Authors: Ashley Hunter
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Angels, #Demons & Devils, #Ghosts, #Witches & Wizards
Bought By The Puma
(Studly Shifters Book 1)
by Ashley Hunter
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any way whatsoever, without written permission
from the author, except in case of brief
quotations embodied in critical reviews
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any
character, person, living or dead, events, place or
organizations is purely coincidental. The author does not
have any control over and does not assume any responsibility
for third party websites or their content.
First edition, 2016
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Sold to the Shifter
Chapter 2: The Interfering Journalist
Chapter 3: Torn Between Duty and Mate
Chapter 4: The Ex
Chapter 5: Love With the Enemy
Chapter 6: The Finale Night
Chapter 7: Saved by the Puma
Chapter 1: Sold to the Shifter
A scream ripped through the heavy fog in Whitney's head and she winced. The girl beside her let out a low snarl.
"Oh, for Christ's sake, shut up!" She snapped at the girl screaming in the corner. "You're not helping."
The screaming stopped, the silence only broken by whimpering. With the dull lightbulb overhead, there was barely any light to illuminate half of the room. Whitney could barely make out the thin redhead dressed in an electric blue strapless dress, her silver high heels sparkling whenever they caught the light. The redhead glared at the blonde sitting beside Whitney.
"Are you kidding?" She shrieked. "We're trapped in here and you're telling me to shut up? They're going to kill us!"
Jael rolled her eyes.
"Grow up, Brittany. Getting hysterical is not going to get you out of here quicker. Just shut up and try to calm down."
Brittany glared at the other woman before slumping into a sulk, crossing her arms and glaring at the opposite wall like a petulant teenager. And Whitney guessed she must be - even with the makeup and the clothes, she didn't look any older than sixteen.
Jael was nearer Whitney's age of twenty-three, her blonde hair cut short into a tomboy's mop. She wore a silver halter and black leather pants with black boots, the halter showing off the black tattoos that snaked down her arms and back.
In the hours since Whitney had come round, still feeling like her head was about to explode, Jael had been the stoic one while Brittany had been the hysterical one.
Whitney had gravitated towards Jael but tried to keep the peace between them. It didn't help but Whitney desperately wanted something to do to stop herself from going crazy thinking about what would happen to them.
Right now, trapped in a concrete room with barely any light, all of them were feeling like they were suffering from migraines and nausea, it wasn't boding well for them.
"Aren't you being a bit hard on her?" Whitney whispered.
Jael glanced at her. Despite her calm expression, Whitney could see the fear in her eyes.
"I want to freak out as well but it's not going to help anybody." She whispered back. She nodded at the girl. "She's making me nervous, as it is."
Whitney nodded. She shifted against the wall and closed her eyes. Her neck was stinging where her neck met her shoulder. Feeling around, she felt a slight mark that felt like a pinprick.
She hadn't had anything to drink at all when she had entered the club, saying she wanted to have a clear head during the interview, so the club manager had grabbed her and injected something into her neck. She remembered the sharp pain like something was tearing into her flesh and then nothing.
She didn't even know how long they had been out.
Going into a club under the pretence of becoming a club dancer so she could get the story of the decade had sounded like a good idea at the time. But she went alone, she didn't do the proper research and no one knew where she was.
Whitney wished she had said something to her sister now.
"Who do you think they are?" She asked. "Why do they want us?"
"Have you read the papers about several girls in the area disappearing without a trace?"
"I work for a newspaper. It's the big story that has been front page news all over the state for the last couple of weeks."
"Pity you won't be around long enough to write a first-hand report about it." She muttered.
Whitney felt a shiver run through her body. She knew people trafficking happened but the girls that had been going missing were from good families, sometimes even wealthy.
It had been described as an epidemic with the amount of teenagers and women in their early twenties running off, not leaving a note or taking anything with them. The police and the FBI were baffled.
Whitney had been determined to look into the story and after a little research had discovered a common link between a lot of the girls and the club she had gone to. But after trying to get an inside line on the place, she was now suffering the consequences by becoming one of the missing statistics.
"Do you think we'll get out of here?" She asked, looking at the darkened shape of the door to her right.
"I don't know." Jael's mouth twisted in contempt. "But I know that my parents won't give a damn if I go missing. They disowned me when I came out as gay when I was seventeen. Nobody would miss me."
That was a sad revelation. From what Whitney had gathered in the past couple of hours, Jael was a lovely young woman, albeit a bit prickly but that could be due to the situation they were in. It was sad to know that nobody would miss her.
Then Whitney realized that she wouldn't really be missed, either. She and her sister had regular contact but by the time their weekly conversation came round, she would be long gone, disappeared into the abyss of the criminal world. Her sister wouldn't know what to do and they would never find her.
That thought settled hard and heavy in her stomach.
There was a jangling of keys, a loud creak, and the door opened, spilling bright light into the room. Whitney shut her eyes and raised her hands to shield her eyes from the glare. Then someone grabbed her wrist and pulled her to her feet, dragging her towards the door.
"You're first, darling."
She was here. Simon Oliver's senses became overwhelmed and for a moment, he swayed. His mate was here. He couldn't believe it. The one woman for him was in the building.
