Home > Family and Honor (Jacky Leon #2)(16)

Family and Honor (Jacky Leon #2)(16)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

“Thanks. Appreciate it.” I sighed, leaning back and closing my eyes. “Only one of my siblings will say it out loud, but they consider me a failure. I have to do this right. It’s making me worried.”

“Well, I’m going to help you as much as I can. After what you did for Carey and letting us settle in your home, it’s the least I can do.” He sighed as well, settling further into his seat. “I can’t imagine being in your shoes. I was Changed by happenstance in the middle of a war. I never had anything to live up to, or history to worry about. Back then, packs in the United States were scattered, and most werewolves were rogues.”

“What are you getting at?”

“I’m saying I understand why you’re feeling pressured. Maybe I wouldn’t have when we met, but…” He trailed off.

“What sucked was I understood him, and part of me hated him for that. I disagreed, but I understood,” I whispered as everyone was finally done boarding the plane. “At the time, I thought of my twin—my human, perfect twin. She became the doctor while I became the EMT. That’s just one example, but she was always more perfect than me. Now, I’m very much reminded of why I spent seven years or more not talking to my other siblings. They’re all perfect, all do something important.”

“You’re young and have different goals. You obviously have a different vision about what having a good life means.”

“I like normal, and they don’t know the definition of the word. I never thought I would own a bar, but when I left them and started out on my own, it was the best thing I could think to do. It would keep me busy and teach me new things.” I looked out the window as the plane started to move. “It was also so different from the rest of my life…or what used to be my life.”

“What really convinced you to do this? Is it just trying to live up to them?”

“No. I feel guilty…” I yawned. “Might be my fault.”

“Ah.”

We went quiet, and slowly, my eyes drifted closed. The plane was compact, meaning it felt safe to me. Heath’s scent was familiar now, leaving me unbothered, and I was so tired, staying awake and on edge was practically impossible.

“Jacky, we’re landing,” he whispered to me. I groaned and growled, not thinking for a moment. “We’re on a plane, Jacky, and everyone thinks you’re human.”

“Humans can growl too,” I mumbled. I was glad he and I were able to talk low enough that no one would overhear it. After months doing it in the bar, it seemed like second nature, but planes were much smaller than my bar. I yawned and lifted my head, bleary eyed and annoyed. “What time is it?”

He checked his phone, not the watch on his wrist. “Nearly two in the afternoon. We moved back two time zones, so we have plenty of hours left in the day.”

“Did you get any sleep?” I asked, trying to show him I wasn’t the worst traveling partner ever.

“I did, thank you for asking. I was able to get a solid nap. The announcement woke me up.”

“Better you than me,” I said casually. “Let’s hope the landing is smooth.”

“Let’s hope,” he agreed. “Weather app says it’s just over sixty there right now. And partly cloudy. Hopefully, we don’t have to deal with this area’s reputation for pissy, shitty rain.”

“Don’t like the rain?”

“Have you ever smelled a wet dog?” he asked back, grumbling. “I like thunderstorms. This area doesn’t have those. It has perpetual drizzle. The annoying rain where the lowest setting on your windshield wipers is too fast but leaving them off makes it hard to see.”

I chuckled. “You should have remembered all of that before agreeing to come up with me.”

“It’s not a big deal,” he huffed. “They’re going to pick us up at the airport.”

“That makes things easy. Hopefully, I’ll live long enough to check into the hotel and tell my family I’ve settled in to wait for Jabari.”

“You might want to text them once we land.”

“No shit.” I turned slowly to give him a look.

He chuckled this time.

The landing wasn’t rough, and we were able to get off the plane without a problem. He grabbed my bag and carried it for me, and I wondered if his old school manners had finally come back to the surface after months of me forcing him not to try it on me.

I have to admit, it’s kind of cute.

I nearly shuddered at the idea of Heath being cute. There were adjectives one could use for the Alpha werewolf, but none of them were cute.

Attractive. Broad. Tall. Annoying. Exasperating. Aggravating. All better words than cute.

We tried to get to baggage claim quickly, avoiding humans as much as we could. From there, it was the long wait for our things, knowing any moment, a werewolf could walk in looking for us. I started feeling itchy, so far from my territory. So far, in fact, there was no way for me to run home if something went wrong. How did Jabari do it? He traveled the world when Hasan needed him to. Mischa was a rogue werecat. How did she live without a safe place to go?

I crossed my arms tightly across my chest, trying to feel safer. I tried to hold off any jumpiness, knowing it would bother people around me and make Heath worry more than he always was. I knew he could smell my anxiety because I could already smell the concern on him.

