Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday;s Chapter from Cougar by Skhye Moncrief

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 2

Chapter One

Post-apocalyptic Earth: after alien invasion, AEI, 2064 AD

Life has gone to Hell in two generations. Extraterrestrials altered the human genome,

splitting humanity into two subspecies of humans, Shifters and Normals. Sometimes Shifters and

Normals work together for survival in cities or remote villages. Other times they war for

dominance. Regardless of the outcome, they must survive and fight against human enslavement.

Hunted by aliens for breeding stock, Shifters understand this the most. Especially, Wolf males.

But every once in a while, a female Shifter is born and her Cougar protected from detection

because nobody knows what the aliens want with Cougars¡¦

* * * *

The gangrene should have killed my half-brother yesterday, Jackal thought. My little

brother, Rattler, would drop dead any minute. But Rattler had no intention of dying before he

reached his mate. So, the others and I followed his ragged brown shirt with cut-off sleeves

tucked into his black leather pants through the whispering forest on this last-ditch wild-goose

chase of June. To the place Rattler lived the past eight years.

In hiding.

Eight damned years.

We.d wondered where he was as he.d come and go to the village, to the clan, a time or

two a year. But we never guessed he had a mate. Everyone just thought he.d lost his mind. Or

went on a killing spree. Nobody could blame him for slipping into a rage with life on Earth gone

to Hell once the aliens arrived. But hiding a mate? That was the last damned thing we expected.

Not from him.

He wasn.t the type to turn down a challenge though. To feel forced into hiding.

Rattler halted, his back to us. Shaking. Elbow jerking. Then, he stepped off again.

Driven onward. Toward love.

That.s what he had secreted away.

Because of the damned aliens. Because Shifter mates were targeted above all else for


We should have guessed what he was up to. He was always so damned determined.

¡°Up here,¡± Rattler said over his shoulder without stopping.

Demon shot me another one of his speculative looks.

Like I knew what to expect from my baby brother. Rattler and I shared the same mother.

But hell if there was any way I could make sense out of his behavior. We.d grown up together.

He was the baby five years in my shadow. Actually my shadow until he hit fifteen. But his

father never treated me like his own son, just a step-son, and we went our separate ways

thereafter. I became his father.s right-hand man. Present, yet distanced from Rattler, while

Rattler wallowed in his father.s favoritism. Then, I hit twenty and proved I could beat the best of

the village Guardians. Earned the respect of a man who could enforce village rules among the

Normals and Shifters.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 3

With that came rank and duty. Whereas Rattler just lived off the prestige of being the son

of the village.s clan leader. He could kick ass and kill with the best of them. But he didn.t have

to work at making something of himself with his built- in reputation inherited through birth.

Rattler had it all in becoming the next clan leader. Until he mysteriously abandoned the village.

The clan.

Rattler veered toward a thick tree trunk.

A tall ash.

At the tree.s base, he halted, slid his gaze up the trunk, wobbled, thrust his palms to his

hips, and managed to steady himself. ¡°Angel,¡± he yelled almost a little hoarsely.

The four of us stared up at the weathered wooden base of a tree house, with Rattler.

Nothing moved at the rectangular doorway.s tarp covering. Except a breeze making the tan cloth

flutter. A perfect place to sleep with the aliens. blood-thirsty Bounders crawling across the

forest floor, hunting down anyone foolish enough to dare venture out every night after curfew.

¡°Angel?¡± Rattler yelled again, somehow managing to brace his rotting flesh, and waited

for his mate.

Movement flashed to his left set back deep within the wall of tree trunks forming the

forest. First, a bit of bare arm slipped between tree trunks. Then, a leg covered in faded

camouflage and a beige hiking boot. A swath of her honey-colored hair pulled back into a long

sleek ponytail swung into view. Then, she burst fully into our line of sight, running.

Silently. Like she was part of the woods.

Rattler extended a hand. ¡°Hurry, Angel.¡±

She was slim. About five foot six. Ample curves hidden beneath her olive-drab tank top.

Her gaze locked onto Rattler like he magically appeared and would vanish as she gripped

the weathered black strap of the large firearm, something a good sixty years old, looking of

military issue by the two visible ends, thrown over her head and shoulder where the strap bit

between her breasts.

Damn. She had no idea her mate was about to die.

Poor woman.

For the need in her features.

For my brother.s desperation to save her before he collapsed and passed from the living

into the promised world of the fortunate dead.

