Wolf's Kiss Ch. 04byTemptedAngel©
Sorry this took so long. Unexpected computer glitches slowed me down, but now here we are. I hope you enjoy and think it was worth the wait.
Shayna sat at her desk staring at several files. She wasn't actually looking at the files - her mind was a few hundred miles away. Ever since meeting him a few days ago, Jake dominated her thoughts. Putting two states between them didn't help at all. Sighing heavily, she propped her elbows on the desk and rested her forehead in her hands. There was no use denying it – she missed him and regretted leaving New York without saying goodbye. She also felt guilty for refusing to answer her cell phone when he'd called. She'd spoken to him briefly after their lunch date when he called to tell her he wouldn't be able to see her that night. Apparently there was some urgent situation that needed his attention but he promised to spend the next day with her before she left the city. However, when her phone began to ring that evening while she was at her aunt and uncle's home for dinner, Shayna decided not to answer. Instead she tried to focus on spending time with her family since she hadn't seen them in a long time, especially her dad.
Adding to her torment was her regret about becoming lovers with a man she really didn't know. Sure she was immediately attracted to him the moment she saw him but that was no excuse. She shook her head at the memories of their sexy display on the dance floor and the way he'd dragged her up to his suite. Hell, he was inside her before she even knew his name! She'd never done anything so impulsive in her life and had no clue what had gotten into her that night. Or the next day when he came to her hotel room. But damn, the things he did, the way he made her feel...it was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. And she had a feeling that if her first time had been with any of her previous loser boyfriends that it would not have been nearly as mind-shatteringly awesome. But that was beside the point, it shouldn't have happened. That's exactly what was on her mind all day yesterday as well when he repeatedly called her and she ignored him. She couldn't imagine why he was being so persistent. There was no way he could take her seriously after she'd made it so easy for him to get her in bed. So she'd hurried back to her hotel bright and early yesterday morning, packed her suitcases, and left for the airport.
Jake's calls had started before she left her relatives' home so Shayna wasted no time saying her goodbyes. Monica was surprised that Shayna was leaving so soon and tried to corner her on the front porch. But she read the anxious look on her cousin's face and let her off the hook. Shayna promised to call her later, gave her a big hug and left. She didn't breath a sigh of relief until she landed at BWI airport and almost ran to baggage claim. In her haste, she collided with someone and almost fell on her backside. Regaining her balance, she apologized profusely to the person and saw that she'd bumped into a tall, dark-haired woman with a deep tan. Shayna had a vague feeling that she knew the woman from somewhere but couldn't place her. The woman looked at her with a slightly puzzled expression then composed herself. Glancing down, she looked back at Shayna with deep blue eyes and gestured toward the floor. Shayna looked down and realized that she'd dropped her purse and some of its contents. Quickly picking up her belongings, she stood back up and was about to thank her but the woman was gone. Looking around, she didn't see her anywhere, so she shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way.
Bringing herself back to the present, Shayna tried to figure out where she'd seen that woman in the airport before. Not coming up with anything, she guessed maybe she'd crossed paths with her in a hospital or doctor's office or something. Anyway, here she was at work when she was supposed to be on vacation all week. Although she didn't have any concrete plans for her vacation, she'd thought about visiting some friends in Hampton and spending a few days in Virginia Beach. There was also the possibility of hanging out in Miami. Her father, a freelance photographer, was going to be at a photo shoot later that week and that would be a great opportunity to spend some time with him. But she had nothing to do today so she decided to come to work for a few hours to tie up some loose ends. Her supervisor, Jim Halloran, was surprised to see Shayna pop up in his office that morning and admonished her in his usual fatherly way. She was supposed to be enjoying her vacation doing "whatever it was young people did these days" instead of worrying about paperwork. Shayna smiled and promised not to stay too long.
