By: Laurann Dohner

She quickly stepped into his body, almost touched his chest and jerked her arm hard downward. He had no choice but to release her or it would have twisted his wrist painfully. Jessie jumped back, put space between them and tensed. He would either attack or stay in place.

Being smaller helped. At five foot four Jessie had the advantage as she tucked her body when her attacker sprang at her with an enraged snarl. He hadn’t expected that move and his hands only grasped air when his fingers grabbed where she’d been. She spun to the side, straightened and kicked out with her boot.

She caught the off-balance man in his hip and he crashed to the floor, sprawled on his side. Jessie backed up to put more space between them. The Species male jerked his head up, gaped at her with astonishment and used his arms to launch to his feet. He opened his mouth and growled inhumanly, revealing some sharp, lethal teeth. He lunged again, this time faster.

Jessie thought one word before she dived to the side to avoid his clawed fingers.

FUCK! She tucked into a ball, rolled on the floor and came up on her feet the way she’d been trained to do. She needed to stay out of his reach and knew it would be over if he got his hands on her. They were physically no match if it came down to hand-to-hand combat. He’d pulverize her.

She caught him lunging at her again out of the corner of her eye. She kicked out, bent to press her hands on the floor to brace and caught the man with a violent up-kick.

The impact of her boot with his body hurt her leg but it had to be more painful for him.

He staggered back with a loud gasp and it sank in that she'd managed to catch him in the groin. She twisted around after straightening to her feet, watched him grip the front of his jeans and double over. Jessie winced.

She hadn’t meant to kick him in the balls but it was effective. She’d been aiming for his stomach but the guy was too tall and her legs weren’t long enough. His head snapped up and she had no doubt he wanted her dead. Pure rage was displayed on his harsh features.

“Calm down,” Jessie demanded, trying to sound composed when she wasn’t. “I wouldn’t have done that if you’d kept your hands and temper to yourself. I won’t hurt you if you don’t try to hurt me.”

Jessie knew all hell broke loose around her. She didn’t dare take her attention away from the large male who glared at her, still bent over, gripping his injured crotch. It was only luck that she heard a warning growl and twisted her head to check out the new threat.

Another large Species male sporting new clothes, shoved other males out of his way who were frozen in stunned shock. The new threat stormed toward her and she only had seconds to assess the situation. A few Species snapped out of their stupor and tried to stop him but he easily shoved them to the side. No one was able to prevent him from reaching her.

“Shit,” Jessie gasped as his fist launched at her face.

Instinct alone shot her arm up to knock his fist to the side and deflect a direct punch that would have been dead center to her face. His knuckles brushed her ear and pain shot through the side of her head. He gripped her shirt with his other hand. She hadn’t seen that move coming. Her sole priority had been avoiding the fist. He jerked her off her feet as if she weighed nothing and terror struck. He would probably either throw her into something or smash her bones by slamming her down onto something hard.

Either way, it would be very painful.

Two hands gripped Jessie’s hips firmly from behind. Shit. I'm so screwed. Two of them had her. She could only hope that some of the Species would come to her aid before the males turned her into a wishbone. Though she was human, she doubted they would allow her to be killed before they stepped in. How hurt she got before being rescued was anyone’s guess.

The hands on her hips yanked hard. She was torn away from the one in front of her and the sound of tearing material registered. She'd seen him haul back his fist to attempt to nail her again but now she was out of his range.

Her back slammed into a rigid body and the large male—she assumed it was one-twisted away from her attacker. He put his body between her and the incoming fist, taking the punch himself. Jessie felt the impact through the man holding her and it sent both of them flying forward. She saw the wall coming and turned her head away, guessing it was going to hurt when they hit. He’d squish her between it and his body.

The male holding Jessie twisted again at the last second and his shoulder and hip slammed brutally into the wall instead of her. He dropped her onto her feet, moved lightning fast to position her against the wall gently and she bumped the plaster. It left her gawking at the wide back of the Species male who’d come to her rescue. He braced, his body tense as a loud snarl tore from his throat.