Authors: Lavada Dee
Nothing to Lose
Galynn Taylor is running from a violent domestic relationship. Injured, she makes her way across the country. When she decides to walk to the next town to throw off the pursuit, a storm catches her and she collapses on the side of the road. Freezing, hurt, and not sure how much farther it is to the next town, she is ready to give up. Cooper Blackhawk finds her and, after getting her treatment, takes her home.
At first Cooper is in protective mode, but all too soon that grows into something more. The attraction is mutual. He wants more, but Galynn is terrified that Mick will find her and hurt Cooper or his family in trying to get to her. She can’t risk that and runs again. This time she leaves her heart, but unknowingly keeps a part of Cooper with the baby she carries.
NOTHING TO LOSE
ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED:
Your non-refundable purchase of this e-book allows you to only ONE LEGAL copy for your own personal reading on your own personal computer or device.
You do not have resell or distribution rights without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner of this book.
This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee, or as a prize in any contest. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. Distribution of this e-book, in whole or in part, online, offline, in print or in any way or any other method currently known or yet to be invented, is forbidden. If you do not want this book anymore, you must delete it from your computer.
WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
If you find a Siren-BookStrand e-book being sold or shared illegally, please let us know at
A SIREN-BOOKSTRAND TITLE
NOTHING TO LOSE
Copyright © 2012 by Lavada Dee
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-252-5
First E-book Publication: February 2012
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Copyright © 2012
With a whoosh of air breaks, the big bus shut down and settled like a fat sitting hen. Galynn Taylor watched with a sinking heart as they pulled into the tiny town of Paxton, Montana. She again rethought her decision to buy tickets for different stops instead of one for the whole way. She glanced at her watch. It was five a.m., and everything, including what passed for a bus station, was closed. She had hoped for a bigger bus station so she wouldn’t stand out as a single woman when she bought a ticket, but the size of the town alone would make that impossible. If Mick did manage to track her this far, it wouldn’t take much for him to guess which direction she was headed.
! This wasn’t good, and just when she had thought she’d caught a break.
Galynn had been weaving across the States so she wouldn’t leave a straight trail to her final destination for Mick to follow. She thought that she’d lucked out at the last stop. It had been a good-sized town, and a friendly older woman had gotten her husband to purchase a ticket for her. It turned out to be the perfect foil, as he was traveling to Paxton alone to help his son-in-law. The purchase of two tickets simply made it look like a man and wife traveling. If a camera picked him up buying the ticket, another camera in the station might again show him with his wife. There would be no evidence she had ever been in Paxton. It worked even more to her advantage because this was the most important stop along the way. From Paxton, Galynn planned to take a direct route through Spokane and into Seattle, her last stop.
She reached up to the overhead compartment for her backpack and gasped as a sharp pain hit her back. It was a reminder that the injuries from the recent beating that she’d taken weren’t healed. She sucked in her breath and looked around. There wasn’t a bustle of passengers getting off like she’d hoped. The only other passenger to exit the bus was the man who had purchased the ticket for her. As he passed in the aisle, he smiled and wished her luck. She nodded to him. It would take a lot more than luck. She made her way toward the front of the bus. Maybe she should talk with the driver and see if she could purchase a ticket to Spokane from him. She rejected the idea almost as soon as it popped into her head. That would draw attention to her for sure. Best to get quietly off the bus and walk to the next town. It couldn’t be too far, and maybe luck would be on her side and someone would again get a ticket for her. Anyone who would throw Mick off the track of a single woman would work, like maybe a woman with children or an older couple.
Galynn stood on the deserted sidewalk. The man from the bus wasn’t anywhere in sight. Up the street she could see a country diner. He’d probably gone there. A cup of coffee sounded awfully good after a night of riding the bus, but again, she didn’t want to do anything that would draw attention to her.
A sign in the hardware store in front of her said, “Bus Station.” Next to it, one read, “Closed.” Thankfully there was also a bus schedule and map taped to the window. The next town, Blackhawk, had a bus station. She calculated the distance on the map, and it looked like it was about fifteen to twenty miles up the road. The morning felt crisp but not freezing, and the sky was clear. Twenty miles would take the whole day, but she felt good and she should be able to make it without too much trouble.
* * * *
Galynn stumbled and fell to her hands and knees. The gravel on the side of the road bit into her palms, sending sharp pains up her arms. She bit her lip and tried to stop shaking. She was so cold. What had started out as a mild, sunny day had turned into a nightmare when an ice storm hit with a vengeance. It had been bad enough in daylight, but this time of the year it got dark early. Galynn tried to see ahead. The storm hid the heavens, and no moonlight lit the long, lonely road. She didn’t remember a night this dark.
