But her head tipped back a bit for him. “Good.”
He blinked. “Good? That’s it? No argument… from the ADA? ”
She pulled out her keys and was happy her hands didn’t tremble. “I’m not stupid, Donovan.”
Erin had to swallow at that. Too personal. Be careful, can’t let him too close. “Jude.” Grudging. “Having someone here with me until this jerk is caught sounds like a good idea.” If only she hadn’t been alone the last time he’d caught her.
No. If Jude wanted to stay, yeah, that’d be more than fine with her.
Her hand twisted and she shoved the key into the lock.
“One thing.” His breath blew against her hair.
Erin licked her lips.
“That whole keeping-my-hands-to-myself thing, if you want to change that rule, all you have to do is say so.”
A quick push and the door creaked open. Glancing over her shoulder, she found his eyes blazing at her. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
His gaze dropped to her lips. “Good. ’Cause like I said, at Night Watch, we aim to please.”
She just bet he knew exactly how to please a woman.
He’s a shifter. He can handle anything I throw at him.
The knowledge burned in her mind. It wouldn’t be like it had been with the others. First Jon, with his shaking hands and sweaty palms. She’d almost broken his wrists because she got a little too carried away.
It wouldn’t be like that.
And it wouldn’t be like when she’d tried a bit of bondage in college, thinking the ropes would hold her down and keep Lyle safe.
They’d snapped in an instant and she’d drawn blood seconds later with her claws.
Wouldn’t be like that. Not with another shifter.
“Thinking about it, are you?”
Her cheeks burned. “No.” Easy lie. “I’m thinking I don’t want to see the blood inside.” Okay, true enough.
He nudged her into the house. “You don’t have to. I sent a team by for cleanup before I told Tony to give you the all clear.”
“Umm…” His nostrils flared. “I swear, you have the sexiest scent. Woman, roses, and…wild.”
He dropped the bag she hadn’t even noticed until that moment— way too busy focusing on the man—and it hit the floor with a thud. “I also took the liberty of upgrading your security system.”
She glanced toward the flashing light on the right. “Upgrade? But I already paid for a top of the line system!” One that hadn’t done a bit of good.
A quick smile. Shark strong. “This one’s better. It’s not on the market yet.”
He’d gotten rid of the blood, upgraded her protection, and he was there to stay the night. Erin could only shake her head.
“You’re not what I expected, Jude Donovan.” Not at all.
“Sweetheart, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The radio blared, rocking the car. Not the classic, easy listening crap that Lee Givens listened to when clients or coworkers were around.
No, his music. Country, through and through. His thumbs pounded out a beat on the steering wheel as he snaked down the winding roads leading to his house.
Another damn day done. He’d get home, shower the stench of his clients off his skin, then put in a call to his ex-wife. This weekend was his son Tommy’s fifth birthday, and he would be at that party. He’d missed the last three weekends with Tommy because of work.
He’d finally gotten the all clear. They were making him partner at his firm. No more busting his ass to prove himself. Now he’d take the plush office and easy street.
He had Tommy’s new bike all nice and ready, just sitting in the garage, waiting for the kid.
Yeah, he’d call Melissa, even though it was late, because he missed that boy, and her, but—
Blindingly bright lights flashed in his rearview mirror.
“Shit!” Lee jerked the wheel and the tires screeched. “Asshole, turn off the brights!” He steadied the car and thought about throwing up a prominent finger. The shitass behind him sure would be able to see the gesture. His headlights were making the whole county glow.
Lee shoved his foot down on the gas. He’d lose the jerk. Couple more bends and he’d be turning off the old road and making the last stretch for home and he’d be—
The bright lights shot closer.
He stiffened. “If you want to pass, move the fuck around!” He rolled down his window and shoved his arm out, waving his hand forward. “Come around!” Don’t need this shit. He should have moved closer to the office, but he’d kept the house.
Melissa liked it. Tommy had a tree house in the back. If they came home, they’d need a place to—
The other vehicle slammed into him, sending his car jerking forward. “What the fuck!” Fear dried his throat. Shit. Shit.
He’d handled too many criminal cases, made too many enemies, gotten too many threats.
Threats he’d never taken seriously. Until now.
He pinned the gas pedal flat against the floorboard but the other vehicle was closing in on him again. All he could see in his rearview mirror were those shining lights, making stars dance before his eyes.
What the hell did that guy have under his fucking hood?
Jesus! He swiped the sweat off his forehead. No, no way—
The car slammed into him again.
Lee’s car jerked and his head snapped back. The seatbelt bit into his shoulder and chest and he tasted blood on his tongue. His teeth had snapped closed on it. Lee spit, snarling as—
The car flew up on the left. Lee finally caught a glimpse of it. Big, black SUV. Tinted windows. What the hell?
His knuckles whitened around the wheel.
The black bitch slammed into the side of his car.
His secondhand BMW couldn’t take the impact. The car flew to the edge of the road, trembled. Lee yanked the steering wheel, praying.
Not like this. He couldn’t go out like this!
His breath heaved out. His heartbeat slammed so loudly in his ears he could barely hear the radio anymore.
The SUV plowed into him once more.
The BMW lost the fight.
The car tumbled off the road, rolled, again, again.
Glass shattered. The air bag exploded before him, a white cloud that surrounded him.
The radio died.
Metal crunched. Twisted. The top of the car thudded into the earth.
Oh, God, Tommy—
Too easy. He smiled as he watched the blue car fly into the tree. Steam exploded from the hood.
Humans were so weak.
Hardly worth his time.
But if the bastard had survived the crash, maybe he could have a bit of fun with the lawyer.