¡°Come here, Angel,¡± Rattler said calmly.

Probably didn.t want to spook her. The last thing I.d want to do is tell my mate I was

dying. All the better reason for letting the other Guardians take on mates when the opportunity

produced an unmated female. I.d give freedom a few more years to show me what life had to

offer before taking on the responsibility.

Angel crashed into Rattler with the gusto only a lover could display. He grabbed her, his

foothold shifting. Undoubtedly from the pain. But he never let on he felt anything.

He loved her. That.s how Shifters mated. For life. Wholeheartedly. Irreversibly. Until

one of them died and released the other from the bond. He loved her so completely that the

clan.s head, Rattler.s sire, sent out half the village.s best Guardians to bring back Rattler.s mate.

Rattler.s body blocked our view of Angel. All but her hands where she threw them

around his neck. He bent toward her.

For a last kiss.


I couldn.t stomach this anymore.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 4

But I had to. For Rattler. Brothers owed each other favors throughout life. I.d be

damned if I didn.t hold steady to help his mate through the catastrophe awaiting her in a world

where women needed men for protection. I ground my teeth and exhaled.

Purging. Trying to keep a level head.

She backed away, peering around his shoulder, at us with the palest blue eyes stretched

into wide-eyed surprise. ¡°What happened?¡± She shot him the same owl stare with her finelycarved

features. ¡°Who are they? Shifters. Do you know them?¡±

¡°I need you to listen to me,¡± Rattler began and turned a little to face us sideways, holding

her by the upper arms as if to begin introductions.

I guess, for starters, that.s all you could say in this type of situation.

She eyed him suspiciously.

His knees buckled. His body fell forward, into hers, as he dropped.

She grabbed him under his arms.

He grunted, his pain magnified by her touch at his torso.

¡°What happened?¡± she asked again, her brow furrowing. She knelt, pushing him at arm.s

length from her chest, watching him, fear stretching her mask. ¡°John?¡±

So Rattler told her the Christian name the villagers forced Shifter sires to give their sons.

Insults to us who were deemed abominations by the Normals who feared our geneticallymodified

power. Especially Christians. Were these two truly mated? Did she know he was a

Shifter? Was this woman a Normal who despised Shifters only to learn now that she.d married

the wrong type of man because he brought Guardians to her?

Not Rattler. He wouldn.t have hung on to return to her if he and Angel hadn.t bonded

with blood. Like Shifters.

So, why did she use his Christian name?

Rattler cupped one of her cheeks with a palm.

¡°Don.t send me away.¡± She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and clutched him


Rattler flinched from her squeezing his rotting flesh beneath his shirt.

She caught the motion, backed away, and ripped his shirt open where she could view his

putrid abdomen. ¡°No,¡± she gasped the most pitiful sounding word I.d ever heard.

I couldn.t watch anymore. I turned to pretend I guarded our back, the indomitable forest,

from the direction we.d arrived.

She just kept crying no.

Over and so god-damned over. Again. And again.

¡°Promise me you.ll go with them, Angel. My father says the clan will take care of you.¡±

Damn. Talk about the miserable truth. She.d have to come with us. Or Normals would

drag her off for marriage, breeding, or worse, trade her into prostitution. That.s the way of

things since the aliens invaded and began jacking with the human genome.

¡°No, John. I.ll find the healer. She.s not far. Wait here.¡± She took a step toward the


He grabbed her arm. ¡°That old woman can.t help me now. It took everything in me to

bring the Guardians here. got to promise me you.ll go with them.¡±

She sniffed.

¡°Promise, dammit,¡± he growled.

¡°I promise,¡± she blurted. The response seemed more an effort to appease him than reflect

her true intent.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 5

¡°I love you, Angel. Keep Black Betty close. Take the supplies. The clan will need

them. Or trade them.¡±

Suddenly, you could have heard a whisper.

¡°No, John. Don.t leave me,¡± she begged with crackling words.

* * * *

This can.t be happening. Sierra knelt on the ground with her mate clutched to her chest.

She could feel his heart beat. The recognizable scent of him, a familiar comforting aroma of

campfire and leather that kept her warm in her bedding whenever he was gone hunting or

trading. Even though his body rotted.

Those gentle steel-blue eyes he always flashed at me, his stunning grin, all were absent in

his attempt to save me from the isolation he brought upon me. He wanted me to leave the forest.

