Tiger Magic(4)

By: Jennifer Ashley

Or he could be kind and wait for her to get used to him.

Carly kept up the conversation all the way through midtown traffic and up the hill north of the river. She pulled into a drive that arced in front of an enormous house, the mansion white with black shutters and black trim. Carly parked the car and emerged, and Tiger got out with her.

Gates on either side of the house led to the backyard, and Carly opened one, beckoning Tiger to follow. Tiger got in front of her and went through the gate first, his Shifter instinct urging him to make sure the way was safe for her.

The backyard overlooked the river and the hills opposite it, where similar houses had a view of this one. A stair ran down the side of the hill to a private dock, where two boats bobbed.

A row of glass windows lined the back of the house, but the glare of the sun and tint of the windows kept Tiger from seeing inside. A man with pruning shears looked up from a bush at the corner of the house, then stood up in alarm as Carly reached for the handle of one of the glass doors.

“Ms. Randal, you don’t want to go in there.”

Carly turned to him in surprise. Tiger tried to get around Carly to enter the house first, but she was too quick. She was opening the door and walking inside before Tiger could stop her, and he had to settle for following a step behind her.

What Tiger smelled inside the house wasn’t danger, however. It was sex.

He saw why when he and Carly rounded a wall behind which stretched a huge kitchen. Cabinetry in a fine golden wood filled the walls, the long counters shiny granite. It was clean in here, no dishes cluttering the counters, no one cooking something that smelled good, no chatter and laughter as a meal was prepared.

A woman sat on top of the counter with her blouse open, her skirt up around her hips, high-heeled shoes on her feet. A man with his pants around his ankles was thrusting hard into her, holding her legs in black stockings around his thighs. Both humans were grunting and panting, and neither noticed Carly or Tiger.

Tiger stepped in front of Carly, trying to put his huge body between her and the scene. Carly stopped, her purse falling from nerveless fingers to the floor. “Ethan.” There was shock in her tone.

The man turned around. Tiger was growling, feeling the distress of his mate, the animal in him wanting nothing more than to kill the person who’d upset her.

The man jumped, his mouth dropping open, then he stumbled over his pants and had to catch himself on the counter.

“Carly, what the fuck are you doing here?” His gaze went to Tiger, whose fingers were sprouting the long, razor-sharp claws of the Bengal. “And who the hell is that?”


Carly’s anguish hit Tiger in a series of waves. Shock, anger, and then a pain so harsh the edge of it hurt him.

Tiger reached for her, but Carly snatched up her purse and swung away, blinded. She ran from the room, out of the house, and back into the sunshine.

The house’s windows let Tiger trace her progress through the backyard and around to the front. She slammed her way back into the Corvette, started the engine with a roar, and shot around the circular drive and out into the street.

Leaving Tiger alone, unable to comfort her.

He turned instead to the source of Carly’s distress, the man called Ethan. Ethan glared at Tiger, outrage in his eyes, and snarls built in Tiger’s throat.

The young woman Ethan had been with—unknown, not part of this—scrambled from the counter, her skirt catching on her black thigh-high stockings as she righted herself. A flash of yellow satin panties broke the monochrome colors of her outfit before the businesslike gray skirt shut it out.

The woman buttoned her blouse with agitated fingers. “Shit, Ethan, you said she’d be gone all day.”

Ethan dragged his gaze from Tiger, took a step toward the woman, half tripped on his pants again, and leaned down to drag them up. “Lisa, wait . . .”

“You said she knew. You said she was cool with it.”

The woman grabbed her purse and started for the sliding glass door. Tiger remained in front of it, growling.

The woman looked up at him, and a bite of primal fear entered her eyes. She didn’t know what Tiger was, but something inside her knew a predator when she saw one. She stood a moment, indecisive, then pivoted and ran out the other side of the kitchen toward the front of the house.

“No,” Ethan called. “Wait.”

He frantically zipped and buckled as he swung around to follow her and found himself up against the solid wall of Tiger, who’d stepped in his way.

Tiger smelled Ethan’s outrage and shock, but no fear and no shame. “Who the hell are you?” Ethan had to crank his head back to look at Tiger, but he had an arrogance that would make an alpha smack him down just to make a point.

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