“No making out!” Owen grouses. “This is a man’s game.”
The fort has slots in the walls, and they utilize one to fire into the trees behind us.
“Serena, you see anything?” Dillon asks.
I peek over the edge for a second. “Three near the edge of the woods, moving fast.”
“We’re trapped,” Owen mutters.
“Your attitude needs adjusting, rookie,” Dillon asserts as he fires on the enemy and hits one. “They’ve got two men left!” he shouts.
A blob of enemy paint hits Owen on the arm. He curses and jerks up to standing. “I’m out!”
Dillon gets a determined look on his face as he watches Owen leave the fort. “Just you and me, Serena. Odds are against us, being pinned in and all.”
“It’s the Titanic.”
“I’ll go down with you.” He pops an eyebrow. “On you too.”
He is incorrigible! I elbow him.
A rustling reaches my ear and I peek up. “Incoming!” I say as the enemy creeps forward, ducking behind trees as they approach.
“Hold ’em off! Reloading!” Dillon mutters as he pulls a tube off his belt and pours it into his gun.
“You can do that?” I turn to him—and my gun goes pop!
Dillon drops to the ground and grabs his crotch.
“Dillon!” I drop to my knees. “Dammit! Why did you bring me? I’m terrible!”
He groans, his voice gasping. “You’ve got plenty of paint. Up to you…take them out…”
My hands are clammy as I clutch my gun. “No. No. No.”
“They’re down to the girl!” I hear one of the red team call to the other. There are two of them—against me.
“Please don’t let them win…” he groans and whips off his helmet. His face is pale.
“I’m really sorry for your pain.”
“Just kill them, Serena.”
I take a deep breath and peek through the slot. Fate is on my side when one of them trips over a root and stumbles, not enough to make him fall, but enough to slow him down. Pop! I hit his chest and whoop!
The other one crouches and runs.
“What’s going on?” Dillon wheezes.
I don’t take my eyes off the enemy. “I got one. There’s another one behind a barricade doohickey.”
He laughs then grimaces as if it hurt. “Alright, you’ll need to rush him. He won’t expect it from you. He thinks you’re weak.”
“No, you’re fierce.”
“Just run at the gun?”
“Last chance. You run out of here, dodge his paint, and pummel the hell out of his barricade, climb over the doohickey, and get to him.”
“Run, dodge, climb, kill…” My heart pounds.
“Zigzag pattern. Ready. One, two, three!”
I jump out and run as fast as I ever have, straight to the enemy. I stumble and fight to keep my balance. Somehow I manage. My finger stays on my trigger, paint splattering everywhere as I flail myself on the wood of his barricade and crawl up.
He’s waiting for me and fires a shot that goes wide.
“Say hello to my little friend!” I yell then paint him with green.
He stands and glowers at me. “Killed by a chick. Red. Out.” He marches off, and I run back to the fort.
“I got him!” I dance around, high on adrenaline. This is the most fun I’ve had in forever!
I make it to the fort, see Dillon, and stop celebrating. “Are you okay?”
He’s thrown a hand over his face, still lying on the ground. “Fresh as a daisy.”
The airhorn blasts and footsteps sound as our guys rush to the clearing.
“Green wins by annihilation!” a voice calls.
“Offense takes it!”
Our team storms the basecamp, slapping me on the back. Everyone is covered in paint except for…me.
Owen throws an arm around me. “You’re alright, even if you killed three of us.”
Troy gives me a back slap. “Nice kill, Serena.”
Sawyer picks me up and swings me around, and I flail about. When I look up, Dillon has made it out of the fort and is watching us with an expression on his face I can’t decipher. Maybe part satisfaction, part amazement?
Someone’s handed him a cold beer and he’s pressed it to his crotch. His team surrounds him, smacking him on the back and giving him a hard time about me shooting him. I watch, biting my lip as I realize how close he is to them. He mentioned that he doesn’t see his parents often. His adopted father is on the West Coast and his mom is a socialite. What must that feel like, to rarely see them? After losing a sibling? I’m lucky to have a close-knit family, but not everyone does. Family isn’t always about DNA or the people who raised you. It’s about who’s there when things go to hell. For him, it’s his team. And he brought me here to be with them.
“Great date?” I ask as I walk over to him.
“Better than pulling weeds.”
“I promise to make it up to you.”
“What about my future children?”
“Fact: a serious groin injury makes you puke. I’ve read where some guys can’t even get up off the ground.”