Read Resisting the Cougar (Cascade Shifters #2) Online

Authors: Jessie Donovan

Tags: #FICTION / ROMANCE / PARANORMAL

Resisting the Cougar (Cascade Shifters #2) (6 page)

BOOK: Resisting the Cougar (Cascade Shifters #2)
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Rather than argue, he clenched his fingers and stretched them out. Repeating the process, he muscled to take full control of his mind. The last thing he needed was for Dani to spot his glowing cougar eyes and guess what he’d been about to do.

And Aidan was pretty sure the human had been about to ask him to kiss her.

With some distance, he grew angry with himself. Why he’d told Claire that Chloe was his daughter, he didn’t know. His life would be a whole lot easier if he’d not answered and let her assume the worst of him.

Besides that, giving in to the pull of the human’s magnetism brought on a sense of guilt. The crazy drive to kiss the living shit out of someone had only belonged to Emily. If he’d gone through with it, it would’ve felt like betrayal.

Memories of his mate’s brown eyes and dark, curly hair helped to calm down his cougar. If given the chance, both man and cat would do anything to caress Emily’s light brown skin again. For Chloe’s sake, he needed to keep her memory alive.

Arriving at the door, Aidan took one last deep breath. With any luck, Dani wouldn’t guess anything was out of the ordinary.

He opened the door and stood to the side. As soon as Dani entered, Aidan instructed, “Claire’s taking a shower. I told her you would wait out here. I don’t know how long I’ll be since I hope to check on Chloe, but if it’s too long, I’ll call you.”

Dani raised an eyebrow. “I’m not one of your soldiers to boss around, Aidan. You only do that when you’re trying to hide something from me.”

“I’m not going to defend myself. If anyone has been hiding something, it’s you, Danika. Why didn’t you tell me about my assignment as Claire’s bodyguard?”

Dani shrugged. “I didn’t know myself until you had left. Kian, Kaya, and Trinity picked you.”

“I still don’t understand why me. Lauren’s parents are due for another visit soon. I’d much rather plan how to sneak them onto our land without being noticed.”

Dani plopped down on the couch. “In my personal view, I think they gave you this assignment because you work too hard. Take it easy for a while, Aidan. Five years is a long time.”

He growled. “We agreed for you not to meddle in my personal life.”

“It’s my concern when your built-up sexual energy starts to interfere with your work. Frankly, I don’t care if you fuck the human or another female. Just do it and do it soon. Then you’ll be a lot less growly.”

“Stay out of my business, Dani.”

Dani raised her hands. “Judging by the way the human’s scent covers you, you’re halfway there already.”

“I have a meeting with Kian. While I’m gone, don’t give any ideas to the human. I have no plans to touch her.”

Amusement flashed in Dani’s eyes. “We’ll see. I haven’t decided if I like her or not. If I do end up liking her, well, I won’t make any promises.”

“Whatever, I don’t have time for this. Just protect her.”

Before Dani could reply, Aidan exited Claire’s apartments and went into his own. He wasn’t about to meet Kian Murray covered in Claire’s scent. He already had Dani on his case; he didn’t need anyone else, especially since he planned to keep his distance. He’d slipped up earlier, but he wouldn’t do it again. She was his assignment, nothing more.

