Home > Mackenzie's Magic (Mackenzie Family #4)(15)

Mackenzie's Magic (Mackenzie Family #4)(15)
Author: Linda Howard

MacNeil skillfully backed the big stallion out of the trailer; Pleasure came eagerly, happy to have company again, relieved to be unconfined. He showed his happiness by dancing around and playing, shoving MacNeil with his head and generally acting like any four-year-old. All things considered, Maris was just as happy not to be on the receiving end of those head butts, or to have to control all that power as he danced around. He would have been quieter for her¡Xthe horses found her especially soothing¡Xbut any jolt right now wasn't fun.

MacNeil led Pleasure away from the trailer, the stallion's hooves almost soundless on the thick pad of pine needles and decomposing leaves that carpeted the forest floor. He tied the reins to a sapling and patted the animal's glossy neck. "Okay, you can come over now," he called to Maris. "Keep him happy while I reposition the trailer."

She took control of the stallion, calming him with her voice and hands. He was still hungry and thirsty, but he was such a curious, gregarious horse that his interest in the proceedings kept him occupied. Dean Pearsall had stopped the Oldsmobile farther back, positioning the car so its headlights lit the area. MacNeil got in the truck and put it in reverse, leaning out the open door to check his position as he backed the track up to the trailer. He was good at it; it took some people forever to get the trailer hitch in the right position, but MacNeil did it on the first try. Pretty good for an FBI agent, Maris thought. He was a fed now, but he'd obviously spent a lot of time around horses in the past.

It was snowing a little more heavily now, the headlight beams catching the drifting flakes as they sifted through the bare branches of the hardwoods. The pines were beginning to acquire a dusting of white. MacNeil maneuvered the trailer around, threading it through the trees, repositioning it so that it directly faced the narrow trail they'd made and anyone coming down it wouldn't, be able to see that Pleasure wasn't inside. There were high, narrow side windows in the trailer, but none in front.

As soon as the trailer was in position and MacNeil had unhooked the truck and pulled away, Pearsall went to work, squirming underneath the trailer and setting up a video camera so that it couldn't easily be seen but would still have a good angle on anyone approaching the trailer.

MacNeil turned to Maris. "While Dean's working, let's get Pleasure tucked away back in the woods." He checked the luminous hands on his watch. "We need to be out of here in five minutes, ten tops."

The trailer contained blankets that had been used to cover the mare who had been brought to Solomon Green the day before. Maris got the darkest one and spread it across Pleasure's broad back. He liked that, swaying his muscular rump as if he were doing the hootchie-cootchie, and blowing in the particular way he did when he was pleased. She laughed, the sound quiet and loving, as she reached up to hug his big neck. He lipped her hair, but gently, as if he'd somehow realized by the way she moved that she wasn't quite up to speed.

"This way." MacNeil's voice held an odd note as he handed a flashlight to Maris, then untied the reins and began leading Pleasure deeper into the trees. He curved his other arm around Maris, holding her close to his side as they walked. Between the oversize Kevlar vest and her thick down jacket, he couldn't feel her, so he slipped his hand under the coat, under the vest, resting it on the swell of her hip. "How are you feeling?" he asked as they picked their way through the dark woods, stepping over fallen limbs and evading bushes that clutched at their clothes.

"Okay." She smiled up at him, letting herself lean closer into the heat and strength of his big body. "I've had a concussion before, and though this one isn't any fun, I don't think it's as bad as the first one. The pain is going away faster, so I don't understand why I can't remember what happened." Her bewilderment was plain, and his fingers tightened on her hip. "A different part of your brain is affected, I guess. And parts of your memory are already coming back, so by tomorrow you'll probably remember everything."

She hoped so; these blank holes in her life were unsettling. It was just a matter of a few hours now, as she regained partial memory of things that had happened both before and after she was hit, but she didn't like not knowing everything that had happened. She remembered driving with MacNeil, but why couldn't she remember arriving at the motel?

Only one way to find out what she wanted to know. "Did I undress myself?" Glancing up, she saw him smile at the abrupt change of subject. His voice deepened, evidence of the way the memory affected him. "It was a joint effort."

Maybe she would have been embarrassed an hour ago, but not now. Instead she felt a sort of aroused contentment fill her at the thought of him pulling off his T-shirt and putting it on her, the soft cotton still warm from his body.

"Did you touch me?" The whispered words were like heated honey, flowing over him, telling him how much she liked the idea.

"No, you were too out of it." But he'd wanted to, he thought. God, how he'd wanted to. He helped her over a fallen tree, supporting her so that she wouldn't stumble, but he was remembering how she'd looked sitting on the side of the bed, wearing nothing but her panties, her eyes closing, her pale hair floating around her delicate, satiny shoulders. Her breasts were high, firm, small but deliciously round, her nipples like dark pink little crowns. His right hand clenched on the reins; his palm was actually aching to touch her now, to fill his hand with that cool, richly resilient flesh and warm it with his loving. "Well, darn," she said sedately, and in the glow of the flashlight he saw the welcome in her night-dark eyes.

He inhaled deeply, reaching for control. They had no time for any delay, much less one that would last an hour. An hour? He gave a mental snort. Who was he kidding? He was so worked up that five minutes was more like it, and that was only if his self-control turned out to be a lot stronger than it felt right now.

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