To leave the little world he.d carved out of the wilderness to safeguard me.

His palm trembled against my cheek. He calmly sighed and planted his soft velvet lips

against mine.

So damned warm.

You can¡¯t die.

He couldn.t.

¡°You promised,¡± he said and closed his eyes.

The warm breath whistled out of his parted lips.

My heart split.

Blinding tears smeared my view of my Shifter.

I couldn.t breathe.

My John was gone.

What did it matter where I went now?

What I did?

He was my life.

My family was dead.

Nobody else even knew I was alive.

Except for these four males.

What did they know about me?

Other than my heart died on the forest floor with the light in John.s eyes.

The whispering scratch of fabric against fabric beckoned before I saw him kneel in my


He was tall. The dark stubble on the top of his head and his six o.clock shadow told me

his hair was darker than his brown eyes. John.s brother? I blinked, looking back at John.s

square jaw.

This Guardian was nothing like my John at a ll¡¦

¡°Angel, we can.t stay long. We have to reach our vehicle by nightfall. Rattler, uh John,

wanted us to hurry. For your sake.¡±

Who was the talker with the gentle words?

And how could I leave John?

How? I clutched John.s heavy stiff body against my chest and slid my gaze over to the

scuffed toe of the talker.s combat boot, up his khaki bloused pants, up to his straight- lipped


I couldn.t leave John.


COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 6

I couldn¡¯t.

¡°I.m Demon, Angel,¡± the talker said where he knelt beyond my periphery. ¡°John and I

have the same sire. Father wants me to bring you back to the clan. I need you to gather your

things quickly. We have to leave now.¡±

The more I tried to open my mouth to say no, the more hot tears blurred my view,

smearing the blank expression on John.s face.

¡°Please, Angel, got to leave before the Bounders start their night patrols.¡±

I couldn.t leave my John.

Not with the alien.s creatures out to kill those foolish enough to ignore the sunset curfew.

How could these Guardians think I could leave my mate? What was wrong with the fucking


¡°You promised him. He killed himself making the two days journey back here, Angel.

Hold true to your word. For him.¡±

Demon.s voice remained low and gentle.


Maybe it was alright to leave?

John told me to leave.

To go with them.

I had promised.

The talkative Guardian skirted me.

Was he going to do what he would with me now? Like all the others. Without John, I

had no protection. Just a goddamned rifle and some ammo. All but the one thing John and my

father made me swear never to reveal. My inner Cougar.

Could my Cougar shifting ability save me now? Or damn me worse than the loss of my

mate if I revealed I was one of the rarest creatures on the planet? Talk about irony of the

Goddess. She would gift me something so powerful and taunt me with its dangerous use. Then

slap me in the face with gang rape and the murder of my parents all to reiterate I damned sure

better not use the power.

Well, I could try to outrun the Guardians. Absolutely impossible in human form¡¦

They.ll probably do what they will with me anyway.

Maybe they.d just rape me and put a bullet through my head. Release my spirit from the

tidal wave of grief barreling down upon my accursed bones.

Hands gently grabbed me under my arms from behind and hefted me up to my feet.

¡°Come now, Angel, got two hours before sunset. That.s just enough time to reach the

tank,¡± he said softly.

John.s stiff body slipped away from me. Back to the grassy earth while my empty arms

dangled at my sides.

He can¡¯t be dead. Not my John.

A hand nudged under my chin and lifted my gaze to meet those brown eyes. ¡°I know you

feel like you want to die. But John wants you to live. Do this for him, Angel.¡±

And be cursed.

Hell, I promised. ¡°My name is Sierra. Only he calls me Angel.¡± I turned my chin out of

Demon.s grasp and stepped back twice. Away from them. Could they be trusted? John had

brought them. I suppose I had to believe they were my Guardians.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 7

The four males, all with the shaved heads of Shifter Guardians, each wearing a mixture of

camouflage, leather, and combat boots, studied me. The pity in their eyes spoke louder than my

dying drumming heart.

Maybe they weren.t going to rape me.

Why would they?

John brought them here.

John said they were his brothers.

And I promised.

* * * *

Jackal watched the pale blue eyes of his brother.s widow glint with pooling tears. But

the tears had ceased flowing as if she realized what had happened. What must happen. She

stared them down. Thinking, undoubtedly. I would. In a world where Shifter mates were

hunted to use as bait to lure their mates into capture for exploit by aliens, a woman as beautiful

as Sierra couldn.t be too careful. She.d wind up on an alien spacecraft, heading for someplace

far far away. Or traded for breeding or just for sex. That.s why only a fool would risk mating.

