The scent of tiger musk hit Madison like a punch to the gut, and she moaned as fire pulsed in her veins, kicking her heartbeat up a few notches. Panting, she opened her mouth to tell him to back off. This was her fight, dammit, and she could damn well handle herself. But the words refused to reach her tongue. All she could do was stare at the sexual potency and predatory power of the tiger shifter.
“Put. Down. My. Mate.” Pierce’s voice was a quiet, guttural caress that sharpened Madison’s senses and made her body come alive with heat and power.
The bear only shook her and guffawed. “Mine now, cat boy. Want her? Come get her.”
Pierce bellowed and rushed forward to lash out with a sure strike. The sickening scent of fresh blood permeated the air. Madison felt nauseous and her lioness clawed to join the fray. There was nothing it wanted more than to break the bastard’s hold on her and spill more blood.
She looked down and watched as deep gashes opened on her captor’s arm, causing him to scream in pain. His arms opened, releasing her at last from his hold. She scrambled into a position from which she could launch herself at him, but there wasn’t anything left to be done. He was cradling his arm as blood spilled in rivulets between his fingers. Even with his shifter powers, he didn’t seem to be healing. People held back an enraged Pierce, who was struggling to break free of their holds, roaring the whole time.
It looked as though she might have to take on Pierce to keep him from attacking the guy once more. More and more bar patrons arrived to push him back as he let out another scream. The musk of pissed-off tiger filled the air, causing the dank perfume of fear to spike in the room. The crowd managed to hold him back, but only just.
“Pierce, calm down,” Madison prayed her voice would get through to him.
He stilled for a moment and then continued to fight with renewed strength. There was no security to be seen. The patrons who weren’t busy holding Pierce back were distracted by the countdown to the game on the flat screens mounted on the walls. They sipped their beer, talked, and laughed, as if this were an everyday occurrence.
Madison sighed. “Shifters,” she muttered.
With blue eyes blazing, Pierce let out another roar. Sweat ran down his body in rivers, soaking his shirt. His body shook as anger contorted his face into a horrible mask of pure hate. His nostrils flared and his whiskers twitched. Thankfully, the bear shifter had been led away. But he had left a scent of fear and blood in his wake. Droplets of dark red created a sickening, splattered path out the door.
Pierce continued to struggle, chest heaving. Blood stained his jeans and the sleeve of his shirt. Ruby spots decorated his face. Rage emanated from him, hitting Madison in waves that twisted her banked arousal into a combination of disgust, anger, and need. Her heart pounded against her rib cage in an erratic drumbeat as her pulse ticked upward. Her senses sharpened as she pulled back the shift until she was fully human again. Only then did she start to approach him.
She waded into the crowd, which parted willingly, until she stood in front of him. Taking in his features, she could see a small glimmer of the man she was attracted to, but he was almost all gone. His gaze showed nothing but pent-up anger and rage.
Such arrogance he had. She pulled back her arm and brought it forward, slapping him so hard his head snapped to the side and she heard a small crack.
A growl came at her as he turned his head slowly back at her. His blue eyes were now the color of the midnight sky, flecked with bits of blue so cold they were like the heart of a glacier. The palm of her hand heated and pulsed. She ignored the pain as more heat cascaded in her body, taking her by surprise. The feeling shoved away all other emotion as his eyes burned with incredible intensity.
Fire surged in her veins and wove through her muscles. Liquid arousal filled her womb, which pulsed in time with her heartbeat. Blood pooled in her groin, turning her labia puffy and her clit into a hardened bud. Desire threatened to swathe her brain completely. She’d never gotten off on violence before. The sensation was new, but she shoved it aside to focus on trying to get through to the man.
She focused on the scene in front of her. Pierce had stilled. The anger and rage began to retreat, like a wave moving outward to sea. His feline musk began to lighten, and the fur and whiskers faded away to nothing. He shook his head like a dog shaking off water. All that remained of his tiger nature were thread-thin stripes. His eyes lightened to ice blue, but a small spark of passion remained.
“Bloody hell.” He jerked out of the hold of the bar patrons. His anger and desire had dissipated, but the musk of tiger still remained, as did a hint of fear. He paced back and forth until Madison felt the steady beat of calm.
Pierce stopped and turned toward her. Concern filled his face. He shook his head again before moving closer to her, bringing with him the masculine scent of spice and musk.
Madison began to relax, but her skin remained fevered with passion as arousal knotted in her gut. Her heart continued its frantic dance against her rib cage. She pulled in deep breaths to calm herself, but that didn’t help her in the least. Every tug of air brought his scent into her lungs and filled her blood with more heat. Tingles skittered along her inner thighs to the base of her spine and made her all the more aware of her femininity.
