The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2) (9 page)

BOOK: The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2)
5.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Chapter Seven

 

Ryan stared at her. He had lied to her and made her do things she didn't want to do for her own safety and she forgave him?

"You forgive me for not telling you the truth?"

"You had your reasons." Julie smiled. "I'm not stupid as to hold a grudge when I now know it was for my safety. That's why you had me move into that apartment next to yours, wasn't it?"

Ryan cupped her cheek in his hand. The adrenaline was beginning to wear off. So was the fear when he saw Ian on top of his mate, preparing to harm her. She was okay. She was safe.

"I figured if they were after your workplace then they would go after you next. So I took the step to make sure you were protected."

Julie nuzzled his hand, pressing another kiss to his palm.

"Thank you."

Ryan slid off the seat to his knees and gathered her into his arms. Julie hugged him back, her head tucked against his neck. It was then that Ryan let himself completely relax. His tiger felt calmer now he had his mate in his arms.

"I'd do anything for you, Julie." He nuzzled her hair. "I wasn't going to lose you."

Julie drew back a little and looked up at him, her green eyes sucking him in.

"Am I really your mate?" She whispered.

"My beast says yes." Ryan kissed her nose. "And I say yes."

Julie grinned. She touched his jaw.

"You know, I've always been fascinated by big cats." She whispered. "And the tiger was always my favourite animal."

"Nice to know." Ryan chuckled. "I'm still amazed you didn't ask."

"I was trying to take in you were a shifter first. I don't think I was yet prepared to know what you were."

Ryan grinned and kissed her, pulling back when Julie tugged him closer. He laughed at her pout and tapped her nose.

"That's going to have to wait until I'm not covered in blood. I'm going to have a shower and then we're going back to the ranch. I have something for you."

"What is it?"

Ryan grinned and winked.

"It's a surprise."

#

 

 

 

 

 

"What are you doing to do about Laura?" Julie asked.

It was an hour later. Ryan, now showered and dressed, was driving Julie back to the ranch. Julie had also dressed in an old pair of jeans and a baggy black t-shirt of Charlie's. Greg and some of his men had arrived when they were about to leave, Greg promising to clean the place up and move the body. Julie worried what the authorities would say but Greg assured her he would make sure nothing was left to implicate her or Ryan.

"I've already reassigned her work and cleared out her desk." Ryan glanced at her. "I've also notified the police. She should be in the cells by now."

Julie stared out the window.

"I still can't believe she did this."

Ryan laid a hand over hers in her lap.

"Don't beat yourself up. You didn't know."

"I'd still like to get my hands on her."

Ryan grunted his agreement and they drove in silence until they got to the ranch. Ryan pulled up outside his apartment and helped Julie out. He held her hand as they went up to the door and Ryan let them in.

Julie stepped inside and gasped. The whole place was lit with candles. Small ones were dotted around the room with two larger candles situated on the coffee table. The whole room smelt of cherry blossom, her favourite scented candle.

"Wow. When did you do this?"

Ryan stepped up behind her and put his arms round her waist.

"I called Greg just before I left to follow you and asked him to set them up."

He pressed a kiss to her cheek and led Julie to the couch, urging her to sit before sitting beside her. Julie looked around her, wondering what the special occasion was.

"What's all this for?"

Ryan sat back and pulled her to him. Julie squealed and fell across his lap. Ryan turned her so her bottom was snug against his erection, which twitched when she wriggled. Ryan groaned and held onto her.

"Stop it or I won't be able to tell you what I want to say."

"Sorry."

Julie stopped. Ryan rubbed his hand up her back, his other hand on her thigh.

"I was going to tell you all about me tonight. What I really was. You'd guessed half of it but I wanted you to know the other half. Because I had something big I wanted to talk to you about."

"Ryan?"

Ryan kissed her gently, pulling away when Julie started to kiss him back. He smiled, his eyes glowing warm amber.

"I love you, Julie." He said. "My beast knew as soon as it saw you that you were my mate. I wasn't going to let you walk away. Seeing you with Ian..." He let out a shuddering breath. "That scared me."

"It scared me, too." Julie laid her palm against his roughened cheek. "I'm glad you got there in time."

