He checked the gun as he ran, dropping the magazine into the palm of his other hand to make sure it was full. He’d be screwed if he caught up with the bad guys only to find out the weapon was empty. Not only would that be embarrassing, but painful, too. Luckily, it was loaded.
He slammed the magazine back in, lifting his head just in time to catch sight of the three men a hundred yards in front of him. They slipped in and out of the dim lights coming from the various restaurants and businesses lining the alley. Clearly, they hadn’t expected anyone to follow them because they weren’t moving very fast. He might just catch up to them, after all. Admittedly, one of him against three of them wasn’t the best math in the world, but he was the one who’d decided to chase after them. What did he expect?
Hand tightening around the pistol’s grip, he sped up, his boots echoing in the alley as he raced down it at warp speed. At least it seemed like warp speed until Ninja Girl ran past him like he was standing still. Holy crap, she was fast. Speed like that might have left a guy with less self-esteem with a few inferiority issues, but fortunately, lack of self-esteem had never been a problem for him.
Up ahead, Big Guy suddenly stopped and spun around to face them. Travis swore and ran faster. Ninja Girl was closing in on Big Guy at breakneck speed. She was going to get herself shot for sure.
But Big Guy didn’t pull out a gun. Instead, he spread his arms and legs wide like he was daring Ninja Girl to bring it. Then he roared.
The sound was so animalistic and primal it made the hair on the back Travis’s neck stand on end. Any sane person probably would have turned and run the other way. But Travis always thought he had to have a couple screws loose to be a Special Forces soldier. So he kept charging forward even though the man's roar hit him with an almost physical force.
Then things got really weird.
At first, Travis thought it was the near darkness in the alley playing tricks on him because he could have sworn Big Guy’s eyes were glowing gold and his teeth were suddenly frigging huge. But as Travis got closer, he realized he wasn’t seeing things. Big Guy really did have a mouth full of enormous fucking teeth that hadn’t been there before, including two fangs that protruded almost an inch past his lower lip. And if that wasn’t completely freaky beyond all possible definitions of the word, the guy’s fingertips now ended in long straight claws that looked like something out of a horror movie.
Travis expected Ninja Girl to slam on the brakes, whirl around, and run screaming. He lifted his pistol and aimed it at Big Guy, ready to cover her escape, but she never even slowed down. Instead she let out a high-pitched growl of her own and went in swinging, spinning, and kicking.
That was when Travis realized Big Guy wasn’t the only one with fangs and claws. Ninja Girl had a matching set, except hers were sharper, and more curved. And oh yeah, her eyes were glowing green instead of yellow.
There were two people with fangs, claws, and glowing fucking eyes fighting like animals right in front of him, so slowing down would probably have been the intelligent thing to do. But there was a woman fighting a man who outweighed her by more than a hundred pounds. Ninja Girl might have more speed than a Ferrari, but Big Guy didn’t seem fazed by her speed, not even when her curved claws slashed right through his T-shirt to scratch his chest. He simply kept raking at her with his claws. Something told Travis that if Big Guy landed one of his blows, Ninja Girl wasn’t going to be able to shake it off quite as easily. Travis stopped and aimed his gun at Big Guy, but he and Ninja Girl were moving too fast to get a clear shot. He swore. The hell with it. Taking a deep breath, he ran toward them at a flat-out sprint.
“Incoming!” he shouted.
God, he hoped this didn’t end in disaster. Because if Ninja Girl didn’t move, he was going to end up hitting her. But thankfully, she spun to the side just in time for Travis to lower his shoulder and slam it into Big Guy’s chest. The move caught the freaky guy with the glowing yellow eyes completely by surprise and he flew backward, landing on his ass. Travis immediately jumped to his feet and leveled his gun at Big Guy’s head.
Travis might have gloated a little if he hadn’t heard the distinctive metal-on-metal clack that was as familiar to him as a baby’s cry to its mother. That was the sound of the bolt closing on an M16 and loading a round into the chamber.
Travis lifted his head just in time to see the two remaining bad guys standing ten feet away, matching assault rifles in their hands.
Travis spun around to get Ninja Girl to safety, but she was already running for cover of the nearest building. Two weapons on full automatic chewed up the ground around them as Travis wrapped his arms protectively around her and got them both out of the line of fire. They hit the ground hard, rolling once to reach safety. But even as they flattened themselves to the dirt, a hail of bullets smashed into the wall around them, and Travis yanked her closer to his chest. Fragments from the brick building beside them covered his back, and his ears were ringing by the time the shooting stopped. Travis had been shot at enough times in battle to know better than to poke his head out for a look-see, though. That would only get it shot off.
Even after tires squealed on asphalt and he knew the bad guys had left, he stayed where he was, hugging Ninja Girl close to his body. Not because he thought they were in danger any longer, but because she felt exceedingly nice there. If she wasn’t going to complain, neither was he. Hell, he’d be fine with her staying there all night.
After a few moments, she stirred on his chest, twisting around to look at him. Her fangs were still out and her eyes had that amazing green-thing going on, but a second later, both slowly disappeared. Bummer. He’d never seen a woman with fangs before, but he had to admit they looked good on her.
Travis was still gazing into her now blue eyes—which were just as devastating even without the glow—when she arched a brow and gave him a questioning look.
“So, do you tackle all the girls you meet, or am I special?” she asked in the sexiest voice he’d ever heard.
Oh, you’re special all right, he mused to himself as she gracefully got to her feet and looked down the alley in the direction the heavily armed men had vanished Very special.