by Kate Hill
Heat Level: Erotic
Genre/Themes: Vampire, Shapeshifter
Publisher: New Concepts Publishing
Purchase Links:New Concepts Publishing
Includes the novellas Tamed by the Tiger, Caged With the Tiger, and Bound to the Tiger
Tamed by the Tiger
For centuries a group of female assassins known as the Wakened Veils have used their various powers for personal vendettas against the men who sought to oppress them. Raine Santangelo, a Succubus, has never failed to aid her sisters in seeking revenge, until she meets the charismatic weretiger called Sanjay. The Wakened Veils have marked his son for death. Though he will do anything to stop them, he prefers a peaceful solution to a violent one. Raine knows The Wakened Veils won't take kindly to any man dictating their actions, but having met Sanjay, she finds him almost impossible to resist.
Caged With the Tiger
A little white lie... Brutalized by her husband, snatched from the jaws of death into a life forever in the shadows, Saloni enters the society of the veils, an organization devoted to teaching men the error of their ways.
But when her little white lie blows up in her face, Saloni discovers that she must share Rahul's punishment--caged with the were-tiger, Rahul, the man who set her blood on fire--and destroyed her life.
Bound to the Tiger
Part English and part Indian, Zane is a rare white weretiger who has earned a position of respect in his clan. Now his leader has called upon him for a special task. Zane is to act as a goodwill ambassador between his weretiger clan and a group of supernatural female assassins, The Wakened Veils. He is to work closely with one of their best warriors, the lovely but headstrong vampiress, Kesi.
Since escaping the clutches of her cruel father and violent husband, Kesi has vowed to never again submit to a man. For fifteen hundred years she has sought revenge against the hated male sex and convinced herself she has no need for romantic love. When she meets the handsome, blue-eyed weretiger, Zane, she is overwhelmed by desire but knows a permanent relationship between them can never be. She will do everything in her power to keep from loving Zane, even if it means destroying him along with her heart.
The following excerpts from WICKED TEMPTATIONS are for readers 18 and over.
Excerpt from TAMED BY THE TIGER:
"Miss Santangelo, forgive my intrusion but-"
Raine let loose a scream loud enough to waken any zombie within ten miles. Grasping the butcher's knife that hung from a nail on the wall, she spun and found herself facing a tall, dark-skinned man with raven black hair that hung to his elbows.
"Please, don't be alarmed. I mean no harm and only want to talk."
"How the hell did you get in here?"
A smile played around his full, rather sensual lips. If she'd met him under other circumstances, Raine would have been thrown by his stunning good looks. His face was angular but without the half-starved look common to many models and actors considered handsome in this modern age. Five o'clock shadow dusted his sturdy jaw, further accentuating his raw masculinity. Most fascinating of all were his eyes. They were large, wide set, slightly tilted at the corners and such gleaming black Raine was certain if she stepped closer she could see her reflection in them.
"A funny question from a Succubus who spends her nights slipping unnoticed into men's beds." His voice was deep yet smooth as warm caramel. It poured over her, soothing, yet at the same time arousing. For a man such a voice was more than an asset, it was a weapon that drained a woman's strength, much like Raine used her Succubus physique to drain energy.
"How do you know me?" Raine demanded, not liking this man's calm collectedness that bordered on arrogance. She stepped closer, the knife poised to attack.
He stood his ground, his sleek body relaxed yet at the same time she felt the power radiating from him. If she struck, no doubt he would be ready. The question was, why hadn't he attacked yet?
"I have come to discuss last night's attempt by your Wakened Veils to execute Rahul."
A cold feeling swept through Raine. How did he know about the Veils?
"You have many questions," he continued. "Please allow me time to explain."
"Perhaps you would like to clothe yourself first." His gaze swept her body in a manner that reminded her of how hungry she was. Actually, if he wasn't a damn intruder she wouldn't mind seeing exactly what was under that black tank top and those jeans that hugged every inch of his long, well-muscled legs. . .
She shook her head slightly. This was crazy. He was an intruder in her house and she was thinking about screwing him until his eyes crossed. That's what she got for allowing the hunger to last for days. Her mother always warned her to feed at least every other night or there was no telling when or with whom her control would snap.
"If you know I'm a Succubus then you also know a state of undress doesn't bother me," she sneered, not taking the knife from its defensive position. There was no way she was going to relax her guard until she heard more. "Move to the table slowly and sit. Now!"
He did as she requested, his obsidian eyes never leaving her. Good lord, his every movement was like a smooth, masculine dance, so graceful yet powerful. He settled into the chair and placed his hands on the table, palms down.
She sat across from him. "Who are you and what do you know about Rahul?"
"I am Sanjay. I am Rahul's father and have come to ask your sisterhood to spare his life."
