Authors: Mina Carter
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Paranormal, #Romantic Erotica
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opyright 2016 Mina
Cover Art: Mina Carter
Cover Model: Martin Nelson
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his book is
a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
: All sexually active characters depicted in this work of fiction are 18 years of age or older.
, he was here. Zara Hunter sucked in a nervous breath and plastered a calm look on her face that she definitely didn’t feel.
There were alphas, there were
and then there was Logan Reese. King of the Ring, he controlled all the paranormal fight clubs in the city with an iron hand—including the
the club he’d just walked into with an expression that could only be described as pissed off. A cadre of heavies followed in his wake.
her brother, Kylan, breathed. “We are so fucking screwed right now.”
Zara had to agree with him. Owned by her father, the
wasn’t one of the premier clubs on the circuit and, if she was honest with herself, was more on the shabby side of shabby chic. It turned a profit, usually, but it wasn’t popular enough to rake in any kind of big money. Which meant that it was well beneath the notice of the big man himself.
Until, of course, daddy dearest had eloped with his latest squeeze, leaving Zara and her brother to deal with the club. Within half an hour they’d come to the realization that not only had their father taken off with his “secretary,” but he’d also helped himself to the protection money owed to the king. Of course, they called it something different…but everyone knew what it was. They paid their dues and they kept their club, and their bones remained unbroken. That might change tonight.
“How are we going to get out of this?” Kylan’s voice held an edge of panic as the big man turned and fixed them with a hard, blue-green gaze. He looked so intimidating that Zara’s knees trembled.
“We pray. We really fucking pray… and we hope he’ll cut us a little slack,” she murmured softly as Reese walked toward them.
He was a big man. Not as tall as some, but broad-shouldered and packed with muscle. She’d seen him fight a couple of times, and his sheer brutality in the ring had scared even her. They said he was a lion shifter, but he didn’t look the type. His hair was shaved close to the scalp rather than long and flowing like most lion shifters, and his eyes were the wrong color. Blue, not gold.
He was a predator, though. There was no missing the look in his eyes as he stalked toward them. His unusual gaze studied them both, and she fought the urge to squirm. He was dangerous and angry, so why the hell did that send a thrill down her spine?
He stopped in front of them, eyebrow raised in query, and almost instantly dismissed Zara to look at her brother. Her anger flared for a moment. Of the two of them, Zara was the more dangerous. She might not be a shifter like Ky, the gene somehow managing to pass her by completely, but she was way more dangerous when she was pissed off. Except against a bad boy cage fighter who twisted his opponents into pretzels and probably ate chain link for breakfast.
“Zara Hunter.” She took a little step forward and offered her hand. “You’ll be dealing with me. This is my brother, Kylan. He looks after our fighters.”
Reese’s gaze transferred back to her, narrowing a fraction before he gave a curt nod. For a second she was struck dumb as a wave of lust stronger than anything she’d ever known washed over her. How the hell could he be so scary and so fucking hot at the same time?
Reaching out, he took her hand and shook it before letting go. His grip was firm but not the painful knuckle-cruncher she’d braced herself for. Most shifters liked to impress their strength on everyone around them, so she’d expected pain, if not to hear her bones creak. But…his touch was businesslike and professional.
“Good, so you’re the one who will tell me exactly what you plan to do to make up for the money stolen from me.”
She swallowed and nodded. “Yes sir, I am.”
* * *
ara Hunter was not
what Reese expected. When he’d been told one of his club managers had fucked off with last month’s payments and left his kids to pick up the slack, he’d expected one or both to wheedle and whine, pleading with him as he ordered bones broken and the club handed over to new management.
Stealing from the king wasn’t allowed, and he needed to send a message, but fuck it…he hadn’t expected one of Hunter’s kids to be a damn woman. And certainly not one as fucking hot as Zara.
Petite, she filled out the sheath dress she wore to perfection, the dark silk wrapped lovingly around lush curves. Her dark hair was cut short, a pixie crop that framed delicate features and showed off the graceful curve of her neck before it flowed into shoulders revealed by the wide neckline of her dress.
He flicked a glance back up at her face and felt his lion, hidden deep inside, growl possessively. Large, dark eyes watched him carefully. There was no fear in her expression, a fact that eased something deep in the center of his chest. Almost everyone he knew looked at him in fear because of his appearance. But for some reason, he didn’t want her to.
Instead, he wanted to wrap her up in his arms, to keep her safe…from everyone but him.
The trouble was,
was the one she needed keeping safe from. Especially if she brought out the wild side of his nature. If she caught the interest of his lion as well…heaven help her.
Ignoring the growl deep within him, he brought his mind back to business and looked around the club. It had been allowed to fall to rack and ruin but that wasn’t his issue at the moment. These two were. Nodding to one of his men, Gage, to accompany the brother, he indicated that Zara should precede him.
“Let’s take this discussion somewhere a little more private, shall we?” he suggested, watching her face carefully.
She was good. Her body language gave nothing away, and if he had to play poker with her, he’d come out of it a losing man. But there was just an edge in her scent—and a look there in the back of her eyes—as she nodded.
His cat growled, the predator’s interest caught.
She was nervous and trying like hell to hide it. The urge to pull her against his larger body almost overtook him as she nodded and turned, presenting him with her back. Unable to help himself, he slid a lingering look down her figure from the gentle curve of her neck through delicate shoulders, which narrowed into a waist so small he could probably get both hands around it, then flared out into full hips… Lust took him on a joyride as he imagined gripping them from behind while he powered into her.
“This way, sir.”
