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Unbound (The Captive #7)
Author:Erica Stevens

Aria felt the hesitation in Braith’s step, yet he kept charging toward the woods with her secured within his arms. She knew he’d been hit, but he didn’t ease his grip on her so she could see how badly he’d been hurt.

Terror battered at her as the scent of his blood filled her nostrils, but she didn’t struggle to try to see his wounds. Fighting against his hold would only slow him down. Once they were somewhere safe, she would be able to ascertain the extent of the damage and give him blood to help him heal. She didn’t care if it took every last drop in her body.

A vampire stepped forward to stop them. Ashby crashed into the vamp’s side, flinging him out of the way and sending him hurtling into a tree with the crunch of bone.

“Braith!” she cried when his step faltered again. “Are you okay?”

He didn’t say a word but kept going through the opening in the vamps. He plunged into the woods and down an embankment. Aria bit back a cry when his foot caught on something and they plummeted forward. Braith grunted again, but remained enveloped around her to take the brunt of the trees and rocks they bounced off of and against. Fury and fear suffused her as the sharp tip of arrowheads pressed against her belly when they were pushed through his body. He was hurt, badly, and there was nothing she could do to help him right now.

His back crashed against a tree, spinning them around and sending them rolling down the hill head over heels. Her hands dug into his arms, clinging to him as the world flashed by in a blur that made her head spin. She prayed for their rapid descent to come to an end soon. If one of those arrows should drive through him the wrong way…

Finally, their plunge came to an abrupt halt with him on top of her. From beneath his arm, she could see the corner of the boulder they’d come to a stop against.

“Braith?” she whispered.

She knew every inch of his body, every detail of his chiseled abs and broad chest. Every hollow, every dip, every sound he made when she touched him, and never before had he been so still.

“Braith?”

Tears choked her throat as her hands pushed against his chest as his body remained unmoving over hers.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

The words became a mantra in her head; her eyes burned with tears and a scream lodged firmly in her throat.

Careful not to throw him onto his back and drive the arrows embedded within his flesh even deeper, Aria managed to squirm her way out from underneath his heavy weight. Settling her back against the boulder, her body shook as her gaze fell on Braith’s still form.

A choked sound escaped her. She was going to throw up. She was going to pass out. No, she was going to die. She nearly doubled into a ball, but despite the fact he remained so unmoving, and there was no way that arrow wasn’t embedded in his heart, she still felt the faint wave of a connection to him through their bloodlink.

My blood flows within him, his within me. I am him and he is me. I’ll know if the bloodlink breaks. It wasn’t broken yet, but if she didn’t do something to get him away from here, it would be soon.

Her gaze lifted to the hillside they had tumbled down. They’d plunged nearly two hundred feet down the rocky, steep terrain into a gulley. Near the top of the hill, she spotted the others from their group skidding down the snow-slickened hill as they tried to flee the group of white-cloaked vampires chasing them.

Arrows fired into the trees around her friends and family. Timber cried out when leaves and dirt gave way beneath him and he tumbled down the hill much like she and Braith had. He smashed into a tree halfway down, getting caught up on it instead of plunging all the way to the bottom of the gulch.

Aria glanced back and forth down the snowy gulch. Sheltered by the trees surrounding it, there was only a coating of snow to be found in this part of the forest. Her woods. She knew where they were, knew where to find shelter in order to keep Braith protected, and she had to get him there, now.

Braith outweighed her by more than a hundred pounds, but it didn’t matter. Even if she’d still been human, she would have found a way to pick him up and carry him away before their enemies could get to them.

Her gaze went back to the others making their way toward her. No matter how badly she wanted to make sure they were safe too, she couldn’t wait for them. It would mean certain death for Braith if she did. They would understand, and Daniel and William would know where she went. If they made it to the bottom of the canyon.