Wake a sleeping tiger, p.14
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       Wake A Sleeping Tiger, p.14
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         Part #22 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  e.”

  Yeah, that was her grandfather, a riddle within a puzzle, she thought wearily, watching him leave the house. When the door closed behind him she turned to Cullen, feeling the tension radiating from him.

  “No sage advice? You may as well, everyone else is dispensing it,” she whispered, fighting to keep her chin from trembling with the realization that there was no way to win this particular battle. Just by being who she was, what she longed to be, she was breaking her family’s heart and giving her father waking nightmares. Wasn’t that a nice piece of information.

  “Let me get over my own sense of terror first,” he told her, a growl in his voice. “Your father saw it unfold? I was there. And my guts are still cramped with the memory of it. Maybe I can come up with sage advice later.”

  “You just do that, Cullen.” Her breath hitched as she felt herself losing control of the tears threatening to fill her eyes. “I’m going to shower. Maybe by the time I finish, I can find a way to deal with the fact that there’s not a damned person that I care about willing to accept me for who and what I am. Lucky fucking me.”

  Turning away from him she hurried from the room, swiping at the tear that fell to her cheek. She hated crying. Hated it. Just as she hated the guilt that always came with those tears. For ten years she’d fought to find a way to come to terms with her needs and her family’s fears. And she’d failed.

  She hadn’t demanded a position with Covert Ops in the Agency; she’d actually bargained more often for Command and Logistics. She knew that being in the thick of danger was something her family couldn’t handle, and she’d tried to balance her needs with theirs. It hadn’t happened, though. Cullen had refused her a job in Command, and her application to the Nation’s police force had been rejected by the board, who incidentally were all close friends of her father’s. The private security agency she’d applied to had demanded references, and Cullen had refused to give them.

  They had made the decision for her; she hadn’t made it. Rule Breaker had been willing to take a chance on her, though, and now something or someone was screwing that up for her.

  Son of a bitch. It was a simple operation. Information gathering. That was all it was. And she was careful. Damned careful; even Ashley and Cassie had agreed that there was no way she could have given herself away. Yet she’d been attacked twice now and the latest skirmish was more violent than even she was comfortable with.

  She could handle someone coming at her with a knife, but drug cartel members and automatic rifles in the middle of Window Rock? The implications of it were terrifying. She didn’t want her family’s fear, and she didn’t want their advice. It would have been extremely nice if just one of them, just one, had realized that her terror went far deeper than theirs and it was rooted in far more than her fear of losing any one person.

  Just because she wasn’t shaking and wailing in hysteria didn’t mean her insides weren’t trembling with fear now. They were, and for a moment out there all she’d wanted was someone, just one of them, to realize that she wasn’t entirely stupid or without a sense of terror at the thought of what could have happened.

  Adjusting the shower water, she stripped and stepped in, almost moaning at the feel of the heated water sliding with silky warmth over her sensitive body. It didn’t wash away the fear, it didn’t wash away the hurt, but it damned sure eased the aches and pain just a bit.

  Just enough that when she closed her eyes and let the tears fall, she didn’t have to worry that she appeared weak. There was no one to see the tears. But then, there never was. Even the man who was supposed to be her mate.

  As that thought whispered through her mind, a brush of cool air had her eyes jerking open before they widened at the sight of Cullen, naked and furiously aroused as he stepped in the shower.

  Instead of pulling her into one of those deep, drugging kisses, though, he just pulled her into his arms. One hand cupped the back of her head, holding her to his chest, as the other wrapped around her back, securing her against him.

  “I have you,” he whispered, his voice low and heavy with a sense of despair.

  There was no holding the tears back now. With his chest beneath her cheek and the water flowing around them, she let them fall. Silently. Painfully.

  He might not agree, he might not like it, but for once in her life, she wasn’t alone.

  And how in God’s name had he known she felt that way?

  CHAPTER 13

  From Graeme’s Journal

  The Recessed Primal Breed

  There is nothing more precious to the Primal Breed than his mate. And he will protect that mate with an unequaled savagery.

