Home > Soul Mate(3)

Soul Mate(3)
Catherine Bybee

The trail she chose to hike indicated a moderate intensity level of only five miles, with a promised waterfall and spectacular cliff views at the end. The stream she followed for the first two miles was the same one she traversed the night before when rescuing the girl.

The air, no longer thick with fear, felt fresh and clean. It helped that summer storms were in the forecast. Even now, thick white clouds bubbled overhead. She would get wet on the way back, that was a given.

Animals scurried away from the path and her human scent. Some poked through bushes in confusion over the mix of both human and wolf scents her body put off. Animals could sense the subtle differences, where humans could not.

Most days Kari thought of herself as human, but after nights of violence, she knew she wasn"t. Her thinly veiled humanity was an illusion to everyone in her life.

Only a mile into her hike, Kari sensed a presence behind her.

She stopped for a moment and leveled her camera to her eye. The noise behind her stopped. Turning slightly, she noticed that the person following wasn"t in sight. Her keen sense of smell picked up his scent.

“Murdock,” she mumbled. Why is he following me?

A smiled tugged at the corners of her mouth. He thinks he’s so good, but he doesn’t know what I’m capable of. Okay, Mr. F.B.I. let’s see what you can do.

Kari wandered off the trail, and acted as if she had all the time in the world.

Within a half an hour, she was certain he wouldn"t be able to find his way back to the well-defined trail.

When he turned his back, she slipped from the path and doubled back. Her footsteps found solid forest floor, keeping her movements as quiet as a fox.

“Son of a bitch,” Nick cursed when she disappeared from sight.

Kari laughed and considered leaving him. Watching him spin in circles for fifteen minutes gave her heart a little lift.

Climbing on a nearby rock, she folded her hands across her chest, and shouted. “Why are you following me?”

Nick wasn"t sure if he was relieved or pissed to see Kari standing in triumph over him. He"d just been played. Damn! She is good.

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“Humph.” Her shoulders shrugged. “Why not walk up to me and talk? Why follow me into the woods?”

“I...” He considered lying, but opted for the truth. “I didn"t think you"d stick around to talk if I did that. I thought my best shot was to get you alone so you couldn"t run away.”

“You"re smarter than you look, Murdock. Your mistake however, is thinking I"ll stick around even in the middle of the forest.” Kari jumped down from the rock with the grace of an athlete and started walking away.

“Wait.” Nick started after her.

Realizing she had a head start on him, Nick jogged to catch up. When she disappeared from sight for the second time, he cursed aloud.

“Damn it, Pierce. Where the hell are you?”

“How do you know my name?”

She sounded angry, and close.

“I looked you up.”

“Why?”

Her voice shifted directions.

Nick swirled in a circle. “I told you I knew you from somewhere.”

“We"ve never met, Murdock.”

“I know, but the department has photos of you.”

Behind him a twig snapped. He spun around in alarm.

Ice blue eyes spit cold fire from beneath long pale lashes. Kari was literally a foot away, and he hadn"t heard her.

“Why?”

“Your parents.”

A flash of pain sparked and went away almost as quickly.

“The FBI was interested in their murders?” She took a step backwards.

“The case is studied due to the weapon of choice used by their killers.”

Kari"s eyes cast to the ground. “Wolves,” the word came out on a sigh.

“The file said dogs.”

“I was there; they were wolves. The police have a hard time listening to details.”

Nick watched as she straightened her shoulders and stared him in the eye.

“Any more questions, Agent Murdock?”

“Yeah, one.”

Kari cocked her head to the side and said, “Shoot.”

“How did you know the missing girl came to us?” Nick didn"t blink, didn"t breathe while he waited for her response. He watched for subtle changes in her stance and eye contact that would give away her feelings. A slightly twitching left eye gave him what he needed.

“I don"t know what you mean.”

Bullshit. “In the diner you said You were glad the girl came back to us safe and sound. How did you know she „came to us?"”

“What are you talking about?” Her eye twitched again.

“Give, Pierce. I know you"re a PI. Where did you get your information? I can"t have the men on my team blowing classified information about a case until we"re ready for it to go public.”

“The key to PI is the word private.” She brushed past him and took two steps before he moved in front of her.

