A jaguars kiss, p.1
Gabriela Segura slowed her rental truck as she drove down Main Street in Bear Mountain, Montana. A faint smile touched her lips at the name of the town she’d grown up in. Wolf and jaguar shifters lived in a town named after a bear. Unfortunately the man who’d broken her heart also lived here. That thought made her smile wane as a familiar heaviness settled inside her. She mentally shook herself, trying to banish thoughts of the past.
Even though it was five o’clock in the morning, she spotted the bright blue neon OPEN sign at Lucky’s Diner. She mentally sighed in appreciation and found a spot about a block down from the restaurant. After traveling for nearly forty-eight hours straight and living off airport food, she wanted real coffee and a home-cooked meal. And God bless her mother; the woman just couldn’t cook so before she made it home, Lucky’s was calling her name.
The icy-cold wind whipped against her face the moment she opened the truck door, but with her jaguar blood it didn’t bother her much. She scented a wolf shifter nearby but didn’t look around. The Wright pack made their home in Bear Mountain and Gabriela would be fine if she never saw any of them again. Especially Owen Wright, son of the pack’s Alpha. If she hadn’t desperately needed a break from her job and the loss she’d recently experienced, she wouldn’t even be here.
As she opened the front door to the diner, the bell jingled loudly above her head. For a brief moment the place quieted and the dozen or so men in flannel shirts and cowboy hats looked at her with curiosity. She hadn’t been home in almost four years and she knew this place didn’t get many strangers. To many in this town, she would be just that.
Just as quickly the noise resumed, so she hurried to the counter and ordered a coffee before looking at the menu the harried waitress placed in front of her.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Gabby Segura. Couldn’t even call to let me know you’d be in town this morning. ” A teasing, familiar female voice made her turn.
Her high school best friend, Sharon Damico, slid onto the swivel stool next to her. She talked to Sharon fairly often and her friend had even offered Gabriela a job should she ever want it—she shoved that thought from her mind. A twinge of guilt settled inside her for not calling to tell Sharon she’d caught an earlier flight but seeing her friend in uniform made her giggle.
Gabriela shook her head as she looked her friend up and down, taking in the brown-and-tan polyester uniform that proclaimed Sharon the sheriff of the town. “Nice digs. ”
A half grin quirked Sharon’s mouth. “I wouldn’t talk if I were you. ”
Gabriela ran a hand through her hair and laughed under her breath. After traveling for so many hours straight, she’d been wearing her now rumpled dark jeans and black sweater for longer than she cared to admit. She might need a shower and a bed but she needed good food more. “I won’t argue with you there. ”
Sharon continued grinning and started to say more when the bell jingled again. At the scent of a wolf shifter, Gabriela tensed as she glanced over her shoulder. She inwardly cursed. It was Ethan Wright, brother of the one man on the planet she had no desire to see. Ever.
Gritting her teeth, Gabriela turned back to face Sharon, who had gone quiet. Sharon had no clue about shifters, but she did know about Gabriela’s former relationship with Owen. Gabriela fished out a bill and dropped it on the counter to pay for her coffee. She’d rather eat her mom’s cooking than deal with Ethan. For all she knew, Owen wasn’t far behind him. Seeing him now when she hadn’t showered in days and looked like a freaking hobo? No, thanks. “Mind if I call you later?” she murmured, hating that Ethan could probably hear her anyway, thanks to his oversensitive ears.
Sharon shook her head as she frowned in Ethan’s direction, but smiled softly at Gabriela. “No prob. ”
“I promise I’ll call as soon as I’ve settled in. We can grab a drink the next time you have a night off. ” Gabriela gave her a quick hug before sliding off the stool. Barely glancing in Ethan’s direction, even though she could feel his eyes on her, she skirted past him and was out the door in seconds. Thankful for the fresh air, she sucked in a deep breath. With his blue-black hair, Ethan resembled his brother so much it was difficult to even look at him.
Her flat boots were quiet against the sidewalk. So were the man’s behind her, but she could scent him, anyway. Out of all the shifter breeds, she could smell wolves the strongest. Probably because of that whole cats and dogs thing.
“Gabriela. ” Ethan fell in step with her. He was about four years younger so she didn’t know him as well as she’d known Owen, but he had that same confident swagger now that he’d grown up.
She gave him a quick glance. “That would be my name. ”
“What are you doing here?” He sounded genuinely confused.
She hadn’t been gone that long. Okay, well four—actually almost five—years was stretching it. “Uh, my family lives here. ”
“I know that. But what…are you here because of the attacks?” Now his voice hardened and when she looked at him again, those blue eyes of his were stony and angry.
