and picked it up.
“Doc? You still there?”
His tone conveyed he wasn't pleased with her. What had she done wrong? She'd tried not to scream in pain.
Only dirty sluts scream, Savannah.
She should have been able to take the pain without screaming. He wouldn't want to help her if she screamed like that again. If he knew what she was…control yourself, Savan…Savi. I'm Savi!
Damián sighed. “We have a couple problems with that. One is that we need a babysitter.”
And now for MY giveaways! First, if you don't have Masters at Arms yet, be sure to use Coupon Code QT34B at Smashwords to get your copy NOW. (Coupon good through May 20. You do not want to read any of the books in this series without this all-important introduction to my first three heroes--Marc, Adam, and Damian.
Comment below about what you're looking forward to reading this summer for a chance to win my bookmark, a set of Romance Trading Cards, a purple pen inscribed with "Ahh, Kallypso...the stories you tell," AND your choice of a FREE e-book in the Rescue Me series.
Good luck and enjoy!