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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“I see, so I am groveling around in the gutter now? How childish of me. However can you bear it? I shall leave immediately.”
Before Gideon could speak, Legna burst into smoke and sulfur, disappearing but for her laughter that rang through his mind. Gideon sighed, easily acknowledging that her laughter was a taunt meant to remind him that with her departure, so too went his easy transportation home. Nevertheless, he was more perturbed to realize that he’d once again managed to say all the wrong things to her. Perhaps someday he would manage to speak with her without irritating her.
However, he didn’t think that was likely to happen this millennium.
Jacob woke to the sensation of being touched lightly across his belly, delicately and unhurriedly. He smiled, smelling her perfume even before he turned to look at her. He curled the arm she lay on up around her shoulders, drawing her warm, essential body closer to his, his face burrowing in the silky nest of her hair.
“Jacob,” she whispered.
He heard the sob she tried to muffle under her hand and went very still. The tears that dripped onto him confirmed what his senses had already hinted at and he moved to put enough distance between them so he could see her face.
“Why are you crying, little flower?” he asked, his voice soothing as his fingertips caught first one salty drop and then another.
That was when he saw the bruises on her face.
Everything came rushing back to him. He jerked into an upright position, drawing her protectively to his back as he looked wildly around. He recognized the room immediately, the stone walls unmistakable as belonging to Noah’s home. It allowed the tension to loosen slightly from his rigid body. He next turned to see Isabella, prying her from her clinging grasp on his back.
“Are you all right?” he asked, inspecting her for himself.
It was when she nodded that she exposed the bruising on her neck. There was only a faint red mark now where the knife had bitten into her skin in a three-inch line, but it was unmistakable all the same.
Jacob was awash with so many emotions at the sight of her that he couldn’t immediately identify a single one. All he could do was wordlessly drag her up against his chest, crushing her in his fervent embrace, his breath shuddering from him in delayed fear and outrage that she’d been harmed. Worse, right under his nose. As a matter of logic, he was also entertaining the thought that it most likely had been she who had saved him, yet again, from the threat in the dark.
The realization did not leave his ego unscathed, but he was far more relieved that they were safe in Noah’s home, all in one piece, together. Jacob dragged Isabella across his lap, folding his legs beneath her bottom as he did so, and cradled her closer still, rocking her gently and soothingly.
“Good girl,” he said, praising her quietly. “Shh, it is okay. That magic-using bastard never had a chance against my little Enforcer. Hush, Bella, we are safe now.”
“I thought he’d killed you. There was so much blood. It was all over the place. All over me.”
Jacob winced, his chest constricting as if he had received a blow to his sternum. He felt her pain, her anguish, and her numbing shock over seeing him as she had. The entire incident was replaying in her memory and he was forced to watch it unfurl in their joined minds, once again helpless to come to her aid. His self-contempt spiked even as his pride in her resourceful actions did. She’d done everything right, saving his life, and he knew it would soothe her to remind her of that.
He did so, whispering softly into her ear as he rocked her, flattering her quietly, his words turning her perspective away from the sole focus of seeing him wounded and close to death. He knew that he’d been very close indeed for Noah to call on Gideon.
Isabella was calming in his hold, her weeping reduced to the intermittent sniffle. As her grief subsided, her hands began to move over him, touching him, taking in his body temperature, his vitality, the very fact that he was breathing and alive and once again as strong and potent as he’d always been. Jacob saw incredible irony in that, seeing as how both times she’d seen him in combat he’d ended up knocked senseless. Three times, if he counted Elijah getting the drop on him, but even he had to admit he hadn’t exactly been focused at that moment.
“You’re being too hard on yourself.”
Her voice drifted up to him quietly, her lips pressing affectionate kisses into his neck. He sighed deeply, rubbing his hands over her in a way that communicated he didn’t need consoling. It was she who needed comfort.
“I can accept you being born to fight by my side, Bella, but it is difficult to accept you fending for yourself when I am the stronger, more experienced partner.”