"I wouldn't leave you alone." Ryan kissed her palm and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small square box. "I know it's early and we haven't really gone on any proper dates but I wanted to give you this."

Julie took the box. Her heart rate picked up. She knew what this was but her brain was taking a while to process it.

"What's this?"

Ryan chuckled.

"Open it and find out."

Julie opened it. And gasped. It was a simple silver band, encrusted with tiny diamonds that sparkled in the candlelight.

"Like it?"

"It's beautiful."

Ryan nuzzled her neck, pressing a kiss to her ear.

"I was going to ask you to marry me tonight." He said against her jaw. "Be my wife and my mate. I always thought I'd never settle down before I was thirty, that I'd be my dad's age before I found my one and only but you blew that out of the water. I'm not letting his pass me by."

Julie stared at him. Had he really done what she thought he'd done?

"So this is a proposal?"

"Yes." Ryan looked at her anxiously. "Do you accept?"

Julie grinned. She slipped off his lap and held out the box, laughing at Ryan's confusion.

"Propose to me properly and I'll think about it."

#

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan laughed, his heart slowing down. For a moment, he had thought Julie was turning him down. He took the box and slid onto one knee on the floor, taking Julie's hand.

"Julie Fowler, will you marry an arrogant tiger? This arrogant tiger, to be exact?"

Julie laughed.

"Yes." She leant forward and took his face in her hands. "Because you're my arrogant tiger."

She took the box from him and extracted the ring. Ryan took the ring and slid it onto her finger, pressing a kiss to it when it was firmly on. Then he looked up at Julie, who ran her fingers across his jaw.

"Will you make me yours now?" She whispered.

Ryan growled.

"I was hoping you'd say that."

Ryan stood and lifted Julie into his arms. Then he carried her to his bedroom and laid her down, following her down. Pinning her to the bed, he kissed her slowly, remembering every inch of her mouth before he drove his tongue inside and tangled with hers in such an erotic dance Ryan felt dizzy.

Julie clutched onto him, rolling her hips against his cock. Her legs wrapped around his waist and held on tight, pulling Ryan against her soft body. Ryan knew he was going to come soon but he held himself back.

He needed to be inside her when he came. When he marked her.

His hands bunched the oversized t-shirt in his fists and Julie helped him take it off. Her bra followed it onto the floor and then Ryan was fumbling for the button on her jeans. Julie rolled away and wrestled off her jeans and panties, tossing them onto the floor with the rest of her clothes.

Ryan wasn't going to wait. One look at her naked body, lying across his bed like a beautiful nymph, he knew this wasn't going to go slow as he had planned it. He wasn't going to waste time with foreplay. From the smell filling his nostrils, Julie was more than ready for him.

His hands shaking, Ryan sat up and shucked off his clothes. Julie helped him take off his sneakers, lying back as he came down over her to devour her mouth. He settled easily between her thighs, thrusting into her as her hips came up to meet him.

Julie gasped and her inner muscles clenched around his cock. Ryan growled as she wrapped her legs round his waist and pulled him in even deeper.

Then he let lose. He fucked her hard and deep, pushing them up the bed until Julie was partially folded against the headboard. But she didn't complain. If anything, she clutched onto him tighter.

"More, Ryan." She cried out in his ear. "I need more."

Ryan obliged, clutching onto her hips as he jackhammered into her. Julie's cries were getting louder. She was very close. So was Ryan, his balls tightening as he pounded into her. His fangs lengthened and he licked a long line over her shoulder to her neck.

That had Julie tumbling over the edge. She screamed moments before Ryan sank his fangs into her shoulder. He felt her blood flood his mouth and that had him tumbling after her. He held on tight with his teeth and his hands as he thrust his cock one last time and released his seed, Julie's pussy still contracting around him.

Julie's body was still trembling as Ryan withdrew his fangs and licked the wounds clean. These marks wouldn't fade. They would be a permanent reminder to her and others who she belonged to.

Fingers touched his face. Ryan looked up and saw Julie smiling at him, her green eyes shining.

"I love you." She whispered.

