4 Months Later
Jayne sat back in her chair, her hand absently rubbing her slightly swollen stomach.
It hadn't taken long to realize that it wasn't the junk food that had added to her pant size.
When she'd finally pulled herself back together, she'd managed to haul her equipment to the wolf den and spent the next month living in the rough collecting her samples, taking notes and tagging all but two of the beautiful animals.
She'd also caught the poacher who kept setting traps for the wolves.
As Jayne slept in her high-hide, she was awakened by the sound of heavy boots crunching through the fresh layer of snow that covered the ground.
Peaking out, she saw a small, weaselly looking man grumbling to himself as he found one of his traps, sprung and bent to hell thanks to Jayne's hammer.
She watched as he looked around trying to see if he could find any indication of who had broken his equipment.
Smiling to herself, she followed his movements as he became more and more frustrated by the destruction of his traps.
Moving soundlessly, Jayne grabbed her revolver and knife and slid down the trunk of the tree.
Silently, she stalked her prey until she was right behind him.
Using the butt of her gun, she cracked him across the back of his head causing him to collapse to his knees as she pressed her gun to the back of his skull
"So you're the cowardly dipshit settling illegal traps?" she spat, pressing the barrel harder into his hair.
"Www...wwh... what?" he stuttered. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about the spring traps you have placed around here," Jayne seethed, remembering the pain she'd felt when she'd stepped in one.
The man shook his head in denial.
"Do you know what happens to your ankle when you step on one of those?" she asked, her anger finally finding an outlet. "I know! I stepped in one.
"Stand up!" she ordered, stepping back to he couldn't make any quick moves to take her gun away.
Following her instructions, he pushed himself to his feet, his limbs shaking in fear.
Breathing deeply, Jayne wished she could smell some of that fear instead of the reeking odor of unwashed male sweat and alcohol.
"March," she commanded, "straight ahead."
Doing as he was told, the man walked forward sneaking glances back at her.
"Listen," he said, trying to bargain with her. "These wolves pelts and teeth are worth a small fortune. We can split it."
"Stop!" Jayne barked. "I have no interest in your money.
"Besides," she added, an evil grin spreading across her lips, "you're going to need it to pay your hospital bills."
The trappers head snapped around to look at her, but he was too late.
Using her speed, Jayne kicked him in the back of the knee forcing him to the ground.
Before he could cry out, she grabbed his arm and slammed his hand into a trap she'd left unsprung especially for him. For this moment.
Hearing his screams of pain, Jayne felt elation for the first time in weeks.
"Oh," she cooed, looking at her victim with an over-exaggerated pouty face, "does that hurt?"
"You fucking bitch," the man spat,trying to free his crushed wrist.
"Well," Jayne sighed, squatting down to look at the man, "since I don't have a wolf, I don't technically qualify, but thanks for the compliment."
The man looked at her like she was insane... which she might be if she were honest with herself.
"Listen to me you heartless, dickless prick," she said, lifting his chin with the point of her knife, "just count yourself lucky it was only your hand.
"I had thought of actually using it on a different part of your anatomy, but I've kinda sworn off getting that close to a man again.
"Now," she sighed, laughing to herself as she watched the blood drain from the trappers face, "I suggest you get you weasely ass up and out of my woods before I change my mind.
"Just chalk this up as a very hard lesson learned and find a new source of income, because of I find you in these woods again, I will gut you and leave you for the birds."
Nodding eagerly, the man struggled to his feet and stumbled his way back the way he'd come, his arm cradled to his chest and his pants wet and smelly.
Chuckling at her moment of madness, Jayne had made sure that none of that had made it into her log. She'd simply written that after having so many traps destroyed, the poacher had given up and abandoned his quest to catch a wolf.
Feeling her baby moving in her stomach, Jayne knew it was time to eat.
"Hungry, huh?" she asked the child doing back flips inside her.
Rising, she stretched and headed to the kitchen to make herself dinner.
Taking her dinner out to the porch, Jayne settled on the steps and ate her beef stew looking out at the ever changing landscape.
Winter was on its way out and soon she'd be packing her equipment and heading back to school to present her dissertation.
Sighing in contentment, she put her bowl down next to her and cupped her hands around her growing stomach.
Should she find a way to tell Gabriel about their child?
Would he care?
He'd told her once that he wanted children with her, but he was mated to someone else now. Would she only be opening herself up to more pain by showing back up in his life?
Normal werewolf pregnancies usually only lasted five months, but Jayne had discovered one more bonus to not having a wolf.
Her pregnancy seemed to be progressing along the lines of a human one. With a wry smile, she pushed herself to her feet and moved back inside to clean up her dishes.
She had another four months of discomfort and heartburn to decide if she was brave enough to face her ex-mate or to keep her silence and simply raise the baby on her own.