They caught me. Naked, shivering and dripping after a spontaneous swim in the forest. Two rugged men whose hard gazes captivated and scared me all at once.
They warned me. Told me I was on private property and I needed to obey the law…or I would be punished.
The idea of them both punishing me, pleasuring me, kept tormenting me. I couldn’t want them. I shouldn’t. But I did.
I didn’t mean to trespass again. I thought I could retreat without notice. But they’re coming for me.
To show me the pleasure in pain. To show me just how right forbidden can feel. And to love me twice as hard as I ever fantasized.
A man emerges, face pressed against the barrel of a shotgun.
I fall back on my elbows. A scream tears from my lungs. The sound radiates, gaining traction in its echo around us.
The gun lowers, revealing a face of molten fury. “What are you doing here?”
I swallow, gasping, “I’m sorry.”
“You shouldn’t be here. This is private land.”
“I’m sorry.” I scramble backward across the ground on my palms. Blood roars in my ears.
“I thought you were a deer. I could’ve shot you.” His gun falls the rest of the way down, pointing to the ground, but he’s no less menacing as he approaches. No less a hunter.
Me no less a deer.
“I could’ve killed you.”
I struggle for words. “I was at the waterfall. My husband told me to come this way.”
“Your husband?” He steps closer again. His dirty blond hair is cut short but ungroomed. Sandy bristles cover his jaw and continue down his neck. He isn’t as huge as the other man, but he’s plenty big enough.
“You’re not wearing a ring.” He looks at my hands, pressed to the dirt, then to my chest—still damp and shirt clinging. My nipples still ridiculously hard. “You’re not wearing much.”
My pulse hammers in my ears.
He crouches, then reaches for me and takes my hand. My fingers shake. I tell myself only because I’m still shaken up over the gunshot. He’s done nothing wrong. I’m the one who’s half-wet trespassing on private hunting ground. He helps me up, but doesn’t let my hand go. Intuition sweeps me into electrified sense of vulnerability. Not because of my state of dress, or rather undress, but because of the power of his hand around mine.
“Where would this husband of yours be?” The question could be innocent if his cool blue eyes didn’t narrow on me that way. If his voice wasn’t a silken lure, wrapping around me like an anaconda.
If his features didn’t pinch with the callous assessment of a hunter lining up a shot.
And maybe I could give my answer—nowhere that can help me now—if heat didn’t bubble in my blood.
“He’s waiting for me in our cabin. It’s just down the hill off the main road.” My tongue darts across my dry lips. “He’s expecting me back any minute.”
He’ll come looking. I let that statement, that outright lie, suggest.
His gaze flicks to my mouth. “We should let you go, then.”
I feel, rather than hear, the movement behind me. I look back. The other man, the darker man, the one I’d let see me naked, emerges from the trees.
Oh, shit. My lungs freeze with foreboding, and blood rushes to my limbs, muscles twitching to flee.
“This time…” He keeps my hand held tight, belying his promise to let me go. “But know this, you’re on our land. Everything on this side of the mountain down to the canyon is ours.”
Steps approach, and for one heart-stopping moment I think they’ll catch me between them. Everything on this side of the mountain down to the canyon is theirs. There’s no doubt in my mind that, right now, that includes me.
“We hunt here.” He releases my hand. I don’t stumble back. The other man is too close. “Wander here again and who knows what will happen to you.”
“I’m sorry,” I repeat, and step sideways. “I won’t.”
He smiles so wolfishly. The silly fear I first had when I set out this morning, of what wild animals might lurk in the forest, vanishes.
It isn’t wild animals I have to fear.
It’s wild men.
“See that you don’t, Mrs.…?”
I take three more steps. He wants my name? Really? I glance between them. The darker one remains as stony and silent as he’d been before. His gaze now less desperate but more intense.
“Gabby.” I’m not quite brave enough to refuse to identify myself, but there’s not much you can do with a first name, especially one that’s shortened.
“I’m Clarke,” the gunman says, then gestures to the other. “That’s my brother Luke.”
My mouth opens. What am I supposed to say, nice to meet you? They threatened me then told me their names. Why?
“Goodbye,” I say, then spin and run as though my motherfucking life depends on it.
Sure feels like it does.