A bullet flew past my ear and I took off in a dead sprint. My heart raced to the point of pain. My Doc Martin combat boots seemed to weigh a ton, slowing me down. The thick air, humid air, made breathing difficult.
I had to get away. Arcove’s men would show no mercy.
A man in a suit stood at the edge of the clearing, the only straight shot away from the evil men. Was he one of them? I started to slow down as a bullet zipped past me. The man ducked and I decided to take my chances with him.
The noonday sun reflected off his sunglasses, almost blinding me. If he weren’t one of Arcove’s men, then he was in as much danger as I was. I waved my arm. “Run!”
He looked behind him, then back at me.
“Run!” I yelled again, but either he was deaf or stupid. He just stood there, staring at me.
He yelled something back, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Damn, maybe he only spoke Portuguese.
When I neared, he reached out, possibly to stop me. I darted to the left, instantly wishing I hadn’t. He grabbed me and we plunged over a cliff, hitting branches and rocks that jutted out from the side of the mountain. Our screams tangled with the sound of rushing water below.
The fall didn’t last long. I had just enough time to take a deep breath when we sliced feet first through the twisted river’s surface.
He held on to my waist, pulling me up with him. My ankles ached and my lungs caught fire. He swam hard with the current, tugging me along. I pushed against him to free myself. I was a strong swimmer and didn’t need a man to rescue me. Besides, if he wasn’t just an innocent bystander, what if he pushed me under. Still he held me.
“Let go,” I tried to say, but sucked in a lung-full of water.
He grabbed my hair and I relented, letting him and the river carry me further downstream. Away from the real danger.
After what seemed like an eternity of fighting to stay afloat, he dragged us to the grassy shore. With barely enough energy to breathe, I lay intertwined with him for some time.
“Is anything broken?” he asked.
I lifted my head from his shoulder and looked into his large brown eyes. “Um, not sure. You?”
Slowly, he moved beneath me. “Don’t think so. But do you mind getting off so I can check?”
I fought back an embarrassed smile and rolled to my side, wincing at the soreness that plagued my body. He stretched and sat, shaking water from his curly black hair.
“Just bruised up really good. But other than that…” He looked at me sprawled on the ground and frowned. “So, want to explain why we both nearly died? Who are those men and why did I almost take a bullet for you?”
I knew that was coming—even had the perfect answer rehearsed. But for some reason, staring into this man’s eyes, I couldn’t bring myself to flat out lie. So I did the next best thing. Kept my mouth shut.