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Thea peeked out of her door and watched the empty parking lot for several long minutes before deciding everything looked clear.  Hurrying from her hotel room, she was lost in thoughts of Marko and shooting him and being chased down by Walkers.  Her worries had her feet moving double time, a hand lowering to her belly as she considered taking a second to dig around the cabin of the truck for the vitamins she’d lost yesterday in the near wreck. 


One missed vitamin would probably be okay.  I could make it up with a healthy lunch at my next stop.


She realized too late that her distraction was a mistake.  She wasn’t far into the parking lot when the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and her feet slowed as she scanned the parking lot.  She could feel eyes on her.  She knew she wasn’t alone. 


Jerking her pistol free from where she’d had it tucked into the back of her pants, she spun while dropping to a knee.  Her sight centered on the chest of a large man, who seemed shocked by her speed.  Out of the corner of her eye, she caught more movement.  A dozen men…no, not men.  A dozen Walkers stepped out and surrounded her. 


Shit!  Still, she kept her gun aimed at the large man.  Behind him, Marko stepped forward, dressed in his all white, full battle fatigues.  The rest of the Sentries also looked like they were prepared for battle.


Thea didn’t even try to disguise the worry in her tone.  “Revenge so soon?”


“Drop your weapon,” was Marko’s calm response.


When she didn’t immediately oblige, the circle of men surrounding her tightened, their hands going to their still holstered weapons.


Inhaling sharply, Thea’s eyes darted around the circle of men as worry washed over her.  Her free hand dropped to flatten over her abdomen as if the act alone could protect her unborn child.


“Hands off your fucking weapons!” Marko bellowed.


The Walkers circling her lifted their hands and Thea rose to her feet, keeping the pistol pointed at the Sentry in front of her while her other hand remained clamped over her belly.  “C-Call ‘em off, Marko.”


Stalking forward, he stood in front of the large Sentry so Thea’s gun was now pointed at him.  He shook his head grimly.  “Not happening, honey.”


Thea’s eyes narrowed to cruel slits.  “You’re kidding right?”  She shook the pistol in her hand.  “You know I’m good for it.  Do not test me!”


Marko smirked.  “Yeah, I know you have no qualms about shooting me, but I’m not so inclined where you and my child are concerned.”  He glanced over her shoulder.  “They have a tranq ready to put you down, but I’m hoping you’ll come peacefully.”  Concern marred his brow as his eyes dipped to her belly.  “Jenny thinks the tranq wouldn’t hurt the baby, but she’s not one hundred percent certain.  There could still be traces of the other drug in your system.  She doesn’t know what an interaction would do.”  He lifted dark eyes to hers.  “Don’t make me take that chance, Thea.  Don’t risk hurting our baby.”


Stepping back, Thea paled and swallowed hard.  “You…you’d really let them shoot me?  Shoot us?”


He winced at the betrayal in her voice but nodded once hard.  “To keep you both safe, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do.”


Thea kept her gun leveled at him for long moments as she contemplated her options.  Her eyes darted around the circle of men for an escape, but there was none.  


Finally, she looked up at Marko with pleading eyes and asked, “M-Marko?”


He knew what she was asking.  She wanted him to permit her to walk away.  It wasn’t happening.  Not now.  Not ever again.  His voice was full of conviction as he commanded, “Lower your weapon, Thea.”


Agitated, she cast a quick glance toward the movement over her shoulder.  One of the Sentries lifted a weapon and aimed it at her. 

Marko: Skin Walkers book 16

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