Ryan grinned and sat up, taking her with him. His cock was hard again and he was ready for another round. Julie laughed and pushed him onto his back.

"Are you never satisfied?"

Ryan purred and thrust up, meeting Julie as she came down. He sighed at the feel of her pussy around his cock.

"Never."

 

***

PREVIEW OF ‘THE LION’S CHOSEN MATE’ (
HUNKY SHIFTERS BOOK 1)
BY ASHLEY HUNTER

 

Chapter 1: The New Boss

 

Cadence was running. Her feet slipped on the leaves, causing her to stumble. She righted herself and kept running.

He wasn't far behind. She could hear him, his paws pounding on the forest floor. His breathing, heavy and snarling, sounded so close. Heart pounding, Cadence changed direction, hoping to throw him off. But he just veered across, his paws scrabbling across the leaves. There was no chance to escape him.

Cadence couldn't breathe. She had never run so hard in her life. But fear kept her going. No way was she going to let this beast catch her.

Something hit her in the side, knocking her off her feet. She hit the ground, her head glancing off a tree, and she lay dazed with a heavy weight on top of her. Cadence opened her eyes to see the beast on top of her, his mouth open in a vicious snarl, his teeth shining and dripping with slobber. He lowered his head.

Cadence screamed.

#

 

 

 

 

 

The banging on the door shocked Cadence into consciousness. It took a moment for her thoughts to get together before she realized where she was. In her own bed, in her apartment, and she was safe. She wasn't a little girl in the woods, running from the enormous lion, being tackled and ripped apart by those large teeth and claws.

It was just a dream.

She wished it was.

The door shuddered as it was banged on again.

"Cadence?" The female voice was muffled. "Cadence, are you okay?"

Her heart still hammering, Cadence slipped out of bed and went to the door, turning the lock. Her roommate and her boyfriend were in the hall. Both of them looked concerned. Cadence blinked and tried to squint in the sudden bright light from the landing.

"Belinda. Dorian. What's wrong?"

"We heard you screaming." Belinda Chandler was frowning. "We thought you were being attacked."

Cadence realized that she had been screaming out loud and blushed.

"Sorry. I had a bad dream."

"Another nightmare?"

Belinda knew all about the nightmares. Cadence had had to explain when she moved in three years ago that she tended to have nightmares from a traumatic experience in her childhood. That was after she spent a straight week having the same nightmare and Belinda had threatened to kick her out. She had been sympathetic and allowed Cadence to stay, offering her support when needed. They had bonded after that.

"You could say that." Cadence muttered.

She realized her pyjamas were stuck to her and Belinda's boyfriend Dorian was watching her curiously. Blushing to the roots of her dark hair, she darted into her room and opened the second drawer in her dresser.

"That nightmare with the lion again?" Dorian asked.

He had moved in shortly after Cadence and had had to be told about Cadence nightmares. He was nice enough but Cadence caught him watching her a bit too much and it made her nervous. Belinda was head over heels for him but Cadence wasn't so sure about Dorian's feelings towards her. He was far too quiet.

"You mean that shifter." Cadence picked out a fresh pair of pyjamas and shut the drawer. She closed her eyes as she was assaulted by her nightmare again. "He...he was stalking me again. I couldn't get away. He ripped me to pieces again."

But he never got that far in her dreams. Somehow she managed to wake up before that happened. Cadence could feel the teeth ripping her flesh, the pain paralyzing her body. It wasn't something she would forget easily.

Belinda entered the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, her short blonde hair sticking up at odd angles. Dorian stayed by the door, leaning on the doorframe with his corded arms folded. Dressed in only a pair of boxers with his bare, broad chest on display, he looked magnificent.

If only he didn't have such an inscrutable look whenever he looked at her, his dark eyes too dark for her liking.

"Maybe you should talk to someone." Belinda ventured.

Cadence rolled her eyes. They had had this conversation before.

"I know what you're going to say and the answer is no. I'm not talking to a shrink. I'm not crazy, Belinda."

"I never said you were. It's just to help deal with the nightmares. She has these amazing techniques to help calm night terrors."

Belinda was a paediatric nurse and worked with children who had suffered trauma such as abuse. She knew a lot of people who specialized in working with terrified children.