He moved closer still, bringing his body heat and cologne near her. Her lioness purred with his closeness, the noise starting deep in her chest and quaking through her body. Madison swallowed and tried to dart away, only to have him grab her wrist, pull her close, and lift a hand to cup her cheek. Time stopped as her fever spiked. Her limbs melted into gelatin. She was rooted to the spot, her thoughts short-circuited. Her whole being became attached to this one touch.
“You OK, love?” his voice rumbled from deep in his body.
She shivered at that contact. A blaze filled her cheek and began to spread down her neck like liquid fire under the press of his roughened palm. What would that sensation feel like all over her body, trailing down her bare back, along her inner thighs, her sides—all over?
Were his fingers as rough as his palm? She licked her lips at the thought. Images formed in her mind of him touching her all over as she struggled against bonds that held her wrists and ankles in place. Sensation fluttered through her sex. She sucked in more air and shoved away those thoughts.
All she could do was nod at his question and rasp out, “Fine.”
Even she could hear the tendrils of passion in her tone.
“You sure? Did he hurt you?” His gaze narrowed at her, a new fire burned in his eyes. The edge of a growl was back in his voice, threatening yet another round of violence.
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “This is why I hate you.” She stepped away from him.
His gaze left hers and took her in from head to toe. “I didn’t attack you,” he growled, moving toward her again.
She didn’t back down. Instead, she moved until she was toe to toe with him. “Maybe not, but you don’t have to act like such a Neanderthal about it.”
“I’m not a Neanderthal. Now are you hurt or not?”
Tension sizzled between them. Goose bumps rose on her bare arms. She wanted to move closer, press herself against him, bury her nose in the crook of his neck, and inhale his scent. Instead, she just glowered up at him.
“I’m fine. Back off,” she spat, more venomously than she intended.
“Not until I make sure you’re not hurt.” Before she could protest he jerked her against him until her breasts pressed against his midsection. Her nipples became tightened nubs that pulsed with need. Her skin tightened as pricks of heat danced along her exposed skin. Her lioness purred louder, demanding more contact with her mate. For a moment, all she saw was him. Her world became the bright white of his shirt marred by the dark stains of blood, his sweat and unique scent, the tanned skin of his neck. She leaned forward to rub herself against him, imprint her own perfume on his clothes. A soft buzzing sound filled her ears.
Whispers and murmurs swirled around them, pulling her back to the reality of where she was. She cursed her weakness and took a step back. She was supposed to stay away from him, not give him more ammunition to prove his theory that she was attracted to him.
“No way in hell. I’m fine. No damage. I could have handled myself, you know.” It wasn’t a bluff, but she had to remind herself of why she should be so pissed at him. Things could have gone pear shaped in a matter of seconds had she not stepped in. “Why do you have to act like such a beast? Jesus.” She ran a hand through her hair and focused on her weakened anger at him. “You could have gotten someone hurt—or worse.”
He blinked. “I know you can take care of yourself. I was just trying to help.”
His voice was now soft and gentle, and yet that roughness still remained. It was like a single malt—smooth, creamy, rough, and it could keep you warm on the coldest of nights.
Another shiver raced along her skin and smoothed down her spine. Her nipples pulsed with heat as her breasts grew heavy and tight. She wanted to move back into his touch, feel the press of his chest against hers as he moved within her, rubbing his skin against the sensitive tips.
She cleared her throat and tried to stave off her desire. “And I’m not your mate,” she lied, trying to shrug off the effects that his tenor had on her body, “friend or otherwise.”
“For now.” Pierce closed the gap between them until his chest pressed against her breasts, giving them just a hint of the pressure they needed. It wasn’t enough, not nearly enough.
Her palms itched with the need to reach out and draw him closer to her. She tried to ignore the tingles on her lips, the desire to taste his skin. She broke eye contact to look at the pulse that beat under the skin in his neck. She could see that it was racing, just like hers.
Again the world narrowed down to just him and her. He bent his head toward her. For a moment, she prayed he would kiss her.
“Not now or ever.”
She threw out the challenge knowing it was baiting him. He brought his lips closer, only a breath away, and she let out a pained groan. Her control slipped away. This couldn’t happen here. She couldn’t allow this to continue, not when she wasn’t on equal footing, not while her body was a chaotic cauldron of emotions.
She spun on her heel and walked away from him, hoping he wouldn’t follow her—and yet, a part of her wanted him to chase after her. It was a ridiculous notion, but it was there in her mind. Madison wanted Pierce to hunt her down and claim her.
“Run all you want. You won’t escape from me.” His raspy tone followed her with each step she took.
Copyright 2013 Selena Illyria
All Rights Reserved