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Another loud clap of thunder and Jack got to his feet, the automatic by his side. He held his breath and listened.
Something scratched against the front door.
Not sleet or hail.
He went to the nearby window and peered out between the blinds. His grip tightened as he squinted into the darkness, focusing on what lay outside.
A lightning bolt shattered the sky, a heavenly flare illuminating the world for a few brief seconds.
“What the hell?”
He unlocked the front door before jerking it open with his free left hand, swinging the pistol up to aim into the driving storm.
A woman fell past him onto the hardwood floor, landing on her hands and knees as the rain drove in, dousing Jack’s face and bare chest. She was soaked through, her leather
jacket and jeans waterlogged and providing little protection. Long blond hair stuck to her face, hiding her features.
He tucked the pistol into the small of his back before taking hold of her arms and dragging her inside, kicking the door shut with one bare foot.
Jack knelt down, pulling the woman up so he could get a clear view of her face.
Her soft blue eyes locked with his. The pang of recognition shot through him like the lightning bolt that had revealed her.
He swallowed hard, finding his voice. “Are you okay?”
The ball of panic in his gut twisted, expanded.
Kara lifted a shaking hand to cup his cheek. “Liam?”
“Yes,” he answered instinctively.
She slumped in his arms, unconscious.
Jack twisted around, nausea building and burning his throat.
If she’s here…
He laid her on the ground carefully before rushing to lock the front door, double-checking the deadbolt before scooping her up in his arms and carrying her to the bathroom. The tub wouldn’t be comfortable, but it might offer some shelter from the gunfight he feared was about to break out at any second.
Jack placed her gently in the bathtub, doing a quick once-over before snagging the off-white towel from the rack and draping it over her.
Nothing. No weapons, no wallet, no identification of any type. No open wounds, either, lifting that weight from his heart.
He snatched the combat knife off the small shelf and tucked it into his pocket—he wasn’t going to leave any weapons within reach.
Just in case.
Jack ran a hand through his shoulder-length hair, his pulse hammering in his ears.
“Fuck,” he said aloud.
The thunder shattered his thoughts, and he raced back to the living room, pulling the pistol free.
Jack positioned himself and looked out through the blinds again.
There was nothing more to see, the various shades of black and gray shattering only with the lightning flashes. If anyone was out there, they’d have to wait in the driving cold sleet until dawn.
Jack glanced toward the bathroom.
He rubbed the back of his neck, the memories rushing up.
Her mouth, so hot and soft. Legs wrapped around his hips with a strength that surprised him—but the woman could kiss.
And when she came…
He swallowed hard, desire rushing southward with a vengeance.
That little sound was enough to make him follow. With the scratch of her nails on his back…
He bit the inside of his cheek, forcing himself out of the vivid memory. Their affair had lasted only a week, no promises or commitments offered or given, but it’d stuck with him for over a year.
But now Kara was here, hundreds of miles away from where they’d first met.
She also was using his real name.
Jack rolled the unfamiliar word off his tongue. It’d been over a year since he’d heard the name, shrugged off before coming to Everett’s Ridge.
None of this could end well.
He checked his pistol and stared out into the driving storm, squinting as he stood guard.
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