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Authors: S. E. Smith

Viper's Defiant Mate

BOOK: Viper's Defiant Mate
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Viper's Defiant Mate
Number II of
Sarafin Warriors
S. E. Smith
S. E. Smith (2015)

Prince Viper d’Rojah, a warrior from the Sarafin cat shifter species, is not happy when he is sent on a special mission by his older brother Vox, King of the Sarafin. The mission is to deliver important documents to the human authorities before kidnapping the sister and grandmother of Vox’s mate, Riley. He has handled tougher assignments in his sleep and just wants to get back to finding the traitors trying to kill him and his family! 

Tina St. Claire was finally happy with her life until her big sister, Riley, suddenly disappeared. Even Grandma Pearl suspected that Riley’s ex-employer was hiding something. Determined to find Riley, Tina’s research unwittingly leads the danger to her and Grandma Pearl. The unexpected arrival of a strange man causes things to go from bad to worse when he gives her and Grandma Pearl a packet of material he claims is from Riley. 

Riley had warned Viper that neither her sister nor Grandma Pearl would willingly come with him. Viper could care less whether the females wanted to come or not, he had never failed a mission and wasn’t about to start now. 

Viper soon discovers this mission has turned into the most important one of his life when both he and his cat recognize that Tina is their mate. Now, he has to keep Tina and her gun toting Grandmother alive. The question is, who is going to save him when both women discover his plans to kidnap them?

Viper’s Defiant Mate:

Sarafin Warriors Book 2

 

 

By S. E. Smith

 

 

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my husband Steve for believing in me and being proud enough of me to give me the courage to follow my dream. I would also like to give a special thank you to my sister and best friend, Linda, who not only encouraged me to write, but who also read the manuscript. Also to my other friends who believe in me: Julie, Jackie, Lisa, Sally, Elizabeth (Beth) and Narelle. The girls that keep me going!

—S. E. Smith

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Romance

Viper’s Defiant Mate: Sarafin Warriors Book 2

Copyright © 2015 by S. E. Smith

First E-Book Published May 2015

Cover Design by Melody Simmons

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author.

 

All characters, places, and events in this book are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations are strictly coincidental.

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Prince Viper d’Rojah, a warrior from the Sarafin cat shifter species, is not happy when he is sent on a special mission by his older brother Vox, King of the Sarafin. The mission is to deliver important documents to the human authorities before kidnapping the sister and grandmother of Vox’s mate, Riley. He has handled tougher assignments in his sleep and just wants to get back to finding the traitors trying to kill him and his family!

Tina St. Claire was finally happy with her life until her big sister, Riley, suddenly disappeared. Even Grandma Pearl suspected that Riley’s ex-employer was hiding something. Determined to find Riley, Tina’s research unwittingly leads the danger to her and Grandma Pearl. The unexpected arrival of a strange man causes things to go from bad to worse when he gives her and Grandma Pearl a packet of material he claims is from Riley.

Riley had warned Viper that neither her sister nor Grandma Pearl would willingly come with him. Viper could care less whether the females wanted to come or not, he had never failed a mission and wasn’t about to start now.

Viper soon discovers this mission has turned into the most important one of his life when both he and his cat recognize that Tina is their mate. Now, he has to keep Tina and her gun toting Grandmother alive. The question is, who is going to save him when both women discover his plans to kidnap them?

 

Prologue

Pearl's Rules for Living:

  1. Use your brain, that is why you have one.
  2. Safety is something you take seriously, otherwise you end up dead.
  3. If you have expressive eyes, keep them covered if you are going to bluff.
  4. Give someone enough rope, and they are bound to get tangled and hang themselves.
  5. Always carry a roll of quarters, you can do your laundry and knock out bad guys at the same time.
  6. There are rules and there are rules, pick which ones work for you.
  7. Don't fuck up unless you are willing to make it right.
  8. Mistakes are good, learn from them and move on.
  9. Always stay alert and don't let your guard down.
  10. Ask yourself, ‘Am I ready for this?’ If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, run like hell.
  11. If you are going to hit someone, make sure they stay down the first time. You might not get a second chance.
  12. Don’t trust a man, especially a good looking one who starts out with sweet words. Same goes for a woman, she just wants something.
  13. A good book and fresh batteries can make your day tolerable.
  14. Your word is your honor, be careful what you promise.
  15. Humor solves any problem, think in animation.
  16. The only opinion you have to worry about is your own since you have to live with it.
  17. Be the best possible you that you can be.
  18. Your goal each day is to make it a good one.
  19. Words can be as powerful as a fist, be careful how you use them.
  20. If you or your family/friends’ lives are on the line, ignore all of the above except rule Number 1.

