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Bear Meets Girl (Pride #7)(59)

By:Shelly Laurenston

She quickly flipped through her mail. When she saw nothing of consequence, she tossed the envelopes onto the silver tray sitting on top of the end table by her front door. With a sigh, she slipped off her shoes and headed through her hallway and toward her kitchen. She passed her living room, but stopped and walked back, gazing around the room. She felt rage inch up her neck at the sight of it.
“Someone’s playing games,” she muttered to her boys, taking in the carnage that had been left behind. Much of her furniture was antique, all of it was expensive.
“This is disgusting,” one of them complained.
Reaching into her purse, she grabbed her cell phone and continued on toward the kitchen, wondering what had been done in there while the team went upstairs to check the rest of the house.
She walked in and stopped, her cell phone clutched in her hand. “Comfortable?” she asked the She-wolf sitting cross-legged on her kitchen table.
“Much. Thank ya kindly.” 
Peg swept her hand back toward her living room. “And was that your work, little puppy?”
“Nope. That was the cats. You know how felines are. And Malone is one of their own.”
“Is all that supposed to bother me?”
“More like annoy. Figure you got homeowner’s insurance. Although, doubt it’ll cover what they did in your shoes and clothes.”
“What did they do in my—”
“I’m sure you can smell what they did by now. You bein’ grizzly and all.”
And this was why she loathed felines. “So what? Is this where you threaten me, maybe slap me around a little?”
“Nah.” The She-wolf shook her head sadly. “Can’t. Momma always told me it was wrong to beat up the elderly.”
Snarling a little, Peg snapped, “I am not elderly.”
“As ya like.”
“Then what do you want? To give me dire warnings?”
“Ain’t much known for my warnings. Don’t see the point.” She slipped off the table. She was tall, but not as tall as Peg. Definitely not as wide. Just some little Group She-bitch. Like that alone would scare Peg?
The wolf headed toward the back door, but now Peg must admit, she didn’t understand. The felines had done their little destroying furniture with their claws and desecration of her shoes thing and left, but the dog ... she was still lingering around. Why?
“Why are you still here, canine?”
“Just a tad hungry was all.”
Confused, Peg looked around, expecting to see used pots and pans in the sink. Maybe some dog shit in her refrigerator. But instead, all she spotted was the untouched food and water bowls on the floor. And right beside it, some blood.
Peg followed after the She-wolf, but the female stopped suddenly in the laundry room and faced her. Peg immediately flicked on the overhead light to keep the canine in her sights. There weren’t a lot of people in the world who made Peg nervous, but ...
Gazing at her with those yellow dog eyes, the canine scratched her cheek. At first, all Peg could see was the blood around the canine’s mouth, but then she heard that soft tinkle noise and her eyes focused on what the bitch had wrapped around her thick, man-like wrist. It was a bright red collar, a small bell attached to it. That’s what was tinkling as she scratched herself.
Livid, Peg roared, “You disgusting piece of—”
“Now, now,” the canine easily cut in, never once losing her cool. She showed no fear, no anger, no hatred. Nothing. Nothing at all. “Let’s not be rude.”
“You ate my cat.” The black-and-white tabby Peg had rescued two years ago to impress a cat-loving investor. A cat she’d become rather attached to!
“You know how it is.” The canine’s head tilted to the side, her forefinger wiping the blood off the corner of her mouth before sucking the digit clean. “You fucked with my pussy ... and I fucked with yours.”
Done, she tipped her baseball cap at Peg. “Y’all have a nice night now.”
Peg’s hands tightened into fists and she asked, “Exactly who the fuck are you anyway?”
“Name’s Dee-Ann.” She opened the back door and stepped out into the darkness, but when she looked back at Peg, yellow dog eyes glinted at her.
“You’re Eggie Ray Smith’s kid,” Peg accused.
“That’s right. I’ll tell Daddy y’all said hi.”
