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She’d never seen anything like him before--except maybe on television. He reminded her of Vincent from Beauty and the Beast. His features were definitely feline, but regal and sensuous rather than grotesque. He was magnificent.
His knees buckled and instinctively Alli reached around his waist to hold him up. The flashlight and the first aid kit hit the dirt with a thud and he hissed at the noise. It sounded like words, but she couldn’t make them out.
“Come with me,” she said. “I’ll help you.”
Which voice was that? she wondered when he put his weight on her shoulders. They began a faltering four-legged limp back to the house.
She had no idea who or what he was, but for some reason, she had the undeniable urge to take care of him. It amazed her how self-assured she sounded, as if she fixed up wounded aliens all the time.
Alien. That’s exactly what he was. Crazy. That’s exactly what she was.
Inner voice. Outer voice. Both deserted her in a rush. Her brain went on autopilot and her body followed mutely along, one foot in front of the other. With deliberate movements and a few low, painful moans, they made it back to the farmhouse and up the stairs where Alli did the only thing she could think of. She put him in her bed.
By the sixty-watt light of the lamp on her nightstand, he was even more fascinating and frightening than he’d been in the moonlight. Stretched to his full length on the handmade quilt, he looked like the shadow of some fantasy creature. Half feline, half man--well, all man she decided with an eye on the impressive bulge between his legs. Whatever equipment he possessed was covered by some type of loincloth attached to a wide leather belt. Bright jewels studded the belt as well as the matching cuffs on his wrists, but aside from those adornments, he was naked, covered only in fine, blue-black fur that had the exquisite feel of crushed velvet.
She forced her gaze upward to his face. Incredible. His features were chiseled and the heavy ridge of his brow hooded those magnificent feline eyes, which were currently clenched tightly in pain. Unlike the television character Alli remembered, he had no wild lion’s mane of hair. His head was sleek, but his pointed ears ended in short tufts of ebony fur.
He made a noise deep in his chest as his massive torso settled against the mound of pillows that cushioned the old brass bed frame. With his feet hanging off the bed, he didn’t look comfortable, but then again, with a bullet in his chest, she doubted the size of the bed would make much difference to him.
Alli realized she’d been stroking the skin of his abdomen and pulled her hand away when he stirred again, still trying to find a comfortable position. She ignored the tide of fear that ebbed and flowed in her and she bent closer to examine him.
His wound was vicious. The dark skin beneath the fur was torn and oozing. In the dim light she thought she could make out a metallic glint in the mangled flesh and realized that if she cleaned away the blood, she might be able to remove the bullet.
The thought made her dizzy. Then what?
She glanced at the phone beside the bed. Three little numbers. Nine-one-one. Would they even believe her if she called?
He growled and struggled to sit up. She could tell by the wild look in his eyes that he was delirious from the pain. She wondered if he would hurt her accidentally if she tried to restrain him. Then she wondered if he would hurt her on purpose.
“Stay here,” she said, swallowing another wave of fear as she pushed him gently back against the pillows. To minimize the distraction and ward off chills from shock, she pulled an afghan over his lower body. At the very least the weight of the heavy knit blanket might be enough to keep him still in his weakened state while she scrounged for supplies.
“Don’t move. I’m going to get something to clean you up.”
One brilliant green eye opened and he hissed something. She jumped back again when a deep roar of pain split the air. His body seemed to convulse and Alli pressed her back against the bedroom wall while he writhed on the bed. She had no idea what to do.
Finally, his muscles relaxed and he lay back against the pillows, drained from some internal struggle. When she looked again, the wound was pumping fresh blood, but the bullet was now clearly visible embedded in his flesh.
Alli leaned closer. What the hell was happening? She drew in a breath in amazement. He seemed to be expelling the bullet from his body. The wounded muscle and skin was actually pushing the foreign object out, millimeter by millimeter, as she watched. If the pain of it didn’t kill him, he might actually survive.
As if a dead alien wasn’t trouble enough, what was she going to do with a live one? Alli’s self-preservation voice kicked in again. He may be incapacitated now, but look at those claws. He could rip you to ribbons and you’re standing there staring at his ... loincloth.
She had to get a grip. First things first. She needed to clean him up before he bled all over her grandmother’s double wedding ring heirloom quilt.
“I’ll be right back,” she said shakily. He looked at her with both eyes now but made no comment.
“I won’t hurt you.” She held out her hands, palms forward, hoping that signified a peaceful, friendly gesture. “So, please don’t hurt me, okay?”
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