The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2) (8 page)

BOOK: The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2)
3.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Julie was on a high as she drove home. Last night couldn't have gone better. While she had had a shock about her best friend and her boyfriend, she had also found out that her feelings were not in vain.

Ryan did love her. Even though she didn't agree with the way he kept things from her, she knew he only did it because he loved her and didn't want to see her hurt.

Maybe she had been rash on believing working for him was a bad idea. It was feeling like the best idea in the world now.

It felt strange entering her house after three and a half weeks away. But everything looked in its place. In fact, it looked tidier than she remembered. Walking through the house, she saw that her carpeted had been vacuumed, her dishes had been put away and her clothes were out of the dryer.

She found a note on her kitchen counter.

"Ryan wanted you to come home to a clean house. We didn't touch anything we shouldn't. Hope this is a good welcome home gift. Greg.'

Julie smiled. Greg had always treated her kindly. The big man was a real softie and a sweetheart. Whatever woman - shifter or human - ended up with him would be a lucky woman.

For the next half an hour, she focused on sorting out the paperwork that Charlie needed. She found the fax number and the relevant documents, feeding them into the fax. After that, she logged onto her account and saw the money Ryan had sent over.

She transferred what was needed over to her brother's account, trying not to have a slack jaw at the amount of money she was looking at. Then she sent an email to Charlie to let him know she had sent everything over and the money would be in his account in a few hours.

After all that, Julie was feeling like she needed a break. She had quickly dressed before she left and she felt like she needed a shower. Then Julie quickly dispelled that idea and decided on a bath. A good soak was needed more than a quick shower.

The bath was heavenly. Julie settled in it and dozed as she let the steam fill up the room. Her apartment only had a shower so she had missed these. The bath was the only thing she had missed while she was at the apartment.

She had taken her laptop and a few books, the apartment already stocked with DVDs and a big-screen TV. It had even included a Wii Fit plus DVD and balance board. She had spent a few evenings a week using it and it had helped to shift a few pounds.

Perhaps she could ask Ryan if she could take it home with her.

If he let her go. Julie had a feeling Ryan was going to ask her to stay. She wasn't adverse to that but she didn't want to rush things. That wasn't her style. But being with Ryan felt right. She liked being with him, being held by him.

Maybe she would stay if he asked tonight.

Suddenly, she was aware that she wasn't alone. Someone was in her house. Julie sat up, tensing as she realized that someone was in the doorway, the dim lighting in the bathroom hiding his face.

For a moment she thought it was Ryan but he was the wrong size. Ducking down so he couldn't see her breasts, Julie stared at the intruder.

"Ian? How did you get in?"

Ian chuckled and leant against the doorframe.

"A simple lock isn't going to keep me out."

"And I never invited you in." Julie snapped. "Get out."

Ian didn't leave. Instead, he sauntered into the bathroom, his eyes raking over Julie.

"You look good with nothing on, Julie. It's a pity I never got to sample you before Lawrence got his hands on you."

Julie felt sick. This wasn't the same man she had known. This one was different, more self-assured.

More dangerous. She could see it in the faint glow in his eyes. He was very good at hiding his shifter side but now she knew Julie could see it, she saw nothing of the man she had known before.

Clutching at the side of the bath, she glared at him.

"You burned my cafe down." She accused. "You got Laura to help you."

"I ordered it. I didn't start it." Ian leant against the sink. "Laura was only too happy to help. You know she's always been jealous of you?" He chuckled. "She didn't like the fact you had your own business and was successful while she was forced to work for a doddery old feline."

"Feline?"

Ian raised an eyebrow at Julie's surprise.

"Come on. Don't tell me you didn't know. The Lawrence family are tigers. The tiger royalty. They're the ones who run the clan."

Julie was reeling. She had figured Ryan for a leader of his shifter group but had never expected royalty. Then she remembered something that her father had written and narrowed her eyes at Ian.

