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Blaze tries to live up to her name after being humiliated, branded and banished by the feline shapeshifter society for simply being different. Really different. She can only shift when she comes, and then only partially, which doesn’t last.
Looking for love in all the wrong places, she ends up inadvertently scent-matched to another misfit shifter. A dog, of all things. Fighting like cats and dogs takes on a whole new meaning for Blaze and Jack as they struggle to accept their spiritual, and physical, bonds.
Are they going to set an example for the shifter prides and packs, or will they simply end up chasing each other’s tails?
Blaze had needs. Like a cat atop a laptop computer, she had needs. And gods help the man who didn’t make her purr tonight. She figured a bar frequented by attorneys might be as good a place as any to get herself a decent one-night stand. Bast knows, that biker bar I chose last time was not the best decision.
She liked a good debate. A good fight. The chance for a decent quid-pro-quo before a roll in the sack. That, lawyers could offer. If she just wanted to be tossed over a bar and nailed from behind, she’d hit the biker bar again. If it has been rebuilt. She giggled. She’d left her mark that night, all right. Who knew a broken bottle of brandy would torch up so quickly? At least it’d gotten the biker dude off her back. Literally. Mama hadn’t named her Blaze for nothing.
How long ago was that? Two years. Two long years.
Blaze had always liked legal-types. They could be so feral when confronted. Practicing law had proven a bore, however. Another six years in university and she was an attorney with a degree in veterinary medicine. Dr. Blaze, Esquire. Now she could both counsel and cure. Since most of her customers bordered on very animal to not quite human, university degrees had little value to them—but advising them how to avoid the judicial system while stitching up wounds seemed a decent enough service to her kind.
She swallowed a guffaw. My kind? There are none of my kind. I’m physician to the dregs of were-society and sometimes the elite who get their freak on and don’t make it home by dawn.
She sat at the bar and self-medicated for a while. To go on this kind of hunt, she needed the booze. Courage in a bottle. If she didn’t pickle her brain a bit, she’d go home to her vibrator and awaken with arms aching to hold someone less fury than her cat. Then go another two years before casting discretion to the wind to go on the prowl.
A little booze, just the right amount of inebriation, could aid her acquisition of the evening too. At least he could say he wasn’t seeing straight due to the booze later on. Human men were so fragile and prone to hysteria after the fact. Or the act, as the case may be.
The ambiance of the place had a greedy, needy quality about it. Money had a stink. Desperation gave off fumes. Her sharp eyes saw the swirling odors circling around the room like the strokes of a Van Gogh. The servers were automatons, and the barkeep their man behind the curtain.
Body heat fueled by desire and drink warmed the air. Though she was sure only she’d noticed the subtle rise in temperature as the drinks were poured and downed and a well-heeled lawyer called for another round.
Older men—not unattractive, though obviously lonely with dark baggies under their eyes and white rings of missing wedding bands—palmed the rears of the younger cocktail waitresses. A few of them let it happen, leaning in to give a peek down the blouse to the handsy customer. That extra twenty in the tip written in on the charge card slip would be appreciated and remembered. Blaze had done her share of customer service jobs in college. Big tippers were rewarded. A little butt. A little boob. A little less water in the booze. Disgusting games the mortals played.
Three whiskeys in and she finally felt ready to pounce. She lifted an ice cube to her lips and drew the last drops of Jameson into her mouth. Problem was, aged spirits heightened her human senses, but dulled her less-than-human ones. She could fly a jet blind folded through heavy enemy fire after a fifth of bourbon, but couldn’t smell a trap if it bit her on the ass. Cat-like reflexes and instincts out the window. That was why she didn’t drink too often. Her guard went down. Caution and memory of how many lives she’d already used up were so much litter in the box. Human lovers were her extreme sport. Time to sit on the fence and yowl.
She caught the scent of something dangerous in the room. Her sharp cat’s eyes scanned for a threat. She smiled and relaxed as the nose of a tiny Chihuahua peeked out of a large handbag. The pet’s owner patted her baby, and the little beast went back into hiding. Any dog was a threat, but not Mama’s baby in a handbag. At least not now. She shivered at the thought. The goddess-queen of her clan, Sekhmet, snacked on little dogs. It wasn’t pretty.
Her keen senses picked up another aroma, and she spotted her prey. She turned atop her barstool to make sure he had a good look at her legs as he entered. They exchanged glances and a nod as he passed by with his entourage—older gentlemen who obviously meant to keep him within reach. He must be their latest project. The firm’s protégé extraordinaire. The wunderkind. I remember those days. Poor bastard.
Blaze watched him without shame. And to her delight, he watched her right back.
He looked just sexy enough to rock her world, but had a homey aura about him that screamedfamily man. She could detect his fragrance above the crowd. It propelled her forbidden fantasy of casseroles and white picket fences. A yard with a swing set for the halflings. A sandbox used for play, not elimination. Something she wanted, but was afraid she’d never obtain. Her birth defect prevented her from bringing a child into the world, much less a litter.
The gods of her kind didn’t bless misfits with marriage and offspring. Not without first having her onus abated in the eyes of the goddess-queen, Sekhmet, sacred earthly incarnation of the ancient goddess and twice as fearsome. Not going to happen. A scar on her lower back, stabbed and burned. Some pain never goes away. Sekhmet had seen to that.
She nursed her whiskey contemplatively.