She had no idea what he was talking about and she didn’t plan to waste time chatting with him. The last few months at work had been hell. Some dear friends had died and right now she didn’t need any crappy reminders from her past literally staring her in the face and acting all hostile. Remaining silent, she pressed the key fob to the truck she’d rented. As she reached the driver-side door, she turned to look over her shoulder and tell Ethan to get lost.
That’s when she noticed the weapon in his hand. Maybe it was the lack of sleep the past few days, but she blinked once as she stared at the barrel of the gun pointed right at her.
“Step back,” he said quietly, his voice a sharpened blade.
“Are you seriously pointing a gun at me?” she asked, staring at the SIG, surprised her voice didn’t shake. Considering the “retrieval” work she did for the CIA, she dealt with all sorts of guns, but to have one held on her by a semiacquaintance in the middle of her small hometown. . . . She shook her head, certain that this was a mistake. “What—”
“I don’t know why you’re here but if you think you can help your family cover up the attacks, think again,” he growled softly.
“Uh, attacks?” Gabriela hadn’t shifted in days and her reflexes were dulled. Not to mention she was in the beginning stages of heat and was extremely edgy. Something she definitely didn’t want to think about right now. For a moment she contemplated trying to take the weapon from him, but he read her expression.
Ethan shook his head and slid into her front seat, keeping his weapon trained on her. “I’m moving over to the passenger seat and you’re getting in the driver’s seat. Try anything stupid and I’ll pump you full of silver. ”
She paused, trying to determine if she could shift to her feline form quick enough to escape. It was possible. He might clip her with a bullet, but she doubted he’d want to make a huge scene in the middle of downtown. Then again, he’d pulled a freaking gun on her. This was way too disturbing and she couldn’t get a read on what he was thinking or if he was even serious. Sure, she and Owen hadn’t parted on the best terms, but there had never been any hostility between her family and his pack. Ethan’s actions were…crazy.
When she spotted two men and Sharon—all humans—walking down the sidewalk, she realized she didn’t have a choice but to go with Ethan.
Most humans didn’t know about the existence of her kind. Her entire family went to great lengths to keep not only their shifter abilities a secret but the fact that jaguars roamed this area. If she decided to turn into a giant jaguar in the middle of Main Street…yeah, that would go over really well. And she couldn’t risk Ethan h
She got into the front seat and started the engine. Rage surged through her-potent and strong-and completely drowned out her fear. Though it didn’t smother her common sense. She might be angry but she wasn’t stupid enough to lunge for the weapon. When her claws unsheathed, ripping into the pseudo-leather of the steering wheel, she had to take a deep breath and get her jaguar under control. “Drive east, toward wolf territory. ” Ethan’s words were clipped.
“Did you plan this? How did you I’d be at the diner?” No one had known she was coming back early. A slow trail of fear travelled down her spine.
He rolled his eyes, as if she was stupid, and that fear dissipated. “Of course I didn’t plan this, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take you. ”
Opportunity? “What’s the matter with you? Why are you doing this to me? I just got back in town. All I want is to see my parents and brothers. ” She tried to keep her voice calm but it was difficult when all she wanted to do was shout at him. She shuddered, remembering the last time she’d been shot. It had been in Colombia as she’d escaped a drug lord’s compound with vital information for her team. Even if she could heal at supernatural speeds, a bullet slicing through her body still hurt something fierce.
“Quiet,” he snapped. “I’m taking you to my brother. ”
At the mention of Owen, Gabriela had to focus on keeping her heart rate steady. On top of all this, seeing the man who had broken her heart when she’d been a fragile sixteen-year-old? Terrific.
Even though he’d told her to be quiet she couldn’t resist asking one more question. “Seriously, what is this about?”
Ethan leveled the gun at her, his eyes angry. “I can shoot you, dump you in the bed of the truck and drive the rest of the way. I know you’ll heal but it’ll still hurt. Your choice. Stop with the questions or…?” He tipped the gun slightly, making his point clear.
* * *
Gabriela wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but she knew it hadn’t been more than an hour since Ethan had kidnapped her. And no one would be missing her right now. Her parents didn’t know that she’d managed to jump on an earlier flight for her last connection and they weren’t expecting her home until tonight. That psycho Ethan had been tight-lipped the entire drive into wolf territory. It wasn’t until they’d passed a cluster of log cabins she knew the majority of his pack lived in that he’d told her to stop in front of the only two-story cabin. Then he’d snapped metal cuffs on her wrists and dragged her inside. They weren’t silver so they didn’t chafe her skin, but they were titanium. Shifters were stronger than humans, but titanium was still titanium.
A Jaguars Kiss by Katie Reus / Fantasy / Romance & Love have rating 3.7 out of 5 / Based on41 votes