"How do you know about the Wakened Veils?"
"I knew your grandmother, Miss Santangelo."
"Apparently you were on her good side, or you wouldn't be alive. Still, I can't believe she would disclose our secret to you."
"I discovered the Wakened Veils by accident."
"And she allowed you to live with this knowledge?"
"She trusted my discretion."
Raine curled her lip, her hand tightening on the knife. "If you really knew my grandmother then you would know she trusts no man."
"Why don't you ask her? That is what I want. A meeting with her."
"Why not go to her directly?"
His eyes widened in an innocent gesture that roused her suspicion even more. One thing was for certain, no man who looked and talked like him was innocent. This was a master of seduction if she'd ever met one, surpassing any incubus or vampire she'd ever met.
"Is this not the proper channel within your society? I must go through you before reaching her. And are you not the one in charge of my son's execution? You may stop it."
"No, I may not," Raine said. "I don't have the power to overstep a decision made by the First Wraths."
"But you can postpone it and arrange a meeting with them for me." He leaned closer, his expression even more intense. She thought she heard something resembling a growl rumbling deep in his chest.
"You're the one who stole him last night, aren't you?" she asked.
He nodded. "I am."
"The black weretiger," she murmured.
"You realize I could have destroyed your warriors, but I refrained."
His attitude irked her, but he did have a point. "Why did you?"
"Because it is against our ways to harm women. We serve our goddess and respect those made in her image. That is why I prefer to negotiate for my son's life-"
"Your son does not share your respect! A woman suffered and died because of him. She will have her revenge."
His brow furrowed. "I'm sure they both suffered over their separation, however that was her doing, not Rahul's. As for her unfortunate death, I do not see how my son is at fault. And she did not die. As you know she is now a vampire."
"Her doing? Not his fault? He promised her eternal love then abandoned her, pregnant, so she was forced to marry somebody else. If it had not been for a vampire, she would have died in childbirth along with her son. Your grandson."
Sanjay's hands curled into fists and he sat back in the chair, his broad chest expanding with a deep breath. He released it so slowly that Raine marveled at his control.
Finally he said, "That cannot be true."
"Rahul told me he proposed to her and she refused, saying her parents had already arranged her marriage. The child she lost was her husband's, not my son's."
Raine raised her eyes to heaven and shook her head. "Typical. One man lies, another man swears to it."
A muscle twitched in his chiseled cheek. "My son is many things, but he is not a liar."
"What makes you so certain this woman is not lying?"
"We have known her for over a century. She is one of us."
"Then why did she take so long to seek him out for vengeance? Why did she wait until he is engaged to be married before asking your sisterhood to strike? Could it be for jealousy instead of revenge?"
"I've heard all I care to. You have ten seconds to get out of my house before you regret coming here in the first place."
They stood simultaneously and she thought he might actually obey her.
One moment he stood across the table and the next he pinned her to the wall, one massive furred paw pressing to her throat, the other trapping her wrist until the knife dropped to the floor. His handsome face elongated, covered in gleaming black hair, something between tiger and man.
"I will not harm you, but you must listen to me," he said, his voice deeper, more animalistic but no less beautiful. "Please."
Excerpt from CAGED WITH THE TIGER:
Rahul sprang at her so quickly that even with her vampiric reflexes she had no chance to react. One moment she was seated on the bed, the next she was lying flat on her back, trapped beneath Rahul's semi-beast body. His hands pinned her wrists to the bed and one of his long, muscled legs rested heavily over both of hers.
His gaze fixed on her, holding her captive emotionally just as his body held hers physically. Before her eyes, his tiger's coat receded and his features molded back into their human shape.
Saloni's pulse raced out of control. He was so handsome--large dark brown eyes with long, thick lashes, sharp cheekbones, and full lips that she longed to kiss. Even after two centuries he was still the sexiest man she'd ever known. This powerful weretiger made her pulse race--no small feat considering her supernatural constitution.
The truth struck her with staggering impact. She was trapped alone with Rahul for a month with no hope of getting out early for good behavior. Besides, she wondered how long she could keep up a semblance of good behavior when, just looking at him and feeling his big, warm body against hers, she wanted to behave quite badly. Terribly. She wanted to do the same things that had gotten her into trouble to begin with.
No. It could not happen. She would remain in control and not allow him to seduce her again.
"Get off me!" she shouted
"Not until you take back what you said about me letting my son die."
"If I had known you were pregnant that never would have happened. You would have been with me instead of with that abusive trash your parents arranged for you to marry. Do you think I wanted you to be stuck with a bastard who beat you? I still want to know, Saloni, how you could have chosen him over me."
Damn, this man knew exactly what to say to shoot her anger off the scale. She struggled against his hold, nearly flinging him off, but his grip tightened. She felt the tiger in him. Powerful, angry, unstoppable.
