Gabriela was thoughtful as she peeled back the foil wrapping on the chocolate bar. “Have you or anyone in your pack pissed someone off recently? Does someone want your land?” Her family certainly didn’t. After getting Skyler settled in at Israel’s house she’d finally gone home and talked to her parents. Her father was angry over the whole situation and her mother was distraught and worried about their place in the community—fearful they might have to move eventually. Not to mention they hadn’t been able to run free like normal and that was never good for a shifter.
Owen shook his head. “We keep to ourselves and a lot of the younger wolves are away at college right now, anyway. There’s no one to cause trouble, even minor mischief. None of these attacks make sense.”
Staring into the dancing flames, she took a bite of chocolate before putting one of the marshmallows over the small fire.
“How’d you know I’d be here?” The quiet question snapped her gaze toward him.
Swallowing hard, she tried to shrug casually but the action came off jerky and awkward. “It was only a guess. I didn’t know if you still came here, but…” She shrugged again, feeling stupid because she couldn’t find the words.
His eyes seemed to darken as he watched her. Mesmerized, she couldn’t force herself to look away. It was as if he’d captured her and she had no willpower left. Even though his eyes didn’t move from her face, it was like he was undressing her, remembering what they’d shared that morning. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking on her part because she couldn’t seem to get rid of the deliciously erotic memory.
The image of his head between her legs kept flashing in her mind no matter how hard she tried to banish it. Feeling her cheeks flush she tried to look away. She really did. But it was impossible.
His eyes narrowed a fraction, as if he actually could read her mind. “What are you thinking about?” His already deep voice dropped an octave, taking on a wildly seductive quality and she felt herself drowning.
“This morning,” she breathed out. No! Why had she admitted that out loud?
A flicker of surprise crossed his features, but it quickly faded as he scooted a few inches closer to her. He placed his marshmallow roaster on one of the logs next to the fire. “I haven’t stopped thinking about it, either. Not the way you taste…or the way you look when you come.”
Now her face flushed even hotter. Maybe she should feel embarrassed but the only thing running through her veins was a hot, burning need that ate her alive from the inside out. It was like a live thing inside her, growing, building, scorching.
And Owen was the only one who could help her.
With shaking hands, she unzipped her dark jacket with the faux-fur lining around the hood and shrugged it off. Underneath she wore a simple long-sleeved, green T-shirt…and no bra.
It didn’t matter that she harbored hurt feelings deep inside her; the most primal part of her was drawn to him. She knew it was her jaguar and had a lot to do with biology. But he was the only person she’d ever loved. Right now she didn’t want to think about the past or any of that. She just wanted to spend a night in Owen’s arms. After the hellish past few months she’d had, dealing with the deaths of her entire team on an Op turned so very bad, she wanted to feel alive again. And damn Owen, he made her feel safe in a way she didn’t understand. Even while he scared the crap out of her because of those feelings, she knew she’d be completely safe in his arms. Anything was better than the smothering guilt at being the only survivor.
Owen knelt in front of her, the muscles in his arms flexing as he reached for her leg. He always had an earthy scent but now it was so much stronger, drawing her to him. Silently, he unzipped her knee-high boot and slid it off, then did the same with the other one. Still kneeling, he braced his hands on his knees as he stared hard at her.
She wanted to drop her gaze from his hungry stare but she held it, wondering what he was thinking. In the past she’d never had much of a problem reading him but now she felt a little lost.
Finally he spoke, his words low, guttural. “I never meant to hurt you. I’d rather cut out my own heart than ever do that again. Words mean nothing. I know that. I still want you to know—”
Gabriela shook her head, silencing him. “I don’t want to talk about the past. I just want to be with you tonight and not worry about anything else.”
He sat there with a preternatural stillness and if she hadn’t seen the uneven rise and fall of his chest, she’d have wondered if he’d been breathing at all. “Once I have you…I don’t know if I can let you go, Gabriela.”
Those words were torn from a very deep part of him. She knew it as clearly as she knew he had a giant scar on his upper inner arm from when he was ten and tried to jump from tree limb to tree limb and got snagged on a sharp branch, almost losing his arm.