“Privacy isn"t something the FBI acknowledges.”

“I"ve noticed.”

Nick scrambled in front of her and crossed his arms.

Meeting his stare, the corners of her mouth turned into what he would call an „almost smile".

“I overheard someone in the diner.”

“Overheard?” He wasn"t sure he believed her, yet it wasn"t impossible.

“Eavesdropped really.”

Honed eyes searched hers for dishonesty. “Why lie?”

“It"s in the blood.”

Sitting back on his heels, Nick wondered if she told the truth. Her blonde hair, pulled back in a ponytail, gave her the appearance of innocence.

“Are we done here?”

Nick sighed knowing she wouldn"t tell him more and looked around with the feeling of being lost. “Only if you know your way back.”

Now she smiled. White teeth and a slight sparkle in her eye had Nick wondering just how often she cracked into such a grin.

“Follow me, city boy.” Kari took the lead.

Her small frame forged a path through fallen trees and large ferns. There wasn"t a trail, yet Kari walked as if she knew the way.

He didn"t mind taking up the rear. It gave him the perfect view. Cotton olive green shorts halted at just the right length, giving way to slender tan legs. Her cute little butt swayed below the backpack she wore as if she had no idea the effect it had on the opposite sex.

Licking his lips, Nick tried his best to think of something else other than the sexy woman in front of him. But it was hard, and so was he.

Less than ten minutes later, they found the trail.

“Well, this is where I get off,” Kari told him.

Nick turned his head from side to side. They were alone on the trail. “Where does this trail lead?”

“There"s a waterfall two miles ahead. That"s what the map said anyway.”

“That"s where you"re headed?”

“Yeah, before I was so rudely interrupted.”

Now it was his turn to smile. “It"s getting late, aren"t you worried about being out after dark?”

“I can take care of myself, Murdock.”

I’ll bet you can. “Since I"m the reason you"re delayed, I feel it"s only right I make sure you arrive home safely.”

Kari closed her eyes and shook her head.

Son of a Bitch! Why is he following me? Kari grumbled inside the silence of her mind while marching up the trail and completely ignoring the world around her.

Sequoia trees, three thousand years in the making, didn"t catch her eye. Late summer flowers blooming in small meadows were beyond lovely, but Kari thought nothing of them. Only the man kept her attention.

He bought her story; she knew it. So why the hell was he following her?

They passed groups of sight seeing tourists on the trail heading back to their camps. The sun no longer pelted down on them but lowered to its setting state.

Not that they could see the sun because clouds filled the sky. Secretly, Kari hoped the impending bad weather would deter her unwanted companion, and have him heading back. But no, luck wasn"t on her side.

Kicking up dirt and brooding, Kari didn"t realize she met her destination until the pounding water deafened her ears. Stopping mid step, she looked up in wonder.

In front of her was a sheet of water some four hundred feet high. Signs indicated the danger of approaching further, but she headed toward them without hesitation. The sight and power of the waterfall was awesome. For Kari, the beauty of the falls lay in the massive sound it made as she shortened the distance from her to it. With each step, all other noise outside the water simply disappeared.

Being a werewolf, Kari had difficulty tuning out everyday noise. Breathing, swallowing, and walking were only a few. Multiply that by every person and animal in a five-mile radius and you understood the life she led.

The noise of the fall drowned it all out. The closer she was, the quieter it became.

Closing her eyes, she tried to hear something, anything. She smiled. Silence.

A hand on her arm caught her in complete surprise. That alone had her near tears.

Concern etched into the hard features of Nick"s handsome face. He opened his mouth to speak, but she couldn"t hear his voice.

She laughed, pulled away from his grip, and moved closer to the pounding water. The spray mixed with small droplets of rain falling from the sky.

Glancing behind her, she saw Nick following every move she made. He slipped on a rock and quickly righted his feet. She kept going.

She pressed forward toward the base of the falls with soaked boots and hair now plastered against her head, mesmerized.

Silent tears streamed down her face. Not since before her parents" death had she felt alone with her thoughts. Now, at the base of a waterfall, Kari wanted her old life back. Silence was truly golden.

She took another step.

