Love's Prisoner (Page 9)

"Don't," she slurred, trying to get to her feet. "It's too dangerous. Gerald will kill you."

"Sorry," Jeannie said, and she was. The doctor was almost a foot shorter, after all. But tough as hell. Jeannie jumped into the car, starting the engine with one twist of the keys conveniently left in the ignition. "Christ," she muttered, slamming the car into first gear, "hit her over the head and her only concern was for me. Damn." If she wasn't careful, she'd get attached to those loonies.

She was down the lane and out the gate before the alarm was raised.

Chapter Seven

Knowing better than to outrun them—who knew how many fleets of cars, choppers, and what-have-you Wyndham had at his disposal—she screeched to a halt in front of the Barnstable Police Station. Sprinting up the stairs, she burst into the station and yelled, "Help! I've been kidnapped by a group of nuts who think they're werewolves!"

The three people in the room—the desk sergeant, an off-duty patrolman, and a plainclothes detective—turned to stare at her. "Quiet town," Jeannie mumbled, keeping an ear cocked for the sounds of pursuit.

"I'll take this one," the detective said. He was a large man, a good four inches taller than she, with mud-colored brown hair, eyes the same color, and fists the size of bowling balls. He gestured to a door at the end of the hall. "C'mon, honey. Tell me all about the big bad wolf."

"Werewolf," she corrected him, walking down the hall. At his nod, she pushed through the door and found herself outside, in a small alley. Surprised, she turned—and ran smack into the detective's chest. To her shock, he shoved her away, hard.

"You've got Wyndham's stink on you. You must be his new bitch," he snarled, snuffling her ear. She jerked away, appalled. His tongue flicked out and ran across his thick lips; he looked about as evil a creature as she had ever seen. "And is that his little bitty babe I smell in you?"

"Are you Gerald?" she asked dumbly.

"I was. Now I'm going to be stepdaddy to the new pack leader." His big fist came looping through the air toward her; she ducked under it, darted forward, and snatched his sidearm out of his holster. In a flash she had the barrel jammed into the soft meat of his throat.

"Guess again, Detective Stupid," she growled. "Christ, has everyone gone crazy? Am I the only sane person in an insane world? Can it be that—?"

"If you're going to kill me, get it over with," Gerald grunted, "but don't make me listen to you whine."

"Oh, shut up," she snapped. "Who else on the force thinks they're a werewolf?"

"Thinks they're a werewolf?" As she dug the barrel deeper into his flesh, he added, "Three others. They're all on Wyndham's side. Too bad for you they're on patrol, eh?"

"Guess again, rogue," a cool female voice said. Jeannie snapped a gaze over her left shoulder and saw two uniformed patrolmen and another plainclothes detective—this one a woman—pointing guns at them. At Gerald, hopefully.

"Our leader told us you'd probably stop here first," one of the patrolmen said, almost apologetically. "Step away from Gerald, please, ma'am."

"You might want to mention to Michael that I had everything under control," she said, obeying.

"If I were you, ma'am," the detective said, not taking her gaze off Gerald, "I would not mention that I had even met this man, much less drew down on him."

"Good advice," Jeannie mumbled. She tucked the piece into the back waistband of her jeans, ignoring Gerald's burning glare. "I like to keep souvenirs," she told him, then let herself be escorted to a patrol car.

In the back (feeling like a POW, to tell the truth), her curiosity impelled her to ask, "Are you guys going to get in trouble? For pulling a piece on a fellow cop, a member of the brotherhood, that sort of thing?"

"Pack business is private," the lady detective said, turning around to look at her through the mesh. "And Gerald doesn't outrank me." Her buddy behind the wheel laughed at that one, and Jeannie shook her head, wondering what the joke was.

To her surprise, the cop-werewolves let her keep the piece. To her further surprise, upon return to the mansion she was not instantly dismembered. Instead, Dara, the chef, politely asked if she wanted to eat and, upon declining, Jeannie was escorted to her rooms and locked in. That was it. No yelling, no threats, no thunder-voiced Michael promising doom. No Michael, period.

"Well, hell," she said, looking at her watch. She'd been free for all of twenty-seven minutes. She tucked the pistol away in a bedside drawer and prepared to kill a few hours.

She amused herself watching daytime reruns (The Brady Bunch and Wings were particular favorites) until dinner time. Moira, pale and quiet, brought supper.

