Tiger Magic(2)

By: Jennifer Ashley



Below the nice buttocks were shapely legs, not too long, tanned by Texas sun. Shoes that rose about half a mile made those legs even shapelier.

The woman had hair the color of winter-gold grass. She had a cell phone in one hand, but she waited, the other hand on her shapely hip, for him to answer her question.

Tiger climbed the slope from the grass to the road. She watched him come, unafraid, her sunglasses trained on him.

Tiger wanted to see her eyes. If she was going to be his mate, he wanted to see everything about her.

And this woman would be his mate. No doubt about that. The scent that kicked into his nostrils, the way his heartbeat slowed to powerful strokes, the way his body filled with heat told him that.

Connor had tried to explain that mating didn’t happen like that for Shifters. A Shifter male got to know a female a little bit before he chose, and then he mate-claimed her. The mate bond could rear its head anytime before or after that, but it didn’t always on first glance.

Tiger had listened to this wisdom without arguing, but he knew better. He wasn’t an ordinary Shifter. And this female, hand on one curved hip, wasn’t an ordinary woman.

“Can you put the hood up?” Tiger asked her.

“I don’t know,” she said, frustrated. “This car is different from anything I usually drive. Hang on, let me check.”

Her voice was a sweet little Texas drawl, not too heavy. A light touch, enough to make warmth crawl through Tiger’s veins and go straight to his cock.

The woman found a catch and worked the hood open, then dusted off her hands and peered at the inner workings without comprehension. “Classic car, my ass.” She scowled at it. “Classic just means old.”

Tiger looked inside. The layout was much different from the pickup he and Connor had been tinkering with all spring, but Connor had been teaching Tiger a lot about vehicles. “Got a socket wrench?”

When he looked up at the woman, he saw her staring at him from behind the sunglasses. “Your eyes,” she said. “They’re . . .”

“Yellow.”

Tiger turned away before her scent convinced him to press her back against the side of the car and hold her to him. She wasn’t a female someone had tossed into his cage to trigger his mating frenzy. This was his mate, and he didn’t want to hurt her.

He wanted to take this slow, woo her a little. Maybe with something involving food. Shifter males around here liked to cook for their mates, and Tiger liked the rituals.

She opened the back of the car and found a toolbox, which did have a set of socket wrenches. Tiger took one and reached inside the car, looking for the silence within himself that would lead him to the problem. He seemed to be able to sense what was wrong with engines, and how to coax them back to life. He couldn’t explain how he did it—he only knew that cars and trucks didn’t watch him, or fear him, and he could see what was wrong when others couldn’t.

As he worked, the neckline of his T-shirt slid down, baring the silver and black Collar that ran around his throat. The woman bent over to him, the top of her dress dangerously open, the warmth of her touching his cheek.

“Holy shit,” she said. “You’re a Shifter.”

“Yes.”

She lifted her sunglasses and stared at him. Her eyes were clear green, flecked with a little gray. She stared at him frankly, in open curiosity, and without fear.

Of course she wasn’t afraid of him. She was going to be his mate.

Tiger met her gaze, unblinking. Her eyes widened the slightest bit, as though she realized something had happened between them, but she didn’t know what.

She restored her sunglasses and straightened up. “I’ve never seen a Shifter before. I didn’t know any of y’all were allowed out of Shiftertown.”

Tiger picked up the wrench with one hand and moved the other to the timing belt chain, which had come loose from the gear. “We’re allowed.”

The repair needed both delicacy and strength but Tiger finished quickly, leaning all the way inside and letting his fingers know what to do. He backed out and closed the toolbox. “Start it now.”

The woman eagerly rushed to the car, slid inside, and cranked it to life. She emerged again, leaving the car running, while Tiger scanned a few more things. “The timing belt will hold for now, but the whole shaft is worn and could break. Take the car home and don’t use it again until it’s fixed.”

“Terrific. Armand is going to kill me.”

Tiger didn’t know who Armand was and didn’t much care. He carried the toolbox to the back for her and closed the small trunk, then returned to close the hood.

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