Authors: Savannah Stuart
Tempting His Mate
Tempting His Mate
Copyright © 2013 by Savannah Stuart
Cover art and design by
Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs
Proofreading by JRT Editing
Digital Formatting by
* * *
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book. This purchase allows you one legal copy for your own personal reading enjoyment on your personal computer or device. You do not have the right to resell, distribute, print or transfer this book, in whole or in part, to anyone, in any format, via methods either currently known or yet to be invented, or upload this book to a file sharing program. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
Ella Hayes tossed back her third shot of tequila and savored the burn as it went down her throat. She also cursed her shifter metabolism. As a jaguar shifter it took her a hell of a lot more alcohol to even feel the effects of a nice buzz. And right about now, she desperately needed one. Unfortunately she was still stone cold sober.
After suffering through her younger sister’s wedding to Ella’s ex-boyfriend, she’d split town before the reception. Because a mating wasn’t enough for them, they’d had to have a wedding too, showing the world how blissfully happy they were together. She wasn’t going to stick around and suffer through all the bullshit of her family and pridemates staring at her with pity during the celebration. Lord, she knew she sounded bitter and she didn’t want to be that person. That was why getting away had been the best move she’d ever made.
She didn’t give a shit that Eve and Frederico—what a dumb name!—had gotten mated. She
that neither of them had had the decency to give her a heads up before they’d announced it to the entire pride at a meeting. It would have been so easy for her sister to say, “Hey Ella, by the way, I’m getting mated to your ex. Just wanted to let you know before I drop the bomb in front of everyone and you’re standing there like a clueless idiot.” Seriously, it was just humiliating.
For the past six months—okay, way longer than that—she’d been feeling restless and ready to move away from her pride anyhow. Her sister’s mating had been the perfect excuse for her to pack up and head down to Gulf Shores, Alabama to live with her cousin, Lauren. Well, not
her, since Lauren was newly mated, but Ella was joining her cousin’s new wolf pack of all things.
Her cousin had mated a wolf and was now part of their pack. Once Lauren heard she was looking for a change she’d almost come up and packed Ella herself. And Lauren had refused to come to the wedding out of a sense of sisterhood. It didn’t matter that they weren’t actual sisters, Ella and Lauren had grown up closer than Ella had to her own younger sister.
She wasn’t expected for another two days so Ella had decided to take her time and tonight she’d stopped at a well known shifter bar in Montgomery. No humans were allowed in so shifters were free to be who they were. She’d never been, but had heard wild stories about it. Wild wasn’t normally her thing, but tonight it was perfect because she was ready to let her inhibitions loose. Just for one night.
As she motioned to the bartender for another shot, she glanced in the mirror above the bar and saw a sexy-as-sin shifter leaning against one of the six pool tables, stick in hand, as another man racked the balls. He wasn’t overtly tall, but he was broad—really broad, with muscular shoulders and biceps she could imagine running her fingers across. His dark hair reached his jaw line. Normally she didn’t care for long hair on a man, but on him it looked perfect. With about two days worth of stubble on his defined jaw, wearing faded jeans, a black leather jacket and shit kickers, he almost looked like a bad boy cliché. Tall, dark, sexy and a little brooding.
Her gaze traveled up from those beat up shit kickers, over the length of that powerful body to land on that insanely handsome face again and she realized he was looking right at her. With piercing green eyes, there was no mistaking it when they caught hers in the mirror.
Thanks to her shifter sight, there wasn’t even a
he was watching her. Her breath caught in her throat as she stared at him, completely snared. One of the men at the pool table said something and briefly diverted his attention, releasing her from that stare. It was like she’d been released from a trance. For just a moment everything around her had funneled out; sounds, sights, scents and anything not Mr. Sexy.
On a rush, everything crashed back in on her. The sharp scent of the new shot of tequila sitting in front of her, the beat of the country music, the visual of various couples grinding against each other on the dance floor. Good Lord, it looked like a few were actually having sex. If not for their clothes in the way, they would be.
Tearing away from that sight, she took a deep breath and tried to make up her mind. Tonight, she could actually live a little and have fun, or go back to her hotel room alone. She was tired of going to bed alone though, tired of pleasuring herself and still being left wanting.
Under normal circumstances Ella let men approach her. She wasn’t going to proposition anyone. Okay, under normal circumstances she never even came to bars, much less hit on men. She was an absolute work-a-hohlic. That was changing for tonight. It had to. She didn’t want to be this person she’d become. It was like in the past five years she’d forgotten how to have fun.
Swiveling in her chair, she turned and searched the mystery man out and met his stare dead on. When his eyes locked on hers, her entire body went taut in awareness, her nipples beading tightly against her bra-cups. It was almost painful.
She was wearing a simple black sweater, jeans and boots. Easy travel clothing and perfect for a country bar. But the way his gaze raked over her entire body in one lazy sweep, she might as well have been completely naked.
