Partial Claim

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-2-

The smell of coffee coming from the staff room made my mouth water. I poured myself a cup, the fresh bitter aroma hit my nose with so much strength I almost moaned in pleasure. I pressed the cup to my lips, the bitterness of the black coffee hit my tongue faster than the heat of it did. The coffee seared my tongue, I swallowed, letting out a soft hiss of pain and pleasure as the hot liquid rolled down my throat.

“I see your coffee habits haven’t changed.” The sound of his voice was like someone had dropped a bucket of ice water on my stomach.

My cat stirred with awareness as the closeness and scent from a familiar tiger met her senses. I looked up from my cup, my brown eyes meeting a pair of golden brown. I felt my own heart skip in my chest at the sight of him. He looked good…really good and I hated it. His large form filled the door frame, his navy suit jacket clung against his muscular arms and chest. I took everything to keep my eyes from moving further down his body, to take in all of his form, but I did it. I kept my cool, my eyes staying on his chiselled face. His golden hair was styled at the top of his head, giving him a clean professional look but not quite the look of the typical pretty boy like the majority of the men in the office. His chin and cheeks were layered with a clean short beard, the hair on his face was slightly darker than the hair on the top of his head. I had never seen him with a beard before, the Kaine I knew always kept a clean face…I guess one of us changed.

“Coffee is better when left alone.” I shrugged my shoulders, moving out of the way so he could access the machine. “There’s lots left, help yourself.” I tried to move past him as he moved out of the door frame.

He stepped to the side, slightly blocking me from moving further.

“How have you been, Liv?” He asked.

I looked at him, really looked at him, to see if he really cared. I opened my mouth to respond, but I was cut off by another voice joining the room.

“Hey Liv, can we talk?” Daniel stepped into the room. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“No.” I said. “The answer is always no, Daniel.”

I felt the tension in the room shift, my eyes moved from a glowering Daniel to a glowering Kaine. The only difference, Daniel was glowering at me, and Kaine was glowering at Daniel. I felt my cat stretch and purr at the hostile attention Kaine was giving him. I bit down on my cheek to keep from smirking at Daniel. I took this moment to slip from the room, my cat hissing, wanting to be a part of the events that may unfold between the two dominant males.

I closed the door to Jess and I’s shared office. I let out a soft sigh as I moved towards my desk, across from her.

“You didn’t bring me a coffee?” She asked, pretending to be hurt.

I looked up at her and smiled. “It didn’t even cross my mind.” I winked.

“So, you gunna tell me what’s got your cat on edge?” She took a swig from her energy drink.

“Two words.” I sighed. “Daniel, Kaine.”

Her eyebrows raised. “What happened?”

“Well, Kaine found me getting coffee and then Daniel found me getting coffee and you can probably figure out the rest from there.”

“Kaine lost his mind, finally laid claim to you and beat Daniel up?” She smiled with glee.

I narrowed my eyes. “No. Not even close.”

“Ah, well one can only hope.” She shrugged and went back to work.

The rest of the morning went by uneventful, the meetings were boring. Kaine wanted updates on where we were in finishing up training with the current enforcers from packs across North America and where his teams were moving to next. The meeting that included myself and Jess went by smoothly and quickly and I was happy to escape out the meeting room door once it was over. The rest of the afternoon went by with no hiccups, leaving me relieved that I hadn’t had to see or spend any more time in Kaine’s presence since the meetings.

By the time 4:55 rolled around I was cleaning up my desk, filing away the files that could be put away and getting ready to shut down my computer for the day. The quick ding from my laptop told me that I was wishing for things that I would never receive, leaving work on time. I let out a small groan as I pulled myself back into my desk and pulled open the email.

“Laura’s demands can wait until tomorrow, boo. Let’s get out of here.” Jess said from across from me.

I sighed. “If this was from Laura, then I would but it’s not. It’s from Tristan, I need to handle this.” I said.

I watched her as her eyes flashed. “He’s going to be there longer isn’t he?” Her voice was soft.

I looked at her, slightly hesitating before responding. “I’m not sure, but I’m going to try all that I can to make sure he comes back home. They’ve been in Tennessee for two months working with the Raven packs newest enforcers. That’s one month longer than we’ve allowed any other pack. It’s time they come home, or Raven pack will find themselves with a hefty bill.”

She sighed picking up her purse. “Just get him home, Liv.” She moved out from her desk and headed out of the room.

I sighed looking back at my computer. She was right, Tristan did need to come home, he needed to come home to her, his mate. Tristan and Jess had only been mated for a few weeks before his team had to head out of the country to help train new enforcers with packs that had acquired our services. Kaine refused his application for a four-week leave of absence to be with his new mate and establish the mating bond completely. Kaine was a prick, to put it lightly. He knew the importance of this leave, but Tristan was his best trainer and the Raven pack needed serious help. Thus, leading me to where I was now. Picking up the pieces from my best friend who was struggling to keep her tiger at bay from not only killing her cousin but also helping her keep the bond with Tristan who had left without being able to complete their mating.

