Raising her infrared binoculars, Kaitlin focused on that particular area. There it was again. A flicker of movement. Then she saw people furtively running from rock to rock. She couldn’t tell how many. Fifteen? Twenty? Did they know she was watching? Had they seen the lights of the visiting Jeep? Heard the engine? The conversation?
She flipped the switch of the car’s com system. Only static. Strange, Josh had used it earlier and it worked then. She shrugged. Electronics could be so unreliable and she wasn’t computer savvy. As a last resort, she pulled out the cell phone at her belt and checked the reception. Out of range.
Damn and triple damn!
Light gravel dribbled down the incline. She dropped the cell phone and reached toward her holster. Drawing the Beretta, she turned around, her back safely to the Hummer. Her heart faltered as she held the firearm toward the sound.
“Sweet Mother of God!” She gasped as her target came into view.
“Stop right there. Hands on your head,” she croaked rather than shouted.
He held up his hands, jostling the backpack on his shoulder.
Glossy black hair fell over his forehead, and the dark gaze of the Latino man burned with intense fire. He pinned her with his stare as if trying to say something important, but no words came out. He appeared to be unarmed, strong, yet she sensed no threat emanating from him.
“On the ground. Face down. Spread ’em!”
He didn’t move, maybe he didn’t understand, so she motioned with the Beretta. Would he resist arrest? Somehow the thought conjured appealing images.
He dropped the backpack and laid face down.
She took the four steps separating them, kicked away the back pack then reached for the handcuffs at her back. She spread his legs apart. Long, muscular thighs, calves bulging under his jeans. He turned his head to watch her, a half smile on his lips. His temple glistened with sweat. He must have been running but seemed hardly winded. Unlike her breath which came in quick gasps.
Fascinated by his physique, she could not think. But who other than an illegal would roam the desert on Christmas Eve? He didn’t look afraid. Why? The memory of the group she spotted came to mind, but she heard nothing move in her immediate vicinity.
She straddled the man. He didn’t resist when she cuffed his hands behind his back, then patted him down, looking for a knife or a handgun. Her hand only found the planes of his hard muscles. It had been a while since she’d felt a male body this close. He exuded the musky scent of sage. Astounded by her sensual musings, she rose and stared back at him. She hoped she looked fierce, like a predator hypnotizing her prey.
She slowly moved away and motioned with the Beretta for him to get up and get into the Hummer.
The man smiled as he stood up slowly and stared past her. “Ola!” he said in a deep baritone.
Kaitlin froze and a shiver ran up her spine. She’d made a mistake by leaving the protection of the Hummer.