  Chelsea came awake slowly, aware of Cullen’s hard body as he lay beside her, her head resting against his chest.

  After the storm of tears had passed that afternoon, he’d washed her gently, dried her, then tucked her into bed and held her against him as she fell asleep. Exhaustion, both emotional and physical, had overwhelmed her as the adrenaline eased from her system.

  She hadn’t felt fear in the moment of the attempted abduction. Just as she had when she found Louisa and when the Coyote attacked, her mind had stayed clear, her training kicking in as she fought to eliminate the threat.

  It was after the adrenaline plunged that the waves of terror crashed over her.

  The last time, she’d been alone. She’d held herself through the storm, her arms wrapped across her chest as she curled in her lonely bed.

  She hadn’t been alone this time, though. Cullen had been there with her, and it was his arms that held her, his understanding that brought her through the storm. Now she was surrounded by the warmth of his powerful body, shielded and protected.

  There were nights she’d ached for this over the years. Ached for him. Nights when she’d stared into the darkness of her lonely bedroom with a bleak acceptance that it was something she would never know.

  Being here now, feeling the power and strength of him as she rested against him, Chelsea still wasn’t certain exactly how she was supposed to handle it or if she could believe in it.

  Breeds only mated once, he’d told her; if either of them lost the other, then they’d be alone. She’d been alone so long, though, that she didn’t know if she knew how to be a part of anyone else, even though she longed to be a part of Cullen.

  Waking next to him felt really nice, though. He was warm, powerful, and she ached for him. The emotional storm earlier that day had dulled the need, her exhaustion pulling her into sleep.

  She was awake now and she wanted him. She needed him. Every cell in her body felt overly sensitive as the building sensual need tightened through her with an ache only Cullen could assuage. And that wasn’t just Mating Heat. That need for him had been her reality for years.

  She had always known that only Cullen could ease the needs that plagued her.

  The heart wants what it wants, her father had once told her, and her heart had always been set on Cullen. From the moment she’d first seen him that night when he’d been brought to the Nation, a part of her had belonged to him.

  Lifting her hand from where it lay against his chest, she let her fingers caress the bronzed expanse of tough flesh covering tense muscle.

  Heat radiated from his flesh as she stroked him softly. Trailing her fingers over his chest, learning the feel of it, sensing the power contained with it, she felt her breathing and her heart rate accelerate.

  The response sweeping through her own body still had the power to shock her. Even before waking her breasts were swollen, her nipples peaked with the need for touch. Between her thighs the folds of her sex were slick and hot, her clit aching and the inner tissue clenched and rippling with hungry need.

  “You’re finally awake,” he whispered, his voice a rasp of hungry, aroused male. “I was wondering how much longer I could wait.”

  “You were waiting for me, huh?” She couldn’t help the grin that curled her lips. “I was wondering where your legendary patience had gone.”
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  An amused quirk of his lips met her gaze as she propped herself on an elbow to stare down at him in the dim light of the room.

  His green eyes were heavy lidded, his expression filled with lazy male sensuality.

  “My patience went right out the damned window when you left,” he said, his gaze turning somber as he reached up with one hand to cup the side of her neck. “I think my agents are ready to revolt on me. Ranger mostly just glares at me now.”

  “You’ve been a grouch again?” she asked, remembering his reputation for it before she came to work for him. “And here I thought you were doing so much better.”

  “You left me, Chelsea,” he reminded her, exerting just enough pressure at her neck to draw her lips to his. “You can’t do that again. Never again.”

  His lips whispered over hers, stroking, rubbing, and then his head tilted, his lips parted and he deepened the touch with hungry demand.

  The taste of cinnamon infused her senses as his tongue rubbed against hers, encouraging her to taste him deeper. And she did.

  She loved the taste of his kiss. That subtle heat, the pleasure that coursed through her senses and the low, rough male groan that rumbled from his chest.

  Pulling her head back to catch a breath while she still had enough sense to do it, she stared into the marked, sexual need gleaming in his eyes.