Risk his mate.s life and the lives of his children. Especially after I.d watched my mother survive

the pains of childbirth to lose four of the children she bore before they were old enough to have

their own children. I.d never put a woman through that torture.

Sierra sighed, lifted the rifle strap over her head, and tossed her four-foot long black AR-

15 rifle at Demon. ¡°If planning on killing me, use this.¡± She abruptly turned to the tree

trunk, grabbed a length of rope coiled around the stump of what was left of a low branch, and

shook out a rope ladder.

She ignored us.

Probably hoped we.d kill her.

With all the horrible things that roaming packs of Normals did to Shifters and their mates,

I couldn.t blame her for uttering that fear. Hell, it was the best reason not to take a mate. Once

you had a wife and children, the level of danger in your life of simple village Guardian elevated

to nightmare. Anytime, your family could be stolen in an attempt to get you to pursue in a

rescue attempt. And that often resulted in your own capture. Resulting in imprisonment on an

alien spacecraft. Talk about a nice one-way trip off world.

Sierra climbed up that ladder like it was the easiest thing she.d ever done.

Demon shot me another one of his stoic how- in-the-hell-did-we-get-caught-up- in-this


Like I knew what to expect with this whole insane venture. He was in charge. He

needed to make his own strategic assessment. I swear the man didn.t want to take over the clan

for his sire. Most Shifters would jump at the chance. Whatever Demon wanted was a mystery

though. But one would think he wouldn.t want to look like a fool in working toward his goal.

Nobody dared call him on his actions other than his sire though. Still, a man had pride.

¡°He.s your half-brother,¡± Demon muttered.

¡°And yours. More so, you and he both got your sire.s disposition. I was just gifted the

sweetness of our mother.¡±

Demon snorted. ¡°Killing machines are anything but sweet.¡±

¡°You only say that because kicked your ass more times than you can count.¡± I guess

we shouldn.t be talking about trying to kill each other when our brother.s widow could barely

think due to her loss.

The tarp door flap fluttered overhead.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 8

Sierra shoved the end of a large brown duffle bag through the rectangular doorway, and

worked a rope, lowering the bag, hand over fist, to the ground at the base of the rope ladder.

¡°Untie it,¡± she ordered.

Within minutes, she lowered a second duffle with a few steel firearm barrels sticking out

where the zipper gaped. Then she sent down a heavy backpack before climbing down with two

smaller packs and a guitar slung over her shoulder. She stepped off the ladder, turned to face us

with the hardest mask I think I.d ever seen on a woman, and sucked in a deep breath. ¡°I have to

bury him.¡±

Oh shit. There.s no telling how Demon would react. Guardians directly in line to take

over clan leader often were a bit unpredictable. Yet, he called the shots.

Demon claimed a foothold next to her and laid a palm on her shoulder.

She clenched her jaw and stared him down.

¡°There isn.t time. John knew that,¡± Demon spoke softly but firmly.

Her gaze met each of ours in a swoop. ¡°If his brothers, you won.t leave him like


Where¡¯s a gods-be-damned shovel?

Demon scanned the grass and knotted roots of the tree. ¡°We don.t have a shovel anyway,


Good thing he was in charge. I.d already be clawing handfuls of earth from the ground to

ease the pain in her eyes.

¡°I do,¡± she ground out.

Demon sighed. ¡°There.s no time.¡±

¡°Give me the shovel,¡± I ordered.

Demon sighed, shooting me a disgusted stare as she riveted a serious gaze upon mine.

Something unsaid passed between us.

Something impossible to grasp.

Perhaps understanding?

But she dumped her bags in the grass and produced the pointed spade.

My stepbrothers took turns hacking at the hard earth to speed up the process while she

strapped no- frills handguns at her hips and filled extra clips. Probably because she knew her

delay would result in our party being attacked by Bounders. But she never met our gazes with

the knowledge in her eyes that she endangered us all.

I.d do the same in her boots.

Demon finally patted the last clump of grassy earth atop the grave and tossed the shovel

onto the long mound. ¡°Let.s go.¡±

Sunset was close the way the intense orange light bore through the canopy.

* * * *

After strapping John.s favorite handguns to her thighs, Sierra watched as the Guardians

picked up her duffle bags, one by one, and heaved them over their shoulders. They¡¯re carrying

my packs. For me?

