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He was going to kill Bruce, he really was. In an extremely slow, painful way. Maybe even involving some sort of excruciating torture before delivering the final blow. Chinese torture, that would do. Carson bit his lip as yet another sharp, low-hanging branch scraped against his body, ripping cloth and tearing skin. He was covered in cuts and bruises, beyond exhausted. The remorseless sun beating down on him made it seem like he was inside a sweltering oven, and he would kill for a single drop of water.
Not to mention, since his watch had been smashed in an earlier fall, he had lost track of how long he had been wandering through the jungle. And it was all Bruce's fault for abandoning him in this endless labyrinth of tropical vegetation.
What the hell had he been thinking, taking up with a self-centered, arrogant, prickly bastard like Bruce Fraser? What the hell had him thinking a relationship between them could possibly work? They couldn't even see eye to eye on toothpaste, let alone important stuff.
But this, this took the cake. Being invited on vacation to an exotic country to "patch up" their differences, only to be left stranded in the middle of nowhere after a stupid argument over where in Jawara to visit next ... Oh, yes, Bruce was going to regret it. Assuming, of course, a band of starving lions didn't decide to have Carson for lunch, or he didn't die of dehydration first.
As if in defiance of his crazed thoughts, he heard a most welcome sound: running water. There had to be a river or stream nearby. He stood frozen for a moment, trying to find where the noise was coming from, his legs taking him in that direction oftheir own volition.
He nearly sobbed as he spotted a stream of clear water right before him. He knelt on the bank, submerging his head and neck into that wonderful freshness, then drank his fill, remembering not to swallow too fast. The last thing he needed was to get sick. He sat on the lush grass for a long while, enjoying a well-deserved rest, before deciding to proceed with his mission. Sooner or later,Carson would find civilization, a way to return to Jawara City, and then Bruce would get his just desserts.
He had barely risen to his feet when he sensed he was no longer alone. He had heard no particular noise, man-made or otherwise, but the hairs at the back of his neck stood up in warning. The world around him was suddenly too still, too quiet. Even the animals had grown silent.
"Bruce?" he whispered, hoping his asshole of a lover had come back for him. "Is that you?"
The sound of rustling leaves reached him from several directions. He shuddered, realizing he was about to face more than one person or animal. His breath caught as the bushes were pushed aside, and he found himself abruptly surrounded by a dozen black men. All of them wore nothing more than a loincloth at the waist and bone necklaces at their throats. The paint smeared on their faces and chests and the spears in their hands as they drew closer didn't exactly reassure Carson he was in safe hands. Especially as he recognized some of the bones adorning their necks as being human finger bones.
Oh, I can see the headlines now, he thought inanely. 'Private Investigator on vacation in Africa eaten by tribe of cannibals.' How in the hell do I get out of this mess?
That was his last coherent thought for some time, as the natives chose that moment to attack. He managed to evade the spears, punching and kicking as best as he could, but he was at a great disadvantage and still tired, and soon began to lose ground. Two of the cannibals had succeeded in throwing him on the rough earth and were trying to subdue him when gunshots echoed. In less than a second, he was free and the tribesmen had vanished out of sight.
Carson stayed on the ground, eyes squeezed shut, panting for breath as he silently thanked whatever deity was responsible for saving his sorry hide. He finally opened his eyes as the familiar purring of a motor halted next to him. It was a Jeep carrying three white men, all of them armed with machine guns.
"Hey," he greeted them weakly. "I assume you're my timely saviors?"