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Through slitted eyelids Dale studied the man as he stood stirring something on the stove. Hair the color of wet India ink hung halfway down his back. In the room's dim light she couldn't tell if his skin was a warm brown from the sun or his natural complexion. He frowned and creases fanned out from the corners of his eyes, revealing his mature age. His cheeks were high, his chin firm. If not for his straight narrow nose, his profile would look Native American. Tall with broad shoulders, he dominated the room.
When he turned toward her, she closed her eyes. Unable to see, she felt vulnerable. All her life, she'd been the strong one. The calm, rational one. The one to whom everyone turned when they needed help. Being dazed and disorientated angered her. She fought against the feeling of helplessness.
Fight or flight? Her heart beat a rapid rhythm in her chest. Wobbly as she felt neither option seemed feasible, but even if she couldn't run or fight him physically, she still had her wits to do battle with him.
What had happened? Who was this man? What did he want? Where was she? Where was Thea? At the thought, the other questions ceased to matter.
Her eyes snapped open. She scrambled to her knees and faced the man. "Thea! Where is she!"
He lifted one eyebrow. "Where is who?"
His calm, quizzical tone fanned the flames of Dale's growing rage. She leaned forward, her fingers curling into tight fists. "Thea, my daughter, what have you done with her? If you've hurt her, I'll rip off your head and spit down your throat."
"A most colorful threat." His soft chuckle sent a ripple of rage through her.
"One I'm more than capable of carrying out. Where isshe?"
"Thank the moons I have no knowledge of the child. You were alone when I found you outside this cave."