Demon Fire (Angel Fire #3) - Marie Johnston

Chapter 1

If the world were fair, Boone Reamer wouldn’t be squirreled away in the Montana mountains, miles away from nosy people and their “Are you doing okay?” questions. If the world were fair, there wouldn’t be a snowstorm barreling down on his little cabin, keeping him isolated just the way he wanted, but also the way he hated. If the world were fair, he wouldn’t be staring down at a rumpled, bleeding woman who for all intents and purposes seemed to have been dropped in the middle of nowhere.

And if his luck weren’t shit, he wouldn’t have decided to check his snares before the bad weather bore down and dumped its load of heavy, wet snow on him and he wouldn’t have found this . . . person.

“Hey. You alive?” It wasn’t a stupid question, but he felt foolish asking it. He strapped his rifle over his back and adjusted the strap over his puffy winter parka. He leaned over her. There was no way she was alive. All that blood? No.

Was he hoping she was dead?

Either way, he’d have law enforcement crawling up his ass. Someone might google him and figure out who he was. Then he’d get those looks. The ones full of pity. The offers of help that he didn’t want or need.

If this woman was alive, he could drive her far enough to meet up with EMS, be nothing more than a Good Samaritan, and be on his way. He’d be quickly forgotten. The sooner he could be left the hell alone in his cabin, the better.

Alive was better. Alive was also better because he wasn’t a heartless bastard. He hadn’t dedicated his life to protecting the innocent only to lose his damn soul in the middle of Montana.

“Hey,” he tried again.

The woman didn’t twitch. Her slight body was crumpled in the snow, her back a bloodied mess, like someone had carved their initials on either side of her spine, tossed a burlap sack over her shoulders, and poofed her here. He couldn’t see her face, but she had a short mass of dirty-blond hair that looked dirtier against the pristine snow. She was on the petite side, but most women seemed small to his six foot two. Her bare legs were pale but that could be due to the cold. Any longer and they’d probably turn blue.

He squatted, his keen gaze searching the area around her. Large tracks were in the snow, but only by her body. They didn’t extend out. The guy—and from the size of the footprints, it had to be a guy—hadn’t dragged her. He hadn’t carried her. He hadn’t walked any fucking where but stood in this spot and left.

How had the mystery man pulled that off?

Boone adjusted his stocking hat and puffed out a breath. Condensation fogged up from his mouth. He was done with police work. This wasn’t his problem. Getting her to safety was. The cops could deal with the rest.

“Hey, lady,” he called louder.

Reaching out, he paused with his hand over the woman’s shoulder. For over two years, he’d been away from civilization, doing nothing more than grabbing a few groceries every other week. This moment loomed over him, more momentous than it had a right to be.

For fuck’s sake. She was dying and he was taking his time?

He tapped the stiff, cold shoulder. “Hey. Lady.”

She let out a low moan.

He blew out a hard breath and ran his hand over his black stocking hat. She was alive, then. He should check for a pulse or something. How quickly he’d lost those instincts, but it wasn’t like he’d had to use them recently.

“Can you walk?” His voice grated from disuse and he cleared his throat. The few times he’d gone into town, he’d said nothing more than “Yes, please” and “No, thanks.”

The woman shifted, a move as weak as the sun behind the thick clouds overhead.

He’d have to carry her. Good thing he traveled light otherwise. He had his rifle, and under his snow pants, he had two knives strapped to his hip. His parka pockets were loaded with trail mix and a cell phone—because as much as he didn’t want to deal with people, he also didn’t want to hurt himself and become wolf kibble in the mountains.

“I’m going to pick you up.” He said it so loud it startled a bird out of the trees to his left. The caws died in the wind and snow drifted down from the disrupted branches to land soundlessly on