 

Unbreakable rule:
Family and friends come first: Be loyal, be true, and love them like there is no tomorrow.

 

Pearl sighed as she wiped the splatter of beer from the frame on the wall. A sad smile curved her lips as she stared at the words carefully printed on it. She wasn’t perfect, no one was, which is what she tried to show her granddaughters. It was okay not to be perfect, it was being the best possible person you could be that mattered.

The list started out as fun as she and the girls added to it. It had changed a little over the years, especially the order, but the Unbreakable Rule remained the same. If Riley was following it, she would be alright, wherever she was.

Pearl rubbed her left hand over the ache in her chest as she thought about her granddaughters. They were her world and she would do anything she could to make sure they were safe. Unfortunately, she hadn't done as good a job as she had hoped. Riley was missing and Tina... Well, Tina had closed her heart up so tight, Pearl didn't know what to do. Turning away from the list over the bar, she surveyed the mess on the other side of the long bar. It had been a wild night and she was glad that Tina had missed it.

“Alright, boys,” Pearl called out as she picked up the broom and nodded to the bouncer standing over them. Her eyes ran over the small group of men lying in a bloody mess on the floor. “It’s clean up time
The White Pearl
way. Open your wallets if you know what is good for you, you have some furniture to replace.”

 

Chapter 1

Righteous, New Mexico

“You can do this girl,” Tina St. Claire murmured to herself as she glanced around the room to make sure she didn’t forget anything before she opened the door. “Just act cool, calm and collected. Pearl says that as long as you don’t sweat, no one will ever know you are bluffing or scared shitless.”

She stopped in the doorway to the old, but clean motel room that she had rented for the night and gazed out over the parking lot. She calmly adjusted her sunglasses before she stepped out into the bright early morning sunlight in Righteous, New Mexico. Closing the door behind her, she adjusted her knapsack containing two changes of clothes, some toiletries, and the paperwork outlining her research on her right shoulder before she pulled the strap to the messenger bag she used as a purse over her head and adjusted it across the front of her.

She lifted the tip of her hat to gaze up momentarily at the clear, cloudless blue sky. A pang of grief swept through her as she stared upward. The color reminded her of her sister, Riley’s eyes. Pushing the grief down, she ran her fingers along the brim of the dark brown hat before letting them fall to her side.

Tina ignored the dry heat as it swirled around her. It was hot, but not as hot as she expected; it was just a little dustier than she was used to. A shiver of uncertainty threatened to choke her as she stepped down the sidewalk heading to the small Bail Bond office located on the corner three blocks from the motel. Luckily, it wasn’t far from the Greyhound Bus station that was two blocks over. She would get confirmation on the information she had found and get out. The bus would be here in less than two hours. That should be plenty of time to find out if what she suspected was true, that Riley's former boss was more than just a lying jerk, he was a criminal.

A wave of guilt surged up when she thought of what she had been doing behind her Grandmother’s back. She knew Pearl was just as worried about Riley as she was, she just showed it differently. She knew deep down that she should have told her grandmother where she was going. The problem was that Pearl tended to shoot first, literally, if she had her shotgun, and ask questions later.

While Pearl had been dogging the Police Department in San Diego to get off their asses and do something, Tina had been doing a little investigating on her own. It was some of the highly questionable accounting practices, aka money-laundering, in Riley’s former boss’s accounts that made Tina suspect that her sister had discovered more than she bargained for when she accepted the job here.

Most people underestimated her sister, thinking she was a dumb blonde. Riley was good at letting people have their misconception. If there was one thing the St. Claire women had learned, it was not to give a rat's ass about what other people thought of them.

When they were growing up, some of the girls in High School had called her and Riley 'trailer' trash. Personally, Tina found that amusing considering they had never lived in a mobile home. Their mom may have abandoned them to their grandmother, but Pearl had been there making sure they had a nice, clean home, a good education, and while some of the places hadn't been the best, or safest place to live, they had always been immaculate.

