Ares never thought he’d say the words in his lifetime, but he
opened his mouth and out they came. “You can’t eat a human just because he
looked at you funny.”
His sister Claire glared at him. “He was gonna pull my tail.”
God save him from paranoid tigers. He closed his eyes and pinched
the bridge of his nose as he asked the obvious question. “Were you wearing your
“No,” she grumbled.
“Then please tell me, by all that is striped and orange, how the
hell did you think he could tug your tail if you weren’t wearing it?” Claire
winced, and he realized he may have been shouting by the time he finished his
But who could blame him? His mother should have killed Claire at
birth. Not because anything was wrong with his sister, but mainly because
twenty-two years later, she was a real pain in Ares’s ass.
He took a deep breath and tried to find some sort of calm. It
hadn’t worked so far, but a man could hope. “Claire, you know how it works, we
Mating was a three-step process for tigers. Sex without a condom
to give their partner a few shifter characteristics and see how their
significant other handled those changes. Then a bite made the changes
Neither was the true tie that would complete a mate bond, though.
The most important, the action that once taken could never be reversed, was the
tail-tugging. It went soul deep and formed a bond that only death could break.
With or without bites, that one act couldn’t be revoked. For a tiger to have
their tail pulled, to have that binding forced on them…
Ares’s worst nightmare came to life. They’d been lucky so far, his
tigers keeping to their human forms, but the full moon was so close.
“The humans know it too and all because—”
He knew the end of her sentence and cut her off with a slice of
his hand through the air.
All because of that human bitch you got cozy with.
The human bitch being Ares’s ex, Zoe. Zoe, the luscious bit of
human his tiger still missed. Zoe, with her smile and tinkling laugh. Zoe and…
her camera phone and newspaper connections.
Zoe Reynolds: photographer, reporter, and… Ares’s mate. At least,
he’d thought so. Now she was merely the weapon of his pride’s destruction.
At the moment, his public relations team was working on spinning
the story. They’d been debating revealing the truth versus denying it all, and
then… in came his human-craving sister.
“Claire,” he sighed and leaned forward in his chair, forearms
resting on the edge of his desk. He was tired, so damned tired, and all he
wanted was one moment of peace. “I need you to work with me—”
“And not against me,” his younger sister drawled.
Darcy, the head of his PR team, huffed, drawing his attention from his sister and reminding him he was
actually in the middle of a meeting and not free to argue. “Look, Claire, it’d
be a good idea to lay low for a while. Stay close to the house.”
“You’re gonna let them drive us from our land?”
“No,” he drew the word out and prayed for patience. “I’m asking
the pride to stay out of the outlying acres while we get a handle on things.
You can still go up the mountain, but avoid the forests closest to town. Stay
away from the hiking paths and areas open to the public.”
He stared Claire down, letting his strength as alpha flow through
the room. Darcy whimpered and looked at the ground, her inner tiger succumbing
to his dominance. Now he waited on his sister. She held his gaze, blue eyes
blazing with determination fueled by anger. Their father was an alpha, the
strongest of the strong, and he’d imbued all of his children with that power.
It was part of the reason she managed to hold his stare for as long as she did,
but she’d submit.
And… there it was. Claire snatched her attention from him and
glared at the wood flooring, tilting her head to the side. She clenched her
jaw, muscles standing out, and he knew she had plenty to say about his orders.
Well, he had too much shit to do to listen to her rant and rave.
His tiger nudged forward, its curiosity piqued by his show of
dominance. It wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Curious cat. “I’m
asking you to be smart and save our mother worry, Claire. I’m asking you to stay
She gritted out, “If she hadn’t—”
“That conversation is done, and the issue is no longer up for
discussion.” He wasn’t going to rehash things every damned day.
His tiger finally understood Ares’s frustration and source of
anger. It was familiar with his sister’s behavior, and as far as Zoe went… the
animal didn’t want to think about her or the mistake they’d nearly made. The
whole situation would have been worse had he allowed Zoe to tug his tail, had
he joined with her permanently.
The cat understood and accepted the situation, but that didn’t
mean it didn’t mourn. With a final flick of its tail, the feline turned its
back on Ares’s human consciousness and padded to the far reaches of his mind,
content to sleep the day away. It’d been like that from the moment he’d read
the article’s headline and byline.
Ladies, like a tiger’s stripes? Tug his tail and keep him forever!
by Zoe Reynolds
Then there’d been a picture, bright and bold, showing off Ares’s
naked body along with several snapshots of his transformation. Oh, there was
appropriate blurring here and there, but they’d gotten the point across.
Just like werewolves, bears, and lions, there were weretigers.
Even worse, tug a tiger’s tail and then the two were suddenly
mated whether the tiger liked it or not. And trying to part a tiger from their
mate could have deadly consequences.
“But, Ares,” Claire whined.
“Claire, if you were any other tiger…”
“You’d have me pinned to the ground already with my scruff between
He made the threat way too often and didn’t follow through often
enough. Or ever. Dammit. “So help me, I will send you to Arizona. Just see if I
That had her gasping, and her gaze clashed with his once more.
“You’d…” she stuttered. “You’d send me to the desert?”
“They don’t even have trees there!”
“I’m sure they have a few,” he assured her.
“And no marshes. Or swamps! Or caves!”
Ah, the places a tiger liked to play the most. He rose to his feet
and placed his palms on the desk, leaning over the smooth surface. He forced
the cat to come forward and help a guy out. It grumbled, but did as he asked,
shifting his human eyes to tiger yellow. “No. Savannahs.”
“You wouldn’t,” she gasped and clutched her chest.
“I. Would.” Okay, he wouldn’t.