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ninekaronas

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Lost in Paradise

It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, when disaster struck.

-----------------------

"Are you sure you have time for this?" Kendall asked for the tenth time as she and Zach made their way to the airport. "Yes, Kendall, of course I do." He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. "What could I have to do that's more important than spending time with my wife?" "Oh, I don't know. It's not like you run three major corporations, now is it?" she said with a sigh. "You worry too much. I don't run those corporations by myself. They can get by without me for a few days." She squeezed his hand. "Well I can't," she said. "I can't make it without you for a few minutes." "Then it's a good thing you don't have to."

They boarded the small aircraft that Zach had bought for their private use. He didn't want to use the Cambias jet because he didn't want anybody to know where they were going. The plan was to disappear off the face of the earth for one glorious week. No business. No interruptions. No stress. Kendall's pregnancy had been trouble-free so far, but the situation at Fusion was beginning to take its toll. Zach had been unsuccessful in getting her to relax at home, so he was whisking her away to a tropical island in the Caribbean that he wouldn't even tell her the name of.

"I hope Spike will be okay," Kendall mused as they waited their turn for takeoff. "He'll be fine. Surely Ryan knows what he's doing by now," Zach teased. She didn't look convinced. "He'll be fine, honey. We're not gonna be gone that long. He'll have fun with Emma." Kendall nodded and rested her head on the back of the seat. "Of course. I know you're right." "I usually am," Zach said matter-of-factly. "Yes. And modest, too." Kendall laughed and felt herself finally beginning to relax. A week in paradise with her sexy husband sounded perfect. Just what she needed. No Fusion and no Greenlee.

After making a pit-stop in North Carolina, the Slaters were off to their tropical paradise. Kendall looked over at Zach, picturing him in nothing but a swimsuit. He turned and caught her smiling at him. "What?" he asked suspiciously. "Oh, nothing. I was just picturing you in your swimsuit." Zach raised an eyebrow. "Swimsuit? I didn't pack a swimsuit." "You mean we're going to an island in the middle of the Caribbean and you don't plan to go to the beach?" she said incredulously. "Didn't say that," he said, a wicked gleam in his eye. "Oh, so we're going to a private island?" she asked. "Didn't say that either." Kendall knew she'd fallen into his trap, but didn't want to give him the satisfaction. "Nude beaches?" she exclaimed. "I love nude beaches. I remember once in Brazil when Ryan and I -" she began, only to be stopped by his hand over her mouth.

"I don't want to hear it," he said. "But I want to tell you all about it, Zach. There was this one night when nobody else was around and we-" Again his hand covered her mouth. "Stop right there. I mean it," he said. "That's exactly what I said to Ry-" This time he covered Kendall's mouth with his own. He kissed her hard before releasing her. She returned the kiss, but hers was slow and deep. He was trying to set the auto-pilot without looking when she pulled away. "Now that is my idea of paradise," she said as she touched her fingers to her lips. "Better than fun in the sun with Lavery?" he asked. "Ryan? Please. Have you ever been to the beach with Ryan?" He shook his head. "Well, let me tell you. He's worse than a woman. Always fussing about the heat and the sand. Always begging for more sunscreen. As for the nudity, well, let's just say I've seen better," she said as she rested her hand on his thigh. "So you've never been to Brazil?" he asked, relieved. "Oh, I've been there, just not with Ryan," she said with a coy smile. Zach finished setting the auto-pilot and turned to her. He was just about to reach for her when she said, "it was with Aidan." He froze for a second, then noticed the grin on her face. "You're gonna pay for that," he said as he pulled her into his arms.

Suddenly, without warning, they heard a loud pop. Zach was checking the gauges on the instrument panel when he heard Kendall scream. "Zach, the plane's on fire!" He looked out the window and saw the billowing smoke. "It's okay," he said calmly. "We just lost an engine. We'll be okay with just one." He glanced at Kendall to reassure her, then turned his attention back to the gauges in front of him. "Dammit! I told that guy to check everything." He continued to curse under his breath while he secured the plane, then he turned back to Kendall.

She was obviously afraid, but she was calm. She reached for Zach's hand and squeezed it as soon as it was in her grasp. "Kendall? Honey, it's okay. We can make it with just one engine. I don't know what caused the first explosion, but as long as there's not another one, we'll be fine. I promise." She nodded and was just beginning to relax when the plane started shaking violently. Zach removed his hand from hers and gave the instrument panel his full attention. "This is normal," he said. "The flight won't be as smooth, but it doesn't mean we're in any danger."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, they heard another loud pop. Kendall screamed again. Zach cursed. They both knew what that noise meant. Zach watched as his gauges went haywire. He immediately got on the radio and called for help. He knew this was serious, but he had to stay calm for Kendall's sake. "Honey, reach behind the seats and get the life jackets," he said, turning to face his wife. She was going into shock.

"Kendall!" he shouted. "Don't leave me now. I need you." She finally looked at him, the fear evident in her eyes. But she was lucid. "The life jackets," Zach reminded her. Kendall reached back and pulled out the life jackets, handing one to him and laying the other one across her lap. "Put it on," he instructed when she continued to watch him. After struggling into the cumbersome life jacket, he was once again on the radio sending out a mayday. Kendall dared to look out the side window and immediately wished she hadn't. She could see that they were over water, and that they were losing altitude fast. She started to cry as she covered her baby with both arms.

Zach wanted to comfort her, but he had his hands full trying to fly the mortally wounded airplane. He briefly covered her hands with his and rubbed their unborn child. "Are we gonna die?" Kendall asked weakly. The fear in her voice was Zach's undoing. "No, dammit, we're not gonna die!" She flinched at the anger in his voice, and he was immediately contrite. "I'm sorry, Kendall. I didn't mean to yell at you. But no, sweetheart, we are not going to die. We may have to make a water landing, that's all." His voice sounded a lot calmer than he felt, but he knew he had to keep his composure for Kendall. She didn't need to know how worried he really was.

After one last mayday call, Zach turned to Kendall. "Honey, I'm so sorry," he said softly. Kendall threw herself into his arms and held on tight. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Zach. We're in this together." She pulled back to look into his face. "And no matter what happens, you are not to blame yourself." She kissed him then as if it was the last time she ever would. They held each other while the plane continued it's descent. "I love you," Zach said just as the plane made contact with the water. "I love you too," Kendall shouted over the noise of impact. Zach threw himself over Kendall's body in an effort to protect her and the baby.

Zach had managed to keep the plane from going in nose first, which kept it from totally breaking apart on impact. But of course, it sank like a stone. He carefully pulled Kendall through the broken glass and guided her to the surface. As they floated away from the wreckage, gasping for every breath, Zach took in their surroundings. Miraculously, he could see land in the distance. He turned to see if Kendall was hurt, and noticed she wasn't moving. "Kendall!" he screamed. He slapped her face, gently at first, then harder, as he continued to call her name. "Wake up, honey. Come back to me. Don't leave me, Kendall."

He checked her pulse and found it weak, but steady. He turned over onto his back, pulling her on top of him. Then he swam furiously toward land. He could feel something trickling down the side of his face, but he couldn't tell if it was blood, tears or water. All he could think about was getting Kendall safely to shore. Nothing mattered except that.

He didn't know how long they'd been in the water. He lost all track of time. He was exhausted, but he knew he would never give up. He would die before he gave up. He had to get Kendall and their baby to safety. "Please, God," he said as he swam with all his might. He felt his feet hit sand and gave a shout of relief. He turned over, took Kendall in his arms and waded through the shallow water to the shore.

He laid Kendall on the sand and removed both of their life jackets. He checked her pulse again and found it stronger than before. He patted her face and called her name, tears streaming down his face. "Open your eyes for me, Kendall. Come on, baby. Time to wake up. I've done all the hard work. We're on land. You can wake up now." He thought he saw her smile, so he kept talking. "You said you wanted to get me alone. Well, we're alone. Our own private island," he said as he looked around the area. He could see the curve off the beach in each direction, so he knew it wasn't a large island. And he certainly didn't see any hotels. He was trying to figure out how he was gonna get Kendall the help she needed when he heard the most beautiful sound.

"Zach." He turned to her and saw her watching him. He kissed her. He thought it would just be a quick kiss, but he found he couldn't stop. He needed to touch her, to feel her breath against his face. "Zach, are you okay?" Kendall asked, her voice soft, but strong. "Thank you, God. Yes, I'm okay. You're awake. I'm so glad you're awake." He smoothed her wet hair away from her face and kissed her again. "How do you feel?" he asked as he ran his hands over her body to see if she had any broken bones. "I feel okay," she said, trying to sit up. "I'm fine, Zach," she said when he tried to force her back down. "I'm more worried about you. You have a pretty nasty cut above your ear."

Kendall ripped off a piece of her skirt and dabbed at the cut on Zach's head. There was already a large knot forming. "I'm fine," he said as he took her hand in his. "You know I have a hard head." He helped her to her feet, but didn't let go of her. "How's the baby?" he asked. "Everything feel alright?" Kendall nodded and turned to take in their surroundings. They walked toward the shelter of the trees in search of some shade and a place to rest for awhile. Then they would decide what needed to be done. Zach refused to let Kendall out of his reach. He wanted to carry her, but she insisted she could walk. So he settled for holding her hand.

They found a spot on the edge of the jungle that would protect them from the elements and each fell to their knees. Zach took off his shirt and balled it up for Kendall to use as a pillow. Then he insisted that she lie down and rest. He was still concerned about the baby. "I'll rest if you will," she said at last. He relented and settled himself beside her, pulling her into his arms. They were both asleep a minute later.

Kendall didn't know how long she had slept, but when she awoke, Zach was gone. She jumped to her feet and was about to yell his name when she saw him. He was just coming out of the water and he was carrying something in his hands. "Is that from the plane?" she asked when he was close enough to hear her. "Yep. I found these things floating in the surf, so I swam out and got them. Not much in the form of clothes, but I did get some supplies." She ran to him and threw her arms around him. "My hero," she said, laughing for the first time in hours. "Some hero," he said. Kendall looked at him closely. His voice sounded strange, but he looked fine. Something was wrong. "Zach? Are you okay?" she asked when he continued to stare at her.

After a minute, he reached out and cupped her face in his hand. "Kendall, I'm so sorry I forgot your birthday." Kendall's blood ran cold. "What are you talking about? You've never forgot-" her words were interrupted by the scream that escaped her throat when Zach crumbled to the ground at her feet. "Zach!"


TBC


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searose

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Reply with quote  #2 

Thank you 9K, for taking us on an adventure with Zach and Kendall.  Missed your stories lately.  What a cliffhanger!  Please don't keep us waiting too long to find out what happens


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zendall44

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Oooohhh!  This is sounding good!  You've been away too long Karen.  Thank you.  Can't wait for the next chapter.


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Reply with quote  #4 
9K, I'm new to your stories, but I love them!!! I've been catching up on your "old" ones and have been anxiously awaiting a new one. You write these characters so well, I only wish the writers could or would write them as well. Thank you for sharing these fabulous stories with us. I can't wait for the next one!!
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Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.--Peter Ustinov
Ann

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Reply with quote  #5 
((((((((((((((Karen)))))))))))))
Thank you, I was afraid you had quit writing, and I would have been heartbroken!

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thank you, Karen!!!  As you can see, we all missed you and your Zendall stories....looking forward to the continuation!! 

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Hooray...a new Karen fic!  Wow, what a start.  Both engines on the plane go kaput?  And here I thought you didn't do angst.  I am really looking forward to reading this tale as you progressively spin it for us.  Poor Zach...obviously that bump on the side of his head is having consequences.  Please update soon!


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Reply with quote  #8 
Yea!!!  She is back!  Hi 9K! 

Okay, you have our attention.  Please, now, hurry with the next chapter.  What is wrong with Zach?  Hurry, we need to be sure he is going to be okay!

Welcome back, we have missed your wonderful talented mind. 

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ninekaronas

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Chapter 2

"Zach! Zach!" Kendall screamed. She struggled in vain to help him to his feet before accepting the fact that he was out cold. "Don't leave me here all alone, Zach. Please! I don't know what to do!" she cried as she fell to her knees beside him. She threw herself on top of him and sobbed. "Please, Zach. Don't leave me. Come back, Zach. Please!" After a few moments of panic, she pulled herself together.

"No, Kendall. You can't do this," she said aloud. "He needs you. Think, Kendall. What now?" She brushed the still-wet curls from Zach's forehead and tried to calm herself. For Zach and for their baby. They both needed her to handle this situation. She couldn't indulge herself with self-pity now. As she stared at her big strong husband, now lying lifeless before her, she again dissolved into tears.

"I don't know what to do, Zach. You're the one who always takes care of everything. Help me, Zach. Please. I'm afraid. You have to help me. I need you," she sobbed. She put his hand on her belly and covered it with her own. "We need you," she amended.

Suddenly a weak smile broke out across her face. "Do you feel that, Zach? Our baby is trying to get your attention. Do you feel him kicking me?" She leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips. "Wake up, honey. Please. Our little goalie wants to hear his daddy's voice. Oh God, Zach, so do I." She touched his face, then kissed him again. That's when it hit her.

"Oh no!" she said with alarm. "You're burning up." The realization seemed to wake her from a trance. She was wasting time. He couldn't help her this time. No, this time she was gonna have to help him. And quickly. She raised her face to the sky and offered up a silent prayer. Then she went into action.

It took her awhile, but she finally managed to drag him back into the shaded area where they had fallen asleep earlier. Then she tried to figure out what to do first. "Water. I need cold water," she muttered. She turned to her still husband and kissed him once more. "I have to go find some water, Zach. I need to get the fever down. I'll be right back. I promise," she added as she got to her feet.

"Please don't go." Kendall turned to Zach, not sure if her ears were deceiving her. "Zach?" she said, dropping to her knees beside him. "I'm sorry, Kendall," he said. His eyes were still closed and he hadn't moved a muscle. But she watched his lips move as he again begged her not to go. Tears filled her eyes. That voice. How did he know how much she needed to hear his voice? Could he hear her? "Zach, honey. Can you hear me?" she asked. He remained still and lifeless. In fact, Kendall was beginning to think she'd imagined his voice until he spoke again. "I'm sorry about the blackout. I did it because I love you."

Kendall's heart dropped into her stomach. He was still delirious. And he needed her help. "I know, Zach. I love you too. I'll be right back. Don't worry. I'm gonna take care of you." With that she walked away from him in search of some cool water. She turned back when she'd gone several yards and found him resting quietly. No more words. No more voice. She had to save him. She knew she couldn't live her life without that voice.

