A jaguars kiss, p.11
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       A Jaguars Kiss, p.11

           Katie Reus
 
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Page 11

 

  “When can we take her home?” Patricia asked.

  Owen hadn’t even realized he’d growled until everyone in the room turned to look at him. He cleared his throat. “It would be better if she came home with me. ” Yeah, he was definitely being a territorial ass but he didn’t care. Gabriela belonged with him and he wasn’t letting her out of his sight.

  “She almost died because of you,” Patricia snapped, eyes full of accusation and mistrust.

  “It’s not his fault,” Israel said quietly, surprising Owen. “It’s no one’s fault except the jaguar that did this to her. Owen saved her. ”

  Patricia still glared at him with dark eyes similar to Gabriela’s. Owen knew where she got that angry stare from now. “She’s still not going home with you,” Patricia said, her voice a deep growl.

  Owen clenched his jaw, biting back his annoyance. It wouldn’t do any good to argue with Gabriela’s parents, especially since he planned to ask her to mate with him as soon as she was healed.

  Skyler took a step forward and dropped her arm from Owen’s waist. “Patricia, I think it might be a better option if Gabriela goes home with Owen. There are no humans on pack land and there’s less risk of anyone seeing us carrying a jaguar inside Owen’s house. It’ll be pretty hard to hide her in the state she’s in now…” As Skyler’s voice trailed off she made a soft moaning sound as if she was in pain and clutched her stomach.

  Before Owen or anyone could move, Patricia hurried forward and looped her arm around Skyler’s shoulders. “Honey, don’t let this stress you out. We’ll let your brother take Gabriela, but we’ll be going over there with them. ” Patricia shot him a death glare, but Skyler winked at him over her shoulder.

  Owen blinked in surprise at his sister. She was devious. God help Skyler if she had a little girl just like her. As Owen moved to Gabriela’s still form, he focused on the doctor. “When can we move her?”

  “Now, as long as you’re careful. I have a couple prescriptions to give you and I’d like to talk to you in private. ” She motioned that they should step into the waiting room and though he was loathe to leave Gabriela for even a second, he knew she was safe. And that was all that mattered.

  Chapter 7

  One Week Later

  Gabriela opened her eyes to the smell of food. Hamburgers? Her stomach growled at the scent of cooking meat. She threw the covers off and inhaled deeply. Before going in search of the source of the smell, she stripped off her clothes and hurried to Owen’s guest bathroom.

  Ever since she’d woken up about a week ago, completely healed from her injuries, she’d been sleeping in Owen’s guest room. She didn’t remember being taken to Dr. Shahi’s or directly afterward, but he’d told her that they’d brought her back to his house so she could heal without worrying about any humans seeing her.

  In all that time Owen hadn’t touched her intimately, much less kissed her. He’d been perfectly kind and overly watchful, like a mother hen, but it was all so clinical and distant. It was as if he felt guilty about what had happened to her. That thought was worse than anything. He was watching after her because of guilt. Absently she rubbed the middle of her chest, embarrassed she’d stayed so long at his house when she wasn’t sure he wanted her anymore. Part of her wondered if he saw her as an obligation now.

  Ethan had been scarce and Skyler was living with Israel now—though the she-wolf had called Gabriela every day this week. So had her parents, who were insisting she move back home immediately. Well, her mom was insisting. Her father had a surprisingly different opinion.

  She was pretty sure she’d outstayed her welcome with Owen and after dinner tonight, it was time to return to her parents’ house. Though it was embarrassing to admit it even to herself, she’d been hanging around Owen’s house hoping against hope that things between them might turn physical again. After that night in the cave, she knew she didn’t want just one night with him. She wanted a heck of a lot more. But he’d been impossibly distant and so freaking polite it grated on her nerves. Strangers were polite to each other and they were anything but that. But maybe he wanted to pretend that night had never happened. Normally she’d have no problem going after what she wanted. But the thought of facing his rejection had her locked down in fear.

  Even if things between them never progressed any further, she was staying in Bear Mountain. She’d quit her job a few days ago—her bosses were not surprised and they’d offered her glowing letters of recommendation—and she’d already talked to Sharon, who told her that the detective’s job was hers if she wanted it. Gabriela would still have to go to the police academy when the next class opened up, but she would receive a few months of on-the-job training before that. She wasn’t sure if it was something she wanted to do forever, but she was bone tired of traveling constantly and tired of the clandestine nature of her work. She already had to hide what she was from people. But she hadn’t told Owen about her job relocation stuff yet.

