Home > The Beast in Him (Pride #2)(5)

The Beast in Him (Pride #2)(5)
Author: Shelly Laurenston

“Gee,” she giggled, “I wonder why?”

“Wait.” Mace faced him. “You know Jessica Ward?”

“Why do you say it like that? I know lots of people.”

“Yeah, but they’re not Jessica Ward.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I’m just saying, Smitty—she’s a little out of your league.”

His wolf pride threatened, Smitty snapped back, “As a matter of fact, that little gal had a huge crush on me at one time.”

Mace snorted. “Yeah, sure. I can see that—in a parallel universe.”

Before the two males could get into it, the female they spoke of worked her way through the dancing crowd and over to May.

“How did I do?” she asked.

May gave her a thumbs-up and handed over her nearly empty glass of champagne. Jessie Ann finished it off and dropped it on the serving platter of a passing waiter.

She looked at Mace and smiled in surprise. “Mace Llewellyn!”

“Hi, Jessica.”

“Oh, my God! When did you get out?”

“Over a year ago.”

She went up on her toes and gave him a brief hug that had Smitty’s eyes narrowing. “I’m so glad you’re okay. You are okay, right?”

“I’m fine. Great, actually.”

“I’m so glad to hear that. I just saw your sister at a charity ball a few weeks ago, but she didn’t mention you were home. Actually, she didn’t mention you at all.”

Mace’s answer was to laugh.

Laughing herself, Jess shook her head. “Ahh. I see little has changed there.” She glanced at Smitty and began to walk away. Then she stopped and looked back, her eyes growing wide.

“Oh, my... Bobby Ray?”

“Jessie Ann.”

“Wow. Look at you.” She stepped in front of him and gave him a quick, rather unsatisfying hug. “I can’t believe it. You look great.”

“You too.”

“I see your body finally grew into that head.”

At least May had the decency to try to stifle her laugh. Unlike Mace, who let it ring out over the room. Treacherous bastard cat.

“Yup, I sure did.”

“You went into the... ” She snapped her fingers trying to remember. “Marines? Right?”

Mace laughed harder.


“That’s right. Sorry. It’s been a lot of years.”

“I see that.”

“So why are you here exactly?”

Smitty gritted his teeth but answered politely, “I’m partners with Mace. We own the security company handling your party.”

“That’s nice.” But she didn’t seem to mean it or care. Her eyes had already started scanning the room.

The male wild dog from the stage placed a glass of champagne in her hand.

“Was I right about the shoes?” he asked with a big smile.

“Let it go about the shoes.”

“Think you can dance in them?”

“Of course. Why?”

“I wanna swing you over to Don Lester.” The billionaire? “See if we can tag team him.”

“Why? We’re having dinner with him next week.”

“Yes, but I want to do this now.”

“Why don’t you do this yourself?”

“One, I’d look stupid dancing alone. Two, he likes you.”

“If you hadn’t insulted his wife... ” she muttered before swigging back half a glass of champagne.

“That was an accident. I wish you’d all let it go.”

Jess handed her glass to May, who promptly finished it. It seemed the dogs weren’t squeamish about sharing.

“Mace, I’ll talk to you later. There’s some work I think I can get you guys.”

“Sounds great.”

Brown eyes focused on him and Jessie again leaned in and gave Smitty a small hug. “It was great seeing you again, Bobby Ray. We should keep in touch.”

But before he could even debate whether it was worth getting her number, she was off dancing with some wild dog to tag team a billionaire.

May gave them both a brief smile before moving off toward the rest of her Pack.

Mace nodded his head. “Oh, yeah, man. She is so into you.”

He glared at his friend, feeling uncharacteristically angry, and snarled, “I knew that time you were laid up in the hospital after that firefight I should have put that pillow right over your head.”


The rest of the evening was uneventful and went slowly. Painfully slow. All Smitty wanted to do was go home and sulk in peace and quiet. Instead, he found himself watching Jessie Ann work a room rather than doing his job. Thankfully his staff did theirs and they had no problems. As a business, the night was a screaming success. Smitty, however, couldn’t seem to enjoy it. He even blew off the hot little jackal’s blatant proposition. A proposition he normally would have been all over.

The last of the vans headed off back to the company’s office parking lot, leaving him and Mace.

“What are you grinning at?” Smitty asked while leaning against his car.

“I’m grinning because I’m happy. Tonight went perfect. I have some leads on other jobs, lucrative jobs, and my wife is going back to her job come Monday. I didn’t think that would make me happy, but it does.”

Smitty shook his head and smiled. “Is she still out in Northport?”

“Oh, hell no. She’s back at our Brooklyn place. Which is where I’m headed. I didn’t want her out on the Island any longer. I fear for her safety. As it is, I’m sure the town burned our house down by now. To ensure we would never return.”

Before the two friends could part company, the side door opened and the wild-dog Pack walked out. As late as it was, they still seemed to be filled with tons of energy. They discussed going to an all-night diner for a late dinner–early breakfast. Jessie Ann led the way, wrapped in a fur coat, strutting toward the corner. One of the males caught up to her and put his arm around her shoulders, whispering something in her ear. She laughed and pushed him away.

They walked to a big, black Hummer and pulled the doors open, piling in. Jess opened the front passenger side door but stopped and looked around, her eyes finally finding him and Mace. She smiled and waved.

“Thank you, guys! It went great.”

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