The Bear's Forbidden Wolf: A Hot Paranormal Fantasy Saga with Witches, Werewolves and Werebears (Weres and Witches of Silver Lake Book 4) (10 page)

BOOK: The Bear's Forbidden Wolf: A Hot Paranormal Fantasy Saga with Witches, Werewolves and Werebears (Weres and Witches of Silver Lake Book 4)
3.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Blair spun around and hugged her. “Yes.”

Not wanting to discuss the details in the open, she led Blair back to her room. Ainsley didn’t have a client for another hour, so she could have some undisturbed time with her friend.

Three rust-colored padded chairs sat along one wall across from the table where she treated her patients. Ainsley guided Blair to those seats now. The only time more than one chair was used at the same time, was if Ainsley needed to discuss her procedure or nutrition plan with the family.

“You saw him?” Blair asked.

“Yes.” Giving only the minimum detail, Ainsley described what she was doing on the road. “I freaked out when I saw him.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I wanted to, but I figured you might be treating a patient, and I don’t think I could have kept it together long enough if I had to speak with Eve first. I couldn’t call the police, so I asked Elana to contact Kalan for me.”

Blair nodded. “That was smart. Kalan said that Jackson came to the crime scene. How did that go?”

Blair seemed to have accepted the whole concept that she and Jackson were mates. “He was surprisingly nice.”

Her brows rose. “I wonder what made him soften. I’m surprised he didn’t accuse you of harming Shamus.” Her lips curled in disgust.

“I thought he might too, but I had no blood on me, and the marks indicated many animals were involved.”

“Given you don’t know any other Changelings, he probably figured you were innocent,” Blair said.

“That, and I had no reason to harm him. As far as not knowing any Changelings, I have met one. He came to the clinic yesterday.” She explained how she was on her way to treat his father in the hills when she’d spotted the body. As her mind shot to the image of the foot sticking out from the leaves, all of a sudden, a powerful blast of lust descended upon her. Ainsley gripped the chair, forcing herself to push back her desire. “Jackson’s here.”

As if Blair had been lost in thought for a moment, she jumped up. “I wonder what he wants. Come with me.”

“Why?” Blair must not understand how hard it was for Ainsley to be around Jackson. Her inner wolf wanted him, but she did not. He was judgmental, and while he was rough and tumble sexy, he wasn’t always nice. Right now, she needed nice, which was why she was talking to his sister and not him.

“I bet he’s here to ask you some more questions.”

“I just left him.”

A knock sounded on the door. Damn. Eve poked her head in. “I thought you might be in here, Blair. Your brother wants to see how you’re holding up.” She looked over at Ainsley. “He asked to speak with you too.”

Her brain froze, as did her mouth. There had to be something she could use as an excuse not to see him. If he came into her room, the sexual tension would be worse. Her mind spun, but she came up blank. “Okay.”

She and Blair followed Eve back to the front desk. The moment she saw him standing at the reception desk, her wolf nearly clawed a hole through her stomach. Sure, Jackson looked good in his camouflage jacket, faded jeans, and boots, but now wasn’t the time for such a reaction.
Stand down, dammit

As soon as he caught sight of both of them, he trained his gaze on his sister, and Ainsley couldn’t help but feel the small mental slap from the dismissal. Rationally, Jackson should care about Blair first, but he could have at least acknowledged her. Or was he having the same reaction to her wolf as she was to his bear?

He embraced his sister, and the love that poured from his eyes melted her. Neither Alex nor Owen had ever looked at her like that.

“How are you doing?” he asked Blair.

“I’m upset, of course, but Ainsley is the one who is suffering. I barely knew Shamus. How is Mom holding up?”

“Kalan is with her now.”

Ainsley’s internal sensors finally clicked in. Another Changeling was here. “Excuse me,” she said.

Having her kind wander about wouldn’t do anyone any good.

“Ainsley, hold up. I’d like to talk to you for a minute,” Jackson said.

The Changeling was close by, and she didn’t want him to see them together. Her only chance of finding a clue to Shamus’s death was to distance herself from Jackson. After all, his company had been responsible for breaking into the Changeling bunker and recovering some of the Wendayan magic that had been stolen. “I’m sorry. Now’s not a good time.”

