Read When a Beta Roars Online

Authors: Eve Langlais

When a Beta Roars (8 page)

BOOK: When a Beta Roars
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“You are such a giant furball. Does anyone else know you’re so easy going?”

A lion rolling its eyes;
YouTube
sensation for sure. If only she had a camera.

“I want to play a game.” She couldn’t believe she said it, but once she did, she didn’t regret it. When was the last time she’d let loose and lived a little?

Hayder was right. She’d spent too many years cooped up, a prisoner in her own home, a prisoner of her life and choices. She’d also spent too much time afraid.

Time to live.

“We’re going to play wolf hunt. Except, in this case, I guess it’s more of a lion hunt, or would that be human hunt?”

He made a noise.

Funny how she could swear she understood him. “Well, I’m human for the moment, so it’s apt. Anyhow the name doesn’t matter. It’s a game I played as a kid with my brother. It was our version of hide and seek. Except we used the wheat and cornfields. And the winner was whoever managed to sneak up on the other and scare the bejesus out of them. Want to play?”

The snort was reply enough.

“When I say go, you close your eyes and count to sixty. Then, come find me.”

A laugh fluttered free from Arabella again as he dropped to the ground, ducked his head, and put his paws over it. His tail swished.

Tic. Toc. Damn, she should get moving and not stare at the hypnotic sway of his tuft.

She weaved through the wheat, moving quickly while doing loops and crisscrosses over her path. Anything to muddle her scent trail. She also snagged stray flower weeds on her way. When she had a handful, she rubbed them on herself, her clothes, her skin, masking her scent and matching it to that of the field. Then she circled back, moving toward Hayder’s position.

It was a good thing she played close attention because she almost didn’t spot him slipping through the waving strands. Only the feathery tips of the wheat and their agitated sway let her know his position, a position she stalked.

And got closer. Closer.

His tail twitched, just in front of her, and the imp in her couldn’t resist. She grabbed it and yanked.

Chapter Thirteen

There were a few things that really peeved a lion.

Stealing his sunny nap spot.

Messing up his mane.

Eating the last donut.

Yanking his fucking tail!

Reflex had him spin on the brat who’d sneaked up on him. Well, sneaked up if he ignored the fact he knew she was behind him. Let her think she had him. He was so enchanted by the emergence of a playful side that he didn’t want to ruin her fun.

A fun that ended when she yanked his tail.

Rawr
!

He spun and shot her a baleful glare.

For a moment she froze. A tremble went through her.

She was scared.

Ah hell. Surely she knew by now he’d never hurt her?

But then again, could he expect years of abuse and habit to disappear after spending just over a day with him? He wondered what she’d do. Would she run or give him the broken puppy eyes?

Why did this have to happen at all? Why did he have to look so fearsome? Was it his fault his lion was so impressive and scary? Was it—

Wait a second, was she laughing?

He eyed her. Yup. She was. Laughing and snorting.

Now he glared for real.

She chortled louder. “Oh. Oh.” She gasped. “If only you could see your expression.”

He’d show her an expression. He shifted into his human self, but even his impressive nakedness couldn’t stem her mirth. He stood and then stalked, each long stride bringing him closer, and her laughter dampening until it stopped altogether. He almost applauded when she peered at him instead of staring at her toes.

“Am I in trouble?”

“Nothing a kiss wouldn’t fix.” Blackmail? Hell yeah. He’d do anything for a kiss.

“If you want a kiss, you’ll have to catch me. Tag, you’re it.” She shoved him, open-palmed against his chest, before bolting, her lithe body a quick blur that soon disappeared from sight.

Seriously? She was just awesomeness wrapped in a layer of perfection with a dab of naughty he was really loving.

“I’m coming to get you, baby.” Off he dashed, a steady lope that would allow her a moment to think she’d escaped. Meanwhile, he’d end up catching her and taking that kiss.

Once he found her. His baby was quick on her feet. Not only that but she didn’t move as expected. Her trail moved in a straight beeline, from the field to the edge then the forest.

For a moment, he debated changing shapes again. The fact that she’d left their play area worried him. While he’d told her this area was safe, that didn’t mean something couldn’t happen.

He needed to find her.