 

~~~

 

Since Claire didn’t have any other clothes, after her shower, she merely put back on her jeans and thermal t-shirt. Her hair would have to air dry. Of course, it wasn’t like she was trying to impress anyone. If anything, she needed to dissuade Aidan. Maybe muddy clothes and frizzy hair would do the trick.

Adjusting her glasses on her nose, Claire took a deep breath and exited the bathroom. A woman with red hair in a French braid lounged on her couch, looking at her cell phone. The female must be Dani, the shifter woman she’d heard earlier in the corridor, when Claire had been blindfolded. “Hello.”

Dani glanced over, her eyes a deep blue. “I heard you exit the bathroom, but wanted to give you the chance to work up your nerve.”

“Right, because you’re such a scary shifter.”

Dani gave a thumbs up. “Glad you realize that already.”

Claire crossed her arms over her chest. Unlike when she was with Aidan, she didn’t have the urge to tease back. It was more awkward with Dani.

As the silence stretched, the shifter’s blue-eyed gaze studied her like a test subject, not wanting to miss a detail. Instead of shuffling her feet, Claire straightened her shoulders and forced herself to ask, “Aidan didn’t mention anything about my belongings, let alone about new clothes. I can’t wear these every day for a month. Do you know when they’ll come?”

Dani smiled and sat up. “Straight to the point. I like that.” Standing up, Dani towered nearly a foot over Claire’s head. “I was just checking on the status of your car. We should have it here in a few hours. The fog is making things difficult.”

Play it cool, not like you got lost.
“And clothes?”

“You’re shorter and rounder than most of the shifters, but I might be able to scrounge something up. Actually, wait right here a second.”

Dani exited the door.

Claire blinked.
What the hell just happened?

Before she could think much more about it, Dani returned with a pile of clothes in her arms. After dumping them on the couch, she rifled through them and held up a large shirt, sweatshirt, and sweatpants, all black. “Go put these on.”

“Right now?”

Dani shoved them into her arms and turned her toward the bathroom. “I know humans are shy or I’d strip you myself. Just do it.”

Claire frowned and looked over her shoulder. “Do all shifters like to order people around?”

Grinning, Dani gave her a shove. “Only the best ones do.” She winked. “Hurry, I want you changed before Aidan comes back.”

“Um, why?”

“Just do it and I’ll answer any questions you might have with no bullshitting around. Deal?”

If it took her putting on some overly large clothes to get answers, Claire would do it. “Fine.”

Shutting herself in the bathroom, Claire undressed yet again and put on the new set of clothes. The arms reached past her fingers tips and the sweatpants were miles too long for her legs. The only thing that fit was the waist of the pants since Claire had developed a belly over the last decade.

At least, looking in the mirror, she was about as nondescript as she could get. The billowing, shapeless clothes should dissuade Aidan from kissing her again.

Yet, she swore his scent filled her nose. Raising a sleeve, she took a deep inhalation and was bombarded with a faint male scent of man and forest she was slowly becoming addicted to: Aidan’s.

The door opened and Claire frowned at Dani’s face. The redhead grabbed her arm and tugged her toward the living room. “I heard you were done. You look perfect.”

“Why did you give me Aidan’s clothes?”

She shrugged. “I have a key to his place and it was the closest.”

Claire could waste what precious minutes she had left asking more about the clothes, but she wanted to know about the clan. Once Dani sat down on the couch, Claire remained standing and crossed her arms. “Who are you, exactly? And don’t tell me your name. You seem on equal footing with Aidan, and I’m curious why.”

“That’s because I am. After Kian’s brother mated Kaya and moved to GreyFire’s land, Aidan and I were put in charge of security. Of course, I like to think I slightly outrank him.”

Claire sat down on the opposite end of the couch. “Then if Aidan’s so high up in the ranks, why is he my shadow? I’m in charge of an organization and I would never ask my second-in-command to do a job someone lower on the totem pole could do. It seems like a waste of skills.”

Dani assessed her a second before nodding. “I was right about you. You’re intelligent. That will help both you and the clan a great deal.”

“That still doesn’t answer my question about why Aidan is assigned as my shadow.”

Shrugging, Dani crossed one leg over the other. “He’s devoted the last five years of his life to his work and he’s close to snapping. Kian knows it, and decided you might be the answer.”

Claire forced her expression to remain neutral. “You’d better explain that better, because as it stands, you make me sound like a mare about to be sent out to stud.”

Dani grinned. “I wish I could simply give Aidan a female and calm him down, but it’s not that easy. You see, his mate was killed by poachers five years ago.”

