Ariel had a job to do and she never mixed business with pleasure. As satisfying as their night together was, she knew she couldn’t allow her interest in the sexy Alexandre Padget to go any further than that, particularly after her boss insisted she work with the man.
Reissued : 03/2015
Word Count: 23,225
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Eliza Black, July 2008
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
The jaguar’s head snapped up as she caught the scent of the killer. Green eyes narrowing, she flexed strong leg muscles beneath her tawny coat and stealthily moved beyond the palmetto where she had been waiting in the dusky twilight. The man that Special Investigator Ariel Blakely hunted in her human form was definitely here on the outskirts of the Everglades.
Was he dumping yet another hapless victim into the swamplands where alligators made short work of destroying the evidence?
She paused, nostrils flaring, as the breeze shifted. Male cat. She didn’t recognize the scent. Strange. There were hardly more than two dozen big cats left in Florida. This one definitely did not belong. Yet he was close and so was the killer. She could hear the human thrashing his way through the prickly saw grass to the road. Silently, she stalked toward him.
A massive body of sleek, black fur hurled itself across her path as a panther’s powerful haunches launched him at the killer. His snarl was cut short by the sharp report of a handgun.
Tires squealed, spraying gravel everywhere, as Ariel landed gracefully on the rutted tracks. She stared balefully at the tail lights disappearing in the distance. The killer had gotten away again. If that damn cat hadn’t been so aggressive—typically male—she could have finished this.
She sighed. If the panther was hurt, she could shape-shift and call the park rangers to pick him up. Wounded, the other male whose territory this was wouldn’t let him live. She smelled blood and padded across the road and followed a trail of droplets for about twenty yards until they suddenly stopped. With her enhanced night vision she scanned the area, but she saw nothing to indicate a big cat lay anywhere. Her head lifted, nose twitching. The scent was gone.
The big, black panther had disappeared into thin air.
Alexandre Padget winced as he stepped out of the shower and rolled his stiff shoulder, trying to loosen the muscle. Franco Romel’s bullet had just grazed him earlier, but it was the kind of mistake he couldn’t afford to make. International bounty hunters didn’t live long being stupid.
He ran his fingers through his dark hair. Mon Dieu! He’d allowed himself to be distracted by the female cat’s scent. It was unique. Never in all the time he’d spent as a shifter had he encountered anything like it. Almost human.
He grimaced again as he pulled a clean T-shirt over his head. Let the pain be a reminder that his chosen line of work was not exactly a stroll in the moonlight. Double-crossing a powerful South American drug lord wasn’t something his parents would ever have envisioned their law-degreed son doing in his mid-thirties. But then, neither they nor his sister were alive, thanks to a vicious home invasion from some kid high on an expensive cocaine cocktail several years ago.
The kid was doing time. Alexandre had managed, through well-placed bribes, to track the drug’s source to a Brazilian called O Touro. Franco Romel, having been discovered in The Bull’s mistress’ bed, had managed miraculously to escape his captors on the way to the torture chamber that O Touro was so fond of using.
And Alexandre Padget had been hired to find him. He smiled as he grabbed the keys to the sleek sports car that his new ‘boss’ had so conveniently provided and headed out the door. His prey had been sighted. Franco Romel would be the pawn that Alex used to bring the drug lord down.