As he shut the door behind him she turned to face him. He stood there expectantly, hoping she’d change back to her human form. Owen had forced himself not to look at her naked body when he’d pressed her up against the door. He’d somehow held on to a thin thread of control and given her his shirt so she wouldn’t feel awkward. But he desperately wanted to see all of her now.
See her stretched out naked on his bed or on the forest floor. Didn’t matter where as long as they were alone.
Gabriela lay down on the hardwood floor of the foyer and put her head on her paws, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking and refused to change forms. There was a silent defiance in her dark eyes.
“I’ll grab some of Skyler’s clothes,” he muttered and stalked toward the stairs. He knew his younger sister wouldn’t mind if Gabriela borrowed anything. Skyler was shorter but he figured he could find something that would fit well enough for Gabriela to drive home.
And away from him. Ignoring that heavy weight pushing at his chest, he put on clothes, then dug around his sister’s room before returning to Gabriela. She still hadn’t moved from her spot. In her animal form she was slightly bigger than regular jaguars and her sleek, almost all-black coat was beautiful. Though it pained him to do so, he set the clothes in front of her then turned his back to give her privacy.
Seconds later she said, “I’m done.”
Damn, the woman was stealth personified. Her shift from animal to human form was just as quick in reversal. When he turned around he found Gabriela tugging his sister’s black T-shirt down, trying to cover the flat planes of her belly. He’d picked lounge pants and a simple shirt. Thanks to her height, the pants hung low on her hips showing off a lot of tanned skin.
His mouth watered as he stared, remembering how good she’d tasted barely an hour before. He wanted to bury more than just his face between her legs.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she said quietly, her cheeks flushing crimson.
“I can’t help it.” Why bother denying it? She knew how much he wanted her.
For a long, sexually charged moment they just stared at each other. He wanted to gather her in his arms, tell her how sorry he was and make it up to her. But words were so empty. He could say he was sorry until his throat was raw, but it would still just be words. He needed to show her. His stupidity had cost them both and now he felt like they’d been given a second chance. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
She licked her bottom lip, something she’d always done when she was nervous. It drew his attention from her eyes to her mouth. Her bottom lip was fuller than the top, giving her a pouty look that was at complete odds with her personality.
Owen took a step closer, as if he was being pulled by an invisible magnet. He wasn’t sure what he planned to do. Kiss her? He wanted to, but his inner wolf just ached to be closer. It was a driving force inside that had the power to completely distract him.
When he was barely a few inches in front of her, his body aligned with hers, she drew her eyebrows together and slightly tilted her head to the side. He started to ask what was wrong when he heard it, too. Would have heard it sooner if he hadn’t been so wrapped up in her sweet honeydew scent.
The angry voices of his pack mates were headed their way. Stepping back, he had to take a deep breath before yanking open the front door. His brother and two of his pack mates who regularly patrolled their hunting grounds were in human form and they all looked grim. Daniel, a young shifter of about eighteen, was the only one in wolf form, but he shifted as Owen stepped outside. Blood oozed out from the claw marks on his chest and Owen could scent the jaguar on the wolf.
“What happened? Did you discover who’s been attacking the humans?” Despite Daniel’s bloody wounds, Owen knew he’d heal quickly. He didn’t feel guilty at the sharp burst of hope he experienced that they might finally have a lead.
The young wolf shook his head, breathing hard. He flicked a glance over Owen’s shoulder at Gabriela but quickly focused on Owen. “Was in town. Saw one of the jaguars—Israel, the oldest brother—lifting Skyler into his truck. She looked like she was in pain and I smelled her blood. I tried…” His voice broke for a fraction of a second. “I tried to stop him but the other one, Axel, stopped me. He let his claws out in the middle of town. I didn’t want to shift and draw attention but as soon as I was on the edge of town I shifted and ran home. I didn’t have my phone or I would have called.”
Owen’s heart pounded faster at the thought of his younger sister hurt, but if she was with Israel Segura, Owen couldn’t imagine the quiet jaguar hurting her. Hell, he couldn’t imagine any of Gabriela’s family hurting Skyler. Another reason these attacks had been driving him mad. It didn’t make sense. They’d been living in peace together for so long.
Ethan stepped up angrily, his face mottled red. “We should hunt them down—”
“Shut up,” Owen snapped, keeping his focus on Daniel. “Did you see where they were headed?” he asked the young wolf.
“East, out of town.”
Owen glanced over his shoulder to find Gabriela hovering, looking as if she might bolt. “Your truck keys are on the foyer table. Grab them.”
