“G-give it to me,” she said.
“I’d love to.”
Smug bastard. The fingers massaging her butt moved to soft strokes along the lower curve of her ass instead. Damn, he was good at this. She’d stick him next to The Joy of Sex. 613 or 618? She couldn’t remember. Shit, her mind was failing her.
“The gun, Nick. Give me the gun.” She squirmed in his hold.
With a snarly noise he got to his feet. His hands pulled her in against him and she grabbed hold of his shoulders for balance. “I can protect you if you’d stop fighting me for one bloody minute.”
“I need to be able to protect myself. You’re always saying I need to get a clue and adjust to how things are now, so let me. Help me.”
Slowly he withdrew his hands from her knickers. His face was lined with tension. Then he pulled his pistol from the back of his jeans and set it on the counter beside her. “Alright. You win.”
“Yes,” he said.
“No problem. You fire that thing and you send every infected in the vicinity an invitation to come kill us. Keep that in mind.” Nick stepped back and her hands fell from his shoulders. “I’ll get cleaned up and we’ll hit the road. Grab whatever you’re going to need—a couple of changes of clothes at least.”
“Sure.” Her pulse pumped away in her privates. She could barely hear him. Her hand reached for him of its own volition, all yearning-like. “Nick?”
“No.” He turned his back on her and stripped off his shirt.
Alright. Fine. She didn’t need the jerk. She’d take care of it herself.
“Your hand goes any lower and you’re not going to like what happens.” He toed off his boots. Bare feet could be surprisingly sexy. All the plains and angles of his body were being gradually revealed for her viewing pleasure. She should put her tongue back in her mouth. Soon. He dealt with the button and the fly of his jeans and shoved them down his legs with sharp movements. Her tongue nearly disappeared down her throat that time. There was nothing beneath but very aroused Nick. Damn him. The thick length of his cock rose from a tangle of dark hair and his sack hung heavy below.
Her hand, meanwhile, sat poised at her waistband, ready and willing, awaiting further orders. What would he do, really? He wasn’t even watching her. Instead, he wet a fresh cloth and rubbed it over himself. First his shoulders and neck, then his chest and beneath his arms. More water and he efficiently dealt with between his legs. Next he picked up the soap and got busy. The air was chill enough to deflate any man, but it made no noticeable difference. He had a beautiful body, with an athlete’s grace and a very hard cock.
And she wanted him bad, damn it.
Had she ever been quite so pathetically cock-struck? Doubtful.
After all of the horrible, something good had to come out of today.
He dealt her a sidelong glance dark enough to give her pause, her and her hand both. Probably best not to find out what he might do. Things were edgy enough between them as it was.
Roslyn ignored her aching breasts and groin and hitched up her jeans, fastened them resolutely. She picked up the gun and weighed it in her hand.
“You going to shoot me?” he asked. His didn’t even sound all that curious.
“No.” Though it was tempting. “Maybe later.”
The side of his mouth twitched and he returned to his washing with his big cock bouncing in front of him.
Nick concentrated on the road and not the woman crossing and uncrossing her legs beside him. She kept twisting about on the cracked leather seating like she couldn’t get comfortable. Good. He sure as hell wasn’t comfortable with stomach cramps. But better that than blue balls. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so stubborn.
But why couldn’t she have picked him instead of the gun? Why couldn’t she trust him to protect her? Damn it.
He’d steered them vaguely toward Blackstone, and what the hell it meant he didn’t know.
Roslyn frowned again behind the big black drugstore sunglasses taking up half her face. He could see her through the side. She stared out the window at the passing scenery, what little of it there was. Plains full of blade grass and barbed-wire fences. They’d driven for four to five hours, but they hadn’t gotten far. What with finding routes around road blocks and having to stop to siphon petrol, the pace was slow. Now it was getting late. In another hour the sun would set.
A crappy-looking motel sat on the outskirts of another small country town. It was a long, low white brick building with eight or nine rooms and an office with a restaurant attached. Sad-looking palm trees swayed above the murky green pool. A beat-up brown Holden sat beside a sporty coupé in the parking lot. Next came a big boss of a black pickup with a covered tray. Lots of trim, top of the line. It probably had some real horsepower under the hood. Probably chewed up petrol like crazy. Funny, he could have almost whatever he wanted these days. None of it much mattered now that money was gone. It was all just lying around, waiting. But older and simpler made more sense. He could have decked Ros out in diamonds and it wouldn’t mean a thing. It still wouldn’t have been enough.
“You look like you’re in love,” she said with a smile.
“Maybe.” The boss pickup would stay where it was. He grabbed his rifle and bowie knife. “I’ll check out inside. See if we’ve got any company. Wait here.”
“No.” She threw off her seatbelt and jumped out of the vehicle before he could grab her. “We do this sort of thing together from now on.”
“Ros, wait in the truck.”
“You’re not taking all the risks on your own, Nick.” She flicked off the safety on the gun and strode toward the nearest room like she was Clint Eastwood. “That’s not a partnership. Are you coming?”
“Roslyn,” he hissed.
Up onto the pavement and tugging on the door handle with a gun in her hand but no clue. The door didn’t open. He took a deep breath. It was locked, thank fuck. She’d give him a heart attack before she was through.
He fell in line beside her at the next room along, number three. “Alright. But we stick together.”
“Sure, Nick.” Her ready smile didn’t soothe.
“And you stay behind me. That’s the rule.”
She flashed him a frown, but moved back a step. Exactly how the hell he would keep her in one piece he did not know. That was what kept him up at night. Not her bad dreams and talking in her sleep, but his concerns for her safety, plus his fear of losing her. Combined, they were more than enough to give him cold sweats.
The next room’s door opened. Inside everything sat shadowy cool. On the far side of the room the curtains were open and dust particles filled the sunlit air. Nothing else moved. He lifted his rifle, just in case. Ros came up so close behind him she jostled his arm.
“It looks okay,” she said.
“Shh.” He held up a hand, motioned for her to stay put as he took a few steps inside. It was your standard motel room. Small table and chairs with a big bed and a built-in cupboard. He threw that door open, but there was only a few wire hangers and a neatly folded blanket inside. The bathroom waited down the end with its door ajar.
“Stay here,” he said.
White tiles and mold. He pushed back the gray shower curtain with the end of his rifle, half expecting trouble but happy to be let down.
“We’re clear,” he said.
“Okay. So, we do the next room?”
“No. We only ever look where we need to.”
Roslyn sat on the edge of the lime bedspread. “Well, we need food.”
A mini-bar sat beneath a side table. Inside were neat little bottles of alcohol, lined up. Tiny cups of long-life milk and a couple of individually packed chocolate chip cookies. In the drawer above were sachets of nuts and some small boxes of breakfast cereals. Fortunate, seeing as the couple of petrol stations and one small supermarket they’d passed had been picked over already.
He tossed her a cookie. “Here.”
It flew past her and she scrambled after it.
“We’re going to be living rough for a while,” he said. “Get used to it.”
“We could look in the restaurant.”
Yeah, they could. He probably should. But the chances of her agreeing to stay behind were shit. “We’ve got energy bars from the drugstore. That’ll do.”
She sat back on the edge of the bed and tore into the cookie.
“I’ve been thinking about what we should do next,” he said.
She nodded and munched away. A crumb sat at the corner of her mouth, messing with his thinking. The urge to lick it away was distractingly strong. She swallowed and cleared her throat. “As your former captive, I just wanted to say how much I like this use of the word we. Especially when you actually mean it. Go team.”
The pistol sat beside her on the bed, silently accusing him. “Ros …”
The smile she gave him turned him inside out and upside down. She’d clearly been a happy person before everything had gone to shit, you could tell. He’d never imagined ending up with a chirpy chatterbox. Nothing had worked out how he’d imagined. But to see her smiling despite everything and no matter the state of the world did something to him.
“So what are our choices?” she asked.
“There is somewhere to go.” Not a place he could go, but for her Blackstone would be perfect. The alternative would be to have her running amok in a world she couldn’t handle. A world likely to kill her if he didn’t watch her every second of every day. He didn’t trust himself that far, not now. What if he fucked up? What then? She died.
Nick stretched out his hand, splaying his fingers. All of his choices sucked. He hated each and every one of them. Her safety came first, but he didn’t know if he could do it. He didn’t know if he could give her up and he didn’t know if he could give her what she needed.
Whatever the fuck that might be.