“Relax.” He lifted one of her hands off the butt of the pistol, checked the safety was on, then released the clip and set it aside. Tasks he could do in his sleep, perfect for keeping his mind occupied no matter how good she smelt. He couldn’t stop breathing her in. It was all about sex, or the lack thereof, not her in particular. An important fact to remember.
“Okay, keep both hands on the gun. Grip it like you’re holding a bird. Firmly enough that it’s not going to get away from you, loose enough that you’re not going to hurt it.”
“Alright.” The frown line above her nose deepened. Her slender fingers realigned beneath his. “Like this?”
“That’s good.” Finn held his hands up, made the peace sign then stuck a finger in the middle. “This is what you’re after, line up your front sight center between the two at the back. Raise the muzzle. You’re pointing low.”
Al adjusted her aim.
Finn brushed aside a piece of her hair tickling his nose, tucked it behind her ear. He resisted the urge to rub it between his fingers, to feel it and sniff it. Yet his hand lingered. He breathed in deep. Again. Finding words got hard. “Good, good. Don’t forget to breathe.”
She nodded, her face the picture of concentration.
“Pul the trigger nice and slow. Squeeze it. The gun,” he said, more for his benefit than hers.
Sex and soap.
Daniel slept on in the corner. Or appeared to. His eyes were shut, shoulders rising and dropping with deep, even breaths.
Finn felt no guilt. Refused to.
“Go on, Al. Do it,” he urged and she nodded hesitantly.
Her finger tightened. So did her shoulders, her arms, her everything. By the time the gun clicked, her aim was, once more, shot to shit. She had held her breath throughout the entire process. “Okay?”
“No. You’re too tense. That’s why you jerk the gun up when you fire and your shot gets wasted.”
“I hit someone yesterday.”
“You got lucky. Not something we can depend on. Go again. Relax. Breathe this time.” He leant in close to the rim of her ear. She shivered, frowned, but whether over his proximity or the gun, he couldn’t tell. Didn’t want to know. It was nice to let his mind run wild.
“Let your breath out slowly as you squeeze the trigger, okay? Don’t get all wound up over it going off. You know it’s going to happen, so let it. Relax, Al. Let it surprise you.”
She nodded, lined herself up and dry fired. Little changed the second time round.
The third time she marginal y improved.
“A little better. Keep going,” Finn said.
“Maybe … if you weren’t hovering.”
“Al, this is the least stressful situation you’re going to find yourself in when it comes to firing a weapon. Concentrate on what you’re doing. I need to be behind you. Deal with it.” Finn placed his hands on her shoulders. She flinched. “Easy. They’re there to remind you not to tense up. Go again.”
She scowled and fired.
He didn’t move his hands an inch. “You rushed it. Again.”
One pained expression later, she did so. Being told what to do clearly wasn’t her forte. Maybe she just needed to learn about the benefits it could bring. He’d certainly love to teach her.
“Much better. You’re focusing now. Maybe you don’t mind me hovering after al ,” he said, and she snorted, lined her sights up on her imaginary target once more. “That’s it.”
She nodded and the side of her mouth lifted. Then she relaxed the hair’s breadth left between her ass and his dick, shoving against the front of his jeans. She stilled instantly. “Finn?”
“It’s a predictable reaction, Al. Ignore it.”
“Go again.” He squeezed her shoulder, returning her focus to the task at hand. “Concentrate on what you’re doing.”
Her chin jerked, and she breathed nice and slow in a deliberate, steady motion. And fired.
He would have felt proud if he could feel anything beyond the light press of her ass against his crotch. Direct contact couldn’t have been better. “Good. You’re getting the hang of it. Keep going.”
“I held steady that time.” The edge of her mouth tensed, muscles moving, and she glanced back over her shoulder. “Are you sure we don’t need to talk about this?”
He turned her further with gentle pressure on her shoulders and waited. Watched her watch him until she had some iota, some notion as to his thoughts.
The way her face heated up satisfied him as nothing else could. “Are you offering to help me with this, Al?”
Her lashes fluttered – a nervous reaction. “You know I’m with him.”
“Then we’re not discussing it. We’re doing necessary target practice so you have the required skil s to help you stay alive.
