Wake a sleeping tiger, p.9
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       Wake A Sleeping Tiger, p.9
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         Part #22 of Breeds series by Lora Leigh

  his brother, Operations Commander of the Western Division, had been on her doorstep. From there, the operation had become her baby.

  She didn’t appreciate Cullen’s desire to take it away from her.

  “I’m waiting on that answer.” His voice rumbled with demand. “Why didn’t you come to me if you suspected the Genetics Council was up to something?”

  She shrugged with a tight, tension-filled movement. “I didn’t suspect crap, Cullen. A close friend of mine, a contact I’ve used when working with the Underground, contacted me. He overheard a Coyote and one of the other guides discussing the Genetics Council sending a team into the area to abduct a high-profile Breed target as well as placing double agents within the Breed community being established here. I took that information to the Bureau, and Director Breaker gave me lead on the operation. That Coyote and guide disappeared before enforcers could get to them, but we still have a chance to save their target.”

  His eyes narrowed on her, brooding and not in the least pleased. “How did you verify this information?” he demanded, suspicion flickering in his gaze. “For all you know it could just be some story your contact concocted for you. You know exactly how unreliable information like that can be.”

  She shook her head, incredulity filling her now. “I’m sure that’s what you want me to believe, Cullen.” She scoffed at the accusation. “This wasn’t some carefully designed fairy tale, I promise you that. Within days the Bureau had taps on several known Council associates, and the information was verified and reverified before we ever finalized the parameters of the operation. We’ve been trying to identify the Council Breeds and the target the team is coming after. The targeted window of the attempt is within two to four weeks. And we’re getting closer, I can feel it.”

  The phone taps as well as the listening devices she and Ashley managed to place in areas where suspected Council associates were talking in those clubs had brought in several clues. Nothing concrete, nothing they could act on. It was more questions than answers, but they knew they were on the right track.

  “And the attack against you last week?” he bit out then, anger brewing in his eyes. “Did you consider that your status on this operation has been compromised? Or worse, they identified you as Louisa Cerves’s rescuer?” Frustrated outrage filled his tone. “For God’s sake, Chelsea, you should have never taken this assignment after you snatched that child from those Coyotes. You needed to stay low for just a little while.”

  She’d considered that the operation might have been compromised. She, Ashley and Cassie had actually discussed it several times. It wasn’t possible, though. She knew she hadn’t given herself away and neither had anyone she was working with.

  As for being identified by Louisa’s rescuer, that one she didn’t worry about as much. Had it happened, Samara Cerves would have already had her executed, no doubt.

  “Only the director, the operations commander, Ashley, Cassie, Draeger and Tobias are aware that it’s even an operation. And I trust them as well as you trust Ranger. That attack had nothing to do with the operation, and it definitely doesn’t have anything to do with Louisa,” she argued calmly, refusing to let her rage and anger over that baby free.

  She wasn’t going to let herself become angry, and she damned sure wasn’t going to let him draw her into another of those fights where she was made to feel that every word she said only made her appear weaker.

  “Then why attack you?” Skepticism filled his voice and his expression. “Why else would a Council Coyote attack you? Your cover had to have been blown one way or the other. There’s no other reason to come after you with a blade.”

  Her lips thinned at the certainty in his voice. Of course he believed every word that passed his lips. And once he decided he knew the answer, there was no convincing him otherwise without proof in black and white, or in blood.

  His lack of faith in her abilities was enough to completely piss her off, even on a good day.

  “Raymond Martinez was my uncle,” she reminded him caustically. “He was working for the Genetics Council since he was a young man, remember, Cullen? My whole family became targets once they knew we learned what he had been doing and unveiled many of his contacts. He put a price on our heads himself when we helped the Breeds gather that evidence. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and one of them realized who I was. That simple.”

  He didn’t know whether to turn her over his knee and paddle her ass or throw her over his shoulder, cart her to the bedroom and fuck her until neither of them could move. The terrifying part was the fact that both options were working in his head at this point.

  She had herself convinced of the bullshit that fell from her lips. And it was bullshit. He knew it. The minute the words tumbled out, his newly awakening instincts reared up in furious denial.

  “Nothing is ever that damned simple with the Genetics Council,” he barked out, pointing a finger in her direction as he fought back the need to do a little abducting himself and locking her away for her own safety. Not to mention his sanity. “And the Breeds they control do not just attack because they deem the opportunity appropriate. It’s carefully planned and the target quickly executed. And the Council didn’t give a damn about Ray Martinez after his association with them was revealed.”

