Authors: Desiree Holt
Tags: #Cat Shifters/ Contemporary/ Crime and Mystery
At last, when he felt the first signals of her impending orgasm, he rolled up to his knees, slid his hands beneath the cheeks of her ass and drove into her with all the force of the desire gripping him.
She cried out his name as the climax took her and then he followed, the force of it thundering through both of them. He held her to him so tightly it was hard to tell where one of them ended and the other began. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to breathe again, but at last his lungs inflated with much needed air.
He rotated to his side, his arms still around her, locking her tightly against him, marvelling at his good luck in finding her and vowing to keep her safe.
* * * *
The rogue stood in front of the mirror in his bathroom, checking the closeness of his shave, making sure he hadn’t nicked himself anywhere. He turned this way and that, checking himself from all sides. He enjoyed preening in front of a mirror, proud of the strong lines of his face and the sculpted muscles of his body.
His blood pulsed through his veins as he thought about the night ahead. He knew he couldn’t keep this up much longer. He was sure to be caught.
Damn you, Maria.
No. Don’t go there.
He still carried memories of that terrible, terrible night when he’d told Maria how he loved her and wanted to mate with her. The way she’d turned him down. Told him she’d already mated with another and had no feelings for him except disgust for his arrogance. The rage that had simmered beneath the surface since his first adult shift, that signalled him he was different than others, had exploded. His only saving grace was he hadn’t taken it out on her.
No, he hadn’t been able to do that.
Instead he’d gone to a local hangout for shifters, seduced a woman, taken her home and let his madness explode. Then he’d left town. Moved here. Got a new job. And as long as he didn’t think about Maria, he was able to keep himself under control. But then one night he’d been surfing Facebook and, knowing he shouldn’t, he’d looked for her page. And there, right in front of him like a red flag, were pictures of her and the ass she’d mated with. And everything had exploded.
He knew he’d have to be moving on soon. Too many bodies. Sooner or later they’d figure it out, especially that smartass cop—Max Rogan’s brother. Then he’d be toast.
A thought that had been dancing in his mind since the other night took root again. The blonde at the bar, the one the cop was so possessive about. He’d just have to figure out a way to get to her when she was alone. He knew where she lived. That hadn’t been hard to find out. He’d just followed them one night in cat form, satisfying his curiosity. Maybe the next time she didn’t show up at The Litter Box, he’d take himself for a little night-time stroll.
The thought made his cock swell with anticipation.
Oh, yeah, she’d be a tasty morsel all right.
Meanwhile, he had places to be and things to do. After pulling on his usual jeans and T-shirt, he shoved his wallet in his pocket, picked up his car keys and headed out into the night.
* * * *
The Litter Box was less than half full and the people there didn’t seem to be in much of a mood to have fun. With the news of The Shredder’s latest victim circulating everywhere, the atmosphere was very subdued. The jukebox was silent, no one feeding it coins and dancing. Instead they huddled in small groups, their conversations almost whispered.
Kendall sat on the end stool sipping a diet cola. She and Aisha had driven together but Max’s wife had left earlier, knowing Seth would take her friend home. Seth had an itchy feeling under his skin, wondering if he shouldn’t take a break to drive Kendall home and then come back to the bar. The alpha would be here shortly and Seth really needed to talk to him or he’d just leave for the night. There wasn’t much activity going on for him to monitor. No one was in the mood to hook up after the latest killing.
“I might as well close up.” Max tossed a towel on the counter beneath the bar. “I’m not selling enough to stay open and everyone’s acting like they just came from a funeral.”
“A lot of them did,” Seth pointed out. “They went to the service for the last victim. She was a regular here and everyone knew her and really liked her.” He scowled. “Damn it to hell anyway.”
At that moment the front door swung open again and the alpha—a tall, muscular man with greying black hair—strode up to them. He shook hands with Seth and Max before embracing both of them.
“Thank you for coming,” Seth told him. “Besides needing your brain, there’s someone I want you to meet.” He lifted Kendall’s hand, kissing her fingers. “Nathaniel Dobre, meet Kendall Raines—the woman who owns my heart.”
Seth smiled as Kendall blushed. She pulled her hand back and held it out to Nat.
“It’s an honour to meet you, sir.”
“And for me.” He smiled at her and Seth watched her fall at once under Nathaniel’s spell, as did every woman from nine to ninety. The man had some incredible mojo going.
“I’m going to close up,” Max announced. “Let me get Leo to help me clear everyone out of here. Then I’ll make fresh coffee for us.” He walked off to speak to the bouncer.
Kendall finished her soft drink, put her glass back down on the bar and slid off the stool. “Seth, why don’t you let me take your car and I’ll go home. Max, would you mind bringing him to my place after y’all are finished here?”
“Absolutely not.” Seth slammed his hand on the bar. “You are not leaving here by yourself.”
She looked around the club. “Seth, there’s hardly anyone here and they’re all leaving anyway. I don’t think The Shredder will be hunting tonight.”
“Just the same. Nat, can you hang out while I run Kendall home?”
“No problem.” He smiled, eyes twinkling. “I’ll just harass your brother.”
“About what?” Max asked, walking back to where they all stood. When Seth explained the situation, he suggested, “Why not let Leo drive her? He just ushered the last of the stragglers out and he’ll be taking off anyway.”
Seth frowned. “I don’t know. I think I’d better—”
“Come on, man,” Max said. “Leo’s a big bruiser. It’s like sending her home with an armed guard.”
“Send who where with what?” With the last patron gone, Leo joined them. When Max explained, he grinned. “Sure. Maybe I can make time with your woman, Seth.” When Seth scowled, he laughed. “Just teasing, big guy. Honest. She’ll be safe as the crown jewels with me.”
