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. She had a serial killer to stop. She couldn't afford the distraction.
Beyond that, Alex had an agenda of his own and, although they were after the same man, she wasn't about to allow him to walk off with her prisoner--or the promotion she expected to get out of solving the case.
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New Concept Publisher
July 01, 2008
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Excerpt from Night Prey by Cynthia Breeding
The bar was dimly lit, but Ariel's night vision was still strong as she absent-mindedly sucked on the olive from her martini. Her adrenaline was still pumping from the near capture and she needed something to calm her down. She shook her head. Who was she kidding? She needed a man--one with plenty of stamina--to take her hard and fast and deep, over and over until she was raw and totally exhausted. Maybe then the cat would be satiated. Maybe. It had been awhile.
She could hear her mother's voice in her head. At thirty it was time she started looking for someone to settle down with, maybe marry. Ariel frowned. Her mother didn't know she was a shifter. She'd inherited that trait from her father, a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. What man would marry a woman who turned into a lethal cat? Ha. It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase 'being catty'. Better to indulge herself, on occasion, and just get laid. No questions, no expectations, no one gets hurt. Just good sex.
Not a problem in Miami, but she'd been sent to this small outpost off the Tamiami Trail to help the local sheriff's investigation of the partial remains found of one young woman. The garrote left with the victim followed the same MO of the killer she'd been tracking.
So here she was, perched on a barstool in the only tavern in the tiny town that grandly called itself Cypress City, listening to country music blaring out of an old jukebox. She eyed the small group of guys shooting pool and drinking beer. If they weren't jailbait, they could hardly be old enough to be drinking. For a moment she thought about asking for ID, but this wasn't her jurisdiction and she was here to help the local sheriff, not cause headaches. He was already acting resentful.
There were a few other locals sitting at scattered small tables including one elderly lady with blue-tinted hair sipping something pink and frothy. Several young women in halter tops and shorts were ogling the guys at the pool table. At the far end of the bar two middle-aged men were watching her. Ariel avoided meeting their eyes, not because she had anything against their ages, but because both of them were wearing wedding bands. She definitely did not go there.
The door creaked open, admitting a shaft of light from the street lamp into the dingy interior. Ariel looked up and then nearly choked.
The man whose broad shoulders filled the doorway was hot. Really hot. Black hair curled slightly against his neck and even in silhouette, she could see his chiseled face had high cheekbones and a square jaw. The black T-shirt he wore fit him like a second skin, hugging a flat belly and large biceps. Well-developed thigh muscles rippled beneath equally tight jeans as he made his way toward the bar.
"Scotch," he told the bartender.
The young man shook his head. "How about JW Black?"
Mr. Stud nodded, his gaze quickly raking the room and then pausing as he spotted Ariel. A corner of his full, sensual mouth quirked up as he lifted his glass and gave her a mock salute.
Ariel forced herself to breathe normally, despite the fact that her heart had started racing again. If she'd thought the man hot when he stood in shadow, she hadn't seen him full-face. His eyes were golden ... compelling, seductive, yet somehow predatory and dangerous. She managed to remove the olive on its toothpick from her lips and held it up in return.
He moved closer. "What's your name?"
French accent. No pick-up line. She liked that. "Ariel."
He let his gaze wander over her face and neck, pausing slightly at the swell of her breasts beneath her conforming tank top before looking back into her eyes. "It's fitting."
For a moment she thought he meant her top. And God, just his looking at her breasts made her nipples tighten. "Pardon?"
A dark brow lifted and his smile widened, as thought he knew what she'd been thinking. "Your name, Chere," he said. "It means 'divine feline'."
If only he knew.
He extended his hand. "I'm Alex."
He had a charming accent. French, but with a touch of something else. "The 'great protector' no?" Ariel retorted. "From Greek times."
His eyes widened slightly in surprise and then he inclined his head. "A lady--la belle--who's also intelligent. I like that."
Ariel smiled. She had a feeling that her needy body was going to be very satisfied by the end of the night.
* * * *
Alex hooded his eyes as he lay naked on the bed in his hotel room and watched her undress. The muted light from the partially-closed bathroom door illuminated her form, casting a golden glow to her skin and her wheat-colored hair. She was fairly tall for a woman, but her curves were in all the right places. She showed no self-consciousness as she removed her top and unzipped the snug jeans that she wore. He inhaled sharply as long, slender thighs emerged and thought about them wrapped tightly around him. He grinned, wondering how aggressive she'd be in bed.
As though Ariel had read his thoughts, she went suddenly seductive. Smiling slowly, a sultry look in her green, slanted eyes, she reached behind herself to unhook her bra, turning her back to him just as it slid down.
In one swift movement, he was behind her, his arms encircling her as he cupped and kneaded her breasts. The full, soft mounds fit perfectly into his hands. He tugged at her nipples with forefingers and thumbs and she arched into him, her head falling back on his shoulder as she lifted her face.
Alex brought his mouth down over hers, kissing her fully, then pulling her lower lip between his teeth. He was rewarded with a moan as she parted her lips and he slipped his tongue inside. She tasted slightly of salt and olives. It blended nicely with the smoky taste of Scotch residue. And then he lost thought as her tongue began to play wicked games with his.
They tumbled onto their sides on the bed and Ariel rubbed her breasts against his abdomen, up his belly and across his chest, one of her legs slinking gracefully over his thigh, pressing him closer. Christ, she was aptly named. He could almost hear her purr.
Rolling over, he pinned her beneath him, his teeth nipping a track down her throat, claiming dominance as his panther would, before reaching the hardened buds that were begging for his attention.
Ariel gasped as he began suckling on her nipple. He drew long and hard, sending searing heat straight to her core. His hand slowly stroked down her ribs, across her stomach and then lower to rip off her thong and explore between her folds, torturing her throbbing nub.
"So wet, so hot," Alex murmured as he slipped a finger inside of her.
She came instantly, her muscles contracting tightly around his finger as her breath grew shallow and she shuddered.
He raised up on one elbow, his golden eyes glowing preternaturally in the dim light. "Chere. I've only just begun, you know."
"So have I." She ran her hands over his shoulders, her nails digging in just enough to scratch him lightly. "Just so you'll know, all I want is great sex. No expectations after that."
He grinned. "Good. I like prowling. I'm not the marrying type."
"Neither am I."
Her fingers danced lightly over his belly and Alex felt his already engorged shaft harden even more. He reached over her for the condom on the nightstand, but she took it and sheathed him, her hand stroking the length of him while the other gently squeezed his balls.
He groaned. He'd finally met his match, even if he didn't know her last name or what she did. He wasn't going to question his luck, he thought, as he splayed her legs wide and thrust deeply into her. She felt every bit as good as he knew she would. Ah, oui, this was going to be a long, fantastic night made in heaven