Maybe a lot of fun.
Smiling, he started down the ravine.
Headlights flashed in the distance.
The roar of the truck’s engine reached his ears. One of those big, souped-up trucks that the hicks in this area seemed to love.
His jaw clenched. This kill wasn’t over.
But the truck was coming closer, and he was in the open.
He cast one more glance down at the twisted metal. Odds were good that the asshole was dead.
And if he wasn’t, there was always next time.
He turned from the ravine and hurried back to his idling SUV. If he got his butt out of there, the other driver probably wouldn’t even notice the wreck.
Humans were like that. So self-involved. Never seeing the danger and death until it was too late.
He jumped into the vehicle. The night was still young. If he hurried, he might even be able to catch his lady.
Another hunt—this one, the most important of them all.
She couldn’t sleep. Erin stared up at the ceiling as the soft patter of rain began to fall onto the house. The storm that had been threatening since late afternoon had finally come.
The patter quickened as the rain strengthened, falling harder, harder.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
But saw Jude.
The shifter had played the gentleman. He’d walked her through the new security system. Done a top to bottom search of her house.
They’d eaten together. Hell, he’d even cooked.
Then he’d walked her to her bedroom door.
And left her.
Without even one touch.
Should have been what she wanted.
But, no, he was what she wanted. She wanted him so much that she was aching.
The need was like that for her. Had been, since she was sixteen. When she wanted someone, she wanted. Craved.
Needed so badly that her body throbbed.
For most shifters, puberty was the time when real power kicked in. The first shift.
Not for her.
The beast—or whatever the thing inside her was—had awakened, and with it, so much hunger and need.
It had become the center of her life. Maintaining control. Always having control.
Then the stalker asshole had come along and ripped all of her careful control away.
Her hands knotted beneath the sheet.
Where was Jude? When she’d offered him the room beside hers, he’d shaken his head and stared at her with blue eyes that burned with hunger. “Too close,” had been his growled response.
Not close enough.
She was so screwed up.
He can handle me.
Shifters were strong, she knew that. He’d be able to handle anything she threw at him.
His steps had echoed when he’d headed downstairs. Maybe he was in the little guest room she’d set up. Maybe he’d stripped off his shirt again, like last night.
Her mouth dried. Oh, my. The man’s chest had rippled with muscles. Beneath the jeans, his thighs bunched with power.
And when he’d put his mouth on her…
Erin’s nipples pebbled.
She turned over and buried her face into the pillow. Maybe she needed another cold shower. Maybe she—
Thunder shook the house. Erin flinched. That had been a strong blast, loud, too, shaking her bed, shaking the—
She bolted up, realization hitting hard. The thunder hadn’t come from outside.
It sounded again, but it wasn’t thunder.
Erin climbed out of bed, nearly falling flat on her ass as she hurried. That was a roar!
An animal’s roar of fury, and it was coming from downstairs.
She ran for the door.
The change swept over him, hard and fast, fueled by fury, the black rage that boiled his blood and sucked the man back inside the beast.
He’d heard the rattle at the door. The scrape of claws, and Jude hadn’t needed the shrill beep of the alarm to sound. He’d known the intruder was there.
Now he was going to destroy the bastard.
Bones snapped. Twisted. White fur burst from his flesh even as his claws tore from his fingertips. The snarl on Jude’s lips became a roar of rage as the beast took over.
The pain didn’t bother him, not anymore. But the power thrilled him.
His vision sharpened. His hearing grew more acute. In those swift moments of transformation, a new world appeared. A world where he ruled.
His mouth opened and another roar burst from him.
The bastard was running. He could hear his thudding footsteps. His favorite part…chasing prey.
Muscles bunching, he prepared for the hunt.
“Jude, what’s going on? Jude! ”
His head jerked toward her. Long bare limbs, sexy silk over her flesh. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open. She stood on the stairs, just steps away from the bottom, and her fingers had a white-knuckled grip around the banister. “Jude?”
He growled at her. That better not be fear on her face. He wouldn’t hurt her. Not ever. No matter what form he took.
The beast wouldn’t so much as scratch the woman that the man craved.
She stepped toward him, eyes too big. “I-it’s you. Why d-did you shift? What’s—”
No time. He whirled away from her and launched toward the open door.
Her footfalls rushed behind him. He glanced back and roared at her to stay put. In human form, she’d just be a target.
And he wouldn’t risk her. Not now. Not ever.
He bounded into the night.
Erin stared after Jude, her heart racing so fast her chest hurt.
Jude— a tiger. A white tiger. Big and beautiful and deadly.
Tiger, tiger, burning bright…The words from the William Blake poem whispered through her mind as she watched him jump off her porch and disappear into the darkness.
Such grace and power.
So very, very dangerous.
A white tiger.
Thick fur, pale as snow, and lined with coal black stripes. The tiger was huge. The length of his body had been at least nine feet, plus that long, thick tail. His mouth—when he’d opened his mouth in that roar, his teeth had been— hell. He could have ripped her throat open with those razor-sharp teeth in less than a second.
But he hadn’t attacked her. In his blue eyes, she’d seen the man staring back at her. Jude had full control over his beast.
Not all shifters did.
“A white tiger,” she whispered to the night. Jude was out there, hunting, for her.
There was a reason the white tigers bore the Chinese symbol for king on their heads. Some said the rare white tigers were among the strongest of the shifters, second only to the dragons. But the dragons, well, no one was really sure those guys even existed anymore.
Tiger versus wolf. Both strong, fierce killing machines. But the tiger—she’d lay odds he could take the wolf. He’d still better be careful, and he’d better come back to her.