Love's Prisoner (Page 4)

"Gosh," Jon interrupted with a grin, "what are the chances?"

Derik ignored his friend."—who's going to go right out of her mind when we try to bring her home. Man, I hope she's not pregnant."

"It will work out," Jon said, but they both heard the doubt in his tone. "Humans mate with werewolves all the time, and vice versa."

"All the time' was a gross exaggeration ('once or twice a generation' would have been more accurate), but neither Derik nor Michael pointed that out.

"Jon's right, pardon me while I choke on that phrase," Derik said, giving his pack leader a friendly clap on the shoulder that would have felled a human male. "It'll work out. C'mon, chief. Let's go get your mate."


At least, Jeannie thought grimly, I don't have to worry about chasing anyone down for child support.

She was in her bathroom, staring at the double pink line which, the instructions assured her, meant she was positively pregnant. One bout of sex after going without a partner for three years, and she was well and truly caught.

Among other things, it was problematic that her baby's father had been a little unhinged. It was also problematic that he was dead. Jeannie had no idea—none at all, not even a smidgen of an idea—what to do now. Her mind, after taking in the double pink line (such an innocuous color for such a momentous event), had shut down, and the same thought kept cycling through her brain: now what? Now what? Now what?

There was a firm rap on the door and, annoyed at the intrusion, she went to answer it. She peeped through the eyehole and saw three large men standing quietly on the other side of the door. They were dressed in dark suits; the one in the middle was the tallest, with dark hair, and he was flanked by a blonde and a redhead.

What fresh hell is this, she wondered. Normally she would have at least asked for their names before opening the door, but the shock of that double pink line was still governing her actions, and she swung the door wide.

The one in the middle was almost enough to distract her from her news—he was, simply put, one of the finest looking men she had ever seen. He was tremendously tall, with longish, wavy black hair that looked thick and touchable; her fingers itched to see if it felt as lush as it looked. His eyes were a funny, gorgeous color—the pupils were large and dark, the irises yellow-gold. His nose was a blade, and his mouth had a sinfully sensuous twist to the lower lip. His shoulders were ridiculously broad; his coat was belted at a slim waist.

"Yuh . . ." She coughed and tried again. "Yes?" She glanced at his companions and they wouldn't lose any beauty contests, either. One blonde, one a redhead, both fair and green-eyed, powerfully built and even broader across the shoulders than the brunette.

All three of them were staring at her. She covertly felt her face to make sure ants weren't perched on her nose or something equally disgusting. "What's up, boys?" They must be selling their hardbody calendars door to door, she thought, that's the only explanation for the abrupt arrival of three gorgeous men on her—her!—doorstep. .

"Jeannie," the brunette said. With that one word, she recognized his voice—that deep, velvet voice—and went cold to her toes. Forcing her expression to remain neutral, she raised an eyebrow at him.

"Yes?" she said, with just the right amount of impatience.

His shoulders slumped a little and the blonde man shot him a look of compassion. Mouth drawn into a sorrowful bow, he said haltingly, "I—ah—this is difficult, Jeannie. You probably don't remember me . . . whurggggh!"

He said 'whurgggh!' because she had hoisted her sneakered foot into his testicles with all her strength. His breath whooshed out in an agonized gasp and he crashed to his knees. She shouldered past the astonished redhead and bent over him, shaking a finger in his face.

"You bet your demented ass I remember you! A) Thanks for saving my life, and B) drop dead! Again, I mean! Now get lost, before I lose my temper—"

"You haven't lost your temper yet?" the blonde asked, aghast.

"—and forget that you saved my life and remember that you raped me in an elevator that was about to plummet into a basement. If you'd taken five more minutes to get your jollies, we'd both be dead! You're lucky I don't call the cops on you!"

"I don't think he feels lucky right now," the redhead said, staring at the rapist/savior, who was clutching himself and writhing on the floor in an undignified way.

"And as for you two," she said, rounding on the redhead, who took a step back and covered his crotch with both hands, "your friend here has some serious psychological problems. He thinks—"

"—he's a werewolf," the blonde said from behind her. She whirled, part of her not liking the way the three of them, purposely or not, had boxed her in very neatly.

"You know about the delusion?" Now might be a good time, she thought uneasily, to step back into my apartment and close the door.

