Authors: Scarlet Day
Kate Darby just wants to get out of the path of a hurricane, but finds herself lost in a storm she never saw coming. Left with a frozen heart after her mother’s death, Kate never imagined it would take three hot men to thaw her out. And when they bust out with fur and fangs, things get really interesting.
Panther-shifter brothers Blake, Drake, and Jake Taylor are living in South Florida and aren’t looking for their mate. But when she’s blown into their path, they’re not about to fight fate.
Finding out she’s meant to be mated to three men is surprising enough, but then Kate learns she has a legendary cat stalking her brain. Unfortunately, now that Kate has something worth living for, someone wants her dead. Kate’s not just a cute little kitty, though, and when the fur flies, the claws come out.
Note: There is no sexual relationship or touching for titillation between or among siblings.
Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal, Shape-shifter
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
First E-book Publication: October 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
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To my family, for their support, their love, and for not standing behind me and reading over my shoulder while I write.
Copyright © 2012
Kate stared incredulously at the “Dead End” sign illuminated in the bright gleam of her headlights. She held her phone up, internally fuming at the map directions displayed on the screen indicating she should continue on this road for another few miles.
She threw the phone into the passenger seat and put the car in reverse, but the engine sputtered once and died. She searched the dashboard. The gas needle was on empty.
“But, but…the low gas light isn’t on! The warning bell didn’t ding!” She pounded her fists against the steering wheel in frustration.
“What the hell’s the point of paying for all of these gadgets if they don’t work?”
She grabbed her phone and pulled up the number for the hotel, hoping they could send a tow truck to get her out of here. Wherever here was. She hit the call button and got nothing. She looked at the phone again and saw the “No Service” message displayed on the screen.
“Oh, this is perfect. Now what?”
She looked around. There wasn’t much to see. She was on a back road in the middle of nowhere, Florida. At night. No phone. No gas. And she couldn’t even get a decent radio station to keep her company. Getting out and walking crossed her mind, but she hadn’t seen a gas station for miles. Heck, she hadn’t seen anything for miles. There was nothing except trees and swamps. And alligators. She was positive there were alligators out there. Probably snakes, too. Lots and lots of snakes. Nope. No walking. She wondered if this night could possibly get any worse.
* * * *
It got worse. The sky opened up, and rain fell in sheets. She shook her head and dropped her forehead onto the steering wheel. This whole evening was starting to feel like something out of a bad slasher movie.
She cursed herself for trying to take a shortcut. Her sense of direction was notoriously bad, and she knew she should have stayed on the interstate. She had just been so worried about getting to the hotel before the hurricane hit, so she took what looked like the most direct route.
Kate sighed. Well, at least she didn’t have to pee.
* * * *
She had to pee. The rain hitting her car’s convertible top wasn’t helping, either. She just hoped it would let up soon so she could make a mad dash to a bush or something before she made a serious mess in the seat.
Bouncing up and down in the seat, Kate waited anxiously until the rain began to let up. Deciding she couldn’t wait any longer, Kate threw open the car door and jumped out, looking for something to hide behind. She laughed when she realized she was in the middle of nowhere, and there was no one around to see her. Deciding it was better to have her bare ass exposed to the light than to some hungry alligator or rattlesnake that might be lurking in the bushes, she stayed in the light that the headlights still emitted.
Feeling much better, she headed back around the car to the open driver’s side door. That was when the growling started. Kate froze. Standing between her and the safety of the interior of the car was a bear. A huge freaking bear. Kate couldn’t move. She couldn’t even breathe. Fear paralyzed her to the spot. The bear wasn’t moving toward her, but it wasn’t leaving, either. Mentally shaking herself out of her paralysis, Kate took one agonizingly slow step backward. The bear still didn’t move, but it did cock its head sideways at her and sniff the air. Without warning, the bear raised itself up on its hind legs and let out a loud, bellowing roar.
That was all it took. Kate spun around and ran, screaming at the top of her lungs for help. Somewhere in the back of her mind it registered that running was probably the dumbest thing she could do, but her body wasn’t giving her mind any time to rationalize her actions. She was on complete autopilot, and her body had decided that between the two natural reactions—fight or flight—it was choosing flight.
The woods were dense and overgrown with brush, and she had to push her way through them. She was so frightened she barely noticed the thick vegetation cut her exposed legs and arms as she ran. She could hear the bear behind her and expected to feel its claws rake across her back at any second. Fear kept her running, her only instinct to keep going.
The rain soaked her long hair, which was hanging in her eyes in thick soggy strands, making it hard for her to see. Her foot caught on something in her path, and she let out a sharp yelp as she fell. She hit the ground hard and rolled over onto her back just in time to see the bear stand up on its hind legs over her. Throwing up her hands in defense and screaming with what would probably be her last breath, Kate waited in terror for the bear to rip into her with its razor-sharp teeth and claws.
But the pain didn’t come. Instead, she heard a new sound and opened her eyes just as something huge and golden-furred burst out of the underbrush and launched itself at the bear. Both the unidentified blur and the bear went tumbling into the bushes out of sight. Angry growls tore through the air as the two beasts fought. Kate was too terrified to move from her defensive position and stayed curled up on the ground. With one final horrific snarl, the fighting stopped, and Kate heard what sounded like something large running through the bushes away from her. She hoped it was the bear, although she had no idea what kind of beast the golden blur had been, either.
Shaking uncontrollably and feeling like she was freezing to death, Kate assumed it was just a matter of time before she went into shock. When a naked man walked out of the bushes and stood over her, she knew without a doubt she was not only going into shock, but she was probably on the verge of a mental breakdown. Apparently deciding it had endured enough excitement for one evening, Kate’s mind slipped into unconsciousness as the forest, the unknown man, and her fear receded into darkness.
Kate woke up slowly, not quite ready for it to be morning yet. She’d had the weirdest dream last night, but as the fog of sleep retreated, she couldn’t recall the details. Something about getting stuck in the rain and a bear chasing her and—what was that other thing? Something with golden fur, but she couldn’t remember what. And a naked man? No, that couldn’t be right. The dream was too fuzzy to remember. She snuggled deeper into the covers. She had always liked sleeping in nice hotel beds with the fluffy down pillows and big comforters. And was that coffee she smelled? It smelled good.
Kate stiffened. Why would she smell coffee in her hotel room? Come to think of it, she couldn’t actually remember getting to the hotel last night. She slowly opened her eyes and peeked out from under the covers but screamed and immediately ducked back under them. There was a man sitting on the edge of the bed.
Why was there a man sitting on her bed? Did she pick someone up in the hotel bar last night? She knew that was completely out of character for her, and besides, she didn’t even remember the hotel, much less the hotel bar.