Authors: Milly Taiden
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Comedy, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages), #Fantasy, #Werewolves & Shifters
FUR-OCIOUS LUST SHORTS (TIGERS)
NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
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Curvy Vanessa Soler, seamstress at her dad's strip club, never expected her father to bet her in a poker game. And lose! Now she's got to deal with big, bad shifters wanting to claim the prize...ie her. On top of all that, she'll have to dance. On stage. Shit just got real.
Cash Tigris went to pick up a prize at a local curvy dancers strip club. What he found instead was the sexiest woman he'd ever seen prowling on stage, dressed in an itty bitty tigress costume, wiggling her fake tail and giving him looks that made him ready to yell the word: Mine!
Passion flows between them from the first look, thicker than boiling lava. But when she realizes who he is, will she give in to the need to be his, or refuse to be any man's prize?
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Latin Goddess Press
New York, NY 10456
Copyright © 2015 by Milly Taiden
Cover by Willsin Rowe
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Property of Milly Taiden
—For My Girls
Teracia, Tonya, Jessica P, Jenn W, Sheri S, and Nicole V. Thank you for your support.
Vincent Tigris stared out his office window on the fiftieth floor of his high-rise hotel, Striped. The lights of the adjoining hotels blinked down the Vegas strip. He loved Sin City. It was loud, crazy, and it was where he’d made a living and gone from a tiger who’d left his father’s pride to strike out on his own to the owner of an empire.
The sound of someone knocking on the door brought him back to the present. He knew it was his oldest son, Cash. Owning multiple successful hotels was no problem for Vincent. Being a father to three tigers that just didn’t want to settle down? That was harder to handle, especially when his mate, Suzanne, left him in charge of helping their “boys” find the right women.
It was funny. Sort of. Maybe. Okay, not really. He’d puffed his chest out during the chat with Suzanne the previous week, telling her he could do a better job finding women for his sons than they did. His mate took him literally. Now here he was, about to send his first son to pick up his prize: a mate. He could only hope the boy had some sense and realized he’d done this for the boy’s own good. He scrubbed a hand over his jaw. Nah, Cash would probably want to return her the minute he realized what his father had done.
“Come in,” Vincent called out. He turned to face the door.
“Father,” Cash said, marching into the office with the prowl of a predator. Pride grew in Vincent’s chest. He’d raised his boys to be pure alpha males. Unlike his own father, Vincent had allowed his kids to choose their destinies. He’d encouraged them to do as they wished. Cash had taken over one of his hotels and managed it.
“Son. Come in. Sit. Sit.” Vincent went around his desk, walking to the bar to fix his son and himself a drink, not that he needed liquor for what he was about to do. He was a strong man, and he was doing this for Cash’s future. Thank goodness Suzanne wasn’t there, or she’d laugh at his inability to say anything without a drink in his hand.
“Are you okay, dad?” Cash asked, his voice deep with worry.
Vincent turned to face Cash. “I’m fine.”
It was Cash who might not be fine once he realized what his father had done. He filled two whiskey tumblers midway and brought one over to his son.
Cash took the glass, his gaze intent and features impassive. “You needed me?”
“Yes,” Vincent said. He took a seat across from Cash, sighing as he got comfortable on the large, black leather sofa. “I was playing poker the other day with some friends.”
Cash’s brows drew down, deepening his frown. “And?”
“I won something for you.”
“Dad, you know I don’t need anything.”
Not according to Suzanne. Suzanne felt all her boys needed a woman, and urgently, or she’d be the only one amongst her friends with no grandbabies to bounce on her lap. Suzanne had said that. Not Vincent. Nope. Nu-uh. Vincent had nothing to do with it. Not at all.
“Well, whether you need it or not, it’s yours. I won a prize for you. All you have to do is go pick it up.” He refrained from using the word “her” so Cash wouldn’t become suspicious. As it was, his son was giving him a strange look.
Cash sighed and nodded. “Alright. Where do you want me to go get this prize?”
“Charlie’s Bar,” Vincent said, standing and heading toward his desk. “He’s got it for you.”
Vanessa Soler stared at her father like he’d grown a second head. “What do you mean you bet me on a poker game and lost? What the hell does that mean?”
She gripped the chair in front of her with all her might. Her entire life she’d spent working at her father’s strip club, first as a waitress and more recently as the costume designer. She did not do the stage. Though Charlie’s was a different kind of joint, featuring curvy strippers, Vanessa had never felt the need to go onstage. She wasn’t a dancer. She was the kind of person that could trip while standing still. Stripping required more balance than she possessed.
“Lower your voice, hija!”