Looking at the clock, she realized that she'd been sitting at her desk for almost three hours already and she hadn't gotten much done. Her thoughts returned to Jake and a now familiar ache started to grow in her core. She tried to fight it telling herself that all they shared was mutual lust and nothing more. He hadn't called at all today which meant he probably realized as well that they really couldn't go any further. Not for the first time that day, Shayna sighed and shook her head to clear her thoughts. Glancing at the pile of files in front of her, she resolved to put him out of her mind for now and get to work.
Jake walked into his office and quietly closed the door. He loosened his tie and tossed his jacket onto a chair as he strode across the room. The management meeting had been brutal. It wasn't the agenda that gave him problems, it was his inability to focus and he was supposed to be leading the discussions. Now that it was over, he had time to deal with the matter foremost on his mind. Sitting in his chair and simultaneously adjusting his keyboard, he was just about to begin typing but paused when a light knock sounded at the door. Before he could respond, Sebastian walked in and closed the door.
"What do you want?" Jake asked quietly.
Sebastian smirked. He knew that his brother was seething beneath his calm façade. And he knew why – a pretty little minx named Shayna had gotten under his skin in the worst way. Too bad she'd disappeared before he could stake his claim. He almost felt sorry for her once Jake finally got his hands on her. There was nothing like a good chase for their kind and things could get pretty rough. He just hoped she survived.
To Jake he said, "I wanted to fill you in on what I found out about St. Simon."
Jake slid his keyboard back under his desk and gave his brother his full attention. He was struggling to contain his beast but he knew this was important. When they met with their father two days ago, they found out that Gerard St. Simon had contacted him with a request for permission to cross Montrose Territory with a small group of men. Under normal circumstances the reason for such a request would be disclosed and the request would be granted. It was common for members of packs to visit one another by way of pack territories rather than human roads for expedience and safety. Formal requests to cross other lands were made out of respect to maintain peaceful relations.
But St. Simon's request raised questions for two reasons. First, St. Simon is a beta in his pack, his father is the alpha and it is the alpha who usually makes the request. Second, St. Simon declined to tell where he was going and why. He said that he did not wish to involve the Montrose Pack in the "situation" which could only mean that he wasn't planning a friendly visit to another pack. This concerned Claude Montrose because any negative result of St. Simon's actions would automatically involve his pack if he allowed him permission to cross his territory. Regardless of whether or not he knew what was going on, the Council would act swiftly and decisively against anyone who initiated or aided in a pack conflict. The existence of their kind had to be protected on all fronts and these days it was becoming more and more challenging to remain hidden. As betas and generals to their father, Jake and Sebastian were under orders to find out what was going on and to come up with some solutions.
"I spent all day yesterday doing some digging," Sebastian began. Sinking into one of the comfortable chairs on the other side of Jake's desk, he too loosened his tie. "I talked to a lot of my contacts in several packs, including the St. Simon's. Understandably, they were the least forthcoming about the details but I think I managed to piece it together."
Jake sat back in his chair. It seemed he was in for a history lesson. "Cut to the chase, Seb. I have work to do and so do you," he drawled.
Sebastian raised an eyebrow. Noting the impatience hidden beneath Jake's calm tone, he knew his next statement would have him pressing for more information. "It's about a woman," Sebastian said simply. He was satisfied to see Jake's eyes widen in surprise.
When Sebastian said nothing more, Jake let out an exasperated sigh. "Okay, Seb, let's hear it."
Given a stage, Sebastian dramatically cleared his throat. "A little over a century ago, there was a woman in the St. Simon pack that Gerard wanted to claim as his mate. He had the hots for her but apparently she had other plans. Gerard pressured her to mate with him but she resisted for quite a while until she finally relented. But a few days before the mating ceremony was to take place, she vanished without a trace. It was generally believed that she went into the river to commit suicide and her body was carried to a watery grave somewhere. No one has seen her until recently. Some members of the St. Simon pack who have integrated in human society have reported seeing her in various places along the east coast and in parts of Montana and Saskatchewan."
"Which would put her in Deep Creek Pack territory," Jake surmised. "So Gerard thinks she is alive and well being protected by them."
"Yes. Gerard has also requested permission to cross Mantuk Pack territory as well, which directly neighbors Deep Creek," Sebastian added. "And as far as I know, Deep Creek hasn't heard anything from St. Simon about meeting with them."
