Jade Archer 
   ~ A Shot For The Heart ~

Excerpt ~ Where To Find Harte

Logan crouched in the undergrowth and waited patiently. It wouldn’t be long now, he thought as he concentrated on the small break in the trees ahead of him. Soon his hunt would be over.

It was a pity really—the hunt was his favourite part. Well, except for the getting paid part of course. But unfortunately, his prey was woefully unprepared and totally inept in the thick, jungle environment. It had been a short, completely unfulfilling pursuit. Like so many he had taken on recently.

Gods, he hated the Mebian system. There was just something wrong about the place. But a job was a job, and he prided himself on being a complete professional. That and the fact the pay was just too damn good to refuse.

Pushing the stray thoughts aside, he ran through what he knew of his target. Admittedly, it wasn’t much, but the owners had told him the runaway was training as an agricultural scientist. He was probably used to flat, arable land, fields of carefully tamed golden strogrom and laboratories.

Logan stifled a derisive snort. This place would have come as a very rude shock. He wondered if the little cat regretted running yet. It might make recapturing him a hell of a lot easier if he did.

What makes them think they can make it out here anyway? he mused absently, as he ignored the foot long growellin slug crawling over his boot. The small proximity alert curled around his ear feeding him detailed information about his surroundings had already let him know it was there. It was a harmless, completely vegetarian species and just passing through. Not worth giving his position away for, in other words. Now if it had been a ferrallin slug…that would have been a completely different story.

Still, it did make him wonder. This forest was absolutely teaming with critters—some harmless, some definitely far from it. Why would anyone voluntarily run into it? He literally had years of experience and training in survival and combat to fall back on, and he never came here lightly. 

Logan shook his head at the sheer idiocy and ignorance it would take to run away here without extensive, thorough preparation. Even with all his high tech equipment, tracking scans and an arsenal worthy of a small army, it had still taken him almost a full day to reach a viable intercept location. The terrain was just that unpredictable and inhospitable. He’d been forced to park his Hyperlight space cruiser nearly twenty-four clicks away because he hadn’t been willing to risk trying to get closer.

He frowned slightly at the reminder that they would be forced to spend the night out here. It was getting too late to try to get back now. But, while staying out in the forest was something he didn’t relish, he could handle it if he needed to. The runaway, on the other hand, was damn lucky to have survived last night out here on his own.

Logan really hadn’t expected to be able to track him with the bio-scanner. It seemed far more likely that the man would have already been inside one of the other life forms around here! But Logan had managed to find him—the proverbial needle in the strogrom mound. All in all, the little runaway really was a pretty lucky cat actually.

Logan’s ears pricked up when he heard his target crashing through the waist high brackman ferns a little to the left of his position. Shifting just his eyes, he managed to spot him—a stumbling figure in a worn grey slave’s tunic and pants. Actually, on this little guy the ferns were more like chest high, so he could only assume he had on the standard issue ugly grey slave’s pants. They certainly weren’t offering him much protection from the inch-long needle like fronds of the ferns if his grimace was anything to go by.

He looks so small and defenceless, Logan found himself thinking, before he could shake his head and clear the stray thought away. Where the hell had that thought come from? The guy was only defenceless because he had been foolish enough to try and run away through the Great Gerilan Wilderness. And he had only done that because he refused to face up to the commitment he had made.

A commitment to be a slave, yes, but one he had made of his own free will. There was no way Logan would ever agree to something like that, but if he did he damn sure would have stuck by his word.

The man was probably lucky Logan had found him so quickly actually. He didn’t appear to have a great deal left in the way of energy reserves. In fact, he didn’t look as if he would last too much longer out here at all. His hair was matted and tangled with leaves and twigs, his face covered in dirt and scratches, and the poor little thing’s ears drooped over the wild mop of his hair in tired dejection.

Logan felt his heart ache a little for the wretched state of the little cat, before he caught himself and hardened the unruly organ. He was not going to feel sorry for his target.

Get a grip, he admonished himself silently. He had a job to do. Bounty hunters could not afford to feel sorry for their objectives. By Ion! What would the other guild members say if they ever found out he was as soft hearted as a bepple bunny? It had taken him years to build up his tough, no nonsense reputation. This little cat wasn’t going to put a dent in it. No matter how pathetic he looked.

As he watched the man struggle through the ferns a few more feet, Logan tensed, readying himself for the strike. Quick and efficient. The man may look done in, but one never knew with a runaway. Sometimes they were just desperate enough to do you serious damage before you could get them under control if you weren’t on your toes.

Closer. He could pick out the stunning tawny brown and gold highlights in the man’s hair—spectacular despite the debris in it.

Closer. He noticed the man’s firm, lean muscles and his cock perked up with interest—insubordinate traitor that it was.

Closer. He finally spotted the colour of the cat’s eyes—a deep, forest green, as bright and vibrant as any of the plant life around them, gorgeous pools of emerald that a man could lose himself in. Green had always been his favourite colour. Always.

Logan snapped his attention back to the reason he was here when the man almost stepped right passed Logan as he gazed on in a lustful daze.

Stupid, Logan. Pay attention, he admonished even as he leapt forward to take the man down.

“Got ya!” he yelled in triumph as he threw his arms around the little cat and tumbled him to the ground, unconsciously cushioning the man’s fall and being careful not to crush him under his heavier frame.

Only once the man was firmly pinned beneath him did he look down. He was instantly struck by the big, innocent green eyes drinking him in. His captive looked stunned and lost in his exploration—as if he had never seen anything more fascinating in his life. And Logan knew exactly how he felt. The man was amazing from a distance. Up close, he was just incredible.

“Who are you?” the man finally asked breathlessly.

“Logan,” he replied in an equally stunned, husky undertone. “Logan McCabe.”

For a second the man continued to stare at him in awe. Then realization slowly began to cloud his eyes.

“No!”

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