Authors: Eliza Gayle
|A White Cougar Christmas|
|Gypsy Ink Books (2011)|
White Cougar Christmas
By Eliza Gayle
“What’s a woman like you doing in a bar like this all alone on Christmas Eve?”
Niki rolled her eyes. That lame pick up line wasn’t even enough to interest her in turning to face the drunk who dared to hit on her. Feeling surly enough to rip someone’s head off, she growled low in her throat. A warning she hoped the idiot would heed. This had not been her week and with the prospect of spending another holiday alone looming in front of her, she’d grown restless and edgy. A dangerous combination in any shifter.
“What was that?”
So much for a warning. He was either too stupid or too drunk to realize how close he was to death. It might not be his fault she’d arrived in a foul mood but that wouldn’t stop her from taking it out on him. She sniffed the air hoping to catch the scent that would give her permission to put him down. Unfortunately, he appeared to be one hundred percent human, which meant she wasn’t allowed to touch him. The less they interacted with his kind, the less chance of them being discovered.
“Hey, honey. I’m talking to you.”
Niki narrowed her eyes and compressed her jaw. Rules be damned she needed an outlet for her frustrations and a little violence was certainly one way to get it. Niki Harris deserved some fun for one night even if that meant unauthorized bloodshed.
She eased herself from the stool, straightening the leather halter she’d chosen for the night, making sure the optimal amount of distracting cleavage showed. Heat surged through her system as she prepared for a fight. It took a few seconds to control the urge to shift before she turned and faced the annoying stranger.
When he got a good look at her, his eyes widened and his gaze locked on her breasts like she’d expected. He licked his lips and she half expected drool to begin dripping from his mouth within seconds. Spying the glazed over look in his eyes from too much consumption of alcohol and the soft fleshy musculature of his arms, not to mention the beer belly, she knew this would be far too easy. She’d have him on the ground and broken to her will in less than a minute. It wasn’t even worth the trouble. No satisfaction would come from a man like this. She needed a fight or a fuck but it needed to be fair.
“I suggest you move on before I lose what little patience I have left.”
“Want to play hard to get, huh?” His words slurred together in one nearly incoherent jumble, causing her stomach to roll in disgust. This idiot had no idea who or what he was toying with.
Concentrating inward, she nudged at the cougar inside her. The slow pulse of blood in her veins picked up its pace and warmed her from the inside out. Niki closed her eyes and imagined the ice blue glow of her own eyes when she shifted. Not gold like most of her cougar brethren. Her eyeteeth elongated and poked at the side of her lip. Satisfied that she’d controlled the change just enough, she lifted her lids and bared her fangs at the helpless stranger. He might not be much sport but beating the hell out of him would still feel good nonetheless.
Her hand shot out to grasp his neck but was grabbed instead by someone crazy enough to step between her and her prey. The touch sizzled and burned straight to her core.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. We don’t need that kind of trouble,” the stranger warned.
Her snarl of frustration cut through the din of conversation in the bar, garnering the attention of more than a few patrons. But the warmth of the hand encircling her wrist distracted her, reminding her why she’d come this far from home in the first place. She didn’t want to spend Christmas alone this year. She raised her eyes to the newcomer to discover sex on legs standing next to her. At least six feet of broad, muscular male stood less than a foot away from her and just ripe for the picking.
“Hey pal, this lady is mine, no poaching allowed.” The drunk didn’t know when to quit.
“I just saved your life, now be a good little drunk and order another drink from the bar before I change my mind and throw you out of here.”
Hot and sexy’s voice flowed over her like warm butter, all silky smooth as he spoke to the idiot without taking his eyes from her. Her heart pounded as his unwavering gaze traveled over her. Dressed in jeans and a dark t-shirt with the name of the bar emblazoned across his chest, drawing her in, she was hard pressed to turn away. The arrogant lines of his face only emphasized the amazing package he presented. He had the body of a warrior, not one sculpted in a gym. Even better. She could smell the cougar on him, a wild and reckless scent that made her nipples tighten and her nostrils flare as she took in more. For the first time in a very long time, the feline inside of her wanted to roar its approval.
His olive toned skin and long dark hair made him flat out sexy and gorgeous as hell. Without even knowing his name, she wanted to wrestle him to the ground and take a bite. He didn’t look like any other cat she’d ever encountered and something about him pulled her to him.
He smiled at her then, white teeth flashing against ruby lips that she could imagine nibbling on for days. The arrogant way he looked her up and down would have earned any other man a punch in the gut or worse. Instead, the compulsion to wind her legs around his waist and hang on for dear life sucked the air from her lungs.
Now there was an image she could wrap her mind around.
Niki shook her head, wondering what had gotten into her. One look at a hot, hard stud and she was ready to get naked and horizontal with him.
I really need a vacation.
When the drunk gave up and wandered away, her hottie let go of her wrist and reached for her hand. “I’m Dean, by the way.”
