A jaguars kiss, p.6
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       A Jaguars Kiss, p.6

           Katie Reus
 
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Page 6

 

  They both looked up at him and he was vaguely aware of the others filing into the sterile room behind him. Wearing a pale green dressing gown, his sister was turned on her side, tucked in Israel’s embrace.

  Owen’s eyes tracked to the metal bin filled with discarded bloody rags then back to his sister. “Are you okay?” he asked softly.

  She nodded and wiped a stray tear off her cheek. “I’m…three months pregnant. There were some complications, but the baby is fine and so am I. ”

  “But she’s going to need more bed rest and a very stable environment. It won’t need to be a permanent thing. She can still take short walks and spend a couple hours every day away from home, but no stress. ” Dr. Shahi walked farther into the room, nearing the bed, her voice very firm.

  Pregnant? Stunned, Owen looked to Gabriela, but she looked just as surprised as he felt. Maybe even more so. The silence seemed to stretch on forever.

  “Holy crap, I’m going to be an aunt?” Gabriela was the first to speak, her question slicing through the tension.

  Skyler nodded, a real smile stealing across her features, but Israel was still watching Owen, his expression guarded.

  “You’re the father. ” It wasn’t a question and Owen wasn’t sure why he even said it. He felt more than a little dumbfounded.

  The jaguar shifter nodded. “Yes. And we’re going to be mated soon. I wanted to mate earlier but…” His expression softened as he glanced at Skyler, then that mask fell back into place as he looked at Owen. “We’ll be mated before the baby is born. ”

  Owen had a hundred questions. He’d known his sister had been sneaking off their land the past few months, but he’d assumed she was dating a human or fooling around with one of their pack mates. She was twenty-two and old enough to make her own decisions and he hadn’t wanted to smother her. Despite the questions burning inside him, he swallowed them back and nodded at Israel.

  The jaguar shifter was an attorney and worked for an established law firm in town. From what Owen knew of him, he was respected in the community. Still, he didn’t like the thought of anyone touching his sister, no matter the species. It was impossible to wrap his mind around the fact that his younger sister was pregnant and going to be mated, but he didn’t flash his canines in a blatant show of aggression-even though that’s exactly what his inner wolf wanted.

  Crossing the short distance between them, he shook the other man’s hand—even though a large part of him wanted to pummel him for daring to touch his sister—and said, “Welcome to the family. ” He still wasn’t sure what “complications” meant, but if his sister was going to need bed rest he wouldn’t do anything to upset her.

  Behind him he heard Gabriela suck in a breath, but when he turned to look at her she was quietly talking to her other brother. Then everyone started talking at once and he knew it would be a while before he got his answers.

  * * *

  Gabriela pulled her green knit cap tighter against her head as she trekked through the woods. Hours had passed since the revelation that her brother and Owen’s sister were having a baby together. Not only that, they were going to be mated.

  Gabriela’s older brother had always been serious and quiet so it was a surprise he’d ended up with Skyler, who had the sunniest disposition of anyone Gabriela knew. Seeing them together, however, there was no doubt of their love for each other.

  Owen had been oddly quiet at Dr. Shahi’s office and then afterward when they’d all decided to go back to Israel’s place to get Skyler settled in, Owen had declined, claiming he had pack business to deal with.

  It had been an obvious lie but no one had stopped him and Gabriela had let him take her rental truck. Now that darkness had fallen and he wasn’t back at his home—she knew because she’d asked Skyler to call him—Gabriela had a pretty good idea where he’d gone.

  Even though the smart part of her brain told her to stay the heck away from him, it was hard. Especially since he’d looked so lost as he’d stared at his younger sister earlier. Gabriela had never seen him look quite that vulnerable and even though years had passed, she could still read his expressions.

  And, she still cared. Way more than she wanted to admit. When Owen had taken her brother’s hand and welcomed him into his family, it had hit her with full force that he’d grown up.

  There was something about him that had always drawn her to him and once they’d become sexually aware of each other…she shuddered, forcing those memories away. No one had ever made her feel so needy and out of control and she didn’t want to think about that now.

  Her breath curled out in front of her like white smoke as she reached the edge of the cave she’d been looking for. There were many caves in Bear Mountain forest but only one she and Owen had spent a lot of time at as kids. It was only a guess that he’d be there, but she had nothing to lose looking for him there.

