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The darkest hour, p.32
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       The Darkest Hour, p.32

         Part #1 of KGI series by Maya Banks
 
Page 32

 

  She gave one slow nod to let him know she heard and understood. There was a slight bump from the rear, and she grabbed the steering wheel again as her heart accelerated damn near out of her chest.

  “Easy!” Sean barked. Then he turned back to Rachel. “Okay, honey, stay with me here. We’re going to do this. ”

  Again she nodded. She swallowed the panic back. Sean was here. He wouldn’t let anything happen to her. But she wanted Ethan. She needed him here.

  “Ethan,” she whispered hoarsely

  “He’s coming, Rachel. He’ll be here any minute, okay? Promise. ”

  The metal of the truck creaked and groaned in protest. It lurched back, popping her neck forward. There was a protesting shriek and then she saw the hood start to shift over the edge.

  Then there was a loud crack and a bang and the truck dipped forward. She screamed and then her door flew open. Sean reached in, yanked at her seat belt, then hauled her roughly from the seat.

  They fell to the ground, her sprawled over him. She looked back just in time to see the truck plunge over the bridge. Horrified, she heard the explosion of water and felt the spray as it lifted into the air and blew back over them.

  “Son of a bitch,” Sean muttered underneath her.

  Numbly she stared at the empty spot where Ethan’s truck had rested just moments before. She couldn’t wrap her brain around it. There were people everywhere. Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars. They’d roped off the entire area, and rescue personnel raced to the edge and stood looking over with expressions of awe. Then they looked back at her.

  She began to shake. No matter how hard she tried to control it, every muscle in her body jittered. It was worse than withdrawal.

  Sean sat up, his arms closing around her.

  “Are you okay?” he asked gently.

  She couldn’t even answer. Her teeth chattered together painfully. She raised a hand to her mouth, but even her fingers trembled violently.

  They sat on the hard surface of the road, her sprawled over his legs as he held her. All she could do was stare at the empty space on the bridge.

  “Oh my God,” she finally said. “Ethan’s truck. ”

  “Don’t worry about the truck. Ethan will only be glad you’re alive,” Sean soothed.

  “Rachel!”

  She turned in the direction of Ethan’s voice, and a moment later, he burst through the crowd, shaking off hands that tried to hold him back.

  Finally his gaze lighted on her, and the relief she saw was staggering. He ran over and dropped to his knees beside her and Sean. Then he hauled her into his arms, his hold so tight she couldn’t breathe.

  “Oh God, baby. You scared me. Holy hell, never do that to me again. Are you all right? Are you hurt?”

  As he rambled, he pulled her back and ran his hands over her body.

  “I’m okay,” she croaked. “Sean saved me. ”

  “Thank God, thank God,” he said over and over as he rocked her in his arms.

  “Your truck,” she blurted. “It’s gone. I’m sorry. ”

  He framed her face in both hands and stared fiercely at her. “I don’t give a fuck. You’re all that matters to me. ”

  Garrett, Sam and Donovan all came running up and staggered to a halt where she, Ethan and Sean were still sprawled on the ground. Sam ventured toward the edge where so many others were standing and peered over.

  “Jesus,” he muttered as he came away again.

  Rachel turned to Sean, who was still pale and breathing erratically.

  “Thank you. You risked your life to save me when the truck was going over. ”

  “Was glad to do it, but Rachel? Can we never do that again?”

  She mustered a smile and reached over to squeeze his hand. “I promise. ”

  Sam and Donovan reached down to haul Sean to his feet. Garrett bent down and gently helped Rachel up while Ethan also got up.

  “You okay, sweet pea?” Garrett asked.

  She nodded. “Thanks to Sean. ”

  She glanced down at the hands that wouldn’t quit shaking. She sagged tiredly against Ethan and clutched at his waist.

  “Can we go home?”

  Ethan looked toward Sean, whose lips twisted in regret.

  “Are you up to answering some questions for me, Rachel? I need to know what happened here. ”

  Cold fear snaked up her spine as her mind flashed to that moment before impact. It was odd just how clear it all was in her mind. That brief glimpse in the rearview mirror. The feeling of impact. And the second. She frowned.

  “Someone tried to run me off the bridge,” she blurted.

  Ethan stiffened beside her. Garrett’s face drew into a storm cloud while Sam and Donovan raised their brows in confusion.

  Sean frowned, then gestured toward a waiting ambulance. “Why don’t you have a seat in the back and let the paramedic look you over. We can talk while he’s taking a look at you. ”

  She looked down. She wasn’t hurt. Then she looked around at all the faces staring back at her. Deep concern was etched into their expressions. Sure, she was shaking like a leaf, but did she look that bad?

  Ethan guided her over to where a paramedic waited. The first thing he did was wrap a blanket around her shoulders, and then Ethan lifted her to sit in the back of the ambulance.

  Dutifully, she listened to the medic’s instructions, and she frowned when she shook even harder. “Shock,” she heard someone murmur. Well duh. She’d nearly fallen off a bridge.

  “Now, tell me what happened,” Sean said in an even voice.

  She shrugged. “I don’t really know. One minute I was glancing over where the last accident had taken place and then he hit me from behind. ”

  “He?”

  Her brows scrunched together. “Well I suppose it could have been a she. I didn’t see. It was just a supposition. ”

  “I see. What happened then?”

  “He hit me on the left so that I spun toward the part of the bridge that was missing. Then he hit me dead-on. It pushed me closer. I practically stood up on the brakes, but he hit me a third time, and that was what pushed me over the edge. ”

  Sean exchanged glances with Ethan and his brothers. She couldn’t tell if he was concerned over the idea that someone would try to push her off a bridge or if he was worried she was losing her mind.

  “I’m not crazy,” she said softly.