"In case you haven't noticed, Belinda," Cadence said as she laid her new pyjamas on the bed, "I'm not a child."

"It's for everyone, not just for kids."

"It worked for me." Dorian said from the door. "I haven't had nightmares in four months."

Six months before, Dorian had ended up in hospital after a vicious attack. He had been nearly ripped apart. He had claimed he had been mugged and beaten up but Cadence knew he had been attacked by shifters. Dorian denied it and it hadn't escaped Cadence's notice that his wounds had healed up pretty quickly.

He had been infected and Dorian refused to talk about it. How Belinda was getting him to deal with the trauma was beyond her but Dorian acted like it had never happened. Cadence wondered when he was going to explode from trying to ignore the attack.

"Well, it might help with your nightmares but I don't think it'll help me. Nothing has helped in the last sixteen years."

What she had witnessed that night had become a recurring dream for her. For nearly every night since she was eight years old. Her parents had tried to sort her out but Cadence refused.

They thought she was broken and wanted to 'fix' her. Cadence wanted to report a crime and nobody believed her. She had been accused of an overactive imagination from a young age. No one was going to believe a little girl.

They might believe her now.

She reached under the bed and retrieved her laptop. Now she was awake and too scared to sleep, she might as well get on with some work. Belinda saw the laptop and groaned.

"You're not going to stay up with that story again, are you?"

"I need to polish it." Cadence placed it on the bed and opened the bottom drawer of her bedside table, where her box file full of her research was housed. "I have some more research to do."

Belinda glanced at Dorian, who had a dark scowl on his face.

"Are you sure you want to go ahead with that story?" He demanded. "About exposing shifters as heartless killers? People know about shifters but everyone knows they're harmless and they're policed diligently."

"Harmless?" Cadence swung round on him. "Harmless? I saw a lion shifter tear a man apart! That's not called harmless."

Dorian's eyes glinted, his face half-hidden in shadow. With the light behind him, he looked somewhat menacing.

"There are a few rogues but they're always kept under control. You know that if you researched everything about them."

"Not well enough." Cadence snapped. "I'm going to expose shifters for the vicious animals they are. And that is that."

She picked up her pyjamas and pushed past him into the hallway, going towards the bathroom. She was going to change and then she was going to work on the story she had been focusing on for the last six years.

With what she had, it had changed from a simple article to a full-length book, a tell-all truth about shifters. It was her pride and joy and Cadence wasn't going to throw it away because people were upset about it.

"Leave it, Dorian." She heard Belinda. "She's not going to change her mind. She's been stubborn about that story as long as I can remember. Six years and she's not budged." She added bitterly.

Cadence turned. Belinda and Dorian were in the doorway to her room, both giving her wary looks. They thought she was nuts for pursuing something that should be left alone.

Shifters weren't exactly feared but her research could start a major panic. Cadence knew that but she felt people had to know, much to Belinda's chagrin. She believed things should be left alone.

"It's astonishing she hasn't sold it to the papers already." Dorian purred.

"You know I tried." Cadence shot back. "I was laughed out of the office and warned not to anger the lion Rex. He could accuse me of libel and defamation of character." She snorted rudely. "Ridiculous."

"If you have no proof then you can't accuse them of murder." Belinda argued.

"How about an eyewitness?"

Cadence had told Belinda about what she had witnessed and her intentions. Belinda had told her it would never have happened, not with the lion pride; they never went after humans. The Rex was very strict about that.

"You were taken to see a shrink back then, Cadence." Belinda pointed out. "Do you think anyone would believe you now?" Shaking her head, she took Dorian's arm. "Come on, Dorian. Let's leave Kooky Cadence to her work."

That had been a nickname Belinda had made up for her. They considered her strange for being so obsessed. Cadence gave them the finger as they walked away. Then she turned away and slammed into the bathroom.

She had no time to deal with her roommates. She had a lot more important things to do.

Jasper's limousine pulled up on the kerb and his chauffeur Mullen opened the door. Jasper climbed out and adjusted his jacket, his eyes shielded behind his black shades.