First she went to the pile of supplies he had salvaged, hoping to find some bottled water. There were several bottles, but they weren't very cold. They would have to do. She made a basket of her skirt and carried them back to where Zach was sleeping. Then she went back to scavenge for something to wipe him down with. Zach had been right, there weren't many clothing items. But she did see a scrap of red material and pulled on it. She laughed when she saw the Red Wings logo. "Saved by the mistress," she said to herself.

Kendall returned to Zach's side and began undressing him. When that was done, she took the t-shirt and poured water over it. She gently wiped down Zach's entire body, starting with his face. She continued this process until she was down to the last bottle. She opened that bottle and took a long drink. Then she forced Zach to drink some. She could only hope that some of it made it down his throat. She covered him with the partial parachute he had salvaged from the plane.

"Okay, Kendall, what now?" She looked around her at the empty bottles and began to worry that she'd done the wrong thing. Now what would they do for water while they waited to be rescued? But when she felt Zach's face and saw that he was cooler, she knew she'd been right. She didn't want to be rescued without Zach. She'd rather die here with him than go home without him. "You're not gonna die, Zach. I forbid it. Do you hear me?" she said, her voice louder, almost angry. He turned his head toward her and she would have sworn she saw a smile. She shook her head. "Now who's delirious?" she mumbled and she decided it was time to explore their surroundings.

Kendall walked along the beach, hoping to find some signs of life. Maybe not a five-star hotel, but surely somebody had to live on this island. But wouldn't they have heard the plane crash? As she walked toward the tree line, she turned at the sound of running water. She followed the sound into the jungle and wanted to weep when she found a clear stream. She quickly ran back to the beach, marking the spot of entry, and ran to where Zach was. She grabbed all the bottles and took them to be refilled, all the while praying the water was safe to drink. She knew she was just gonna have to trust this to a higher power. She took her miracle gladly and hauled cold clear water back to their makeshift home.

The growling of her stomach told her what was next on her list. "Okay, little one. I hear you," she said as she gently rubbed her belly. "Let's see what we can find." Kendall looked up at the trees overhead and saw the coconuts, but couldn't figure out how to get them down. "Daddy can figure that out when he wakes up."  She tentatively entered the jungle and tried to find some berries or fruit. Her guardian angel was still with her, she decided, when she literally stumbled upon a mango tree. She picked one and wiped it on her shirt before biting into it. She rolled her eyes and moaned as she devoured the sweet, juicy fruit.

"Oh yeah, this is just what Daddy needs," she said as she again used her skirt as a basket. She brought all she could carry and laid them in a pile next to the bottled water. She tried to help Zach eat some of the fruit, but was only able to squeeze some of the juice into his mouth. She noticed that his skin was beginning to feel warm again. She fought to keep calm and methodically began the ritual of rubbing his body down with cool water once again.

She never stopped talking to him, just in case he could hear her. She remembered hearing him talking to her when she was in a coma. And she remembered how comforting it was. She wanted to do the same for him. So she talked to him about what she was seeing. She talked to him about their future with Spike and the new baby. She told him how much she loved him and how grateful she was to be married to her best friend.

Most of the time Zach was still. Eerily still. But occasionally he would become agitated and begin to mumble things, most of which didn't make any sense to Kendall:

"How did you miss that, Jackson."

"If you hurt Kendall, nothing can save you."

"Loving you is who I am."

"I will kill anyone that tries to take Kendall’s baby."

"You're in love with my wife. Is that what you want me to know?"

"There's only room in my heart for one woman."

"You know what I want. Please. Don't leave. You belong with me."

Kendall tried to keep him calm, but wasn't having much success. She finally laid down beside him and took him in her arms. She stroked his hair, careful to avoid the jagged cut, and gently soothed him. Before long he was once again sleeping peacefully. She touched his face, confirming that it was cooler, then fell asleep beside him.

------------------

Kendall didn't know how long she had slept, but she could tell from the sun's position in the sky that it had been a long nap. Zach was still resting quietly, so she decided to do some more looking around. There was still so much to do. She gave him a soft kiss and walked away from him. As she neared the shoreline, she saw something floating in the surf. She ran to retrieve it and was excited to find that it was the emergency kit from the plane. The lightweight, waterproof box contained a first-aid kit, a map, a blanket, three flares, and some power bars.

She clutched it to her like it was gold and carried it back to Zach. "When he wakes up, he's gonna need this stuff," she said, turning to look at him. "You can probably just build us another plane, can't you, Superman? She smiled when he turned to the sound of her voice.

Kendall prayed he would regain consciousness soon. She needed him. And she didn't want to live without him. With a resigned sigh, she went back to work. She had food and water, but what about shelter? And how long could they survive like this? In an effort not to get bogged down with "what ifs," she set herself to the task of shelter.

After an hour of struggling with branches and sticks, Kendall stepped back from the makeshift tent and nodded in satisfaction. She had taken the parachute that was covering Zach and replaced it with the blanket. Luckily, the parachute still large enough to use as a crude tent. At least it would provide them some shelter. She was just thankful they had found a patch of lush green grass since she only had the one blanket. Kendall managed to move Zach the few feet to their new home, then promised herself she would rest after one more task.

She found herself a large stick and walked back to the beach. In large letters she scribbled a message into the sand: S.O.S. / REWARD. She laughed at the last part, knowing Zach would think she was silly. But Kendall knew money talked and she would give every cent she had to get Zach to safety and get them both back home to Spike.

The sun was beginning to set, which meant the temperature was also falling. Kendall forced Zach to drink some more water and then helped herself to all the mangoes she could eat. She rubbed her belly, grateful the baby seemed to be content. "It's good thing we didn't find a spinach tree, huh?" she said with a smile. She remembered all the things Spike had liked when he was still inside her, and so far this baby's tastes ran the same. Exhausted and full, she settled herself next to Zach and drifted off to sleep.

She awoke in the middle of the night when she felt Zach moving next to her. His arms were around her, one hand was rubbing her back while the other one rested on her hip. When she raised her head to look at him, her eyes met his. He was watching her. "Zach?" she said softly, afraid to wake herself from this dream. He drug her on top of him and kissed her. She pulled back in horror when she felt how hot his skin was. "Oh no," she groaned. "Oh God, Zach. Please don't do this to me again."

"I want to make love to you," he said as she tried to ease out of his grasp. For one brief moment, she was tempted to give in. She knew he was delirious. He didn't know what he was doing or saying. But she needed him so much. She missed him and wanted desperately to have him make love to her just one more time. She stopped fighting him and returned his kiss, letting her hands roam over his arms and chest. But when he began kissing her ear, she was brought back to reality. His face was so hot. She had to help him.

She pulled away and began wiping down his body with cool water. It was more difficult than the other times because this time his body responded to her touch. "Please, Kendall," he said when she refused to come back into his arms. "I need you." She took his face into her hands and kissed his lips. "Zach, you don't know what you're saying. Rest, honey. Please. You're sick."

He took her hands in his and held them to his chest. He closed his eyes at the feel of her. Kendall thought he was going back to sleep. "It's okay. Go back to sleep if you want, Zach. I'll be right here when you wake up." Kendall was surprised when he turned suddenly and covered her body with his. "I want you, Kendall. I love you. Let me show you." "It's just the fever. He doesn't know what he's saying," Kendall said to herself. As much as she wanted to give in to him, she refused to lie to herself. "Dammit, Zach! Get off of me. It's not fair," she screamed as she struggled against him.

She was surprised to hear him chuckle. "You're kind of sexy when you're mad," he said as he eased some of his weight off of her. Kendall stopped fighting and watched him closely. "Zach? Are you really here? Did you come back to me?" she said as tears started to fill her eyes. Zach wiped the first ones away as they rolled down her cheeks and kissed her. "I'll always come back to you, Kendall." She threw her arms around his neck, bringing him closer. She never wanted to let him go.

This time, when his kissed her, she didn't notice how hot his skin was. She was too lost in the feelings he was awakening. She was too busy thanking her guardian angel for bringing her husband back. And then, she was too lost in him to think at all.

------------------

Kendall awoke to find things the same as they'd been for the last two days. Zach was still and quiet, and it terrified her. She'd managed to keep his fever down, and thanks to the first aid kit, she'd even been able to treat his wound. But he still wouldn't wake up. He hadn't spoken to her since the night he made love to her. Before they had fallen asleep, he'd asked her if she and the baby were okay. And he'd promised her that everything would be alright. But when she awoke the following morning, he was lost to her again.

She struggled to her feet and began her morning ritual. She refilled the water bottles, gathered food and re-wrote her message in the sand. As she made her way back to the tent with the mangoes, along with some bananas she'd found, she couldn't shake the feeling she was being watched. She looked over her shoulder, but didn't see anything. Just as she turned away, she thought she saw a bright light, like a reflection, in the distance. But when she looked back, it was gone.

Terrified, she ran back to Zach's side. Even unconscious, he made her feel safe. Only this time it didn't work. When she got back to their tent, Zach was gone.

TBC


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Another great job--I can't wait for more, 9K! Keep it coming please. I have to know where Zach has gone and who's watching Kendall. Plus, Zach has to be okay!!!!
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Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.--Peter Ustinov
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Wow another great story here and another great chapter to boot... can hardly wait till the next chapter... More soon please. Keep up the great work ... Love this story.. Kendall taking care of Zach... it is so cool and so long overdue.. Thanks again for another great story about Zach and Kendall...  : )
 
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Great story 9K. Keep on writing. Can't wait till the next chapter. Zach and Kendall on a deserted island......maybe they will finally have a honeymoon.


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OMG!!!!!   What a wonderful way to start the day.
This may be your best story yet.  Of course I say that about every new one don't I?  I love it and I can't wait for more.

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Karen...thank you so much...your stories always make my day...another great one..  can't wait for the next chapter!
Roseann
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9K,
I'm not really an active member of this board because i'm unfortuentey really busy, but you commented a short fanfic I wrote and I can't tell you how much of an honor it was. See, i've been reading your fanfic's for a while now, and I think you capture Zach and Kendall in a funny, touching, playful, and beautiful way. Your writing is phenomonal, and you always give me something to look forward too when I see a new fan fic you've written. We all look forward to it as a matter of fact!!! 
Always,
Jessica
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ninekaronas

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Thanks everybody. I appreciate the feedback so much.

Chapter 3

Kendall stood frozen to the spot. Zach's gone? Oh God, Zach's gone! Her first inclination was to panic. So she did. But only for a minute. Then her instincts kicked in. Where could he have gone? If he did wake up from the fever he'd be too weak to go wandering off by himself. Wouldn't he? But what else could have happened?

"Oh God!" Kendall said aloud when she remembered why she'd come running back to Zach in the first place. She suddenly felt it again, that feeling of being watched. She wanted to turn and look, but she was afraid. She didn't know how much more she could take. She felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up. "Where are you, Zach?" she said under her breath.

When the feeling didn't go away, she took a deep breath, stiffened her spine and turned around. She immediately burst into tears. There was someone watching her alright. The someone she wanted most to see in the whole world.

"Zach!" she said as she ran to him. She stopped several feet from him, realizing that he was leaning against a palm tree for support. She slowed her pace and eased into his open arms, smiling even as she felt his tears on her face. He was weak, but he held her as tightly as he could. It was enough for Kendall. She'd waited so long to be in his arms again. She'd take whatever she could get.

"You're here," she said as she wiped away her own tears. "You're really here. I can touch you." She proved it to herself by rubbing his shoulders. "I can kiss you," she said as her lips met his. "I can hold you." Again she threw her arms around him and held on tight.

"All of it," Zach said at last, his voice hoarse with emotion and fatigue. He would never forget the fear that gripped him when he woke up and Kendall was gone. He had no idea how long they'd been stranded, or if there was anybody else on the island. He felt like he'd failed her.

So he’d struggled to his feet and went looking for her. He had underestimated his own weakness, but it didn't matter. He would have gone after her anyway. Nothing else mattered more than keeping Kendall safe.

He had wandered around the bend, staying close to the tree line for support, but he'd found no sign of her. After resting for only a moment, he'd doubled back, only to find her standing beside the tent. She looked terrified and it broke him. What had she been through while he was unconscious? How long had she been forced to brave this situation alone? Were they alone?

He had a million questions, but they would all have to wait. At the moment, nothing existed but the two of them. He stroked her hair and breathed in her scent. Only Kendall could find a way to smell good after days on a deserted island.

Kendall pulled back when she felt him chuckle. "What's so funny?" she asked suspiciously. "You are." He laughed again at the look she gave him, then decided he'd better explain. "I was just wondering how you could smell so good, in light of our present circumstances. I'm sure I don't smell too great." "You smell wonderful to me, Zach," she said, her eyes once again threatening tears. "I was so afraid." Her voice broke on the last word and became little more than a whisper.

"Hey," Zach said as he pulled her back up against him. "Shhhhhhhh. It's alright, Kendall. I'm sorry I left you alone. It's gonna be okay. I promise. I won't leave you again." Zach continued to whisper promises and apologies into Kendall's ear until she gained control of her emotions. When she looked up at him, she was actually smiling.

"You would've been so proud of me, Zach," she said. "I made us a tent and I found us some food and water. And I took care of you. I guess that summer as a Girl Scout really paid off," she added with a shrug. She took his hand and tried to lead him back to the tent, but he wouldn't budge. "Not yet, Kendall. Let me just stay here and rest a little while longer."

Kendall looked into his face and saw how much of a toll his little excursion had taken on him. He was exhausted and still so weak. "Okay, we'll sit here for awhile," she said as she lowered herself to the ground. She waited while he did the same, resting his back against the tree. Then she turned and rested her back against his chest and brought his arms around her.
"Better?" she said. "Perfect," he replied, pulling her closer.

After a long silence, Kendall thought Zach was asleep. She was remembering the eerie feeling she'd had earlier. Was it possible that they weren't alone? If somebody else was there, why were they hiding? She had so much to tell Zach. She wanted to tell him how much safer she felt when she was in his arms, but she didn't want to wake him. So she brought his arms tighter around her and settled in for a nap of her own.

"Tell me," he said just as she was drifting off. "Tell you what?" she asked without opening her eyes. She was more content than she could ever remember being. Which, considering the circumstances, was pretty odd. But all it took for her world to be right was for Zach to be with her. Everything else would fall into place as long as they were together.

