Alexa looked up. She saw Gage reenter the cave, halting, looking for her. Instantly her heart sped up as soon as his gaze locked onto hers. More tears leaked out of her eyes. The tenderness in his glance as he walked over to Alexa nearly totaled her. She was shaking badly now, not sure she could keep standing.
A medic followed Gage and introduced himself to Tracy, asking if he could walk her out to the awaiting medevac. Touched that the man pulled a dark green handkerchief from a pocket in his uniform, handing it to Tracy, Alexa wanted to burst into sobs. They’d been tortured, threatened with death, assaulted, and invaded. And just this one bit of human kindness made her throat close up with tears once more.
Gage drew her gently against him, his arm going around her waist. “It’s going to be all right, Alexa,” he rasped, holding her tight. “Can you walk?”
All Alexa wanted was Gage, his body, his heat, his care, and that special gentleness that was so much a part of him. “Y-yes. My knees are wonky . . . but I can make it. Just keep your arm around me, please?”
He smiled, leaned down, and pressed a kiss on her mussed, dusty hair. “You got it. Come on, you’re flying back in the fourth medevac with me.”
Alexa turned, looking at the slave traders. “What about them?”
Grimly, Gage lifted his head. “Them?” His eyes glittered with barely held rage. “Don’t worry, the SEAL team will take them aboard an MH-47 that’s circling the area right now. They’re heading straight to hell. The CIA can hardly wait to get their hands on them.”
He gave her a look of satisfaction, gently urging her forward.
Alexa wearily leaned against Gage, her head resting on his chest, wanting to collapse with utter relief. The noise increased outside as he led her through some brush. Three of the medevacs had already lifted off, one after another. Above, Alexa could hear the familiar sound of Apache combat helicopters much higher, circling the area like guard dogs, protecting all of them with their special instruments that could locate an enemy and take them out.
She saw a huge truck at the entrance and noticed the Pakistan Army emblem on the door. It was then that it struck her that the General had planned to herd them into the rear of that massive truck, which would drive them across the border and into Pakistan. Alexa shivered.
Gage’s arm closed around her even more firmly and he stopped, worried, looking down at her shadowed face. “All right?”
“I am now,” she said, barely able to shout over the roar of the helicopters circling.
“Come on,” he urged, pulling her forward.
and FORGED IN FIRE