"Why do I get the feeling Jon Lawrence's heart attack was not natural? That man was as strong as an ox, despite his age."

"You're right, we did hurry it a long a bit. Shifters can suffer from heart attacks and other human diseases, just not as common." Ian tilted his head to one side and surveyed her thoughtfully.

"He had always had a soft spot for you. He was your father's source when he was exposing shifters. I was a small pup back then but my father was the Alpha. He wasn't about to have us exposed by an amateur."

"So you killed him." Suddenly the bath water felt icy cold. Julie's hands tightened on the edge of the bath. "But why Mom?"

"Orders were to kill the family but Dad said to spare you two. Chances were you wouldn't know what happened, he said." Ian snorted. "Obviously we were wrong if you're not surprised about this news."

"I saw everything." Julie felt sick. She needed to get out of there. "You tore my parents apart."

"Not me personally but I get the meaning. But your father should've kept his nose out of what he shouldn't know. It would have kept him safe and maybe he's be alive today for you and your brother."

Julie felt like she had been dropped into an alternate reality. This wasn't happening. She wasn't face to face with a wolf shifter who had obviously not come here for conversation judging by the look in his eyes.

She wished Ryan were here.

"So that's why you've come after me all this time?"

Ian rolled his eyes.

"Sorry to burst your bubble but this isn't a years-old vendetta. More like coincidence. You're fucking the tiger king and he's a danger to me. And I know, he'll be suspicious about his dad's death. I want him gone." He shrugged. "Whether he dies or leaves town, I don't care."

"But we haven't been intimate." Julie protested.

She hoped the lie would keep her alive a little longer.

"Don't lie to me. I know you have. Laura told me the two of you have been at it like rabbits at the office and everyone knew about it. After the hypocrite told Laura not to fuck people at work." Ian's eyes glowed but not from arousal.

"He's marked you as his mate and, as I'm sure you know, shifters are very protective when it comes to their mates. Go for his mate and you go for his weakness."

"Mate?" Julie was confused. "He hasn't marked me."

"Hasn't he?"

Ian pushed off the vanity and leant over the bath. Julie cried out as he grabbed her by the hair and checked her neck, running his finger over the smooth skin.

"You're right. No bites. Maybe he hasn't thought about it yet." Ian smirked. "Makes it easier for me."

Before Julie knew what was happening, Ian had lifted her out of the bath and was carrying her into the bedroom. She struggled but his grip was strong.

"Let me go!"

"You're not going anywhere."

Ian tossed her onto the bed and leapt on top of her, trapping her with his body. Julie gasped when she felt his erection shoved into her stomach, his hands pinning her wrists down. His eyes glowing brighter, Ian's smirked turned nasty.

"I'm going to have a sample before I send your body parts back to Lawrence. I'm sure I'll be able to see why Lawrence likes your fire."

Julie did the only thing she could do.

She screamed.

Suddenly, there was a loud snarl and Ian was pulled off her, flying across the room and hitting the dresser. Julie sat up and scrambled up the bed. What she saw in the doorway had her heart leaping into her mouth.

A huge white tiger prowled into the room. It was bigger than she expected tigers to be, its black stripes a stark contrast to its white fur. Amber eyes turned to her and they flared as the tiger snarled. But Julie saw the flash of brown in the amber and knew who it was.

Ian had moved to a crouch, his head bleeding. He howled and began to shift. Julie couldn't look away as his body contorted and changed, his clothes ripping until there was a huge wolf in Ian's place, his fangs on display as it snarled at the tiger.

The tiger pounced, knocking itself into the wolf. They fought, swiping at each other with their paws and snapping teeth. The tiger got a few good swipes in but the wolf was smaller and faster, sinking its teeth into the tiger's shoulder.

The tiger roared and shook itself, dislodging the wolf and flinging it across the room. Julie screamed as the wolf landed on the bed in front of her. It turned to her, saliva dripping from his jaws.

