Operation Getting Carmen Naked had been in the planning stages for a long time, but the original mission parameters had called for her being a lot more awake and a little less frigid.
After Hell Week, SEAL service and eleven years with the Devlin Group, Gallagher would never have imagined the hardest thing he’d ever do was get a wet sports bra over the head of an uncooperative woman while trying not to look at her breasts.
Not that he didn’t want to see them, but ogling a half-frozen, unconscious woman would make him a sick bastard. Plus she kept muttering something about finding a sharp stick, and he wanted no part of that.
Once he was done doing battle with the spandex or whatever from hell, he laid her down on the emergency blanket from his pack he’d spread in a snow-free spot. Then he wiped the sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his coat.
Bottom half next.
Two minutes with his eyes closed, then he was able to cover her with a second emergency blanket scavenged from the on-board first aid kit.
At least, that’s what he thought she’d said. “No s’mores, babe.”
No food of any kind, unless somebody had snacks stowed away on the helo somewhere. Never again would he pack light. Simple sneak and peek, my ass.
He pulled off his coat and folded it up to put under her head, trying to figure out what to do with her hair. She wore it in a tight, thick braid when she worked, and it was up away from her face and neck. But it would probably take a lot longer to dry that way and a damp scalp wasn’t going to help her any.
As gently as he could, Gallagher pulled the elastic from her hair and started separating the strands. He loved her hair. It was dark and long and straight, like the liquid chocolate he’d seen pouring over some fancy fountain thing once.
Once he got the three strands separated, he used his fingertips to spread her hair up over his coat, away from her skin. She made a low, sexy as hell mmmmm sound deep in her throat, and he forced his body not to get too excited.
He tried, anyway.
She was starting to shiver, though, so he quit playing with her hair and quickly checked her for other injuries. By strategically shifting the blanket around, he gave her a semblance of privacy, and he was relieved to find she was in roughly the same shape he was, minus the gunshot wound.
Bruised all to hell, with numerous abrasions and minor lacerations, but nothing life threatening. No broken bones. No evidence of a head injury.
It was nothing short of a miracle, he thought as he tossed some more scavenged fuel onto the fire. Then he arranged some scrap metal from the helicopter around her to reflect the fire before covering the half-ass shelter with evergreen branches to hold the heat down.
As he slid between the two blankets and pulled Carmen into his embrace—just for body heat, of course—he considered their next move.
He’d been flying helicopters a long damn time, and he knew sabotage when he saw it. A fucking EMP, no less, because every electronic device they had was totally dead. Since they weren’t emitting a signal, it might be a very long time before anybody found them.
They might not have a very long time in these conditions. Spring came late to the mountains, and they weren’t prepared for an extended cold-weather camping trip.
When Carmen sighed and relaxed against his body, he tightened his arms around her. There was no way in hell he was going to let her be a statistic, no matter what the odds stacked against him.
The Devlin Group had never lost an agent on Gallagher’s watch, and the first for damn sure wouldn’t be Carmen.
(That’s it—no more until August 25th! I’ll be back at the computer tomorrow, and I hope you enjoyed Chapter Two!)