Home > The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(8)

The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male (Bluebonnet #2)(8)
Author: Jessica Clare

“Do I need to remind you that this is an emergency situation?” He gestured at the Bluebonnet Emergency Services logo on the sleeve of his jacket. “If your sister isn’t willing to comply with the rescue—”

“That’s not it,” Lucy said quickly. “I haven’t seen her.”

“You haven’t seen her?” He arched an eyebrow.

The girl fidgeted. “I thought she was here to take me home, so I had people cover for me. She probably thinks I’m off at the Templar camp.” Lucy shrugged again, wiping her wet hair away from her face with bright green fingernails.

A wave of sheer irritation flashed through him. This girl had deliberately led her sister astray and risked her safety. And in the process, she’d created more work for him.

He turned, hands on his hips, and surveyed the parking lot. This entire evening was a mess. In the distance, he saw volunteers laughing and joking around with men in costumes. He thought he might have even seen one take a swig of an offered drink as they waited for a ride. Disgraceful. The military would have never run an evacuation like this.

He knew the others weren’t military—they were just volunteers from the city that had abandoned their Friday night plans to fish out a bunch of drunk kids—and adults—from a mudslide of a campground. It didn’t mean it didn’t irritate him. No one had their act together, and here he was, taking keys from a bunch of drunk ingrates when he could have been somewhere else. Anywhere else.

And now this. The fact that prissy, prim Beth Ann, unofficial Queen of Bluebonnet, was lost wandering in the woods? It got on his last nerve, because he knew he was going to have to be the one to rescue her ass. And wasn’t that going to be fun. It was bad enough when he ran across her in town and she glared daggers at him. Now he was going to spend his Friday night tracking her down in the woods, where she would no doubt glare daggers at him again, as if the rain and mud were his fault.

She thought everything was his fault anyhow. He was pretty sure she still blamed him for being Dane’s friend, and Dane had hurt her best friend Miranda in the past. It didn’t matter that Dane and Miranda were engaged. She might tolerate Dane now, but that toleration didn’t extend to his friends. Colt knew she still disliked him. The feeling was mutual.

Colt looked back at the sniffling, drenched girl. “Where’s this Templar camp?” he growled.

Lucy hastily stammered directions, and he was able to guess. It sounded like these “Templar” idiots liked to camp right on the edge of the Daughtry land. They were probably the ones Dane had run into before. If so, he knew where that was. “You,” he said in a low voice, and pointed to the waiting ATV. “Go with them.”

“But my sister?”

“I’ll find her and send her on her way.”

“But—”

Colt gave the girl a menacing look.

“Uh, tell Beth Ann I said hi and that I’m sorry,” Lucy said in a rush, and then dashed for the waiting group, her boots squelching in the thick mud with every step.

That was better. He headed toward Rob, the head of the volunteer outfit, and handed him the bucket of keys. “All tagged.”

“You’ve been a huge help, Colt. I can’t thank you enough, man,” Rob said. “We’re just about done here. We have a full headcount, so we just need to clear everyone out and get them set up at the Johnson Motel.”

Full headcount? Then Beth Ann had come through while he’d been talking to her sister? He noticed the clipboard Rob was holding. “Can I see that?”

Rob handed it over, and Colt scanned the scribbles of handwriting. Lord Colossus. Aragorn. Tasha the Wind Dancer. What the hell was this crap? He skimmed the list of strange names, looking for Beth Ann’s. It wasn’t there. Either she truly wasn’t out here, or she hadn’t signed in. Or she was going by a name like Pixy Rainbow-Child, which he doubted. Still, if she wasn’t here, then why was her car stuck in the mud with all the others? He handed it back to Rob and squinted at the woods.

“There a problem?” Rob asked.

“I’m going to do a final sweep of the campgrounds,” Colt told him. “Make sure there’s no one else lingering out there.”

“Mike already did a sweep,” Rob informed him, then clapped him on the back. “You can go home, take a load off. We appreciate you helping out on such short notice.”

He’d be willing to bet that Mike hadn’t found this so-called Templar camp. “Happy to help out. Just the same,” Colt drawled. “I’ll swing through. Ease my mind a little.” He nodded at Rob. “If I find someone, I’ll bring ’em back to the motel in my Jeep.” It was safely parked on the side of the highway a mile and a half away, clear of any mud or flooding.

“If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re just fine, then,” Rob said cheerfully.

“I’ll check in,” Colt said.

“Oh, that’s not necessary—” At Colt’s look, he realized he’d said something wrong, and added, “But, uh, check in anyhow.”

“I’ll check in,” Colt repeated, his words a little flat. The military would never leave a man out in the field and not have him check in. That was just bullshit.

“Good call,” Mike said, slapping Colt on the back.

“Can’t be too careful.” He patted the plastic-covered satellite phone at his belt. “I’ll call you later and let you know when I’ve left.”

“Gotcha,” Rob said, and stuck out a hand. “Thanks again, man.”

“You bet,” Colt said. He made a mental note to discuss additional training for the volunteer group when he got back. They were pretty sad as far as volunteer groups went. And while he didn’t expect them to follow military tenets, common sense was still necessary.

Colt grabbed a flashlight, tipped his sodden baseball cap at Rob, and headed off into the woods and the downpour. He ignored the twinge in his bad knee. It’d just have to wait.

He checked every campsite. They all seemed to go in a half circle through the woods and were pretty easy to find. He was disgusted at the sight of them, too. Fire pits too close to tents—luckily for them, the water had washed away any embers—cans and empty bottles everywhere. Some of it was the rain but some of it, he knew, was carelessness, and he hated that. Damn idiots. He hated to see the land being ruined by a bunch of fools. They could stand a few lessons on wilderness survival themselves, he thought. Of course, Grant would see this as a business opportunity.

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