While The Cat’s Away Countdown – Day 3…
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In a post-Apocalyptic future with cities decimated by a nuclear winter, people have fled to rural areas to become the prey of criminals and werebeasts. Rancher Kate McKinnon runs “Sanctuary” — a last refuge on the western frontier. While driving her surviving wranglers and integrating refugees into their self-sufficient refuge, she escapes her responsibilities the only way she has left — via ham radio to pockets of other survivors. One man, Ty Bennett, is her confidante and she thinks she might be falling in love with him. Although they’ve never met, he seems to know her heart.
On a patrol to siphon gasoline to run the ranch’s generator, Kate and her cowboys are attacked. They are rescued by Ty and a band of his ex-military “brothers”, who are there to bring her and her refugees to a safer place. She soon discovers he and his men are another breed of monsters — vampires! And she’s brought vampires into the refuge.
Already half in love with the human woman, Ty fights his own nature and appetites while seeking redemption for his many sins. Can he overco me Kate’s prejudice and choking responsibilities to get her to trust him with their lives, even as she succumbs to his seduction?
“How much ammo you got on you, girl?” Shep shouted from the opposite end of the church.
She patted her duster pockets. “Enough. I don’t miss much.”
“Don’t look like we need silver load.”
He was right. What surrounded them wasn’t werebeasts—it was the lowest form of human life—those who preyed on the survivors.
“Well, this will be easy pickin’s,” she murmured and steeled herself for the coming confrontation.
Kate didn’t wait to hear what they might say.
The only thing they wanted was her—women were a scarce commodity on the frontier. She took a bead down the barrel of her pistol and squeezed off a shot through the windshield of a pickup, pleased at the splash of red that exploded against the glass.
Cool as ice, she chose another target, unwilling to let even a tremor of fear or regret ruin her shot—doing like her daddy taught her, pretending the men ducking behind their vehicles were just
the paper targets she’d practiced on.
One. Two. Three down. Then Shep’s shotgun exploded with a roar, catching a cry closer than she’d expected. Were they sneaking up on them?
“What do you see, Danny?” she shouted as she flattened her back against the wall next to the window.
“We’ve got maybe twenty of the bastards out there,” Danny’s excited voice echoed from above.
“But they seem to be holding back now.”
“Hello in there,” a tinny voice said over a loudspeaker. “We don’t mean you any harm. You had no call to fire on us. We were just…seeing if
you needed help.”
Kate gave Shep a skeptical glance. She edged closer to the window to shout outside. “Well, we don’t. Why don’t you move along?”
“Thought I saw a woman in there,” the man said, the tone of his voice sly. “Honey, we can offer you better protection than an old man and a
Kate’s upper lip curled in a snarl. “Thanks for the offer, but we won’t be stayin’ in town long.”
Laughter sounded outside, low and not especially amused. It had a dirty edge to it and made her skin crawl.
With the lull, she ejected her magazine and inserted a full clip into her pistol.
“It’s gonna be nighttime soon,” the voice outside said. “You really should find shelter. We have a nice place. Plenty to eat.”
A sick knot formed in the pit of her stomach, knowing what the trade would be. However, she’d run up against their sort before and prevailed. The trick was to keep her wits about her.
If she could just get a shot at the guy behind the mike…
A long silence followed. She darted a glance around the window sill and realized the attention of the men surrounding the building was on
something in the distance. Then she heard it—engines, big ones, roaring their way.
Being the cowards they were, the gang bolted into their vehicles as quickly as they could and departed. Right behind them appeared a convoy of green camouflaged military vehicles. Hummers and
large, canvas-topped transport vehicles with machine–gun turrets mounted on top.
Kate kept to the shadows while watching the long column of trucks come into view. “Shep, you see that?”
“Didn’t know they were operating this far into the frontier,” he said, coming up behind her to peek out the window. “Better stay inside ‘til we know whose side they’re on.”
She expected the convoy to continue on past, but one by one they pulled into the church parking lot.
Kate held her breath, her heartbeat racing—the first suffocating wash of true fear pouring down her spine in an icy fall.
From the lead vehicle, a door opened, and a man dressed in blue jeans and a black leather jacket jumped from the cab to the hard pavement
Her first sight of him told her instinctively here was bigger trouble than she’d already faced. This wasn’t the stupid scum she’d squared off with. He was a hundred times more intimidating.
For one, he was a big man. Taller even then Sam, his wide shoulders and muscled thighs bespoke of years of physical training. In close quarters, he’d be impossible to beat. She squeezed the grip of her weapon harder, already thinking where she’d have to place the first shot to bring him down quick.
The closer he strode, the greater her unease.
Not only did he have the size to make her heart leap to the back of her throat, he moved with a rangy grace that said he’d be fast on his feet. His face with its square jaw and sharp cheekbones completed the portrait of an unstoppable man once he’d set his eyes on a target.
Now, she just hoped that dark, hard gaze never rested on her.
While she drew deep breaths to calm her racing heart and the tremor of her hands, an uninvited thought crossed her mind. If she weren’t battling for her life in the middle of an Apocalypse, this would be the sort of man she’d want. Dangerous, brutal—sexy as hell.
But he was dressed in civilian clothes and riding in a military vehicle. Was he just the leader of a smarter band of criminals?
He stopped about twenty paces from the church doors and put his hands on his hips. “Kate McKinnon, are you in there?”
She jerked at the familiar deep tones of his voice. Her startled glance found Shep’s.
His eyes were narrowed in his lined face, and he shook his head. “You know him? Might be some kind a trick.”
“This is Ty Bennett.”
Kate closed her eyes and sank against the wall, feeling like her whole world was spinning out of control. How could this be?
“Kate, the cavalry’s here, sweetheart.”
I’ll name the winner when I get back from Seattle! So you have plenty of time to enter!