(Find part 3 here.)
The men glanced between Chase and the girl, almost making him regret bringing her to safety. They hesitated to say what they were thinking but he knew what it was. He was supposed to know better than to bring a stranger to the tunnel. The entrance was supposed to be hidden from outsiders, kept secret to make sure their home was safe from the dangers lurking in the woods.
He shrugged, grunted and squinted his eyes at the girl, then glanced briefly at the other men before answering her question.
“You‘re gonna find out in a little while anyway, so I might as well tell you. Yes, we are going to Triplepeak.” He walked a few steps, towered over her. “You better be telling the truth, kid,” he added in a warning tone. She straightened her back and he practically felt her annoyance. He also felt an urge to walk that last step between them and feel her against his body again. That one he shook off but he did lean a little closer in an almost mischievous effort to annoy her even more.
“Keep up. We need to hurry.” He turned away just as a grin started tugging on the corner of his mouth and signaled the men to move.
They walked for a few minutes before he decided they should get on the horses again.
“You take the kid, James,” he said as he heaved himself into the saddle and patted the horses neck fondly. He didn´t look to make sure his order was followed, and he didn´t look at the woman he knew very well was no kid. That much he´d found out when she was wrapped around him and then squashed beneath him on the way to the tunnel.
He heard James offer to help her into the saddle, heard her refuse, and in a minute all five horses were moving fast in a double row. He glanced at Julius, riding next to him with a grim expression and fierce body language that told him in no uncertain terms how the man felt about the addition to the party. She was a risk.
“Yeah, yeah,” he murmured under his breath and frowned, returning his gaze to the road. They´d see the exit soon. What the hell was he supposed to do, anyway? Leave the kid, knowing she´d get killed or worse?
He allowed himself a sneaky glance over the shoulder to look at her. She sat behind James on the horse, arms wrapped loosely around his waist. Chase´s eyes moved up to look at her face. He met hers and was captivated for a short gut-wrenching moment. When it was over, and his eyes were on the rapidly approaching exit door, he clenched his jaw and prepared to explain to everyone why he was bringing an outsider. Again. The people he´d have to explain it to were not as quiet about their opinion as the men he rode with now. They´d remind him what happened last time. They´d remind him of the law. They´d remind him of his own past errors of judgment. Fuck. Too late to throw her back out there?
(Find part 5 here.)