Read An Excerpt
Romantic Suspense, Inspirational
Th’ unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield.
Into his mind came thoughts. Sparks. Bright points of fire seared with blistering clarity. He touched the scars and found truth. Goodness and purity like scales fell away. He had cowered in shame and impotence, hating in silence. Now he walked to where the other lay, unsuspecting in sleep. His gaze slid from the slack face to his timid hands and what they held. All things wicked began in innocence.
A veined bolt of lightning sliced the ozone-scented sky as Trevor plunged down the craggy slope, dodging evergreen spires like slalom poles. Rocks and gravel spewed from his boots and caromed off the vertical pitch.
“Trevor.” Whit skidded behind him. “We’re not prepared for this.”
No. But he hurled himself after the tawny streak. He was not losing that kid.
“He’s suffocated,” Whit shouted. “His neck’s broken.”
Trevor leaped past a man—probably the dad—gripping his snapped shin bone. Whit could help there. Digging his heels into the shifting pine needles, Trevor gave chase, outmatched and unwavering. His heart pumped hard as he neared the base of the gulch, jumping from a lichen-crusted stone to a fallen trunk. The cougar jumped the creek, lost its grip and dropped the toddler. Yes.
He splashed into the icy flow, dispersing scattered leaves like startled goldfish. Driving his hand into the water, he gripped a stone and raised it. Not heavy, not nearly heavy enough.
Lowering its head over the helpless prey, the mountain lion snarled a spine chilling warning. There was no contest, but the cat, an immature male, might not realize its advantage, might not know its fear of man was mere illusion. Thunder crackled. Trevor tasted blood where he’d bitten his tongue.
Advancing, he engaged the cat’s eyes, taunting it to charge or run. The cat backed, hissing. A yearling cub, able to snatch a tot from the trail, but unprepared for this fearless challenge. Too much adrenaline for fear. Too much blood on the ground.
With a shout, he heaved the rock. As the cat streaked up the mountainside, he charged across the creek to the victim. He’d steeled himself for carnage, but even so, the nearly severed arm, the battered bloody feet... His nose filled with the musky lion scent, the rusty smell of blood. He reached out. No pulse.
He dropped to his knees as Whit joined him from behind, on guard. Returning the boy’s arm to the socket and holding it there with one trembling hand, Trevor began CPR with the other. On a victim so small, it took hardly any force, his fingers alone performing the compressions. The lion had failed to trap the victim’s face in its mouth. By grabbing the back of the head, neck and shoulder, it had actually protected those vulnerable parts. But blood streamed over the toddler’s face from a deep cut high on the scalp, and he still wasn’t breathing.
Trevor bent to puff air into the tiny lungs, compressed again with his fingers, puffed as lightly as he would to put out a match. Come on. He puffed and compressed while Whit watched for the cat’s return. Predators fought for their kills—even startled ones.
A whine escaped the child’s mouth. He jerked his legs, emitting a high pitched moan. Trevor shucked his jacket and tugged his T-shirt off over his head. He tied the sleeves around the toddler’s arm and shoulder, pulled the rest around and swaddled the damaged feet, shoes and socks long gone.
Thunder reverberated. The first hard drops smacked his skin. Tenderly, he pulled the child into his chest and draped the jacket over as a different rumble chopped the air. They had started up the mountain to find two elderly hikers who’d been separated from their party. Whit must have radioed the helicopter. He looked up. This baby might live because two old guys had gotten lost.