Tiger Magic(5)

By: Jennifer Ashley

The front door slammed open, the young woman fleeing. Ethan grimaced as he heard her car start, then turned even more rage on Tiger.

“Carly’s sleeping with you?” he demanded. “You can tell that slut for me she can give me back every penny I’ve ever given her.”

Feral anger rose inside Tiger in a wave. Living outside the cage, experiencing new sensations and feelings had dampened his rages a bit, but hadn’t erased them. Nothing ever would.

This man, this pretend-mate of Carly’s, had hurt her. He’d not done it with calculation, but with careless cruelty. Now he twisted the fact that Carly had walked in on him while he betrayed her to make the betrayal her fault.

Tiger’s reactions were more basic. He saw a source of pain, and he eliminated it.

His snarls grew in volume, a sound so deep it was felt more than heard. The glass-fronted cabinets rattled, and dishes behind them took up the dance. The kitchen windows caught the vibrations and rumbled in response.

A glass cabinet door shattered and broke. Ethan gaped at it, then back at Tiger. “You’re paying for that.”

“Mr. Turner.” The gardener who’d tried to stop Carly from entering the house now stood in the kitchen’s open door. “He’s a Shifter.”

“Is he?” Ethan peered up at Tiger again, taking in his Collar. He started to smile. “Son of a bitch. Carly’s doing it with a Shifter? She won’t have anything left when I’m finished with her. Teach her to mess around with me like that.”

Killing rage beat through Tiger’s blood. Ethan was a small, sniveling creature, smelling of deceit, and he dared to threaten Tiger’s mate.

Tiger slammed his fists to the kitchen counter, a polished slab of granite. It broke into two giant chunks.

“Here . . . you . . .” The gardener held his rake in front of him, a tool Tiger could snap between his fingers.

Now fear appeared in Ethan’s eyes but still not enough. “Get out of here, or I’m calling the police.”

Tiger barely heard him. Because the man was so weak, Tiger’s need to protect Carly would be slaked with something simple, like breaking Ethan’s neck. Ripping him apart and painting the walls with his blood wasn’t necessary. Not this time. He reached for Ethan’s throat.

Fear at last radiated from Ethan, sickening waves of it. Tiger smelled the man’s bladder fail him, and then Ethan turned and ran.

Running was a bad idea. It woke Tiger’s need to hunt, to kill, the instinct to track through the jungle something for his dinner.

Ethan ran into his living room. The place was filled with furniture, all of it white. Tiger threw things aside to clear his path, chairs and the sofa crashing to the floor in pieces. Ethan dashed into a smaller room, darker, with a desk and a computer. And no escape.

Tiger barreled inside like silent death, while behind him, the gardener shouted, “I’m calling the cops! I’m calling the cops!”

Ethan yanked open a desk drawer and scrabbled in it. Tiger picked up the desk and threw it aside. The wooden thing crashed into the wall, smashing desk, wall, and computer.

Ethan came up from a terrified crouch, something black in his hands. There was a loud bang.

Fire bit into Tiger’s gut, but he plowed on, kicking aside the remains of the desk.

Bang, bang, bang. Three more bullets entered Tiger’s body. The pain finally cut through his rage, and he looked down to see blood dripping over the front of his shirt.

Tiger hadn’t been shot in a long time. The humans who’d tried to tame him in the basement had used tranqs at first, and they’d had to shoot him several times before Tiger succumbed to the drugs. Then they wondered, How many bullets would it take to slow him down? And they’d tried it. They’d discovered it took more than the four small ones Ethan had just pumped into Tiger’s front before he felt it.

Tiger reached for the pistol.

Five, six, seven. The bullets hit Tiger one by one, pain escalating. Tiger snatched the gun from Ethan’s hand and broke it in half.

Ethan was screaming now, his terror beating against Tiger’s pain. Tiger lifted Ethan by the neck, higher, higher. The man gave Tiger one look of intense fear, and then he went limp, eyes rolling back into his head. Tiger shook him, and Ethan’s head lolled. He was still warm and alive, but unconscious.

Disappointing. Tiger dumped Ethan’s body on top of the ruins of the desk and turned to leave. Blood slid down the shirt and his torso behind it, pooling in his waistband. Kim was going to be angry at Tiger for ruining the shirt. She always shook her finger at him when he got his clothes too dirty.

The gardener jumped out of the way as Tiger came out of the office. The man still held the rake, ready to swat Tiger if he came too near, but Tiger ignored him. The gardener had done nothing to Carly.

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