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Patti O'Shea - Paranormal Action Romance Author

 

Excerpt from Eternal Nights

Shit, his head hurt.

Wyatt would have cursed aloud, but he didn't have the strength for that. What the hell had hit him? A laser cannon? As he tried to figure it out, he felt himself start to drift.

He didn't know how long it took him to regain awareness, but his head didn't feel any better this time. His thoughts, however, were clearer. Wherever he was, the ground was hard as hell. Without moving, he listened carefully, trying to pick up whether there was any threat present, but it was quiet.

Good thing. He hadn't felt this weak since he'd taken a bullet two years ago. His front side ached—probably because of what he was lying on rather than any injury—and his head throbbed like mad. Everything else, though, seemed to be pain-free and in working order. Slowly, he brought a hand up to his skull, but he didn't find any blood or other sign of trauma.

Okay, now he needed to open his eyes and discover what was going on. Simple. But the thought of light made the pounding in his head increase in intensity. Come on, Marsh, he told himself, gotta check out what's happening. Barely suppressing a groan, he forced his eyelids apart. It was pitch black, and he couldn't see a damn thing. Where in the hell was he?

Again, he listened, and again, he heard nothing that concerned him. As he breathed deeply, trying to work up some interest in moving, he detected the faintest hint of some spicy, sexy scent. Bug, he thought, his lips curving.

Bug!

Memory came back in a merciless wave and he pushed himself from his belly to a sitting position. The pain reached a crescendo, as if rockets were being launched inside his brain, but he ignored it. It was Bug who was important. "Kendall?" His voice came out thick, raspy, almost unrecognizable and close to inaudible. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Kendall?"

No response.

Damn it, he needed some lights!

Lights. The pyramid had to have the same system of illumination as the other buildings, right? The pounding in his head slowed him down, but at last, he managed to raise a soft glow.

Frantically, he scanned the room. He saw her bag in the middle of the floor and figured they'd tossed it in here to prevent anyone from finding it. His gaze kept moving until he spotted Bug's procumbent form. Wyatt ran his eyes over her, searching for some sign of injury, but she appeared unharmed. A second, longer look showed her arm was extended toward him and that made his heart stutter. Maybe that was how she'd fallen after taking a blast from the popper, but he wanted to think it was significant. Particularly after the way she'd ardently expressed her belief in him.

When he'd heard that lie about detaining her, he'd expected Bug to think the worst—and it had looked bad, even he could see that—but she hadn't bought that bullshit for an instant. Hell, he still felt heat warm the center of his chest when he thought about how she'd jumped in to declare her faith in his integrity.

He moved next to her and pushed her long, brown hair off her face. The small frown between her brows made him smile. That was his Bug, ferocious even while unconscious.

"Come on, Kendall, you need to wake up."

She didn't so much as twitch. Okay, she was smaller than he was—if she'd been hit with the same amount of drug, she would be out longer. But he wanted her eyes open, wanted to see she was for sure all right. If anything happened to Kendall, he'd kill each one of those sons of bitches and he'd do it real slow.

Carefully, tenderly, Wyatt moved her so she'd be more comfortable. He held her on his lap because that made him feel more comfortable. Her soft breath puffed against his throat and he swallowed hard. "Damn, darlin' you don't have a clue what you do to me, do you?" Moving slowly, he cuddled her against his chest. "Probably a good thing," he continued softly. "You'd run so hard and so fast, I might not be able to catch you."

Leaning forward, he shifted her in order to press his lips to her forehead. Wyatt watched her face, waiting for her to wake, and stroked her hair. He knew she hated her wholesome look. How many times had he heard her complain about her girl-next-door appearance? She always used that phrase and he supposed it fit.

But there was a lot more to her than that.

At her heart, Bug was a warrior. He doubted she realized it herself, but she didn't back down from much, and when it came to friends, she was fiercely loyal. A man could count on a woman like this. If he could pin her down long enough to make her his.

He smiled again, but ruefully this time. Wyatt had never thought it would be this hard—he'd thought she would know him the same way he'd known her—but he wasn't giving up. The soft, warm weight of Kendall in his arms filled him with such contentment, such a sense of rightness, that he knew the work was worth it. His hand stilled mid-stroke and he let his fingers stay tangled in her hair. Her eyes were open, but unfocused.

"Kendall, are you okay?" He kept his voice low, sure her head hurt as bad as his had when he first awoke.

Her green gaze sharpened, zoomed in on him, and he let out a quiet sigh of relief. The awareness had to be a good sign.

"Why'd you let me drink so much?" Her voice was a croak, but he made out the words.

"You didn't drink anything, I promise."

Kendall's brow scrunched up. "If I'm not hung over, why does my head feel like someone used it as a bowling ball?"

