It was pitch black, and Gallagher couldn’t tell if it was the lack of a moon or the blood in his eyes.
It was quiet—too damn quiet—and he wondered if he’d gone deaf, too. Did he have a concussion? Hell, was he dead?
The crash. They’d gone down. A loud popping sound. Smoke. Then everything totally went to shit. The helicopter out of control. Carmen trying to signal a Mayday and getting nobody. Scrambling to get her comm link to Charlotte back up.
Fighting for control of the bird. Managing to achieve autorotation so they didn’t drop like a rock. Adjusting the collective pitch. Telling Carmen…Shit. He hadn’t meant to tell her that.
He’d thought, for a second, he’d put her down in one piece, but the tail rotor caught on…something. A tree? They’d spun and then it all went black.
“Carmen?” he whispered, and though it came out little more than a croak, Gallagher was relieved he could hear it.
He tried to work some moisture into his mouth and licked his lips, only to taste blood there, as well. And a fresh cut that hurt like hell. He wasn’t dead. Shit.
And Carmen hadn’t answered him. Time to get his ass in gear. His arms and legs seemed to work, and if he squinted he could make out a sliver of light to his left. So he wasn’t blind, nor had he been unconscious into nightfall. Just buried in the rubble.
It seemed to take forever for him to unearth himself from the wreckage, his body moving like a ninety-year-old arthritic woman’s, but he kept at it. Carmen could be bleeding out while he was maneuvering through jagged metal and smashed seats. He didn’t allow himself to consider she might already be dead.
Gallagher blinked when the full afternoon sun pierced his throbbing head, and it was a few seconds before he saw anything but dancing spots.
They’d crashed in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a mountain range known for claiming and concealing its victims like some kind of sub-zero Bermuda freakin’ Triangle.
The forest was still silent and, though Gallagher strained to listen, he couldn’t hear anybody moving around. Finally he heard a vicious blue streak of Spanish and damn near laughed out loud.
Until he saw her. Then he made his aching body run.