  That would have to wait until she figured out what had changed between them in the past week. She didn’t want him to think he’d affected her decision—even if he sort of had.

  After a quick shower she ran a blow dryer through her hair and changed into black yoga pants and a matching black tank top with a cartoon jaguar on the front. Despite the cold outside, Owen kept his place warm and she could scent the burning embers of the fire downstairs so she didn’t need anything heavier. And if she was being completely honest with herself, her yoga outfit was like a second skin so if she was leaving tonight, she wanted him to see everything he’d be missing.

  She tossed all her clothes into the bag her mom had brought over, then made the bed and straightened the room before heading downstairs. The stairs led directly to a wide-open living room so she dropped her bag by one of the oversize couches and continued toward the kitchen.

  Owen’s back was to her as he stood at the stove—shirtless. Of course he’d be showing off all that expanse of muscle and driving her crazy.

  “I hope you’re hungry,” he said without turning around.

  Unfortunately she didn’t hear any sexual undertones in that question. She was most definitely hungry in more ways than one. “Starving. ” She leaned against the counter next to the stove so that she faced him.

  He half turned toward her and for a moment, he looked almost pained as he met her gaze. But then his face was a virtual mask. He flipped a burger in the pan. “How’d you sleep?”

  “Good. ” She raked her gaze over his face but he didn’t look her way.

  Just kept all his concentration on those burgers. Gritting her teeth, she headed to the stainless-steel refrigerator and started pulling out condiments. He didn’t like much other than mustard on his burgers but she did. “Do you want your bread toasted?”

  “No. ” His one-word answer rankled her.

  Unable to take it anymore, she slammed the bottle of ketchup down on the counter. “If you wanted me to leave, all you had to do was ask. ”

  He swiveled to face her, his blue eyes narrowing slightly. “I don’t want you to leave. ”

  Could have fooled her. “Then why have you been so impossibly polite this week? I feel like we’re strangers. ” Even on their run in the woods today he’d kept his distance and had cut it short by insisting they come back to the house. She’d thought maybe he wanted some alone time but nope, he’d left her here while he supposedly dealt with pack business. If he’d been serious she wouldn’t have minded, but she didn’t buy it.

  Owen moved the pan away from the hot stove and then turned it off before moving across the kitchen toward her. His expression was dark, but she couldn’t figure out what he was thinking. Her heart thumped erratically and she had to stop herself from wiping sweaty palms on her pants.

  The only thing separating them was a wood island with a marble countertop. Copper pots and pans hung above it and at the moment it felt like it was a physical example of the hug
e wall between them.

  He placed his hands on the island counter, his knuckles turning white as he clasped the edge. “You’ve been healing. I didn’t want to do anything to disturb the process. ”

  She snorted at his formal tone. “Disturb the process?”

  “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said quietly.

  “Hurt me? I’ve been healed for a week. ” And so very turned on every time she saw him. It had nothing to do with being in heat, either. That was over and she no longer felt that clawing, driving hunger that came every time she went into heat. What she did feel was a very specific clawing, driving hunger that was all focused on one man.

  He took a step back from the counter and shoved his hands in his pockets. His arm muscles flexed and she couldn’t help but trace her gaze across the broad expanse of his bare chest. He’d left the top button of his jeans undone, clearly to drive her crazy. Warmth spread throughout her body as she stared at the faint line of hair that trailed beneath his pants. Just as quickly her nipples beaded tight. She knew they had to be visible through her top and when his gaze landed on her chest, she inwardly smiled.

  He still wanted her body, at least.

  But he simply took another step back. Away from her. That’s when it hit her. They’d been alone in that cave. None of his pack had seen them together. Then she’d killed that jaguar and almost died, so it’s not like he could reject her right away.

  Coldness seeped into her veins and her throat clenched so tight it was hard to breathe. She was just another responsibility to him. An obligation. Turning away from him, she made a fast exit. If she said anything else she’d start crying and she refused to do that in front of him. She felt so humiliated and heartbroken.

  A hot tear carved a path down her cheek and she angrily wiped it away. Grabbing her bag from the living room, she turned and stumbled right into Owen.

  His big hands settled on her upper arms, a deep frown carving his face. “What are you doing?” he growled and she could hear the wolf lurking in his voice.
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