“I can only promise you tonight.” Even though a very dark part of her had once relished the thought of hurting him and walking away, that wasn’t her intention anymore. She couldn’t make promises to him because the thought of lying to his face shredded her insides. Right now she didn’t know what she wanted past this moment.
Owen looked into Gabriela’s dark eyes, seeing the firelight reflect in their depths. One night? He wanted a hell of a lot more, but he could see the determined set of her jaw. A jaw he wanted to nibble kisses along.
She might think this was a onetime thing but he’d convince her it wasn’t. He had to. Reaching for the button on her jeans, he said, “Lift.”
The quiet order seemed to startle her but she raised her hips and let him tug her jeans down and off. Now she was just wearing a shirt and barely there green-lace panties that didn’t cover anything. He could see the soft patch of her honey-brown hair covering her mound through the sheer material. From earlier he knew that the fine hair had been perfectly trimmed.
Suddenly it hit him how cold the floor of the cave was. Even if they had higher body temperatures than humans, he wanted to give her as much comfort as he could.
Moving with a supernatural speed, he picked her up and moved her until she was stretched out on his sleeping bag. He’d only meant to stay in the cave for a few hours. Until dawn. This area of the woods was on the outskirts of his pack’s territory and he’d wanted to scout it out and get some solace.
Of course now he didn’t want to be alone. He wanted to be buried inside Gabriela.
Taking him by surprise she reached for the hem of her shirt and tugged it off. For a split second, his brain short-circuited. She was completely bare to him. When they were kids and innocent they’d shifted in front of each other and gone running all the time. That had all changed when they’d become teenagers. She’d become a lot more self-conscious then. And when he’d had her trapped up against the door of the cabin wall this morning he’d forced himself not to drink his fill of her.
Now he could stare all he wanted. Her breasts were on the small side and perfectly rounded. Perfect for him to stroke and kiss. Her nipples were a light brown, though they were slightly darkening as the buds turned harder. A very sweet scent rolled off her, letting him know just how turned on she was.
He heard a strangled sound and realized it came from him. He might have seen flashes of her body before but this was so very different. Her long, sexy legs stretched out in front of her lean, lithe and bronzed body. Despite the winter and her naturally darker coloring, she looked as if her entire body had been recently sun kissed.
As his eyes tracked over her entire body, trying to memorize every inch, he frowned at the web-like scar on her upper chest. It was situated between her right shoulder and breast. For a shifter to scar that way the wound had to be… He blinked once as realization dawned on him. “Were you shot with silver?”
Her dark eyes flickered shut once before meeting his gaze. Leaning forward, she reached for the button of his jeans and it hit him that she planned to ignore his question. Stilling her, he encircled her wrists, forcing her to look at him again. Annoyance flitted across her features.
“What happened?” he demanded again.
“Yes, I was shot with silver,” she finally muttered, her jaw clenched tight.
She tried to pull her hands back but he wouldn’t let her. A dark, territorial anger streaked through him. “By who?”
“I can’t tell you.”
A quick shake of her head. “It’s…classified.”
He narrowed his gaze on her face but it was a mask. Owen knew that after she’d graduated college she’d gone to work for the government. He’d tried to glean bits of information about her over the years, but it had been scarce. Years ago he’d even called in a favor to a friend who worked for the state department to run a check on her but his friend had come up with nothing. Or at least that’s what he’d told Owen. Now he wondered if that was even true. “Who do you work for?”
She bit her bottom lip for a long moment then shook her head, her expression apologetic. “I can’t tell you.”
Fine. He could live with that for now. “Is whoever shot you dead?” It made him crazy that anyone would harm her like that.
Gabriela nodded as she whispered, “Yes.”
This conversation wasn’t over, but he didn’t want to dwell on whatever job she had that obviously put her in danger. He wanted to savor her. Talking could come later. “Good,” he growled before slowly covering her mouth with his. He gave her plenty of time to back away, to tell him to stop.
She didn’t. Her hands slid up his chest, stroking so softly against him until he moaned from the sheer pleasure of having her touching his body. When her fingers dug into his skin he began nibbling his way down to her jaw.
Stretched out beneath him, Gabriela shuddered when he nipped her ear. Pulling lightly, he tugged on the sensitive lobe. When he pressed his teeth down, she arched her back, rubbing her breasts against his chest and it was almost an overload to his senses.