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Patti O'Shea - Paranormal Action Romance Author

 

Excerpt from Ravyn's Flight

They didn’t go more than a kilometer before Damon stopped, but most of it was uphill. Ravyn almost bumped into him, but caught herself in time. She went up on her toes to look over his shoulder and then had to fight back the temptation to push him out of her way. Never before had any body of water looked so beautiful to her. It was a small river, barely more than a creek, but there was fresh, clean water and she wanted it.

"Wait here," Damon said quietly.

She knew caution was a good thing in the situation they were in, but she still shifted impatiently from side to side. The river called to her like a siren song. Ravyn looked away from the water and admired the small clearing the creek wound through. The grass here was short, maybe ankle height, and it added to the appeal. The little patch of land seemed like an oasis ringed with trees, bushes, tall grass and sprouting wild flowers.

When Damon gave the all-clear sign, Ravyn barely kept from running. It took more self-discipline than it should have, but she managed to fill her canteen and wait for Damon to fill his before rolling up her sleeves and plunging her dirty hands in the water. She rubbed at the grime, but still didn’t feel clean. As she scrubbed, she watched him take the canteens and drop a small tablet into each. She hadn’t even thought about microorganisms.

Ravyn perked up when she remembered there was a plant that grew near water in this area with a soap-like sap. Pulling her hands out, she dried them on her pants and looked around. When she spotted the thick, flat protrusions of the plant she wanted, she smiled. "Can I have your knife?"

It was a measure of trust that he didn’t ask what for, just handed it to her. She flipped open the blade and cut some limbs from the plant. Kneeling at the edge of the river, she sliced open one of the fleshy leaves and used the soap to clean her hands. Catching Damon’s curious gaze, she said, "Soap plant." She gestured to the pile beside her. "Help yourself."

"You can’t remember which plants are edible, but you know which one can be used as soap," he commented wryly.

"It’s a matter of priorities." Ravyn said and submerged her head. She split open another leaf and washed her hair and face.

When she finished, she noticed Damon had removed his shirt and T-shirt. Her eyes widened as she admired the sight. Only a scar high on his left arm marred the perfection of his body. His shoulders had looked broad in fatigues, out of them, they seemed impossibly wider. He had a light dusting of hair across his pecs. She followed the line to his ripped abs, drooled over them briefly, before continuing down to the waistband of his pants.

The tips of her fingers itched to touch, to stroke that warm skin and the hard muscles beneath it. She could almost feel the crispness of his chest hair. Her lids slid half-shut as she tried to decide where and how he’d like to be touched. A drop of water traveled from his neck to his left nipple. She wanted to push his dog tags aside, press her mouth to his skin and lick it.

Ravyn nearly hummed aloud before she realized he was getting half a bath. "Hey!" she squawked. "That’s not fair!"

Damon looked over, a smug smile on his face. It was a dare, plain and simple, she decided. It was stupid, but she’d never been able to turn down a challenge. Pulling out the tails of her shirt, she started unbuttoning. She could feel his eyes on her.

Playing a game of chicken with a Spec Ops officer ranked as one of the dumbest things she had ever done, but that didn’t stop her. When she undid the last button, she slowly separated the edges of her shirt. Ravyn knew the slowness came across as teasing, but she was waiting for him to turn his back.

Her hands started to tremble. He was going to call her bluff and pride wouldn’t let her back down. At least her bra was black, she thought and hesitantly slipped the fabric from her shoulders. As soon as she discarded the shirt, she started to bring her arms up to cover herself, but stopped before they moved far. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how uncomfortable this made her feel. She shifted so her wet hair fell forward and concealed the blush she knew stained her face.

Her body responded to his nearness, adding to her embarrassment. Even with the black bra, he wouldn’t miss her reaction. Without so much as a glance, she knew she had his complete attention. His stare burned her. She fought back a shakiness that seemed to start at her core and swallowed hard.

Doing her best to ignore him, she leaned forward and used her hands to wash her upper torso. She tried to be careful, tried to keep her bra from getting wet, but she wasn’t entirely successful. When she straightened, she could feel water wend its way down her chest. Her nipples hardened further. Whether it was the cool water or the heat of Damon’s eyes, she didn’t know.