The heat was making him want to shed his jacket and walk in wearing just his shirt but he needed to make an impression. He had to show that he was a ball-buster, not lackadaisical in his appearance.

In his pride, appearance was everything. And that included when he was in contact with humans.

A smartly dressed woman in her mid-thirties was standing outside the building. She approached him as he took his briefcase from his chauffeur.

"I'll give you an hour's warning when I want to be picked up."

"Yes, sir."

Mullen got back in the car and drove off as the woman reached Jasper.

"Mr Webster?" She gave him a dazzling smile and held out a perfectly manicured hand. "I'm Jolene Jackson, one of the sub-editors."

Jasper looked her over as he shook hands, noting her firm grip. She was very pretty, her chestnut-brown hair curled professionally around her shoulders. She was nicely tanned, her eyes a startling blue. Her blouse was a vibrant pink with the buttons done up to between her breasts, revealing a generous amount of cleavage, and a black pencil skirt that ended too far above the knees, showing off her slender legs that ended in high heels. Jasper wondered if this was how she normally dressed or if she wore these clothes because she was meeting him.

It wasn't something he was unfamiliar with; women saw the dollar signs whenever he turned up and played for seduction. The play never interested him.

His lion was not interested in diggers.

"Where's your publisher? He was supposed to meet me."

"Mr Monkford's in a meeting with our sponsors. He'll be along later today to greet you." Jolene turned and beckoned him towards the front door. "If you'll come this way? I'll show you to your office."

They entered the lobby and walked across towards the front desk. Both of them signed in and were given passes by the security guard. As they walked over to the elevators, Jolene walked a little ahead, her hips swaying. Jasper could see it wasn't a natural sway. This was one either looking for a way to get a promotion or a way to get into his bed.

She might be fun for a roll-around between the sheets but lately, he had been getting tired. His lion wasn't interested and that had seeped into his human side. They were fed up with women lying their way into his life. Honesty was a big thing for him and to not have it from the one woman you were supposed to trust didn't float his boat.

Jolene Jackson was losing the seduction before it even started.

They entered the elevator and Jolene pressed for the third floor. She stood close to Jasper, her arm brushing his. She had somehow undone another button on her blouse. Jasper could clearly see the white lacy bra cupping perky breasts.

He gulped and looked away. Not what he wanted to see on a Monday morning.

"How's Monkford taking my position? I hear he wasn't too happy."

"He threw a fit. But he's accepted it. Just." Jolene smirked. "He doesn't like the idea of a multi-billionaire shouldering in on his paper and taking charge on their terms."

"I'm here to shake up the paper, that's all. I've managed to do it with various news outlets through North America. I've also done it in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa." Jasper smiled at his memories of South Africa, roaming in surroundings that had his lion jumping for joy. "It's not something to be sniffed at, Miss Jackson."

"I've heard about your reputation." Jolene looked over him, her lips parted in a saucy smile and her eyes flickering over his body, stopping pointedly at his crotch. Jasper didn't feel anything. "I have no problems with you being my boss, Mr Webster. But some of the senior staff might object. They don't like change very much."

"Tough. They're going to have to deal with it."

Things went his way or no way at all. That was how it was with him. He gave no leeway at all. Not when it came to business and certainly not when it came to sex. It was his way or the woman could walk out.

Well, that was how it had meant to be. That had dwindled lately.

The elevator doors opened and Jolene led the way out, turning to the right. The elevator opened out into an open office space where there were crammed at least three dozen desks. People rushed about with papers in their hands or sat at their desks tapping away furiously at their computers. There was enough activity and noise to make Jasper's head spin.

Except at one desk. A dark-haired woman with curves that made Jasper's mouth water sat leaning her chin in a propped-up hand. She was staring at an article on her laptop, twirling a pen in her fingers. Dressed in a summer-yellow dress that followed every line of her body and her hair held back by a simple clasp, from her profile, she looked stunning.

Instantly his lion lifted its head. It sniffed the air for a second and then roared. Jasper could smell it, too. He knew that scent. It said 'Mate'.

BOOK: The Tiger's Reluctant Mate: BBW Paranormal Tiger Shifter Romance Standalone (Hunky Shifters Book 2)
5.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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