"Whatever you're not saying. I can tell there's something." Kendall reluctantly pulled away from him and found him watching her. She touched his face to be sure his fever had not returned, sighing with relief when his skin felt cool to the touch. He turned his face into her hand and kissed her palm. Then he took the hand and lowered it to rest beside them, never
letting it out of his grasp.

"Am I hot?" he asked with a weary smile. "Very," she said. "But you don't have a fever." He laughed as she kissed him, then pulled her back for another kiss when she tried to move away. She felt his hands on her back, moving lower until they were resting on her hips. When he ducked his head and began placing kisses down the column of her throat, she knew she should stop him. But she didn't want to. Just a little more, she told herself. Then she'd put a stop to it. When she felt him re-position her, she decided things had gone far enough. She placed her hands on his chest and forced herself to push away from him.

"Zach, do you really think this is a good idea? You have been flat on your back for three days." He pulled her up against him again. "Flat on my back, huh? You didn't take advantage of me did you?" She giggled when he kissed that spot behind her ear. "Who had the time?" she said. "Well, I couldn't help but notice that I was undressed when I woke up." The deepness of his voice made Kendall tingle all over. "Oh that," she said, trying to keep the shiver out of her voice. "You were kind enough to have a raging fever, so I had the pleasure of rubbing you down with cool water over and over again."

She laughed when Zach sucked in his breath. She knew he was picturing it, and was sorry he'd slept through it. Things were getting out of hand again and she was on the verge of losing control. His hands were everywhere, and she never wanted it to stop. But it had to.

"Zach, we can't do this. You're too weak." He looked offended. "Kendall, you underestimate me," he said. She leaned into him for one more kiss. "Never," she whispered against his lips. "But you know I'm right. You need to save your strength." With a disgruntled sigh, Zach relented.

"Okay then, answer a couple of questions and I'll rest," he said as he leaned back against the tree. Kendall decided to keep her distance, just to be safe. So she sat facing him. "I'm ready," she said. "First, tell me the truth. How are you and the baby? Everything okay?" he asked, watching her closely. She smiled as she placed her hand on her belly. "Yes, Zach. We're both fine. I promise. You don't have to worry about us. Now that you're awake, we have everything we need." Zach nodded and closed his eyes.

"Next question," Kendall said when he opened his eyes a minute later. There were unshed tears there, and she knew he'd been offering a prayer of thanksgiving. She took his hand and waited. "What did I miss, Kendall? Tell me what happened." "Are you sure you're up to a long story?" she asked. When he nodded, she took a deep breath and started at the top.

"Well, I'm assuming you remember us falling asleep almost as soon as we came out of the water. You were worried about me and I was worried about that cut on your head." Zach winced as his fingers found the wound. "I remember." "When I woke up, you were gone," Kendall continued. "It scared me to death. Luckily, I saw you on the beach before I had time to panic. You had managed to salvage some supplies from the plane. But you didn't sound right. Then you said something about missing my birthday and collapsed."

He studied her like he was trying to will himself to remember. "Then what?" he said. "Then I totally freaked out. I didn't know what to do, Zach. So I cried and I begged. But only for a minute. Then I pulled myself together and did what I had to do to take care of you and our little goalie here," she added while rubbing her stomach. "The hardest part was getting you into the shade. You're pretty heavy you know?" she teased. He wasn't ready to find the humor in the situation. He was once again feeling like he'd abandoned her.

"Zach," she said, reading his thoughts. "Don't do that to yourself. You had no control over it. I managed. In fact, the supplies you found before passing out were very helpful. I used the water to cool down your fever. Then I went in search of a fresh supply. Luckily I found a clear stream that wasn't too far away. I prayed that the water was safe to drink, and apparently it was. So my next mission was food." She punched him when he arched an eyebrow at her. "It was for the baby," she said defensively.

"I found some mangoes and some bananas, and there were some power bars in the emergency kit that washed ashore. That's also where I got the medicine for your head. After that, it was a simple matter of making a tent from a partial parachute and dragging you inside. All in a days work for a Kane woman," she said with a casual shrug. But the huge grin on her face told Zach how proud she was of herself. And he was so proud of her.

"How lucky am I," he said. "I get to be stranded on a deserted island with a woman who's more beautiful than Ginger and more resourceful than the professor." Kendall literally glowed under his praise. "Well, I never was the Mary Ann type," she said. Zach pulled her into his arms. "Nope. Definitely not Mary Ann," he said as his lips met hers.

"You really don't remember any of it?" Kendall asked. They were slowly making their way back to the campsite. "Not a thing," he said. "Well, that's not entirely true. I do remember having dreams. They were all about you. It was all so confusing." Kendall nodded, remembering the things he’d said in his sleep. "If any of those dreams involved mangoes and grass stains," she said, "you weren't dreaming." Zach pulled her to a stop and stared at her. "You mean?" Kendall nodded. "That was my favorite one," he said as they resumed their walk. "Mine too."

"Oh wait, Zach. I forgot to do something." They had reached the spot where she'd been scrawling the mayday message in the sand. Kendall re-traced it while he waited. Then she watched while he read it, waiting for him to tell her she was silly. Instead, he smiled and shook his head. Then he took the stick from her and wrote the word "BIG" over the word "REWARD." Kendall hugged him. She vowed to never again take his presence for granted.

Both Zach and Kendall knew there was still so much to discuss. Zach wanted more details about the last three days, and he needed to think about how they were gonna get back to Pine Valley. Kendall wanted to coax him into doing a little fishing. She and Baby Slater were getting tired of mangoes. She'd forgotten all about the eerie feeling she'd had earlier. All she could concentrate on now was the beautiful beach and the handsome man walking beside her. As long as she was with him, she knew everything would be just fine.


TBC

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Thanks for the last two chapters 9K!  Quite an adventure you have Zach and Kendall on.  And not a Lavery in sight   Love the Girl Scout Kendall, taking care of Zach for a change.  That's something we don't get to see on AMC.  Can't wait to see how you get them off the island, LOL.


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Wonderful story Karen!  Keep it coming!


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Thanks, Karen.. what a great way to start my morning!!!  Looking forward to the next chapter...
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Karen....have I told you lately that I love you?  LOL
Thank you so much, once again a lovely thing to wake up to.

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Oh Karen, I am loving this latest fic of yours.  Quite a predicament Zach and Kendall find themselves in and I can't wait to read what happens next.  Just tell me there are no "Others" on this deserted island.  Please update soon!


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Right back at ya, Ann. 
Okay, Abby, there are no "others" ... yet!  

Chapter 4
 
"Not now, Zach. You've worn me out," Kendall mumbled sleepily when she felt Zach's rough hand sliding down her arm. Admittedly, she was amazed at his stamina, especially since he was still weak from his bout with fever. But it was gonna take more than admiration to get her up at this ungodly hour. She felt his hand still and smiled. "Thanks honey." She turned onto her side and tried in vain to fluff the pile of leaves wrapped in a t-shirt that she was using as a pillow. Kendall remembered those poll questions where they ask what's the one thing you would take to a deserted island. And now she knew the answer. Forget toothbrushes or moisturizer. She would bring a pillow she thought as she drifted off to sleep. Or better yet, a nice, soft mattress. 
 
"Zach! I said not now." Kendall was becoming annoyed with her amorous husband. She now felt him rubbing her shoulder with one hand while the other one settled on her waist. She could feel his breath on her skin. "Wow, you really need a manicure," she said as she reached out to touch his hand. She froze. "Zach?" she said as she felt the scaly skin underneath her fingers. She turned her head and looked into the beady eyes of a very large lizard. Then she looked down at her waist and saw a long tail wrapped around her.
 
"Kendall! Kendall! What's wrong?" Zach yelled as he ran to her. Kendall's scream had made his heart stop. He found her standing outside the tent hitting something with a stick. "Don't just stand there, Zach. Kill it," she screamed as she gave him the stick. Zach looked past her to see a 4-foot iguana trying desperately to escape his wife's attack. "Kill it, Zach!" she repeated when he continued to stare. "Hurry! Don't let it get away." He held the iguana down with the stick and looked at his frazzled wife.
 
"We could just let him go. I don't think he means any harm. Probably just as scared as you are," he said. Kendall was clearly not sympathetic. "You can share that tent with me, or with him," she said, pointing to the trapped animal. Zach nodded. "I see," he said. "Sorry big guy." One blow to the head and the iguana stopped moving. Zach picked him up and carried him past Kendall. "Let me just get rid of this," he said over his shoulder. When he was far enough away, he shook the animal and was pleased to see him open his eyes. He made a big show of tossing him into the jungle then waited only a second to watch it slither away.
 
He returned to find Kendall checking the area for relatives. He pulled her into his arms. "It's over now. He won't bother you anymore." Kendall shuddered so he held her tighter. After a moment, she stepped back and looked at him. She ran her fingers over the stubble on his face. "Zach Slater, Dragon Slayer," she said with a smile. He kissed her quickly, then pulled back. "Funny you should say that." She watched him run to the water's edge and pick up something. When he got close enough to her for her to make out what it was, she laughed.
 
"Lobster for breakfast?" she asked as she looked into the makeshift bowl he had fashioned from a piece of metal from the plane. "Sure, why not?" he said with a shrug. "You don't see any pigs running around here do you?" That took the smile from her face. She looked around nervously. "God, you don't think there are more creatures around here do you?' she asked, stepping closer to Zach. After a flash of a smile, he schooled his features, then wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her against him so she couldn't see his face. "No," he said evenly. "I'm sure there aren't."
 
"What are you doing up so early anyway?" Kendall asked as she eyed him suspiciously. "Shouldn't you be resting?" "Kendall, you said it. I've been flat on my back for three days. Isn't that enough rest? Or do you mean from last night?" he asked, watching her intently. "Because you didn't seem to be worried about my exertion then." Kendall elbowed him, but couldn't stop the smile that spread across her face. It was so good to have him back. "Okay, Superman. Now that you've caught the lobster. How do you plan on cooking them?"
 
Zach looked at her with amazement. "Me? I wasn't planning on cooking them at all. I was planning to give them to my very resourceful wife. That's women's work." Kendall folded her arms and glared at him. "Women's work, huh? Okay, oh mighty man, did you happen to bring a box of matches? How are we gonna start a fire?" She smirked at him, thinking she'd won, but she was wrong. Zach grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her. "I'm on it."
 
"Oh God. Please tell me you're not gonna try rubbing two sticks together," she said. He looked up from the spot he'd been clearing in the sand. "Do I look like a Boy Scout to you?" She looked him over slowly before answering. “Nope. Not a boy in sight.” Zach did a double take before coming to stand in front of her. “Are you trying to start something, Mrs. Slater?” he said as he took her in his arms. “Yeah,” she said softly, her lips barely brushing his. “Breakfast.”
 
Zach held her face in his hands as he kissed the smile from her face. When he felt her relax against him, he released her. “Okay. Where was I?” he said, rubbing his hands together. Kendall grabbed his arm to steady herself and gave him a disgruntled look. “You were gonna produce fire from nothing, remember?” she said. “Not from nothing, Kendall. I’m not God,” he said as he began to gather twigs to use as tinder. “Could have fooled me,” Kendall muttered, hoping Zach didn’t hear her. His arrogant smile told her he did.
 
She sat down in the sand next to the pile he was creating and waited. She’d seen Zach do a lot of amazing things, but this was a new one. Fire starter. She watched him closely, enjoying the view. She tilted her head back to let the breeze wash over her. Judging from the sun’s position in the sky, it wasn’t as early as she thought. She smiled when she remembered why she was so tired. Which brought her mind back to Zach.
 
She laid a hand on her belly and bent her head to speak to her unborn child. “Are you paying attention, little one?” she asked. “Daddy is gonna do some magic.” She watched as Zach made a platform out of larger pieces of wood and positioned it over the tinder. Then he went for the emergency kit. He took out all of the contents and Kendall saw that there was a false bottom. She gasped when he pulled out a gun.
 
“You want me to shoot the lobster?” she asked incredulously, wishing she’d known that gun was there when she was being attacked by Godzilla. Zach laughed, but offered no further explanation. All Kendall could do was wait.
 
She watched as Zach unloaded the bullets from the gun. Then he removed one of the bullets from its cartridge and poured half of the powder onto the tinder. After putting the half-empty cartridge back into the gun, he walked over to stand right in front of Kendall. Before she could protest, he fired the gun and she heard the crackle as the tinder caught fire.
 
“Damn,” she mouthed. “You are Superman.” “Nah,” he said. “If I was Superman I’d find a way to get some butter and a cold beer.” Kendall looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. They were stranded in the middle of nowhere with no creature comforts. Bathing was reduced to swimming with the fishes. No soap, no shampoo. Cloth toothbrushes and no toothpaste. Kendall had never felt less attractive. But to her, Zach had never been sexier. His beard was heavy and his hair was curlier than normal because he wasn’t able to blowdry it. He was wearing the cargo pants he’d worn on the plane and no shirt. She licked her lips and moved closer.
 
Zach saw the hunger in Kendall’s eyes and it made him feel like a king. Here he was, sweaty and unshaved, and she wanted him. He knelt down to fan the flames of the fire and smiled when he felt Kendall come down beside him. He fed more limbs into the fire pit and then gave Kendall his full attention. She threw herself at him and laughed when he rolled her underneath him.

-------------------------
 
“Well, how is it?” Zach asked as he watched Kendall take her first bite of the lobster. “Not as good as The Valley Inn, huh?” “It’s fantastic! Best lobster I’ve ever tasted,” Kendall gushed as she stuffed another piece into her mouth. “I’m sorry we don’t have that beer for you,” she said when he reached for a bottle of water. “It’s okay,” he said. “At least we’ve got this.” Kendall’s mouth fell open when he handed her a bottle of milk.
 
“Okay, you’re starting to scare me. Where in the…” she began, but stopped when he pointed up. “You prayed for it?” she said, still stunned. “Well why didn’t you pray for a yacht?” Zach shook his head and tilted her chin up. “What do you see?” “Coconuts,” she said. “Coconuts,” he repeated, waiting for her to put it together. He didn’t have to wait long.
 
“Zach, how did you get them? I scoured the beach, hoping to find where some had fallen, but I didn’t see any. I even shook a couple of the trees. At least I tried to.” Zach smiled at the image of her trying to shake a coconut from the tree. “The baby needs milk,” he said with a shrug. “But how?” she prodded. He just looked at her and grinned, his mouth full of lobster. He flashed his eyes at her when she asked again, making it obvious he wasn’t going to tell her.
 