Understood?” In the end, he was the one who moved away. It was simpler.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you,” she said. Because she didn’t understand a single thing. She turned on her knees to face him, and her gaze shifted to where Daniel lay in the corner, apparently oblivious.
It took everything in him not to grab her, make her look at him. He shoved his hands in his pockets for safety’s sake.
“I’m not hurt. I’m horny,” he explained. Maybe the tone edged toward patronizing, but bad luck. “Two different things.”
“I’m aware of that.” She gave a frustrated growl. He did his best to ignore it. Him and his dick both. “Why are you trying to piss me off? Why can’t we just have this conversation and clear the air?”
“Because, Al. We. Are. Not. Fucking. Understand?” He resisted the urge to shove a hand through his hair. Or hers. “Nothing is going on between us. Therefore, we don’t need to have these kinds of discussions.”
She stared at him, her brow channeled and lips tight.
“Okay? Can we just let it go for now, please?” He waited.
“Alright.” Her gaze dropped to his groin, danced off him and plummeted to the ground. There it steadfastly remained. “Thanks for the practice.”
“It needs to be a regular thing.”
“Sure.” Al turned away, concentrated on a huntsman spider making steady progress up the wall. She shook her head like she was shaking off an errant thought. “There are going to be other females out there, Finn.”
Other females weren’t his problem. She was. He stared and her face blossomed into color. He almost felt bad for making her so uncomfortable. Then again, she did have a charming tendency to blush at next to nothing.
Ridiculously, he welcomed any reaction from the woman. He couldn’t take his eyes off her and those twin spots of red sitting high on her cheeks. They’d be warm to the touch. Fiery hot and flushed with blood. He knew the feeling.
Daniel cleared his throat and drew up his foot in the corner, watched them both through a slit of an eye. “Give him the ‘I’m not the only untainted vagina in the country’ speech. That’ll put him in his place.”
Al glared back. “If you’re finished napping, we need to move on.”
“Wait. I’ve been thinking,” Finn announced, amused to see Al’s head whip up at the declaration. Startled eyes searched his face, proving she was stil thinking about sex. Which made him curious, but they didn’t have the time. “We keep running and sooner or later we’re going to start making mistakes. We’re going to get cornered.”
Dan’s gaze had been light, sleepy, but now he snapped to attention, face serious. “How many of them do you think there are?”
“Group was ten strong when they came in. After the losses they took in the supermarket, I’m guessing they’re down to six,” Finn said. “Enough to keep us pinned down for the foreseeable future.”
The man nodded. “Alright. How do you want to do this?”
“One at a time and very, very quietly.” Finn rested back on his heels, pleased there wasn’t a pissing contest looming. At least not today. “We need to corner them, draw them in.”
“Sounds dangerous.” Al gestured with the pistol again and, loaded or not, he snatched it off her on principle.
“If you need to talk with your hands then do it without a gun in them,” Finn said.
Al opened her mouth, paused and rethought whatever words she had been going to lob his way. “Sorry. You know, I could play bait. That would work. Get them off the motorbike …”
“No,” said Daniel.
“It would work,” Finn confirmed, much to Dan’s displeasure. The man’s fingers flexed like he was warming them up, readying for a fight. “We do have to get them off the bikes, you’re right about that. But they’d never believe you would be on your own.”
The big guy’s frown morphed into a grin. “You suggesting I play bait, kid? Keep this up and I’m going to start thinking you’re trying to get rid of me or something.”
“Neither of us want her hurt,” Finn answered without hesitation.
“But we need to get the upper hand in this situation.”
“Dan, I won’t let anyone touch her. That’s not going to happen.”
“Serve and protect, hmm?”
“What are you two on about?” Al barked, voice strained. “You’re not bulletproof, Daniel. You’re not doing it on your own.”
“Neither are you, Al.” Finn rubbed the pad of his thumb against the side of her gun. “Neither am I for that matter. However, I think we can safely assume they still want you alive so they’re going to hesitate to shoot … at least at first. Dan’s covered you bodily before so they’ll be comfortable with that scenario. They’ll be expecting me to put in an appearance but it can’t be helped. If we don’t give them time to think, it won’t be a problem. You show your face then dart for cover, that’s al ,” said Finn. “Lure them in one at a time. I’ll deal with them. It’s a viable plan. Probably the best we’ve got.”