Read Tempting the Jaguar Online

Authors: Katie Reus

Tempting the Jaguar

BOOK: Tempting the Jaguar
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Jaguar shifter Estrella Rios is

packless, and she likes it that way.

No one is going to tell her what to

do, least of all the sexy but arrogant

wolf shifter who intends to claim

her as his mate…

Rainer wants to know what a lone

cat is doing in his pack’s territory

without permission—but mostly he

just wants
her.
From the moment

he meets Estrella, their attraction is

scorching and undeniable. But

enemy vampires have set their

sights on Estrella, too, and keeping

her safe proves difficult, especially

when it’s clear there’s more to

Estrella’s heritage than either of

them could imagine. Now they must

discover the truth before it becomes

too late for Rainer to ever claim her

heart…

Tempting the

Jaguar

Katie Reus

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Booklist

Nocture Cravings BPA

Copyright

Chapter 1

Estrella Rios smoothed a hand back

over her hair, hoping her unruly

curls stayed in place. At least for the

next three hours. As a favor to her

former college roommate, who was

also her best friend, she was filling

in for one of the hired servers at

Sabrina’s first professional art

show. It was at a well-known

studio and drew serious buyers.

Estrella understood her friend’s

neurotic need to control every little

detail tonight.

Since Estrella had waited tables

during college, carrying a tray

around all night was a piece of

cake. Or it would be if a certain tall,

extremely sexy man would stop

staring at her—and following her

around. It was unsettling. Well, she

couldn’t prove he was following

her, but everywhere she turned,

there he was.

Watching her with pale green

eyes that were damn unnerving, he

moved with a liquid, almost

supernatural grace.

Almost as if the man knew she

was thinking about him, he

appeared in her line of sight again.

Even with the throng of people

between them she could feel the

heat of his gaze, as if he was

actually touching her. He stared at

her with laser-like focus. Then he

blinked and she sucked in a deep

breath.
Oh crap.
He was like her.

She could see the animal lurking in

his gaze. It had only been a brief

flash but she’d recognized the

animal peering back at her.

He was a shifter—a human who

could turn into an animal. The few

male shifters she’d met in college

were jerks who thought they could

dominate and tell her what to do

just because she was packless. That

was another term she’d learned

while in college. Apparently

packless translated to unprotected

in the shifter world. Whatever. She

wasn’t concerned with learning

anything about packs or other

shifters. She’d grown up in the

human world. Luckily, all of her

friends were human and she’d

blended into their world almost

perfectly from the time she was five

years old and abandoned to the

foster system. She knew how to

blend in and hide from those who

thought their strength gave them a

free pass to treat her however they

wanted.

Swallowing hard at the thought

that the hot stranger could be just

like some of the other shifters she’d

known, she took a step back and

collided with a wall of muscle. The

tray in her hand dipped, the

champagne glasses sloshing and

threatening to fall, but two strong

hands encircled her from behind.

One steadied the tray and the other

clutched possessively around her

hip.

She knew it was him before she

even turned around. He had an

earthy scent that reminded her of

the forest after a fresh spring rain.

No matter how good he smelled,

she did not appreciate the way he

was holding on to her. As if he

knew her and had the right to touch

her.

Firmly clasping the tray, she

stepped away from him and was

careful to keep the drinks balanced

as she turned. When her eyes

clashed with his pale ones, a shot of

pure warmth and adrenaline

punched through her. The man was

certainly attractive in an edgy,

dangerous sort of way. With dark

hair just a little too long and sharply

defined cheekbones, he looked as if

he’d been cut from stone. He’d

triggered her fight-or-flight

response, but not necessarily in a

bad way. Her inner jaguar told her

to run fast and far from this man

who was clearly a predator. She

could see it in his gaze. No one in

their right mind would mess with

this guy.

Even though her jaguar was

spooked, her purely female human

side was very interested. Estrella

was glad her dress wrapped around

her like a second skin.

“Your name,” he said, his voice

raspy and sexy as it twined around

her.