“See what you miss when you sleep all day?” he said at last. “That’s your fault,” she snapped. “Please don’t tell me you climbed a tree, Zach. Not when you’re still recovering.” “I didn’t climb a tree,” he said dryly. “And I’m through recovering.” Kendall shook her head and dove back into her lobster. “You know what? I don’t want to know,” she said between bites. She took a long drink of the sweet coconut milk and smiled when the baby kicked. “He likes it,” she said to her husband, who was still smiling knowingly.
 
“Are you planning to use your skills to get us off this island anytime soon, Zach. Or are you having too much fun showing off?” “What showing off?” he said testily. “A minute ago you were mad because I wouldn’t show off. Women!” He emphasized his point with a barely audible growl. “Besides, what’s your hurry? Haven’t we been having fun?”
 
Kendall snorted. “Fun? Yeah, sure. If you call hairy legs and a growling stomach fun.” “I don’t have any complaints about your legs, Kendall. And we’ve got plenty to eat. I haven’t even been into the jungle yet.” “Okay, how about sitting next to your unconscious body for days. Was that supposed to be fun?” she challenged. “It could have been if you’d done it right,” he replied with another flash of his eyes. She lowered her head so he wouldn’t see her smile.
 
“Come on, Kendall. It’s not that bad. It may not be the trip we planned, but at least we’re away from the stresses of Pine Valley. And we are getting quality alone time.” She looked up at him and caught the mischief in his eyes. “You can strip off all your clothes and pretend we’re on a nude beach in Brazil if you want. I don’t mind.” “Wouldn’t that be pretty?” Kendall said sarcastically, indicating her swollen belly. Zach chewed on his bottom lip as he let his eyes roam the length of her body. “Uh huh,” he said when his eyes met hers.
 
“Oh no you don’t,” Kendall said, waving her hands in his face in an effort to re-direct his thoughts. “I know that look, Zach.” She pointed her finger at him when he moved closer. “I mean it,” she said, her look fierce. But he moved closer still. “Zach! We need to make plans!” she shrieked as he pounced on her. He rolled onto his back with her on top of him. “You were saying,” he said as he folded his arms behind his head. She rested her hands on his chest and laughed.
 
“Plans, Zach. I was saying we need to make plans.” He closed his eyes. “Plans. Hmmmm…” he said. Kendall tried to get off of him, but he reacted quickly and held her down. “Stay there,” he said. “It helps me think.” Kendall laid her head on his chest and listened to the steady beat of his heart. She made a silent vow that she would never take it for granted again. “Well?” she said when he remained silent. He began to stroke her hair.
 
“Zach!” she barked. “I’m thinking,” he said sleepily. “It sounds like your napping to me,” she said, stifling a yawn. She felt his chuckle and poked him. “Seriously, Zach. It’s time to start worrying about how we’re gonna get home. You don’t want me to have this baby on a deserted island in the middle of God-knows-where do you?” “Don’t worry about that. We will have starved to death long before the baby comes,” he said breezily. She poked him again. “Will you stop playing with me and think.” “I haven’t even started playing with you yet, Kendall, ” he said defensively. “And how do you expect me to think with you laying on top of me?”
 
“That’s it,” Kendall said as she rolled off of him and sat up. “I can’t believe with all that we have to deal with I can’t get you to -“ “Josh,” Zach said as if she wasn’t speaking. “I need you to help me think of a way out of here,” Kendall continued. “Josh? What about Josh?” she asked when his voice finally broke through.
 
Zach pulled Kendall back down beside him before beginning his explanation. “Josh knows where we are, Kendall. At least he knows where we’re supposed to be. And the plane wasn’t off course when we went into the water. So, when we don’t come back, he’ll know something is wrong and he’ll know where to start looking.”

Kendall looked at him sheepishly. “Well why didn’t you say so?” she said. “And miss all this fun?” he replied as he wrapped a curl around his finger. “All we can do is wait,” he said. Kendall sighed. “Too bad we don’t have a cellphone,” she said. “We could just speed this thing right along.” “Cellphone? No problem.” Zach reached into one of the pockets on his pants and pulled out his phone. He watched Kendall’s eyes get wide, then laughed when she flipped it open and dripped water all over his chest. He noticed she wasn’t laughing.
 
“I’m sorry,” he said when she looked like she would cry. “That wasn’t funny.” Kendall looked at him, then tossed the phone over her shoulder. “No, I’m sorry, Zach, for being such a baby. I just miss Spike so much, and I’m afraid we’re never gonna see him again.” “Don’t be silly,” Zach said. “Of course we will. Don’t start thinking the worst, Kendall. We're gonna be just fine. I promise.” He brought her face to his and kissed her. Then he kissed her again. “I promise,” he repeated softly as she drifted off to sleep in his arms.

TBC


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Thanks for another great chapter 9K.  Dragon Slayer!  Zach earns one more adjective, LOL.  Can't wait to see what he does next.  I am loving this adventure


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Thanks, Karen.  This was a fun chapter...loved it. 

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Yet??????? You're killing me girl!
I loved waking up to this lovely chapter...thank you for making my morning.

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Thanks for another great chapter, made my day at work.. love this story so much.... Can't hardly wait to see what happens next.... Keep up the great work...

Dana : )

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Thanks everybody. Sorry to take so long to update. Sometimes life just happens, you know?
 
Chapter 5

THREE WEEKS LATER

Zach walked back to the tent, humming as if he didn't have a care in the world. He fought the urge to look back into the jungle behind him, but he didn't want to let on that he knew. Not until he had a plan. His only concern at the moment was getting to Kendall. From now on, he wouldn't let her out of his sight.

As he tried to maintain a casual pace, his mind drifted back to the conversation he'd had with Kendall a week before...

"Kendall, what's wrong?" Zach said when he glanced up to see her hurrying toward him with a look of fear on her face. He looked past her, expecting to see another iguana, but there was nothing there. "What's after you this time? Turtle? Parrot? Butterfly?" he said, trying not to laugh. But when she just shook her head and wrapped her arms around him, he became concerned. "Just hold me, Zach," she said when he questioned her again. So he held her against him and rocked her gently back and forth until she was ready to tell him what was wrong.

"Better?" he asked when she pulled away. She nodded, but he could see that she was still haunted by something. "Kendall, what is it? What's wrong?" he repeated. She looked back over her shoulder into the jungle before answering. Then she gave him a crooked, self-deprecating smile.

"It's nothing. I just wanted to give my gorgeous husband a hug. Something wrong with that?" she said, shielding her eyes from the sun as she looked up at him. He pulled her close again. "Nope. Nothing at all," he said, "unless you're just using it as an excuse because you don't want to tell me what's really wrong." Kendall groaned.

"Sometimes you really get on my nerves, Zach. It's tough having somebody always know what you're thinking," she said as she took a step back to put some distance between them. "Tell me about it," he returned, taking a step forward. "And don't put up that wall, Kendall. Just tell me what frightened you." Kendall chewed on her bottom lip, clearly trying to decide if she would tell him the truth or not.

"And don't lie to me either,"  he said, sounding almost amused. Kendall took a deep breath and let it out slowly ... and loudly. Zach waited patiently. He thought she looked almost embarrassed, and he couldn't imagine why.

"It really is nothing," Kendall began. "In fact, I feel stupid now for reacting that way." She looked at Zach, hoping he would let it drop. "What way?" he asked. Kendall gave up. She was embarrassed by her own behavior, but it was obvious Zach wasn't going to let it go. She turned her back to him, which left her facing the jungle. She looked into it's dark shadows and felt the chill once again.

"I was getting more water from the stream when I suddenly felt like somebody was there. I thought it was you, but when I called your name you didn't answer." She turned to look at Zach before continuing, but not before he noticed the shudder that washed over her. "I didn't see or hear anything, but I couldn't shake the feeling. I didn't even finish filling the bottles. I just got spooked and left. Silly, huh?"

Zach watched her closely as she spoke, but even more closely when she stopped speaking. For some reason she was trying to play it off, but he could tell she'd been really afraid. And he had complete faith in Kendall's instincts. "Not so silly," he said. "Do you want me to go have a look around?" he asked, trying to keep his tone casual. He didn't want to scare Kendall, but he wasn't as ready to ignore it as she appeared to be.

"No," she said quickly. "I mean, don't bother," she amended with a shrug. "It's not the first time I've felt it. In fact, I was running from that feeling the day I came back here to find you gone. Remember?" He nodded. "I even thought I saw something that day. But it was nothing. Just hormones, I guess. Or nerves. But nothing more. There is obviously nobody else on this island but us."

Zach nodded again before pulling Kendall back into his arms. He stared into the thick foliage. Was somebody watching them? Why hadn't they helped them get back home? What did they want? Zach felt Kendall relax in his arms and decided to let the subject drop for now. But he knew he'd have his eyes and ears open in the future.

"Okay, it's official. I give up." Zach lowered himself onto the ground beside Kendall, watching as she attempted to thread a needle. "Give up what?" he asked as he took the needle from her and threaded it on the first try. "Show off," she muttered before answering his question. "I was about to give up trying to fix the rip in my skirt." She held up the needle. "But thanks to you I don't have to."

Zach looked at the expanse of thigh that was exposed by the tear and forgot what he had come to tell her. "Um," he said, clearing his throat. "Why would you want to do that?" Kendall was on her knees, trying to get a better angle, when his hands stopped her. "Because this is the only thing I have to wear, Zach. You really need to be more careful how you treat it." She was frowning, but there was a wicked gleam in her eye. "Me?" he countered. "And who destroyed the buttons on my shirt?" he asked, waving it open to prove his point.

Kendall sighed as she resumed her task. "That's different. You don't need those buttons, but I have to have this skirt. Besides, that was all your fault." Zach took the needle from her and easily removed the thread. "Yeah. My fault. Right," he said as he handed it back to her. "Zach!" Help me!" she cried, "Or do you want me to be left with nothing to wear but fig leaves?"

Zach watched as the rising wind swept her hair from her face and plastered her dress to her frame. "First of all, I think this thread is meant for emergencies, like stitches. Not fashion emergencies." He gently removed the needle and thread from her hands and returned them to the first aid kit. "Secondly," he added as his eyes skimmed her body, "I think you'd look good in fig leaves. But even better out of them."

Kendall giggled as he pulled her onto his lap. "Okay, you win," she said against his neck. "I always do," he said under his breath. "Uh-huh," Kendall said. "I think we both do." She suddenly scrambled to her feet and ran to the ocean. "Wait right there. I'll be right back," she yelled over her shoulder when she heard him call her name.

Zach watched as she reached into the surf and pulled out a coconut shell. He was again distracted by the way the wind molded her dress to her body. Where was all the wind coming from? He looked to the southeast and noticed dark clouds on the horizon. "There's a storm coming," he said to Kendall when she was close enough to hear him. She turned her face into the wind and threw her arms back. "I know. Doesn't it feel great?" she said.

"Looks great, too," Zach muttered when he saw the pure joy on Kendall's face. "So what's with the coconut?" he asked. Kendall knelt down beside him and opened up the shell. "Thanks to my very industrious husband," she began, giving him a quick kiss, "I have all the coconut milk I could want. Although I still don't know how you're getting it," she added with a sideways glance. "Anyway, I was feeling sorry for myself because I didn't have any of my Fusion products, when it hit me." "The coconut?" he asked. "Well, not literally," she laughed. "But yeah. The answer was in the coconut. I needed moisturizer, Zach. Men don't have to worry about such things, but we women do. You just take soft skin for granted, but it's a lot of work." 

Zach stroked her face with the back of his hand. "Very soft. I guess I do take it for granted." "Exactly. So I took the coconut milk and some mango and made myself something to keep this wind and sand from ruining my skin. Here, try it." She immediately began smearing the sticky concoction all over Zach's face. He was too stunned to stop her at first. And by the time he realized what she was doing, it was too late. He was moisturized.

He licked his lips. "Delicious," he said. "Is it?" she asked coyly, sticking one of her fingers into her mouth. She laughed when Zach's eyes went black. "You're right," she teased. "It is delicious." Zach brought her hands to his mouth and proceeded to lick the mixture from her fingers. Kendall's body reacted immediately to his touch.

They both jumped when a bolt of lightning split the sky. "Here comes the storm," Kendall said, her finger still in Zach's mouth. "Uh-huh," Zach said, continuing his ministrations. "Come on, Zach! We're gonna get wet!" she shrieked. "Uh-huh." Kendall pulled away and started to run toward the tent. Zach was on her in five steps. He picked her up and carried her to their campsite, where they sat and watched the storm rumble in the distance. When the rain started, they crawled into the tent and found other ways to entertain themselves.

-------------------------

Kendall sat on the beach and studied the horizon. There was another beautiful sunset, but she wasn't paying any attention. Her mind was on more important things. She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Sorry," Zach said as he sat down beside her. "Don't be," she said. She reached out and took his hand. "I'm sorry I'm so jumpy. I guess I just don't like this much solitude. It makes me jittery. You'll just have to stay by my side constantly and keep me company." Zach kissed her hand. "Deal," he said.

"Why hasn't he come, Zach?" she asked after a few minutes of silence. "Josh?" he said, turning to her. She nodded. "I can't imagine what's keeping him, but I know he'll be here, Kendall. He won't stop until he finds us. He loves you, you know." Kendall smiled. "Yeah, he loves me. But he idolizes you," she laughed. Zach waved her off and noticed again how strong the wind was. "As long as his sister loves me, that's all I need."

"Bianca idolizes you, too," she teased. "And this sister loves you more than anything else on earth." She turned her face up and waited for him to kiss her. When he didn't, she opened her eyes to find him staring at her. She smiled at the depth of emotion in his eyes. "I love you, too," he said as he lowered his head to kiss her.

"So now what?" she asked. "How long do we sit on this beach and wait?" Zach didn't have an answer for her. Josh was obviously having trouble finding them. Who knows how long it could take him to search all the islands until he found this one. Zach was also growing more concerned about the weather. He knew they were in a dangerous part of the world for that time of year. Tropical storms could easily become hurricanes, and how would he keep Kendall safe in such an event? Where would they go? And what about their visitor?

His mind immediately went to the trap he'd set. One twig across the path was all it had taken to prove his hunch. He knew Kendall was still haunted by feelings of being watched. In fact, he'd even experienced them himself. So he set a trap and waited. It took several days, but he had found the twig broken this morning. Upon closer inspection, he even found a partial shoe print.

