“Nothing?” My voice was like whiplash as I spun to glare at him. “Nothing?”

Instantly, everyone’s eyes shot to the floor and I saw I’d finally gotten through to them.

“Oh good,” I said sarcastically. “You finally remember.”

“Graham, I think you’re overreacting,” Harry told me but I could hear the reservation in him. At least I was getting through to someone.

“I’d rather overreact than end up in the same place as—”

“This girl needs our help!” Bash interrupted and again I was stunned that he was speaking out of turn.

It’s like this woman has them under some kind of a spell or something. Are they that trusting after all that’s happened?

“She can’t stay here,” I insisted, folding my arms across my broad chest, my grey eyes flashing with indignation. “I won’t sleep with one eye open.”

“My God,” Stevie muttered. “You really should try out for community theater.”

“And you should get your head out of your ass!” I roared. His eyes flashed angrily.

“What would you have us do?” Stevie demanded. “Throw her out in the snow, injured and alone?”

“She might get eaten by a polar bear,” Jim added and we all glared at him.

“THERE ARE NO POLAR BEARS!” we yelled in unison and Jim flushed in embarrassment.

I flipped my eyes back to the others.

“As soon as this storm lets up,” I growled. “She’s going. I don’t care if we have to fly her to England on the chopper.”

“Oh Graham,” Stevie started to say but my scathing look seemed to shut him up at least temporarily.

“Oh Graham what?” I barked back. “Do I need to remind you what happened last time something like this happened?”

An uneasy silence fell over the room and again, all eyes were on the floor but I wasn’t happy with that as a response.

“Well?”

“We remember, Graham,” Harry muttered. “But I don’t think this is the same kind of thing.”

“We didn’t think anything of that either, did we?”

“Why don’t we just play this out,” Seth yawned again, his eyes growing heavier as if the conversation was draining him. “Let’s not do anything rash.”

“It’s not like we can do anything now anyway,” Stevie interjected. “She’s wounded and the storm is apt to go on for days.”

I loathed that they were right. No matter how apprehensive I felt about this Sasha Snow being there, I couldn’t very well toss her into the storm, regardless of her intentions.

“Fine,” I relented. “But the minute the last flake falls—”

“Yes, yes,” everyone chorused and they seemed relieved that I’d caved.

“Are we done here?” Bash asked and I was surprised he was being so outspoken about the matter. He was the last person I would have expected to give me a hard time.

“I guess so,” I conceded.

I watched them all shuffle out of the room but I didn’t follow them. Instead, I wandered toward the window and stared out of the frosted panes of glass into the wonderland of snow which fell over the beautiful country.

I wanted to be as trusting as my brothers. We were good country boys at heart, all of us. We’d been raised in the southern US, believing in the good of people but circumstance had changed me.

No, I thought firmly. I won’t fall victim to another, never again. We’ve come too far to let anything like that happen again.

My back stiffened and I threw my shoulders upright. It was my duty to protect my boys, even if they couldn’t smell the danger I could sense coming right at us.

9

Sasha

When I woke again, I had no idea how much time had passed and I asked as much to the soft-spoken man reading a book in a chair.

“What time is it?” I called softly. His head jerked up instantly and he peered at me with gentle blue eyes.

“Oh, uh…” he looked nervously at his watch. “It’s about eleven.”

My eyes darted toward the window and I could see that the storm showed no signs of letting up. It was still dark but did that mean eleven in the morning or eleven at night?

I had lost all sense of reality being tucked away in this obscure place, surrounded by the most unlikely group to watch over me.

We were the only two in the room and I realized he’d probably been left there to keep an eye on me. I bit on my lower lip, trying to remember his name.

“Um…” I looked at him imploringly and a timid smile broke out over his face. He was such a cutie, his beam infectious like a small boy.

“Bash,” he reminded me. “I’m Bash.”

“Bash,” I agreed, exhaling. “Yes.”

“How are you feeling?” he asked, casting his book aside to approach. He kept a safe distance like he was afraid I might grab him and force him to snuggle me. Idly, I wondered what he would do if I did.

You know what they say about still waters…

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