Authors: Desiree Holt
Tags: #Cat Shifters/ Contemporary/ Crime and Mystery
“No alcohol for you, Detective? I didn’t think you were on duty right now.”
He set his glass down. “Not technically. But I’m hanging out at The Litter Box after I get off to help Max out with a situation.”
Her face sobered instantly. “Aisha told me about the leopard shifter who’s been preying on the single women here.” Sadness filled her eyes. “I hate that it’s one of my breed who’s doing it.”
Seth automatically reached out and closed one hand over hers. “We all feel that way when one of our kind goes rogue. But Max and I are convinced it’s a genetically flawed shifter, perhaps the result of the mating of two different species.”
A delicate shudder raced over Kendall’s curvy body. “I read a story about what he does to them. God…those poor women.”
“You need to be very careful, Kendall.” He hadn’t moved his hand and was very aware that she hadn’t withdrawn hers from his touch. He cleared his throat. “So. Tell me about what you do at work?”
“I’m an IT project manager. Like Aisha.”
“You enjoy it? I can’t imagine spending all day sitting at a computer.”
She tossed her head slightly, her hair flowing like waves of gold. Max had to grit his teeth to keep from reaching out and running his fingers through them. The nearness of her body to his had him hungering to touch every one of her sweet curves. To dip his fingers into the V of her sweater and feel the creamy swell of her breasts.
To bury myself in her body and never come up for air.
Whoa! What the hell’s happening here?
Seth had a healthy sexual appetite, but he was always cautious, always selective, always in control. He was stunned by his instantaneous reaction to Kendall Raines. The air was rich with the scent of her pheromones and both Seth’s human and panther senses were on full alert.
Go slowly. Don’t scare her off. And remember, you have a job to do here.
“You’re looking at me so strangely,” she remarked during a momentary lull in the music. “Do I have dirt on my face? Is my mascara running down my cheeks? My lipstick smudged?” She grinned. “Have I sprouted alien antennae?”
Seth gave himself a mental shake. “No. No, you’re fine. Sorry about that.” He squeezed her hand he was still holding. “Just thinking how lucky I am that I was here tonight when you came in with Aisha.”
Her smile was suddenly shy. “Me too.”
He shifted slightly in his chair. “I hate to do this, but half of me still has to pay attention to what’s going on here. I promised my brother.”
“No problem. I feel a lot safer, actually, knowing you’re keeping an eye on things.”
“Which means,” he went on, reluctantly moving his hand away from hers, “I should probably take a better look at who’s here. Check out the single guys to see if our predator is scoping out the scene.”
He smiled as a thought popped into his brain. “How about dancing with me? That way I can enjoy myself and still pay attention to business.
“Oh.” She looked momentarily startled. “Well, sure. That would be nice.”
But once they were on the floor, Seth wasn’t sure it had been the best idea. For one thing, having Kendall in his arms made him harder than stone. The immediate connection that had sizzled and snapped between them gripped everything from his brains to his balls. Her scent teased at his nostrils, the silk of her hair brushed his cheek and her lush, firm breasts pressed into his chest. Just having her in his arms was sending images of her naked and aroused dancing through his brain.
Nice, Rogan. Get your brain out of your pants.
With a deliberate effort, he forced himself to look around the room. The bar was still crowded, the dance floor full and every other available space filled with people talking, sending out signals…looking to hook up. He wanted to shake each and every woman he saw and warn her that the man she was talking to might not be as safe as she thought.
The bad thing about the rogue leopard was he left no traces at all and no one had any idea who it could be. He was apparently clever enough to maintain an outward appearance that gave off no warning signals. He could actually be any of the men Seth was eyeing—looking relaxed, casual, out for a good time and nothing more.
The song ended and Kendall made a move to step back from him and off the floor. But the press of the crowd held them in place and in any event, Seth wasn’t quite ready to let go of her. The next song kicked in and Seth pulled Kendall more tightly against him, their bodies barely swaying on the dance floor, but the limited movement was enough to arouse him almost to the point of desperation.
“I need to check with Max about something,” he muttered, startling Kendall as he lowered his arms and grabbed one of her hands. “Come on.”
He moved them through the crowd like a man on a mission.
“My drink is over there,” she shouted over the loud music.
“Max will get you another one.” They were back at the end of the bar by now. “Right, Max?”
“What he said,” his brother responded over the din.
Seth held up two fingers, pointed at Kendall and himself and at Max, who nodded.
“I thought you wanted to talk,” Kendall reminded him when the song ended. “Isn’t that why we went to sit at the table?”
“Obviously this is no place to talk,” Seth grumbled.
Or any place to hold a woman I want to strip naked and fuck senseless.
At that moment Aisha hopped off her stool and came around to the end of the bar where Max had paused for a moment.
“We’re heading out,” she told her husband, giving him a kiss.
“You came together?” he asked.
“Uh huh.” She grinned. “We dropped off my car and Kendall drove. She wanted to have me as an excuse if someone came onto her too strong.” She winked at her brother-in-law. “That wouldn’t be you, would it, Seth?”
He ignored her. “Fine. I’ll follow you home.”
“That’s not necessary,” Aisha protested.
“I agree,” Kendall added. “Besides, aren’t you needed here?”
“Not until closing, really. If we leave now, I can be back in time.” He took each of them by the arm. “No arguments, ladies. Never disagree with the police.”
He hustled them out before they could protest any further, nodding to Leo on the way.
“I’ll be back soon,” he told him.
Leo just grinned.
The two cars pulled out of the parking lot in tandem. Seth followed closely behind the women, waiting when Kendall dropped Aisha off until his sister-in-law was safely in her house. When they got to Kendall’s apartment building, he pulled into a vacant parking space and walked her inside.