“Niki.” She took the hand he offered and watched him bring it to his lips. His dark eyes sparkled with a teasing light and a suggestive look. Her skin tingled, her body lit up and when his tongue darted out to lick at her skin, fire raced over her, engulfing her in heat that pulsed straight to her clit and nipples.
“Can I offer you a drink, Niki?”
Her breath caught in her throat as he continued to kiss and lick his way up her arm. Something about the way he spoke her name implied much more than a drink. An overwhelming sense of desire flowed through her veins, peaking in her nipples. When he reached the inside of her elbow, she nearly shot to the ceiling. He’d discovered one of her special spots, the place that always made her hot and wet in an instant. Her hope that she wouldn’t embarrass herself died when his nostrils flared at her sudden rush of arousal. He’d caught the scent.
“Whiskey,” she answered a bit too breathlessly for comfort. Another woman might have blushed under the circumstances, but not her. Sex was as natural to her as bathing or hunting. In fact, she and her feline sisters had abnormally high sex drives and regular releases kept them on an even keel, or as their mother reminded them all the time. Sex kept their aggressive tendencies at bay. Unfortunately for Niki, her releases lately had been strictly alone and she’d grown tired of solo play. Earlier that day, she’d run the familiar woods not far from home as the snow fell in big, wet flakes all afternoon. But she never reached the level of satisfaction her body craved. Nature had forced her to accept that without the adrenalin rush of fear or sex, she’d never settle back down.
Things were looking up for her now though.
Dean lifted his head to the man behind the bar.
“You got it, boss.” The barman nodded.
“It’s nice to meet you, Niki.” Dean stepped closer. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in my bar before. I’m sure I would’ve remembered someone like you. You stand out in a crowd.”
Niki barely heard his words. With every move he made, her senses were suddenly overflowing with the smell of musk and pine after a violent storm in the mountains. His scent. Male. Strong. Dominant. Images of him nudging her thighs apart so she could straddle his leg made her weak in the knees.
“You have no idea,” she answered without thought. “At least this time of year I can get away with a lot more camouflage than normal.”
His sudden look of puzzlement finally broke through her lust-addled brain. She’d come dangerously close to revealing her status as a rare white cougar warrior to a perfect stranger. The one secret that could get her killed. What the hell was happening to her? Her body had gone molten hot for the man standing in front of her, but that didn’t usually make her stupid. She knew next to nothing about the man or his establishment. In fact, how had she not heard of a cougar friendly business this close to home?
Niki accepted the glass of whiskey from the bartender and took a quick sip, hoping to gather her wits before she made any more mistakes. “Thanks for taking care of your overly friendly customer for me. As much as I might have liked to break a few bones it probably wouldn’t be a great idea.”
“Feeling a little tense?”
He had no idea. She simply shrugged. It wouldn’t do to put all of her cards on the table this early.
“Maybe we could find something else for you to do with all that pent up energy.”
Her ears perked up. Now he was talking. She stepped closer to him, soaking in the heat radiating off his body and another noseful of his delicious scent. Much more of this and she might find herself addicted. “What did you have in mind?” she whispered.
He smiled. “Eager aren’t you?”
She pulled back at his mocking tone, withdrawing from his touch. Despite the immediate feeling of loss, she didn’t have to stay where she would be taunted. Besides it wasn’t as if she couldn’t find a willing partner without the sarcasm. She turned away from him hell bent on getting out the door without causing anymore of a scene or looking back at the luscious man who’d turned her on more in a few seconds than any other man had for as long as she could—she paused—well, ever.
“Don’t.” His voice sounded loud and clear and she could have sworn the entire bar came to a standstill, including her.
It hadn’t been a plea or a request. No the tone of that command sizzled from her head to her toes and everywhere in between. But she was a woman with an overdose of pride who refused to turn and go back. He would have to meet her halfway or forget it. So she waited.
When he settled his hands on her waist she shuddered in pleasure. In that moment the deal had been set. For tonight she would be his and he would be hers, no questions asked.
“This could get dangerous,” he warned, his voice lowered to a level only she heard.
She leaned back and rested her head on his shoulder. “Danger is my middle name.”
He wrapped her jacket around her shoulders and steered her toward the back of the bar. When he reached for the door he paused. “Last chance. Any second thoughts?”
“None,” she assured him.
With the first step outside, she inhaled deeply, taking in the clean scent of fresh snow and wild earth. This time of year was her favorite. From the cold nights in front of a warm fireplace to the long hours of darkness that gave her the cover she sought, to run free and wild every chance she got. Winter was her time.
The forest, with only a small dirt road that led visitors back and forth to the parkway, surrounded the small bar. The seclusion didn’t bother her at all. Thanks to her mixed DNA, she valued her privacy more than the average shifter. Although they were all pretty private when it came to public places that included humans. She curled her lip. More often than not it wasn’t the humans who caused her trouble. Most of the cougars on this side of the ridge were pure blood born and wanted to keep it that way. So what was this guy’s story, she wondered.