Lord of the Bears (Wild Ridge Bears Book 1)(9)

By: Kimber White

“Is that your plan then? To go running off to your board or whatever and try to get crews in here to disturb the woods?”

“Excuse me, but I told you what we do. We’re a conservation group. Our entire existence is aimed at preserving these woods and places like it. We can help. Really.”

Jax let out a guttural noise of disagreement that didn’t sound human.

“I don’t get why you’re angry with me,” I pressed on. “You’ve seen the cabin. You know what I’m talking about. That place needs more than a little T.L.C. Our group has the resources to do something about it and do it the right way.”

Jax turned on me. We’d made real progress and had reached another clearing. This one bore a sign with arrows, one pointing toward a nature trail just ahead of us, the other pointing the way to the road. He’d done exactly as he said. Even if Jax decided to take off now, I knew my way back.

“Does the right way involve getting teams of surveyors, heavy equipment and outsiders through here?”

“What? Well, I mean, of course there are steps involved in having the place declared a historical site…”

“Then no,” he answered. “Not interested.”

“What do you mean?” We kept on walking. “What stake do you have in it? Do you own the place or something?”

I’d meant it as a throwaway comment, a way to prove my side of the argument, but when Jax stiffened and turned again, my heart raced.

“Wait a minute,” I stopped. “That’s your cabin? Like…you live there?”

He clenched his jaw, infuriated with me. At the same time, those dark eyes of his flashed again, sending a wave of heat straight through me.

“I don’t live there,” he muttered.

I advanced on him, my heart racing. There was something about him. Something just below the surface, teasing the edges of my thoughts. That same rush of excitement ran through me for the second time today. It was just like whatever made me foolish enough to approach that sleeping bear. I took another step forward. Jax stood immobile like a stone statue except for a tiny vein jumping along his jaw. I laid my palm flat against his chest. His heartbeat thundered beneath my fingertips, sending an arc of electricity straight through me.

“But it’s yours,” I whispered. “The cabin belongs to you?”

Jax narrowed his eyes and cocked his head. He was considering something, and in an instant I understood. At the top of the ridge, I’d done the same thing. I’d taken a leap of faith, deciding to trust him to lead me out of the forest. Now, Jax seemed to decide whether to trust me with something equally important to him.

He took a breath and answered. “Yes,” he said. “That’s my house you stumbled upon, Goldilocks.” He shot me a smirk that damn near melted me. I couldn’t help it. I laughed as that electric spark I felt seemed to rush out of me in a flood of warmth while my fingers played over his chest.

“Well, my, what big teeth you have,” I said.

Jax’s eyes darkened. If I had to guess, he seemed offended by the joke. “That’s a wolf story.” His voice was deep and clipped. I took my hand away.

“Sorry about that,” I said, clearing my throat. “I’ll have to try and keep my fairytales straight, Papa Bear.”

The light flickered back in his eyes as he took my hand again, and we stepped out of the woods once and for all. I nearly stumbled as the ground beneath my feet became pavement. Just one footfall and it seemed I’d crossed over into another world. My red Jeep Wrangler sat parked just where I left it only ten yards from where we stood.

“How did you know?” I asked. “I mean, you brought me exactly where I needed to go.” Relief flooded through me, making me feel lightheaded. I felt like I might lift off the ground and fly. Until that exact moment, I hadn’t realized how truly scared I’d been.

I acted without thinking. I turned to Jax and went up on my tiptoes. I slid my hand behind his neck and thanked him with a kiss. A simple gesture, one meant to be light and chaste. But, when Jax leaned down and his hand rested on my lower back, something lit up inside of me. His lips were warm and wet, and I sank into him. Air went out of me and my head swirled. His tongue flicked at the corner of my mouth and a groan of pleasure came out of me unbidden.

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