My critique partner Nara Malone's debut romance The Tiger's Tale is out today with Ellora's Cave!
Never quite fitting in, Marie has always struggled with her identity. Adam has shown her just how sensual she can be, but despite this awakening she still doesn’t feel complete. That’s because she’s not. Orphaned at birth and raised by humans, practical Marie has no idea of her dual heritage as tiger and woman, or the role she must play to save her species.
When Adam discovers that his alluring girlfriend is not only a Pantherian tiger but carries unique genetic traits that could save their species, he asks Ean to join them as the third partner in the traditional Pantherian mating triad. With the future of the species at stake, the sexy shifters have only one week to convince her that not only is she a tiger, but she must mate with both men to save the Pantherians from extinction.
Here's an excerpt:
A soft knock at the door made her wish she could burrow under her warm blanket and hide in the dark with Lilly. It would be Adam. The blue face of the alarm clock marked the time as 5:00 a.m. No one else would call at this hour.
She tossed the blanket aside. Chill bumps sprang up on her arms. A white tank top and white lace panties were more clothes than he preferred her wearing and might as well be nothing in the morning chill. She scooped the bunny up and carried her cradled just below her breasts, flipping on the light with her free hand.
She opened the door to stare into the cosmic swirl of Ean’s eyes. Her stomach responded with an excited flutter. He leaned against the doorframe.
It was freezing outside yet he wore jeans and a blue flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up. She was thinking he should have a jacket and then recalled just how hot his skin felt pressed against hers. Maybe it was better to keep him as cool as possible.
“You should at least ask who it is.” He stepped in and past her before she could overcome her surprise and find words to send him away. “Why isn’t there a peephole in that door?”
She shivered and shut the door. “I’m not yours to worry over, Ean.”
It came out sounding crankier than she intended. He whirled, his lips pursed briefly, but he let the rudeness go without comment.
He had a notebook, a thick, brown document-sized envelope and a fat manila folder tucked under one arm. Seeing her attention go there, he deposited his bundle on the coffee table. He fished in his pocket and added a flash drive to the stack.
“Homework for you, Marie. I’m sorry about the early hour but time is critical and we can’t keep wasting it.” He turned around, taking in her one room efficiency in a half-turn.
Marie flinched inwardly, aware of the couch still folded out as her bed, the tangled blankets and sheets. They would still be warm from her body.
Ean looked back to her, his eyes wide, shock evident. “Why do you live here instead of Adam’s house?”
She lifted one shoulder and looked away. “I like my space.”
“You like your space?” Ean did another turn. “What space?”
In her arms the bunny scrabbled furiously. Marie hugged her tighter.
“Okay, I don’t want to intrude on his space.” She twisted away from Ean and carried Lilly to her box in the corner. “Go home, Ean. I’m not in the mood for this and it’s too early for whatever that is.” She jabbed a finger toward the papers teetering in an unruly stack.
Ean dropped onto her bed, elbows on knees, fingertips steepled, his chin resting on the tips of his thumbs, contemplating.
“This doesn’t make sense, Marie.”
Marie fussed with Lilly, picking cedar chips from her food dish. She didn’t answer, she couldn’t answer. She could feel the quiver of emotion just there in her throat. One word would give it all away.
He moved so softly she didn’t know he was there until she felt his warmth behind her, his arms gently encircling her, his breath against her face. He nudged back her hair. Anticipation sent a shiver through her. He covered the side of her face with a wet, sloppy lick.
The effect was like a dousing with ice water. She jumped up so fast they banged heads and she backed away from him, rubbing hers. “What is wrong with you?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” He looked embarrassed.
“Look, Ean, this thing with you and Adam isn’t going to work. Just go home, okay?”
He moved toward her again and she kept retreating, swiping at the wet spot on her cheek with the back of her hand.
“Why can’t it work? I know you like me.” He backed her against the refrigerator. “And I know you like being licked.”
That comment started a tingling in the lips of her pussy. A wet trickle dampened her panties. She ducked, bracing for another sloppy lick, but he simply kissed the top of her head.
She tried pushing at his chest and wound up thinking about how broad it was, a sprinkling of red gold hair across it. He had big firm nipples. She ran her tongue over her teeth, remembering the rubbery feeling of a nipple against it, rolling the hard nub between her teeth when they clamped down.
This had to stop!
She pushed him harder and he leaned back, looking down at her with a warm, I-want-you look. She cleared her throat.
“You’ll understand why this can’t work when you’re a little older.”
The barb didn’t work. The tip of his index finger slid along her collarbone. “Your nipples get hard when I lick you.”
She looked down at the two dark circles rising to hard peaks under her thin shirt. He scooped her up in his arms then and headed for the bed. Heat radiated through his cotton shirt. Her knees hooked over one strong muscled arm while his other curved around her shoulders. The need to press her face into his neck and breathe in his scent was nearly overwhelming. She had to bite down on her tongue to resist tasting, right there where his Adam’s apple bobbed.
“Now see, this is exactly what I mean. Put me down, Ean. Carrying me without my permission is immature.” She’d meant to sound stern. It came out wobbling and breathy.
He snorted. He did put her down on the futon and sank to his knees beside it. He had that odd look in his eyes again.
“If you lick me I will cut your tongue out!”
He licked his lips instead and glanced around, “We’re getting off track here.”
There was another knock at the door.
“Adam,” Ean said, even as she thought it.