By: Tressie Lockwood | Other books by Tressie Lockwood
Published By: Amira Press, LLC
ISBN # 9781937394530
Word Count: 33200
Available in: Epub, HTML, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat
About the bookRunning from her abusive ex, Shira goes to her old school friend, Whisper, for help. Instead of Whisper, she meets Max, a sexy if gruff man she's immediately attracted to. Max seems just as dominate as her ex, but there's a gentleness to him too that draws Shira closer. When Max offers Shira a job, she jumps on it because she feels safe for the first time in a long time. Between Max and the leopard that saves her from her ex, Shira no longer has to live in fear. She's even falling for Max. There is only one problem. She can't compete with the beautiful blonde that still owns Max's heart.
An excerpt from the bookMax propped his feet up on the railing and leaned back in his chair. He pondered the day. The rain had stopped, and the air was clean and fresh. That only served to annoy him. The day didn’t need to be this nice, especially with his mood.
He caught the sound of her movement as soon as she woke. Her scent had been disturbing the entire night before. She smelled sweet like candy, and she stirred his hunger—but not for food. That pissed him off, too, so he decided to keep his distance from her. She could get going now that the storm was over and she’d gotten some rest. He didn’t know why he’d brought her here of all places anyway.
“You were the man at Whisper’s apartment,” she said from the doorway behind him. Max didn’t turn around.
“So? I was checking on her things like she asked me to.”
“It was such a big coincidence that I ran into you on the road.” Now she was making conversation. Why couldn’t she just go? He closed his eyes, because what he really wanted to do was turn around and stare at her.
There was no coincidence of their meeting the second time. He’d seen the devastation in her eyes when he told her about Whisper being out of town. That expression had hounded him until he tracked her. Not a big deal for his kind, even in the rain.
Rather than answer, he shrugged.
“I-I could cook you breakfast,” she offered.
He glared at her over his shoulder. “In other words, you’re hungry, and you want me to feed you.” He didn’t know where his light-heartedness had gone. The entire time his brother dated Whisper, he’d joked around, even if he was fighting despair and depression. Now, he couldn’t muster a smile to save his life. Maybe it had to do with the parade of stupid women Whisper had marched by him, trying to tempt him into falling in love again. She couldn’t know being human that he mated once and that was it.
She frowned. “Is this attitude a morning thing, or are you always an ass?” After the words left her mouth, she slapped a hand over her lips. When she winced, Max’s anger flared again.
“He do that to you?”
She dipped her head and redirected her gaze anywhere but at his face. “No. Um, I should go.”
“Three eggs, bacon, and sausage. I like them fried hard, and don’t be skimpy with the meat. Also toast and coffee!”
She spun away and marched back into the house. Max let his gaze drop to her ass. Despite how slender she was, there was a roundness there that he found sexy. His cock twitched in his pants, but he forced himself around in his chair and closed his eyes. A woman like that didn’t need someone like him for a bed partner. He would have to be blind not to recognize the signs of abuse—and anything but a leopard shifter not to smell her fear.
When she called him in to eat, Max walked into the kitchen to the scent of food and coffee. He breathed deep and noticed the full plate waiting. She’d taken his charge seriously not to skimp on the meat. Four slices of bacon and three sausages sat on his plate with more in the center of the table. He hid his approval from his expression and took a seat across from her.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
Pretty. “That’s unusual.”
“I was named after my great-grandmother on my father’s side. I don’t know where she got the name, but I’ve always liked the uniqueness of it.” She offered a slight smile, and Max blinked against the sunshine in it. Irritation rolled along his spine. He focused on her plate rather than her face. She’d given herself one egg and one slice of bacon with a half a piece of toast. He grabbed the tongs and piled more meat on her plate. She squeaked in protest like a little mouse.
“You’re too thin.”
He thought he’d insulted her and searched his mind for a compliment he didn’t mind giving, but none he could think of wouldn’t give her the impression he was interested. He most certainly was not.
“You have a beautiful house,” she said, distracting him from his thoughts. “I can see where this place was once amazing and where it can be again.”
Max muttered his thanks. “I didn’t put much effort into choosing it. My brother moved and threw all of my stuff out.”
Shira blinked at him, eyes wide. The cute wrinkle in her nose told him she thought he was poor and a bum. He decided not to enlighten her to the fact that he and his brother had amassed a small fortune in real estate, and he bought this house with cash. Let her think what she wanted. None of it mattered anyway since he’d lost Sarah. Not the money, not his life.