Head angled, he inhaled deeply and caught a whiff of her scent. Faint given her camouflage efforts earlier, but enough for him to follow it to the gurgling stream that ran through this part of the property. He followed her trail, walking the wet, rocky bank, trying to catch a glimpse. He could hear nothing but the rushing fall of water over rocks. He emerged into a vast open area, the roar of water loud now as he stood atop the mini waterfall that fed into an oversized pool.

Still no sign of Arabella. Now he was truly worried. He skipped down the rocks to the edge of the water. Where was she? Had someone taken her right from under his nose? Was she—

Something grabbed his ankles, and he peered down to see a wet Arabella rising from the water, a sea nymph in a bra and panties, grinning in triumph as she yanked his ankles and dragged him in with her.

The cool shock of the water almost had him yelling. He remembered enough to keep his mouth closed until his head broke the surface.

A sleek, wet head popped up alongside him.

“Baby, I am going to make you suffer for that.”

“Should I be scared?”

“Very.” Because he’d make her suffer the same kind of arousal that plagued him.

Before she could swim away, he snared her and bound her with his long arms. Lucky for him that, while the water proved fairly deep, he could still stand in it and keep most of his upper chest and head above the surface.

Perfect because he had better uses for his energy than keeping afloat. He’d need it for the kiss he planned on giving her. A long, freaking kiss.

She didn’t try to escape his grasp. On the contrary, she wound herself around him, bound him with her legs, tied him with her arms.

Excellent, as it put her in the right spot for him to initiate the embrace. Yeah, baby, claim those lips and devour them.

However, today was a day of surprises. She claimed his mouth first, plastered hers against it, and tugged his bottom lip with her teeth.

From loose to tight, his grip on her changed, his arms binding her to him, especially when the tip of her tongue played with the seam of lips.

While their lips got closely acquainted, their hands didn’t remain idle. Hers kneaded the thick muscles that ran across his shoulders. She threaded her fingers through the wet mass of his hair. She ground her sex, clad in wet panties, against his abdomen.

All lovely treats, but he focused more on the exploration of her curves. Once he realized she wasn’t going anywhere, he loosened the hug. The water provided a buoyant medium that allowed him to let go so his hands could skim flesh. Down her ribcage his fingers slid to the swell of her buttocks and paused for a squeeze. A perfect handful for gripping. Nice.

He left one hand holding her squeezable ass while the other roamed upward over the swell of her hip and farther up to the lace fabric cupping a perfect peach.

Yes, he would compare her breast to a fruit. Round, firm, with just a little spongy give, succulent to bite into, sweet to the taste, addictive as well.

He couldn’t resist.

His hands spanned her waist so he could lift her from the water and position her at just the right height, the right height being where his mouth could tug at the wet fabric until a puckered berry popped out.

It didn’t remain exposed for long, not with his mouth immediately covering it.

He groaned. She groaned. They both groaned as he played with the nipple. There were no words exchanged between them, nothing but soft pants and moans of pleasure.

And the splash as something hit the water.

Then another something. The faint echo of a gunshot froze him.

Shit. Someone was fucking shooting at them.

“Take a deep breath,” was the only warning he gave before yanking Arabella underwater where they’d prove a more difficult target.

Wide eyes met his under the surface. Kind of hard to explain. Only his great-uncle Clive had ever inherited the famous Johnson gills. Hayder got great hair.

Since he couldn’t explain why it appeared he wanted to drown her, he kicked off. With her in tow, he scissor-kicked to the deep end of the pool by the waterfall. Having explored this place many a time when working off some energy, he knew the perfect spot to shelter while he figured out where the shooter was.

And then we’ll catch ’em and eat ’em.

It seemed Hayder wasn’t the only one peeved at the interruption.

But still…

We don’t eat people.

Such a disappointed kitty.

But catch the hunter and we’ll order the biggest rare steak they have in stock.

With the red sauce stuff?

A double order of the red wine reduction, he promised.

Lungs burning, Hayder dragged them to the surface, behind the filtering screen of water cascading from above. The little hidden grotto made a great hiding spot. The shooter would have a hard time targeting them, and the water would also slow the bullet and throw off its aim. He knew they were more or less safe for the moment, but she didn’t.

Soaked and scentless didn’t mean Hayder couldn’t sense the fear coming off Arabella.

She remained tucked close to him, for once not sneezing. Small blessing because one of her ginoromous achoos might have caused quite the amplified echo.