“What?”

“It’s true. Despite the myths, shifters can take a new mate if they wish, once they pass the grieving stage, but Aidan hasn’t done so. He’s been pretty damn reserved. At least, until he met you.”

Claire blinked. “I don’t understand. Why are you telling me this?”

“I just figured it was something you should know.”

No doubt, Dani had an ulterior motive, but Claire would set her straight. “Listen, if you’re trying to clear the path for me to jump into bed with him, it’s not going to happen. My work is too important.”

Raising an eyebrow, Dani gave her a piercing stare. “I admire your work, but there’s no one here who would tell your secrets. I can spot a female who devotes her life to her work at the expense of everything else.”

She clenched her jaw. “And how, exactly, can you do that? Some shifter magic I don’t know about?”

Dani’s smile faded. “No, because I’m the same way. The only difference is I don’t have anyone I can turn to because of how far up the hierarchy I am. You, on the other hand, have the chance to help both Aidan and yourself.”

Heart beating double-time, Claire struggled to keep her face neutral. “While I’m sorry for your predicament, you won’t be able to live your life through mine. I spent the last five years, and more, trying to gain shifter-human equality. I’m not about to allow a hottie to distract me.”

“So you do find him attractive.”

Claire ignored Dani’s statement. “Now, you promised me some answers and I want them. How does everyone know so much about me?”

Dani studied her a second before replying, “I won’t give out names, but through our DS Engineering business in Seattle, we have access to a lot of talented humans. Not everyone believes the same as Human Purity or other extremist groups, and they help us out every once in a while.”

Human Purity wanted all shifters eradicated, or just about. “If you have all of these talented people, then why didn’t you reach out to SEA earlier?”

“The SEA was doing well enough on their own. No matter how much it may grate against my nerves, humans fighting for us does more good than shifters standing up for ourselves.”

Some of Claire’s earlier anger eased. “I know, but you see, that’s why my work is so important. I want shifters to be on equal footing and not second-class citizens.”

Dani patted the couch beside her. “Sit down, Claire. I’ll answer a few more questions, but first, I want to know what kind of shifter your aunt is mated to.”

Claire hadn’t been able to talk about her aunt in over a decade. The urge to remain quiet was strong, but given how much DarkStalker needed her help, she could probably share general details without getting into trouble. Besides, thinking of her Aunt Gwen, sadness squeezed her heart. Claire missed her.

Sitting down, Claire met Dani’s eyes again. “He’s a bear, although I’ve never met him.”

“Interesting. The bears around here are mostly lawyers and keep to themselves. I’ve wondered what they’re like.”

Claire tucked that piece of information away for later. Maybe she could convince Kian to invite the bears to a meeting. “I don’t know, really. I haven’t met any of them, either.” Claire settled into a more comfortable position. “Now, tell me what you can of the DarkStalker and GreyFire alliance. The more information I have, the more I can implement the alliance into my campaign.”

Dani didn’t so much as blink at the change of topic. “How much do you know?”

“Not much, just that you worked together to stop an epidemic last year.” Dani opened her mouth, but Claire beat her to it. “No, it’s not common knowledge. If it were, every anti-shifter group in the world would be developing their own shifter-specific viruses. I, on the other hand, have a number of shifter contacts in the city. I heard it from one of them.”

The shifter female looked like she wanted to ask more, but merely nodded. “Rather than press for details, I’ll hold up my end of the bargain.”

Claire had a feeling Dani would know the names of all Claire’s contacts in the city within a matter of days.

The shifter kept her word, though, and went into the details and history of the alliance. As Dani spoke, Claire was able to forget the shifter’s earlier comments about Aidan. She may be stuck on DarkStalker’s land for the next month, but she had plenty of work to keep her busy. She wouldn’t think of Aidan, let alone how he must be hurting from the loss of his mate. From what little she knew about the cougar anyway, he wouldn’t want pity or sympathy. Claire had no intention of treating him any differently the next time she saw him.

Well, except for avoiding his touch or kisses. Those she would force herself to do without.

Chapter Six

 

 

 

As Aidan headed back toward Claire’s quarters, it took everything he had to keep his expression neutral. The meeting with Kian hadn’t gone as he’d liked.

BOOK: Resisting the Cougar (Cascade Shifters #2)
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