“I’ll be fine,” Kendall assured Seth and stood on tiptoe to kiss him. Then she winked. “I’ll be waiting up for you.”
Seth pulled her against him and kissed her hard. “I’ll be there as quick as I can.”
“Seth, tell me where you are with The Shredder.” Nat waited while Max brewed a fresh pot of coffee.
“Nowhere.” Seth ran his hands over his stubbled jaw. “That’s just it. It’s the damnedest thing. Are there rumours from any other pack?”
Nat shook his head. “Not a thing. I met with several of the other alphas this week, but they had nothing to report. No one seems to know who this rogue is, where he came from or what set him off. And they’re all on edge, waiting to see if he strikes one of their packs.”
“Damn.” Seth scowled. “I’ve gone through all the credit card receipts of the regulars and had guys checking them out but not one of them looks like a possible candidate.”
“Something set him off,” Max pointed out.
“If we knew what that was we’d be halfway home.”
“I’ve asked the alphas I met with to contact other leaders and see if any of them had even one incident they could tell us about. I should hear back tomorrow.”
“The other thing,” Seth added, “is figuring out how he knows where these women live. Do they all give him their home addresses while he’s seducing them in here? No.” He stated the obvious answer. “It’s not that. And I’m not all that convinced he follows them. Kendall pointed out that a woman alone driving on a residential street would know if a car was trailing her and would go someplace safe.”
“Then he already knows where they live,” Max told him. “So if they don’t tell him—and lately I can’t see that happening—how does he get the information?”
“Didn’t you say something about credit card receipts?” Nat asked. “How many of the women here pay for their own drinks? And use credit cards?”
Max frowned. “I’d say probably half of them.”
“So then, who besides you has access to the credit card vouchers? All they need is the number and, if they know what they’re doing, they can find the address.”
Max and Seth stared at him.
“Someone you trust,” Nat went on. “And someone the women would trust when he approaches them at home. Before he shifts.”
Seth watched all the colour leech from his brother’s face. ”Oh, sweet Jesus.”
“What?” he asked. “What the hell is it?”
“Leo.” Max could hardly get the name out. “Plenty of nights he totals those vouchers for me. And everyone here knows him. The women feel safe with him. He’s Leo, for God’s sake, who protects them from the rowdies.”
“And we sent Kendall off with him.” Seth ran for the door, his heart pounding so loud he was sure the others could hear it. Fear was a river of ice flowing through his veins. “He’s only got a five minute head start on us. I gotta get to her house right now. Max?”
“Right behind you. I just need to lock the back door. Please don’t kill yourself getting there. It wouldn’t do Kendall a bit of good.”
“I’m calling the pack council.” Nat was right on Seth’s heels. “Give me the address. I’ll get everyone there.”
“I just hope to God we’re in time.”
They’d been driving in silence and for some reason Kendall felt the need to start a conversation.
“So, Leo. How long have you been in San Antonio? Max told me you moved here from out west.”
“About ten months. Give or take.” His voice had an unusual raspy quality to it.
“Do you have family here?”
“No. Just needed a change of scenery. Since it’s just me, I can pick up and go wherever I want to.”
“Well, I’m sure Max is glad you answered his ad. He speaks very highly of you.”
“Good to know.”
Silence descended again.
Why don’t I just shut up? I’m not exactly on a date with him.
“There’s my apartment building,” she told him. “Right on the corner.”
Of course. He’d used his GPS to find her address, so he knew where the building was.
He pulled into a parking slot and turned off the ignition. “Better let me walk you to the door. Those Rogan brothers will have my ass if I don’t see you inside.”
“I’m fine. Really.” She got out of the car, suddenly nervous for no discernible reason. “I promise I’ll tell them you took good care of me. And I’m on the ground floor. Look. Here I am.”
But he was right beside her, his fingers closing on her elbow, walking her to her door. Her hands shook as she fumbled with her keys. What was the matter with her?
“I’ll feel a lot better when you’re tucked away inside. Come on.” He winked. “Maybe Max will give me a raise.”
She opened the door to her apartment and turned to him. “Thanks, Leo. I appreciate this. I’ll be sure and tell the guys what a good bodyguard you are.”
“Oh, I’m not finished yet.” He shoved her inside, his face suddenly filled with a rage unlike anything she’d ever seen before.
Kendall backpedalled into the living room, looking for something, anything to defend herself with. Leo stalked towards her, fists clenched, muscles bulging. She glanced desperately at her front door. Did he realise he hadn’t closed it completely? Would someone hear her if she screamed? She had to try.
“Help!” she shouted. “Please! Someone help me!” She hoped she could reach the sliding glass doors that led to her patio.
But Leo was on her, throwing her down on the floor and slapping her face with such force it made her head ring.
“Shut the fuck up. Just shut up.”
When she tried to get up he slapped her again, his meaty hand slamming against her like a piece of concrete, her head hitting the floor.
“Help!” she screamed again, as Leo began to pull his clothes off with unbelievable speed.
And then, as if materialising out of thin air, two panthers were on him, leaping on his back and tearing at his skin with their claws.
“Shit. Get the fuck off of me.”
He seemed almost impervious to the pain, treating the attack as an annoyance. But the panthers continued their attack until Leo’s back and arms were a bloody mess. And then there were two more panthers and a leopard, all with their lips pulled back, teeth bared. They joined the others in the attack until Leo was reduced to a bloody mass on the floor. One of the panthers poised over him, paused on his chest, then without further hesitation, sank his teeth into Leo’s throat and ripped away the skin.
They all backed away, chests heaving, as they watched the life drain from the body. Kendall lay on the floor, pain shooting through her head.
“Seth?” she finally managed.