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Stone Cold Cowboy(3)

By:Jennifer Ryan

She tried to think fast, but the guy came after her again, falling to his knees, straddling her hips. His heavy weight pushed her butt into the soft earth, and a jagged rock dug into her spine. He pressed the knife to her neck. The menacing smile on his face reinforced the dangerous look in his eyes. He’d do it. He’d kill her and not think twice about it.

Cold fear washed through her, stealing her every thought and breath. Her heart slammed into her ribs and stopped for a brief second. Her whole world halted as she stared up into eyes that held nothing but death.

“Kill her and I won’t make any more meth,” her brother yelled.

Startled by her brother’s admission, Sadie glanced at Connor, caught the apologetic look, then stared back up into the devil dude’s flat eyes.

“You’ll cook, or you’re dead. You owe me more than the price of those cattle.”

“If I’m dead you get nothing. Don’t kill her.”

The devil dude smiled. It frightened her more than anything he’d done so far.

“Okay. I won’t kill her.”

The easy acquiescence didn’t ease her mind.

“Grab that wire and rope from my saddle,” he ordered Scott.

“We should get out of here. Those Kendricks come for their herd and we’re dead.” Scott tried to talk reason with the irrational devil dude.

“Get it now.” The devil dude bit out the words. Scott jumped to do his bidding, beaten without ever really getting in the fight to save her.

The devil dude clamped his hand on her aching jaw and shook her face. “No one fucks with me. If they do, they get what’s coming. You’re going to get your due.”

Sadie wanted to run, but he had her on the ground, that damn knife at her neck, pressed so hard to her skin she felt a trickle of blood run down her throat where he cut her. His gaze fell on the blood. The slow smile that spread across his face disturbed her, but not as much as the lust that filled his dark eyes.

Scott dropped the coiled barbed wire and rope next to her. Connor stood off to the side, pacing, biting at his thumb, his eyes filled with worry, but he didn’t come to her rescue, just kept gnawing on his already raw skin.

“This is going to hurt, bitch.” The menacing words held a note of anticipation and enthusiasm that soured her stomach.

He used his grip on her face to hold her down. He slid the knife into the sheath at his back, pulled a pair of wire cutters from his back pocket, and snipped a long length of wire from the coil. He held it up in front of her, set the tool down, took both her hands, and pulled them up in front of him. She bucked her hips and tried to pull free, but nothing worked to dislodge the big man from her body.

“Let me go, asshole.” She tried to put as much bravado in her voice as she could conjure to hide her fear, but the tremble in her voice gave her away.

“You asked for it.”

He wrapped the wire around her wrists and in between. The harder she tried to pull free, the tighter he wound.

Panic rose in her chest, making it difficult to take a deep breath. Her chest heaved in and out. In another minute, she’d be hyperventilating. “Stop. Please. You’re hurting me.”

“Ah, music to my ears.” The amusement in his eyes told her how much he enjoyed her fear and pain.

“You sadistic son of a bitch.”

“Yes, I am.” His eyes went bright with delight.

The barbs bit into her skin. Blood trickled down her arms from multiple punctures.

“Go get the horses while I finish here,” he ordered her brother.

Tony and Scott scurried away without a word. The dread in their eyes when they snuck quick glances back told her how much they feared this man.

“Leave her. You taught her a lesson. Let’s go,” Connor pleaded, pacing back and forth not even five feet away.

“I thought letting her walk home in her underwear in the cold would have taught her a lesson about sticking her nose into things that don’t concern her. But your sister had to go and fuck with me.” The devil dude leaned down close and stared her in the eyes. “You kick me in the balls, bitch, I’ll make you bleed.” The whispered threat didn’t lessen the ominous reality that he meant it. He turned back to her brother and yelled, “Go get the horses. Hers too. We’re leaving.”

Connor backed up several steps, then turned and walked away without sparing her a single look, let alone an apology for his cowardice. She expected it, but it still hurt, leaving a pit in her stomach and an ache that squeezed her chest tight. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, but she blinked them away. Her brother had proven more times than she could count that he’d cover his own ass over anyone else’s, including his own sister’s.