“Don’t touch me,” she whispered through gritted teeth.
He barked out a laugh. “Like you’re in any position to tell me what to do.” The smack across her face came so fast and hard her knees gave way, and her ass dropped to the ground.
Her heart slammed against her ribcage as the intensity of the pain radiated across her cheek and down her teeth.
The man wasted no time. While he held her wrists in one hand, he knelt and straddled her. She struggled to get free but failed to move at all.
Oh, no. Oh, no. Her mind whirred as she tried to figure out what to do. Do something. Anything.
When his fingers reached up under her skirt and grabbed hold of her panties, she clawed his cheek and snarled. Take that you asshole.
“You fucking puta.” He tore off her underwear with one swift pull, and the expected blow to her face came so hard she blanked out for what she thought were a few seconds.
When she roused, her vision blurred and her jaw ached. He was kneeling on her wrists, making it impossible for her to grab him. She rocked right and left but couldn’t throw him off.
Stupid. Now because of her resistance, her imminent death would be more painful.
Aw, hell. She had nothing to lose. Nothing! Once more, she lifted her knee between his legs, but he deflected the blow.
“You want to play hard to get? I’ll show you, chica.” He reached behind his back, withdrew the gun and tossed it to the side. His fingers grappled with his pants button and his tongue lolled out.
She closed her eyes, not wanting to watch the sadistic bastard leer at her during the assault. All she could focus on were his zipper lowering and his hard, fast breaths. Spittle dropped to her face, and she worked hard not to gag.
She considered another tactic. Hadn’t she read that a rapist got off on the victim’s fear? Could she act interested instead of showing she was scared to death?
Reality hit. No matter what she did, he would rape and murder her. Not only would she suffer a horrific end to her short life, her poor parents would suffer terribly with the knowledge.
To hell with what she’d read. Let him hurt her—torture her. She wouldn’t die without a fight.
She opened her mouth and let out a blood-curdling scream.
A shout sounded in response. Her pulse spiked.
The repugnant man spurt a string of harsh, foreign-sounding words and jumped up. A sneer filled his face before he looked toward the street and raced away.
She lifted her head then collapsed, too weak to move.
Feet pounded, a gunshot rent the air, and then a car engine started.
As she struggled to sit up, her body rebelled. Pain ripped across her face and up her arm. She dropped to the ground and curled into a fetal position. Her mind emptied as her body gave out.
Then two warm hands lifted her to a seated position. “I got you. You’re safe,” said a deep, vaguely familiar voice.
She almost didn’t want to open her eyes, still overwhelmed with fear that the horrid man would return. Except now the fetid stench was gone, and in its place was something spicy and enticing.
“Chelsea. It’s okay.”
He knew her name.
She opened her eyes and stared into the most beautiful set of amber eyes, and believed she must be hallucinating. Eyes that coincidently belonged to one of the men who’d been in her dreams since her best friend’s Christmas party.
“Yeah, babe, it’s me.”
He glanced at her ripped, discarded underwear and cupped her chin between his fingers. “Did he rape you?” he growled out his question.
“No.” She choked on a sob. “You got here just in time.”
“We need to get you to a doctor to take care of that gunshot wound and your face.” He nodded to her exposed breasts. “Maybe you want to pull down your bra.”
Heat raced up her face at the realization that he’d seen her almost naked, though right now that should be the least of her worries. Her shirt was beyond repair, but she managed to tug the bra down and at least cover her bare breasts. Trembling and weak, she fumbled to adjust her skirt.
He leaned her against his propped knee, whipped off his shirt, and held out his T-shirt. “Put this on.”
Relief washed through her. “Thank you.” The sight of his rippled abs and muscled chest helped take her mind off her aches and embarrassment. When she tried to lift the shirt over her head, her arm screamed.
“Let me.” He took the shirt from her to help.
She couldn’t wrap her head around how one minute, that evil troll had been about to rape her, and the next, Mr. Wonderful arrived to rescue her.
Drake slid his hands under her knees and gently lifted her. Blood covered her arm and trickled down her skirt.