  Neither the Genetics Council nor their trainers, soldiers or fanatical Breeds operated that way. If they did, then it would have been far easier to bring the entire organization down a decade ago. Hell, Callan Lyons would have destroyed the twelve members controlling the Council himself rather than being forced to reveal the existence of the Breeds if it were that easy.

  Chelsea was so damned stubborn she refused to see that.

  “My status hasn’t been compromised, nor has my identity as the person who rescued Louisa Cerves been revealed,” she repeated, determination straightening her spine even as he glared at her. “It’s not possible, Cullen. And if it had been, there would have been some warning, no matter how slight, before that attack.”

  His lips thinned as he fought back a curse. Stalking from the doorway to the back door, he stared out at the night for a moment to consider his options.

  “Who’s your contact?” he asked, turning back to her and crossing his arms over his chest as he stared at her, determined to get the answer.

  He’d follow up on this himself, find out what the hell was going on and make certain she wasn’t endangered.

  For a moment, her eyes simply widened, shocked anger filling her gaze just before she laughed mockingly and propped her hands on her hips, anger flushing her face.

  “Really, Cullen? You think I’m that naive where you’re concerned? I know you far too well for that,” she assured him.

  She shook her head before pushing her fingers through her hair, gripping the strands at the back of her neck for a moment, then letting her hands fall to the back of a kitchen chair as she moved to it.

  Cullen watched her silently, gauging her determination. It didn’t take him long to realize she was stubborn enough to refuse him the answers he needed at the moment.

  “You know,” she finally said, her voice trembling with the hurt and anger he could scent filling the room. “I really appreciate the concern and the need to protect me,” she offered, her tone sincere. “But I left the Agency for a reason. You take this from me and I’ll make damned sure you never do it again.”

  His brow lifted in surprise. “And you’ll do that how?”

  He’d be damned if he’d allow her to continue risking herself this way.

  “I’ll leave the Nation if you do what I think you’re getting ready to do.” Her shoulders squared, her eyes narrowing on him warningly. “You have no influence with the Breed Underground on the East or West Coast, and I’m sure I’d have no problem whatsoever working in a covert capacity with them. Do this, and that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

  The Breed Underground in either area would be ecstatic if they acquired her. And he’d go crazy worrying about
her, imagining her hurt, without help.

  And she wasn’t bluffing. His sense of smell was sharper, his instincts stronger tonight than they’d ever been. If she were bluffing, he would have known it the second the words passed her lips. Pure determination filled her voice instead. And he knew just how stubborn she could get.

  “Chelsea,” he sighed, fighting to find a way to try to make her understand. “We’re the same as family—”

  “The hell we are,” she snapped out, her anger exploding through the room now, intensifying with a force he couldn’t have expected. “Number one.” She ticked off a single, graceful finger. “We so are not related, no matter how many distant cousins you marry. Number two.” She ticked off another finger. “My family members do not shove their tongues halfway down my throat every chance they get. You can take those arguments and kiss my ass, Cullen Maverick, because there’s not a chance in hell I’m letting you direct my life for me. Not now, not ever.” Disgust filled her expression. “You can leave now. Right now. Because I’ll be damned if I’m not finished with you and this argument.”

  She was what?

  Something snapped through his senses. She was finished with him and their argument? The hell she said. Incredulity flared through him. Never in all the years they’d worked together had she attempted to blow him off or turned her back on him during one of their confrontations. And he wasn’t about to let her get away with it now.

  The careful control exploded. Suddenly, his sense of smell was magnified tenfold, and it wasn’t just anger he could scent pouring from the woman determined to drive him past insanity.

  Beneath the feminine fury and emotional distress was the sweet, hot scent of female challenge and arousal. Strong and determined, she’d found a way to push past the guards in place that had kept the animal sleeping inside him and awakened him with a vengeance.

  The dark dominance Cullen had always kept carefully in control had been strained where she was concerned for years, with each confrontation they had. The few times she had actually challenged him, it had jerked at the leash he kept around it and had threatened to come to full consciousness. And now it awakened with a vengeance. The animal, already pacing restlessly, leapt past his control now, determined to meet her challenge and to show her the consequences of making it.

  He’d be damned if she would face this danger alone. It was bad enough that she’d already deliberately courted it, but if she thought she could push him away from her now, order him from her, then by God, he was about to show her the error of her ways.

  CHAPTER 8

  From Graeme’s Journal

  Recessed Primal Genetics and Mating Heat

  The recessed Primal Breed in Mating Heat is like an animal with a thorn stuck in his paw. And he’ll bite the head off anyone daring to attempt to remove the object of his pain—

  Cullen had always wondered how an active Breed felt, having both animal and human genetics merged inside them and working as one. There were times he’d actually imagined living with all his instincts intact.

