by Anna Lowe
Aloha Shifters: Pearls of Desire
Tim stepped in front of the last stall and stopped, scratching his brow. He’d stormed plenty of buildings with his Special Forces unit, not to mention bunkers, military installations, and tunnels. But how exactly did one extract a single woman from a changing booth?
“So,” he said, trying to keep his voice light. Failing miserably, because the deep rumble thundered through the silence of the changing area. “You can stay in there all you want. None of my business.”
Except she felt like his business, damn it, although he had no idea why.
“But there are at least four guys after you,” he went on. “And I reckon you’ve got five minutes, tops, before they figure out which way you went.”
Something moved behind the curtain, and a second later, she spoke. “Only four guys?”
Tim grinned. Spunky little thing, wasn’t she? Behind the snark in her voice, though, came the uneven scratch of fear.
“Call it approximate.” He squinted at the curtain, wishing he could see through it because he’d forgotten what she looked like. Her eyes were the only part that had stuck in his mind – a pure, rich blue, like the spring sky over the Rockies. “Four guys, at least, on this level of the mall. And yeah, I’d say you have about five minutes, give or take.”
“And you are…?”
He tilted his head. Even backed into a corner, she managed to keep her shit together. “Timber Hoving,” he said. “You’re Hailey, right?”
The air went very still. “How do you know that?”
He rolled his eyes. If she knew how much he could find out if he ever decided to really investigate, she’d freak out.
“I heard one of them say as much. The guy in a gray suit who’s in love with himself – and his phone.”
The woman huffed. “Jonathan. Of course.”
Of course? She sounded pretty fed up with the guy. Was he her boss?
He looked at the curtain then at his watch. “Listen, are you coming or not?”
A pensive silence ensued. “Coming…where? With whom?”
“Coming with me. Getting the hell out of here.”
“You know a way out?” Her voice rose in hope. Hope he was already terrified of dashing if he somehow messed up.
He scrubbed his chin. Yeah, he did know a way out, but he doubted she’d like what he had in mind.
A hand appeared at the edge of the curtain, and she peeked then hid again, leaving him grasping at the details that had just flashed before his eyes. Blue eyes. Blond hair. Strong, sharp cheekbones covered with freckles he wished he had time to count.
“Why should I trust you?”
She was trying to sound tough, but her voice wobbled a little, and his heart ached at the loneliness in it.
He ran a hand through his hair. Why should she trust him?
He shrugged. “You just can. I promise.”
And, he supposed, because she had no choice.
The thing was, it felt like he didn’t have a choice either. He simply had to help her because…because…
Destiny, his bear whispered.