She hesitated for a fraction of a moment then subtly nodded before hurrying inside.
While she retrieved them, he turned back to his brother. “I’m going to bring Skyler home and get to the bottom of this.” Owen looked at Leta, one of his most trusted wolves. Of average height she was lean and lethal with a blade when necessary. In her wolf form she was even more of a threat. Her dark hair was pulled back into a tight braid as she stood there at attention. “Call me if there’s an emergency, but otherwise I’m trusting you to keep everyone calm.”
Wordlessly, Leta nodded. The reserved she-wolf had a calming effect on almost everyone and while Owen loved his younger brother, Ethan was too young and arrogant to keep the pack united and more important, calm. In a few years he’d have the maturity to be a leader but now he didn’t seem to realize that his actions could affect the entire pack.
Owen felt more than heard Gabriela move. As she fell in line next to him, he plucked the keys from her hand and nodded for her to follow him. Once they reached her truck he slid into the driver’s seat.
As they tore down the dirt path toward the main highway that ran through town, he risked a look at Gabriela.
Her expression was shuttered as she watched him. “My brothers would never hurt Skyler. No one in my family would ever hurt her. And if Israel was taking her somewhere, it was to help her.” The note of conviction in Gabriela’s voice mirrored the feelings in his heart.
His sister was just too sweet for anyone to want to do her harm. While his inner wolf was angry and ready to draw blood, he couldn’t jump to a conclusion yet. Not until he found his sister. “Call your brothers,” he said, though Gabriela was already digging in the center console and pulling out her cell phone.
Seconds seemed to drag on as she hit one of her speed dials. When she hung up, dread filled his gut, but she punched in another number. “Axel,” she breathed out, sounding relieved. “Where are you?”
Thanks to his extrasensory abilities, Owen could hear where Axel was and his entire body tensed at the address Gabriela’s younger brother gave. They talked for a few more moments and when it was obvious Axel wouldn’t answer any questions about Skyler over the phone, Gabriela snapped her phone shut.
“Cindy Shahi’s place. I heard.” Cindy Shahi was the local doctor in Bear Mountain. She’d replaced Doc Johnson about three years ago and everyone in town loved her. She was also a jaguar shifter, though not part of the Segura pack. She wasn’t part of any pack, but a loner, and she’d set up a private office behind her house for shifters. Since humans didn’t know about their existence, it wasn’t always conducive to shifters’ survival to visit the female doctor in her public office. If Owen’s sister was at Dr. Shahi’s private office, it couldn’t be good.
Owen’s grip on the steering wheel tightened until his claws came out and he’d completely slashed through the leather-like material. Next to him Gabriela was silent but he could feel the tension pulsing off her in waves. The bitter scent she emanated was a mixture of anger, fear and worry.
Despite his own concern, he still wanted to comfort and soothe Gabriela.
He probably broke half a dozen traffic laws but he made it to the doctor’s in ten minutes. Using the side driveway that led past Dr. Shahi’s house toward her private office, he stopped behind a truck he recognized as belonging to Israel..
Gabriela was out of the vehicle before he’d even stopped.
Cursing, Owen slammed the door shut as he hurried after her. As he stepped into the simple waiting room, his eyes narrowed at the sight of Axel, his shirt covered in a spray of blood. It was Daniel’s blood-that much Owen could scent.
“Where’s my sister?” he growled, barely containing his inner wolf.
To his surprise, Gabriela placed a gentling hand on his forearm, but didn’t look at him. Her focus was on Axel, who was currently attempting to stare Owen down. “What’s going on?” she asked.
Axel, who looked so much Gabriela with the same honey-brown hair and dark eyes, took a defiant step forward, growling at Owen.
Gabriela’s hand tightened on his arm. Before either of them could speak, the single white door that led to the operating/checkup room opened and Dr. Shahi stepped out. Her dark hair was pulled up into a bun, her equally dark eyes widening as she saw Owen. A thin thread of concern spiraled off her.
“Where. Is. My. Sister.” It wasn’t a question and he barely squeezed the words out.
The doctor swallowed hard but before she could answer, Owen moved past her, ignoring her protests. The coppery distinctive scent of Skyler’s blood nearly overwhelmed him. Prepared to seriously hurt someone, Owen reached the doorway and stopped dead in his tracks. Israel and Skyler were on the hospital-style bed and the giant male was cradling Skyler in his arms in a manner that could never be mistaken for anything other than possessive and protective.