Riley, on the other hand, had gotten into her fair share of fights before the school threatened to take them away from Pearl if she didn't quit. Pearl had shown them both how to use their brains, and their mouths, to overcome the bullies. Riley had always been better at it than her, mostly because Tina had a quirky sense of humor and enjoyed watching others put their foot in their mouths.

Plus
, she thought as she walked slowly down the sidewalk.
I don't have the violent tendencies that Riley and Pearl do.
 

Focusing back on the matter at hand, Tina thought of Douglas Knockletter and what she had discovered by going through his tax records. She had learned a long time ago that financial records were like looking at a person’s soul. You could learn a lot about them from their spending habits.

What she found out from Knockletter's returns was that there was no way that Knockletter could afford his lifestyle with the income he was reporting. She had noticed that right off the bat. Those findings made her think that all the polite, concerned conversations that she’d had with the bail bondsman about Riley’s disappearance were as fake as he was.

Glancing around, she noticed a man wearing the dark tan color of a law enforcement uniform, leaning against the wall outside a small café. He was watching her with an intense stare that sent another shiver through her, this time of warning. Thankful for the hat and sunglasses that shielded her face, she acted as if she was just out for an early morning stroll.

A frown creased her brow and worry made her want to bite her bottom lip, an annoying habit she had developed during her junior year of high school. There was something strange going on around here. She decided that it had more to do with the people in the town, than the location. The kid checking her in at the motel had been okay, but the feeling of being watched this morning sent her internal warning system into high gear.

She let her gaze roam the main street of town. There wasn’t much to Righteous, New Mexico. There was an intersection in the center of town where two highways met. The town wasn’t far from the Arizona, Utah, and Colorado borders. She would have understood Riley moving back to Denver before moving to a little hole in the desert like this. Heck, they didn't even have a decent department store! How her sister, Riley, ever ended up in a place like this, Tina would never understand.

Pushing her hair back from her face, she could at least appreciate that in the dry heat, she didn't have to worry about nervous sweat beading on her brow. She tilted the dark brown pleather hat further down over her forehead so that more of her face was shielded from the sun.

Another difference between me and Riley,
she thought with an inelegant snort, thankful that she had applied a liberal dose of sunscreen to her face.

She had a very fair complexion, which meant she was constantly having to be careful about getting a sunburn. Unfortunately, she didn't tan… at all. Instead, she had learned one painful summer day at the community pool that she burnt to the color of an ugly red lobster. She had missed three days of school and had been in agony.

No, she was the winter to Riley's summer when it came to colors and personality, it would appear. Riley, with her infectious smile and sharp wit, had taken after their mom and Grandma Pearl in attitude, while Tina decided she must have taken after her father, a quiet, geeky man that had no idea how to handle her existence when she found him less than a year ago. She had pale skin, long, dark brown hair that refused to tolerate even the slightest curl, and dark brown, boring eyes. Combine that with a full size fourteen figure, and she was… average, the complete opposite of her big sister who was bright like the summer, blonde, and beautiful with a kick-ass personality.

Tina briefly held the dark eyes that stared back at her before she turned her head, breaking the contact. Yep, her instincts were telling her talking to the local police department here would not be in her best interest. It would be better to turn everything over to the police department in San Diego. At least, if her suspicions turned out correct. Pasting a fake smile to her lips, she pushed open the door to the Bail Bond office, listening to the small sound of the bell as it rang.

“Hello,” she called out. “Is anyone here?”

Tina heard the sound of a chair moving before the thud of feet resounded on the floor. Her eyes flickered to the clock on the wall. It said that it was a quarter past nine. She absently glanced down at her cell phone. It was off by almost ten minutes.

“Well, hello beautiful,” a man said from the doorway separating the front room containing two plastic chairs and a battered desk and the back room where he had been. “Please tell me you need to be handcuffed.”

Loathing filled Tina’s eyes at his suggestive comment and the lewd, assessing gaze he was giving her. If nothing else resulted from this visit, there was one thing that was clear to Tina… her sister would have killed the bastard, or at least maimed him, if he looked at her like that. Impulsively, Tina’s eyes dropped down to look at the hand casually unbuttoning one of the buttons at the top of his shirt.

I wonder if it’s my imagination, or does he have a couple of crooked fingers on that hand?
She thought with a slightly hopeful look that was concealed by her sunglasses.

“No, fortunately, I don’t need to be handcuffed,” she replied in a stiff voice before softening it and forcing what she hoped was a sexy smile onto her lips. “I do need help, though.”

