Hot Velocity(8)

By: Elle James

Several other children joined in the chorus.

“Who wants a ride into the gym?” T-Rex reached down and lifted a little boy named Nathan and settled him on his shoulders.

At first the little boy’s lip trembled, and then he gripped T-Rex’s hair, grinned and giggled.

“Who else?” T-Rex asked. With Nathan clinging to his hair, Sierra’s hero scooped up a little girl and a boy in his arms. “Follow me!” he called out in the best impression of a drill sergeant’s tone Sierra had heard in a long time.

Without hesitation, the rest of the toddlers lined up behind T-Rex and marched with him into the community center.

Sierra hugged Eloisa against her chest and followed. This must have been what it felt like to follow the Pied Piper. She didn’t know this man, but she trusted him with her life and those of the toddlers in her care.

And if he had hazel eyes that she could fall into and dark, reddish-brown hair she’d like to run her fingers through, that shouldn’t matter in the least. He’d come to her rescue. That made him a hero in her eyes and the eyes of the children.

Her heart beat faster and butterflies fluttered their wings inside her belly. Her day was looking up. And all because of a stranger who’d arrived in time to save the day. Talk about heroes.

Chapter Four

T-Rex entered through a side door that led into an open gymnasium with brick walls and basketball goals on either end.

A woman stood in one of the open doorways off the side of the gym, a baby in her arms. “Oh!” She blinked several times. “I was expecting Sierra. Who are you?”

His lips twisted into an ironic grin. “Apparently, I’m Sierra’s boyfriend.”

“He’s kidding.” The woman he’d rescued from her ex-husband entered behind him, carrying a tiny red-haired girl. Sierra’s cheeks were rosy and her blue eyes bright. “Clay assumed he was my boyfriend.” She shrugged. “I didn’t disavow him of that assumption.”

“Like I said. I’m her new boyfriend.”

Sierra’s friend stared at him, her eyes narrowing. “Wait. You’re one of the new guys in town working with Kevin Garner, aren’t you?”

T-Rex nodded and set down the children in his arms and then swung the little boy off his shoulders to his screaming delight.

As soon as he set him on the ground, the boy reached up. “Do it again! Do it again! Please?”

T-Rex lifted the boy high into the air and swung him back to the ground.

The other toddlers all raised their hands, shouting, “My turn!” at the top of their lungs.

“Okay, children,” Sierra called out over the commotion. “Mr. Trainor isn’t here to entertain all of you. Let him go about his business. Go on and play.” She set the red-haired girl on her feet and shooed her and the others toward the tumbling mats scattered across a corner of the gym. Once the children had moved away, Sierra held out her hand. “Thank you so much for coming to my rescue.”

He gripped her small hand in his, and a shock of electricity raced up his arm. His gaze connected with hers. Had she felt it? Her eyes widened for a second, but other than that little bit of motion, she didn’t indicate recognition.

Her lips curled upward in a smile. “Are you done with my hand?”

T-Rex immediately released her and jammed his hand into his pocket. “My pleasure.”

“Seriously, Sierra,” the woman with the baby on her hip said. “You haven’t met the men from the team of military guys who helped save us when the bus was hijacked?”

She shook her head. “Actually, I haven’t. You remember. When that happened, I was out with the flu.”

“You’re the one they called T-Rex, right?” The woman walked forward. “You might not remember me, but I’m Brenda Larson. We met in front of the Lucky Lou Mine a few days ago, after the showdown with the Vanders boys.”

T-Rex shook her hand. “I’m sorry. I don’t remember.”

“I can understand. There was a lot going on.” Brenda’s lips thinned and she glanced at Sierra. “Be glad you were sick that day. I still have nightmares.”

Sierra shuddered. “I’m so sorry for Mrs. Green. Her husband was such a nice man.”

“Mr. Green, the bus driver?” T-Rex asked.

Sierra and Brenda nodded.

“It was a shame. He didn’t do anything to deserve being shot,” T-Rex said.

“Well, don’t let us keep you, Mr. Trainor,” Sierra said. “Thanks again.” She stepped back, out of his way.

A baby’s cry had Brenda moving toward the door she’d come out of. “That’s my cue. Nice to see you again, T-Rex.”

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