Colters woman, p.25
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       Colters Woman, p.25
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         Part #1 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
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Page 25

 

  She threw open the door to the cabin and plunged into the snow. Icy wetness met her hips as she scrambled to gain her footing.

  Her heart sank. She’d never make it out alive. The snow was too high. Too deep. She’d freeze to death in her scanty clothing long before she could make it to safety.

  She set her jaw until it ached. She wasn’t going to die at the bastard’s hands. If she died, it wouldn’t be without a fight.

  Ignoring the pain, the cold and the horrible numbness affecting her limbs, she struggled on, determined to put as much distance between her and her abductor as she could.

  She headed for the trees, hoping to lose herself in the wooded area. A hysterical laugh bubbled from her throat. How could she lose anyone in three feet of snow?

  Her head popped back. She was yanked backwards, a hand wrapped tightly in her hair. She turned on him, fighting tooth and nail. Her survival was at hand.

  Metal glistened in the early morning sun. Then tearing agony exploded in her chest. She fell back into the snow, dimly aware of the man holding a knife above her. Her uninjured arm sank into the snow. Her hand grasped for purchase and knocked against a rock. She gripped it tightly, prepared to make her last stand.

  With a cry of rage, she hauled her arm forward and bashed the man’s head with the rock as he plunged downward with the knife again. This time the knife glanced off her shoulder, cutting a long gash down her arm.

  He fell face first into the snow, and she gave him no time to recover. She rolled, raising the rock high again and hitting him as hard as she could. He went still, and she dropped the rock.

  She rolled and scooted away, trying desperately to regain her footing. The world tilted and swayed around her, her mind swimming in sheer agony. He’d stabbed her in the chest. She could feel hot blood running over her skin. Her left arm dangled uselessly beside her. Somehow she had to find a way home.

  She stumbled down the hill, away from the cover of the trees. She needed to be in plain sight now. Her only hope was rescue.

  She closed her eyes. She’d never told them she loved them. Hot tears fell, mixing with the blood that ran freely down her body. If only she’d told them.

  * * *

  Adam drove the Land Rover to its limits. For two hours, they’d searched every nook and cranny of the mountain. There was only one possibility left, and despite his best effort, he was fast losing hope.

  “Around the next bend, take the path off the road,” Ethan directed, his voice grim. “We have to hope the snowfall hasn’t made the trail impassable. ”

  Adam tore around the corner and braked as the turnoff rushed to greet them.

  “Adam look!” Ethan cried out.

  Adam wasted no time. A fresh trail down the path. One made recently. By a vehicle. He sped up the bumpy incline, slipping and rocking in the snow. The four-wheel drive made quick work of the path, and soon they rounded the bend to the old mining cabin.

  A black SUV glinted in the sunlight. Adam roared to a stop, grabbed his rifle and piled out of the Rover. Ethan followed quickly behind, his gun up and ready.

  Adam frowned when he saw the door wide open. He ducked under the window and peered inside through the entryway. It was empty.

  He and Ethan rushed inside.

  “Someone’s been here,” Ethan muttered. “Very recently. ”

  Ethan picked up a still lit cigarette lying on the floor and flicked it away.

  Adam’s heart sank as he looked around. There were visible signs of a scuffle. Blood on the floor. He whirled around and ran out the door, his eyes searching the snow for fresh signs.

  Deep trenches in the snow led away from the cabin and into the trees in the distance. He and Ethan leapt off the porch and began charging after the tracks.

  A few seconds later, Ethan put a hand out to halt Adam.

  “Look!”

  Ethan pointed to a body in the distance. They ran over to find a man slumped in the snow. Blood seeped from a wound in the back of his head.

  Adam rolled him over. He was unconscious. Hope beat a steady rhythm in his heart. Had Holly been able to escape him?

  Then his eyes came to rest on the dark red blood that stained the snow. Blood that did not come from the man. His eyes followed the splatters across the snow where it continued down the hill.

  “Let’s go!” he shouted.