She blinked as his words jerked

her out of her stupor. “Excuse me?”

“What. Is. Your. Name.” All

right, he was definitely ordering her

to tell him.

And she did
not
like his

demanding tone. “Think you can

ask like a normal person?”

He blinked and she realized she’d

taken him off guard. Clearing his

throat, he took a step closer, and

she was very thankful to have the

flutes of champagne as a barrier.

“You’re in my Alpha’s territory but

you haven’t announced your

presence or asked for permission to

be here. I want your name.”

Uh-oh.
So there was no doubt he

knew she was a shifter too. Maybe

she’d broken some unwritten rule.

Estrella ignored the sliver of fear

that trailed down her spine. “I don’t

know what an Alpha is and I don’t

really care.” Though she could

guess what it was. “I don’t have to

ask
anyone
for permission to be

anywhere.
And if you even think

about touching me again, you’ll

lose your hand.”

He blinked again and this time

she knew she’d surprised him.

Something told her that didn’t

happen very often. Before he could

respond, she swiveled and moved

to mingle with other art patrons.

She used her supernatural grace to

weave through the crowd of well-

dressed people as she offered them

drinks.

When she finally turned back

toward the trio of black-and-white

oil paintings of the Everglades,

Estrella felt a mix of relief and

disappointment that the mystery

man was no longer hovering there.

For a moment her gaze lingered on

the paintings, each one depicting

the moon in various phases. In the

third one, Sabrina had added a stark

orange moon—the only splash of

color in the darker scenes. Forcing

her gaze away, Estrella quickly

scanned the rest of the first floor

before doing an actual physical

walk through.

He was gone. And she had a job

to do.

Ignoring the disturbing

disappointment that welled up

inside her at his absence, she pasted

on a smile and returned to the

kitchen to refill her tray. The way

customers were drinking, she

hoped it would make them loosen

up and help her friend’s sales.

Three-and-a-half hours later

Estrella’s feet ached—thanks to her

four-inch heels—but at least the

crowd was gone and the studio was

closed. The servers from the

catering company were loading up

their van, but that didn’t fall into

her realm of duties. She’d just done

them a favor by picking up some of

the slack and now she was sitting

on one of the cleared off food

tables and munching on petit fours.

After demolishing five, she was

thinking about eating a sixth when

Sabrina strode out of the manager’s

office, a giant grin on her face.

Her friend had flatironed her hair

for the event and had pulled it back

into a tight ponytail, showing off

her sharp cheekbones and gorgeous

café au lait skin. Sabrina’s dark

eyes narrowed slightly. “How many

of those things have you eaten?”

Estrella shrugged and returned

her friend’s grin.

“I don’t know how you eat all

that processed crap or where you

put it all.” Sabrina mock-shuddered

and grabbed a strawberry off her

plate.

Estrella just shook her head.

“You don’t know what you’re

missing.” She popped another of

the mini cakes into her mouth,

savoring the sweetness. Thanks to

being a shifter her metabolism was

high, which meant she had to eat a

lot more than most people. Of

course her friend didn’t know she

was a shifter. It was the only secret

Estrella had ever kept from her.

“So, how was the show?”

“A lot better than expected. I’ll be

able to cover rent for at least the

next six months if I budget right,

which means I can officially quit

my waitressing job.” Sabrina picked

up her purse off the table so Estrella

stood and snagged her own clutch,

leaving her plate behind.

Estrella had just done the same

after selling a few of her sculptures.

Of course money was definitely

tight, but she’d decided to take the

plunge and throw herself into her

work full-time. At least until her

money ran out or she sold more

pieces. Hopefully the latter would

happen instead. “Do you realize this

means we’re both full-time artists?

Both doing exactly what everyone

said we were crazy to even think

about trying?”

Sabrina’s megawatt smile was

blinding. “I’m scared to quit my

job, but...I’m more scared not to.”

“I totally understand.” Estrella

and Sabrina had met as freshmen in

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