  With a drowsy, sensual look she flicked her tongue out to touch her lip suggestively, her hunger for him growing in demand as he pulled her to him once again. Her nipples brushed against his chest, the peaks hardening further, becoming so sensitive it was nearly painful. Blood thundered in her head, through her body, a gasp escaping her as his lips covered hers again with desperate, hungry need.

  Capturing his tongue as it pressed inside, Chelsea drew the spicy taste from it, moaning at the incredible pleasure racing through her.

  Cullen had one hand buried in her hair and caressed up and down her back with the other, stroking the pleasure and need higher and hotter. It wasn’t just his kiss or whatever chemical reaction it caused. It wouldn’t matter how he touched her as long as he touched her, let her touch him.

  She had yearned for him for years, ached for him.

  Let him believe this hunger was some fault of nature, of his genetics, if that was what he wanted to believe. She knew better. She knew it had to be so much more.

  He needed her touch just as badly as she needed his. It had to be more than lust. He had to feel more than simple sexual need; otherwise she’d be loving him in vain, and that she couldn’t bear.

  Forcing herself back from his kiss, she stared down at him, her breathing as rough as his. A brick red flush ran along his cheekbones as he stared back at her, his gaze drowsy and far too sexy.

  There was more in his gaze than just lust. She’d seen just lust many times in other men’s eyes. There was passion there and something more. Something that connected inside her heart and sent a rush of pleasure sweeping through her.

  “Are you going to stare at me all night?” His lips quirked as his brow lifted arrogantly.

  Chelsea licked her lips, that need that swept over her impossible to resist.

  “Let me touch you, Cullen,” she whispered, lowering her lips to his hard jaw, kissing her way to his neck.

  She let her tongue taste the strong column of his neck, let her teeth rake over it as he had done to hers.

  He tensed beneath her, his muscular body hardening in response to her nibbling caresses and slow, licking tastes.

  As she slid down his body, the feel of the perspiration gathering on his skin, his heavy breathing, sent a thrill rushing through her. She gloried in his response to her touch, in the feel of his cock throbbing against her thigh as she moved closer to him.

  “However you want to, sweetheart. Anytime you want to,” he breathed out, the sound a rough rasp as he buried his fingers in her hair. “I’m all yours.”

  God, she wished that were true.

  Moving her lips to his hard chest, she found the flat hard disc of a male nipple. The salt and male taste of him exploded against her taste buds. His flesh was just as hot and wild as his kiss.

  Steel-hard muscles flexed and rippled beneath her lips, lean and powerful. Sweat gleamed on his bronze flesh, giving him a sex-god appearance that threatened to steal her breath.

  She lifted her gaze and met his narrowed one, pleasure and hunger gleaming in the green depths. As she watched him, she licked from one hard male nipple to the other before grazing them with her teeth.

  Touching him was the hottest, sexiest experience of her life. Her pussy was weeping from the erotic experience. Her juices spilled to the swollen folds, heating her clit until it throbbed with torturous need.

  Lifting herself close, she straddled his hard thigh, crying out as her clit swelled further and her juices dampened his flesh.

  “Fuck, Chelsea, you’re killing me, baby,” he growled, the rough sound another stroke against her senses.

  She was loving him, giving him with her touch what she knew he would refuse to hear. This was all she had, the only way she could show him the depth of what she felt for him.

  As she took her kisses lower, the need to taste him, to love him, to fill her mouth with the hard male heat of him, intensified inside her.

  “I love how you taste,” she whispered, powerless against the needs rocking through her. “Like the desert. So strong and hot.”

  She licked over his abdomen, ignoring the thick, pulsing head of his cock as his fingers tugged at her hair.

  The little bite of heat against her scalp was exquisite. Tugging and pulling, the heated caress sent flames streaking through her senses as his hips arched, the head of his cock grazing her lips.

  She let herself lick over it, drawing a rough, rumbling groan from his chest. She moved lower and stroked her tongue slowly down the shaft to the base, then to the tightly drawn sac just below the stiff flesh.