Her voice brought him back to reality and he followed like a puppy in her wake as she walked through the club. Even though he looked around—giving every indication he was the mean SOB interested in the running of his empire like normal—afterward, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you a thing about the place.
He would, however, have been able to tell you everything about Zara’s legs and the towering, “fuck me now” heels she had on. Even in them, she barely came up to his shoulder, which made him realize what a tiny little bit of a thing she was.
“Just in here.” She stood aside to let him precede her into in the office.
Usually he would have stood back but he was a big man and the office, as it turned out, was a damn closet. Generally, that wouldn’t have bothered him. Using his size to intimidate someone was nothing new. He did it all the time in the ring and with some of the less savory characters on the club circuit. Using his size to intimidate a club manager, albeit a temporary one, of a club that owed him money? Fucking obligatory. Using his size to intimidate a woman who he’d just caught the scent of fear from…not happening.
If fear was all he’d scented from her, he wouldn’t have forced the issue. However, as soon as he’d identified the emotion rolling from her pores, another scent joined it. This one he knew but hadn’t expected… the sweet, hot spiciness of arousal.
He blinked and looked at her quickly. She didn’t manage to look down in time, and he caught a glimpse of the heat that filled her eyes.
. Little miss calm and collected was into him. She might fear him, but there was a healthy dose of desire mixed in there as well. His cock leaped to attention. Desire he could work with.
Stepping into the room, he looked around, deliberately not watching her as she appeared to debate whether to step into the small space.
Come on, babe,
he urged her silently.
I’m not the big, bad wolf, but I can eat you better than him.
One small step followed another, and he was aware of each and every one as she joined him in the room, even clicking the door shut behind her. Locking her in with him. He suppressed the grin that wanted to crawl over his face and leaned his ass back to the edge of the desk, allowing her the single chair if she wanted.
“So…want to tell me what you had in mind for repaying this money?”
The question was light, but his gaze remained fixed on her face. He might not be coming down on her like the asshole they both knew he was, but he still wasn’t going to let her off from a month’s money scot-free. The businessman in him wouldn’t allow that. What he was really interested in, though, was what she had in mind to redress the balance.
Panic flared in her eyes for a split second before she got it under control. Good girl. He found he liked that he could read her so easily if he was quick and watched her before she shut the reaction down. Undoubtedly, most didn’t and missed the little clues.
She grew bolder and crossed the small space, standing by his side to pull some files from the desk behind him. His gaze riveted on the soft curve of her throat, where her neck met her shoulder. What would she do if he leaned over and placed a kiss there? Jump and freak out…or let him pull her into his arms?
“I went through all the accounts I could find. James…my father,” she corrected herself, “covered his tracks well. I found a second set of books going back a few years.”
She looked sideways at him, and he was caught by her dark eyes. “I’m afraid he managed to make off with a lot more than just a month’s money.”
He folded his arms, using the movement to cover his surprise. But then his mouth ruined the whole act. “You know and you’re admitting that to me? Knowing that it increases your debt?”
Her mask slipped a little, worry creating a tiny crease in the middle of her brow and she caught her lower lip between her teeth. That little lip bite almost cracked his composure, forcing him to bite back a groan.
“Yes, sir.” She nodded. “You’d find out anyway as soon as your accounts people go through all this, so I figured it was best to be totally honest with you. Kylan and I had nothing to do with the management of the club before James skipped the country, but he’s left us to pick up the can for it.”
Anger flared in her eyes, and gold leeched through the dark brown. Logan froze for a second, shock coursing through him. Then he shot a hand out to clamp down over the back of her neck. He dragged her closer, parting his thighs to bring her within their cage.
“You’re a shifter?”
“No, sir!” she gasped, hands flat against his broad chest as she tried instinctively to struggle out of his hold. A small growl, more a snarl, stopped that. Ignoring her squeak, he ran his nose up the side of her delicate throat, breathing her scent in deeply as he did.
“You smell like a cat. A lion shifter…”
I’m not.” The little catch in her voice, breathy but not afraid, turned him on all the more. “Not really. Mom was human so I didn’t get the shift capability. Ky did.”
“Really?” He didn’t let her escape his hold, hunched over her to breathe the scent directly from her skin. “You’re definitely a cat. It’s buried, but it’s there.”
And his cat wanted her…
More than that,
wanted her. Here, now. On the desk, against the wall…any way he could get her.
“Talk. Now.” His order was rough as he eased his grip. “How are you repaying what your family owes me?”
“We don’t have anything of value.” She took a tiny step back when he let her go, watching him. “He took everything. But we’re both happy to work to pay the debt off. More than happy. Ky’s an excellent fight manager and I’m superb with admin…”
She trailed off, worrying at her lower lip again and it was all he could do not to swoop in and crush her mouth beneath his. He wanted to, and no one would stop him, not even if she screamed. They’d probably assume he was making her pay for her father’s theft.
He would. But he wanted her to come to him first.
Tilting his head back, he looked at her. “What if I told you there was a way for you to pay off your father’s debt?”
“What way? I’ll do anything. Whatever you need.”
Hope flared in her eyes and he felt like shit for what he was about to suggest.
He didn’t move from where he was, watching her like he was a hawk, not a lion shifter. Surely she had to have realized what he was getting at? She hadn’t struck him as naïve. How could she be, working in a place like this?
Watching her as he was, he saw the moment realization filtered through. Color flooded her cheeks and she looked down, breaking eye contact. Before he could reach out to tilt her chin back up again, she flicked him a glance up through her lashes. The look was hot, dark, a little bit shy…and so erotic the blood dumped out of his brain and straight to his cock.