On the run, out of luck, and out of time...
What do you do when you're on the run with a man you barely know, who tells you stories about secret agencies and white tigers? What do you do when you hear a report on the radio that you've been kidnapped? And what do you do when this man suddenly steals a car?
You're about to find out.
Lanie's stomach growled as the sun peeked over the horizon, but the thought of food made her groan and cover her mouth. She still sat in the back seat while Noah drove, cuddled deep within the warm blanket. She didn’t think she'd ever stop shivering.
The news on the radio said she'd been kidnapped. Could it be the truth? Ever since her accident, she'd been with Noah, a man who told her stories of a white tiger and a 'secret' agency. They sounded more like fiction than fact. However, she remembered with clarity the tiger she'd swerved to avoid on the roadway.
And yet, Noah had refused to take her to a hospital or even to the main road until someone, or something, was 'chasing' them. For all she knew, the roar in the woods was his tiger friend.
Chancing a glance at him, she didn't know what to believe. Not too long ago, she’d been wrapped within the warmth of his arms, and never before had she felt so . . . safe. But perhaps her imagination was running away from her. Could it be possible that Noah was mental? He'd just stolen a car, for Heaven’s sake!
With another shiver, she glanced out the window, her mind racing. She really knew nothing about him.
"Lanie?" His deep voice penetrated her thoughts. "I'm going to pull over and I want you to get into the passenger seat. We need to check the car and see if there’s anything in here that we can use."
"Like what?" she asked in a small voice as her thoughts raced. Perhaps this was her chance to get away.
"Like money or credit cards, just something."
Lanie nodded and Noah pulled over, finally bringing the car to a stop next to a snow bank. Without another thought, she yanked open the door and leapt out, running before her feet even touched the ground. If she could get away, perhaps she could reach the authorities herself, let them know that she was all right. If Noah was a basket-case, she had to flee him!
"Lanie!" Noah yelled behind her.
With a sob, she stumbled and fell face-down in the snow. In a split second, Noah landed on top of her.
"What are you doing, woman?" he shouted.
He allowed her to roll over, but didn't get off of her. She twisted and bucked, but he would not be moved.
Drawing a ragged breath, Lanie looked into his icy blue eyes and yelled, "I don't know what to believe!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Did you abduct me, Noah? Did you? You haven't let me out of your sight since you found me. You won't let me leave. I can't help but wonder if the news report was right!"
"Lanie, I did not abduct you, and I'm not telling you lies! This agency is real and we need to stay one step ahead of them. If we don't, then we'll both end up back at their compound as experiments!"
Once again, Lanie's head was spinning. She should have known better than to try to run away before she had fully recovered from her accident.
"How do I know you’re telling the truth?"
He was silent for a long moment before he said, "That roar in the woods, I know what it was, Lanie."
"You do?" she asked in a small voice.
Noah nodded. "It was a black panther. His name is Tam."
Her eyes widened.
"Look, I know this is going to be very hard for you to understand, but I need you to just listen to me for a moment. This agency trains these animals to be hunters--to kill. And I'm not talking about a gazelle here, Lanie, I'm talking about people. They are trained to hunt and kill people
"A p--panther?" Her face twisted in disbelief. "Are you shitting me?"
Noah shook his head. "I wish I was. But you have to believe me. As difficult as it was for you to believe that I am friends with a white tiger, you need to trust me when I say this is true. The agency has sent this panther after us, to track us. I know him. He's good at what he's trained to do. And we are damn lucky that we escaped him when we did."
"Sweet Jesus," she whispered. "Is your tiger one of these trained creatures too?"
"Yes, but he and I escaped. Neither of us could stand the torture they put us through any more. But the tiger is not a killer."
Lanie looked into his eyes and bit her bottom lip. "Noah, please tell me you're one of the good guys. I need to know."
Sitting up, Noah pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her. "I'm one of the good guys, Lanie. I promise you that."
She was going insane. That must be what was happening. She'd wanted to flee Noah only a moment before, and now here she was, hugging him in desperation, sinking into his body heat and hoping to God that he never let her go.