"If you had told me the truth--"
"By the time I realized I was pregnant, you had already left India! I said that at the trial! As for taking my husband over you, I had no choice. If I didn't marry him, my family would have disowned me. I'd told you that from the first, Rahul, but you pursued me anyway. You knew I couldn't marry you."
"Wouldn't, you mean."
"There is no difference."
"Oh, there's a difference, Saloni. A great difference."
His voice had softened to almost a whisper and he lowered his head slightly so their lips nearly touched. In spite of her anger, she wanted him to kiss her. More than that, she wanted to be completely possessed by him and to possess him, as well. The thought of sinking her fangs into the side of his strong neck and tasting his blood aroused her to a dangerous level.
By the lust burning in his eyes, she knew he wanted her, too. Between their bodies, his shaft hardened, an arousing, familiar sensation that she vividly recalled, though it had been two centuries since they'd made love. His warm hands seared her flesh and she felt his heartbeat quicken against her, or perhaps it was her own heartbeat?
Another low growl rumbled in his chest and he stood abruptly, leaving her trembling with need, her nipples hard and a pleasant yet frustrating ache between her legs. If possible, she hated him more than ever.
She sat up and stared at him. Rahul crossed the room to pick up his discarded clothes. Heavens he had a gorgeous body. Tall and sleekly-muscled, he had long limbs and a broad chest dusted with dark hair. His cock, quite thick even in its semi-erect state, rose from a wiry thatch of black pubic hair. Muscles flexed in his powerful legs as he squatted, picked up the clothes, and stood again. His smooth brow furrowed, he examined the shredded shirt and trousers. He'd been in such a hurry to rip them off and change into tiger form that his claws had rendered the garments useless. Saloni nearly laughed at his frustrated expression, and then she realized this meant she was trapped with a naked man who turned her on so much she could scarcely control the urge to lick him all over.
She flopped onto her back and closed her eyes tightly. Could the situation possibly get any worse?
Excerpt from BOUND TO THE TIGER:
Low to the ground, the white tiger stole through the jungle. Muscles rippled beneath the great cat's pelt, now matted with dirt and blood. A low growl rumbled in his chest, and he tried to focus his bleary eyes on the path leading to his clan's meeting place. Ignoring the pain of dozens of tooth and claw marks, he concentrated on reaching his brothers. Hopefully no more enemies would attack for he was nearly spent and doubted he would survive another fight, not that he wouldn't willingly die in battle serving his clan leader and his goddess.
For days Zane and his brothers had been fighting a rival clan, one that disregarded the weretigers' ancient creed. Created by the mother goddess, they had once been her most trusted protectors and part of a single clan loyal to her. Long ago the clan divided. Some remained true to the goddess while others used their supernatural powers for evil.
Zane's clan, headed by the black weretiger Sanjay, still followed the goddess and respected her ways. They had recently gone to war with a rival clan who had been moving in on their territory and slaying humans, an act forbidden by the goddess' creed.
Nearly stumbling over a fallen tree, Zane grunted in pain. His mangled hind leg buckled, and he sat for a moment, panting, his senses straining as he caught the scent of another tiger approaching. White weretigers were extremely rare and few survived long during times of war since their color made them easy targets. Zane could scarcely believe he'd survived as long as he had. It seemed like every enemy cat in the area had attacked him over the past few days. Sanjay had not demanded he stalk the front lines but suggested he remain closer to the clan's meeting place. Zane would have none of it. No matter what the color of his pelt, his skin or his eyes, he was as much a weretiger as any of his brothers.
The other tiger's scent grew stronger and relief washed over Zane when he recognized it as belonging to a member of his clan.
Raj approached and gently butted Zane with his head. Like the other members of the clan, except for Sanjay, Raj had a tan and black pelt. With a series of almost inaudible grunts and purrs, he told Zane that he would escort him to the meeting place where he could get medical attention. During battle it wasn't unusual for a clan member to act as protector to an injured brother, so Zane willingly accepted Raj's assistance.
To the injured weretiger it seemed like forever before they reached the meeting place. Nearly unconscious from blood loss and pain, he managed to drag himself into one of the tents before lapsing into blackness.
* * * *
Zane dreamed of the London home where he'd been born, the only child of a merchant and his wife. His mother had aristocratic blood, yet she had rarely associated with her relatives. In the late nineteenth century, her great grandfather, an English military man, had been stationed in India. His family, including his young daughter, Elizabeth, had gone to live with him. It was there that Elizabeth became fascinated by stories of men who stalked the jungles as tigers. When a handsome demon stole into her bed chamber, she willingly surrendered her innocence for a pleasure few mortals knew--the mating with a weretiger. Soon after she found herself abandoned by her supernatural lover but carrying his child. When she'd nearly given up hope of ever seeing her lover again, a man called Sanjay appeared with tragic news. Her weretiger had been killed in a battle with another of his kind. Sanjay told her that should she have a boy child, there was a chance he would inherit his father's shapeshifting gift. If that happened, she should contact Sanjay and he would take the boy into his clan and teach him the ways of the weretiger.