Nick"s hand grabbed a hold and kept her from walking further. Knee deep in water, he turned toward him.

“What...are...”

She couldn"t hear him. Her face broke out in a grin, almost giddy with the fact he had snuck up on her and she hadn"t heard him over the loud falls.

He pointed to the water and back to the path. Kari shook her head.

Tugging her arm out of his grip, Kari slipped on a rock. Nick shot his arm out to steady her.

Upright, his body pressed tight against hers.

Cool, wet clothing clung to both of them. Between the spray and the river, they were soaked.

Kari gazed into the chocolate brown depths of his eyes. Slowly, his hands moved from her arm to her waist and pulled her close.

His scent, musk and pine, filled her head. Her lips parted in anticipation.

She wasn"t sure if she invited his move, but she certainly didn"t stop him when his lips crushed to hers.

With eyes shut, and the sound of the falls drowning out the world, all Kari could do was feel.

At first, his lips were almost hard and demanding, but soon they softened.

His fingers spread, spanned her ribs, and circled her back.

Passion, his and hers filled the air. For one brief moment, she wondered if he could smell it like she did. Then his hands moved to round her ass and bring her even closer.

His growing desire pulsed between his legs, despite the frigid water they stood in. The animal in her wanted. And it wanted him.

Kari wasn"t sure which one of them broke the kiss, but when they parted, she stared up to startled eyes.

Looking around, Kari noticed a small cave behind the falls. Not only was it convenient, but close.

Nodding in the direction of privacy, Kari didn"t give him much choice but to follow when she started toward the cave.

Her body raged. Why, she didn"t know. She knew from experience not to let her passions go unfulfilled. To do so would bring frustration and pain.

Her past relations were a series of one-night stands. Nick would be no different. A part of her felt lost at the thought. But that was what her life would be.

Who would accept a werewolf as a mate or a wife?

Chapter Three

Nick saw the cave she motioned toward. Darkened skies indicated a storm approaching, and he wasn"t sure the cave was the smartest place to be in when the rain came. Still, he followed.

They picked their way through the maze of rocks until they found their way to dry land.

Inside the cave, she turned to him. The noise of the falls made it impossible to talk. Even yelling proved fruitless. From the smoky expression in her ice blue eyes, Kari didn"t want to talk.

As if on cue, she slid a smile, seductive and confident over her lips. Tossing her backpack from her shoulders, she crossed her arms over her chest and tugged the wet shirt free from her body.

He swallowed hard. Black lace held two beautifully shaped breasts. His nose flared, eyes widened.

Mesmerized, he lowered his mouth and captured the side of Kari"s neck that she displayed with shameless abandon. He felt her pulse quicken under the assault of his tongue at her neck. Wet hands clenched his side and traveled up the long expanse of his chest.

Tugging his shirt off, it slipped from his fingers and fell to the ground. Small delicate hands played with the curls on his chest. One tiny fingernail drew lazy circles over his nipple and heat pulsed to his groin. Good god, this woman was seduction embodied.

Capturing her moist lips again, Nick thought about how lucky he was to be holding her in his arms, and wondered what other gifts she would offer before their tryst was over. Just then, her questing tongue stroked his and sent his heartbeat through the roof.

Images of Kari in the diner, by the rental car, walking up the path, and crying at the base of the falls all floated in his mind while his h*ps ground against hers and their kiss deepened. Hunger, like that he"d felt only after weeks if not months of wanting, turned to fire in the pit of his belly. Little eager cries managed to escape her mouth and reach his ears despite the noise of the waterfall. Caught up in the moment, they touched, caressed, and kissed each other as if they were teenage kids steaming up the back windows of a car.

Just when he started to regain the power to slow down this frantic mating, Kari"s delicate hands stoked his length through the denim of his jeans. All illusions of slowing down ended.

Pushed against the wall of the cave, Nick worked the clasp of her bra.

Tossing the garment aside, he reveled in the soft, pink, hardened tips. After drawing one into his mouth, she buckled. Pure male pride had him smiling over her perfect body.

He wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, but the sound drowned all conversation. Instead, he let their bodies do the talking. And talk they did.

Kari worked the buttons of her shorts until they fell to the floor of the cave.

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