Struggling, she got to her feet. She shouldn’t be this weak. It had been five days since she’d left home.
What a laugh that was. The little house she’d lived in with her mother had ceased to be home the minute her mother had passed away. Well, maybe not right away. Mick had continued to play the caring sweetheart and husband for the first few months. Looking back, she had to wonder if he had always been violent and controlling or if the steroids she’d discovered him taking had changed him from a caring man into the monster she now knew him to be.
Nancy, her best friend, thought it wasn’t that black-and-white. There wasn’t a before and after with Mick. Nancy had grown up with Mick, knew his family, and even admitted to being attracted to his classic, blond handsomeness. She’d been happy that Galynn had Mick to help her with her mother because he had always treated his own mother so well. She told her that Mick had always been moody, and except on the football field, she’d never seen him violent. It almost seemed like he had evolved into violence. No doubt the steroids contributed to his hair trigger that erupted into a physical assault at the least provocation. Whatever the reason, both women agreed that Galynn didn’t have a choice. If she stayed, he would no doubt end up killing her. Of course if he found her, he’d kill her, too. Still, she’d had nothing to lose that night four days ago when she’d run away from the only world that she knew.
A branch broke off in the wind and sailed past Galynn, slashing her cheek. Tears burned her eyes, and she again stumbled. Instinctively, she tried to protect the palms of her hands and instead took the brunt of the fall on her knees.
How much farther to go?
It didn’t matter. She knew that she wasn’t going to get there. This morning it had seemed so easy. She had felt stronger, her back hurt, but as long as nothing rubbed against it, the pain wasn’t too bad. In fact, it felt better walking than it had when she’d been leaning against the bus seat. If only the weather hadn’t changed. If, if, if. She’d rest for a while then get up. With that thought she closed her eyes.
Galynn groaned when the bright light bore down on her. Was this it? When people talked about near-death experiences they described a bright light. But did they hear a motor and a door slam? She didn’t think so.
She was finally numb enough to feel warm. She wanted to stay that way.
“Lady? Wake up, come on stay with me here.”
Mick? He’d found her. Her heart started pounding so hard she could feel it in her throat, making it impossible to get the scream out. She pushed herself up and stumbled toward the woods. If she could get into them, she might be able to hide.
Hands grabbed her waist, and white heat shot through her back when he pulled her against him. Her scream filled the night air. “No.” Then with nothing left, she whispered, “Please no.”
* * * *
One minute Cooper Blackhawk had a tiger in his arms, and the next, she’d passed out. When he’d crested the hill, his headlights had picked her up, but she’d looked like a pile of rags that someone might have thrown out on the road. If he’d been thinking, he’d have called 911 before he got out of the truck. But he hadn’t, and now the phone was hanging on a hook on the dash of his truck and he was standing on the side of the road holding dead weight. She fought him, until he touched her back. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to know he needed to watch how he held her. Carefully, he laid her down on the road, rolling her so she wasn’t directly on her back. Almost immediately, her eyes opened and focused on his. This time, she saw him and not someone who made her crazy with fear. “Hi.” He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
The woman struggled into a sitting position and tried to get on her feet. She almost made it on her own when she grabbed air. Cooper immediately responded. “Whoa, take it easy. You’re hurt, and you feel like you’re running a fever. I’d guess at around a 101.”
She shook her head. “Are you a doctor?”
“No, but it doesn’t take one. You’re burning up.”
Cooper stepped tentatively away. He needed to get to his phone but didn’t want to leave her for fear she’d fall, or worse, manage to get into the woods. “You’re a little rocky here. Let me take your arm, and I’ll help you to the truck. You can lean against it while I phone for an ambulance.”
Again, her eyes widened. He knew fear when he saw it, and he would have said that she looked closer to terrified. Holding his hands up in a surrender position, Cooper tried to reassure her. “Okay, maybe it would be better if you sat back down on the ground.”
“No, no ambulance. I’m okay. It can’t be that much farther to Blackhawk.”
“Blackhawk? Is that where you’re going?”
She nodded. With an ambulance not an immediate threat, she visibly relaxed a little. “Is it much farther?”
“About a mile, maybe a little less. Do you know someone in Blackhawk?”
“No, I’m just passing through. If I can check into a motel for a night, I’ll be fine by morning.”
