The Prisoner by Dani-Lyn Alexander
part of the Dangerous Men, Dangerous Places anthology
erotic contemporary romance novella (approx 12K)
Madison Delaney is accused of murder. Rafe Jackson is charged with protecting her. When the courthouse erupts in gunfire, Rafe jumps into action and drags Madison to safety. As the two go on the run, with Madison in cuffs and shackles, things really start to heat up.
When they finally reached the construction site, Rafe realized that it had been abandoned long ago. Though there was debris everywhere, nothing useful was immediately obvious. Frustrated, he tried to decide what to do. With darkness rapidly descending, they would not be able to go much farther, especially with Madison chained. But, with Vincent’s goons somewhere behind them, staying put was not an appealing option either.
“We are going to have to try and climb to the second floor,” he told her. Without waiting for a response, Rafe searched for some way to reach the next level. He found an old extension ladder and, clearing a space on the floor, placed it against the steel girder. “Climb up in front of me and I will make sure you don’t fall.”
“But there is no floor to walk on, just beams.” She looked nervously at the ladder, and then to the girders above them.
“We have to get up there first, and then we can walk a little way across the beam, until we reach that section of flooring.” Rafe was pointing the way as he spoke, and Madison knew they had no choice. “Don’t be afraid, I won’t let you fall. Come here and let me see if you can lift your foot high enough with the chains on.”
Madison lifted her foot up to the first rung with no trouble and Rafe moved in behind her. When she reached the third rung he stepped up onto the ladder. As he pressed against her to keep her from falling, he breathed in her scent, and was lost.
The musky fragrance did not smell like perfume, but more like a lotion, earthy and compelling. What was it about this woman that was so enticing? She was beautiful, he couldn’t argue that, but there was something else that spoke to him on a more primal level. When she looked at him with those deep blue eyes, he couldn’t look away. He could easily drown in those bottomless twin pools.
He’d been watching her for too long, had allowed the hunger to become too intense. Although today was the first time he had been assigned as her body guard, he’d been part of the surveillance team for months now. Every nuance was familiar to him, the way she swung her hair back over her shoulder, the sway of her hips as she climbed the stairs, her easy smile.
“Now what?” She startled him from his musings, when she reached the top of the ladder.
Pulling himself from his daydream, he tried to look past her. “I will help you push yourself up and over the girder. Don’t try to stand up, just straddle the beam with your legs behind you, and pull yourself along until you reach the floor.” As he helped her to swing one leg over the beam, placing a hand on her bottom to steady her, a flow of hot lava began to spread slowly through him. Quickly moving his hand, Rafe looked away as he tried to regain control.
Shaking off feelings that he thought of as inappropriate, he climbed up behind her. He pulled the ladder up and wedged it between two of the joists. By the time he was done, Madison had made it to the section of flooring and was looking around.
“I can’t see anything,” she complained.
“I have a flashlight in my pocket. Just sit still until I get there.” He was grateful that he had thought to take the light from the trunk. Shining it around, he found they were in a large, mostly empty space. A cursory search showed no tools he could use to free Madison. “Are you all right?” He sat down next to her on the floor.
“Yes, just tired and drained.” He shone the light at her to be sure she was telling the truth. She was sitting with her back against the wall, her feet pulled into her body. Her cuffed hands were wrapped around her legs, and her head rested on her knees. She seemed to be okay, though shaken, so he left the light on and placed it on the floor behind them.
“Relax. We should be okay here for a while. When the sun comes up, I’ll go for help.”
“You won’t leave me here alone, will you?” She looked so frightened that he felt momentarily guilty for having thought about leaving her there, even for a short time.
“No,” he told her, “I won’t leave you.” He gazed directly into her eyes as he made the promise and was grateful for the relief he saw there.
A visible tremor shook her, and he moved closer. “Are you cold?” He took his jacket off, even as he asked the question. Kneeling before her, he wrapped it around her shoulders. When she looked up to thank him, he couldn’t help himself. He leaned toward her and his lips met hers, ever so gently, the kiss feather light, teasing. Pulling back slightly, he adjusted the light so that he was able to see into her eyes. Finding only acceptance, Rafe pushed her hair behind her ear, and moved closer, deepening the kiss.