He tucked in his lips to keep from laughing. The expression on her face was purely serious, and he had no interest in being shot because he allowed his amusement to show.
Nodding very slowly, he replied, “Okay. Rationality isn’t an interest of yours. I understand.” Then, using the years of military training he’d accumulated, Kaisal moved quicker than she could anticipate, gripped her wrist in a firm yet gentle grasp, and pressed his fingers into the nerves that would release her tense muscles, causing her hold on the gun to go lax. The moment her digits uncurled, he had the weapon out of her hand and into his own before he dismantled it, leaving the ammunition in one of his large palms and the handle in the other.
When he was done, he held it out, handle first, and looked up just to see a revolver millimeters away from his left eye. Kaisal smiled despite himself. “You know, sweetheart, I’m really starting to like you.”
The incorrigible bastard almost made her smile…almost. But there was something Kamali had learned in the last few years of her life—she rarely had anything to smile about unless it revolved around Callum and watching him grow. That didn’t change because some extremely broad-shouldered tiger with the most captivating blue eyes she’d ever witnessed decided he was interested in rubbing up against her.
In another time and another place with a lot less sordid emotional damage, she might’ve let him. She could do a lot worse than the feline who towered over her by a good six or seven inches—which wasn’t easy considering she stood at six feet. His thick hair was a mixture of browns, white, auburn, and black, falling just to his shoulders and curling on the ends. His mouth was full, his cheeks leanly cut, and his nose slightly broad, giving the impression that you could see his tiger’s face in his bone structure.
When she’d stepped outside into the unfamiliar cold of Colorado, his smell had struck her before the frigid air. It was woodsy and clean, enveloping her in a warmth she wasn’t accustomed to. The lioness in her wanted to stroke him just beneath his chin with her muzzle, wanted to roll around in that scent and then sleep belly up while he petted her chest. It was disturbing. Completely and totally disturbing.
With a mocking smile, he took another step forward, stooping to align his eye with the barrel of her revolver as if trying to peek inside. “If you pull the trigger is a flag going to pop out that says bang? And will it be more of a suggestion than a joke?”
The rumbling inflection of his voice grazed over her skin, leaving her almost breathless and even more agitated than before. She didn’t have time for this shit and yet, here she was, being harassed by Shere Khan. Becoming aware that he was, by no means, concerned about getting his head blown off, she lowered the gun and put it back in its resting place behind the waistband of her jeans.
“Do you really want to help me?” Kamali asked, exasperated.
His brows arched over those goddamn eyes that were so pale they were almost invisible save for the silver flecks. When he moved they reflected the minimal light surrounding them, giving way to the animal he kept caged. “I thought we were clear on that.”
With a sigh, she nodded to the gas pump, not sure why she was even having this conversation. Or why she suddenly felt something that she hadn’t in the last few weeks—safe. Kamali felt safe. He could’ve done so many things. The predator inside understood the unleashed strength he carried; felt it the second he managed to disarm her. He wore his military past, and it made her shudder to think what she would’ve had to do had he been a random asshole. Yet she sensed no malice…just true interest. An interest that would never go any farther than these few quiet minutes. Callum was her concern. He was always her concern.
“I have nothing but cash and—”
“—the store is closed,” he finished. “Out of gas?”
“Just about.” Kamali shifted from one foot to the other, suddenly uncomfortable with the way he gazed at her. “Listen, it’s not your problem. I can handle…what’re you doing?”