She huffed out a growl and pushed her stupid curls away from her face. “I will not lower my voice,” she hissed the words. “You cannot just bet me on a game, Dad. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I’m sorry, Vanessa. I thought I had the winning hand. It was a given darling. At least he thought so. It was a sweet deal. I thought we’d pay off the mortgage on the club. Open up a few more clubs. Hell, the way it was set up, I thought we’d be rich.”
She glared at her father. Fury simmered her blood. “I don’t care what you thought. I’m not doing whatever it is you promised whoever won. So figure your own damn way out of that problem.”
“Look,” her father began, his shoulders slumping, “I don’t know what to do. I already emailed and called Mr. Tigris. I told him I would give him anything. You and your sister are my only family, and I cannot do that to you.”
“But you already did!”
“Don’t you think I know that?” His gaze dropped to his desk. “I offered him the business.”
She gasped, her eyes wide with shock. “You offered him Charlie’s?”
He nodded. “He refused. Said you’d be perfect for what he needed.”
“Screw him. You can’t bet a person. That’s illegal. Even if you can bet all kinds of crazy shit in Las Vegas, I’m pretty sure the police won’t allow you to bet a human being.”
His gaze shot up to meet hers. The torture she saw in her father’s eyes made her feel a little less angry. “Mr. Tigris has a lot of money, hija. He could do unspeakable things.”
“What? Like the mob?” She knew she should have been checking on her father’s weekly poker games, but instead she’d been busy creating new dance costumes for the girls. It took every bit of ingenuity and creativity she had to make the curvy goddesses, as she referred to the dancers, feel sexy and look the part. Most big women weren’t like Vanessa. She loved her curves and wore whatever she wanted that made her feel sexy at all times. A lot of the dancers came to the club looking to make money but still feeling insecure. Vanessa turned into more than a seamstress. She was a friend and confidant, and at times even a therapist who listened and helped them solve their problems.
“Not the mob. Tigris is too much of a by-the-book businessman for that.”
“He’s accepting a woman as a gambling win. That’s not by the book,” she countered.
“He’s different. He’s dangerous. His sons are too,” her father said, leaning back on his chair.
“Well goody for him. I’m not going to be some guy’s prize. No. Not gonna happen.”
Her father gulped and raised a shaky hand to his wrinkled forehead. “I’ll figure this out.”
Ah, fuck. Guilt. She knew he was old and sometimes did shit expecting no repercussions, but betting his own daughter? She really needed to have him tested for senility. “Look, let me talk to the man,” she heard herself say. What the hell was wrong with her? She knew what. She couldn’t let her father deal with this on his own. “I’ll try to see if there’s any way he’ll take cash. I have savings.”
She did. She didn’t live an extravagant life, and most men who went to the club spent a lot of money on the women. That meant she got crazy tips from the dancers as thank you’s for making them feel pretty.
“I don’t want you to spend your money,” her father said.
Too late for that. She had a good amount of savings. She’d give it all up if it would erase the frown from her father’s face. Plus, she was hardly a delicate flower who couldn’t get out of the problem. She wouldn’t let any man touch her unless she wanted him to. She’d figure out what to do about this. Her dad needed her to. He might not be the smartest man in the world, but he was her dad. “Let me think about my money, okay?”
She patted his hand on the desk and sighed. Things were never boring at the club. There was always something going on.
“There’s something else,” he said. There was more than a shiver of worry in his voice.
She frowned, waiting for what he’d say.
“Gabriella can’t make it tonight. She asked me to have you call her.”
Gabriella had been with the club for a while now. Not as young as most of the women, she didn’t mess around. She got in, did her spot, and left. She didn’t sit there and try to make conversation with the clients like some girls. Gabriella was just a private person, so for her to ask Vanessa to call her couldn’t be good.
She stood, took a breath, and let her shoulders drop. “Anything else you want to tell me?”
He shook his head, and she walked out of his office, ready to deal with whatever issue had arisen with Gabriella.
She pulled her cell out of the back pocket of her jeans and saw ten missed calls from Gabriella. Shit. There had to be some big emergency for her to call that much.
She dialed Gabriella back and waited, her heart hammering hard in her chest.
“Thank you for calling me back,” Gabriella said in a rush. “I’m sorry to have called you, but I didn’t know who else to contact.”
“That’s okay. What’s wrong?” She could tell there was a lot wrong from the wobble in the other woman’s voice.
“I...can’t come in tonight. My cat is sick, and I can’t leave her alone.”
“I’m sorry. Do you want me to get one of the other girls to fill in for you?” She’d done that for the girls many times. Finding a last minute replacement was easy.
“Yes, please. My spot can’t go unfilled tonight.”
“Don’t worry. If it’s that important, I’ll fill in for you,” Vanessa joked. She hung up and quickly got on the phone, dialing all the girls that were off for the night and asking them to fill for Gabriella.