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Bear Meets Girl (Pride #7)(2)

By:Shelly Laurenston

“You were comfortable. And didn’t yip once. I hate the yipping. Let me tell ya, you don’t know hell until you’ve been trapped in a rainy, miserable jungle during monsoon season with a bunch of canines. Everyone wet and miserable and goddamn yipping.”
Crush tried to ignore his migraine and asked, “Why would you be sitting in a miserable jungle with canines?”
“For lots of reasons.”
“Name two. No. Just name one. I challenge you.”
“You challenge me?” She laughed, her almost muzzlelike nose crinkling a little as she looked him over. “Aren’t you cute?”
Finally, Crush had to ask, “Who are you?”
“If I wasn’t still hungover, I’d give you my most sultry smile and tell you ‘your dream come to life.’ But, eh. I’m just too tired to bother and, honestly, does one have to really put in that much effort for a bear?”
“Are you always this insulting?”
“Insulting? This is me being nice. I even complimented you.”
“Yes. Apparently I’m as comfortable as a pillow.”
“Yeah. But one of those full-body ones. Or like one of those giant stuffed bears you get when you’re a kid. My dad used to get me those and then he’d teach me how to maul ’em.”
“I am not—”
She held up her finger. “Hold that.” Then the insane female stretched out across his lap and reached down to the floor, grabbing a phone out of her jeans.
Annoyed and disgustingly turned on, Crush snarled, “Woman, get off me.”
“Ssssh,” she said, settling her butt onto his lap. “Business call.”
Did she just shush him? She did, didn’t she?
“Yep?” she said into the phone, clearly uncaring that they were still both naked and there was absolutely nothing separating her ass from his cock. “Now? ’Cause I gotta get home to the kid.”
Kid? The woman had a child, but she was hanging out and getting drunk at house parties and torturing him with her butt on his cock?
Thinking about all the shitty parents he had been forced to deal with over the years as a cop, Crush hissed, “You have a child?”
She nodded and while someone kept talking on the other end of her phone, she whispered, “Have to get home. Still breastfeeding.” Then, when Crush thought his head might explode, she silently laughed and mouthed, “Just kidding.”
Holy hell, who was this woman?
“All right. All right. I’ll get Smith on it. You know she loves morning jobs. I know she doesn’t work for you, but think of it as outsourcing. We both know she can do the damn job. Besides, she has to realize that not everything can be the close-up kill.” Not knowing what she was talking about, Crush was relieved when she winked at him. Good. She was kidding. Because it would be really hard to arrest a naked woman sitting in his lap. “Okay. Good. I’ll take care of it.”She disconnected the call and tossed the phone back on her jeans. “I’ve gotta go.”
“Yes. You need to get home to your child.”
“Yeah. Her, too.” She shrugged. “She’s pretty self-sufficient. She can almost reach the stove.”
Unable to take any more, Crush pushed her off his lap. Not as hard as he’d like—damn his morals—but at least he got her off him and he could move away from her.
Grabbing his clothes, Crush stalked to the door.
“Don’t you want my number?” she asked him. “Maybe the next time we could get drunk and then actually have sex. If you’re worried about the kid, I can put a little brandy in her milk bottle and she’ll be out like a light.”
Crush began to speak, but realized he would only say something completely inappropriate and mean, something he simply couldn’t bring himself to do. So instead he stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
Tragically, however, Desiree MacDermott stood there in her hallway, her green eyes growing wide as her gaze moved down the length of his naked body while he lollygagged in the middle of her hallway.
His fellow detective finally looked up into his face. “Hi, uh ... Crushek. How’s it going?”
“Fine. Thank you for inviting me to your party.”
“Okay.” They stood in the hallway another second, then Crush said, “ ’Bye.”
“ ’Bye.”
And, with as much dignity as he could muster at six in the morning while naked in a coworker’s house, and still sporting a hangover and a semi hard-on—because even degenerates could be sexy as hell in the morning—Crush headed to his truck and absolute freedom.
