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Authors: Maia Underwood

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Surviving Seduction

BOOK: Surviving Seduction
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Surviving Seduction

by

Maia Underwood

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

SURVIVING SEDUCTION

Copyright ©2011 by Maia Underwood

ISBN:

www.maiaunderwood.com

All Rights Reserved

Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio, or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher and author.

First Edition, July 2011

Printed in the U.S.A.

Surviving Seduction

by Maia Underwood

Book Design and Editor: Jo-Anne Craine - Type A Creative www.typeacreative.ca

Cover Design: Jeff Lee Johnson

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

One

Selena felt Dan’s hand move her shoulder gently, and she smiled as she opened her eyes. He sat at the edge of the bed, already dressed and watching her expectantly.

Her smile widened as she tried to blink her sleepiness away. It was hard to wake up, but it was worth it to look at him. His keen brown eyes ranged over her with a thoughtful expression and he reached out to brush her cheek softly.

“Good morning,” his deep voice murmured.

It soothed her, and she wanted to fal asleep again. “Is it morning?” she asked blearily, caressing his hand.

A corner of his mouth edged up. “Almost.”

Selena glanced out the window and found that the darkness was just beginning to lift. The sun hadn’t yet risen.

In the past few days, she’d grown accustomed to waking up and finding him already gone. It was strange because normal y even the slightest sound brought her awake. She wanted to find him beside her in the morning, but didn’t want to interfere. He’d been through so much.

Perhaps he was dealing with what had happened, or perhaps this was normal. She had no way of knowing unless she asked, but she wanted to give him space. Their love was new. Everything was new.

“Come with me,” he urged, rising to watch her patiently in the dimness.

Selena had always thought him serious, but it seemed as though this quality had deepened into somberness throughout his recovery. She was glad he wanted her with him this morning, although she had no idea where they were going, or why. She resolved not to ask questions. He was better at showing than tel ing.

She sat up and smoothed her long brown hair, climbing reluctantly out of his bed to rifle through the few garments that were hers. What her wardrobe lacked in quantity was made up for in quality. She’d made them herself, from leather, skins and hides. Some considered it her best skil .

She could feel his eyes on her as she cast off her soft sleeping clothes and replaced them with her daytime wear.

“You are so beautiful,” he said, as if to himself.

Selena turned to face him and couldn’t suppress a shy smile as she ambled back to where he stood. He didn’t often express himself with words, but that made them more of a treasure.

He brushed her hair behind her ear, and his hands moved to her shoulders. He pul ed her in against him and wrapped his powerful arms around her.

She returned his embrace as a flood of emotion swept through her. In her short twenty-three years of life, she had only known love through her parents, until now. The love she felt for Dan was like nothing she thought a person could feel. It was gentle, gripping, calming and, above al , urgent.

She wanted to give him everything and anything he needed or wanted. She burned and ached for him.

The pain he’d so recently endured had wrenched her insides until she was sure her suffering surpassed his.

Fortunately, for both of them, his wounds had healed swiftly.

Dan held her for a long time, and she squeezed him back, reveling in the warmth of his muscular frame. When he final y released her, she craned her neck to look at him.

He was a foot tal er than she, and while this was inconvenient at times, she found herself drawn to his size.

He took her hand and led her out of the bedroom, down the little hal way and through the living area of his cabin.

When they reached the front door, she slipped on her shoes. Now that his arms weren’t wrapped around her, she felt the early morning chil and snagged a little blanket before fol owing him outside.

They stepped down the few stairs that al the buildings had in common in Brian’s Crater, elevated in case of flooding.

She wrapped the blanket around her and walked at his side as he made his way in the direction of the tack room for their horses. The dirt path that was once so foreign was now familiar to her, as were the oak trees whose branches sprawled out sparsely above them.

Dan was quiet as they walked. She couldn’t help but wonder how he’d been affected by al that he’d so recently endured.

Just weeks past, they and the people that made up their community had nearly met a terrible end. They’d gone to war with a band of marauding kil ers to avenge the death of one of their men, and to prevent any loss of life in the future. Some of their enemies had escaped. They had been double-crossed by Clint, a member of their own community, who had been living in the Crater for years only to plan his revenge against Dan. The silent figure beside Selena had kil ed Clint’s father long ago in retaliation for the death of his own. To act out his revenge, Clint had coordinated an attack with their enemies. He kidnapped Selena, leaving Dan to fol ow their tracks, and Clint’s deadly band of kil ers jumped the Crater residents in the night as they slept in their beds. One hadn’t gone quietly, and he’d been kil ed.