Probably to steal everything. That was the way of life AEI. I grabbed my smaller

lightweight backpack of extra clothing and the one containing medical supplies. And hoisted

them each over one of my shoulders.

Just in case the men were out to rob me. It would be tough trying to get at Black Betty if

I needed to. But the old rifle never failed me. I.d carry her close. And the handguns. Like John


COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 9

A wave of smothering sorrow choked me.

The tallest quiet Guardian, the one whose eyes stared me down with empathy, strode over

and extended a wide hand. ¡°I.ll take your packs for you.¡±

He would?

Were these Shifters about to run off?

Leave me here?

Trade me to Normals for even more supplies? ¡°It.s alright. It.s just my clothes. And

medicine. I can carry them.¡± Maybe he wouldn.t care about either bag.s contents. I clutched the

straps at my shoulders and tried not to let the massive musculature of his broad shoulders

intimidate me.

¡°No. got a heavy enough load to haul without dragging those packs along. And

we.ll travel faster if you don.t ha ve to rest.¡± His strong broad hand waited.

For me to hand over.

Hell, what did anything matter anymore?

Without John, I.d be lucky to last two days without a male trying to claim me as a mate.

My eight years in solitude with a man who loved me to death just ended. Lying to myself was

stupid. I handed over, acquiescing to tote my guitar and Black Betty, and followed the tall

capable forms of John.s clansmen into the setting sun.s reddening orange light .

Night was two steps away. With its monsters.

Bounders had to feed.

And this was the werescape. Earth altered by aliens. There wasn.t anything to fear from

genetically-modified shape-shifting warriors who swore to protect the weak. Was there?

* * * *

Jackal kept lookout behind his brother.s mate as the others led the woman back through

the night.s quiet darkness to the tank. We¡¯d be safe locked away inside the vehicle¡¯s steel walls

if Bounders showed, he thought. Prepared, if we reached the vehicle. The trail we left on the

drive out to the tree house meant we were highly likely to have visitors tonight. But since we

were almost to the tank, we just might avoid a scuffle.

Hell, I just want to sleep.

The day had been too damned exhausting.

I buried my baby brother and followed his widow on a two-hour hike.

The thought of tightening down the tank.s hatch and stretching out until morning

sounded more satisfying than talking to the grieving lover my brother left behind. And for some

gods-be-damned reason, I thought of nothing but talking to her. Maybe it was the fear in her

eyes. Something that pushed me to reassure her she was safe. Or the woman.s sorrow yelled for

companionship. Just someone to speak to.

Maybe Demon was right. I.m too damned soft. Weak.

A shriek pierced the darkness.

The line of Shifters before me halted.



Move now, Demon. I conjured up my internal deep hum to pull the change upon my

Shifter eyes. To use night vision to scan the distance for the awkward gait of the squatty fourfoot

tall nocturnal creatures out to hunt the fools who lingered outside village walls.

They probably already had our scent.

Sierra turned to me, extending a hand. ¡°The lighter pack, please.¡±

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 10

I gave her the bag and kept my gaze on the distant expanse of dark tree trunks spaced out

by shafting moonlight.

¡°Do you see anything?¡± she whispered and foraged through the bag.s contents.

¡°Not yet.¡±

She threw the pack over her shoulder. ¡°Give me the other backpack.¡±

¡°I told you I.d carry them.¡±

¡°Not if you shift.¡±

She was right. My clothes would be shredded. And I.d mindlessly drop anything I

carried. I passed her the bag.

¡°Move,¡± I muttered at my stepbrother, Badger.

Badger turned his burning silver Shifter gaze my direction. ¡°Who stays with Sierra?¡±

¡°Tell Demon and Steel that I.ll stay behind her.¡±

She jerked something over her head, shot me a glance through night vision goggles, and

curled her fingers around the butt of a pistol at her hip.

Talk about one prepared little angel.

The line headed forward again, ushering her along toward the tank.

We had to be close.

Where was the damned tank?

Movement fluttered to the left.

Party time. I closed the space between Sierra and myself.

She whipped the pistol out of its holster to point toward the Bounder.

Four awkward orange-red forms glowing from my night vision pulled black ground

toward their bodies, heading in our direction.

