It was then that he noticed where the second cop was focusing his attention. In his haste to hide Morgan and answer the door, Rixen had forgotten to don a shirt. Scratch marks left behind by Morgan crisscrossed his chest, arms, neck, shoulders. Hell, they could probably smell the sex on him. He’d fucked her at least six times since his last shower.
There wasn’t a chance in hell these men would believe the mating had been consensual. No. They had eyes. In their minds, a man like him could never persuade a gorgeous female like Morgan to open her thighs. Not without force.
“Her mother is very worried about her.” Their hands crept closer to their weapons. “How’s about we come take a look inside?”
Rixen propped his hands on either side of the doorframe. “Do you have a warrant?”
Silence ticked past. “You can bet we’ll be back with one.”
He didn’t budge from the doorway until both cops took their leave, their suspicion and alarm lingering in the air. As soon as they’d gained the clearing and left in their squad car, Rixen locked the door and moved at a fast clip toward the bedroom, guilt like a manacle around his neck. His poor Morgan. Would she hate him? Was she uncomfortable?
No. She was neither of those things.
She was gone.
Morgan ran at full speed through the bayou, leaping over downed trees and dodging hanging vines. Tears clogged her throat and made it difficult to see. How could he? How could he put her in a closet and lie to the police? Especially after they told him her mother was worried? Selfish man. Selfish monster.
The mental accusation made her feel bad, which was proof she’d lost her fucking mind! How could she have sympathy for a man who’d gagged her and locked her in a closet? He was a kidnapper, through and through. And she’d been a complete idiot for forgetting it. Worse than that, she’d…she’d fallen for him. Even now she could be carrying the man’s baby. Why did that give her a warm, happy feeling? She should want to shoot off his massive dick for trying to get her pregnant without so much as a conversation about the future.
There was a rustling in the brush to Morgan’s right and she skidded to a halt, her sides heaving with exertion. This was literally the worst episode of Naked and Afraid ever. Because in her shirt and no panties, that was essentially her condition. If she didn’t have malaria and a bite taken out of her by the time she reached some kind of civilization, she’d be shocked.
A bellow of anguish sounded in the distance—Rixen—and Morgan forgot all about the movement in the brush and started sprinting again. While browsing through Rixen’s extensive book collection, she’d come across a crude map of the bayou and knew there was a small town in this direction. Maybe she should have alerted the cops once she’d freed herself from the closet, but she’d been worried for their lives. No way would Rixen let them cart her off back to Key Largo. He’d kill them first. So she’d run.
After another three minutes of a flat-out sprint, Morgan’s feet started to hurt. The stickiness of the swamp air wouldn’t allow her to draw a decent breath, either. But that’s when she heard Rixen’s footsteps pounding after her, so she picked up the pace, pumping her arms and legs—
Until that rustling in the brush grew louder. Louder. Followed by a terrifying growl.
A cougar leapt into her path and Morgan let out a blood-curdling scream.
Less than ten feet away, the animal bared its teeth, appearing ready to spring. Its coat was mangy and filthy, its fangs dripping with saliva. Hunger. A predator. And she was the prey. She went through a lifetime’s worth of Discovery Channel viewing and came up empty. Run or don’t move? What the hell was she supposed to do?
Turned out, the cougar didn’t care about her fight-or-flight instincts. It just wanted lunch. It lowered its body in a ready stance and leapt at Morgan. She closed her eyes and cried out, waiting for sharp teeth to sink into her skin. But the pain never came. Instead, there was a loud shout of denial and Morgan opened her eyes to find Rixen battling the cougar, rolling on the soft earth. Rixen’s muscles shone with sweat, bulging and shifting as he fought for supremacy. Animal versus animal. But the cougar was mightier than the alligator had been and not as easy to subdue. Its teeth found Rixen’s shoulder and slashed the skin, leaving blood pooling in their wake.
Morgan snapped herself out of her horrified daze and searched the ground for a weapon, wanting to help Rixen even if he was a low-down, dirty kidnapper. He’d saved her life twice, hadn’t he? At the very least, she should return the favor. Before she could find a makeshift club or something sharp, however, Rixen gained the upper hand with a guttural curse and punched the animal across the face. Once, twice. Again, the cougar surged up, giving Rixen no choice but to end its life with a twist of his deadly grip.