Week 267 – Everything is going to be okay now, Tillie. We can trust the cavalry

Tank fought through the pain that begged him to hide in an unconsciousness for one reason only.

Tillie.

The woman had killed to protect him and been terrified out of her mind when his team showed up. To her they looked no different than O’Riley’s men and for a moment he’d been afraid she was going to kill them too.

Waking was harder than it should be, but somehow he managed to pry open his eyes to find they were in a small cabin. He was lying in the bed, he could see the white bandage taped to his chest so assumed their team medic Rock had patched him up.

The guys were lounging at the table, and he saw Tillie sitting on the floor, knees pulled up to her chest, one hand still clutching his gun. She was sitting against the wall between him and the guys and he got the feeling she was still in mama bear mode, ready to protect him despite the fact they were safe with his team.

“Everything is going to be okay now, Tillie. We can trust the cavalry,” he said.

At the sound of his rough voice Tillie’s eyes lit up and she scrambled off the floor and came over to the bed. “You’re awake.” Tears shimmered in her eyes now. “I was so scared. you were going to die and it would have been all my fault.”

Her distress wrapped like a vice around his heart making it hard to breathe. “I’m not that easy to kill,” he assured her. “And the only person who’s fault it would have been is O’Riley’s.”

Tillie didn’t look convinced but she took a step back when Rock came over and began to check his vitals.

“You were lucky,” the medic said.

“Yeah,” Tank agreed. It was true he was. He should be dead, had no idea why he wasn’t. His gaze shifted to Tillie who was still between him and the other guys and he couldn’t help but smile. After everything she’d been through she was more worried about him. “She okay?”

“Bruises, I’m worried she might have a couple of cracked ribs but she’s insistent that she’s fine,” Rock replied. “Your girl is as tough as they come.”

“She’s not my girl,” he replied automatically, but he felt a pang in his chest at the declaration. Did he want her to be his girl? Had he done something utterly ridiculous like fall for Tillie?

Nothing had changed, she was still a job and she was still in danger. Until O’Riley was caught she would never be safe.

“We need a new plan,” he said, his eyes still watching his little warrior pixie.

“We have one,” Rock told him. “You’re just not going to like it. We use Tillie as bait to catch O’Riley.”

“No!” The word came out so loud and so viciously that everyone looked over at him. His eyes met Tillie’s and he knew he was fighting a losing battle. If Tillie was his then he would protect her with his dying breath, and that started with not using her as bait.

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