In that instant, in Erik's mind's eye, he was trapped, snagged in a net of slimy plants. He lodged over, toppled like a tree, flopping into the trap like a misguided bear in a snare.
He didn't know how long it took it to sink in. This trap had features. Feminine features. It was a hot trap with boobs, that were pressed tightly to his chest.
And it smelled like flesh, rather than flowers. Female flesh.
Get a grip, Shellard. So, he did. He wriggled his hands loose and gripped her thighs. It was the only part of her he could comfortably reach, with her arms entrapping him this way. If some part of his brain registered firmness and femininity, he made it stop. There was nothing sexual, or even sensual in this encounter.
But the feel of her, the sensation of hot female in scary garden, brought out his protective instincts. Suddenly, he recognized his mistake, and it was as clear as the moon rising above—the poor girl was shattered, clinging to him in terror—as lost as he was. She didn't belong here any more than he did.
Centered. It centered him, gave him purpose. It wasn't the first time he'd played hero.
"Don't worry—" he murmured reassuringly, against her ear. As pleasant as it was to dally in the dark with someone this clingy and pliable, his job right now was to get them out of this place, before the guy upstairs came down to investigate. "If you'll just let go…" The way he growled it made it more than a hint.
He'd been at this a long time—long enough to recognize danger. They were in trouble. He knew it, and even the girl knew it. He didn't know how she'd gotten in, but it was clear she was in panic mode. It would be his job to get them out.
Now, he just had to get her to listen. "Let go!" he ordered, through a mouthful of her hair. All he got was more hair…
… and a head butt for his efforts.
He loosed her thighs, and struggling free, went for her arms, instead. Grunting, he slowly extricated himself from the death grip she had with breast on chest, and pulled back, far enough to see her face. It was too dark, and even the moonlight was drowned out by the converging foliage over their heads.
And yet, Erik had no problem at all seeing the flashing of her eyes.
This was no panic. The lady wasn't frantic. Unbelievable as it seemed, she was mad as hell.