With that, the female disappeared into the darkness and Peg quickly closed the door, locking it. Then, with shaking hands, she speed-dialed her assistant. “Get a tactical unit over here now.” She sniffed, the scent of disgusting canine female and, even worse, feline piss and shit, making her feel like retching. “And a goddamn maid service.”CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
A gentle pat on the shoulder woke Crush up. The smell of hot coffee actually got him to lift his head from the mattress. He wasn’t, however, still in bed with Cella. He knew her family would be back and he just wouldn’t feel right with them finding him in bed, cuddling up to Cella. So just before dawn, he’d reluctantly pulled away from her—God, she was so warm and smelled so nice—and sat down in the chair beside the bed. He’d put his crossed arms on the mattress and his head on his crossed arms. That was it until that gentle pat and the smell of coffee.
Rubbing his eyes and yawning, Crush sat up and smiled at the sweet face staring down at him.
“Morning, Mrs. Malone.”
“Morning, sweetheart.” Cella’s mother held out the cup of coffee for him and he gratefully took it. One sip and he was already on his way to feeling better.
“How is she doing?” Mrs. Malone asked.
“Good. She slept well. But that probably had to do with the drugs they gave her.”
“Pain meds, antibiotics, and something a little extra to ensure she sleeps, according to Jai,” Mrs. Malone rattled off. “I guess they can’t really afford for her to have a full-blown fever.” No, they really couldn’t. Although the fever helped badly wounded shifters to heal quickly, it also involved shifting back and forth from one form to the other, over and over, as well as a tendency to flail and jerk in one’s sleep. Not the best thing for Cella’s healing leg. So the doctors had doped her up more than they would most and hoped she’d quietly sleep through the night. Thankfully, she had.
Mrs. Malone walked around the bed and gazed down at her daughter.
“She’s doing okay,” Crush promised her. “She’s amazingly strong.”
“Just like her father.”
Crush couldn’t help but smile a little. “Just like her mother, I think.”
The tigress blinked up at him in surprise, her cheeks getting a little red. “Well ... thank you.” Mrs. Malone cleared her throat. “Detective Crushek—”
“Call me Crush.”
“Crush. Why don’t you get something to eat?”
Crush looked down at Cella, still sleeping soundly.
“Now don’t worry about Cella. I’m here and trust me when I say the rest of the family will be showing up very soon. Plus, I’ll want you around to help with any visitors.”
“One time her father was injured during a game. The hospital he was in had to call in extra security.”
“Fan invasion?”
“You have an excellent point.” 
“I know I do. It’s my job to plan for the unforeseen.” She waved him away. “Now go. Get something to eat.”
Crush nodded, realizing he was starving. He’d been planning to get dinner after the game with Cella, so he’d only had one or two sandwiches, a steak, and a large pizza during the game.
Yep. Starving.
Standing up, Crush rolled his shoulders and nodded at Cella’s mother. “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes, Mrs. Malone.”
“You just spent the entire night watching over my daughter, Crush. I think it’s okay for you to call me Barb.”
“Or Mrs. M., which still seems respectful.”
“Barb is respectful enough if I tell you it is. Now go before my husband’s idiot sisters get here and make me much less pleasant.”
“Fifteen minutes.”
Cella heard the bickering, but she chose to ignore it, keeping her eyes shut.
The meds had worn off, so she felt every moment of her leg threading itself back together, making the foreign object part of it. And, in a word, it fucking hurt. If everything went as planned, Cella knew the pain would lessen in another day, maybe two. But at this moment—it hurt.
And hearing her aunts bickering with her mother—again—was doing nothing but getting on her frayed nerves. But since Cella had been hearing her relatives argue since her first breath—rumor was that her mother got into a claw match with Aunt Deirdre seconds before Cella came out of the womb, which in retrospect kind of explained Cella’s general personality—it was easy enough for her to tune them out and go back to sleep. Especially when she had something else to focus on. Specifically Crush. He was worth focusing on rather than the pain. She’d woken up here and there during the previous night and every time she did, he was still there, holding her. He snored a little, but nothing that made her want to cover his face with a pillow until he stopped altogether. And his arm was always around her, keeping her close and immobile all at the same time. Yet she didn’t feel trapped by so much male holding on to her. Nope. She didn’t feel trapped at all. Amazing. Because usually Cella felt trapped when one of the bathroom stalls at the Sports Center got stuck and it took her longer than two seconds to get the door open. Like five seconds. One time it took her ten seconds and she freaked out so badly, she just tore the door off the hinges, apologizing to the maintenance guy she’d passed on her way back to the gym.