He had a million questions running through his mind, but only one answer. They had to go. They couldn't wait in this same spot anymore. If somebody was on this island, then Zach was determined to find them. He didn't know why they were watching them instead of helping them, but he was damn sure gonna find out. It was time to take control of the situation.

He turned when he heard Kendall call his name. "I'm not sure," he said. "But I do know that we can't wait here any longer. It's time to see what else is on this island, Kendall." He watched the emotions play across her face: surprise, worry, fear ... and then trust. It humbled him that she had such faith in him. He squeezed her hand. "And there's one more thing I need to tell you," he said, lowering his voice to a whisper as the thunder rumbled in the distance. "We are not alone."

TBC


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So, now we know there ARE others, or, at least one other .  My curiosity is peaked!  Thanks for an intriguing story 9K.  Looking forward to the next chapter!


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Oooooh....more of the good stuff.
I love it....and you!

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Great story Karen!  Can't wait for more!!!!


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Anxiously awaiting more! I can't wait to find out what or who Zach and Kendall find on the island. Thanks for the new chapter!
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Chapter 6
 
Kendall’s only reaction to Zach’s statement was a heavy sigh. She looked at him, not with fear, but with wariness. She briefly laid her head on his shoulder, then once again looked him in the eye.
 
“I knew it,” she said. “I knew something wasn’t right. You did, too. Didn’t you?” She knew when he glanced away that she was right. “Why would somebody just spy on us and not offer to help, Zach? What kind of a person does that?” Zach stared into the horizon. “I don’t know. But we’re gonna find out.”
 
“I guess we can’t hide from it any longer,” Kendall said as she moved closer to him for warmth. She knew the chill she felt had nothing to do with the weather, but being near Zach made her feel better. Safer. “Our private little island just got crowded. Vacation is over. We can’t wait for Josh.”
 
Zach nodded, more to himself than to Kendall, then stood up and offered her his hand. “No time like the present,” he said, his voice low and hard. Kendall felt strangely excited by his steely determination. It felt good to go on the offense instead of planning a defense. She had total faith in her husband. And she knew whoever was watching them was no match for Team Slater.
 
“So what’s the plan, Zach?” Kendall asked as they packed the few belongings they had and prepared to break camp. “The first step is to find out who is watching us. Once we find out who, that will lead us to why,” Zach said. He pulled Kendall to her feet and put his hands on her shoulders. He’d been so consumed with his own feelings of anger and worry that he hadn’t taken the time to consider Kendall’s.
 
“Are you sure you’re up to this?” he asked, placing a large hand on her swollen belly. She covered his hand with hers and smiled. “Oh yeah, I’m sure,” she said defiantly. “We are more than ready. We’ve got a few choice words for whoever has been keeping us from civilization … and ice cream!
 
Zach laughed and leaned down to kiss her. “I guess that answers my next question,” he said. “You are clearly not afraid of anything.” Kendall pulled him back to her for another kiss. “Not as long as I’m with you.” She basked in his strength as he held her tightly against him, and he felt rejuvenated by her faith in him. He almost felt sorry for whoever was lurking out there in the shadows. Almost.
 
“Zach, if we want to find our Peeping Tom, shouldn’t we stay here? Isn’t this the one place we know where to find him? Zach held her away from him and looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. “You, Mrs. Slater, are brilliant.” He kissed her quickly and went to work staging their campsite. He made a pile of mangos and bananas near the tent and left several bottles of water lying next to it. He started a fire and let it burn while he finished making preparations. Kendall just stood back and watched him, until he started pulling things out of her arms.
 
“Zach, that’s the only other garment we have!” she said, grabbing at the red t-shirt he had thrown to the ground. She watched in horror as he also dropped the emergency kit onto the sand. “We’re gonna need that, too,” Kendall said, holding the t-shirt out of his reach. “There are flares in there. And a first aid kit." “I know,” Zach said, stepping in front of the box to keep her from getting to it. “That’s why we could never afford to leave it behind.” He took the shirt from her and dropped it beside the fire pit.
 
Kendall stood for a moment with her mouth open, ready to talk some sense into her husband, when it dawned on her what he’d said. Zach watched the smile spread across her face then held out his hand to her. Her smile turned to a frown as she handed him the moisturizer she’d been hiding behind her back. Then he took the knife from his pocket and cut off a portion of the parachute. He laid it on the ground and put one of the flares, a couple of bottles of water, some coconut milk, fruit, a few items from the first aid kit and Kendall’s moisturizer in the center. He bundled it up and tied it, then carefully tucked the gun into the waistband of his pants.
 
“That’s it,” he said. “That’s all we can carry with us. It has to look like we’re still here.” Kendall nodded and looked around. She suddenly realized she was going to miss this spot. Despite it’s limitations, she and Zach had managed to have a lot of fun here. She wanted to memorize every detail. So while Zach doused the fire, she took inventory. She walked to the water’s edge and grabbed a handful of sand. She felt a tear roll down her face as the watched the sand sift through her fingers. She took a deep breath, offered up a silent prayer, and turned to face whatever was waiting for them in the jungle.
 
She found Zach waiting for her beside the tent. He took her in his arms as soon as she was close enough and rested his chin on the top of her head. He, too, was a little sad to leave what had become a real home for him. He would never forget the time he and Kendall spent in this tiny piece of paradise.
 
“You ready?” he asked after a few minutes had passed in silence. Darkness was upon them now, and it was time to vanish into the night. Kendall nodded and took one last look around. She didn’t notice the tree that Zach was leaning against. And she didn’t notice the heart that was carved into it with two sets of initials: KS and ZS. Instead, she followed Zach as he crossed the threshold, disappearing into the shadows of the jungle.

------------------------

“Zach, you planned this all along, didn’t you?” Zach stared at Kendall. He couldn't believe how well she was taking their situation. They were waiting just beyond the spot where Zach had set the trap. His hope was that the stranger came to the same vantage point each time he visited, which would give them the chance to get the drop on him. Zach knew whoever was watching them was coming in the middle of the night, so they had to stay awake. He expected Kendall to be miserable, but she seemed to be almost enjoying it. He shook his head and brought his attention back to her question.

"You think I planned to crash our airplane into the ocean?" he asked incredulously. "Of course not," she replied. "I think you knew all along that we were gonna have to wait here for our voyeur to show up. You let me think it was my idea." Zach wanted to kiss her pout away, but didn't trust himself to stop, so he brushed his thumb over her protruding lip instead. "You don't give yourself enough credit," he said. "I notice you didn't deny it," she said, smiling begrudgingly. Zach gave in to temptation and kissed her. When he pulled away from her, they had both forgotten what they were talking about.

"You need anything?" he asked, still amazed at her carefree mood. "Yeah," she said, growing serious, "I do. I - no, we - need a double cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake. Right little one?" She looked down at the bulge in her belly and rubbed her hands over it. "Of course," she said. "How could I forget?" She looked up at Zach, who was staring at her hands. "We also want fries, with lots of ketchup." She smiled at the look on Zach's face. He actually looked like he was trying to figure out a way. He looked up when he heard her laugh and shrugged.

"Come on, Zach. You can do anything. Can't you just whip out your magic wand?" she said. Zach raised an eyebrow and fought a smile. "You ask too much of my magic wand. There's only so much it can do." Kendall moved closer, bringing her lips to his ear. "It's hasn't let me down yet," she whispered. "Me either," Zach said, turning to face her.

With only a breath between them, Kendall waited for him to kiss her. Instead she felt his hand on her face as he gently pushed her away from him. "Get away from me," he growled, but Kendall could hear the laughter in his voice. "We have to stay alert," he said. "Don't distract me." This time Kendall's pout was real, and he once again ached to kiss it away. But, knowing it would go too far, he resisted the urge. He kissed her temple instead and settled himself against a tree.

Kendall snuggled up against him with her head on his shoulder. "We should have left Josh some kind of sign," she said. "At least he'd know he was on the right island." Zach put his arm around Kendall and pulled her closer. "I took care of it." Kendall lifted her head and looked up at him, waiting for details, but he didn't say anything else. "What did you do?" she asked. "I left him a message carved into a tree. Don’t worry, he’ll know what it means." Kendall laid her head back on his shoulder and felt him relax. Before long, she became hypnotized by the sound of his breathing and fell fast asleep.

-------------------------

One look through the binoculars told him everything was okay. He didn't dare get too close. He knew what his orders were. Luckily, the sleeping couple made it all so easy for him. He could still see curls of smoke wafting up from the fire that had burned recently. And the food supply outside the tent told him they had everything they needed to survive another day. All that was missing was the sound of snoring coming from the tent. But it he got close enough to hear their breathing, they might be able to hear his. And that was a risk he just couldn't take. So, satisfied that all was well, he quietly walked away from his lookout point. This was the easiest money he'd ever made, he thought to himself as he headed back up the hidden path.

-------------------------

Kendall awoke with a start when she felt a hand cover her mouth. She looked up into Zach's face. He was calm, but she knew something was wrong. His body was rigid and he was staring into the darkness. Although she couldn't hear anything, she didn't move a muscle. Zach finally looked at her. He put his finger to his lips, telling her to be quiet. She nodded and he removed his hand. He pointed to the spot they were there to watch and nodded slightly. Kendall held her breath as she watched the dark figure move down the path no more than 20 feet away. As soon as he passed, they jumped to their feet and followed him.

Kendall's skirt got hung up on a small branch, causing it to break. The man immediately turned at the sound. Zach and Kendall froze, praying he wouldn't investigate. Then, in a stroke of pure luck, a bird flew out of the trees above them. The man turned away and continued along the trail. Kendall grabbed her skirt in one hand and reached for Zach with the other. He took her hand and let her through the jungle, careful to stay far enough away so their guest wouldn't hear their movements.

The path suddenly opened up into a small clearing with a narrow road leading from it. The man jumped into the waiting jeep and said something into a walkie-talkie before driving away. Zach held up his hand and Kendall stopped. After a quick glance to be sure the man was really gone, he turned to her. "You okay?" he asked. "I'm fine," she nodded. "Could you make out what he said?" Zach shook his head as he looked back to the road. "Nah, I couldn't make it out. But now we know the guy isn't working alone."

He stepped onto the road, pulling Kendall behind him. "So now what do we do?" she asked. They were both staring at the bend in the road, wondering what they would find around that corner. "Now we wait for the sun to come up so we can be sure he won't come back. Then it looks like we're gonna do some hiking. You up for  it?"

Kendall looked at her sandal-clad feet and wished for the millionth time that she'd worn jeans and sneakers on the plane. But that didn't matter now. All that mattered was getting off this island and back to Spike. If she had to do it barefooted, she would. She squared her shoulders and gave Zach a triumphant smile. "Lead the way."

TBC


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Reply with quote  #33 
It better be "TBC" damn soon! LOL
This is really getting good......thank you.

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Karen, can't wait for Chapter 7....  I need to know who is on the island!!!
Thanks for great late night reading...
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Thank you!  Thank you, Karen!  GREAT story.  I love the way you write Zach and Kendall.  Impatiently waiting for the next chapter!


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Loving it! Thanks for the new chapter. I'm looking forward to what's around the bend in the road--SOON!!!
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Chapter 7
 
The Slaters arose at daybreak and began their journey into the unknown. The night had seemed endless, every sound amplified, every shadow seeming to come alive. Kendall had managed to fall asleep, warm and secure in Zach’s arms. But Zach couldn’t turn his mind off. The questions were coming too fast. Who was watching them? Why? Have they been there all along? What are they planning? Were they dangerous? He had plenty of questions, but no answers. At least not yet.
 
“Long night, huh?” Kendall said as she took in Zach’s appearance. Because of the humidity, his hair was curlier that usual. Hers too. But it suited Zach, she thought, as she studied his face. She’d always thought he looked sexy when he hadn’t shaved, but she’d never seen him with this much facial hair. It worked. Of course, she couldn’t imagine what wouldn’t work on a face like that. You just couldn’t mess him up.
 
“What are you smiling at?” Zach asked, interrupting Kendall’s thoughts. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a soft kiss. “I was just thinking about how handsome you are.” “Uh-huh,” Zach said as he wrapped an arm around her to keep her close. “And rugged,” Kendall added. “Rugged. Right.” Zach held Kendall’s face in his hands as he gave her a proper kiss. “That is a good morning kiss,” he said, releasing her.
 
He turned away to get them some breakfast, but stopped when he felt Kendall tap him on the shoulder. “How did that go again?” she asked with mock innocence. But the innocence didn’t quite reach her eyes. Zach pulled her back into his arms and gave her another lesson in how to kiss your spouse good morning. “Did you get it that time, or do we need to do a more in-depth study?” Zach said, his eyes narrowing as Kendall licked her lips. “Will there be homework?” she asked. “Oh yeah, lots of homework.” “I’m in!” Kendall said, just before he claimed her mouth again.
 
“Shameless,” he muttered when he broke the kiss. He handed her a banana and a bottle of coconut milk. “You need to eat something. You’re obviously delirious.” Kendall took the banana and peeled it very slowly, never breaking eye contact with Zach. He shook his head and said, in a warning tone, “Don’t do it.” “You’re no fun,” Kendall said somberly as she took a bite of the banana. “That’s not true. I’m a lot of fun. At least you thought so a minute ago,” Zach teased as he picked up a mango and tossed it into the air. He rubbed it against his shirt before taking a big bite out of it, letting the juices run down his chin. Kendall threw her banana peel over her shoulder and lunged at her husband. “Mmmmmm … fruit salad,” he chuckled when the kiss was over. “You’re a fast learner.” Kendall grinned at him as she reached for more breakfast.
 
“Did you get any sleep at all?” she asked as she watched Zach re-pack their belongings. “Enough,” he said, which Kendall knew really meant none. She took his outstretched hand and followed him down the road the Jeep had taken. Zach felt vulnerable out in the open, even though he was pretty sure the man wouldn't return before dark. So, after a brief conversation with Kendall, they decided to follow from a safe distance inside the cover of the jungle. It made the walk a little more treacherous, but a lot less dangerous.

By mid-afternoon, they were forced to make their final stop for the night. There was a fork in the road up ahead and they had no way of knowing which way to go. Zach examined the road for tire treads, but couldn't make much of a determination in the muddy, rutted path. Both roads had been traveled, but Zach didn't want to get ahead of himself. One step at at time, he told himself. And the first step was the man in the Jeep who had been sent to spy on them.