Marcella “Bare Knuckles” Malone—She-tiger, feline nation protection contractor for KZS, pro hockey player for the championship shifter team the Carnivores, and the Malone family’s bare-knuckles fighting champion—heard the bedroom door open again, but she simply couldn’t stop her hysterical, wheezing laughter. No one could! Why? Because that had been the best!
She heard MacDermot, but Cella couldn’t answer her. She was too busy laughing and trying to figure out who that guy was. It wasn’t every day Cella got to meet guys who looked like biker gang meth dealers, but had the moral fortitude of Martin Luther. All that indignant outrage over her untended daughter while sporting long, white polar bear hair that reached past his shoulders, a perpetual scowl, a scar on his neck, and pitch-black eyes that probably terrified lots of people. Of course, if all that didn’t scare someone, she was pretty sure that what had to be about six feet and nine inches and about three hundred pounds or so of hard muscle probably did the trick. Man, had that body been like a thousand levels of perfect or what? 
Yet even though the guy was really scary looking, Cella just found all that intimidating scowling and raging anger so cute. Like teddy bear cute. Plus, he was so damn uptight! She didn’t know bears could be so uptight. Unless they were startled into a rage, bears were usually the most laid-back of all shifters, except lion males. Although Cella felt there was a huge difference between laid-back and just plain lazy.
Even worse for that poor bear was how all that uptightness brought out Cella’s worst feline qualities. Honestly, the more uptight the bear became, the more she playfully swatted at him. She couldn’t help herself. He was just so cute in his moral outrage!
“Cella!” MacDermot demanded, also now laughing. “What the hell did you do to the poor guy? I’ve never seen him look like that before. He was about to blow a vein in that big bear head of his!”
It was more than she could take. Cella rolled off the bed, hitting the floor, which miraculously made her hangover go far, far away.
Crush was dreaming about breaking through thick ice, pounding on it with his front legs, the seal under the ice giving him the flipper. Little bastard. But then the seal tapped at the ice. Once. Twice. Okay, so now he was taunting him?
Crush opened his eyes, looked around. Shit.
He turned the truck’s ignition key to get enough power to roll down the window. “MacDermot.”
She scowled and at first he thought she was angry. Then he realized she was just making fun of him. “Crushek,” she said, imitating his voice, then laughed, and rested her arms on the sill. “How long have we known each other, Crushek?”
“I don’t know.” He thought a minute. “Since the Evans case?”
“Wow. The guys were right.”
“Right about what?”
“That you mark time by cases, not by years.”
“Yeah, well ... I guess.” Crush heard another knock and looked forward. “There’s a cub on my hood.”
“We were going for a walk so that his father could get a little more sleep. When my boy’s up, he wants everyone up. And gets mighty vocal when they’re not.”
Smiling at the baby male lion, Crush asked, “Already roaring, is he?”
MacDermot sighed. “Pretty much.”
“We’re here, Miss Malone.”
Cella opened her eyes and looked around. Yep. She was here. “Here” being the Long Island town where she’d grown up surrounded by her family. To most people growing up “surrounded by family” probably meant they’d grown up with a mother, father, maybe a couple of siblings. If they had an extended family, perhaps a grandparent, a sickly aunt, or an orphaned cousin. But that’s most people. Cella wasn’t most people. She was a Malone. Not any Malone, either, but one of the Malones.
Sitting up and yawning, Cella pushed open the car door and stepped out. “Thanks, Mario.” Katzenhaus Securities, KZS, was the international feline protection agency she’d worked for since she’d been discharged from the Marines. And of all KZS’s perks (and there were many), Cella’s favorite was the KZS car service. They used the best and fastest vehicles in the world and manned them with armed and well-trained felines. It was perhaps one of the best limo jobs one could find, paying an incredible salary, but it was also one of the most deadly. Cella didn’t like to think about the number of times she’d run back to her car after she’d taken care of a contract, only to find her driver dead in the front seat. This scenario especially sucked when she was in unfamiliar or foreign territory.Waving once more at Mario and holding her high heels and her purse in her hands, she walked down the street toward her parents’ house. Mario could have driven her all the way to her house, but no one who knew the truth about this block would come down it. And the driver, a bobcat from Massapequa, knew about her street.