Wyatt laughed, he couldn't help it, and when she glared at him, he laughed harder. It wasn't until she reached up and gave his biceps a hard pinch, that he forced himself to sober, but he couldn't quite banish the smile. Especially when he realized she was making no effort to get off his lap.

"Your memory will come back in a few minutes and then you'll know why your head hurts." His lips twitched again and he got another pinch. "Sorry. I'm laughing from relief, I swear. You've been out for a while and I was worrying, that's all."

She scowled at him for a moment more, then it eased. "You must be concerned—your drawl is thicker."

It didn't surprise him that she knew him that well. They'd spent a lot of time together since meeting—he'd made sure of that—and if Kendall thought they were nothing more than friends...well, whatever the hell worked. For now.

He went back to stroking her hair.

Her hand curled around his biceps and the feel of her fingers pressing into his muscle made him feel connected to her. It wasn't only him hanging on to her any longer—she was holding on to him too.

He knew he should be doing at least half a dozen other things right now, but he didn't care. They weren't in immediate danger and he had Bug in his arms. The rest of the world could go to hell. But far too soon, he felt her stiffen and saw her eyes were clearing.

"They had a popper," she said.

"Yep. Told you it wasn't anything fun like a night out partying."

She tightened her hold on him, using his body as leverage to sit up with a groan. "Why aren't you hurting?"

"I was—I am—but I'm getting past it now. You gotta remember, I was awake before you and I outweigh you by at least seventy pounds. Not only is the drug going to hit you harder, but it'll take you longer to recover too."

Wrapping her other arm around him, she rested her forehead against his shoulder. "We need to get out of here," she said, voice muffled against him. "Warn them."

"Warn who, Bug?"

"Major Brody and his wife. They're going after the obelisks in their rooms and those thieves don't care if they have to hurt them or their son to get the stones. I heard them talking before they knew I was there."

Wyatt digested that. Though she hadn't filled him in on anything yet, he'd seen enough to make an informed guess about what kind of mess she'd run across. Leave it to Kendall to find a smuggling ring. But from what she'd just told him, it sounded like the bastards were upping the ante and he knew exactly which obelisks they were targeting.

He and Brody were on friendly enough terms that he'd received an invitation into his home. He'd been waiting for the major in the sitting room when an odd glow had drawn him forward. Even knowing how rude it was, he hadn't been able to resist pushing open the door. He'd been so fascinated by what he'd seen that he hadn't realized he'd barged into the man's bedroom until Ravyn Brody had called him on it. Luckily, the woman had a sense of humor.

"The light pyramid," he said, half statement, half question.

"You know about that?" Kendall straightened and he missed the feel of her against him.

"Uh, yeah," he said cautiously, unsure what had put the edge in her voice.

"And you never told me about it?"

His lips twitched again. "Sorry, it slipped my mind."

"It slipped your mind?" She surged to her feet, froze for a moment as if steadying herself, and then rounded on him. "You know how interested I am in this kind of thing."

He stood up himself, felt his head start to throb harder and guessed Kendall had gotten the pain worse than he had. "Sorry," he repeated. "It won't happen again, I swear."

"It better not," she grumbled, but he knew she wasn't mad anymore. Moving carefully, she retrieved her bag and hitched it on her shoulder. "How do we get out of here?"

Wyatt looked around, but didn't know for sure. The room was perfectly square, each wall identical. The boxes of alien goods were gone and the place was barren. "I think the entrance is to my left." At least the opening had been on his left when he'd taken the hit. If they'd moved him after he'd gone down, then all bets were off.

Hours later, after feeling around the wall, trying to find some gizmo to open the damn thing, Wyatt conceded he could be wrong. Maybe it wasn't this wall. Or maybe the only trigger was on the outside. He slammed the heel of his hand against the stone in lieu of cursing.

Kendall was on her knees to his right, patting around near the floor, and she stood when she heard the slap of skin against rock. She smiled at him and he felt his frustration melt away.

"Maybe we'll be stuck in here for a while," she said, sounding like the bubbly cheerleader she'd been accused of being, "but we'll get out in time to sound the alert, and at least we won't have to worry about hunger or thirst. Not right away. I still have my lunch and some water in my bag."

"Food and water aren't the top two items on my list of concerns." He'd tried to keep the grimness out of his voice, but when he saw her smile fade, he knew he hadn't succeeded.

"What are the top two worries?"

For an instant, he thought about lying, but only for an instant. His Bug was tough enough to handle the truth. "My number one concern is they'll realize how stupid it was not to kill us and come back to finish the job."

"And your number two worry?"

"That they won't." She looked confused and he moved to pull her into his arms. "I'm beginning to wonder if the room is air tight. If it is, they don't have to return. The lack of oxygen will kill us without leaving any evidence of foul play."

 

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