Nola Lester couldn’t take it anymore. She’d had enough. Twice, in under a month at her new home, she’d been yanked out of bed by the bleats and cries of deer caught in snares. Luckily, while rescuing them, she hadn’t been clobbered to death by thrashing hooves. Just last week she saved a coyote. That rescue was insane but she couldn’t leave the baying animal to gnaw its leg off in the trap. The creature didn't shut up the whole trip to the nearest town to seek qualified help. The drive was excruciating. Then she almost clunked the doddering old vet on his balding head when he asked what she wanted him to do. Her reminder to him he'd taken an oath to help all creatures, and the angry, full of piss and vinegar look she aimed in his direction, spurred him into action. She’d only released the poor dog back into the wild a few days ago.
And here she stood, in the dead of night, doing it again.
Her eyes were glued to the bastard trying to capture the deer. What the hell? Damn snare snagged the animals for him, and that seemed unfair. Did he plan on butchering it right there in the clearing illuminated by his vehicle's headlights? Nola had a feeling this would get worse before it got better. In her new home, she was surrounded by men and boys with a penchant for killing God’s four-legged children.
But not tonight, not on her watch. “Turn it loose, now!” The decision to renovate and move into the run down cabin left to her by her grandmother was made to get away from tires squealing, the raucous blare of sirens jarring her from sleep, and the god damn random shots ringing out in the night. Nothing had changed. Her mind was jumbled with these thoughts when she realized the man said something.
“Easy, lady. Why don’t you put down the gun? This isn’t what you think.”
Jerk was going to try and explain it away. She’d grown cold and her body was racked with tremors. How stupid could she be standing damn near naked and alone in the woods with a man she didn’t know from squat? A freaking little twenty-two in her hand. Her girlfriends called it her pop shooter, said it wouldn’t faze anything other than a small rat. Okay, so maybe she should listen to him.
"What are you doing, then?" Nola grinded her teeth together to stop them from chattering.
* * *If he laughed at the sight she presented, he’d be shot for sure. Rand bit down hard on his tongue to stifle the sound as he looked at the crazed woman in front of him. She stood with her back to a full moon, and light shimmered on a mass of dark curls hanging in disarray around her head. Her thin nightgown danced in the breeze, wrapping around a voluptuous body outlined by the moon’s light. Rand bit down harder on his tongue. Evidently, she'd just climbed out of bed, and damn if she didn’t have on a pair of pink bunny slippers. “If you put down the gun, I can explain. I was driving by and heard the cries myself.”
“Explain to me what the hell you’re doing out here? You cretins don’t even hunt. You snare the poor animal and then what?" Her bitter words were tinged with a note of sadness. "I’m sick and tired of it. I came here for peace and quiet, and I’m still surrounded by gun shots and death." He watched her hand shook as she gripped the tiny pistol tighter. "I don’t like hunters, but at least I understand them. What you’re doing here is senseless and cruel, it’s not hunting. You bastards are all alike.”
Now he was pissed off. “Lady, you don’t know me, so don’t lump me in with a bunch of mean, sadistic killers, I don’t like it.” Uncontrollable heat rose up his face. “Where the hell did you came from anyway, do you own this property?" Rand hadn't seen any houses or lights nearby. "You’ll get shot running around out here in the dark waving around a peashooter.” The weapon, and the inexperienced way she held it, made him nervous. “Please, put the gun away and let's talk.”
He’d been inching toward her as he spoke and hoped like hell she hadn’t noticed. She looked like a deer caught in headlights. Her eyes were stretched so wide, he could see the whites gleaming in the light from his pickup parked behind him, and her body visibly trembled either from her angry tirade or the cool wind whipping through the trees. Close enough to reach out and disarm her, he made his move.
But Rand Mitchell’s life had never been that easy.
The tiny blast in the quiet night shocked him, and he jumped back. Pain sliced through his left side. He touched the spot and looked at his hand. Blood. “You fucking shot me.”
That was the last thing he remembered.
Hope you enjoyed this snippet. I'm not quite sure where the characters are going in this story, but I'm sure the ride along with them will be unforgettable, and hot!
Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele