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An Excerpt from WILD RELEASE
Copyright (c) AMY RUTTAN 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
He tried to move, but his back was sore, as if it had been jabbed with thousands of needles. He realized he wasn’t in the forest anymore. He was lying in the back of a vehicle and there was a blanket covering his nakedness.
Right, because he left his clothes at his camp.
Then it all came rushing back to him.
He tried to sit up but banged his head against the low ceiling of the back of the truck cab.
“Fuck!” This time he cursed out loud as another jolt of pain moved down from the top of his skull to the underside of his jaw.
The back of the truck opened and a scent he hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing in ten years hit him hard, like a punch in the gut.
When his eyes finally focused he was almost positive that he died and gone to heaven. In the decade she’d been missing she’d not altered much. Her hair was a lighter shade of blonde, more like platinum than golden now.
Her lips were still the lush color of blood against her pale white skin, and for a brief moment he could recall the taste of them.
He’d thought he’d forgotten it. He’d thought he’d lost it and then moved on with Angeline. Of course, though he cared for Angeline, she’d never affected him as Cara had. He’d been on the verge of running away with Cara and leaving Winnipeg. He’d face exile to be with her.
He was going to run from the demons of his past, the sins of his father, and she was running from an arranged marriage.
Their affair had been passionate, only he didn’t get to mark her. The night he was planning to claim her as his own was the night she disappeared.
Only now he couldn’t mark her even if he wanted to.
And he didn’t. He didn’t want that.
Then he saw the woman he’d saved was Cara. The very person he was looking for, who he’d been looking for for so long. He couldn’t really believe it.
Now here it was as if he were transported back in time. Except it wasn’t a dream, the scars on his arm and the mate mark on his face were very real.
Then he recalled why he was now suddenly in the back of a pickup hung over.
“You shot me!”
Cara’s blue eyes narrowed. “Hello yourself.”
Étienne growled. “Why the fuck did you shoot me?”
“You were a blood-stained polar bear.”
Étienne snorted. “You knew I was Mukswa. You acknowledged it. So my question remains the same, why did you shoot me?”
Cara’s brow furrowed and she crossed her arms. “I can shoot you again if you don’t lie back down so I can drive you back to civilization.”
“Fuck that.” Étienne scrambled out of the truck, letting the blanket drop away from him, but he didn’t care that his bare ass was hanging out. He was a bit dizzy but it soon passed as his unique healing took over and burned off the rest of the effects of the tranquilizers. “I have a campsite not far from here.”
“A camp in a no-camp zone. Dude, I should bust your ass with a fine.”
He snorted, but was amused. “I’d like to see you try.”
Cara shook her head but a smile briefly played across her lips. “What’re you doing here, Étienne?”
“Would you believe that I’m communing with nature?”
“No.” Then her demeanor changed. “Did Levi send you?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I’ve come to bring you home.”
“I’m not going back to Winnipeg. Are you insane?” She turned on her heel and slammed the back hatch with a resounding thud. “This is my home and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll pack up your illegal camp and get your ass back to Winnipeg.”
She made to climb in her truck, but Étienne moved quickly and stopped her from opening the door.
“No. You need to come back to Winnipeg.”
“I told you. I’m not going back to Winnipeg. Not as long as Levi is there.”