“Isn’t this a little overkill?” she asked with a smile. “My own personal police protection?”
“It’ll make me feel a lot better. Besides, I wanted to do this.”
Before he had a chance to second-guess himself, he pulled her into his arms and took her mouth in a hungry kiss. Her lips felt just as full and soft as they looked, pliant under his after a bare second’s hesitation. He ran the tip of his tongue over the closed seam of her lips, unrelenting until she opened for him. When he glided inside and her wet heat enveloped him, his entire body caught fire. He pulled her tightly against him, the thick rod of his cock pressing against the softness of her body, her breasts burning into his chest. As he danced his tongue against hers and gripped her head to hold it in place, he had to make a conscious effort to restrain his cat, the panther that always growled deep inside him.
I want to mate with her!
Where did that come from?
But even as he asked himself, he knew that it was true. They might have just met but the bond was so strong it was almost visible. When they came up for air and he looked in Kendall’s eyes, he saw that she felt it, too.
He touched his fingers to her mouth. “Shh. It’s okay. We’ll take our time. But it will happen. I promise you.” He brushed his mouth over hers. ”I’m jammed up a little right now, between my regular shift and helping Max keep an eye out for the rogue leopard. But I want to see you. Tomorrow. Maybe for lunch?”
“Does Aisha have your cell number?”
“Yes. She does.” She looked at him as if he was everything in the world to her.
Fast. This is happening so fast. But in a real mating this is the way it occurs. Instantaneous.
“Okay. I’ll get it from her and call you. In the morning. That’s a promise. And Kendall? Until this predator is caught, I’ll be keeping you safe.”
The smile she gave him was enough to keep him warm all the way back to The Litter Box.
“I can’t get that woman’s body out of my mind, Kendall.”
Seth paced Kendall’s living room, his body a vibrating bundle of tension.
Kendall leant back on the couch and studied him, her heart breaking for him. They’d been spending some time with each other every night. Usually it was at The Litter Box, what with Seth still trying to catch what the media had dubbed The Shredder, because the killer raked his claws over the victim after killing her, shredding her skin.
Because talking at the club was difficult with all the noise, each day Seth took her to lunch near her office building. Then at night they stole whatever free time they could at the bar. The sensationalism of the murders didn’t seem to be affecting business any, and the bar was jammed from the moment it opened every day at four o’clock.
They hadn’t had much alone time. Their most intimate moments seemed to occur on the dance floor, when Seth held her so close she could feel his swollen cock pressing against her. The heat rolling from his body wrapped around her like an erotic cloak. And in Max’s office, where they managed to steal a few minutes here and there. God, the man could definitely kiss. His tongue was like a living flame every time he thrust it into her mouth, scorching her with the fire of sexual arousal. And his hands—magic. That was the word for them.
But it was an unsatisfying situation for both of them. Kendall didn’t ever remember being as sexually or emotionally drawn to a man. Each night after Seth saw her safely home she crawled into bed and eased her sexual frustration with her favourite dildo, while she closed her eyes and pretended it was Seth.
He’d taken her to brunch at one of her favourite restaurants, complete with orange mimosas, and they both should have been relaxed. But Friday night another woman had been killed and she knew it weighed heavily on the man who she was coming to care for more than she’d expected.
“This is really getting to you, isn’t it?” she said when they were back at her place.
“How can it not?” He rubbed his hands over his face. “Those poor women. Kendall, I can’t get their bodies out of my mind. I can barely imagine what they went through before they died.”
“Aisha says Max is practically a basket case.”
He nodded. “He’s even talking about closing The Litter Box until we catch this guy. He feels responsible in some way.”
“But that’s absurd!” Kendall swung her legs to the floor and sat up. “No way is it his fault.”
Seth shrugged. “I keep telling him that, but he reminds me if he didn’t have a place for cat shifters to hang out, he wouldn’t be providing a hunting ground.” He resumed his pacing, every line of his lean body tense—his thick black hair dishevelled where he kept raking his fingers through it. A muscle twitched in his cheek.
Kendall hated seeing him like this. She rose from the couch, unclipping her long golden hair and shaking it loose.
“I think I know how to get rid of some of that tension that’s got you wound up so tight,” she told him.
He stopped in front of her and looked at her, his panther eyes smouldering with heat. “Oh yeah? What did you have in mind?”
She normally wasn’t the aggressor in these situations, but no one had ever struck at her core the way Seth Rogan did. It wasn’t just that she wanted to do something to ease the anguish he was dealing with. She’d wanted him in her bed since the first night she’d met him and she was tired of waiting.
“I was thinking a little exercise might be in order.”
The fire in his eyes flamed brighter. “Oh?” He raised one elegant black eyebrow. “What kind of exercise?”
Her face was so close to his that his breath was a warm breeze fanning her cheeks. She wound her arms around his neck. “Maybe the kind that requires us to take our clothes off first.”
He threaded his fingers through her hair, clasping her head, holding it in place. “I’ve been trying not to rush you on this, Kendall. I know this will sound stupid—I mean, we just met a few days ago—but we’ve got something special here. That first night we were together was incredible. But I’m trying to give you some space. I just thought I should back off a little. I don’t want to ruin it by pushing you into something before you’re ready for it.”
“Trust me.” She brushed her lips against his. “I am so very ready for this.”
He’d kissed her before—kissed her plenty at The Litter Box and when he’d followed her home each night. But when he took her mouth this time there was a passion and heat to it. He thrust his tongue into her mouth, licking every surface, tasting her everywhere. She pressed herself against his hard, lean body, the heat of it surging through her. Her breasts felt heavy and the pulse in her cunt throbbed with insistent need. And Seth’s hot tongue was everywhere in her mouth.