She lifted her head away from her task of nuzzling his neck and looked for his eyes. “Jacob, the guy coldcocked you. That isn’t your fault.”
“I should have sensed something. Smelled him, heard him. When I think of what could have happened to you—”
“Stop it!” The command was followed by her sliding up onto her knees and pushing him back until she was looming over him, staring him down as he lay beneath her. “I see you more clearly than you see yourself. The almighty Enforcer.” She made an indelicate sound. “You’re nothing more than a Demon cop. And cops, despite all their training, all their experience, sometimes meet up with the wrong guy, on the wrong day, at the wrong time, and he gets the drop on them. It happens, Jacob.”
“That is no excuse.”
“Who needs excuses? It’s just the way it is. Do you think I’d be alive now if you hadn’t been in that warehouse with me?”
“If I had not encouraged you to go there, you mean?”
“Damn it, Jacob, cut it out! I’m so sick of this! I’m sick of you trashing yourself, and I’m doubly sick of others trashing you! You enforce the laws, you punish those who break them, and you destroy criminals that need destroying. Sometimes you win, sometimes you need help, sometimes… oh, I am so glad I was there to prevent the ‘sometimes you lose’ part, Jacob, because I don’t know what I’d do if—” She broke off, rubbing the heel of her palm briskly over each eye to stem the moisture welling up once more.
“And, let me tell you this, Jacob. If I end up one of these Demon cops, some attitudes around here are going to change. You understand? It’s called public relations, and if the public doesn’t start to relate to you with the proper respect real damn quick, they’re going to have to answer to me. I’m fed up with the way they treat you, just as I’m fed up with being referred to as ‘the human,’ as someone might refer to ‘the smallpox.’ Your people are stuck up, snobby, prejudiced dorks, and they need some serious lessons in manners.”
“I see,” he said quietly, hints of amusement in his voice.
“What do you see?” she asked, sitting back on her heels and crossing her arms beneath her breasts defensively.
“I see,” he repeated, sitting up to come nose to nose with her, “what they mean when they say: ‘You are beautiful when you are angry.’” He punctuated the observation by weaving a hand into her thick hair at the back of her head and pulling her forward against his mouth. He kissed her gently but thoroughly, leaving her breathless and flushed by the time he pulled back to look at her.
“Oh. That,” she murmured breathily.
He pulled her mouth to his again, this time sliding his tongue past her lush lips and teasing the tiny mate she withheld, coaxing her into playing with him inside her mouth. She sighed softly, her sweet breath skidding delightfully over his taste buds. She responded to him so easily, so fully, as usual holding nothing back and showing no hesitation. Her trust in him was implicit.
He pulled away from her tempting lips reluctantly, his hands flexing around fistfuls of her silky hair. He pressed his mouth to her forehead, her cheeks, the brooms of her eyelashes, all the while listening to how she breathed, then how her breath would stop in little anticipatory hitches as he moved to a new target.
That fairylike touch of her fingers was drifting over his skin once more, tracing the curves and ridges of his muscles on his bare chest, making each and every one twitch in stimulation. Jacob released her hair, drawing his fingertips along either side of the supple curve of her jaw until they met up on her chin. Then he moved down to her throat, gently stroking the fresh bruises and thin red line where the knife had cut her. He didn’t know how many hours he’d been unconscious, how many hours she’d had to heal before he could see the wound. He didn’t want to think about how deep it might have been to start.
Did he hurt you badly, sweetheart? Are you all right?
I’m fine. Strangely, it didn’t hurt half so much as it probably should’ve. Pretty funny considering how I used to wail over a paper cut.
Hey, I have had paper cuts. They hurt like a bitch.
She laughed, the bright burst cutting away at his distress, leaving him smiling just for the sound of it.
“You know what?”
“What?” he asked.
I think I’m beginning to really like having you here, in my head.
Just in your head? He followed the question up with a tug that sat her deeper into the well of his lap, matching heat to heat, making her aware of how she stirred him without even trying and probably always would.