The rest of Selena’s friends had been rounded up and loved ones were separated as the enemy force waited for Dan to fol ow their tracks back home. He had to fight them alone, and these remaining men were the most wary and battle-hardened of their band. Selena had been forced to watch. Dan kil ed more than half of them before their leader, Jake, stepped in and turned the tide. Selena herself had saved him. If she had failed, he would have died, and terrible things would have befal en the rest of them.

Dan was lethal. His father had been in the Special Forces long ago, and had set a grueling standard of training for his son that Selena considered brutal. If he hadn’t gone so long without rest, food, and water when the enemy struck, he probably could have kil ed them al , including their leader, who had some serious combat training of his own.

Before any of these things transpired, Selena knew that Dan was acutely aware of the mortality of those around him, but she had never considered him capable of vulnerability, not until she saw him at the edge of death before her own eyes.

When they reached the tack room, Dan passed it by and turned up the path that was the only way in or out of the Crater.

Selena padded along quietly when a new revelation occurred to her.

“Wow,” she whispered.

“What is it?” he asked, frowning down at her.

“I—I just realized something.”

“I—I just realized something.”

He waited.

She felt another bout of shyness. “I sleep differently when I’m with you.”

“Differently how?” he asked after a pause.

“Heavier,” she said, staring off at nothing in particular as she put her memories together. “My sleep is always light. Restless.”

She found an amused expression on his face.

“What?”

“You sleep like a rock.”

“See,” she giggled. “You think I could sleep like that when I was living on my own out there in the wilderness?”

“I uh ... always wondered how you survived like that.”

“I didn’t. I mean I couldn’t have,” she mused as they trudged up the winding path. “My God,” she whispered, covering her mouth. “It started
the day
I met you.”

Now he smiled. “I remember. I figured being so scared al the time wore you out.”

“But I was more scared of you than anything else,”

she breathed in wonder. “I shouldn’t have been able to sleep at al .”

Dan had dragged her here by force, convinced she was going to get kil ed out there alone. She’d lived a nomadic, solitary life for years in order to avoid men, until she crossed Dan’s path. She stil couldn’t say she’d ever met anyone whose presence was so intimidating and unnerving. She lived her whole life in fear of men, and he’d lived his whole life as a weapon. She had grown so used to being afraid of him in the recent past that even now that she loved him, a steady flow of tension hummed beneath the surface of her feelings. They’d been together such a short time, she figured this would take a while to work itself out, or if not, she would simply have to get used to it.

She couldn’t explain why the person who had unsettled her the most in her waking hours also brought her the deepest rest. Perhaps even from the beginning, and even at the peak of her fear of him, some part of her knew that his presence brought her more safety than danger.

They final y crested the hil , but although the stunning views of the Crater and the surrounding landscape sprawled out around them, he turned to face her, ignoring everything else.

“Do you remember how you said I had no right to do what I did? To bring you here against your wil ?” he asked.

Selena nodded, and it was suddenly difficult to meet his gaze.

“I told you it was a duty. I knew you didn’t understand.

But you came to me. You must have thought you had the worst luck in the world.”

“I never real y thought about it,” she admitted, flicking her eyes at the ground.


I
thought about it,” he told her with meaningful intensity. “What were the chances that of al the buildings in that town, you would run straight to the one I was in? What were the chances that out of the six floors you could have chosen, you picked the one that I was on? And out of al the rooms on that floor, you hid in the room that I was in. That’s not even where it ended. You switched your hiding spot from the sideboard to the back closet. You found your way through a maze and walked right up to me on the one night I was ever there. It was impossible.”

Selena thought about it al in the fol owing silence as he continued to study her. She’d been too terrified for her safety to real y consider the likelihood that something like that would happen, and she was so swept up by the events that fol owed, she never thought about it again.

Dan stepped close and leaned in to speak softly in her ear. “That was when I decided you were mine. I knew it before you even saw me.”

Her heart picked up its pace at his closeness, his words, and the tumultuous memories they triggered.

Despite the weeks she’d spent nursing him back to health and sharing his bed, a little nervousness bubbled up inside her. His strength was back, but something else had changed. His presence seemed somehow bigger than before, more potent. She would never have thought it possible, but Selena’s healing skil s had taught her that a broken bone was stronger than ever, once mended.

BOOK: Surviving Seduction
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