I ran my hands through my curls before I opened the attachments that Tristan had sent in his email. I went over the details and his notes of progression with the Raven pack. The Ravens had progressed nicely over the last month that our team had been with them. From Tristan’s notes I felt that the Ravens were in a spot where our services were no longer needed. I attached his notes to the application to return home and submitted it to Kaine’s secretary, or more appropriately, his mother for her to file together and give to Kaine for approval.

I responded to Tristan letting him know that they will know by the end of the week and that I would also attach any details regarding flights home for himself and the rest of his enforcer team. I closed down the programs on my computer and shut down my laptop for the night. I collected my things and left the office. The main room was quiet, the majority of the lights had already been turned off over the cubicles, most of the offices had their doors shut and their lights off. The office at the end of the hall, that had spent the last five years empty wasn’t anymore.

The lights from inside Kaine’s office were all still on, the desk outside his door was empty, telling me that his mother had already left for the day. I sighed, thankful that I could avoid any conversation with her about Kaine returning home. I continued down the hall, carefully slipping past Kaine’s office door and moved towards the elevators. I pressed the button, and waited.

A shadow came from my right, I looked over. Kaine moved out of the staff room, a paper cup of coffee in his hand. His eyes snapped to mine, his golden flecks glowed in the dim light. I could feel my tiger press against the surface, she wanted to come out and play. I pushed her away.

The elevator doors opened, “Have a good night.” I said as I slipped into the box. I pressed the ground button and closed the doors. A large hand reached out and stopped the doors from completely closing.

“Have a good night?” His rough voice met my ears. “That’s all you have to say to me?” He moved into the elevator with me, his cup of coffee no longer in his hand, it most likely ended up in the hall garbage. The doors began to close behind him, he turned hitting the Emergency Stop button before putting in an override code on the panel to the side to stop the alarm from ringing.

“Excuse me?” I looked at him with wide eyes.

“After five years that’s all you have to say?” Even in the light of the elevator, his eyes glowed, passion and anger swirled around his irises.

I looked at him, my eyes moving over his face. My cat began to pace her anger boiling up with mine, quick and steady.

“And say what, Kaine? You left five years ago with no explanation. You never reached out, so why would I talk to you now?” I shifted my weight to my other foot, while I tried to be the mature adult in the room.

He stepped dangerously close to me, I could feel his body heat, smell his scent. My cat purred, despite her anger. I stepped to the side, keeping my distance from him.

“I don’t know.” He said as he ran his hand through his hair. “Anything would do.”

“Well,” I said, my eyes narrowing. “You spent five years without talking to me. Why would I think that would be any different now that you’re here?” I sneered.

How dare he pretend like he’s the one hurt in all of this?

His eyes flashed as he tried to keep control of his tiger.

“I fucked up.” His voice was low. “I know I fucked up, Livy. But I’m not going to stand here and have you ignore me.” He shook his head. “We have a history, it’d be nice if you stopped pretending that it didn’t happen.”

Angry laughter sputtered past my lips. I couldn’t help myself. His words were meaningless. He sounded like an idiot and it made my heart swell in triumph.

“Stop pretending like we don’t have a history?” I tried to catch my breath. “Oh, I remember everything, Kaine.” I narrowed my eyes. “How you partially claimed me in a stall at the office Christmas party and left without a single word or explanation as to why.” I stepped towards him and dug my fingernail into his chest. “How you first kissed me in the backyard at your aunts place when I was fourteen. How you’ve always been overprotective, possessive. Always being my god damn shadow!” I raised my voice with each point.

“I’m not the one pretending we don’t have history. You are! And you’ve spent the last five years running from it, while I’ve spent the last five years getting over it.” With every piece of strength inside me, I pushed him from the elevator, no longer wanting to hear the bullshit spew from his mouth. I hit the Emergency button, the doors closed and I began my descent to the ground floor.

I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself and my cat down. My heart was racing, my chest rising and falling in fast breaths as I tried to bring myself down. My body was shaking with anger, my eyes were rimmed with tears as I tried to fight them to go away. I wasn’t ready for that confrontation. I wasn’t ready to face all of those emotions and memories that I had spent the last five years hiding from.

I let out a shaky breath as I stepped from the elevator. I raced across the main floor and out the doors to the busy city streets. I moved towards the black SUV that sat just outside the doors of the building, I pulled open the door and quickly slipped inside.

“Good evening, Liv.” Mr. Marshall said from the front of the vehicle.

“Evening.” My voice was quiet. He looked at me in the rearview mirror, he took a deep breath, taking in the different scents coming off me. He nodded his head in understanding before he put his eyes back on the road and took me home.

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