More Than Meets the Eye(13)

By: Karen Witemeyer


The girl was fast.

And heading in his direction.

Shoot.

Logan holstered his revolver and ducked to the far side of the tree. She ran past and whistled a second time. He winced at the sharp sound. No fingers had been required for the shrill call. Impressive.

Then a rumbling started downstream in the creek bed. From the direction Logan had just come. Snorting. Charging. The vegetation shook in a path leading straight for the Hamilton gal.

Logan’s mouth went dry.

Double shoot.

He leapt away from the tree and set off after the girl. His boots slipped on the loose soil of the embankment, but he kept his balance. He took his eyes off her long enough to plot his course out of the dry wash, then panicked when he couldn’t find her green skirt amid the vegetation. Sensing she’d head west toward home, he veered left.

There. A flash of white. Her blouse. Logan churned up the earth. Earth that rumbled with the approach of a rogue boar. The grunting grew louder. Closer. Sweat dripped down Logan’s temple. He had to get between the girl and the hog.

He stretched his stride. Caught a glimpse of her between the trees. Heard the grunt of the boar. Spied its black hide barreling down on the girl from the right. Only one chance to get between them.

Logan sprinted over a lip of higher ground and launched himself into the air.

Before his feet hit the ground, his chest hit her back. His arms cocooned her as he twisted to the right in order to absorb the impact and use his body as her shield.

The girl squealed, not unlike the pig. He released his hold on her, intending to draw his pistol. That was a mistake. The female turned on him. She flipped around and brought her knee up into his groin. Air whooshed from his lungs as pain radiated through his lower half. He would have thrown her off him except he was too busy dodging the fingers jabbing at his eyes.

Good gravy. She fought dirtier than a saloon brawler. If he hadn’t spent so much time in disreputable establishments learning how to stay alive, he’d no doubt be down at least one eye by now.

When the heel of her hand narrowly missed the bridge of his nose, Logan decided the time for chivalry had passed. He grabbed her wrists, wrapped a leg around her hips, and rolled her onto her back, taking extra care to pin her legs with his weight. He had no intention of joining the soprano section of the church choir.

She writhed beneath him, terror etching her face.

“Be still, would ya?” he growled, rearing back as she tried to butt him with her head. “Land sakes, woman. I’m not tryin’ to hurt you. I’m trying to protect you.”

“From what?” she demanded.

“From the—”

Boar! A black shadow caught the corner of his vision a heartbeat before the beast’s head plowed into Logan’s side, bowling him off the girl. Fearing she’d be trampled, he snaked an arm around her midsection and dragged her back under him as he pulled up on all fours. Using his body as a barrier, he gritted his teeth against the force of the hog’s shove, bracing his arms and digging the toes of his boots into the soft earth.

At least his damsel had the good sense to cease her attacks. In this position, all his tender parts were at her mercy. She did keep shouting “No” at him, though, in the same stern voice his mother had used when scolding him as a boy.

The boar backed away—probably to get a running start at him again—and Logan snatched the opening. He sat back on his haunches, drew his revolver, and swiveled to face the feral hog.

“No!” the girl screamed, panic more than scolding resonating in her voice now.

Logan tuned it out as best he could, concentrating on lining up the head shot. A hog’s skin was so tough, a miss would just anger the beast and put them in more danger.

Time slowed as he fit his finger to the trigger. Then the crazy female lurched upward and grabbed his gun arm.

“Don’t shoot!”

He tore free from her grip and shoved her back to the ground none too gently.

“Look at the bow,” she cried as she scrambled back to her feet.

Logan took aim, his focus glued to the area between the animal’s eyes.

She launched herself onto his back and tackled him to the ground. “He’s not wild,” she insisted even as Logan bucked her off and rolled her to the side. “Please!”

The desperate plea and tremulous voice tugged at a heart he’d thought long ago hardened past all sentimentality.

Logan paused. Took in his adversary. Snorting, ugly, black creature. Yet not charging. And a ridiculous, gargantuan red bow hung wilted against its right shoulder.

Maybe he should shoot the creature. Out of pity. The shame of being subjected to such a prissy accessory would mortally wound any male’s pride. The boar would probably thank him for putting an end to his suffering.