A young woman pregnant and unmarried in that day and age often found herself in a hopeless predicament. Elizabeth's father had a great deal of affection for her and, against the judgment of his wife, agreed to care for her and the child. Elizabeth gave birth to a girl, and she assumed that since no female weretigers existed, the supernatural bloodline was no longer a concern. The family moved back to London where Elizabeth was shunned by her peers and lived the remainder of her life as a recluse. Her daughter, Rose, was a beautiful girl with her father's ink black hair and her mother's blue eyes. A local merchant fell in love with her and asked for her hand. Eager to move away from a house where she was often the brunt of her mother and grandmother's resentment, she accepted the merchant's proposal.
Shortly after, she gave birth to Zane. From an early age Zane sensed he was different from other children. Not simply because of his culturally diverse background, but there was something inside him, something wild, that he couldn't quite understand. He felt trapped in the city and would dream of jungles he had never seen yet somehow knew intimately.
At the age of five he shifted shape for the first time. Within the space of a breath and without conscious thought, his bones became flexible, twisting and reshaping. A coarse brown and white pelt sprouted from his smooth human skin and his senses sharpened, each noise almost painful, every light practically blinding him.
Though Rose had heard stories of the weretiger from her mother, she had never truly believed them. She thought her mother was making up fanciful tales to ease the pain of a lover abandoning her with a child. Now she had no choice but to confide in her mother about Zane's supernatural constitution.
That was how he first came into contact with Sanjay and the weretiger clan. Upon receiving Elizabeth's letter regarding her grandson, Sanjay himself traveled to England to claim a child that belonged more to the clan than he ever would to his parents.
Rose and her husband, confused and horrified by the child they'd spawned, willingly sent Zane back to India in the care of Sanjay. Other than a yearly visit to England in the company of a weretiger brother, Zane remained with Sanjay who raised him alongside his own son and heir, Rahul.
With his blue eyes and white pelt, Zane stood out among his kind. It seemed no matter what world he lived in he could never truly fit in, and he desperately wanted to belong to the weretiger clan. He trained as a warrior and hunter and grew into a strong, courageous man. Still the white pelt made him an easy target among his enemies. Sanjay tried to persuade him to leave the fighting to others, but Zane refused. As a weretiger he would express his love and loyalty to Sanjay, his leader and the only real father he had ever known, through blood service, like the rest of the clan.
* * * *
"Zane. Wake up. Zane."
Moaning softly, Zane tried to focus on the familiar voice. He felt a hand rest lightly on his shoulder and opened his eyes and found Sanjay seated beside him.
The clan leader's onyx eyes stared into his, and a slight smile curved his lips. "How do you feel?"
Zane's brow furrowed, and he shifted position. At some point he had changed back to his human form, though the memory was fuzzy. Every muscle in his body ached, and he stung in places from various tooth and claw marks.
"Fine," he replied, sounding weaker than he'd wanted to.
"I'm sure that's not true," Sanjay said.
"The battle ...."
"It's over. We've driven off the rival clan. Rahul killed the leader."
Rahul. Sanjay's son and one of Zane's closest friends.
"You fought well for the clan," Sanjay continued, holding Zane's gaze. "For over two centuries you have defied the odds, a white weretiger hunting and fighting for his clan and managing to survive. You have done your service as a warrior. Now I order you to step down from our battles here."
Panic clogged Zane's chest. Why was his leader shaming him like this? Had he not been loyal?
"If I can't serve you and the goddess, I would rather be dead," Zane told him.
"Who said you won't be serving us?" Sanjay asked. "I have another task for you, an important task. It will require your skills as a warrior and a diplomat."
Zane's brow furrowed. This piqued his interest. "What sort of task, Sir?"
"Before I tell you more, you must swear secrecy, for if you agree to this task you will be entrusted with an unprecedented alliance with a group of formidable warriors. Warriors we greatly wish as friends rather than enemies. Do you swear?"
"I have pledged my life to you and the goddess. Whatever you ask of me I shall do. If you require my pledge of secrecy, then you have it."
Sanjay nodded. "Good. Rest now. In a few days when you've completely regenerated and regained your strength, we will talk more."
"It is my command."
Frustrated yet knowing that once Sanjay made up his mind no one would change it, Zane nodded and settled more comfortably onto the cot where he lay. He closed his eyes and sighed, wondering what task lay ahead and what formidable warriors he would be sent to meet.