  Cullen jerked beneath her, a grating curse leaving his lips as she licked firmly. Her tongue stroked, caressed. The hot male taste of him was intoxicating. His obvious pleasure at her touch only drove her own need higher.

  Her womb spasmed as he growled her name, his voice rougher, huskier than before. Moving higher, Chelsea trailed her tongue up the violently erect shaft, feeling the blood pounding through the heavy veins. His fingers were locked in her hair, his thighs tense and steel hard.

  Just above the engorged crest of his cock, a bead of sweat trailed down his tight abdomen as it flexed in response to her touch.

  Parting her lips over his cock head, she took it in her mouth slowly. Her gaze lifted again, watched the pleasure and male hunger gleaming in his eyes.

  His gaze was locked on her mouth and the engorged crest as it disappeared inside. Sweat beaded on his neck, his hard jaw. His lips drew back in a grimace of pleasure, exposing the canines that appeared a bit longer. His eyes were darker, the jungle green color burning and wild.

  “Suck it,” he snarled, the hard, graveled demand stroking over her senses. “Damn you. I’ve dreamed of your lips wrapped around my dick.”

  The taste of his pre-cum spilling to her lips made her feel drunk on the pleasure racing through her. Her lips tightened around the crest, sucking at it firmly as he filled her mouth.

  The feel of the silky, steel-hard head of his cock throbbing furiously as she sucked at it drew a moan from her lips. Flickering her tongue over it, beneath it, she could feel her clit approaching meltdown.

  Her pussy was soaked from her need for him, her juices spilling to the sensitive folds and dampening her thighs.

  “I won’t come in your mouth,” he gritted out as the crest flexed warningly at the back of her throat. “You want to make me crazy?” His hands moved from her hair, gripped her head and pulled her up forcibly. “Ride me. Come here, baby, and fuck me until we’re both crazy.”

  She eased up his body, straddled his thighs and whimpered with anticipation as the folds of her pussy parted for the wide, blunt head.


  “That’s it, Chelsea,” he groaned, a grimace of pleasure contorting his face. “Ride my cock with that hot little pussy.”

  Sensations spasmed through her womb at the explicit demand. Erotic and filled with male pleasure, it reached inside her, increasing the sensuality of the act.

  His hands gripped her hips, guiding her as his cock began pushing inside the rippling entrance of her sex. The fiery stretch of her flesh as she impaled herself on the heavy stalk dragged a desperate cry from her lips.

  Cullen’s hand stroked from her hips to her breasts, his fingers finding her painfully sensitive nipples. He exerted just enough pressure against them to send sensation screaming over her nerve endings.

  Her hips jerked, lowered, desperate to fill herself with the hard length of his cock. Her hands flattened against his chest, whimpering cries escaping from her throat.

  She knew what she wanted, needed.

  Throwing her head back, Chelsea lifted again, taking him deeper with each downward push of her hips. Burning pleasure surged through her, stole her breath.

  Streaking fire raced from her nipples as his fingers pressed and tugged at them firmly. Those same flames tore a path to the tight depths of her pussy, the inner tissue spasming around his erection as she finally worked it in to the hilt.

  Cullen bucked beneath her, driving his hips upward as his hands moved quickly to her thighs to hold her to him. She could feel his cock throbbing inside her, stretching her, possessing her.

  Need swiftly overcame any desire to relish the sensations. Chelsea was burning from the inside out, the need for orgasm quickly stealing her control.

  And his.

  Cullen thrust upward as she lifted herself, fucking her in hard, driving thrusts. Each impalement, each stroke inside the too-sensitive channel stoked the insanity of a hunger burning through both their control.

  Moving with him, riding the brutally hard shaft, she let herself fall into the storm overtaking them.

  Her hands moved to his hard biceps, her nails biting into the tense muscles as she felt her body tightening. Her pussy rippled around each driving stroke and the world exploded around her. Her senses ruptured and her body jerked, writhed as each powerful contraction of ecstasy tore through her.