Bags started to drop out, and we found ours quickly, not bothering with a cart. I threw my duffel on top of the rolling suitcase, letting Heath keep my laptop bag for now. If he had it, maybe this other pack wouldn’t take it and dig for information. Maybe he had the same idea. He wasn’t a stupid wolf.

Walking outside together, all I could smell was oil and gasoline off the cars driving by to pick up those riding with them. Heath, however, snapped to attention, looking over my head.

“Over there,” he whispered, nodding his head to my right. I turned to see a large, black SUV parked with its warning lights on. It couldn’t have been there for very long because no one was telling it to move along. To the side, there were two big men wearing black. A few steps closer, and I could smell the werewolves for what they were. Their heads snapped to us as we got close enough. We had been downwind and nearly snuck up on them.

“Alpha Heath Everson?” one asked brusquely.

“Just Heath Everson now.”

“Certainly, Alpha Everson. I’m Ryan. And this is Jacky Leon?” The wolf nodded at me, sizing me up quickly. I watched him visibly relax at whatever he saw.

“Yup. I’m here to introduce her to Alpha Lewis. Let’s be polite, wolf.” Heath stepped a little closer to me. “He said we would have no trouble from him.”

“Of course. Your bags?” Ryan extended a hand and snapped his other, making the other wolf jump into action.

“I’m going to keep my laptop on me in case my son and daughter need me for anything,” Heath said quickly before the second wolf could take it from him. “You can load the rest.”

Apparently, he is thinking the same way I am. Damn, he’s good.

“Yes, sir,” the wolf said quietly. I handed over my bags to Ryan, letting him deal with them.

We were ushered into the SUV with the quieter wolf driving. Ryan sat in the passenger’s seat, looking at us in the back.

“It’s good to see you again, Alpha Everson.”

“Ryan, just call me Heath.”

I snickered, causing the Seattle wolf to direct his gaze at me.

“What do you call him?”

“Heath,” I answered quickly. “Because I’m not a wolf, and he doesn’t have a pack.”

Ryan’s eyes narrowed. “You tolerate that, sir?”

“I live in her territory,” Heath said mildly. “Even if I was still Alpha in Dallas and Fort Worth, I wouldn’t press the issue. I was never a stickler for those sorts of rules.”

Ryan’s mouth opened and shut quickly like he was going to say something stupid and rash, but some decent part of his male brain figured out not to be totally stupid. The drive was quiet, and Heath kept my laptop bag in his lap. I tried my best not to feel anything. Heath was very good at not giving off any scents to let anyone know how he was feeling. I tried to channel that, so as not to give away my anxiety at where I was or my gratitude Heath was looking out for me.

Seattle’s airport wasn’t in Seattle proper. It was the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, between the major city and its smaller companion. The drive into Seattle wasn’t a long one, but it was noticeable. When the quiet wolf took us off an exit, I noticed how hilly the roads were, often finding us stopped at a red light on a steep incline.

Seattle was called the Emerald City, and as we drove, I could almost see it. There were a lot more trees than I was used to in cities. As we neared the Puget Sound, the smell of sea water and fish hit my nose, just underneath the scent of industry and cars. The roads were congested, but nothing like I hadn’t seen before in a city. It was familiar in the way men with brown hair were familiar. Lots of men had brown hair, but they didn’t all look the same, and sometimes, the differences were the important parts.

Seattle wasn’t a city I knew, and it only drove home how very far from home I was.

We parked at a tall building that was obviously either offices or condos. We were directed into the building and passed a large front desk area, where two men worked security, and guided to elevators.

“This is the pack’s headquarters,” Heath whispered to me. “They own the top five floors for pack business and living arrangements for some.”

“Interesting,” I mumbled.

“They turned the roof into a garden. Maybe you’ll get to see it today.” He smiled, obviously more comfortable with this entire affair.

A ding announced we were at our floor. I never got the chance to see what floor we were headed to, squished behind Ryan, probably on purpose. He stepped off first with Heath, then me following, the quiet wolf taking up the rear. Our things weren’t brought inside, left inside the SUV downstairs. Was it going to be parked? Was our stuff going to be searched? Heath kept a tight grip on the laptop, and I had my cellphone. There was nothing embarrassing except my underwear for them to find in my other bags.

   
Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Oath Sworn (Jacky Leon #1)
» Fallen Academy: Year Four (Fallen Academy #
» Mist and Magic (Death Before Dragons #0.5)
» Magic Unleashed (Hall of Blood and Mercy #3
» Magic Redeemed (Hall of Blood and Mercy #2)
» Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)
» Blood and Hexes (After Darkness Falls #4)
» Wickedly They Dance (After Darkness Falls #
» Blood of a Huntsman (After Darkness Falls #
» After Darkness Falls (After Darkness Falls
» The Damned (The Beautiful #2)
» The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)