Tina almost turned tail and ran when the guy pushed away from the door frame and motioned for her to step through the doorway. Instead, she bit her bottom lip and took a step forward. She gave Douglas Knockletter another weak smile as she walked past him.

Yes, I should have told Pearl where I was going so she could come in with her damn gun if this turns out bad,
she thought with a sinking feeling in her stomach.

“Helping you will be a pleasure,” Douglas replied with a toothy grin. “A pleasure that I’ll make sure is reciprocated.”

*.*.*

Tina stepped into the back office, but refused the seat that Knockletter offered. This excuse for a man had been her sister, Riley’s, boss. She immediately recognized Douglas Knockletter’s voice. He had an annoying hiss when he said his ‘S’s’. It reminded her of the snake from Rubyard Kiplings’ book
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
. She had always loved that mongoose and cheered him on in his defeat of the dreaded Cobra.

“I highly doubt that,” Tina blurted rather bluntly as she turned to face where he had stopped in front of the desk. “I’m here about my sister, Riley St. Claire. I would like to ask you some questions.”

Almost immediately, the heated gaze turned to stone. The shiver of alarm sounded again, this time louder than before. This man was definitely in the same class as the Cobra. Well, she would just have to be the mongoose that brought him down because there was no longer any doubt in her mind that those crooked fingers on his hand had her sister’s name on them.

“Who are you?” Knockletter warily demanded, stepping back around the worn desk.

“Tina St. Claire,” Tina replied coolly. “I talked to you several times on the phone.”

Knockletter’s eyes became shuttered as he gazed back at her. Once again, she was thankful she had kept her sunglasses on. Pearl rule number two, if you have expressive eyes, keep them covered if you plan to bluff. Remembering that she was here to get answers, a flare of determination swept through her.

The little worm wanted to flirt with her until he realized who she was and what she wanted. While she probably would have gotten more information out of him if she had gone along with his nasty little flirting, Tina didn’t work that way. Heck, none of the St. Claire women followed the normal rules, they always followed Pearl’s rules. Pearl’s Rule Number Five: always carry a roll of quarters, among other things, with you at all times. That was the reason she always took the bus. Besides the fact she didn’t have to deal with airport security, especially since they tended to heavily disapprove of her carry-on items.

Pulling herself up to her full height of five feet nine inches, Tina stared back at Dudley Dipshit, Riley’s pet name for her boss. Suspicion and malice had replaced the glimmer of interest that had been there just minutes before. Folding her arms across her chest, she let her fingers slip into the little side pocket of her messenger bag. A roll of quarters was a powerful weapon when used correctly. It also allowed her to have coins to do her laundry when she traveled.

“I told you I don’t know where the fuck she is,” Knockletter replied in a harsh voice. “Trust me, I want to know.”

Tina’s eyes flickered to the two bent fingers on his right hand when he held it up in front of him. She couldn’t keep the smile of satisfaction from tugging at her lips. Unfortunately, Knockletter saw it too. The narrowing of his eyes and the anger on his face made the greasy, unattractive man appear even more sinister.

“I think you do,” Tina replied in a quiet voice. “I want to know why she broke your fingers. She wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t tried something.”

Knockletter’s mouth twisted into a grimace as he sat down in the chair behind his desk. He leaned back in it and folded his arms across his chest as he placed the heels of his feet on the edge of the dull wooden surface, crossing them at the ankles.

“There is an arrest warrant out for the bitch,” Knockletter stated coldly. “She busted two of my fingers and almost emasculated me with her knee.”

“There was nothing said about an arrest warrant,” Tina replied in a calm voice. “The detective handling her case in never mentioned it.”

Knockletter grinned as he reached down and rubbed his crotch. “I guess I should have said, there is going to be a warrant for her arrest, unless…,” he said, letting his voice fade as he looked her up and down again.

I am so going to need a hot, bubble bath when I get home to wash the nastiness of his eyes off of me,
Tina thought silently as another wave of distaste washed over her.

“Unless…,” she asked through gritted teeth.

Knockletter let his feet fall to the floor of the office and he stood up surprisingly fast. Tina jerked backwards several steps, her fingers automatically wrapping around the roll of quarters in her left hand. She stumbled back several more steps when he walked back around the desk. This time, he didn’t stop, though.

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