"What's up with you?" Jeannie asked, pouncing on the covered plates. She lifted the lids to reveal prime rib, baby red potatoes, green beans. Bliss, except for the green beans—blurgh. "And why hasn't your lord and master been in here to play 'Jeannie is a bad girl'?"

"He's so angry," Moira practically whispered. "He's staying away from you until he calms down. When he heard Gerald had his hands on you—the builders are coming tomorrow to fix the holes in the wall."

The bite of prime rib stuck in Jeannie's throat. With an effort she swallowed, coughed, and said, "So, the cops ratted me out, eh? Fascists. Did they mention when they came on the scene, Gerald was saying hello to the barrel of his gun? Held by me? Because I got the drop on the overconfident son of a bitch?"

Moira flashed a smile, which eased the tension lines around the smaller woman's eyes. "They did. They practically fell over themselves assuring our leader you were never in any danger. You made quite an impression on them."

"You should see the mark on Gerald's neck, you want to see impression," she chortled, forking down another bite of the delicious prime rib.

She was halfway through the meat before she realized it was raw. She waited for the urge to puke, or faint, but it didn't come. Moira saw the look on her face and quickly explained, "It's normal, my lady, don't fret. You're growing a werewolf, after all. You'll crave raw meat throughout your pregnancy."

"My God!" Jeannie said, putting down her fork. "I'm catching your delusion!"


Hours later, she was soaking in the tub—which was more like a miniature pool—when the bathroom door opened and Michael said, quite calmly, "You put yourself in danger. You put my unborn child in danger. On purpose."

She swallowed a mouthful of water and sat up, looking behind her to see him standing in the bathroom doorway, stone-faced. She opened her mouth, but before she could speak he said, "Finish your bath," and walked out.

An hour later, she was still in the tub. Wrinkled and shivering, but defiant. He wasn't the boss of her, dammit! She'd get out of the tub when she was damned good and ready, thank you very much—

"Jeannie. If I have to remove you from the tub, you won't like it."

—and that was right now. She climbed out of the tub, dried, and shrugged into the clothes she'd been wearing earlier. She wrapped her soaking hair in a towel and padded into the other room to take her medicine.

Wyndham was apparently a helluva boy scout, because he'd kindled a respectably-sized fire in the fireplace. He was crouched before the flames, balancing on the balls of his feet, and she had the impression he'd been in that position some time, waiting for her. He turned his head when she entered the room and came to his feet at once.

"Why aren't you wearing a nightgown? There are plenty of clothes for you to wear."

"They're not my clothes," she pointed out. "You stocked up before snatching me, didn't you? Bought a bunch of stuff in my size? I saw it earlier. Well, forget it. I'm wearing my own clothes."

By firelight, his eyes were yellow. His voice, though, was still cool and calm, which reassured her somewhat. "Everything in this room is yours."

"This room isn't mine. Nothing here is mine. Now, about this afternoon." She swallowed and lifted her chin. "I admit to some remorse about cold-cocking the doctor, but . . ."

He crossed the room and tore the shirt off her body, ignoring her outraged squawk, then leaned down and tugged at her leggings until they, too, were shreds. "Your old life is over!" he shouted as he dragged her to the bureau. He yanked open a drawer, found a nightgown, thrust it at her. "You belong to me, and you will wear my clothes and stay in my home and be safe and you will damned well like it!"

Shocked at his rage and loss of control, she couldn't grab the nightgown and it floated to the floor. "You weren't this out of it in the elevator," she said, brushing the scraps of t-shirt off her arms, hating the way her hands trembled. "What's your problem?"

"My problem," he said with savage sarcasm, yanking the towel from her hair and furiously towel-drying the soaked tresses, "is a willful mate who doesn't care about her own safety or, apparently, my child's."

"I'm not your mate!"

"You are. And all your protests won't change the fact. Werewolf law is a hell of a lot older than human law, Jeannie, and as such, you're mine, as the child is mine, forever and ever, amen." He finished drying her hair and tossed the towel at her. "So I strongly recommend you get over it."

"I hate you," she said hopelessly, furious at herself for not being able to come up with anything better.

"I suggest you get over that, too," he said carelessly. He pulled his t-shirt over his head, unbuttoned his shorts, let them drop, and stepped out of them.

"Wrong," she said, and oh God, her throat was so dry. "Not in a thousand years, pal. Never again."

"I'm not your pal," he said coldly, but his cheeks were flushed with color and his gaze was hot. "I'm your mate. It's time you were reminded of the fact."