Oh yeah, she was going to walk right over there and introduce herself. As she started to slide off her barstool, a big meaty hand snagged around her waist and she found herself looking up-up-up at a giant of a shifter. Holy crap, the man was freaking huge. Bear shifter maybe. She couldn’t tell because she’d never met one, but he didn’t smell like a wolf or jaguar.
“Hey there, little darlin’ where you going?” He reeked of scotch and the overpowering scent made her want to puke.
“Get your hand off me, asshole.” She took a step back out of his reach but he advanced on her lightning fast and when his hand came in contact with her breast she lost it.
Normally she was in control of herself. More than most, in fact. Her pridemates liked to call her a control freak; cool, calm and collected. That was Ella Hayes.
But if this jackass thought he could paw all over her because she was small, he was about to get his ass kicked. Without thinking, she let the claws on both hands extend and she swiped at the forearm of his offending hand and clawed at his gut with the other. His shirt tore right before she made contact with his flesh.
He let out a roar of rage as he stumbled back and when he blindly swung at her, she ducked. At five feet flat, being small had its advantages. Adrenaline pumping, she was ready to slash out at his knees. She’d taken down shifters just as big as him before, but before she could jump back up, her hair whooshed back as a blur of black fur shot past with a low snarl and tackled the guy to the ground.
The man who’d groped her growled and shifted to a bear but by the time he’d made his transition, the big wolf had his teeth nestled securely around the bear’s throat.
Ella blinked, staring at the two of them. The entire bar had gone completely quiet. The music was shut off, no one was dancing; hell, no one was breathing, it seemed like.
Except for the wolf and bear. The big Kodiak on the ground was growling under his breath, making snarling sounds even if he wasn’t moving. He was trying to be defiant, to hold on to some of his pride. The wolf was growling so low Ella could barely hear him, but it was beyond deadly. Right now these two males were having a conversation. Until the bear submitted, anything could happen.
Thankfully the bear shifted back to his human form. Now the big man was mostly naked, with tatters of his clothing clinging to him in weird places. Part of his jeans were still trapped around one of his ankles but pretty much everything else was gone.
The wolf let out another of those low, deadly sounds that couldn’t really be called a growl. More like a ‘submit or die’ kind of warning.
“Lady, I’m sorry,” the man said, his head twisted at an uncomfortable angle as he tried to look at her without getting sliced up by the wolf’s teeth. “I shouldn’t have touched you and I shouldn’t have tried to hit you. Whatever you’ve ordered tonight is on me.”
The wolf growled again.
“And the next round for everyone is on me! Damn it, I said I was sorry,” the man muttered.
Cheers erupted at the announcement for free drinks and the wolf abruptly let the bear go. The big man scrambled away, picking up his fallen clothing, wallet and cell phone as he practically sprinted toward the other side of the bar. The music started up immediately and things started returning to normal.
When the wolf turned toward her, she blinked down into those clear green eyes. Automatically her head snapped in the direction of the pool tables. Mr. Sexy wasn’t there. As she turned back to the wolf, he was already shifting back to his human form. Yep, he’d been her rescuer. Not that she’d needed one, even if she did appreciate that impressive display of protective power.
Though she tried to stop herself, her gaze trailed down his beautifully sculpted body and landed on the impressive display between his legs. Holy mother of…
As he cleared his throat, she looked up and felt her face flame at his almost arrogant grin. “You all right?” he asked.
She nodded and tried not to melt into a puddle at the sound of his deep voice. She could totally get off to that voice alone. Clearing her throat, she said, “Yes. Thanks for what you did, but I had it under control.”
His dark eyebrows raised a fraction and his wicked grin grew even wider. “I’m sure you did, but no one treats a female like that in my presence and gets away with it. Ever.”
There was such a strong, commanding note in his voice that she felt it all the way to her toes. For once in her life Ella decided to take what she wanted. To not be what her parents and her pride expected of her. “Well, thank you. Listen, I’m leaving and…” Oh, no, her courage was failing. She couldn’t just proposition a guy. It wasn’t in her DNA to be that bold. How would she even ask? “So, just…thank you.”
Feeling lame, she turned to the bar and grabbed her purse, but before she’d taken a step, her tall wolf was there, leaning against the bar and completely invading her personal space without even touching her. He wasn’t as tall as she’d originally thought. Everyone was tall compared to her though. He was probably five feet ten, and those shoulders…her fingers itched to run over them.
“My name’s Asher,” he rumbled in that deep voice and she realized she’d been blatantly staring.
“I’m Ella.” And she wasn’t going anywhere, she realized. Not until she got a taste of this sexy male. Something told her one taste wouldn’t be nearly enough.
One week later
Asher Kincaid stared at a drip of condensation rolling down the neck of his green beer bottle as he waited for Max and Grant to return to their high top table. Until a couple days ago Asher hadn’t seen Grant in over five years, but it was good to know his cousin was so happy. And all because of a human female. Well, she wasn’t human anymore now that they’d officially mated—and married per her human customs.