  Beneath her, Cullen drove inside her harder, buried to the hilt, growling her name, and a heartbeat later the pulse of his release and hardening length of the feline barb locking inside her pushed her higher, tossing her into a cataclysm that she knew she’d never fully recover from.

  Dawn was several hours from breaking when Cullen awoke, his body vibrating with restlessness and a renewed arousal for the woman sleeping at his side. Erect and throbbing, his cock demanded a repeat of the pleasure he’d found with Chelsea.

  She was sleeping deeply now, though, lying bonelessly on her stomach, her breathing deep and a sense of peace surrounding her. Hell, she had always had that sense of calm, of peace that filled the air around her. It was one of the reasons he’d tried to keep her in the office. She had a way of keeping the whole team on an even keel, no matter how high the frustration level rose.

  Rather than waking her, though, he quietly gathered some clothes and quickly showered. Dressing, he checked in on her again, almost grinning at the fact that she hadn’t so much as shifted her position and headed to the kitchen for coffee.

  He’d no more than stepped from his bedroom to the short hall leading to the rest of the house when he paused. There wasn’t a particular scent per se that alerted him to the intruder. It was that absence of scent that identified the Breed waiting for him. He wasn’t surprised when he stepped into the kitchen to find Graeme waiting for him; he’d actually expected his brother the night before.

  What did surprise him was the Primal he faced instead. He hadn’t seen the monster his brother could become since Graeme had mated the young woman the two of them had raised in the labs they were confined to as boys.

  The primal markings bisected Graeme’s face, like the stripes of the Bengal across bronzed flesh. Blood-tipped claws had emerged from beneath the very human fingernails, pushing past the flesh, curved and lethally sharp as they rested on the table. Wild, jade green eyes gleamed brilliantly from within the stripes, the glow of color like jade fire in the dimly lit room.

  This was the Breed that most who saw him never lived to tell the tale about. This was the insanity of a creature pushed to such preternatural rage that even nature itself had no power over him.

  “Graeme?” Cullen greeted him warily as he moved to the coffeemaker and placed two cups beneath the brewing spouts. “Everything okay?”

  He didn’t fear the monster, but neither was he foolish enough to push its unpredictable temper when he wasn’t pissed off himself.

  Graeme’s fingers flexed against the table, wickedly sharp claws digging deep indents in the wood as the battle to control the monster was reflected on his face.

  “We go hunting.” The guttural, animalistic voice had the power to send chills up the spines of those facing the rage of this creature.

  Cullen had never feared the creature, though. He watched it warily. At one time, he’d feared the destruction it could wreak on others, but he’d never feared it personally.

  “What happened?” Only Cat and any risk to her could pull the monster free now that Graeme had secured his mate.

  He would have been alerted, though, if anything had happened to Graeme’s mate or if any danger threatened her, which left Cullen a little confused as to the reason for the Primal’s visit.

  Graeme’s nails scraped the table again, a low, dangerous growl rumbling in his chest as Cullen waited for an explanation.

  Or explosion.

  Either was possible.

  “We go for Cerves,” the monster’s voice grated. “Now!”

  Surprise caused Cullen to stare at his brother more intently now as bemusement filled him.

  “This appearance”—he waved his hand toward his brother to indicate the Primal Graeme had set free—“is because of the Cerves attack?”

  That dangerous, rough growl sounded again as an enraged grimace curled at Graeme’s lips.

  “Attack?” Graeme snarled. “An ambush. Four came to take her. They would have cut you down had the other Breeds not been in the traffic behind you.” That growl sounded again, deeper, filled with greater fury. “I tolerate no attacks against those I claim. Mate. Brother.” His gaze moved to the entrance of the hall toward Cullen’s room where he’d left Chelsea sleeping. “Sister. Cerves will pay for this, as will whoever sent that Coyote to knife her.”

  Meaning Graeme intended to cut a swath of blood and death through the Cerves compound. That was just what he needed, Cullen thought caustically. To have the monster everyone believed had left the States be seen tearing drug cartel members limb from limb.

  That was the last thing the Breeds needed right now at a time when both the criminal and noncriminal elements were still fascinated with their presence.

 
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