"Looks like we're done for the day," Zach said as he lowered himself to the ground beside Kendall. At least the jungle was shaded and cool. And they had managed to avoid the worst of the insects that Zach knew were lurking there. "How are you feeling?" Kendall took off her sandals and rubbed her feet before answering. "I'm good," she said with a smile. She looked tired, and Zach hated it. But there wasn't any other way. He tried to make sure she got plenty of rest, but she didn't always make it easy for him.

"Stop looking at me like that, Zach," she said when he continued to watch her. "I'm fine. We both are," she added with a glance at her stomach. "How about you? You hungry?" she asked. "I don't know if I can eat another piece of fruit," he grumbled. "A man needs meat once in a while." Kendall shot him a look. "A woman does too. So you keep your eyes peeled and we'll jump on the next cow that comes by." "Doesn't have to be a cow, Kendall. How 'bout I find us an iguana?" "Don't you dare!" Kendall shrieked.

"What? It can't be that different from eating a snake. Probably tastes like chicken." He laughed when Kendall looked at him in horror. "Is that supposed to convince me?" she asked. "And when have you eaten snake?" Zach pulled her close and whispered in her ear, "Ah, Kendall. There are so many things you don't know about me." Before Kendall could respond there was a loud clap of thunder and they could hear the rain coming. Zach lifted Kendall in his arms and ran into the denser part of the jungle, hoping to find some shelter from the approaching storm. What he found was a cave.

"Imagine that," he said as he settled Kendall on the ground just inside the mouth of the cave. "Must be our lucky day," she said cheerily, causing Zach to do a double take. He was still amazed at her resilience. She had to be miserable, but she just kept smiling. He lingered over her a moment, stroking her face with his fingers. Then he kissed her tenderly. "What would I ever do without you?" "I don't know," she said, looking into his face, "but it would probably be a lot quieter." She laughed, but Zach's look was serious. "Quiet is boring," he said. Kendall thought he would kiss her again, but he didn't. He just looked at her. She could almost see his thoughts, and it made her want to take him in her arms and never let him go.

She reached out and cupped his face, smiling when he leaned into her palm. Then he covered her hand with his and brought it to rest in her lap as he came down beside her. There they sat, facing the cave's entrance, watching the rain. She held on to his arm and once again took comfort from his strength. It didn't take long for the damp, dark space to turn cool. Zach moved to sit behind Kendall, pulling her up against his chest so he could keep her warm. Neither of them expected to fall asleep, but their fatigue, mixed with the sounds of the storm, conspired against them. Before long, they were both curled up on the floor of the cave fast asleep, Zach still holding Kendall in his arms.

-------------------------

"Maybe your next wife will be better at all this stuff," Kendall said as she once again found herself trying to thread that needle. As much as she was enjoying the view, it was time to sew the buttons back on Zach's shirt. He needed the protection for their trek through the jungle, and she needed to do something constructive. "No. My next wife will be a belly dancer," Zach said as he took the needle from her and threaded it on his first try. "She won't need to be able to sew." Kendall frowned at him. "Belly dancer? Where did that come from? You were supposed to tell me I am the perfect wife and you could never be with another woman if something happened to me," Kendall said as if instructing a child. "Oh, I just assumed we were divorced. I didn't know you were dead. Besides, have you ever seen a belly dancer? The way they move their ... well, anyway," Zach said, smiling as Kendall's eyes grew wider.

"Divorce! Zach Slater, I'll ..." she began, but she couldn't think of a threat with enough teeth to it. "I would never give you a divorce. Well, not another one" she said haughtily. "So you and your belly dancer will just have to kill me." Kendall silently berated herself for getting all worked up. She knew he didn't mean it, but she couldn't stop her voice from rising. "I can't believe you'd leave me for some trashy belly dancer." Kendall winced when she poked herself with the needle. "Kendall," Zach said softly as he pulled her injured finger to his mouth and kissed it, "I was joking. You know I'd never leave you. You're stuck with me until the day I die." "Okay, that's better, " Kendall said, the smile returning to her face. "But, just to be clear, when you say I could never be with another woman, what exactly -"

Zach's words were cut off by Kendall's hand over his mouth. "No more. You're damaging my ego." "So what do I need to kiss to make it better?" he asked. She touched her finger to her lips and he kissed her there. Then he took her hand and kissed it. "Are you sure it isn't here?" he asked, as his lips moved up her arm. "Or here," he repeated, working his way to her neck. "Maybe it's here," he growled as he moved lower. Kendall tilted her head back and buried her hands in his hair, enjoying the feel of his beard on her bare skin. Just as things were getting interesting, they were jarred back to reality by a loud crashing sound.

"Wait here," Zach said as he ran outside to investigate. He moved quietly through the jungle and quickly saw what made the noise. Their visitor was back, and he had crashed his Jeep into a tree. Zach watched as the man stumbled out to survey the damage. He cursed himself for going too fast on the narrow road, but he was in a hurry to get back. He had to let the boss know they were gone. He picked up the walkie-talkie and leaned against the disabled vehicle. He'd wanted to deliver the news in person, but he couldn't afford to waste anymore time.

Kendall tried to wait, but she just couldn't do it. She couldn't stand not knowing what was going on. What if Zach needed her? So she took a tentative step outside to see if she could hear anything. What she heard was a lot of cursing.

“Oh shit! I’m so screwed! Absolutely, totally and completely fu- Hello? Yeah, it’s me. Look, I had an accident. What? Oh, yeah, I'm alright. I mean I guess I am. My head hurts like a sonofabitch, but I don't think it's serious.” For the first time, Zach noticed the gash above the man's left eye. There was a lot of blood, but it was impossible to tell how serious it was from that distance.
 
"Anyway," the guy continued, "I need to talk to the boss, and he ain't gonna like what I have to say. I just checked on our guests, and they're..." his voice trailed off as his head moved away from the walkie-talkie. He heard something. But what? "Hang on a sec, Pete," he said. "I think I heard something." He pulled his gun and headed off in the direction of the sound. Zach froze. He'd heard something, too, and he had a bad feeling he knew what it was.

He turned just in time to see Kendall duck behind a bush, her hand over her mouth. He saw the iguana at her feet and knew she wanted to get away from it, but she didn't move. And after that first tiny shriek, she hadn't made a sound. Zach looked over his shoulder and saw the man moving toward her, gun raised, so he ran to Kendall. He managed to throw himself over her just as the shots rang out.

TBC


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Roseann

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Reply with quote  #38 
Great chapter, Karen.  Looking forward to #8...  your stories are like TK's acting, always leave us wanting more...
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OMG!!!
After working late, being all tired and grumpy, I find this beautiful gift....and feel all better.    Thank you. 
Now, I am thoroughly intrigued, and need an update very, very soon.

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Wow more great chapters can hardly wait to see what happpens next... Keep up the great work... More soon please...... : )


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Really lovin' this story Karen!  But please don't leave us hanging like this!  Thank you.


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Another great chapter, 9K! Please update soon. I can't wait to see what happens to Zach and Kendall on their jungle adventure.
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Thanks 9K.  A great long weekend read. Waiting for the next chapter. Zach and Kendall marooned on a strange island. Makes up a little for the honeymoon they didn't get on AMC.


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Thanks ladies. This chapter is really long enough to be two, but I'm just too lazy to break it up. Good news is ... no cliffhanger.
 
Chapter 8

Zach was dazed and disoriented, fighting to maintain consciousness. He had managed to not only shield Kendall from the bullets, but also to break her fall. But he'd knocked the wind out of himself and was having difficulty breathing. He knew he had to focus. If he blacked out now, what would happen to Kendall and the baby? He tried to sit up, but Kendall was leaning over him, begging him not to move.

"Zach!" she cried. "Don't move, honey. Please. Let me take a look at you." Zach couldn't figure out why she wouldn't let him get up. Had she forgotten about the man with the gun? "Kendall." He raised his arms to pull her off of him, then was paralyzed by the pain in his right shoulder. "Lie still!" Kendall commanded, no longer begging. She whispered close to his ear. "You've been shot, Zach. And the man who did it is still out there. Please. You have to lie still. Let me see how bad it is."

Zach stopped struggling. He closed his eyes against the pain and tried to decide what to do. He winced when Kendall eased his shirt away from the bloody wound. "I need you to help me, Zach," she said quietly. "I need to know if the bullet went through, but I can't lift you by myself." Zach rolled over, gritting his teeth against the searing pain. He heard Kendall sigh with relief. They both jumped when they heard another gunshot.

-------------------------

"Come on outta there," the gunman yelled. He hadn't seen anybody, but was sure he heard something. He laughed when an iguana came scurrying out of the bushes. "Looks like I missed," he said as he took aim. "It won't happen again." Just before he pulled the trigger, he noticed the blood on the animal's tail. He took the shot, killing it instantly, then walked over and touched his finger to the blood. "So, if I didn't hit you the first time, what did I hit? Or who?" he said aloud, panic suddenly rising in his throat. If he killed the boss's "guests," he'd pay with his own life.

-------------------------

The Slaters froze when they heard the shot fired, but the jungle was silent except for their own breathing. "Thank God," she said as she eased him back down. "It went through. I don't know if I would have been able to dig a bullet out of your shoulder, Zach." Zach looked up and noticed the tears in her eyes for the first time. "Kendall," he began, only to have her place her fingers on his lips. "Don't say anything. You need to conserve your strength."

She looked around to find something to press against the wound to stop the bleeding, but there was nothing. With no other choice, she took off her own shirt, leaving her in just a camisole. She pressed it against his shoulder as hard as she could, whimpering as his face registered the pain. She leaned down and kissed him gently. "I'm sorry, Zach. I'm so sorry. Try to think about something else. Think about the first hockey game you'll take Spike and Baby Slater to." She stroked the hair away from his forehead as she talked, chattering softly. It was working. Before long, Zach smiled.

"You'll be there, too," he said. "And we'll sit right behind the glass so we can see the fights up close. You'll ask a million questions and I'll patiently answer every one. Then we'll go home, hoarse and tired, and put our kids to bed. Detroit will win, of course," he added with a chuckle. Then he winced again as the movement brought fresh pain. He was breathing better now, which was a relief to them both. "Do you hurt anywhere else, Zach?" she asked. She let him hold the shirt to his shoulder while she made sure there were no other injuries.

"No, how about you? You and the baby okay?" he asked. When she nodded, he smiled. "That iguana scare you?" Kendall felt relief wash over her. If he was teasing her, he must be alright. "Scared the hell out of me." Then her smile faded and her tone changed. "Oh Zach, it's my fault. I tried not to make a sound, but I did. I'm sorry. It's all my fault."

Zach struggled to a sitting position and put his good arm around Kendall. "Don't, Kendall. It's not your fault. The guy with the gun is the one to blame. We're okay. That's all that matters." "How can you say that?" Kendall said. "He shot you. You're not okay. And it's all my fault. I should have listened to you." That elicited another chuckle from Zach, and another grimace. "Now why would you want to do that?" he said. "Don't, Zach. Don't make jokes. Admit it. I'm a liability." "You're a beautiful liability. Especially with your shirt off. Now how am I supposed to-" he began, only to be interrupted. "Shhhh," Kendall said, stiffening. "He's coming!"

-------------------------

 "I said come out!" he screamed again. Dammit! If he killed one of them ... it was too horrible to contemplate. He'd be toast, that's for sure. "I hear you in there. Don't make me come and drag you out or you'll be sorry." After another moment of silence, he marched into the jungle in the direction of the noise he'd heard earlier. "You're just making me angrier. Trust me, you don't wanna do that," he bluffed. He thought he heard voices, but he couldn't be sure. Maybe it was just the wind in the trees. He was just about to break through the largest bush, when his walkie-talkie came to life.

"Dammit, Pete!" he yelled. "You scared the hell out of me. No, I'm okay. Yeah, it still hurts. So what? You know how hard my head is. What? Oh, that. Forget about that. My mistake. Yes, Pete. Yes! Tell him everything  is just fine. I'm on my way back right now." He replaced the walkie-talkie on his hip and returned to his task. "Just as soon as I find the lucky couple," he muttered under his breath. "Last chance," he yelled as he stepped forward with his gun drawn.

-------------------------

Zach and Kendall listened to the man's conversation with dread. Zach's mind raced with possible scenarios, but he knew he was limited in both time and resources. He was determined not to let the gunshot wound hinder him, but there was still little he could do. He watched Kendall closely, suspicious of the determined look on her face. She kissed him, then pulled away. "Where are you going?" he asked, grabbing her arm. "I have to do this, Zach. It's the only way. You're not strong enough." Zach finally realized what she was planning. "Like hell!" he whispered furiously. "Don't do it, Kendall. Stay here with me."

Kendall kissed him again. "I love you, Zach. I was never happier than when I was with you. If something happens, please tell Spike how much his mommy loved him." She crawled away, leaving Zach to call after her. "Kendall! Kendall!"

-------------------------

Just as the gunman was about to step into Zach's line of vision, he heard a noise off to his right. He jerked his head around to find Kendall standing in a clearing several yards away. She was wearing a camisole, a badly tattered skirt and a pair of thin sandals. Her hair was a riot of unruly curls and she had blood all over her hands and arms. She was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen. He was flooded with relief as he realized his worst fears had not come to life. He hadn't killed her. But what about the man? He walked closer to her, never lowering the gun.

"Where's your husband?" he asked, his voice hard and threatening. "What husband?" she replied casually. "Don't even try that shit. I know who you are, Mrs. Slater. And I don't have time to play games with you. Now tell me where your husband is." By the time he finished his diatribe, he was standing within a few feet of Kendall. He punctuated his last remark with a shot over her head. Kendall just stared at him, which infuriated him.

"Damn you, tell me where he is or I'll make you sorry," he screamed as he stepped closer to her. When Kendall continued to stare at him, he backhanded her, sending her sprawling to the ground. She jumped up quickly and glanced in Zach's direction, hoping he hadn't seen that. She didn't want him to come out of hiding just to protect her from this thug. If he did, she knew the man would kill him. She raised her chin and stiffened her spine and glared at the red-faced man standing in front of her.

"Oh, it's like that huh?" he said. He slapped her again, only this time she didn't fall. She just smirked at him. She wanted so badly to rub her face, just to be sure he hadn't broken her jaw, but she refused to give him the satisfaction. Though her eyes were watering from the pain, there was also a look of total defiance.