Jake thought for a moment. "That means he's probably taking a small party to spy on them to see if this woman is indeed in hiding there before he makes his next move."
"That's what I would do, although I'm not sure how he plans to hide his presence," Sebastian agreed. "I haven't told Dad any of this yet. He'll want possible next steps. What do you think?" he asked.
"I think the only thing we can do is meet personally with Gerard and tell him we need to know what's going on. If he confirms your information is correct, we can suggest a less intrusive means of finding out if she's alive and where she's hiding. He may not like our methods since they are a bit unconventional, but they work. We'll also need his assurances that he doesn't intend to start a war if we find her living with another pack."
Sebastian nodded in agreement. "That sounds reasonable. And if she is alive, the matter can be mediated by the Council to resolve the issue peacefully." He looked over at Jake as another thought occurred to him. "Do you think we should involve the Council from the start? They could order Deep Creek to answer to an inquiry."
Jake shook his head in the negative. "Actually they can't. Deep Creek hasn't had a representative on the Council for quite awhile, so Council laws don't bind them. We can use a tracker to locate her if St. Simon still has any of her old belongings. Her scent should still be prominent on any clothing she left behind."
Picking up Jake's train of thought, Sebastian added, "If she is found in Deep Creek territory, we can offer her temporary protection and mediation by the Council as a means to avoid a conflict. As a member of the Council, the St. Simons would have to agree to their terms and resolution."
"I think we have a winner," Jake said. "Let me know what Dad says when you tell him all of this."
"What do you mean?" Sebastian demanded. "We both have to report to him tomorrow night!"
Jake slid his keyboard from under the desk. "You can do the honors. I have other matters requiring my attention."
Sebastian's ire flared briefly then died down. He knew his brother's predicament wasn't an easy one to handle. In fact, it mirrored Gerard St. Simon's in a way. Jake wanted Shayna but she'd fled. All he could think about was getting her back, but she was human and there was no acceptable recourse if she refused him. Looking at Jake with genuine concern, he said, "Good luck, brother."
Jake smiled wryly and nodded. "Thanks."
When Sebastian left his office, he turned his attention to his computer screen. He typed a few words into the search engine and within five minutes he was bolting from his chair armed with all the information he needed. He startled his assistant when he burst through his door into the outer office. "Maggie, take messages for me and postpone any appointments I have for the rest of the week. I have to take care of something and it may take some time. Call me if anything urgent comes up that you can't pass on to Sebastian or handle yourself." And then he was gone.
Well into the afternoon, Shayna finally put away the last patient file. Though her intentions were good, it took much longer to complete the charts than she'd initially anticipated. Knowing why it took her so long didn't ease her mind. Instead it drifted again, as it had a thousand times today, to Jake. After repeatedly calling her all day yesterday he hadn't called once today. Maybe he'd realized she didn't want to talk to him and gave up trying. Or maybe he decided she wasn't worth the effort and turned to someone else. It wouldn't surprise her to find out that a man with such magnificent looks and a body to match had a lot of women waiting for a chance to jump in his bed.
Suddenly, Shayna felt inexplicably sad and lonely. Although she had been reluctant to speak to Jake, at least she felt that she had an option to do so. Now that he'd stopped calling she felt like she was missing something. Of course she could call him, but what if he in turn ignored her calls? It would serve her right, she reasoned with herself, if he gave her a taste of her own medicine. If he did answer his phone, she didn't know what to say or if anything would come of it. Then again, maybe she wouldn't call him. Maybe she should just leave things as they were and get on with her life. Shayna couldn't decide but she knew one thing for sure; whether or not she ever spoke to him or saw him again, she would never be the same. Now she had to figure out if she really wanted to be with him and how far she was willing to go to make it happen.
