The moment Sophia met him, she knew life would never be the same. She’s seen him in her dreams for years and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that somehow, across space and time, they’re fated for one another. But when their lives collide, he can’t get away from her fast enough.
Gunslinger James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok has always lived by how fast he can draw his weapon. He understands things like statistics, odds, and where the sun sits in the sky. But the pull of one woman on his heart gives him more fear than a bullet with his name on it.
They have only one shot at forever. Danger is coming their way, and James is running out of time to make the right call or risk losing Sophia forever.
This is a previously published work. It has been revised and edited for Evernight Publishing.
Two weeks after returning to the Mountain, James saw her again. Sophia Ann Duffy.
Pausing in the corridor, he watched her walking and talking with her sister. They were such opposites. Vivian was a bold woman, not just with her red hair and take-charge attitude, but she had a presence about her that said she wouldn’t take crap from anyone.
When they’d found Vivian, she’d been on a story that had quickly led them to hunting down Vivian’s sister on the job. The monsters had targeted Sophia because she was one of the thirteen rarest women alive, a vestal virgin, destined to bond with a guardian.
There was something about the dark-haired beauty that called to him. Unfortunately, if he focused on her too long, he ended up with a headache. One the medics were stumped by, since there was absolutely no medical evidence to support it.
The doctors might be clueless, but the other guardians knew something. At least that was his guess, given the looks he’d been getting from Gaius, Hector, Jason, and Mercury. Even Alexander, who pretty much hated James’s guts, was giving him that same knowing stare. They knew something and they weren’t telling him, which was seriously pissing him off.
Sighing, he watched as Sophia disappeared around the corner of a corridor intersection, and his headache let up.
Giving his head a shake, he continued on his way to the base’s main hub. He couldn’t keep thinking about Sophia, no matter how often his mind went to her. She didn’t seem to want to see him, so it really didn’t matter if he wanted to talk to her. She avoided him all too well in a place he knew better than she ever could.
“James, about time,” Mercury said.
Acknowledging their leader, James then nodded to Helen, their tech guru, and took a chair near her. “So, what’s the news?”
“Eric updated me early this morning. He’s found our guy again and is tracking him now. He needs backup out there,” Mercury answered.
“So, you’re shipping me back out to Miami?”
“No, Alexander’s already departed to assist him. Gaius is having fits again, understandable of course, but still, we need to keep an eye on him. He wants to go out there, but we all know how that would end up.”
Yeah, Gaius on a rampage to get the man responsible for Emily, his soul mate, being hurt wouldn’t go well. Godzilla had nothing on Gaius when he got his back up about something and went looking to kill someone.
“So, I’m here why?” James asked. He didn’t get why he’d been summoned, especially since he’d been off training. Mercury didn’t interrupt training for any reason.
“You and I need to talk.” Mercury moved to the door and shot James an expectant look.
Groaning, James rolled his eyes and followed the man. They strode through the halls to Mercury’s office, where James took the chair he was pointed to. “What do we need to talk about?”
“About you getting your head out of your ass and seeing what’s right in front of you.”
“It’s been two weeks since you got back, and while I agreed at the time with the others to keep my nose out of it, enough is enough.”
“Again, I’m going to have to go with ‘huh’?”
Mercury raised a brow. “You and Sophia. Deal with it, sooner rather than later.”
“There’s nothing to deal with, Merc. She’s a great girl and all, but she wants nothing to do with me. Given how my head practically explodes with pain any time I’m near her, it’s probably a good thing she’s avoiding me like she is.”
Mercury scraped a hand through his hair. “I can’t believe you have no clue,” he muttered. “Do you remember what I told you about the medallion when I brought you back?”
“Yeah, don’t let anyone shatter it, as it’s as effective as having my head removed. Which, in my case, is pretty much the same thing.” James was obviously missing a key point, though, because Mercury was giving him a look that called him an idiot nine ways of Sunday.
“There was more to it than that. It wasn’t that long ago, and even with the brain damage you suffered, you should remember it.”
Frowning, James thought back. The medallion would give him life as long as it wasn’t shattered or he didn’t lose his head. It would help to guide him to stay in the light, but it couldn’t override his own needs and wants. If he gave in to the darkness that surrounded them, then he’d become one of the evil ones.
Then it hit him. The medallion would direct him to the one woman in all the world that was his—his heart, his light, his soul mate. “Shit,” he breathed out. Sophia Duffy was his soul mate. It all made sense now. He could recall the way Jason would rub at his chest as if he were in pain when he met Vivian. Now that he was thinking about it he could feel the ache each time he had seen the disappointment in Sophia’s eyes when he’d first met her.
And he’d pretty much done everything in his power to drive her away because of the headaches. The headaches! He let out a groan and pressed a hand to his eyes. No other guardian had a medallion in their head. He was getting the headaches because the medallion was trying to draw him to her. What had he done? Just thinking of how he’d treated her made his head hurt and his soul scream in pain.
“There we go,” Mercury said. “I knew all you’d need was a nudge.”
“Fucking hell, Merc. Why didn’t someone point it out sooner? She hates my guts right now. I did everything I could to push her away, and I succeeded. She won’t get within thirty feet of me anymore.”
“Well, then, you have a hell of a lot of work to do. I’d watch out for Vivian, though. She’s a very protective older sister, and Jason’s been teaching her hand-to-hand combat tactics. You might beat her on the draw, but I figure she’ll take you down out of sheer determination and whatever women have that makes them stronger than we men could ever hope to be.”
Mercury got to his feet and came around the desk. “Now get out of my office and figure out how to win your woman back. Soon, too, or she might just be handed off to another guardian by whatever power lays within the medallion.”
“Can that happen?” James asked in sudden horror.
“Hell if I know, but it’s a power beyond anything I understand. It might just decide you’re not worthy of her and give her to someone that will actually treasure her for the gift she is. And that may very well mean you’re out of luck, permanently.”
“Shit,” James whispered. Popping up to his feet, he got out of there quickly. No way in hell am I losing my only hope at staying in the light to another guardian. The thought of Sophia being touched by another man made his stomach turn.
Stopping, he looked around. Now he had one major problem and a minor obstacle—getting Sophia to speak to him again so he could apologize and avoiding being gutted by her sister. He’d seen the looks Vivian had been shooting his way, and now he understood them.