“I don’t think so…”
She interrupted him. Her voice sounded stronger than he would have expected. “I’m not hurt, and I’m not going to a hospital.” With that said, she turned and started walking toward the truck. She’d gotten about six feet past it when she stumbled again. Cooper scooped her up before she could hit the ground. “Yeah, sure. You’re just fine. Look, lady, you aren’t going to make it a block, let alone a mile. I can’t leave you out on this road…” His voice trailed off.
I should ignore her and call rescue.
He wasn’t some knight in shining armor, that was for sure. Mumbling under his breath, he reached in his truck for his phone.
That got her attention, and she again started down the road. “Hey!” He tried to soften his voice. He wasn’t going to get anywhere scaring her. “I’m just calling my brother. I hope he’s still at the clinic.”
Holding up his index finger, he spoke into the phone. “You still at the clinic?” With relief, he listened as his brother told him he was and that his nurse was just getting into her coat.
“I’m at my driveway, and there’s an injured woman on the road. She’s scared half to death and won’t let me call the medics.” He held the phone away from his ear as his brother lambasted him with reasons he needed to do what he already knew he should. Then, like he knew he would, his brother told him to come to the back door of the clinic.
It took a few minutes to convince the woman to get in the truck, but finally they were on their way. He cranked the heat to high, but she still shivered. He would bet she had a high fever, and to make matters worse, she was soaking wet. She had on a hooded sweatshirt, and it looked like he could wring water from it. Her tennis shoes and the legs of her pants were in the same condition. He hoped her backpack was waterproof and there were dry clothes inside. She would need them.
“Are you taking me to a motel?” She wasn’t slurring her words, but she shook so hard they were more of a stutter.
“No, I’m taking you to a doctor.”
Turning, the woman grabbed the door handle, forcing the door open. Cooper made a grab for her and barely kept her in the truck. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Is this how you got hurt? Did you jump out of some guy’s truck when he tried to help you?” The door flapped open as he pulled over to the shoulder of the road. Stopping, he turned toward her. “Okay, go ahead. Get out! You’re about two hundred yards closer to town, but don’t kid yourself. You’re not going to make it.”
Cooper gripped the steering wheel as he struggled to get his breathing under control. She had scared him more than he wanted to admit. A second of hesitation on his part and she would have been lying on the road again. By the looks of her, she wasn’t going to be able to sustain many more injuries. When she didn’t get out of the truck or make any attempt to close the door, he looked over at her. She was tiny. He’d guess maybe five feet five and way too thin. If she weighed more than a hundred and ten, he’d be surprised. But even in the condition she was in, and dripping wet, she looked beautiful, with long-lashed brown eyes and dark hair. Her head was bent, and she made no move to get out of the open door. It looked like she had run out of fuel. His voice sounded husky to his ears, and he resisted the overpowering urge to pull her into his arms to comfort her. “It’s going to be okay. My brother is a doctor, and he’ll take care of you at the clinic. You might have caught a break because the clinic is closed.”
She nodded and swallowed with what looked like difficulty. Cautiously, Cooper reached across her and pulled the door shut. Pulling back on the road, he hoped she wasn’t hurt as bad as it appeared.
They made the rest of the trip to the clinic in silence. Cooper nervously watched her as he drove. If she passed out, he would change direction and go directly to the hospital emergency.
As he pulled the truck up next to the back door of the clinic, it opened and his brother stepped out. Cooper threw the truck into park and reached the passenger door before Grant could open it. The woman hadn’t said a word or moved, but she was still conscious, thank heavens. “What’s the story, an automobile accident?” Grant asked.
“I don’t think so. There were no skid marks where I found her, and the bruises on her face and neck look like they’re a few days old.”
“Okay, Coop. Let’s get your lady into the clinic and see what we can do.”
Cooper didn’t argue with Grant’s “your lady” as he opened the door. Unlike earlier, the woman let him help her out of the truck and meekly allowed herself to be showed into an examination room.
Francis, Grant’s nurse, followed right behind them. Her tone conveyed she was a friend as she helped the woman onto the table. Turning to Cooper and Grant, she gave them the look that said,
I’ve got it taken care of, and I’ll call you when she’s ready for you to examine her
. Turning back to her patient, she said, “Let’s get you out of these wet clothes.” She laid a gown on the examining table. “Can you manage, or do you need help?”
“I think I can do it.” The woman toed off her shoes and Francis reached down to remove the soaked socks.