“Then can I stop over to your place tonight after work? I have some things I’d like to discuss with you.”

Be alone with Jackson? Hell no. It would be too hard.

Tell him yes,
her inner wolf urged. She wished she had the skill to shut her up.

Ainsley pressed a hand to her stomach and pushed inward, hoping to quell her inner beast who had never acted up like this before. “What about?”

He looked around. “I can’t discuss it here.”

Ah, then why ask to see her in the first place? “Sure, now excuse me.”

As quickly as she could, she stepped away. Before she reached her room, a Changeling emerged from the physical therapy area and looked straight at her. Well damn.

Chapter Eight

oing over to
Ainsley’s house might be about the dumbest thing Jackson had ever done, but he didn’t have a choice. She was the only one capable of finding out who’d killed Shamus. Everyone in the Clan was depending on her—just like many had depended on Olivia and Nathan before they left town.

He also needed to have the discussion about the whole mating issue. At the moment, his human side wasn’t ready to be with a Changeling. Even if he wanted to be, he couldn’t. One bite and his genes would be tainted for life, and from what he understood, not even Naliana could undo that damage, if he let his bear take over.

It would be hard to stay in control being so close to her, but he needed to suck it up and threaten his bear if he misbehaved. Those few minutes at the clinic had tested his resolve to the max. Ainsley not only looked adorable, but her scent continued to alter something inside him. The more he was with her, the harder it was to contain the animal within, but for Shamus, he had to see her.

He slipped his hand in his pocket and fingered the envelope his dad had given him for Ainsley. It was from Shamus.

Jackson parked behind her building and gripped the wheel tight, stealing himself against the sexual draw that was about to tug on him from the inside out. Being in a small space with her would be pure torture, but this was about retribution for Shamus’s death, not his comfort.

For the last hour, he’d debated bringing her a piece offering—like flowers, chocolate, or a nice bottle of wine, but he didn’t want her to think this was a date. Having her remain distant toward him might be the only way to maintain his sanity.

Get going

With his shoulders pulled back, Jackson stepped up to the intercom that Mr. Berta had installed on the back door of the brick building. Elana told him that the rear door was left open during shop hours, but now that the store was closed, this entrance was locked.

He pressed the worn button. A few seconds later, Ainsley answered then buzzed him in. Their discussion needed to be factual, appealing to her sense of justice—assuming she hadn’t been faking her grief this morning. If Elana was right, Ainsley wanted to be rid of her evil Changeling ways and was all in favor of having Naliana help.

As he trudged up the dimly lit, steep steps, his heart pounded, and the rapid beating wasn’t from exertion. That damn mating pull was doing a number on him. Grabbing onto the handrail, he pictured Shamus’s prone body and his libido calmed.

I can do this.

Jackson interviewed people for a living, drawing out secrets they had no desire to share. Speaking with Ainsley shouldn’t be any different—just more strenuous.

He knocked. When she pulled open the door, Ainsley didn’t make eye contact as she motioned him inside, and he was grateful for small favors. She’d changed out of her work uniform and thankfully had on a baggy rose-colored top that went well with the streaks in her hair. She hadn’t applied any makeup since the last time he saw her, but she still looked pretty. It was the low slung jeans that hugged her body too well, outlining every lickable inch, along with her bare feet, that was making his animal claw at his gut for release.

Touch her
, his bear urged.

Jackson clenched his fists to force a barrier between him and his inner demon. “Thanks for letting me come over.”

“Sure. You want some tea?”

He needed something stronger than that to get through this conversation without doing something stupid. “Got a beer?”

She shook her head. “Whiskey okay?”

A woman after his own heart. “If you’ll share one with me.”

He swallowed a groan. Now why the hell had he said that? He was here on business. If she hadn’t rushed into the small kitchen right away, he would have told her not to bother. Keeping her back to him, she fished out two short glasses then retrieved a bottle from one of the top cabinets.

“Shit,” she said as she poured the drinks.