“Was someone shooting at us?” she whispered in his ear. Kind of funny since nothing could be heard above the falling splash of water

“Yes. Someone was trying to get us.” Which meant heads would roll with whoever was on duty for security today. Exactly how had someone made it on to pride land with a loaded weapon? What kind of cowards hunted shifters with bullets?

The kind who thought it was okay to beat a woman.

Grrrr
.

Man, not lion, made the sound.

It was also the man who made sure to tuck Arabella as deep as he could into the pocket, using himself as a body shield just in case the gunman got a lucky shot.

The crashing of water, not to mention the echoes created by the recess, made it impossible to gauge what happened outside their watery grotto. Did the shooter approach? Did he know where they’d gone? Would he stick around long enough for Hayder to hunt him down and slap him silly?

Only one way to find out.

Submerging himself, he kicked away from the shelter and, with powerful strokes, drew himself to the center of the pool where the water was deep enough for a concealing dive and where’d get the best view of his surroundings.

It also meant, when his head popped from the water, he provided an excellent target.

Rapid splashes showed the bullets hitting the water, one grazing close enough to his ear to flay a strip of skin.

“Shit!” He ducked, but not for long. Shouts erupted, muffled by the water, but still of interest.

Good guys to the rescue or more of the enemy to really fuck with the odds? He let himself float to the surface, allowing only the top of his head and eyes to emerge.

No gunshots, but he did come under a verbal attack.

“I thought cats didn’t like water,” a voice drawled from the shore.

“I thought you were still in Europe, giving us all a bad name,” Hayder replied as he tread water and spun to face the speaker. “What are you doing here?” You being Dean, an old rival. Question was, did Dean work for the good guys or the bad ones?

“Apparently I am rescuing your naked ass from poachers.”

“Poachers don’t aim at humans.”

“Wolves might though.”

Wolves? So this was related to Arabella. “You caught the guy shooting at us?”

“Lawrence took care of him while I came to check on you.”

“Lawrence is here too?” A buddy of his from back in his college days and then the few years after when he’d taken on a few jobs for the shifter council that led to some interesting missions.

He’d not seen Lawrence in years, which was good, as it meant he got to avoid Dean, the jerk who loved to cockblock so he could steal a chick for himself.

“Forget Lawrence. I’m more interested in this ‘we’ thing? Who else is out here with you?”

“None of your business.”

Wrong thing to say. Dean perked up, and Arabella chose that moment to surface, a sleek water goddess.

A low whistle left Dean. “Well, hello there, sweetheart.” Dean showed his stripes—and Hayder didn’t mean his tiger ones—with the wide smile he shot Hayder’s woman.

“She’s taken,” he growled in warning.

“No, I’m not,” she countered.

Dean’s smile widened. “Isn’t this interesting.”

“The only thing interesting is going to be the sound your face makes when it meets my fist if you don’t leave now.” Jealousy, Hayder’s new best friend. A more level-headed guy might ignore it. Hayder kind of liked it. Rage with a purpose. Awesome.

But Dean ignored Hayder’s threat. Instead, he crouched on the rock jutting over the water and beckoned to Arabella. “Come along now, sweetheart. While my buddy Lawrence has taken care of the shooter, with the security system down, who knows how many others might lurk?”

“What do you mean the system is down?” Hayder barked as he outpaced Arabella in the water. This ensured he reached the rock first, and his was the hand she grasped when she arrived a moment later.

He pulled her from the water and wrapped his arms around her shivering frame, less to keep her warm than to ensure Dean didn’t get too much of a peek.

While shifters weren’t hung up on nudity per se, it didn’t mean a lion liked another male ogling his woman.

We could always rip out his eyes.

His lion, ever coming up with awesome solutions.

“You look cold, sweetheart. Here, take this.” This was Dean’s shirt, which the bastard intentionally stripped to show off his body. Bloody bastard was ripped, of course, and even Hayder had to admit, if he were a girl, he’d probably look. Hell, he was a guy, and he could see how Dean might appeal.

Arabella, though, she didn’t ogle the male flesh. Nor did she take the proffered shirt. She shook her head, and even more delightful than her refusal, she ducked closer to him, seeking the haven of his body for protection. A small sign of trust.

He also liked that she wanted nothing of Dean’s. However, refusing the shirt meant she was cold and wet. She couldn’t hide the shiver that struck her head to toe. That needed fixing. Just not with Dean’s scent-marked shirt.

BOOK: When a Beta Roars
3.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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