I followed the scent to a clearing. A sudden screech made me look up and I saw an eagle diving after a mink that was falling through the air. I was sure it was a mink as I’d followed Keelan’s scent here. I didn’t spare a second to wonder why this was happening or who the eagle was. I just ran.
I was just in time for Keelan to catch the hump on my back and ran a few more steps before whirling around to catch sight of the eagle. The eagle had broken the dive and climbed back above the treetops where it circled and cawed, probably insults, but I didn’t speak bird. I just knew there was no way he was getting my mink. I jogged a little ways further into the trees to a cave I’d found a few years back.
Once inside it took some coaxing to get him down off my back. He scurried over to a low overhang in the rock wall and scoote under it. As soon as I shifted, I pulled out my two-way radio.
“This is Detective Riley. I’m code six with a skittish party.”
Putting the radio back down on my sack, I made quick work of starting a fire in the ring of stones set up to one side where the ceiling naturally sloped upward toward a narrow opening, a natural chimney. Then I made my way over to where he stowed himself. I moved slowly to not startle him.
Speaking softly, I called out to him. “Keelan, it’s just me.” I crouched down and peeked under the ledge. He’d moved a little further along the under the ledge before curling up in a tight ball. I lay down so my eyes were level with him. “Ash, hey, it’s just me. It’s Haven.”
I could all but feel his eyes roll, but he still uncurled and made his way to me one step at a time. “That’s it.” I scooched back to give him space. I’d just turned to go get some food from my pack to warm up when an intense smell hit me. I barely felt it when a delicate hand touched my back but it was all I could focus on. It trailed along my side until it splayed across my chest with Keelan staring me dead in the eye. He smelled so good, I could do nothing but remember how he felt under my hands, how he tasted while ignoring a movie at the drive-in, how he looked when kissed by firelight. The last one wasn’t a memory as I stared at the naked man before me and realised I wasn’t wearing a stitch either. What a happy coincidence.
I wanted nothing more than to feel him again. Dipping my head I traced a line along his jaw with my tongue, my hands discovering lean corded muscles where tender flesh used to be. He was beautiful, always had been.
He urged me to sit, then sank over me one knee on either side.
I hold his waist to stop him. “We shouldn’t.”
“Is is me?” The look on his face was like the needle of a vindictive acupuncturist.
“No, no. Of course it isn’t.” I take a deep breath to steady my thoughts but it just seems to addle them further. “God, I’ve missed you. You don’t know how much.”
“Then it’s fine.” His smile was the most sultry thing I’d ever had the pleasure to lay eyes on. When he planted his smile on mine, I was lost.
Waking up with the sunlight streaming in wasn’t new. What was new was being in a cave with a naked man in my arms. A very familiar man. Who I’d just slept with. I heard a buzzing sound from the other side of the cave. Extricating my limbs as carefully as possible from where they were entwined with Keelan’s, I crept the few steps to where my cell had been going off and slipped it from the pack. Twenty-three missed messages. Nearly all of them were from Alex. I listened to the most recent one.
“Fuck, dude, cap’s mad as shit. He’s got everyone searching for you. You better be in a ditch somewhere or you’ll wish you were.” I could hear distant shouts in the background. “Sorry, gotta go.” I look at the time stamp which said 10:43 am. It was 11:00 am now. If they hadn’t found us already, they would soon.
I got out my pants and put them on, taking my shirt over to where Keelan now curled up on the ground near the dead fire. “Keelan?” Gripping his shoulder lightly, I give him a gentle shake. That’s as far as I got before Keelan jabbed me in the ribs and rolled away. It hadn’t hurt as much as when he’d solidly hit my solar plexus, unable to get the leverage from his position, but it still made me grimace. What did he go through to make him so on edge even before he’s fully awake?
“Hey, the guys are coming,” I held out the shirt to him. “They’ll be here any time.”
Keelan shook his head as if to clear it as he stood. “Sorry, uh, yeah.” He reached for the shirt but before he could pull it over his head he stopped and looked at me in shock, “wait, what?”
“Haven, you in there?” a voice called from outside.
“Fuck!” Keelan tugged the shirt on quickly. It was all I had to spare, but luckily it reached mid-thigh on him.
“Haven,” Alex said as he stepped up to the entryway, “you should really code 4 on the radio if you’re okay and -” He stopped short when he looked over and saw Keelan. With Keelan wearing my shirt and the cave smelling of me and him, “Ah.” Alex was trying not to grin. “I see. Well, you should at least tell someone if you’re going to ‘take care’,” yes, he did use air quotations, “of your mate when he’s in heat.”
“I’m not-” was all Keelan got out before Alex disappeared back outside. I almost wish he’d stayed so I could know what Keelan was ‘not’. Was not my mate? Was not in heat? Was not going to stay?
“Were you?” I glanced at him. “In heat, I mean.”
“I thought I was going into one.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” I growled. He shifted one step back, lowering his center of gravity and his seemingly relaxed hands hung loose a couple inches from his sides, ready to move in any direction. I inwardly kicked myself for making him take a defensive pose. It wasn’t that I didn’t want kids or didn’t want to be with him, I most definitely did, but I didn’t like being tricked into anything.
“I wasn’t sure.” He stared at my chest, not making eye contact but keeping me in sight. “It just started when I got to the lake. So, I went off on my own. Then an eagle swooped in and swept me off my feet,” he met my eyes briefly with a half smile, “and not in a good way, either.” He shrugged. “Then I fell and you brought me here and… well, there wasn’t much thinking after that, was there?”
“Are you sure your heat’s over?”
“Yeah, I took some meds before I was snatched. It ended hours ago.”
I gathered my gear and we headed back to find his things. Hopefully Alex was gone along with anyone else who’d been looking for me. No such luck. As soon as we walked from the cave Wallis, Davies, O’Connor, Lewis, and Clark cheered with a couple catcalls thrown in when Keelan stepped out from behind me. I glared at each of them in turn while placing myself between them and Keelan, blocking their view again.
I knew they’d tease me mercilessly at the precinct, but they’d no doubt get it out of their system in short order. I just hoped all this hadn’t scared Keelan off. I hadn’t known even a week ago how much I’d missed him. I had to keep telling my heart the pressure it was feeling wasn’t life-threatening. Problem was I was starting to think it might be if I lost him again.
Keelan didn’t stop to change when we got to his things. He just scooped it up and kept walking. When we got to the parking lot, it had cleared out. I had expected Keelan’s family to have stayed to help find him or at least to take him home when they were told he was okay and coming back.
“Come on,” I nod my head toward my SUV when he looks over his shoulder at me. The morning light practically made his skin glow and his hazel eyes shine. It was all I could do to continue, “I’ll take you home.”
He nodded slowly, his face clouded. I wanted to take him in my arms and kiss his worries away. I opened the passenger door and he got in. As I put the car in drive I saw Alex jogging our way, waving. I didn’t stop.He’d be fine. Everything would be fine. Just fine.