Only in each other will they discover how to be truly free.
Callie, a cat-shifter, is a loner by virtue of the puma that lives inside her. After a job gone bad, her very human need for contact sends her in search of the only family she has. Callie finds her foster sister in a disturbing living arrangement. Something is seriously wrong in a place where people "belong" to one man and silence is enforced to the point a seven-year-old girl pretends to be autistic.
Dev Malik thinks it's odd to see a strange woman in the tall grass behind his house, but he doesn't have the time to ponder why. He's too busy trying to shelter the child and woman in his household from Scott, the control freak who lives with them.
The truth is more dangerous than Callie imagines. Scott's control is powerfully real. And Dev's need to protect the vulnerable is as strong as Callie's own. Their desire is as inevitable as it is frightening, for only by looking deep within each other will they find the strength to free them all from an unspeakable evil.
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October 13, 2008
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Excerpt from Puma by Jorrie Spencer
Instead of replying, or even responding to her statement, his gaze dropped to her mouth. His hand slid over her shoulder, across to her neck; fingers forked up into her hair and made a fist to anchor her head so she couldn't move. His mouth was a mere breath from hers.
"I'm going to kiss you, Callie." He watched for her reaction and she didn't know if she was supposed to give a verbal yes, or not. He must have seen something to encourage him. She thought he would kiss like before: sudden, deep, all his for the taking.
His lips brushed hers and before she could protest his leaving, he returned, caught her lower lip between his gentle teeth, scraped it lightly. Like the end of this morning's kiss, but this was a beginning. A noise rose from her throat, in question, in desire, and with the fist that held her hair in his grip, he angled her head.
"God," he said, a guttural sound, before his mouth covered hers, forcing her mouth open, stroking her tongue with his. He tasted of mint and chocolate and Dev; and she tried to welcome him though all she could do was accept as he devoured her. She'd been kissed before and hadn't much liked it, hadn't liked the invasion. Dev was different, demanding, yes, but focused on her. His large hand splayed across her back, between her shoulder blades, and pushed her flush against him so they had full-body contact. The flood of sensation, from his talented mouth--she had never felt so thoroughly kissed, his tongue demanding hers to dance, then withdrawing to explore her lips before delving in again--to the warmth of his body pressed against hers.
She actually went weak in the knees.
As she sank against him, he cupped the back of her head, holding her in that kiss, while the other arm wrapped around her waist, anchoring her to him. He slid his hand under her T-shirt and clasped her ribs, his palm and fingers warm against her skin.
His tongue released hers, and he retreated to nibble her lips. He kissed across her jawline and descended to her neck where he sucked at the sensitive skin there. Her throat vibrated, half-groan, half-purr, all pleasure. As he kissed across her collarbone, he said, "Callie, Callie. I want us to make love."
He pulled back sharply then, as if to give himself a shake, and she reached for him, hands on his shoulders, scared he would go away. She couldn't stand it, couldn't take being released by him now.
He eyed her while he raised his hands to rest upon hers. For a terrible moment, she feared he was going to remove her hold on him, return to that "don't touch" manner he sometimes projected. Instead, he caressed the backs of her hands, feather-soft strokes of his fingertips over her knuckles, between her knuckles and, most sensitively, between her fingers. She trembled in reaction, amazed that her hands could react to his touch so. A warmth gathered in her belly.
He did lift her hands off, but linked fingers with his and brought their arms down together, pulling her up against him again. Perhaps he too craved touch despite his... She bit her lip.
"Earlier you said you weren't interested in sex."
He stiffened and she closed her eyes, wishing the thought hadn't flitted through her mind, wishing she could have lied or at least fobbed him off with a "nothing", though it was important to her that she be honest with Dev.
She rested her face against the crook of his neck and willed him not to push her away after her reminder. When she kissed him, he shuddered. They were soft, almost chaste kisses, not like his that had ravaged her neck.
He brought her arms behind her, clasped both wrists in one large hand, while with his other, he pressed a palm against the small of her back. Her belly felt him hard against her. Aroused.
That made her smile into his neck.
"Look at me," he demanded, so she tilted her head back to meet his gaze. "You like that, that you've made me hard, that you've made me want you?"
"Yes." She struggled a little, which resulted in her writhing against him, but he didn't release her arms. Lifting his free hand to her face, he held her gaze to his, palm on her cheek. With the pad of his thumb, he traced the bone just under her eye, traced her cheekbone, then ran that thumb over her lips.
It made her breathe faster, these words, these intense caresses, this attention. He trailed fingers down her neck to the swell of her breast. He was watching her very carefully as he lightly palmed her breast and her sensitive nipple began to ache.
"Dev?" She wasn't sure what she was asking.
"Hmmm?" His mouth dipped to her neck, teeth scraping the soft skin, then soothing it with a kiss. And again. His hand slipped under the hem of her T-shirt, and rose to catch her nipple between thumb and finger, rolling the nub. "Do you like that?" he murmured as he kissed her throat.
She arched against him and he swallowed her "yes", his mouth taking hers in a punishing kiss.
Her knees gave out this time, but he caught her, finally releasing her arms, though not her mouth, as he lifted her and she wrapped herself around him. He brought her to the bed.
She tried to contain her disappointment as he set her down on the mattress. He yanked off her shirt, then his, her shorts then his, all in short order. It had been a revelation, this kind of foreplay, but now he was ready to have sex.
He crawled over her and for a moment she thought he was going to move up so he'd take her mouth, but he reached back and pulled her up so they were face to face again, her under him. He'd wanted to make love, she remembered, and that reassured her.
"You make me feel, Callie." The words seemed almost to be dragged from him and she touched his face, roughened because he hadn't shaved.
"I think you're beautiful too, Dev." She wanted to offer him something of her feelings, though that barely described her real emotions. Tentatively she ran a hand through his short hair, which was surprisingly soft to touch.
"Are you scared to touch me, Callie?"
"No." The question caught her off guard, and it must have shown.
"You prefer that I touch you?" He skimmed a hand down her side and across her stomach. Her underside. It made her feel vulnerable and he seemed to notice, because he crossed his palm back and forth across her soft belly until she relaxed into the touch. "Tell me what you like," he urged.
She didn't know. He traced some ribs, but he didn't release her gaze so she said, "I like you."
He smiled then, so pleased, the smile wider than she'd observed before, like she was seeing a new Dev.
"I like everything you do. You make me feel so warm. Inside."
His slightly bemused expression made her add, "Is that wrong to say?"
"No," he said immediately. "Nothing is wrong to say." He sat back and she feared he was retreating, giving up on them making love. Perhaps because he thought she didn't like to touch him? That wasn't it, wasn't it at all. She was just so unsure, but she began to rise, to follow him.
He came back, pushing her down, lying atop her, that full-body contact she craved, though he took some of the weight with his elbows. He kissed her deeply, a kind of reassurance, then broke away and held her shoulders. "Stay here."
Again he sat up. Instead of backing away, he pulled up both her legs, ran palms over her thighs, front and back. Then calves were caressed before he wrapped his hands around her ankles to place her feet down near her butt, knees pointed up. She frowned at him and he smiled, resting hands on her knees. He pushed them apart, making her legs drop open.
She felt completely exposed and very, very wet.
"You, Callie, are going to tell me if at any time you feel uncomfortable, okay?"
Her chest rose and fell as he placed the heel of his palm on her pubis and rubbed lightly. Surprised, realizing she was completely ready, she arched up to push against his hand. "Dev, I want you inside me."