Then the tiger flew across the bed, knocking the wolf off, and they landed in a heap on the other side. The wolf landed one last swipe of its paw, cutting the tiger across the face, before scampering from the room. The tiger followed it, disappeared down the hall.

Julie didn't move. She couldn't move. What she had just seen was almost unbelievable. Two wild animals had just been fighting in her room. There was blood and fur everywhere to prove it. She felt like she was in a dream.

She could still hear the snarls and howls in the house. The fight was going on still. No way was she coming out until they were gone.

Suddenly, there was a pained whine and then silence. Julie felt as though she had suddenly gone deaf; it was too quiet.

Deciding to risk it, she slipped from the bed and slipped on her robe. Then she made her way through the house, following the trail of blood smeared across the floor.

She found them in the lounge. Ian had changed back to human and was in a bloody heap on the floor. One look at him and the gash across his throat and Julie knew he was dead. Swallowing back the bile, she turned to the tiger, which was crouched near the wall breathing heavily. Blood matted its fur and one eye was bleeding.

Julie watched in stunned amazement as the tiger began to shift and change. It was like watching Ian shift but in reverse. Moments later where the tiger had been, Ryan was lying, sweat beading his body. He was still bleeding.

#

 

 

 

 

 

"Ryan."

Julie ran to his side and knelt beside him. She touched his shoulder and jerked back as Ryan let out a hiss of pain. Then she saw the bloody bite marks on his back.

"Ryan, talk to me."

"I'm okay." Ryan sat up slowly. His face was pale and he was sweating. "It just stings."

It looked like it was doing more than stinging but Julie wasn't about to argue. He was in pain. She bit her lip, unsure whether to touch him or keep her distance.

"Do you need me to do anything?"

"I just need a few moments." Ryan rested his head against the wall. "The healing still hurts even as a born shifter but it's fast."

Julie watched him as he closed his eyes and slowed his breathing. Then she saw his wounds knitting together, the blood still matting his skin but now there were no marks. It was as if he hadn't been bitten by a huge wolf.

But she didn't feel repulsed. She didn't even feel scared. She was...fascinated.

"So you're a tiger shifter."

Ryan opened his eyes and looked at her. He looked pained and it wasn't from his wounds.

"I'm sorry I never told you."

"Was your father a tiger?"

"He was. The King." Ryan looked away. "I took over when he died."

"I thought shifters lived longer than humans." Her father's research had said shifters couldn't live centuries if they were careful. "How come Jonathan died?"

"Being a tiger shifter doesn't stop you from having a heart attack." Ryan tried to stand and slumped back again with a grimace. "Help me to the bathroom, will you? I'll shower and get myself sorted."

Julie took his hand and helped him to stand, slipping an arm round his waist. It was then that she realized he was naked, his cock on full display for her. Even when he wasn't erect, he was still big. She gulped and looked away. Now was not the time to be thinking about sex.

Their progress was slow but Julie got him to the bathroom.

"Where are your clothes?"

"In the car."

"I'll get them." Julie put the lid of the toilet down and made him sit. "Just stay there."

Leaving him staring at the wall, Julie hurried out to his car. She found a duffel bag on the passenger seat and snatched it up. Then she went back inside, trying not to look at the body in her lounge.

She would have to call the authorities about that unless someone had called the cops about a disturbance. She hoped Ryan had an idea how to deal with the body because Julie didn't want to deal with it.

Ryan was where she had left him when she got back to the bathroom, his face in his hands. His shoulders shook and Julie realized he was crying.

"Ryan?"

Julie dropped the bag and knelt in front of him, resting her hands on his knees. Ryan took a shuddering breath and lowered his hands, wiping at his eyes with his wrists.

"I'm sorry, Julie."

Julie smiled and took his hands, pressing a kiss to each palm.

"I forgive you."

BOOK: The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2)
3.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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