“Need help?”

“No I just spilled some.” Her level of frustration seemed higher than was warranted.

A minute later, she brought out two drinks and set them on the small table wedged between the kitchen and the living room. She then sat down. Jackson pulled out the hard seat across from her, and when he sat, his knees practically touched hers.

He was close. Too close. His gaze locked onto hers, and then his teeth sharpened. A few bones cracked. Damn. Her flowery scent was undoing his resolve one cell at a time.

“How are you holding up?” he asked with so much sympathy, it even surprised him that he cared whether or not she was okay.

“I’m still upset, but I’ll make it through. I have a job to do. And your mom?”

She must not believe that he was upset about his cousin’s death, but he was. Shamus was family, and family meant everything to him, but he’d leave that discussion until later. He didn’t need to defend his honor. “Distraught. Losing Shamus has brought back all the memories of when my aunt died. Shamus was my mom’s last bit of connection to her. Not only is she grieving that loss, she’s trying to come to terms with Shamus’s violent death—as we all are.”

Ainsley nodded. “Your mom is a nice lady. She and her sister shared a lot of the same kind-hearted traits.”

His heart pinched. Ainsley had to be good inside if she could see that his mom and aunt were amazing women. “Thank you.”

Her grip on her glass was so tight that her nail beds had turned white. Ainsley drew the glass to her lips and chugged half the contents. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

He’d rehearsed this a million times, but nothing ever sounded right. “I’m not sure where to begin.”

“How about the fact that we’re mates, and I’m a Changeling?” Her lip curled as if she found the mating distasteful too.

His gut clenched. “You don’t pull any punches, do you?”

“I see no reason to.”

A trickle of relief wormed its way into his body and helped release the tension strangling his gut. Now that she’d pointed to the big elephant in the room, he wanted to address it head on. “Elana told me she mentioned the chance to have Naliana help rid you of your Changeling genes.” It would have to happen if they had any chance of being together.

She slammed the glass on the table and leaned closer. “My Changeling genes? It’s more than that. Why don’t you come out and say it. You hate that the goddess has paired you with me—someone who is evil and deceitful.” She held up both hands and glanced to the side. “Sorry. That was rude. I’m on edge.”

“I get it. It’s okay.” The sad part was, that he did think that. It didn’t matter that Ainsley had never exhibited any of that bad behavior. The way she sincerely grieved over Shamus’s death implied she was a good person. “It’s not important what I think or what is happening between us. We need to find Shamus’s killer. We can discuss our mating issues once justice is served.”

She leaned back in her seat, the dark circles emphasizing her beautiful forest green eyes. “I agree, but we can’t ignore what is happening between us.”

“Trust me, I’m not.”

“Do you think you could put in a good word for me with James? I want to be cleansed.”

So she knew about him. He sipped the smooth whiskey. “I was at the last cleansing ceremony, but I can’t say I’m on a first name basis with James. However, Rye and Kalan might put a good word in for us.”

“Us?” A bit of color flooded her cheeks.

“Fuck. I know I’ve been an ass, but cut me some slack here. It’s hard as hell even being in your presence; my words get so jumbled.”

Her lip curled. “I disgust you that much?”

“What? Hell, no. My body craves you, but you and I both know I can’t even touch you.”

The briefest of smiles crossed her face, acting as if she enjoyed seeing him squirm, though given his actions, he couldn’t blame her. “Fair enough.”

“What does that mean?”

“My wolf is antsy for some action too, but I won’t let her out for that very reason. Trust me when I say, I do understand what you’re going through.”

“Good.” Though he doubted she understood his level of desire, but at least he didn’t have to deal with a woman clamoring to be with him. As long as she could control her wolf, he’d be good. He tossed back the rest of his drink. “Oh. I almost forgot.” He fished the envelope out of his pocket. “Shamus gave this to my dad to give to you in case he wasn’t around to protect you.”

BOOK: The Bear's Forbidden Wolf: A Hot Paranormal Fantasy Saga with Witches, Werewolves and Werebears (Weres and Witches of Silver Lake Book 4)
3.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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