Authors: Andie Devaux
or adults only
. This is an erotic romance that contains material that is not suitable for children.**
his book is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
© 2014 by Andie Devaux. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.
by Smashing Edits
Cover design by Cormar Covers
irst Edition September 2014
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aniella Clark has never fit
in—a fact she’s always blamed on being adopted. But when her body is overtaken by a need so fierce it defies human explanation, she turns to the one man she instinctively knows must have the answers she seeks—her sexy-as-sin neighbor. But his explanation isn’t one she can easily accept, and it means her sexual heat won’t go away without his help.
ut it turns
out her neighbor isn’t the only male she has to worry about. The prime of his people has laid claim to her. And though he radiates sexuality in a way that makes her mouth water, he’s more beast than man. With one weretiger charged to protect her, and the prime's plan to claim her for his own, Daniella must fight to maintain her sense of self, even while they fight for her.
. How had she accumulated so many clothes that no longer fit?
Barely keeping hold of the bags full of old clothes, Daniella Clark bumped her butt into the door to push it open. Stepping into the hallway, she hit something nearly as hard as the door—something that grunted at the contact. The bags slipped from her fingers to land on the threshold. The hard body she’d run into was attached to a large man blocking her doorway, and her glare didn’t seem to ruffle him at all.
The jerk was always in her way lately.
“Jeez. Way to skulk around my door. What do you want, Owen?” Daniella asked, hating the breathiness in her voice.
Her neighbor stared at her for a moment, and his nostrils flared. Something passed behind his gaze. Something that made her breath catch and tension build between her legs. But just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone. And he shrugged, arrogant mask engaged.
“I was just passing by. Not my fault you didn’t look where you were going.”
The man was seriously aggravating. She could hardly believe they’d been good friends the last year, ever since she’d accidentally locked herself out of her apartment. He’d been kind enough to give her a place to hang out while she’d waited for the building’s superintendent to show up with the key. From then on, they’d hung out at least once a week, sometimes more, depending on her schedule. That is, up until a month ago.
“I’m getting sick of you always being in my way, Owen.” She picked up the bags, needing something to look at that wasn’t her ridiculously hot neighbor. Her attraction to him itself was irritating because he wasn’t her type, even if he did make her weak in the knees. His face was hard, chiseled and memorable, but his features were too strong to be considered traditionally handsome—his nose too Roman and his jaw a little too wide. Not to mention he rarely smiled at her anymore, and she liked men who weren’t afraid to enjoy life.
Heck, that was why she’d liked his company for so long—his easy laughter and quick wit. Over the last month, it was as if he’d turned into a different man. One who didn’t smile much and who was quick to anger.
She tried not to take it personally, but the fact he’d just cut off their friendship, cold as ice, made being the bigger person difficult.
His full head of light brown hair was nice, if always a little too long—as if he were constantly two weeks late to the barber. But he was far bigger than guys she liked to date. Broad and muscled like a man who never left the gym. Although she’d never actually seen him at the gym near their Denver apartment complex, he had to work out somewhere. Men just didn’t achieve that level of muscle naturally.
But despite the fact he didn’t fit her usual mold, she found herself more than just a little attracted to him.
Of course, that was a hopeless cause if ever there was one. She’d seen his dates—all two of them—since he’d moved into the building. They were both model thin, and while she was usually pretty proud of her voluptuous form, no one would ever accuse her of being waif-like.
Her attraction had started with a tremor. Just the slightest quavering of her voice when she spoke to him. Then, just when she’d started looking at him differently, he’d shut down. Stopped talking to her, started making excuses for why he couldn’t hang out with her anymore. But he always seemed to be
. At her door when she walked out. Looking irritated to run into her in the parking lot.
“I was walking through a shared hallway. Would you prefer I jump out the window to get to my truck?” A hint of a smile touched his lips, and her breath caught.
Freaking-A. No way was a simple smile turning her on. She was really starting to dislike her neighbor. “I’d love for you to jump out a window or two. Heck, I’ll even help with a little push.”
And she wasn’t lying. Sure, she wouldn’t really push a man out a window, but something inside of her—the part that was continuously horny, lately—was also feeling pretty violent. It came out at the weirdest times, and it took every ounce of her self-control not to lash out. Probably she needed to go see her doctor about a new birth control or something. Out of whack hormones were likely the cause of her wild emotions.
Not that Owen was helping. He’d chased off two of her dates in the last month. Not by doing anything she could call him out for. No, he was too subtle for that. He’d just drop in to borrow sugar—when she’d never once seen the man bake. Or he’d say he thought he’d smelled gas coming from her apartment, and wanted to check. Then he’d glower in a way that made her dates run for the hills.
And then he started showing up at her apartment when she was feeling particularly…needy.
“Surely you wouldn’t want to see me injured.” His nose flared again, as if he couldn’t get enough of her smell. It was seriously disturbing.
Even more disturbing was the sudden wetness between her legs and the tension coiling in her belly. She really needed to get some if a man she didn’t even like could get her engine revving by
her. “I wouldn’t bet on that.”