“Jacob,” she scolded, giggling in spite of her attempt to admonish him. “We aren’t in your home anymore.”
“Your point?” he asked, dipping his head to kiss her breastbone with a lazy play of his lips and tongue.
“Well, for one thing, Legna can read our emotions.”
“Your point?” he quizzed again, pausing just long enough in his attentions to show off the mischief sparkling in his dark eyes.
“You suck,” she laughed, wanting to smack him in the head, but somehow ending up with her fingers deep in his rich hair.
“Your wish is my command,” he noted, just as he nuzzled her shirt aside and caught her nipple up against his tongue.
Isabella exhaled a sharp sigh of pleasure, wriggling slightly to assist his access.
“Okay, so you suck in a good way,” she said breathlessly. “Jacob… mmm… what about Noah?”
“Let him find his own woman. I am not sharing.” With that statement, he swung her around and under his body, sprawling her out across the bed and eyeing her as if she were a buffet chock full of delicacies. “Such a tiny body, but you fit so much into it. So full and soft where it should be, and so tasty.”
He kissed her belly through her shirt, then drew the fabric up with the sweep of a broad palm and kissed her again. He enjoyed the way her stomach clenched and quivered, rose and danced as he teased with mouth, lips, and tongue, painting erotic designs with the press of each. His mouth touched the waistband of her jeans and he stopped and sighed.
Do you never wear skirts?
Well, excuse me, but I haven’t exactly been home for my wardrobe of late. I’m lucky enough that Legna got these for me or I guarantee you, you wouldn’t be enjoying anything about the state of my laundry. Now stop bugging me and go on with that whole kissing thing.
Jacob laughed, muffling the burst of delight in the softness of her stomach, making her squirm under the interesting vibration it caused.
You have been trying to boss me around from the moment I met you!
Well, if you’d just listen, I wouldn’t have to get bossy about it.
He reached up and slowly freed the fly of her pants, parting it to reveal more of her delightful belly and the beginnings of black, springy curls.
Ah, this is better. No panties.
Isabella giggled as his hands came under her and cupped her bottom, holding her hips still as he traveled the line from her belly button to those curls with his mouth.
Jacob, what are you doing?
Trying to figure out exactly what it is going to take to get you to stop laughing.
In the next second, he had shucked her jeans off completely, ignoring the fact that she was so overwhelmed with laughter that she was flushed a rosy red and gasping for breath.
Well, stop tickling me, then!
Oh, is that what I am doing? Then I will stop.
He kept his word. The next place his mouth touched her didn’t tickle in the least. Isabella gasped in utter shock, her laughter dying sharply and her body jerking. Jacob paused, his long lashes flicking up to reveal his black eyes, clearly watching her as he teased her with a gentle tasting.
“Jacob,” she said, her voice a tangle of trepidation and curiosity.
His large hands slid over her thighs, making her feel so vulnerable and so small as he eased her tense legs a little farther apart, exposing the flowering core of her to his mouth and his caressing fingertips. Isabella felt the room suddenly spinning out from under her as she was dragged into an entirely new vortex of sensation and pleasure.
It was a profound moment when she realized the depth of artistry there was to be found in lovemaking. Or was it just lovemaking with Jacob? He was so sure of himself, so intent on the smallest touch, the simplest detail, increasing the magnitude, adding layers to create complexity. As he touched her one way, he tasted her in another. If she made the slightest sound of pleasure, he followed it, increased it, turning up the volume until she was close to screaming.
The surge of need in his thoughts and his reaction to her response washed over her as she reached for his perspective. She was in his mind, and so she knew how the taste of her on his tongue sharpened the needs of the beast within. She drifted off into the miasma that was her coherent thoughts as tides of new sensation washed up on her body. Such pleasure—close to what she’d already learned, yet different. Her nerveless fingers flexed where they were buried in his hair, the euphoria crouching inside of her like a hunting cat lying in wait, half of her wanting to scream at him to stop, that she couldn’t bear it, the other half writhing and reaching for more.