  Ethan curled his hand around hers. “Shhh, baby. Of course you’re not. ”

  “Any witnesses, Sean?” Garrett asked.

  “They’re being questioned now. No sign of the other vehicle. We’re looking. No plates, not even a partial. Likely the guy panicked and fled the scene. We’ll find him. He couldn’t have gotten far. There has to be substantial damage to his front end. ”

  “Can I take her home now?” Ethan asked over her head.

  “Yeah sure. I’ll follow up with more later, but yeah, get her home. She looks done for. ”

  “Come on, I’ll give you a ride,” Garrett said. “Sam, you need to get Donovan back home so he can head out. ”

  Ethan helped Rachel down as the paramedic smiled encouragingly at her. Though Ethan took a wide berth around the gaping hole in the side of the bridge, she knew what was down there, and she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that whoever had hit her had done it with a single purpose in mind. Her death.

  CHAPTER 32

  ETHAN lay back on the couch and rubbed his fingers up and down in a soothing pattern on Rachels’ arm. She was huddled close to him, her body warm and sweet against his.

  Both of them had their shoes kicked off, and she had her legs entwined with his and her feet tucked between his. They were wrapped up like mating love bugs, and it was hard for him to remember a time when he’d been more content.

  “I could stay like this forever,” she murmured.

  Had he been so transparent? He was thinking the exact same thing. It did odd things to him
that she seemed as content as he did.

  He continued stroking her arm, simply enjoying the sensation of touching her. She snuggled a little deeper into his embrace, and he smiled as her hair fell over his lips and nose.

  “Feeling better now?” he asked.

  “Still a little jittery, but yes, much better now that I’m here with you. ”

  A surge of pleasure shot through his chest. He didn’t tell her, but his insides were pretty much toast. He was amazed he could even lie here so calmly and hold her when he was still screaming what the fuck in his head.

  Never did he want to relive the terrible moment of Sean calling him to say Rachel was in danger of going over the bridge. Never. And to know that only Sean’s quick actions of jerking her out of the truck saved her still had the power to drive him to his knees.

  She shifted and elevated herself so that she could look down at him. Her hair had grown some in the last weeks, and thanks to a trip to the stylist with his mom, the ends had been trimmed and layers had been added.

  Her small hands spread out over his chest and she smoothed them upward to his shoulders.

  “Ethan?”

  He looked at her, knowing that in this moment she could ask him for damn near anything and he’d tell her yes.

  “Would you mind too terribly if I made love to you?”

  He swallowed and swallowed again. Here was this beautiful woman, a woman he loved more than anything. The woman he’d married and lost. Now she was here, like a dream, asking him so sweetly if she could make love to him.

  Dear God, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

  “I’d love nothing more,” he managed to croak out. It sounded better than oh hell yeah, even if that was what his cock was screaming.

  She smiled, and her eyes turned sultry. The fear and anxiety was replaced by a warm, earthy glow that sent shivers down his spine.

  He used to love it when she took the initiative in bed, but that had stopped when he’d started pushing her away. It didn’t take too many times of getting shot down before she stopped making the effort.

  His body reacted, leaping to life at the promise of seduction in her gaze. He let his hands linger on her arms as she shifted more so she could straddle him on the couch.

  Some of the wounded bruising so prevalent in her eyes had been replaced by an almost playful light. He could drown in that look.

  “I want to touch you,” she whispered.

  “Oh God, baby. I want you to touch me too. ”

  “Will you undress for me?”

  There was a shyness now to her gaze, and she dropped it slightly, refusing to meet his eyes. He picked up her hands and brought then to his mouth. He kissed each finger and then carefully shifted from underneath her.

  He rolled, putting his feet down to get up from the couch. Then he turned back to her and reached for the fly of his jeans. There was a spark of curiosity in her eyes, coupled with desire.

  He was so aroused by her open perusal that he had a hard time prying the jeans down over his erection. When it sprang free, he sighed an audible sound of relief.

  Her eyes widened in appreciation, and he hardened further, until his cock stretched painfully upward toward his navel. Forgoing the idea of being playful and teasing, he ripped his T-shirt over his head and tossed it aside. Then he stood before her nude, wanting her so damn much it was all he could do not to toss her down on the couch and ride her long and hard.

  She looked uncertain and nervous.

  “Tell me what you want me to do, baby,” he encouraged.

  Instead of directing him, she scooted forward on the couch, the T-shirt she’d changed into hanging around her knees. She glanced up at him once and then reached hesitantly until her fingers circled him.

  He let out a groan as the tips danced over his erection, stroking, petting lightly. Sweat broke out on his forehead when she cupped his balls, squeezing with just enough pressure to drive him insane.

  He wasn’t going to survive this. He was trying to be good. Patient and understanding when every instinct screamed at him to take his woman and make love to her until she forgot both their names.

  Then her lips found him and he forgot everything but her. It was just a light kiss. And then a playful lick. She grew bolder and he grew harder.

  His fingers curled into tight fists at his sides. He clenched and unclenched until he lost all the feeling around his knuckles.

  “You taste good,” she murmured.

  Ah hell.

  She licked a circle around the head, paying particular attention to the crease at the back and to the slit at the top. She was making him crazy. Absolutely stone cold nuts.

  “Rachel, baby, God . . . ”

  Teasingly she slid her tongue up the shaft and then underneath so she could suck gently at his sac. His toes curled into the carpet and he strained upward, wanting more of that delectable mouth.

  She gripped him tight with her hand and rolled outward, following her lips back up to the tip. Once again she licked delicately, and then without warning, she sucked him into her mouth, taking him deep.

  “Ahhhh!”

  He sank into the hot velvet clasp of her mouth. Her tongue rasped along the underside, the friction delicious and unbearable. When he reached his depth, she sucked gently and then with more force.

 
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