She kept firing, heartened that some SEALs remained out front. It wasn’t like they’d deserted her.
Her gun clicked when she squeezed the trigger. Empty.
Shit, out of ammo again. She reloaded. Her gaze swept past the SEALs toward the Chinook. She cried out in relief when she saw Cam running flat out toward her. He moved like a blur, weapon firing.
He came barreling into the rock shelter and skidded to his knees beside her. “Come on,” he yelled over the noise.
Still holding her weapon, she grabbed a fistful of his uniform as he levered her onto his shoulders. Amidst the whine and ping of the rounds landing around them, he ran for the Chinook. She kept firing in bursts toward the enemy, and stopped only when she felt the heavy rotor wash beating at her back. A howl of agony ripped from her throat as Cam flipped her off his shoulder and all but tossed her into the cabin.
Someone grabbed her under the armpits and hauled her backward away from the ramp as Cam jumped inside. Black spots swam before her eyes.
“Talk to me, Spike.”
She turned her head at Ryan’s voice. “I’m okay!”
He moved away toward the cockpit. The inside of the bird was so crowded with bodies she couldn’t tell who was who. The pitch of the big engines changed, rising to a shrill scream as the bird struggled to take off. Fighting back the pain, she found Cam at last near the ramp and met his stare. The gunners were still firing from their positions. The bird shuddered and strained under the burden of all its passengers.
Oh God. They were overweight. The engines were already maxed out.
Cam exchanged a long look with Jackson, then pushed his way over to her. She grabbed his upper arms and leaned forward to shout. “They need to throw some ammo and equipment out, or—”
“Listen to me.” His eyes were the most intense she’d ever seen them. She stilled.
He surrounded her with his arms for a second before kissing her hard and pulling back. He shook her once, staring down intently at her. “I love you.”
Her heart stopped beating.
He wouldn’t. She read the intent in his eyes. “No, don’t—”
“Hang on to this for me,” he shouted. He yanked out the chain she’d given him and put it in her stiff hand. Then he turned and disappeared down the tail ramp.
She threw out a hand to grab him. Stop him. But her fingers only grabbed air. “Cam!” He didn’t stop. Didn’t so much as hesitate as he jumped off the tail ramp and joined the SEALs still on the ground around the Chinook.
“Cam, no!” Heedless of the pain in her leg, she pulled herself toward the closing ramp. Desperate to get to him before it was too late.
She tripped on someone’s leg and went down, crying out in agony as her wounded knee smashed into the steel floor. Hard hands gripped her waist. Yanked her up and back. She fought them.
Ryan. Mindless, she ripped at his restraining hands. “Let me go! He’s going to get killed!”
Ryan hauled her up and into his arms, holding her tight as the Chinook lifted off the ground. She fought him with all her strength. “Is he on the Hawk?”
“Is he on one of the fucking Hawks!”
“I…I don’t know.” He held her tighter. Cutting off her breath. She weakened and stopped fighting.
Her body was stiff with denial. She was sobbing now, hysterical. “W-we have to g-get him.”
“He’ll get out, Dev. I promise you.”
The pain was suffocating. She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t ease the splitting sensation in her chest. The tears flowed fast and hot down her cheeks. They soaked the front of Ryan’s fatigues as the bird rose into the dark sky and left the man she loved behind.