Resisting Her

By: Kendall Ryan

Chapter 1

What a cluster fuck. Cole had seen some messed up things in his day, but the scene before him took the cake.

A stream of people fled through the front doors and others jumped from the first floor windows of the large grey compound. Then again, what had he expected when his squad gassed the place?

After waiting for the fumes to clear, and most of the bodies to filter out, he ran toward the building, rain pelting his jacket. He ducked through the door and removed his gas mask taking a tentative breath to test the air around him. There was only a slight tingle in his throat. It would do. He didn’t plan on hanging out in the front area where the canister had crashed through the window anyway. His goal was to seek out the back rooms and find anyone still lingering inside. And bonus points if he found the cult’s leader, Jacob, before his commander did. If Jacob was guilty of even half the crimes they had him on, Cole wouldn’t mind punching the guy square in the jaw.

Jacob was a certified whackjob. He claimed to be a spiritual healer, and had about forty people swallowing his bullshit. When the FBI learned this morning of his plans to lead his followers in a suicide mission, they’d moved fast, warrant be damned. So far, it appeared they’d made it in time.

Cole adjusted the strap of his rifle and treaded along the hallway. He turned the corner, the lighting dim from the lack of windows, and listened for any sounds. Dead silence. Hearing nothing to indicate a threat, he entered the room on his right.

A young woman was huddled in the corner of the bedroom. She sat slumped against the wall, knees hugged to her chest. Her breath came in quick shallow gasps.

For a long second, Cole couldn’t move, couldn’t think. Something about this woman captivated his attention. Eyes, the color of emeralds, stared up at him in fear and confusion. Trembling hands hugged her legs tight to her chest. Unshed tears burned in that brilliant green gaze.

Snapping out of his daze, Cole stepped closer. The woman flinched and shrank back against the wall. She was shaking uncontrollably but her eyes followed his movements. He scanned the bedroom, checking for other victims or threats, but found only several bunk beds, clothes strewn across the floor, and a crib in the corner. Once the room was secure, Cole lowered his gun.

Procedure dictated he shout his command before taking action. But his gut told him a different tactic might be required.

“What’s your name?” he asked, gazing down at her petite form.

“S-Savannah,” she stammered, her voice raspy.

He pulled in a deep lungful of air and crossed the room, his boots thudding against the tiled floor. She pressed back hard against the wall, watching him approach. He slung the rifle’s strap over his shoulder, letting the weapon hang free and lifted his hands—palms out, fingers splayed—facing her. “It’s okay. I’m here to help.”

She watched him with wide eyes that held a flicker of curiosity. Though she remained hunkered down, she lifted her chin as he approached.

He considered helping her up, but he instinctively knew her hands would remain tightly locked in her lap.

He had two choices: pick her up and carry her out, or win over her trust. Trust took time. Making a split second decision, he crouched down and lifted her, securing one arm behind her knees, the other around her waist. A startled gasp escaped her throat, but as soon as Savannah was in his arms her body relaxed. She rested her head against his shoulder and let out a deep sigh, as if she’d been carrying around some great burden and was suddenly free now that she was in his arms. She laced her fingers behind his neck and buried her face in his chest, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Momentarily stunned by her warm body wrapped around his, it took him a moment to get his feet moving.

He carried her through the building, catching surprised glances from the other agents as he held her tightly to his chest, crossing through the emptying rooms. She sank into him, into his protection and that measure of complete trust and surrender twisted something inside Cole, invoking a feeling he’d never encountered until now.

“Found a girlfriend back there, Fletcher?” one of the guys said, followed by a wave of laughter.

Normally, he’d snap back a retort, but he couldn’t focus on much with her locked in his embrace. The fragrant waves of dark hair spilling over her shoulders, the soft curves of her body molding to his hard chest was more than a little distracting.

When they entered the front room, Savannah finally spoke. “You can set me down now.” Her breath was warm against his neck and it sent a tingling rush down his spine.

He lowered her feet to the floor, suddenly finding himself reluctant to let her go. She looked at him and blinked twice, her mouth opening to draw in a shuddering breath. He felt just as speechless. Emotions he’d thought long dead stirred within him.

She turned and strode toward the few people still left in the building—a small group of children lined up against the far wall, looking bewildered.

It was no big shocker that a group of male agents were clueless as to what to do with the littlest victims. At least they had enough sense to bring them inside out of the rain while they waited for the vans to arrive.

Savannah kneeled before the children and spoke to them in a hushed voice. Whatever she said had the power to calm them. Several of the older kids swiped at tears and fixed on brave faces. The littlest one, a toddler with blonde, curls crawled onto her lap.

At first Cole had been solely focused on the mission—to capture Jacob—but now he wondered what would happen to the women and children. Well, mainly the young woman, Savannah.

When the vans arrived, he watched her help the children fashion capes out of discarded blankets to shield them from the rain. Then she paraded them outside to the waiting vehicles.

The unfamiliar sting of worry pierced his chest. This was the only home they knew, and it was now the center of an FBI investigation. They’d been literally cast out into the cold. He shook the thought away. Damn. He must be going soft. This was the same kind of thing he’d counseled junior agents on—never get emotionally involved in a case. It was a mind fuck waiting to happen. But watching Savannah walk away, her shapely backside and legs encased in a pair of jeans, damp hair hanging down her back, he knew better than to pretend he wasn’t affected. Damn it.

As Cole stood in the doorway, the cold air snatched his breath away instantly, forcing him to pull the edges of his jacket tighter. He couldn’t help thinking about her lush, soft curves and how she’d felt in his arms. Wanting her was a powerful, primal need, an instinctive response, and one he hadn’t experienced in a long time. The difference was he’d never act on it.

Hell, he was willing to bet he’d never even see her again. And that was for the best.

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