Syrian Desert, Jordan
190 kilometers SE of Zaatari Refugee Camp
He rested the gun on his knee and pulled the bandana off his face. Jeezus, of course, he'd
be dusty, grimy and great looking.
“Water?” he croaked.
Z growls gurgled up from the rotten pool of stench surrounding us. Incapacitated biters
crawled at the rate of about one meter per hour. But at this exact moment, the newly arrived
armed stranger concerned me more than the undead.
I studied the man hunkered down in the sand. A male survivor in good health could be
worse than a horde of zombies. Men raped women like me—more than once––then they ate all
your food. Worst of all, they wouldn’t hesitate to pimp you out for a meal, ammo, or gasoline.
Like I said, worse than a shitload of zombies.
I scanned the raised bank that bordered the road. The silhouette of something lean, mean,
and fast rested on a kickstand. The zombie slayer’s dust cloud-maker. And my ticket out of here.
I unsnapped the plastic travel bottle from my utility belt and handed over the water.
He didn’t drink. He guzzled.
“Hey, leave some for me.”
He released the water bottle with a gasp. “Got more?”
I narrowed my gaze. “Got food?”
He hesitated long enough to be manufacturing a lie. “In the saddle bag on my bike.”
“There’s a couple of gallons in the truck.” I nodded toward the transport vehicle behind
me. “I’ll trade you a share of my water for a share of your food.”
The ends of his mouth curled upward, and he ogled my thighs as high as the boy shorts
allowed. Pretty sure he was thinking about a different kind of trade.
I met his gaze and held it. “Deal?”
His attention shifted to my truck. He could grab both gallons and make a run for it.
I squinted. “Don’t even try it.”
His cute lip curl turned cynical. “Awww. She doesn’t trust me.” He rose and took long
strides toward the transport. Midway, he stopped to shoot a crawler in the back of the neck. One
of the most annoying things about killing zombies is the having to kill them over and over.
Cursing under my breath, I raced ahead and beat him to the truck. I guarded the door and
watched his simple, unhurried style. One by one he made sure the crawlers were dead.
He removed his helmet and scratched his head. He was tall, a bit over six feet with nice
hair––short and scruffy. Hard to tell exactly what shade of brown in the moonlight. He slung the
M4 under his shoulder and approached the truck slowly. That gaze of his caused tingles in places
I didn’t want to think about right now.
I did a quick evaluation of my situation. Out of gas in the middle of the Syrian
desert––bad luck. Woke up to a pod of biters surrounding the truck––welcome to my bad town.
Running into this zombie slayer? For now, it was safe to assume that every badass inch of his
badass dick was trouble.
Warmth and a soft tickle skated along Brenna’s jawline. Lips, the same full, delicious ones she’d craved since Ludan had kissed her, the scruff of his beard leaving the same unforgettable impact as his mouth. His wavy hair slid through her fingers, a weighted silk that teased her forearms. He slanted his mouth across hers and licked inside.
Perfect. The slide of his tongue, his taste, the way he groaned into the kiss and sent perfect trills coursing down her spine. Nothing on earth was better.
He lifted his head. His ice-blue eyes glowed with need and so much passion it resonated in her soul. “This is what you want.”
Odd. It was Ludan’s voice, but her own was superimposed with it. And it wasn’t a question, but a statement.
Candles surrounded them, and a scarlet satin comforter stretched beneath them.
“This is what you want,” Ludan said again, ghosting his knuckles along her collarbone and slipping his fingers beneath the neckline of her nightshirt.
Her heart leapt at the touch, his caress only hinting in the direction of her breast, but drawing her nipples to hard points. “Yes.”
He smiled and lowered his gaze, a long lock of hair falling over his forehead. “So beautiful.”
Cool air assaulted her flesh, sending goose bumps along her torso. Her nightshirt was gone, whisked away by her dreams.
Inch by inch, he trailed his fingertips down her sternum, his expression so reverent and caring she was afraid to move.
He cupped one breast, and she arched into the contact, too overwhelmed with the sensation to do anything but close her eyes and surrender to its magic. She tightened her grip on the back of his head, urging him closer. “Ludan, please.” She didn’t know what it was she needed, only that she did, and badly.
“Shhh.” He dipped his head and smoothed his lips along the path his fingers had taken.
Over and over, the word echoed through her head. Nothing else mattered except the feel of him against her. His weight, the warmth of his skin, and the safety of his arms. She closed her eyes and splayed her hands across his wide shoulders. So much strength. Power as rigidly contained as the man. “Ludan.”
One of his big hands cupped her shoulders, and his lips disappeared.
She squeezed her eyes and willed them back. “Ludan, please.”
He spoke again, but this time it was different. Farther away and muffled. “Brenna.”
She rolled her head back and forth on the pillow. No, no, no. She couldn’t lose him. Not again. She hadn’t done anything wrong this time. Had she?
The hand at her shoulder tightened. “Brenna, wake up.”
Heat registered beside her. Not the kind from her dream, but real. Tangible, deliciously masculine heat and muscle.
Her eyes snapped open.
Ludan lay propped on one elbow beside her, the other hand holding her shoulder as she’d felt in her dream. In the daylight, his form was intimidating, but in the night’s shadows, he was downright scary. “You okay?”
Not really. Sweat misted her skin, and her heart jack-rabbited in an out-of-control rhythm. The covers were too heavy, pressing against her tight breasts. She shifted her legs and nearly moaned at the throbbing pulse between them. “I’m fine.”
The comment earned her a sharp frown. He relinquished his hold and leaned back far enough that the bay’s moonlight brought him out of shadow. At some point after she’d fallen asleep, he’d removed his T-shirt, leaving his perfect body on prime display. “You didn’t sound fine.”
She pushed upright and leaned against the headboard, careful to hide her aching nipples with the sheet. Looking at him only made the ache worse. In that moment, she’d give a lot to let her fingers have free rein. “It was just a dream,” she whispered.
He stared at her, then lowered his gaze to her clenched fists in the sheets. “You’re afraid.”
“No.” It came out too fast, and his eyes snapped to hers. “I mean, it was an intense dream, but not something I’m afraid of.”
An odd look flittered across his face, caution or suspicion. “Tell me.”
This is what you want.
Clearly, her subconscious wasn’t in the mood to mess around. And while she’d happily go there in dreams every night, she wasn’t so sure Ludan would appreciate the concept of them together as much as she did. Especially after what had happened last time.
“I…” What could she say? “I’m not sure it’s something you’d want to hear. It was personal.”
His eyes narrowed. “Personal, as in…”
“Personal.” She pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. “It was about the two of us.”
His head snapped back, and his breathing accelerated. He clenched the sheet at his waist, and his nostrils flared. “What about us?”
A strange yet not unpleasant sensation swirled low in her belly, and the pulse between her legs ramped to blistering demand. She could keep the dream to herself. Never say a thing and let it slide.
Or she could take a chance.
She licked her lower lip. “We were intimate.”