He realized that he was taking the wrong approach. So he turned and started walking away from her. "Maybe he's still around here, hiding in the weeds like a coward," he said, moving closer to where she left Zach. "Maybe your husband isn't much of a man, Mrs. Slater. Sending you out to deal with me while he hides." He turned back around to her to see her reaction. "My husband is more man than ten men," she said. "But he's not here."

The man laughed, but stopped moving toward Zach. "Now Kendall ... can I call you Kendall?" She raised her chin higher, but didn't respond. "I'll take that as a yes," he continued. "Anyway, Kendall, do you really expect me to believe that your husband just left you here, in the jungle, all alone?" "Believe what you want," Kendall said with a sneer. "What do I care?" "You should care a great deal. That is, if you love your husband and don't want to see him killed. I need the truth ... now!" He waved the gun at her to emphasize his point.

Kendall rolled her eyes and tried to look bored. "I told you the truth. Is it my fault if you don't believe me?" she said with a shrug. "Okay, so he's gone. Then where did the blood come from?" Kendall looked down at her hands, stalling for time until she could think of a reasonable explanation. "You do remember firing the gun, don't you?" she said at last. "Lucky for me you're such a lousy shot. Just a flesh wound."

"Come over here and let me see," he said suspiciously. "Like hell," Kendall said, loud enough for Zach to hear. She wanted him to know she was okay. "I don't have anything to prove to you." He stroked his chin as if in contemplation. "But I fired shots over ... there," he said, suddenly turning to face Zach. "And yet you're all the way over there." He turned again to face Kendall, but starting moving toward Zach.

"He went out looking for you," she said abruptly, closing her eyes briefly when he turned back to her. "He wanted me to stay here and rest, for the baby." She rubbed her belly, hoping to elicit some sympathy from the man. She watched him closely, wanting desperately to recognize him. How did he know her name? What did he want with her?

He looked her over slowly, but his eyes weren't resting on her stomach. "How long has he been gone?"  he asked. "Maybe you and I can have a little fun before he gets back. He was now standing close enough for her to feel his breath on her skin. Having forgotten all about Zach, he reached out and cupped her breast. Kendall made her mother proud by slapping him ... hard. "You little bitch!" he screamed. He grabbed her by the arm and pushed her against a tree. Then he pulled a length of rope from his belt and tied her arms around the back of the tree, leaving her vulnerable and helpless. "Now, where were we?" he said as he snaked his hand underneath her camisole.

-------------------------

Zach was beside himself. He wanted nothing more than to tear that bastard apart, and he promised himself he would do just that as soon as the situation was under control. He heard the monster hit Kendall, but he was too far away from them to help her. Showing himself would've only gotten them both killed. Or worse, him killed and Kendall left alive for the bastard's amusement. He couldn't think about it. He had to be ready when the opportunity presented itself. He would only have one chance.

He'd made eye contact with Kendall more than once, and she seemed to be begging him to stay put. But of course he couldn't do that. And now he dared to threaten her? To tie her to a tree? No, Zach couldn't wait anymore. He'd rather die than see Kendall hurt. He just had to be sure to kill the man, then it wouldn't matter what happened to him. Kendall would be safe. At least for now.

But then what? She'd be left to fight whoever was out there all alone. And what about the dangers that existed in the jungle? Zach shook his head against all the questions. He couldn't give in to the hopelessness of it all. He glanced in Kendall's direction and found her watching him. The bastard pig was touching her again. Zach could see the pain in her eyes and hear the soft whimpering in her throat. When he saw the man start to unzip his pants, he went into action. No matter what happened, he couldn't let that animal hurt Kendall anymore.

-------------------------

"You're a beautiful woman, Kendall," he said as his fingers stroked her soft skin. "So beautiful. What can we do to pass the time while we wait for your husband to return? Any ideas?" He looked at her, the fear in her eyes making him more excited. "No? Well, I have a few." He slid her skirt down her body, forcing her to lift her feet until the garment was free. Kendall watched him throw it over his shoulder.

"What kind of a pathetic animal are you?" she spat. "You would force yourself on a pregnant woman?" The man snorted. "I've seen the way you and your husband are all over each other. Yeah, that's right, I like to watch," he added when she looked like she would vomit. "You being pregnant didn't seem to be a problem then. Now shut up and let me do this. Unless you want your husband to catch us."

Kendall said nothing, she just bided her time. She needed to keep him distracted. As long as he was talking, he wasn't touching. "Do you really think you'll get away with this?" she asked. "My husband will kill you. Don't think he won't. He'll tear you apart with his bare hands. And I'll enjoy watching him." He laughed and touched the gun at his side. "I'll take my chances, sweetie. Now just relax," he said as he slid his hands across her hips. "You just might enjoy this. Or is that what you're afraid of?"

He moved closer so he could kiss her, giving Kendall the opportunity she'd been waiting for. She kneed him in the groin and laughed when he fell to the ground in agony. "You're right," she said. "That was fun." The man recovered more quickly than she expected. He was once again standing in front of her, only now he was through being gentle. Kendall watched as he opened his pants and pressed himself against her.

She tried to find someplace to hide within herself. She couldn't stop him from doing this, but it would be worth it if it kept Zach safe. Zach. She never expected to find that kind of love in her life. She cherished every moment they'd spent together ... even the fights. Nobody brought out the passion in her like Zach Slater. She knew he would take care of Spike and teach him all the things a boy needed to know to be as cool as he was.

She hated to think that he could see what was happening to her. She turned her head away from him, hoping he had passed out from his injuries. She would do anything to spare him this. She envisioned the hockey game they would go to. Zach was right, she would have a million questions. And he would be eternally patient. She smiled despite herself.

"See, you like that don't you, baby?" he said. He tried to kiss her on the mouth, but she bit him. He slapped her again, then settled his mouth on her neck and moved lower. She closed her eyes tightly, tears streaming down her face, as she waited for the inevitable.

"I've never been with a woman as beautiful as you," the man said. He touched her face before burying his hand in her hair. He probably thought he was seducing her, she thought. "I know it's gonna be so good between us. You're gonna like it, baby. I pro-" Kendall opened her eyes to see why he'd stopped.

"Zach!" She watched as Zach grabbed the man by the throat and pulled him off of her. He kept his arm around his neck, even as the man clawed and fought for breath. "Zach! Be careful. He's got a gun!" she said when she saw the man reach for his weapon. Zach threw him up against a tree until he dropped it, then kicked it out of his reach.

The man thought he was in the grip of a bear. Even though Zach was using his right arm, the one that had been shot, his grip was steady and relentless. He pushed the guard away from him and waited for him to turn around. Zach met him with a fist to his jaw, forceful enough to lift him off his feet. Then Zach came down on top of him.

"You dare to touch my wife? You sick bastard." Zach continued to beat on the man who was unable to put up much of a fight. "So, was it worth it?" he said through gritted teeth. "Was it as much fun as you thought?" The man looked over at Kendall and snarled. "Oh yeah. It was worth it. Best piece of ass I ever had. She was begging for it." Zach pounded the man's head into the ground, so caught up in his own rage that he didn't notice right away that the man had stopped struggling.

He didn't know how long he sat there, panting with exertion and unspent fury, before the sound of Kendall's voice reached him. "Please, Zach. You're gonna hurt yourself. It's over, Zach. Please." Zach looked over at the love of his life, still tied to a tree, and wanted to die. Why hadn't he moved faster? How could he let that animal hurt his wife? He got to his feet and stumbled over to Kendall. He untied her and then pulled her into his arms.

They both dissolved in tears, both speaking at once. "Did he?" Zach asked as he held her face in his hands. "No, Zach. He didn't. You got here in time. He didn't rape me. He didn't." She said it over and over again, knowing how badly Zach needed to hear it. He crushed her body against his and cried into her hair. "I'm sorry, Kendall. I took too long ... I let him hurt you ... he almost ...," he stammered.

Kendall let him cry in her arms. When he was through, she kissed him. "It's over, Zach. You saved me. It doesn't matter what he almost did. Let's just leave all that ugliness right here, okay? We're not gonna carry that with us for the rest of our lives. We're safe and he can't hurt us anymore." Zach nodded and kissed her again. "You are amazing," he said. "I'm supposed to be giving you that speech, but instead you're comforting me."

He retrieved her skirt while she tried to rub life back into her numb arms. His relief had turned into guilt, but Kendall wasn't having any of that. "Don't you think you comforted me?" she said. "Do you have any idea what it felt like to look up and see that monster's neck in your hands? To know that I was safe? Trust me, it was way more than comforting. It was liberating. You're my hero, Zach. Here, now and always." She wrapped her arms around him, careful to dodge his injured shoulder, and allowed herself to be comforted a little more.

-------------------------

"I'm afraid your shirt is ruined," Zach said when Kendall checked his wound. It was caked in dried blood. "Oh well," Kendall said easily, "small price to pay for your survival." Zach smiled. "It's okay with me. I like this look a lot better," he said as he ran his finger underneath the strap of her camisole. "Slow down sailor," Kendall laughed. "You are in no position to start anything. You're a wounded man, remember?" Zach nodded, watching her closely. They both knew sex was the last thing Kendall wanted to think about. He was glad that she didn't recoil from his touch. That was all that mattered to him. The rest would come in time.

"You know what? You stink!" he said suddenly, holding his nose for emphasis. "Me?" she said. "Yeah. You need a bath."  Zach held out his arm to her and escorted her into the jungle. They followed a stream that led them to a large pool of clear water. Kendall gasped at the sight in front of her. There was a waterfall that fed into the small lake, creating a tropical paradise.

Kendall looked at Zach, then took off running. She managed to beat him to the water by only two steps. They spent a while there, trying to wash the ugliness of the day away. Zach even managed to get the blood out of Kendall's shirt. And although she was not intimidated by Zach's presence, Kendall was glad to be covered up again. As beautiful as this spot was, she was ready to move on to whatever was waiting for them. She was ready to go home.

TBC


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Thanks, Karen...great mid-night read.  How did you know I couldn't sleep!!
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Wow, Karen, just wow!  I am on the edge of my seat.


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Thanks for the update 9K!  I can't wait for more. It was a great wrap up to a fabulous labor day weekend. And since my hubby was away it was wonderful to have just a bit of Zendall love (before all that rough, mistreatment started). Thanks again for sharing!

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Two chapters for the price of one ... you can't beat a deal like that!

Chapter 9

The Slaters made their way back to the scene of Kendall's attack feeling both refreshed and burdened. They managed to get their bodies and their clothes clean, but they each still carried the weight of what had happened. Walking hand in hand, they were lost in their own thoughts. Kendall was trying to erase the ugliness of her ordeal by thinking about Spike. Rather than remember the feel of strange hands roaming her body, she chose to think about the softness of her son's skin and the sound of his laugh. She wondered what he was doing at that very moment. Did he miss her? Was he wondering where she was?

She looked over at Zach when she felt him squeeze her hand, but he was lost in a nightmare of his own. She knew he was reliving her near-rape, and she wished more than anything that he hadn't seen it. She knew the images would haunt them both for a long time. She began to rub her thumb against the back of his hand in an attempt to soothe him. He loosened his grip, even glanced at her, but it was obvious his mind was elsewhere.

Zach was once again filled with rage at what he'd allowed Kendall to go through. He shook his head violently in an attempt to dislodge the mental images, but it didn't work. He could still see it ... his hands on Kendall, his unzipped pants, her skirt on the ground. He wanted to kill the bastard all over again. He made a fist with his right hand, causing pain to shoot up his arm. He had forgotten about the gunshot wound. He found the pain comforting, almost like something he owed Kendall, so he did it again.

He was starting to regret what he'd done. In an effort to hide their escape as long as possible from their host, Zach had positioned the man's body alongside the wrecked Jeep, hoping whoever found him would think he died from crash-related injuries. Zach had gone through the man's pockets, hoping to find a cellphone, but he came up empty-handed. Well, almost. He did end up with another gun, plenty of ammunition, and a walkie-talkie.

Zach shot another glance at Kendall when he remembered the candy bar he'd found in the Jeep. He knew how much Kendall was craving chocolate, but she refused to even touch it. When Zach tossed it on the ground, she went over and ground it to dust with the heel of her sandal. Zach knew she was envisioning doing that to the man's face, so he hit him again, just for her.

And now he wanted to do it again. He wanted to hurt him the way he had hurt Kendall. But it was too late. When they returned to the scene, they saw two men standing next to the wrecked Jeep. They were wearing uniforms very similar to the dead man's, only instead of handguns, they were carrying semi-automatic rifles. Zach pulled up short and dropped to his knees, dragging Kendall down beside him.

They watched while the men put their fallen co-worker into the back of a supply truck, then they turned their attention to the Jeep. After determining the damage was too much to repair, they pushed it out of the road and turned to go.

"Wait," one of the men said, "we should probably check on the Slaters before we go." "What for, Pete?" the other man said from the truck, clearly not happy about the suggestion. "Because it's our job, that's why. The boss is gonna ask us about them. You know he will. So get off your ass and let's go," he said as he headed back up the trail toward the beach.

"Damn, we have to walk it?" he whined. "Why can't we take the truck?" Pete looked at him with nothing short of disdain. "Because we don't want them to hear us, remember? Don't be an idiot, Carl. Let's just get it done and we can get back to our supper."

As they watched the men walk into the night, Zach and Kendall slowly made their way to the road, careful not to make a sound. "This is just getting weirder," Kendall said softly. "Is this some kind of a military operation?" she asked. Zach looked up the road in both directions, then turned his attention back to his wife. "I don't think it's military, but it's not a bunch of rent-a-cops either. Somebody doesn't want any surprise visitors." "But why?" Kendall asked, grabbing Zach's arm. "Exactly," he said. "Why? And how do we fit into all of this?"

Zach led Kendall to a nearby boulder and waited for her to sit down. "Wait here for a second," he said, stopping when she grabbed his hand. "It's only for a minute, and I won't go far. I promise." He saw the fear in Kendall's eyes and knew she was still traumatized from the last time he'd let go of her. "You can come with me, if you want," he said. "But I think the baby could use some rest. And I know his mom could. For me?" he added when she looked undecided. He released a quick breath when she nodded and then he kissed her. "I'll be right back, Kendall. I promise."

Zach started down the path in the direction the two men had gone, turning often to look at Kendall. He noticed she'd closed her eyes, and he was relieved. Maybe she would get some rest. With one last look over his shoulder, he slipped into the shadows.

Kendall's mind wandered back to the conversation she had with Zach when they were at the waterfall.