“You’ll be happy I’m around, Daniella. Very soon.”
She tried to shove past him, but he moved out of her way before they touched, quick for such a large man. Part of her regretted the lack of contact, but the rest of her thought that part was batshit crazy.
hrough narrowed eyes
, Owen Shaw watched Daniella walk away. Her shapely hips swayed as she walked, and the scent surrounding her was nearly irresistible to him. As it would be to any of their kind who got within a few hundred feet of her. She had to be claimed. Soon.
If only to keep her safe.
After Daniella disappeared from his view, he hurried back to his apartment to watch her make her way to the back parking lot. He would have offered to take the bags, but she would have reacted the same way she did when he offered to do anything for her—with barely concealed irritation.
It was his own fault, for getting close to her. But it had seemed like the easiest way to watch over her until the heat took hold. And he had to admit, he liked her company. She was easy to laugh with, and utterly silly behind closed doors. Or she had been, when he’d allowed himself to spend time with her. Now, she mostly stared daggers and sniped at him. He couldn’t blame her.
His own reaction to her was to blame. Her rising heat had brought on him a wave of lust, the likes of which he’d never dealt with before. Not that he hadn’t been around women in heat before—although usually only ones in the beginning clutches of it since they were soon whisked away to private locations by their mates or a male willing to father children soon after. But none of those women had called to him the way Daniella did. As Erick’s second, many would have gladly taken him to father their children, but he’d resisted.
He’d always wanted a real mate. And something inside of him refused to settle for having children in any other way.
Weretigers lived a somewhat cloistered life. His people lived in the Colorado Rockies, keeping their small clan out of the way of humans, and away from the city life that appealed most to their greatest threat—the vampires. But their cabins dotted a large territory, so it wasn’t difficult for a pair to get away from the population when a female’s heat hit. That distance kept fights for the right to claim females to a minimum, and quelled the tempers that flared in the men around them as they vied for dominance.
But getting away right now wasn’t an option for him.
Resisting Daniella had been difficult when she’d simply been a beautiful woman with curves to die for, but now it was impossible.
So he did his best asshole impression—not difficult, considering his dick was hard half the time with no relief in sight, and he ached to claim her something fierce—to keep her at a safe distance.
He admired her independent spirit. And her stolid resistance to what had to be a steadily building lust for him surprised him. He didn’t take the attraction personally, even though a small part of him wished he could. It was simple biology. She was coming into her first heat. And he was the only male of their kind nearby.
Humans couldn’t satisfy her lust properly, and instinctually she likely knew that, but he’d kept any suitors away, anyway. As for other non-humans, none were likely to appeal to her instincts the same way as a tiger, but he watched all the same. A female were of any kind in heat was vulnerable, needy. Not to mention irresistible to any male who could smell her sweet scent.
Which was why he had to avoid her as much as possible. Why he’d had to end their friendship. But it also was why he still had to stay close enough to protect her.
She deposited the bags in her trunk and then swiped her hands on her thighs to rid herself of germs she didn’t even realize couldn’t hurt her. His cock swelled at the sight of her perfect ass. She had him so worked up all the time with her erotic scent that the briefest glimpse of her made him excited.
She headed back toward the building, and he watched her until she disappeared. The desire to leave his apartment, to meet her along the route to her home, to make sure she made it safely, was overwhelming. But it would be too easy to do more.
And that wasn’t
No. He’d do his duty. Protect her. Watch over her. Keep her safe. And hope to hell Erick would get here in time.
Erick should have come months before, instead of sending Owen to watch over her. But his best friend and prime of their weretiger clan was methodical and logical; he wasn’t driven by passion or even empathy. He wanted to wait until her acceptance of him wouldn’t even be a question. Until she was so driven by need she would beg for him to take her.
By leaving her here in the human world, far away from where most of their clan lived, Erick avoided the risk of losing her affections to another of their kind. Her tiger would be attracted to Erick’s power, of that there was no doubt. But if Erick brought her to their territory too soon and her human self fell for another, Erick would have no choice but to challenge the male.
And there were too few weretigers left as it was.
Hell, their numbers were barely sufficient to hold the territory against other shifters and vampires who sought to make them into unusual, pricy pets.
Mating wasn’t necessarily permanent, but it often made both parties feel affection for the other, and attachment wasn’t uncommon. It could be resisted, but many times a couple remained paired beyond the initial heat. It was a reality that Erick was counting on. Like real tigers, weretigers weren’t always driven by animal instincts to live in clans or remain in couples, but their human sides did make it likely.
If nothing else, Erick hoped she would throw herself at him during her first heat. A heat he’d take advantage of by breeding her relentlessly until she carried his cub. After that, Erick would have little interest in her until she was in another heat. He made no effort to hide his goal—securing another generation of royal leaders.
Owen buried the growl in his throat at the thought.
It wasn’t right, the approach Erick was taking, even if Owen could see the logic in it. Erick needed to stay with the clan, keep them together as only a royal could. So Owen would guard her. Keep her safe until it was time to call Erick. It was his duty.
But he wouldn’t touch her, even if his dick never forgave him.