Just One Touch(4)

By: Maya Banks

God damn it. She had all the hallmarks of a domestic abuse victim. Boyfriend? Husband? Hell, maybe it was her father. She looked young enough to be a teenager. Her eyes were the only thing that made her appear older. Eyes that had seen too much. Old beyond her years. Educated the hard way, at the University of Life Sucks.

“I swear to you I won’t hurt you,” he said in a soothing voice one might use with a wild animal. “I’m sure as hell not calling the police or turning you in for attempted auto theft.”

Her face went even whiter at his mention of the police and he cursed his reckless words.

She opened her mouth to speak when Isaac heard the familiar whine of a bullet, and then the car next to him shuddered violently on its frame as the shot struck the tire, the echo of the shot reverberating loudly in the distance.

“Down!” he yelled, lunging for the woman.

As he circled his arms around her waist, he turned to thrust her to the ground so he could cover her with his body. He was simultaneously reaching for his own gun when more shots struck his SUV and the car beside it, and then pain exploded through his chest.

His mouth fell open in shock and for a moment he was rendered incapable of movement. Then the strength left his legs and he collapsed like a deflated balloon, hitting the ground with a thud right beside the woman, who was sprawled on the concrete a mere foot away.

“No. No!” the woman said hoarsely. “No, no, no!”

Her face appeared over his, concern and agony making her features starker than before. A sense of shock—and failure—assaulted him as he felt his body begin to shut down. After everything he’d encountered and fought against over the past few years, this was the way he was going out?

“Listen to me,” he rasped, startled when his voice came out as the merest thread of a whisper. “Get in my SUV. The keys are in it. Haul ass out of here. Get yourself to safety. There’s no helping me. I’m dying.”

“No!” she denied. “I won’t let you! I won’t!”

She scrambled to him and suddenly her face hovered over his, her blue eyes flashing nearly silver as her hoody fell back, and a cascade of curly pale hair blew around her neck as wildly as her hands ran over his bloody chest.

“Go,” he croaked, coughing and then choking as the metallic taste of blood coated his tongue.

Then she closed her eyes and her forehead creased in agony, and he gasped when her palms pressed deeply against his chest. It was like being hit by lightning. An electrical charge. His heart stuttered, then paused and his vision went blurry, her delicate features growing dimmer.

He stopped fighting the inevitable—death. He relaxed, expecting the end to come at any moment as coldness reached the inner core of his body. But then the most amazing sensation jolted him to awareness. Warmth. The most beautiful warmth he’d ever felt in his life slowly seeped into his veins, carrying with it the whispers of hope, of a new beginning,

He tried to speak, to protest, to ask if this was the end, but all he could do was gasp as his vision cleared once more and he saw the unbearable strain etched into every facet of her face.

Never had he felt a more wonderful sensation. Being warmed from the inside out. His laboring heart and lungs seemed to relax and still, and there was no pain, only . . . a resurgence. As if a surgeon had his hands inside Isaac’s chest, meticulously repairing the mortal damage done by the bullet.

He lifted his hand, shocked that he had the strength to do so. He greedily sucked in sweet, life-giving breath and marveled that not only was there no pain, but that what he felt couldn’t be described. No drug, no narcotic or pain-relieving agent could ever produce such a wonderful feeling.

He reached for her wrist, shackling it with his fingers, unsure of what she was doing but knowing she had to stop. She was in danger. The shooters were still there. Could be coming for her even now.

Her eyes flickered open the instant he touched her and his own eyes widened when he saw the turbulent whirl of flashing colors that made the once pale-blue orbs undetectable.

“Don’t,” she gritted out between tightly clenched teeth. “I am not finished. You must let me finish. I will not let you die.”