"How did that monster know my name, Zach? Who is he and how could he know my name?" She was trying not to become hysterical, but the whole situation was becoming absurd. First their plane goes into the ocean. Then Zach nearly dies from fever. Now they're being watched by somebody who obviously isn't interested in helping them. Somebody who would hire a creep like that. When Kendall thought about how close she came to being raped, she scrubbed herself all over again. "And where the hell is Josh?"

Zach moved closer to her. "I don't have any answers for you, Kendall. But I promise I will take care of you. Just like you took care of me. I won't let anybody hurt you again." He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her, to show her how much he loved her and how proud he was of her, but he knew the last thing she wanted was to be touched, even by him.

He walked behind her and took her wet hair in his hands, ringing out the excess water. Then he carried her to dry ground. Because it was night time, their clothes hadn't done much drying on the rocks, but at least they were clean. As they dressed, Zach watched Kendall carefully. He knew she was still in shock, but he also knew she was a lot stronger than she gave herself credit for. He could still see the fight in her, and he knew she would be alright soon enough. Until then, he'd give her whatever she needed from him.

Kendall looked up at him as if she'd been reading his thoughts. "Zach, will you do something for me?" she asked, her voice a soft whisper. "Anything," he said emphatically. "Will you hold me? Will you kiss me, Zach, so I can forget?" Zach stared at her, unable to move. He couldn't believe she wanted him anywhere near her. Not after what he did. "Are you repulsed by me?" she said when he didn't move. Zach responded to the pain in her voice and the tears in her eyes, matched by his own. He pulled her into his arms and squeezed her as tightly as he dared. "No, Kendall. Never. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met. You still take my breath away, and nothing will ever change that. Nothing." He emphasized the point by kissing her, gently at first, then with more urgency. He wanted to take all of her pain away ... to make her feel how much he loved her.

Kendall responded to his kiss. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him to her. She couldn't get close enough to him. She wanted to feel engulfed by him. His strength, his smell, his taste. She let him erase the sensory memories of her attacker. Then she laid her head on his chest, careful to avoid his wound, and breathed him in while he rocked her back and forth, his hands warming her back. After a while, she stepped back and looked into his eyes. "Thank you, Zach, for saving me." She ran her fingers over his forehead, trying to smooth out the worry lines. He looked agitated.

"Saving you, Kendall? Hell, look what happened to you because of me. Because I didn't get there in time. When I think..." he said, rubbing the back of his neck ... "he almost ... that bastard almost..." he couldn't even make himself say it. It was too awful. And she was thanking him? When Kendall put her hand on his face, he leaned into it. He closed his eyes and Kendall brushed away the tear that escaped. "I love you, Zach. And none of this is your fault." He opened his eyes and looked at her. His heart was so full, but he didn't have the words. So he kissed her again, hoping it would say all that he couldn't. "I love you," he whispered as he pulled her back into his arms.


Kendall looked up when she heard Zach call her name. "Hurry," he said as he held out his hand to her. "They're coming!" Kendall ran to him and they hid behind a row of tall foliage, deep in the shadows. Kendall looked at Zach, hoping he would tell her what was going on. "Not yet," he mouthed and pointed to the clearing. Kendall looked up just in time to see the two men run into view. One of them was already on his walkie-talkie.

"They're gone," he screamed, never breaking stride. "I don't know how long. Their campsite was staged to look like they were still there. It could be minutes, or it could be days. I don't know how long it's been since Davy saw them, and I sure as hell can't ask him. Yes sir. Right away. I will, sir." He pulled his rifle out and motioned to the other guard. "Boss says we better find them before they find us." They started walking away from Zach and Kendall, kicking bushes and looking behind rocks. When they disappeared around a bend in the path, Zach grabbed Kendall and they ran to the truck.

Zach jumped into the back of the truck and reached down to help Kendall up. "No way," Kendall said, remembering to whisper, but refusing to budge. "I'm not getting in there with that monster. I can't, Zach." "He's dead, Kendall." "Is that supposed to make me feel better. Please, Zach. There has to be another way." "Nope," Zach said as he put his good arm around Kendall's waist and lifted her into the truck. "We don't have time, honey. And I'm tired of walking in circles. This is the only way to find out who's doing this. Trust me?" Kendall nodded and gave him a weak smile. "That's my girl. Now lie down and I'm gonna cover you up. Don't say anything and don't move until the truck starts moving."

Kendall gave Zach a look that left no doubt about how she felt about his plan, but then she laid down and waited for him to cover her up. "I'll be right here beside you," he said. "No, the dead guy is beside me," she said in a furious whisper. "You're the soon-to-be dead guy on the other side of him." Zach laughed. Yep, she was getting her spirit back. As long as she had that, everything would be just fine.

Before long, they heard the men coming back to the truck. Zach prayed they wouldn't look into the back, and God was listening. They jumped into the cab of the truck and it started moving. Zach had just removed the tarp from Kendall's head when they heard the walkie-talkie come to life. Zach adjusted the volume and tested the frequency. God was smiling on them again. He could hear every word they were saying.

"No sir. We didn't find them. Must've got away." Then another voice came through, one that was oddly familiar. "I don't want to hear excuses. Find them! Kill the man if you have to, but I want the woman alive. Or you'll pay with your own lives." "But what about ..." Pete began, only to be cut off. "You let me worry about him. You just worry about finding the Slaters."

TBC

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ninekaronas

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Reply with quote  #49 
Chapter 10

As the truck lumbered over the rough terrain, Zach tried to keep Kendall calm. She had already moved to sit next to him, trying to get as far away from the dead body as possible. "Now what?" she asked, worried about the shoot-to-kill orders on Zach. "Nothing has changed, Kendall," he said calmly. "We still need to find the man who hired these guards. At least this way we can do it a lot faster." He smiled at Kendall, but she wasn't paying any attention.

"Didn't his voice sound familiar to you?" she asked. "I mean, I didn't recognize it exactly. But there was something very familiar about it." Zach nodded. "Uh-huh. I noticed that too. Like he was trying to disguise his voice, maybe. But why? He couldn't have known we were listening." Kendall rested her head in her hands, trying to ignore her surroundings. "Maybe he's picking up a native accent?" she said. "Assuming there are natives here." "Or maybe he's trying to lose an accent," Zach said, trying to grab whatever was hovering at the edges of his memory. "There was something about his voice ..." he said, his voice trailing off.

"It's driving me crazy," Kendall said after a few minutes of silence. "Let's talk about something else. How about me?" she said cheerily. "How about you?" Zach said lazily. "What did you think of me the first time you met me?" Kendall asked, warming to the topic. "In Vegas?" Zach said, clearly stalling. "Yeah, in Vegas. Quit stalling and tell me. I won't get mad." Zach raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. "Come on, Zach. Unless you want me to pass the time by singing." She opened her mouth, but was interrupted before she managed to squeak out the first note.

"Beautiful. I thought you were beautiful," Zach blurted out. "Oh, you mean you wanted to throw me down on the floor and rip my clothes off." Kendall was laughing, but Zach looked serious. "No, I wanted to talk to you for hours. I wanted to find out who had made you so sad, punish them for it, then throw you down on the floor and rip your clothes off." "And now?" Kendall prodded. "Same. I still want to talk to you for hours and I still want to punish anybody who makes you sad and I still want to rip your clothes off." "Maybe later," she said with a grin. "Aren't you gonna ask me what I thought of you?" Zach shook his head. "I'm sure I can guess. In a word ... arrogant." Now it was Kendall's turn to shake her head. "It was one word alright, but it wasn't arrogant. It was hot! I thought you were smokin' hot."

Zach grunted. "Oh please. You were all wrapped up in Lavery. You wouldn't have noticed if I'd had two heads." Kendall shook her head more violently. "No way. I may have thought I was still in love with Ryan, but it never stopped me from noticing how sexy you were." She leaned over to kiss him. "Gorgeous," she said as she held his face in her hands. "I like hot," Zach said against her lips. "And hot," Kendall said on cue. "Very, very hot!"

"Besides, don't throw Ryan in my face. What about Maria?" Kendall watched him closely, waiting to see the flicker of pain she was sure Maria's name would bring. She immediately wished she could take the words back into her mouth. She wasn't trying to open old wounds. And she didn't need Zach to prove anything to her. "What?" Zach said with no trace of sadness in his eyes. "At least Maria was a doctor. What was Lavery? A two-bit con man. You could have done much better," he said, puffing his chest out and grinning at her. "I did, didn't I?" she said. "Damn right." Kendall looked again for something to show on his face, but he just continued to smile at her. "No regrets," he said just before he kissed her again.

Kendall felt like she was glowing, she was so happy. Zach always knew the right thing to say. "Zach, I didn't mean..." she began, but stopped when he put his finger over her lips. "I know. Anyway, you're supposed to tell me that you have no regrets," he teased. Kendall threw herself into his arms and held on tight. "My only regret is that it took you so long to throw me down on the floor and rip my clothes off." She laughed when she heard him growl. As absurd as it was, especially in light of their current situation, she'd never wanted Zach more than she did at that moment.

"That's enough truth," she said into his ear. "How about a dare?" Zach pushed her away from him so he could see her face. "What did you have in mind?" he asked coyly. "Well, I thought I might dare my gorgeous..." "Hot," Zach interjected. "... yes, hot, husband to make love to me in the back of a truck going through a jungle on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere." "Don't forget the dead body. You didn't mention the dead body." Kendall rolled her eyes. "I was trying to forget about him. Wow, that's a mood killer." Zach pulled her closer and she felt his breath on her ear as he laughed softly.

"No, no, no. Let's not be hasty," he said. "I can forget about the dead guy if you can." "What dead guy?" Kendall said as she leaned in to kiss her husband. They both erupted in giggles when the truck hit a particularly deep hole and Kendall was bounced from Zach's lap. "This might be too dangerous," she said as she settled herself beside him once again. "Come on, Kendall," Zach said. "It's my dare. You can't back out now." He pulled her back onto his lap and started kissing her neck. She knew what he was doing and she loved him for it. He was trying to keep her occupied so she wouldn't freak out about the mess they were in. "Okay, I owe you a dare," she said as she moved her head to give him better access.

When the next pothole came along, Zach was ready for it. He held onto Kendall to keep her from flying across the truck. Unfortunately, he didn't count on her accidentally hitting him in the nose with her head. He howled. The truck came to a screeching halt. Zach and Kendall quickly assumed their positions underneath the tarp. Zach listened through the walkie-talkie.

"What was that?" Pete said. "Hell if I know," Carl mumbled back in a sleepy voice." "Well go check it out, Carl." The man grumbled, but he did get out of the truck. Zach shut off the walkie-talkie and held his breath. After a few minutes, Carl climbed back in the truck. "Well?" Pete prodded when Carl settled back down for another nap. "Nothing out there," he said. "Did you check the back of the truck?" "Hell no! There's only one thing in the back of this truck, and if it's moving, I don't wanna know about it!" Carl said loudly. "You go check it out if you want." Pete glared at Carl for a split second, then he put the truck in gear and sped away. He didn't want to know about it either.

-------------------------

Kendall awoke to the sound of Zach whispering her name. He had managed to drag the dead guy over to one side of the truck and then he positioned himself between the body and Kendall. In that setting, it didn't take Kendall long to fall asleep. But now it was time to wake up. His voice sounded urgent. She opened her eyes to find him peeking out the back of the truck. When he glanced over his shoulder and saw that she was awake, he held out his hand to her.

"We're here," he said. "Wherever that is." Kendall stifled a yawn and looked through the dusty back windows of the truck into the pre-dawn morning. She saw that they had entered through a large outer gate. She felt panic rising up in her. "What are we gonna do, Zach? We're sitting ducks!" Zach squeezed her hand. "Remember that dare you owe me?" he asked. She swallowed around the lump in her suddenly dry throat and nodded. "Well, I dare you to ... jump!"

On his command they both jumped from the back of the truck. Zach was able to secure the back door and dive into the bushes just in time. The truck moved away from the outer gate and went through a second gate. That one was monitored by more armed guards. Zach and Kendall watched as the truck they'd just vacated was thoroughly searched. Then it disappeared around a curve in the road. Zach could see a roof line in the distance, but was unable to make out anything else.

"Come on, we have to move while their attention is diverted," Zach said as he took Kendall's hand and led her into the jungle. They were still within the confines of the fence, but they were well hidden. Zach's only hope was that there were no camera's monitoring the outlying areas of the encampment. He needed time to think ... to plan. He needed to be ready whenever he came face to face with their host. Once again he tried to remember what was so familiar about that voice, but it still eluded him.

-------------------------

Zach and Kendall spent the rest of the day hiding out in the deepest part of the jungle. They were fortunate enough to find food and water, and even a secluded spot to take a nap in. Zach was exhausted, but he was more worried about Kendall and the baby. He knew all this stress, not to mention the unbalanced diet, wasn't good for the baby. Kendall never complained, but he knew she was just as tired as he was. He vowed that, no matter what, he would find a way to get them home. Soon.

Dusk was upon them and Zach had a plan. He was going to follow that road until he got to the building that went with the roof he saw. Then he was going to break in. He needed answers and he knew that was the only place to find them. He wanted Kendall to stay in hiding and get some rest, but she refused, just as he knew she would. She was still terrified of being separated from him, so he relented. Whatever they faced, they would face it together.

Just in case they had been seen entering the jungle, Zach decided to take a different route to the road. He was pretty sure the road ran around the circumference of the compound, so why not pick it up at a different spot, just to keep his captors guessing? As they broke through the treeline, they saw the beach in front of them. "Dear God, we're on the other side of the island," Kendall said. Zach didn't like being out in the open, but he needed to find that building, so he took the risk. It was dark now, so he hoped that would provide them enough protection.

As they rounded a bend in the shoreline, Zach froze. He looked at Kendall, questioning her with his eyes. She nodded. She heard it too. Humming. Somebody was humming. They dashed back into the jungle and continued along the beach. Before long, they found where the humming was coming from. There, just a few yards away, was a young girl wading in the surf. She turned at a sound in the jungle behind her, but saw nothing. After a few minutes, she resumed her humming.

Zach and Kendall looked at each other. They didn't know what it meant, but it had to mean something. It had to be more than a coincidence. Zach instinctively placed his hand over the baby Kendall was carrying. Then he gestured toward the girl, who now had her back to them. Kendall nodded. "She's pregnant, too."

TBC

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zendall44

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Reply with quote  #50 

Thanks Karen!  What a great read.  I am loving this story.  Patiently waiting for the next treat, well, trying to at least.


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