  They powered down the hill. Adam prayed the whole way. God let them find her. Let her be okay.

  “Adam, there she is!”

  Adam looked ahead in time to see Holly wobble and slump into the snow. He ran the remaining thirty yards, his heart screaming the entire way.

  When he got to her, he reached down and pulled her up to his chest.

  “Oh God,” he moaned.

  There was so much blood. It bathed her entire front. Her left arm lay at an odd angle, swollen and discolored.

  “Holly! Holly, baby,” he cried.

  Ethan sank down beside him and helped Adam lift her from the snow.

  Her eyes fluttered weakly. Disorientation clouded their depths. She pushed and shoved, trying to stand.

  She was running on adrenaline, and she was fast running out. She began to shake violently.

  “She’s going into shock,” Adam said. “We have to get her out of here now. Radio in. Tell them to have the chopper waiting. We’ll have to get her as far down the mountain as we can.

  “Ryan,” she cried out. “Oh God, Ryan. ” She struggled weakly against Adam, tears slipping down her cheeks.

  “Shhh, baby. Ryan’s okay. I swear it. ”

  She didn’t seem to hear him.

  “I never told…I never told them I loved them,” she whispered.

  Adam held her tighter against him. He buried his lips in her hair and blinked back tears. “God, I love you too, baby. I love you too. ”

  He stood up, holding her carefully in his arms. He had no idea the extent of her injuries, but he had to get her down the mountain fast.

  Ethan rushed ahead, clearing a path in the snow for Adam. They struggled up the hill, each step excruciatingly slow. Finally the Land Rover was in sight. Ethan surged forward, redoubling his efforts.

  “Get me the first aid kit,” Adam barked. “I’ll sit in the backseat and lay her down. I need to try and stop the bleeding. ”

  Ethan threw open the back and hauled out the first aid kit, several blankets and a wad of bandages.

  As soon as Adam got into the back with Holly, Ethan cranked the engine and roared back down the trail toward the main road.

  “How is she, Adam? I need to know something,” Ethan said, desperation creeping into his voice.

  “The bastard broke her arm. Looks like he stabbed her in the chest. Christ, there’s so much blood!”

  Helplessness had him in a firm grip. He kept a finger to her neck, feeling for her pulse. It was weak and erratic, but it still beat against his skin.

  He wadded the bandages in his hand and pressed them to the wound on her chest. He needed to slow the flow of blood.

  “Ryan…”

  Holly was only half-conscious and completely unaware of Adam and Ethan. Adam smoothed his free hand over her cheek.

  “Ryan’s okay, baby. Do you hear me?”

  She tossed her head, soft moans rasping from her throat.

  “Cold…so cold. ”

  “Turn up the damn heat,” Adam barked at Ethan.

  He gathered the blankets tighter around her, trying to infuse warmth into her body.

  The squawk of the radio interrupted him, and he heard Ethan respond, but Adam’s focus was on Holly and the blood-soaked bandages in his hand.

  “The chopper’s almost here,” Ethan called back. “They’re landing in Duffy’s pasture. We’ll be there in about two minutes. ”

  Adam sucked in a breath of relief. They were nearly there, and the sooner Holly got to a hospital, the better her chances of survival.

  “Any word on
Ryan?” Adam asked.

  “Lacey said they life flighted him to Denver. Same hospital they’ll take Holly to. They were worried at the amount of blood he lost. ”

  Ethan’s voice carried an undercurrent of concern, one that jarred Adam’s nerves all the more.

  “But he was okay, right?”

  “Said he lost consciousness right before they took off. Don’t know any more than that. ”

  “Fuck!”

  He closed his eyes and wanted to howl in fury and frustration. Tears stung his lids, and he shut his eyes even harder to prevent them from leaking out. He’d never felt so damn helpless in his life.

  The two most important people in his life aside from Ethan could be taken from him.

  He grabbed at the seat to steady himself when the Land Rover came to an abrupt stop. The door flew open, and a flight medic peered in.

  The medic yelled back instructions, and two responders ran over with a backboard and jump bag. Adam backed out of the Rover and let them take over.