  This feeling was like nothing he’d ever imagined, though.

  One arm went around Chelsea’s waist as she dared to turn her back on him. As though he were of no consequence. As though he weren’t man enough, Breed enough, to pull her anger into submission with his touch.

  She was waiting for him.

  As though the anger and pride burning in her spilled into the arousal simmering just beneath the surface, she didn’t fight him. The scent of her hunger speared through his senses instead, igniting what was already a combustible need burning through him.

  She was already reaching for him as his lips ground over hers, parted them, and his tongue thrust into the sweet depths he found there. The taste of her kiss was hotter, sweeter than he remembered, burning through him like a flame. As her arms went around his neck, Cullen pulled her closer, reveling in the way her body arched to him, in the low feminine groan of hunger and pleasure that filled the air around him.

  He’d dreamed of that sound while he’d been away. Ached for it. Ached for her.

  The taste of her, the feel of her in his arms, against his body, made him more desperate, wilder to take her.

  Beneath his jeans his already engorged cock swelled thicker, harder, his balls aching with the need for release. The need to fuck her, to bury inside her balls deep was a fever searing his senses.

  Never had he needed a woman with the desperation he needed this one. And the knowledge that his hunger for her had only been growing over the past four years fed that need.

  God knew he’d tried to stay away from her, to ensure she was protected, even from him. Especially from this wild, unbidden hunger he’d always fought to control. A hunger he had no idea if he could control once he loosed it.

  And now it was loose.

  Pushing one hand beneath the hem of her shirt, he let his fingers trail over the soft flesh of her side until they reached the full curve of her breast. Beneath the lace of her bra, her nipple was peaked, pebble hard and tempting.

  Stroking his thumb over her nipple, Cullen growled as a shudder worked through her and the scent of her need intensified. Wild, all female, demanding and hot, that scent spurred his own hunger, his lust. And he knew he was hooked on that scent now, addicted and uncaring of the implications.

  With each touch, that subtle sweet-and-spice scent went to his head and made his mouth water for a taste of her. She’d be hot and wet, silky and syrupy sweet against his tongue. And waiting any longer for the taste of her was a hell he didn’t want to visit.

  Lifting her against him, Callan meant to carry her to the bedroom, to her bed. He had every intention of laying her down and at least trying to take her slow and easy. Then her legs lifted, her thighs gripping his hips, pelvis tilting forward until she was riding the ridge of his cock with little stroking motions that threatened to take him to his knees.

  Making it to the bedroom just wasn’t going to happen.

  He made it as far as the couch, where he laid her back against the cushions before stripping the T-shirt and bra from her and tossing it to the floor. And he thought he’d explode. The sight of her breasts arching to him, nipples hard and reddened, her expression dazed with pleasure, was killing him. God, she was beautiful.

  Hunger glowed in her dark eyes, flushed her face and had her breasts rising and falling in quick little motions as she fought to breathe.

  When her tongue licked over her lips and her gaze met his, he couldn’t resist another taste of those lips. A deep, drugging taste that had his senses spinning with the intoxicating sensations tearing through him.

  Awakening Breed instincts were kicking through him with a vengeance now, and every damned one of those instincts was screaming at him to take her. Take her hard and deep, until all she knew was his touch, his hunger.

  As each kiss deepened he palmed her breasts, shaped them, let his fingers pluck at her tight nipples as each little feminine moan pulled him deeper into the hunger tormenting him.

  She met each kiss with demands of her own as well, then slid her hands between their bodies, her delicate fingers working desperately at the buttons of his shirt until each one was released and she was spreading the edges apart.

  Her nails raked over his chest. He could swear he felt the caress through the fine hairs beneath her hands arrowing straight to his balls. The tiny, almost invisible hairs along his skin felt as sensitive as his flesh. Each touch sent pleasure racing through him like flames burning a path through his senses.

  Trailing kisses from her lips to her neck, Cullen raked the sensitive skin there with his teeth, licked it, loved the taste of her. He couldn’t get enough of her. With each kiss, each taste, his hunger for her only grew.

  Chelsea wasn’t a virgin. She had known sensuality and pleasure at a man’s hands before. She might have only had a few lovers, but those lovers had been considerate and experienced. She hadn’t left their beds feeling cheated. But she knew that if there was ever another man after
Cullen, she wouldn’t feel that way ever again.