A choked off groan startled Ravyn enough that she finally looked at him again. He hadn’t been trying to call her bluff, she realized belatedly. His eyes were hot and glued to her breasts. Mortified, she dropped her gaze only to find herself staring at his growing erection.

Now it was Ravyn’s turn to choke. That part of him appeared to be in proportion to the rest of his oversized body. A flare of arousal shot through her at the sight and brought her back to her senses. They couldn’t do this. With more speed than grace, she grabbed her shirt and pulled it on. She shook so badly, it took twice as long to fasten the buttons than usual.

This time Damon stuck his head in the water.

Ravyn moved from the edge of the river, and averting her eyes, took deep, calming breaths. When the trembling abated, she ran her fingers through her hair, trying to work the snarls out.

"Here," Damon said, sneaking up on her again, "use this."

He handed her the porcupine cone and didn’t waste any time moving a safe distance away. The cone was part of the tree branch, but was oval with spikes coming out of it. As she held it in her hands, she realized at some point Damon had blunted the sharp quills so she could brush her hair without hurting herself.

"Thank you," she called. Ravyn didn’t dare comment on how thoughtful he was, not when he had just managed to get over her mentioning his sensitivity last night.

Starting at the ends of her long hair, she worked the cone until she had all the tangles out. It felt good to have her hair clean and smooth again, but it wouldn’t last long. Probably just a couple hours would have it all knotted up again, especially with the breeze picking up. Ravyn looked around and saw dark clouds close on the horizon. She couldn’t guess what direction that was, but it didn’t matter. The storm was heading their way.

Pushing herself to her feet, she went to Damon. He had his T-shirt on; his fatigue shirt had been washed and was drying on a nearby bush. She grimaced over her own filthy top, but this time kept her mouth shut. "Thanks again," Ravyn told him, handing him the porcupine cone. "It feels good to have my hair brushed."

She watched him stow it carefully in the pack with their food supply before he straightened and held out a shortened boot lace. "If you want to braid your hair or something, you can tie it off with this," he said roughly.

"Good idea," Ravyn said, taking the tie. She sat next to their pack and vests and tried to braid the damp mass of hair. It was a struggle. Her mom had braided her hair for her; she’d never done it herself. At least Damon had moved off so he wasn’t right there while she fumbled. The third time the damn thing fell apart on her, Ravyn started cussing under her breath. Growing up the way she had, her repertoire was extensive.

After several more failed attempts, she reluctantly admitted there was no way she was going to be able to make a braid herself. Ravyn turned her head until she spotted Damon. He wasn’t looking at her, but the smirk on his face led her to believe he could hear her cursing. He’d tied his damp shirt around his waist and that had to mean they’d be moving out soon.

"Damon."

"Yeah?"

"Could you come here for a minute please?" she asked in her sweetest voice.

He studied her suspiciously for a moment before joining her. "What?"

"Would you do my hair for me? Please?"

"You’re kidding, right?"

"I’d keep trying myself, but we have a time constraint."

He considered the sky for a moment before settling behind her with a sigh. "Give me the tie," he ordered.

"Thank you." Ravyn handed him the lace.

Damon snorted. "You’re just lucky I used to braid my horse’s mane when I was in prep school."

Ravyn knew hair didn’t have nerve endings, but the feel of Damon’s hands on her tresses got her all hot and bothered again. She could feel his breath on the nape of her neck and fought to control the shiver of lust that wanted to go through her body.

She didn’t think he was unaffected either. His breathing sounded harsher to her, louder than it had been when he started. Then there was the fact that the very graceful Captain Brody was suddenly all thumbs. By the time he had tied off her braid, Ravyn wanted nothing more than to sink back against him.

His hands came up, rested on her shoulders briefly before he trailed them down her arms to her wrists. He never touched bare skin, but it was the most erotic thing she’d ever known. She could feel the hardness of his chest against her back, the warmth of his body wherever they touched.

This isn’t smart, she thought, leaning into him.

"Tell me to stop, Ravyn," he whispered near her ear.

"Don’t stop."

"This is stupid."

"I know."

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. She felt enveloped by his strength, protected, wanted. Ravyn turned toward him, raised her lips and watched as he lowered his head.

The first rain drop hit her in the middle of her forehead.

They barely had time to untangle themselves from each other before the sky opened up.

 

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