“Her pants need to come off too,” Harry offered and I nodded.

“Get out,” I told them. “I’ll deal with this.”

No one moved as they looked at one another as if they weren’t sure they should go.

“Guys get out. If she wakes up and sees seven men looming over her without her pants—”


“Yes. Let’s go.”

“Come on.”

“Nothing to see here.”

They all moved out of the room with lightning speed, except Graham who lingered.

“You can go too, Graham,” I told him without turning around. “I’ve got this.”

He didn’t say anything and when I turned to look at him, he had a peculiar look on his face.

“What?” I demanded.

“You know what,” he replied but without another word, he, too, left the room. I didn’t have time to think about Graham and his weirdness at that moment. This woman’s life was in my hands.

“Come on, honey,” I breathed. “Wake up.”

Tenderly, I removed her stained, soaked outer pants and then her long johns, followed by her drenched socks.

Gooseflesh prickled her fair skin and I managed to apply pressure to her wound as I slipped off her jacket.

She was breathtakingly lovely and I had to wonder how she’d gotten out there by herself. Someone had to be missing her. I knew I would be.

Carefully, I disinfected the deep gouges but my initial assessment had been correct. Nothing was broken. It was a flesh wound, nothing more.

It only took a few stitches and some alcohol to stop the bleeding and I gave her a shot of Demerol, knowing that when she woke, she’d be in excruciating pain.

Satisfied with my handiwork, I yelled for Jim again.

“Help me move her onto another bed so I can change these sheets,” I told him. “And we need to find her some warm clothes. It’s a small wonder she doesn’t have hypothermia.”

“Where the heck did she come from?” Jim asked, echoing my own thoughts from earlier. “There’s not a town for miles!”

“We’ll ask her when she wakes up, I guess.” I looked around for a purse or bag, my eyes resting on a knapsack on the floor.

“Is that hers?”

“I guess.”

Together, we lifted her and placed her on the next nearest bed which was Bash’s and Jim giggled.

“This will be the first time Bash has ever had a girl in his bed,” he joked but I wasn’t amused. It wasn’t the time for jokes, even though I knew it was Harry’s defense mechanism.

“Jim, go find her some clothes.”

His smile faded and he hurried to oblige as the others slowly filtered back inside.

“Is she awake yet?” Harry wanted to know, his usually amused expression somber. “Is she going to be okay?”

“Yes,” I replied with conviction. I had no doubt in my mind that she was going to be fine.

“We just need to keep an eye on that wound and she’ll be fine.”

“What can we do?” Bash asked, his small voice barely over a whisper. I could see that having the girl in his bed unnerved him but his heart was good. He wouldn’t make it about him, not when someone’s life was at risk.

“Pray?” I suggested. “I gave her something for the pain but she’ll come around soon.”

I hoped.

All around me, my companions hung their heads and silently wished her well as Jim returned with a pair of his own flannel pajamas.

“Will these do?” he asked and I could read the contrition on his face.

“Yeah,” I said, offering him a brief smile. “You’re scrawny.”

Jim scoffed and the others laughed but quietly as to not wake our sleepy beauty.

Come on, princess, I begged her. Wake up so I can see your eyes.

It was only then that I noticed Graham still standing off to the side, frowning at all of us and I stifled a sigh of worry.

I hoped he wasn’t going to make matters unpleasant.



In a dream, I saw the forms of six men hovering over me, a haze of muscle and scruff. The smell of a burning fire filled the air and I blinked, smiling fuzzily at them, my clouded eyes focused on the man front and center.

He was tall, or so he seemed, even sitting at my side, his chocolate eyes shadowed with concern beneath a mass of thick lashes.

He sported a short beard and I think I heard his voice before I identified even the unruly curls on his head.

I couldn’t quite make sense of the words falling from his full mouth but I found myself fascinated by the movement of them.

Slowly, the others came into better view as my trance-like position seemed to lift. I realized then that I couldn’t be dreaming or if I was, it was very lucid.

The man at my side abruptly stopped speaking and he leaned in close to meet my gaze, his irises lightening as he realized I was looking at him.

“She’s awake!” he said and the other men clamored in closer to look at me. Suddenly, I wasn’t floating above them on a cloud but very aware of the fact that I was in a strange place, surrounded by strange men.

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