Should I shift to guard her? ¡°Will you feel better with me in were- form?¡±

¡°Do what you want.¡± She didn.t even glance my direction. ¡°Just stay out of my way.¡±

Maybe I should have been insulted about my intelligence when it came down to my

having enough sense to keep out of someone.s line of fire. But the time wasted on being angry

wasn.t going to gain us anything. ¡°Come on. Let.s keep moving. The others will fight them.¡±

She began to trot onward. ¡°How much farther?¡±

¡° close. Just keep moving.¡±

¡°I see the tank,¡± she blurted.

Talk about miracles.

Another shriek sliced through the darkness.

Demon roared.

My brothers. were- forms loped through the forest.s stoic expanse of tree trunks.

Away from Sierra. To intervene with the advancing Bounders.

The bags my brothers carried littered the ground with their boots and belts.

Sierra leapt over the duffle full of firearms.

Leaving them behind would be a huge mistake. I stopped, bent, and heaved the load of

ammo and guns to my shoulder.

Sierra caught my movement in her peripheral vision. She halted, raised her weapons, and

fired into the nearby battle.s clashing bodies of werewolves and Bounders.

Screeches cut through the night.

Only to be snuffed by the burst from each moment she quickly aimed and pulled the


COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 11

Like rattling off death blows. With seamless motions. Effortlessly. Not many men

could shoot with one hand the way she used both of hers. Still, she.d be safer inside the tank

instead of engaging in target practice. ¡°Come on,¡± I shouted and stretched my stride toward the

duffle full of canned food.

She followed at my heels, picking off approaching Bounders with carefully placed bullets

set right between their eyes. ¡°Leave the duffles until dawn,¡± she shouted. ¡°There.s so damned

many of the beasts. And Bounders aren.t going to do anything with the supplies.¡±

True. But the guns were the difference between life and death these days. I didn.t want

them damaged. I raced the last six steps to the bulky side of the tank.

She was there, at my back, shooting with both hands, two directions, knocking off

Bounders with every bullet. Damn. Nothing wasted.

But more orange-red loping forms burst from the ends of the tank.

Flanking us. I grabbed her around the waist and threw her up at the hatch.

She scrambled her feet beneath her and fired at anything that moved toward me.

Thank the stars the blood-thirsty creatures couldn.t climb. I shoved the bag of firearms

and ammo on top of the tank and yanked my body up beside her slim kneeling form.

She kept matching the Bounders. shrieks with explosive pops.

I turned the hatch.s wheel, pulled the heavy metal open, and crammed the duffle into the

black hole.

The bulky mass would be in our way. I jumped into the darkness and slid the heavy load

across the tank.s metal floor, creating space for everyone else to move when climbing in to


But every minute I left her topside she could accidentally shoot a Guardian. So, I thrust

my ass back toward the dark circle of night sky, grabbed her around her trim waist, stuffed her

into the tank.s black void, and closed the hatch behind us.

My brothers roared.

Finally. Or I just noticed them now that we settled down in the blackness.

She backed up against the far wall to sit, checking her ammo clips. ¡°Are you okay?¡± she

asked. ¡°Ready to shift?¡±

My pulse was pounding.

Yes. My arms jerking. And with my heat vision. ¡°I can control it.¡± The Normal woman

didn.t seem upset about my transitional edginess.

She eyed me over through those night goggles. ¡°I can help you if ready to kill the


The last thing I needed was the hands of my baby brother.s mate on me. That skin of

hers, touching mine. It had to feel like intoxicating silk. And she was so damned beautiful. Not

many women reached twenty without looking like they.d birthed a dozen babies and worked

twenty years in the fields.

Every cell in my body screamed for me to utter yes.

My foot jerked.

Thoughts of silk were deadly.

She watched me for one more breath, climbed into a squat, and edged to my side. ¡°

better off with your thoughts on the present,¡± she whispered.

Shit. She was going to touch me. How was I going to just sit there?

My blood was boiling.

Her palm edged toward my face. ¡°Everything.s going to be alright,¡± she whispered.

COUGAR Skhye Moncrief 12

Wasn.t I supposed to be telling her that? Instead, all I could do was sit there with my

cock hardening to stone, licking my lips, with thoughts of her salty flesh moving closer and


For one bloody bite¡¦

My inner Wolf drooled.

¡°You have amazing control,¡± she said, sliding her palm across my cheek.

Skin to skin, my pulse shot from throbbing to nuclear. If she didn.t get her hand off me, I

was going to shove her onto her back and bite a chunk out of her shoulder.

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