The Mournful Howl

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Chapter 11

By the fourth morning, Gabriel began to worry.

Jayne hadn't returned to her cabin and there was nothing he could find to indicate where she'd gone.

Her purse and car keys were still in the cabin and her car hadn't moved either.

As he paced back and forth, his wolf urged him for the umpteenth time to go out looking for her.

'She could be hurt,' his wolf said.

'She could be lost. She could be dead!'

Finally unable to take it any longer, Gabriel headed out following her lingering scent.

After two hours, he crested a ridge line, pausing when his attention was caught by the fluttering of something silver a hundred yards down the hill from his position.

Squinting, Gabriel tried to figure out what it was. Moving toward the shining object, the wind shifted and he caught sight of a vibrant, purple object. The same purple as Jayne's hair.

Panicking, he ran to her side, turning her over so he could see her face.

Jayne's cheeks were sun burned, her lips were dry and crack to the point of bleeding.

Feeling her throat, he heaved a sigh when he felt a heart beat.

Unwilling to waste any more time, Gabriel slid her rifle from her body, pulling it up onto his shoulder because the strap was too tight to fit across his chest.

Scooping the unconscious woman into his arms and Gabriel allowed his wolf to surge forth as he ran at inhuman speed towards home.

Pushing open the door, he carried Jayne into his bedroom and laid her down on his bed.

Realizing he wouldn't be able to get her pants off without removing her boots, Gabriel cut the elastic wrap away from the sticks and pushed up Jayne's pant leg.

Seeing a deep black and purple bruise creeping up her calf, he knew he'd found the main problem.

Unlacing her hiking boot completely, Jayne woke up screaming when he tried to pull it off.

Out of instinct, she lifted her good leg and kicked Gabriel squarely in the chest forcing him backwards into the wall, his breath forced out of his lungs.

Eyes wide, Jayne covered her mouth with her filthy hands, fear squeezing painfully at her chest.

She'd just assaulted an Alpha wolf. She was so fucked.

"I'm sorry," she croaked, coughing harshly.

Gabriel's eyes flashed gold as he pushed himself off the wall and grabbed her foot, pulling her boot off in a single motion, apparently uncaring at the screams and protests of pain the Jayne made.

Jayne fell back on the mattress sobbing in agonizing pain as Gabriel ripped her sock off revealing the true extent of her injury.

Free of the compression of her boot, Jayne's ankle immediately began to swell, the skin burning as it was stretched by the building pressure.

The sounds of the woman's screaming broke though Gabriel's rage, his wolf receding. Finally saw the damage with his own eyes.

Feeling bile creeping up his throat at the sight, he tried to imagine what could have caused such an injury.

Folding herself into a fetal position, Jayne's hands crept down her leg, stopping when her fingers brushed the injury.

"Oh Goddess," she sniffed, her eyes closed tight as she tried to block out the pain.

Seeing the young woman in such discomfort, Gabriel snapped back into action.

Hurrying to his kitchen, he grabbed a bucket and filled it with ice cold water from his sink.

Carrying back to his bedroom, he moved to lift the sobbing woman and maneuvered her bodily until she was sitting on the edge of the mattress.

Gripping her leg firmly, he guided her injured leg to the water and slowly forced her to submerge her foot, ignoring her protests and screams of pain as she beat her fist ineffectually across his back, until the water line was above the bruising and swelling.

Jayne hiccuped in pain as the icy water burned her flesh.

"Let me go," she demanded, her throat burning from lack of water for two days.

Coughing so hard her whole body shook, Jayne found it hard to catch her breath.

Sensing her growing distress, Gabriel quickly rose and retrieved a cup of water from his bathroom.

Jayne tried to gulp it down, but he stopped her.

Laying his palm flat in the air, he brought it down slowly to indicate that she needed to slow down.

"Sip," she nodded, knowing he was right.

Keeping her foot in the painfully cold water, she did as he instructed and took small sips.

"I'm sorry about kicking you," she said, when she was finally able to speak without her throat feeling like it was coated with glass.

Pointing to her foot, Gabriel looked between it and Jayne's face.

"I found the wolf den," she breathed, closing her eyes so long, he thought she was going to pass out.

"Someone had set traps out and I accidentally stepped in one," she continued, finally opening her eyes to see the Alpha moving towards her concerned.

Tapping his watch, it seemed like he was asking how long ago.

"Four days ago," Jayne explained.

Gabriel motioned to his mouth with his fingers pinched together.

"No," she replied, shaking her head. "I had to leave my pack at the den. It was too heavy to carry back with me with just my one leg.

"I only took what I absolutely needed," she continued, bringing the cup to her mouth, but was disappointed to find it empty.

Taking the glass, Gabriel quickly refilled it and returned it to her shaking hand.

"Thank you," she sighed, taking a sip before getting back to her explanation.

"It only took a day to get to where the den was located, and I figured it would only take me one to two days to get back," she breathed, feeling exhaustion take over. "But I dropped by water bottle the first day and after that everything seemed to go downhill.

"I think I'm going to pass out now," she added before she fell backwards onto Gabriel's bed.

Lightning fast, he was able to snatch the cup out of the air before it shattered on the ground.

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