"We share the same delusion," the blonde said, smiling at her with very white, very sharp teeth.

"Well, great," she snapped, concealing her unease . . . which was rapidly turning to fear. At her tone, the blonde's eyebrows arched in appreciation. "Maybe you can share the same shrink, too. You—what are you doing?"

He was sniffing her, like a dog. He didn't touch her, but he got entirely too close and sniff-sniff-sniffed her neck. "Shit," he said, right before she shoved him hard enough to rock him back on his heels. He turned to her felled giant, who had been helped to his feet by the blonde. "She's pregnant."

The brunette grinned in triumph, and he stared at her with a gleaming gold gaze, a gaze too proud and possessive for her taste.

"Congratulations," the redhead said politely, "to both of you."

To her astonishment, the blonde reached out and put his hand on her flat stomach. "Here grows the next pack leader," he said respectfully. "Congratulations, ma'am."

She gritted her teeth. "Hand. Off. Now."

He complied hastily. Before she could think of what to do or say—nothing had been controllable since that double pink line—the brunette spoke up. His color was coming back, and he had recovered from a ball-stomping much faster than she expected. "Jeannie, the short version is: I'm a werewolf—as I believe you heard—the pack leader, you're pregnant with my heir and successor, I have enemies who would steal my mate and unborn child so it's not safe for you to stay here, you have to come home with us."

Without a word, she turned around and went into her apartment, firmly closing the door in their faces, twisting the deadbolt with a click. Once inside, she started shaking so hard she looked around for a place to sit down.


It was the brunette, calling her from the hallway. Sure, like she'd open the door and say, 'Yes, dear?'

"Jeannie, get away from the door."

Having seen his strength before, she had a good idea what was coming, and went at once to the small chest on the living room endtable. There was a tremendous thud and her door shuddered in its frame. She flipped the top of the chest and grabbed her 9mm Beretta, cursing herself for being so paranoid about gun safety that she kept the clip—fully loaded—in her bedroom. No time to go for it now—


—her door had just been kicked off the hinges.

She turned, her palm cupping the handle of the gun to conceal the emptiness where a clip should be, and leveled it at him, sighting in on the hollow of his throat. The brunette—odd, how she still didn't know his name—stepped across the threshold into her home. His friends, she was relieved to see, were nowhere in sight.

"You're going to shoot the father of your child?" he asked with honest curiosity. He picked up the door and set it neatly aside, then strolled toward her.

"In a New York minute," she said coldly. "Stop. Turn around. Go now."

"I can't imagine your rage and hurt and frustration." His tone was serious; he never even glanced at the gun; his gaze was locked on her face. "I told you I had no choice, and I hope someday you'll be able to see me as more than a conscienceless monster."

"Kicking down my door wasn't a good start to that end," she said curtly. "Last chance, Romeo."


Before she could figure out how to keep bluffing him, he had zipped forward, so quickly she couldn't immediately track the movement. He slid forward, under her gun sights, across her prized hardwood floor, and tackled her around her knees. With one hand he cushioned her back as she fell to the floor; with the other, he pulled the gun from her grasp. Hefting it, he knew at once it had no clip, and he smiled at her. "Good bluff. I never doubted you." He tossed it over his shoulder.

"Get off me!"

"I will. Wait. Tell me now, while we have some privacy—you weren't hurt that night? After, I mean? I had to be rough when I threw you out the elevator door. There wasn't time to—"

Part of her anger—a tiny part—diminished. He was a wannabe kidnapper and a rapist, but he was awfully concerned for her well-being. She remembered his concern that night, too, after he had taken her. Him on top of her, both of them still panting, and his hands running over her limbs, checking for injuries, making sure she wasn't hurt.

"No," she admitted through gritted teeth. "I wasn't hurt. Not even a skinned knee. They told me you died."

His gold eyes twinkled at her. "Just a couple of broken legs. But I'm a fast healer. Were you sorry? When you thought I was dead?"

"No," she said stiffly, remembering her sobs, the way it had taken her an hour to stop crying after the elevator fell down the shaft.

"If I had died," he whispered, leaning in close, nuzzling her ear—to her annoyance, her entire left side started tingling. "If I had died, I would have taken a beautiful memory with me. I would have died sated, knowing my seed had found a home, knowing the bravest woman I ever met was going to mother my child."