  A hand slipped over Adam’s shoulder and he turned to see Lacey standing there.

  “I just want you to know how sorry I am this happened, Adam. ”

  “I know you are, Lacey. ”

  “Is there anything I can do?”

  He turned to look at her. “We left the man up at the old mining cabin. He’s probably dead by now. You might want to have a deputy go up and get him. ”

  Lacey gave him a sharp look. “You didn’t kill him, did you, Adam?”

  “No, but I wish I had,” he returned softly.

  The medics pulled Holly out of the Land Rover and laid her on the backboard. Adam and Ethan ran over but were warded back by the paramedic.

  “This is a load and go situation, sir. I’m sorry, but we don’t have any time to waste. ”

  Adam’s mouth opened, wanting to ask the question, but it stuck. He wouldn’t allow himself to voice it. Instead, he watched as they hustled the backboard onto the chopper. The flight medic jumped in and signaled the pilot to take off. Seconds later, the bird lifted into the air and flew toward Denver.

  “Let’s go, Adam,” Ethan said in a strained voice. One that sounded very much like he was holding back tears as well. “It’s a few hours’ drive to Denver. ”

  Adam followed numbly behind Ethan and they climbed into the Rover. He was afraid. Afraid of what they’d discover when they arrived at the hospital.

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Adam managed to piss off no less than six people before he discovered where Ryan and Holly were. He’d torn through the busy ER until he’d been threatened with arrest if he didn’t settle down.

  Holly had been taken to surgery, but Ryan was still in the ER where he was receiving a blood transfusion. At first, Adam and Ethan had been told they couldn’t see Ryan yet, but after Adam swore he’d take down the waiting room piece by piece, the nurse had relented and allowed them back.

  Adam shoved into the door, anxious to see his younger brother. Ryan’s appearance shocked him. Beside him, Ethan sucked in his breath as well.

  Pale, haggard, weary lines etched around his eyes, Ryan looked like hell, plain and simple. His shoulder was heavily bandaged, and he had enough wires and lines running from him to keep a small city supplied in electricity.

  Ryan’s eyes fluttered open when the two brothers walked in. His head surged up, pain creasing his brow.

  “Where is she? Did you find her?” he demanded.

  Adam stopped by the bed, his knees weak with relief. There was nothing wrong with Ryan a few days in the hospital wouldn’t fix.

  “We found her,” Adam said quietly.

  “Where is she?” Ryan gritted from behind clenched teeth.

  Adam ran a hand through his hair, trying desperately to maintain his composure.

  “She’s here. In the hospital,” Ethan spoke up.

  Ryan’s eyes blazed. “How is she?”

  “We don’t know,” Adam said.

  Ryan jerked his head back toward Adam. He swallowed heavily then opened his mouth. “What happened?”

  Adam closed his eyes. “He stabbed her in the chest. Broke her arm. She’s in surgery. They airlifted her here. We don’t know much. ”

  Ryan sank back against his pillows, his face white. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Adam felt a painful twinge in his chest. He hadn’t seen Ryan cry since they were kids.

  “Will she…will she be okay?” he rasped.

  Adam exchanged looks with Ethan. He didn’t want to lie to Ryan, but Ryan was in no shape for this kind of burden.

  “I think she’ll be fine,” Adam said, hoping he hadn’t just lied.

  “I let her down. I failed her,” Ryan said bleakly.

  “I let you both down,” Adam said. “I should have never left either of you. But we can’t think of that right now. ”

  Ethan put a hand on Ryan’s uninjured shoulder. “How are you feeling?”

  “I’m pissed,” Ryan said angrily. “I let that bastard get the drop on me. ”

  “What did the doc say about your shoulder?” Adam said, pushing the subject firmly back to Ryan.

  Ryan closed his eyes again and sank further into the pillow. “Says I’ll be fine. Gave me two pints of blood, patched up the wound. Wants me to stay a day or two, but overall, he said I was one lucky bastard. ”

 
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