His puma lifted its head and twitched its ears. It could sense his mate as well. Simon looked around, trying to see where she was. But the sea of people in front of him were all men, most of them wearing business suits with the rest dressed casually in jeans. A few wore baseball caps, several wore sneakers, and one man was even shirtless.
The only woman present was the one seated at a table off to the side, armed with a laptop and a thick ledger open in front of her. She was in her thirties, pleasantly attractive and sporting a body that said she went to regular gym sessions. But the scent of his mate wasn't coming from her, which was something of a relief. Simon didn't like to think that his mate was one of the bad guys.
Which only left one frightening conclusion.
She was one of the captives to be put up for auction to these depraved humans.
His suspicions were confirmed when a door at the far end of the hall opened and a girl was dragged in, stumbling in high heels. Her dark hair was loose about her shoulders; her curvaceous body clad in a skimpy outfit that didn't look right on her. She looked like she had been clubbing.
Simon guessed that she had been at Grattidge's club. Lots of girls had been allegedly going missing from there but Grattidge had enough sway with the local cops for them to look the other way. If she was auctioned off tonight, this girl had little to no chance of being recovered.
His puma snarled, its tail twitching. Her scent filled Simon's nostrils. This woman was his mate. There was no doubt about it. She was about to be sold off to a perverted bastard in the crowd and nobody would care.
Simon wasn't about to let that happen.
But he still had to weigh up his options. His target was meant to be there tonight. He hadn't arrived but he could later. However, he couldn't let his mate suffer at the hands of one of these people. He just would not allow it.
The choice wasn't that difficult to make after all.
The woman was pulled up onto the raised platform and the dark-haired auctioneer, dressed in a black suit over a white t-shirt complete with gold chain and sunglasses, began his bidding as Simon's mate stood in the middle of the stage blinking through the bright lights directed at her face.
"Next bid, gents. Female Caucasian, early twenties. Hair, brown. Eyes, brown." The auctioneer moved round the girl and grabbed at her full hips. "She has a bit of meat on the bone but nothing you guys can't handle."
Simon watched as the girl slapped his hand away and elbowed him in the face. He bit back a smile as the crowd erupted into laughter. She was a fighter, no doubt about it. She was certainly not going down with her claws retracted.
The auctioneer didn't seem deterred, straightening up and wiping the blood from his mouth. He grabbed the girl by the hair and held tight enough that she flinched. Simon could see tears in her eyes and swallowed back a growl. No one hurt his mate. No one.
"She's feisty as well." The auctioneer announced. "I hope you guys like feisty." Then Simon heard the threatening whisper he made in his mate's ear. "You'd better behave yourself, bitch, or I'll make sure whoever gets you flays the skin off that fat ass of yours."
Simon's hands clenched. He wanted to run up onto the stage and beat the bastard to a pulp. But he held himself back. It wouldn't do the assignment or him any good to go caveman because his mate was getting attacked.
His beast didn't like holding back, either, but it also knew the consequences. They had kept their real existence secret to all but a select few and Simon wasn't prepared to explain to his superiors why he went crazy in the middle of an assignment.
"So, do I hear a bid?" The auctioneer had let go of Simon’s mate and was moving about the stage, getting into his role. "Anyone? Who's going to start?"
"$5,000." Someone shouted from near the back.
The auctioneer rolled his eyes.
"Come on, she's worth more than that, surely."
A portly, bespectacled man in his forties wearing a suit just in front of Simon raised a hand.
"A little better. Any advance on $7,500, gents?"
Simon gritted his teeth. This was a bad idea. It would be drawing attention to him. But seeing his woman up on the stage, huddled away from the leering eyes as she hugged herself around her middle, he knew he couldn't leave her to the wolves.
He raised a hand.
The auctioneer swung round on him, a gleam in his eye.
"We've got someone who likes fat girls. Good on you, sir. Any more offers?"
Simon swallowed back his retort that she wasn't fat. Not to him. He loved curves on a woman and she was perfect for him. Now was not the time.
His competitor had upped the ante. The auctioneer turned expectantly towards him. Simon didn't hesitate.
He was going to have to explain the amount to his boss but hopefully; they would be able to stop the money going out before the kidnappers cashed the check.
His competitor turned to him and raised his hands in defeat with a wry smile.
"I'll let you have her, sir. You could probably curb her attitude better than me."
Simon wasn't so sure about that. He liked fire in women so he might consider leaving it alone. His heart hammered as he made his way to the front, telling his puma to duck out of sight. They were so good at hiding their scent from other shifters that when they revealed themselves, it took everyone by surprise.
There were times when he had been found out but those people hadn't been on his side. And they didn't live long enough to let the relevant people know.
Right now, he didn't want the auctioneer to know that he was a shifter. He needed to get his mate and get her out of there. His heart was pounding but he kept all expression off his face as he mounted the stage.
"Do you take check?" He asked.
"Of course. Just give it to Jo on your way out." The auctioneer nudged him and nodded at the girl, who glared back at him. "She's got an attitude problem. You're going to have to deal with that first."
Simon looked over at his mate, who scowled at him, her fear clear in her eyes. He wanted to go to her and hold her, tell her that things would be okay. But he stopped himself. Now was not the time. She was a total stranger, for crying out loud.
"Don't worry." He growled. "I can handle it."