Davis pushed through the grappling forest, ignoring the stinging slaps of branches across his face. The thought of Zhang anywhere near Sunny made Davis’s mind race with horrible possibilities he didn’t want distracting him. Branches snapped behind him as both Rafe and the Rebels followed him.
The gunfire behind them stopped, which wasn’t a surprise. The few men at the mine hadn’t had a hope against Davis’s team. He should have kept a better eye on Zhang. Should have known a man who would send others to kill the opposition would slink out the back while his men fought.
“Davis, he’s got a detonator in his hand.” Sunny’s words yelled through the com, and the angry roar of pain overlapping her voice pushed his legs even faster.
She hadn’t stayed hidden.
The loud echo of a single shot and her scream rushed ice through him, causing him to stumble. He caught himself, hot fury burning the cold away, fueling his last push on to the game trail.
Zhang turned this way and that like he couldn’t see clearly. His face was bright red from pepper spray. Sunny crawled down the path, clutching her middle with one hand while grabbing for something metal in front of her and chucking it into the forest.
“No,” Zhang yelled, lunging for Sunny.
“Zhang,” Davis hollered, lifting his gun to take aim.
Zhang grabbed Sunny by the hair, yanked her to her feet, and pulled her to him. Her pain-filled scream had Davis’s blood boiling. Zhang turned her around with a gun to her head. Blood soaked Sunny’s shirt where she had been shot, making the fabric cling to her belly. Davis’s hot anger rushed out in a frigid flurry of torturing images.
“Let her go.” Gunnar’s low voice growled behind Davis, pulling him back to the present. “You’re done. Holding her gets you nowhere.”
“It gives me leverage to get free.” Zhang’s eyes twitched and blinked from the bear spray.
“To where?” Bjørn came up beside Davis, motioning to the trees. “You have no escape. We’ve disabled your helicopter.”
Davis held Sunny’s gaze, though the spicy pepper lingering in the air made his eyes, nose, and throat sting. Tears streaked through the dirt on her face. Her dark eyes, usually brimming with hope, held regret and sorrow. He clenched his teeth, ripping his focus from her to the beast keeping her from him.
“I’ll figure something out.” Zhang’s nostrils flared. “I always do. This one survived the wilderness. She’ll help me get free.”
“I’ve almost got a shot. Keep him talking.” Rafe’s voice in Davis’s ear hitched hope up his throat.
Sunny’s eyes widened, and Davis hated how terrified she must be. He gave her a quick nod of encouragement. Her expression hardened to steeled determination, and pride in the amazing woman she was filled him with the faith he needed to trust. If Rafe needed time, Davis would spin a tale and throw Zhang off kilter.
“You’re more of an idiot than I originally thought.” Davis goaded, scoffing and lifting his eyebrows as he took a step forward. “You really think she evaded your men? That was me, moron.” Davis let the satisfaction at Zhang’s ruffled ego lift his mouth. “If you would’ve done even a minute of research into your neighbor, you’d realize he was ex-military. She’s just a hiker, but me? I’ve got years of Special Forces and military contacts that will take whatever it is you’re doing out here and crush it to dust.”
Sunny glared at Davis, her eyebrow hitching at Davis’s comment, comical in the situation. He’d apologize later. Zhang jerked his arm against her throat, gritting his teeth as he pressed the gun harder against her head. Davis froze, then relaxed his shoulders.
“Almost there,” Rafe whispered through the com. “Don’t move, Sunny.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Zhang backed up and stumbled, making Sunny whimper in pain. “You haven’t crushed anything.”
“Maybe.” Davis let the fury loose, coating his words with menace. “I do know I will hunt you down, hang you from your ankles in a low hanging tree, and cut you open enough that you won’t die, but you’ll definitely attract company.”
Zhang’s throat bobbed, and his eyes darted to the woods surrounding them.
“You callously murdered a good man. Terrorized an innocent woman. Any mercy you deserve, you forfeited when Justin’s blood stained the Alaskan soil red,” Davis ground out, letting all his anger fill the air.
“Innocent?” Zhang pointed at his red and blotchy face.
“She showed mercy by not shooting you outright,” Davis replied.
“Mercy?” Zhang sneered, his muscles bunching.
“Three.” Rafe counted as Zhang bared his teeth.
“I don’t know the meaning of the word.” Zhang tightened his hold on Sunny’s throat.
“Two.” Rafe continued his count, and Davis held his breath.