Texas Rescue

Lone Star Lovers, Book 8
Texas Rescue Lone Star Lovers Jean Brashear

Will the light that fills her draw him out of the darkness?

Special Forces veteran Gabriel Coronado is haunted by nightmares that keep him in the shadows, exiling himself from human companionship as he wrestles with his demons. Walking the night to outrun his memories of those he wasn’t able to save, he comes to the rescue of a small, valiant woman who puts herself in danger to save a young runaway.

Jilly Sullivan’s life is dedicated to making a difference for the poor, championing one hopeless cause after another, spending time in the worst parts of town. When a desperate criminal overpowers her and a nameless hero saves her from harm, both their courses are altered forever.

Gabriel finds himself drawn to the vibrant light that is Jilly, and she lures him from the darkness in which he’s most comfortable. The more time they spend together, the more powerful their bond becomes. He comes to the defense of a young boy victimized by a brutal drug dealer, and when that drug dealer assaults Jilly in retaliation, Gabriel rescues her but quickly retreats to the darkness where he believes he belongs. Can Jilly, rocked by her brush with evil, convince this man to believe that he deserves to live in the light?

Read an Excerpt from Texas Rescue

Gabriel Coronado couldn’t exactly date when he’d become a night creature. He only knew he hadn’t slept for more than four hours since he’d left Iraq.

He spent his nights outrunning his memories, becoming adept at navigating his way through the darkness and its blessed balm of concealing shadows. The heat in his brain cooled when night fell, and he could think more clearly. Most people troubled by nightmares feared the darkness, but to him it was a comforting friend. In the night, others passed you and went on their way, eager to get to their destinations.

In the daylight, people wanted to talk. Expected you to be normal.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt normal.

But he knew exactly when his former life had ended. Nineteen Iraqi children lying massacred in the sand in retribution.

Because of him. Because he’d believed he could make a difference. Oh, he had, all right. Just not the one he’d intended.

No. He would not think of it now, not when he had a choice. The night was for calm, not for thinking. Not for memories. He redoubled his pace, intent on finishing his ten miles with at least two minutes shaved off his pace.

Then he heard the scream, clearly feminine.

He angled to the right toward where the sound seemed to have emerged, and kicked up his pace, covering almost a block before he spotted the small blonde lying on the ground, held there by a knee jammed in her back, while her attacker waved a knife in her face.

For a second, he felt the sting of sand. Heard the rumble of armored vehicles, the whip of the wind…the screams of the women, the groans of the injured…the dying…down a long, hollow tunnel drawing him into the vortex—

No. He squeezed his eyes shut—hard. No.

Then he opened them again. Night. Trees. Here, not…there.

He braced one hand against a trunk, let the bark dig into his skin and ground him.

The knife was far too close to the woman. She could be hurt before Gabriel could get in range to disarm her assailant. Gabriel had no weapons except the one that always traveled with him—his own body, a formidable and well-honed defense, courtesy of the United States Army Special Forces.

There was concealing shrubbery a few feet away, so he edged backward and made his way with all the stealth he’d had years to perfect. He noted the cell phone lying on the ground near the woman. He had foregone most of what others considered civilization, living without telephone or television, gladly cutting himself off from what most people believed to be a minimum level of connection to the outside world.

He’d had enough of the world and avoided people whenever he could.

So he could make no convenient calls to the cops. Unless a neighbor had heard her scream, this woman had only Gabriel to depend on.

He emerged from the vegetation five feet behind the man who appeared agitated, likely hopped up on something, cursing and gesturing with the knife. On cat feet, Gabriel closed in one more long stride, then launched a well-aimed kick that sent the knife spinning away. He used his momentum to topple the assailant, then pin him to the ground. He spotted wires lying on the ground and swiftly restrained the man at both wrists and feet.

“Are you all right?” he asked the woman.

“Yes.” To her credit, her voice shook only a little.

“You have no business out here alone at night.”

“Yes, I do. This is my project. I know the neighbors.”

“Didn’t help you much, did it?” He glanced around at closed front doors, at the absence of a single person. “I don’t see anyone rushing to your aid.”

Just then they both heard the sirens, and she turned to watch for the police to come. “See? The neighbors called for help.”

Damn it. He didn’t want to talk to the police, didn’t want to be making statements or appearing in court. He didn’t look at her again, but he didn’t need to. She was pretty and naïve and valiant, a sure recipe for trouble. Instead he tugged his ball cap down lower over his eyes as he edged back into the cover of darkness, still near enough to watch over her until she was safely in someone else’s hands.

But not close enough to be spotted.

The moment the police cars stopped and officers emerged, he slipped away as quietly as he’d arrived.

*

“Ma’am? Are you hurt?” one officer asked.

“No—no, I’m fine, just…” Now that it was all over, Jilly found herself shaking and wrapped her arms around her middle. Her brothers had each had experience with danger, but her life had been free of any trace of violence. It was astonishing how her heart was racing, how her knees wanted to give. She straightened her back and locked her knees to support her.

“What’s your name?”

“Jilly Sullivan.”

“You live around here?”

“Not far. Closer to South Congress.”

“Someone I can call for you? Sure you don’t want the paramedics to look you over?”

“No!” she said quickly. “I’m fine.” Or she would be.

“You do this by yourself?” the patrolman asked, pointing to the man lying on the ground, trussed like a roasted bird by the very wire he’d been stealing.

“Oh, no, he did—” She turned and pointed.

At the empty darkness.

“Who?”

She scanned around her for the stranger who’d come to her aid. “There was a man…I don’t know where he went.”

“Come on out,” ordered the cop. “Sir? Come out now.”

Nothing but silence.

“Where did he go? When did he leave?”

“He was just here. He saved me.”

“Who was he?”

“I have no idea. I’ve never seen him before.”

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