Flame's Dawn

Flame's Dawn by Jillian David

Book: Flame's Dawn by Jillian David Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jillian David
evil bastard. Maybe he had a reputation as a paramour over the centuries, but no way would Barnaby hit on a convalescing woman.
    He breathed in the air, still warm at the end of July, but lighter here in the mountains. Douglas firs and redwoods dominated the chaparral scrub oaks with their rich green leaves shifting in the breeze.
    “I hope you like it here.”
    Her smile, a rare treasure, lit up her face, giving him a glimpse of what heaven must look like. “I already do. Thank you for everything.”
    All of a sudden, something irritated his eyes. “Yes, well. Take a moment to change into this outfit, and I’ll give you the grand tour. Then it’s time for your next dose of antibiotic and for you to rest.”
    When her face fell, he cursed at himself for being such a fool. Great job, reminding her of the trauma. But he’d caused this mess, so he would finish his job and see her healed. He owed her at least that much.
    Then he’d leave her the hell alone.
    • • •
    Jane loved the cabin. Loved how she could view miles of mountains from the airy porch. The redwood plank walls and floor gave it a welcoming, burnt-orange glow. She could breathe in the wood scent of the house, Barnaby’s masculine scent, and the fresh air every day of her life and be a happy woman.
    Too bad her future didn’t include a cabin and happiness.
    And it sure as heck didn’t include a normal, kind man ... or even a freakishly strong killer.
    God, what a mess.
    She sat in her position of choice, curled up on a couch with Barnaby nearby. Better to keep an eye on him. He still had that knife strapped to him.
    The fleecy softness of the velour tracksuit he’d bought at the store didn’t fit right. It hung off her bony frame, reminding her of all that she’d lost.
    After quelling a wave of self-pity and then paranoia, she sipped at the double-strength hot chocolate he’d insisted she drink.
    She studied his handsome face, knitted tight in concentration, as he puttered around the cabin, putting away food supplies and items he’d removed from his apartment. How did he go from cold-blooded killer to domestic engineer?
    And how could he function after being shot point-blank in the apartment? Nothing made sense, and the ends of her frazzled nerves kept buzzing. It didn’t take a background in pattern recognition to know that something didn’t add up.
    The least she could do for both herself and Barnaby was to recuperate quickly and get out of his life and re-create her own.
    “Penny for your thoughts?”
    She jumped out of her skin. How long had he been watching her?
    “Just taking everything in,” she hedged.
    At his intake of breath, she figured he would say something, but he clamped his lips together for a full minute. “All right then. So. I have plans to feed you until you burst tonight. Until then, let’s get you up and moving.”
    In spite of herself, Jane smiled. “What did you have in mind?”
    “Nine-mile hike in the mountains.” When he winked, her heart flopped. “Just kidding. How about taking a few steps around the living room?”
    Sitting up, she gave him a thumbs-up. “I’ll do anything to get better.”
    Was that a shadow of a frown below the sweep of thick, brown hair?
    “Well, let’s get some music to help you along.” He tuned the countertop radio to a Top 40 station.
    Ah yes, “The Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk Railroad. Perfect.
    He turned to her. “Right, then. Let’s see what you can do, turbojet.”
    Ten wobbly steps later, and Jane’s energy had deserted her. Even with Barnaby at her side, she nearly hit the floor when her legs gave out on that tenth step. Like it was no big deal that an adult couldn’t walk, he tucked her into his side and shuffled her back over to the couch.
    Damn it, but her legs trembled like she was a newborn foal, and all she wanted to do was sleep for hours. A year of insane levels of stress and several weeks of a life-threatening condition ending in full restraints would do that

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