Rendezvous With Yesterday(4)By: Dianne Duvall
Josh stood several yards away, up and to her right, his back to a tree, Glock in hand.
Beyond him stood a ramshackle cabin barely bigger than a garden shed.
Josh’s eyes widened when he caught sight of her.
More gunshots sounded. Bark splintered from the tree just above his head.
A bullet slammed into her left shoulder.
Staggering backward, she glanced down as burning pain invaded her arm.
Josh fired into the brush on one side of the cabin.
Raising her own 9mm, Beth followed suit and fired half a dozen times as she backed toward the trees.
Branches snapped as a large body fell forward out of the brush.
Her ears ringing from the shots, Beth ducked behind a tree. The stale smell of gunpowder filled the air. Her rapid heartbeat pounded in her ears. She tightened her hold on the 9mm, gritting her teeth as the throbbing in her shoulder and arm increased. Damn, it hurt.
Licking dry lips, she tasted the salt of her own sweat as she peered around the rough tree trunk.
Another gunshot sounded.
Bark exploded from the tree shielding Josh, no more than an inch from his face.
Her fear doubled. Where the hell was the second shooter?
She studied every tree and bedraggled shrub she could see without sticking her head out far enough to draw fire.
She swore. Josh was trapped. He would be totally exposed if he made a run for it. And, judging by the shots she’d heard and seen him fire, he was probably low on ammo.
Beth slid the shotgun off her shoulder, caught his eye, then tossed it to him.
He grimaced as he caught it. Leaning forward, he pressed the hand still holding his Glock to his side, drawing her gaze to the hole in his vest.
More bullets nicked the tree as he ducked back behind it. So close!
Panic invaded her. A terrible trembling began somewhere deep inside. Her breath shortened as she struggled to pull the Ruger 9mm from the holster on her hip and flip off the safety. She almost couldn’t do it. Her left arm didn’t want to cooperate.
“Run!” Josh ordered.
She shook her head helplessly. No way would she leave him here like this.
He peered around the tree, then squatted down.
Bark burst from the trunk just above his head.
Josh swore viciously. “Then cover me. He’s at your nine o’clock.”
Heart in her throat, she nodded, then leaned to one side and fired into the foliage up and to the left.
Josh took off running toward her.
Beth continued to fire, searching the brush for any hint of movement that would let her know exactly where the shooter hid.
Blood suddenly spurted from Josh’s right thigh. His leg buckled, sending him to the ground out in the open with no cover.
Beth’s breath stopped.
Before the dust had even settled, another bullet pierced his left arm.
“No!” Tears blurring her vision, Beth burst from the cover of the tree, firing blindly in the direction Josh had told her to with both the Ruger and the Glock. Before she could reach Josh, a bullet struck her in the back.
Pain careened through her. All strength seemed to leave her legs as she tumbled forward and landed facedown in the dirt. The hard-packed earth scraped her forearms like cement when she threw them up to keep her head from hitting the ground. Dust flew up and invaded her eyes as her body went limp. Her breath vanished, sucked away in an instant, filling her with terror.
Beth fought to draw air into her lungs, but couldn’t. All she could do was listen to her abnormally loud heartbeat and futilely fight her body’s attempt to suffocate her.
From what felt like a long distance, she heard Josh emit a roar of either grief or fury.
Even the blasts from the shotgun that followed seemed strangely muffled.
Terrified that Josh was on the receiving end rather than the firing end of those booms, Beth dug deep down into an unknown reserve of strength and struggled to draw her legs up under her. Bracing her hands on the ground, she managed to rise as far as her knees. Her Glock was empty, so she dropped it and rubbed her gritty eyes with quaking fingers in an attempt to clear her vision.
Josh struggled to his feet, his horrified gaze pinned to her.
Still gripping the Ruger, she twisted slightly and saw the second shooter lying dead, half-in half-out of the brush.
Vergoma. He must have circled around behind her. Unless…