“I assumed it was the grenade. Now I’m certain, considering a blast got you here as well. Early on, I did whatever I could to try to create chaos in that cave to make the walls shake, but I couldn't. Eventually I gave up trying.”
“And there's no one else here?” I ask, trying to piece the situation together. My body, though, is exhausted. Maybe it was the woolly mammoth chase. Maybe it's the adrenaline that's finally slowed. I feel tired deep down to my bones.
In the distance I hear the howl of an animal. And I shiver. Scared.
“Nothing will happen to you here,” he says. “I mean it. I'll roll the rock in place, and I’ll stay up watching over you tonight.”
“You don't have to do that,” I say. “I'm not your responsibility.” I begin to sit up as if I could go do something, as if I could go somewhere. “I have a tent,” I say, both worried and excited at the thought of being holed up in this cave with a man I just met. “I could actually just sleep in that tonight. Is there a place I could set it up?”
“You're not sleeping in a goddamn tent,” he says. “Besides you think a tent will do much to protect you from the bite of a wild lion?”
I swallow, realizing how stupid that idea was. Zippered nylon isn't exactly fang-proof.
“Thank you,” I say.
He runs a hand over his thick beard. And I see the muscles in his arms flex. He's strong, capable. But he's a soldier doing his job. And besides the hand holding that happened on our way to this cave, there's been no indication he sees me as any more than a person to keep safe.
Still, there is a bit of awe that I feel when I look at him. Realizing he is no ordinary man.
I may have been complaining about my poor dick detector my entire life. But right now my ovaries are telling me that this is no ordinary man.
He's a caveman. The first of his kind.
I watch her sleep all night. Maybe that's creepy. Honestly, I don't give a fuck. This is the first person I’ve seen in five years, a woman, and not just any woman. The kind of woman with fire in her eyes, blood pumping in her heart. She's alive and she's scared. That alone has me on edge. Has me watching for any sign of movement beyond the cave.
Of course, I'm always on high alert, but now it's different. Skylar needs me to protect her. I'm not saying she's not strong enough to protect herself, but I know this place. I know that it is unyielding. Relentless. It's a take-no-prisoners kind of land that could eat a girl like her up even if she has her fists raised.
Right now, though, her arms are by her sides and her eyes are closed. She talks in her sleep a little bit and I find it endearing. She's muttering the words, Tori and Sarah – what was I thinking… and, It doesn't feel like a mistake, and, Who is he…
I'd say the girl is speaking her mind, but she's dreaming. My cock twitches when I consider the idea of her dreaming about me. To hell with Sarah and Tori, whoever the hell they are. I want her mind to wander to other things. Other people. Me.
In the morning, when she stirs I've already got food cooking – rhino steaks mixed with wild onions and mushrooms. I know it's not a fancy brunch like she deserves, but it's something. I'm expecting her to give me a morning smile, I don't know, something nice.
But she wakes up hot – not hot and bothered, I'm talking she’s ready for a fight.
"Seriously?" she groans in disbelief, sitting up from the cot. "I wanted to think it was all a terrible nightmare, that this didn’t actually happen. I thought maybe I'd wake up and this wouldn't be real. That this place would have been a figment of my imagination."
That has me tense, annoyed. "I'm not in your imagination. I'm a real ass man. Touch me if you don't believe me." I hold out my arm and she frowns, tucking her arms and crossing them, refusing me. "Fine," I say. "Good to know you wake up grumpy."
"You say that like you need to get to know me."
"Don't I?" I ask. "I've been alone for five years. You're the first person I've talked to in a hell of a long time. Yeah, I'd like to learn your habits considering–"
"Considering what?" she asks, now more than hot. She's pissed. "You think since I'm the only woman around, I'm your property now?"
I scowl. "Property? I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to," she says, reaching for her backpack and tossing it on over her shoulders, huffing out of the cave, away.