I pressed back against the thick tree that I had been left behind, with strict orders not to move from my spot---not unless I wanted to hear a good shouting when my guardian returned. So, for once, I would be an obedient wife and do what I was told. But, I thought suddenly with a wicked smirk, those directions said nothing about peeking from said hiding place.

Making my breath shallow and keeping my body pressed against the tree trunk, I slowly craned my neck around the obstacle. The steadily darkening twilight didn't help my already human (and thus poor) visionary skills, so I had to squint. There was nothing, only bushes and vines and all the other hot, humid, disgusting flora that makes up a tropical jungle.

I tried to relax, but all of my muscles were on edge. Something wasn't right. For every God-forsaken night we had spent here, the constant chatter of various animals---and sometimes, I shuddered, giant insects---had kept me awake. Now, it was so silent, that I was sure if the hairpin had dropped out of my thick red hair, it would have made an audible sound on the soft grass.

A sudden low rumble, definitely that of a large predatorial animal, sent a shiver down my spine. I felt unexpectedly afraid, not for my safety, but for that of the man I loved somewhere out there in the inky dark.

"Gabriel," I whispered, and then waited a second. There was a harsh sigh from somewhere behind me, and I gasped and spun around.

Can't you ever take my directions at face value? A familiar husky voice began to rant inside my head. Still unused to the intimate telepathy that came with being Gabriel's wife, I automatically clapped one hand over my head and the other over the mouth of the large Siberian tiger that was staring at me.

Yes, there was a Siberian tiger in front of me…but not just any Siberian tiger. He was tall and lean, and handsome (if you were a lady cat anyway), with shining silver eyes…and he was not fully a tiger. When he was human, his name was Gabriel Godowsky, and he was my true love---

When he wasn't looking as though he wanted to tear me limb from limb, anyways.

"Well, excuse me for caring!" I snapped back. "I wanted to see if you were okay."

Gabriel's eyes softened slightly, and before I could move, he lightly licked my palm, the only affection he could show me when he was in cat form. He was telling me to calm down, and for good reason. My voice had been rising.

When I removed my hand, he gently nudged me with his head until I sat down.

I'm fine, love. You worry too much about me. Sit down, and this time, you will wait here. To soften his words, he licked me again, this time on my cheek. I forced a small smile as his tongue lingered briefly, tasting my skin, and then shuddered as it lightly traced around my lips.

He slinked backwards, eyes still on me and the rising blush on my face with a silent sort of satisfaction. And then, as I was trying to control my feminine urges to drag my (currently feline) husband back to me and insist he lick me all over again, I saw it…and I gasped.

"Gabriel!" I screamed.

He turned, but it was a second too late. There was a flash of gray fur, and I tumbled against the tree. My eyes fluttered close.

A cool laugh broke the silence.

"Hello, angel. Miss me?"