First things first, she had to refuel. 'Can't put myself out on a limb on an empty stomach,' she thought to herself. Leaving behind the cool, sterile hospital, Shayna stepped out into the warm sunshine. On the way to her car, her brain seemed to begin to thaw. Her main concern so far had been that she'd acted so out of character and let her guard down so easily. Yet in retrospect, it was more than that. Ever since that first moment of awareness, there was something pulling her to him. Somehow, in the short time that she'd known him, Jake had affected her in a way she never thought possible. It was weird, but she felt like she'd known him all her life even though she knew next to nothing about him. Still, there was only one way to find out what could happen, so she made her decision and resolved to follow it through.
Shayna decided to drive to Old Town to eat lunch and poke around the antique shops to kill some time. She ate at a small café on the main thoroughfare then headed to antique row. She loved history and usually enjoyed engaging the shop owners when she came across a particularly interesting treasure. But today, she kept to herself and leisurely explored shops she'd come to know quite well. In one shop there was a display of handmade quilts and she purchased one that had a breathtaking celestial design depicting the signs of the zodiac. There was a lovely sunset in one corner of the quilt and a sunrise in the opposite corner. Shayna couldn't resist buying it although it was pretty expensive.
However, her most intriguing find was in the jewelry display of another of her favorite shops. She'd been idly browsing the displays for about half an hour and was about to leave when she saw a flash of yellow out of the corner of her eye. Moving closer to the jewelry counter, Shayna gasped when she saw that the flash of yellow was actually a large stone set in a beautiful silver ring. The band was decorated with a carved woven ivy design and looked very old. As Shayna looked into the stone, an almost forgotten memory came to mind. The image of Jake between her legs feasting on her innocence then looking up at her with eyes that same color held her frozen for a moment. Warmth flooded her entire body at the memory and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"Are you okay, young lady?"
Shayna nearly jumped out of her skin. She'd completely forgotten for a moment where she was and new warmth flooded her face as she blushed. Slowly opening her eyes she saw the middle-aged proprietress of the antique shop looking at her with mild concern. Nodding her head vigorously, Shayna answered, "Yes, ma'am. I'm fine." Then quickly changing the subject, she pointed to the display. "What can you tell me about that ring?"
The woman smiled at Shayna's choice. Moving behind the jewelry case, she slid open the glass door and took the ring off its black velvet perch. "I found this ring in an estate sale in Florida a few months ago. The home belonged to an elderly woman who'd been widowed for about twenty years. Her family was moving her to an assisted living facility and decided to sell what they didn't want to keep. Her husband made this ring before they actually got married more than sixty years ago. The stone is amber, which is really petrified tree sap, and the band is white gold."
Shayna looked more closely at the ring. "That design is really unique. Is it inlayed with yellow gold?"
"Yes, it's 14 karat gold. It's really beautiful. I don't think the woman's son considered the sentimental value of a lot of her stuff. I think he just wanted to get rid of everything quickly and sell the house. She had a lot of nice old things but I was on vacation and hadn't planned to buy anything really." The shop owner smiled wistfully and chuckled. "I would have kept the ring myself but then I want to keep everything I find. My husband says there would be no point having a store if we had nothing to sell."
Shayna laughed and said, "Well thank your husband for me. I'm glad you didn't keep it because I want it."
The woman sighed resolutely, still smiling. "Fine, fine, take his side. But seriously, I know you'll enjoy wearing this ring. You'll probably get a lot of attention too, it's exquisite." She placed the ring in a ring box and a paper bag and rang Shayna's purchase.
Shayna left the store and made her way to her car. Instead of putting the shopping bags in the trunk, she sat them next to her on the passenger seat. She started the car but couldn't resist opening the ring box and gazing at the amber stone. She still wondered about his eyes and why they changed color so drastically. Shaking her head, she put the ring away and started her journey home.
During the entire drive Shayna thought about her weekend in New York. She replayed in her mind every moment she spent with Jake from the first time she saw him stepping out of his limo, to the way he ravished her in his suite and in her hotel room, to their last scorching kiss outside the restaurant. Her body tingled as she relived every touch, every kiss, and she knew she was ruined. She had to call him. She had to put herself out there for him; she just hoped it wasn't too late.