  The scent of burning wood teased her nostrils as she approached the opening that was only two feet higher than her head. A faint orange glow pulsed from deep inside. There was a big opening in the top of the cave, as if someone had carved it out intentionally, that was the perfect ventilation for building a fire.

  Her boots were silent as she entered, walking deeper into the mouth until she spotted Owen’s sprawled form on a puffy sleeping bag. He was on his back, wearing only jeans, no shirt—showing off all that muscle and exposed skin that made her think of sex—and had his head propped up on his folded arms.

  His eyes were closed but she knew he was aware of her. He’d be able to scent her. Taking off her backpack, she sat down a couple feet away from him. “You gonna pretend you don’t know I’m here?”

  Full lips that were the only soft part of his body slightly curled upward as he opened his eyes and scorched her with those baby blues. “Why are you here?” he asked softly as he pushed up to a sitting position, his arm muscles flexing with the movement.

  Lying down he’d seemed so nonthreatening. Not that she was worried that he’d hurt her, but looking at him now she was so aware of every part of him. Of how very male he was.

  She shrugged and pulled out a couple chocolate bars, a box of graham crackers and a bag of marshmallows. “Thought you might like the company. ” Plus she’d needed to see him so badly it scared her.

  “I wanted to be alone,” he murmured.

  Her finger froze on the marshmallow bag. Something tight cinched around her chest. He didn’t want her here.

  “No,” he hurried on, probably sensing her distress. “You don’t count. Okay, that sounds wrong, but I’ve never minded your company. ” He scrubbed a hand over a face with a dark five o’clock shadow and shook his head. “I sound like a jackass, but you know what I mean. I want you here. ”

  Feeling an invisible weight lift off her chest, she grinned and tossed the bag to him. “How are you dealing with everything?” She didn’t spell it out because she figured it was pretty clear.

  “I had a very real urge to take your brother’s head off today. ” His voice was only half joking.

  Grinning, she pulled out two long metal roasting sticks with wooden grips and passed him one. “I think that’s your right as Skyler’s big brother. ” Gabriela paused a moment then decided to just plunge ahead. “So what does this mean for your pack and my family? And what’s the deal with the attacks? You know it’s not my parents or Israel and I’d stake my life it isn’t Dr. Shahi. And Axel might be a hothead but so is Ethan. I know Axel isn’t a killer. He wouldn’t do anything to harm our family, not to mention he wouldn’t want to hurt Israel and Skyler’s relationship. He hero worships Israel. The only reason he attacked Daniel today was because he didn’t want anything to slow down getting Skyler to the doctor. ”

  Owen blew out a long breath. “I forgot how much you talk when you’re nervous. ”

  Gabriela scowled at him. “I do not. ”

  His lips pulled into a thin line as if he was biting
back a smile. Just as quickly he shook his head. “There hasn’t been an attack in a couple weeks but we’re not letting our guard down. I don’t think it’s your family, though the rest of the pack isn’t so sure. Well, now that everyone knows Skyler’s mating with Israel the tension has eased a little. I think they’re all just so happy we’re going to have a cub running around soon. ”

  “You know the baby could be a jaguar. ” Gabriela watched his reaction to her statement.

  Owen shrugged. “I don’t care and no one in my pack does, either. ”

  She narrowed her gaze at him, wanting to believe him. He sounded so sincere and after the way he’d quickly welcomed her brother into his family, it was hard not to take him at his word. But his brother had still kidnapped her earlier today. Clearly at least Ethan had issues with jaguars. “Seriously? No one cares?”

  “If it was anyone else having the baby, I honestly don’t know what the reaction would be but it’s Skyler. ” Owen lifted his shoulders again as if he shouldn’t have to explain further.

  In a way, he didn’t. Skyler was adored by the entire pack, which went a long way in bridging whatever hostility had developed recently between their families. If it had been a decade long feud or something Gabriela doubted his pack would have been so welcoming but clearly these issues were recent. “So what’s the deal with the attacks?”

  “They started out of nowhere, first against a hunter who wasn’t where he should have been, but still, no one in my pack would have attacked him. And he had a gun. Whoever went after him carefully hunted him and from the way his body was shredded it wasn’t the way a normal animal hunts or kills. It was meticulous, had a purpose—almost like the bloodier and bigger display made, the better. Body parts were ripped off and strewn around, but nothing was dragged away or eaten. ” Owen’s jaw clenched tight. “There have been two almost identical attacks since then and like I told you before, the last one was closer to town, right on the outskirts. ”
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