  His kisses were potent. With each drugging caress of his lips over hers, his tongue plunging forcibly into her mouth, the sexual intensity moving through her only became stronger.

  The taste of his kiss kept her reaching for more. A mix of heated male with a hint of cinnamon. Just enough that she began craving the taste of it, desperate for more when his lips moved from hers to stroke down her neck.

  She stilled as his teeth raked over her throbbing pulse, shocked by the sensitivity of her flesh as he drew at it lightly before giving the area a firm little nip.

  Flames arced along her nerve endings as pleasure exploded through her senses. Clenching her fingers against his chest, Chelsea turned her head, baring more of her flesh for his lips, teeth and tongue to raze.

  Her senses were dazed, drugged as each rake of his teeth and stroke of his tongue burned against her flesh, made her desperate for more.

  Moving her hands from his chest, she pushed them to his back beneath the material of his shirt. She raked her nails over his tough flesh, arching against him until her nipples pressed into his chest.

  The sensitive points rioted with pleasure. Electric trails of sensation tore from the tender tips, joined with those caused by his lips at her throat before racing to the swollen bud of her clit. Damp heat spilled from her aching sex, slick, sensitizing her further.

  Chelsea felt feverish, desperate. She’d never known a touch like Cullen’s or her response to it. As though her body had been waiting for his touch, anticipating it, and now every synapse it possessed was coming alive for it.

  This need wasn’t normal, it couldn’t be normal. Sexual hunger clawed at her pussy, pulsed through it and had her clit so swollen and painfully sensitive she couldn’t help but whimper. Her juices spilled along her sex, slickening the folds between her thighs, preparing her for him.

  She clutched at him as his lips came down on hers once again, his kiss holding her captive as he worked the band of her cotton pants over her hips before stripping them down her legs along with her lacy panties.

  “Cullen . . .” she cried out as his lips jerked back from hers, stealing the subtle flavor of cinnamon spice she’d found there. “What are you doing to me?”

  Her hips arched as she shuddered in reaction to his callused fingers sliding through her swollen slit.

  “Oh God, Cullen—”

  His thumb found her clit, raked over it, caressing it with devastating results.

  “It’s okay, baby, I have you,” he whispered, his lips moving along her jaw, trailing along her neck and burning a path to her breasts as his hands stroked and caressed her with burning heat. A blaze she couldn’t combat, one that couldn’t be fought back.

  The need for him was so out of control, so desperate she wanted only one thing.

  “Please, Cullen, now,” she moaned, arching against him as his tongue stroked over one painfully erect nipple, then another.

  His fingers stroked, played, teased the saturated folds of her pussy.

  “Soon.” The growl in his voice was deeper, more arousing than ever. “Let me touch you first, sweetheart, taste you.”

  His lips settled over a nipple then, sucked it into his mouth, rasped it with his tongue until she was writhing beneath him and only barely aware that he was stripping his own clothes from his body.

  Chelsea was shaking with the driving need to be taken, to feel him moving inside her, hard and hot. Her hands moved from his shoulders to his hair, tangling in the rough strands, her nails pricking his scalp as she tried to pull his mouth closer, convince him to suck at her nipple harder.

  Instead, he released the peak, licked over it a final time. Looking up at her, his gaze hooded and heavy with lust, he began kissing down the middle of her stomach in a burning path to the aching flesh between her thighs.

  She had never known such pleasure. She’d never burned like this, never felt this need raging through her with such painful intensity. And when he breathed over the sensitive bud of her clit, that need became a wildfire racing out of control.

  As he stretched out between her thighs, one hand tucking beneath her to lift her leg, resting it over the back of the couch, his lips lowered, his tongue stroking through the quivering folds of her pussy with devastating results.

  Pressing her thighs farther apart, he worked his tongue through the folds with a rough, growling sound of pleasure.

  “Fuck, you taste sweet,” he groaned. “Sweet and hot, burning through me like a flame.”

  She strained against him, whimpering as he rimmed the entrance to her vagina, his tongue flickering over it, pushing her higher.

  Fighting to breathe, gasping with each sensation, Chelsea strained against him, desperate now for orgasm.

  His tongue tormented, teased, pushed her into a storm of sensations where pleasure was but a paltry word for the exquisitely painful bliss raging through her. Waves of it tore through her, shuddering through her body as she cried out for him again.

  His lips returned to her clit as one hand moved between her thighs, his fingers finding the entrance of her pussy where he stroked her, his finger dipping in marginally, then pulling back to stroke again.

  “Cullen . . . Please . . .” The gasp was involuntary as her head twisted against the cushions, her fingers fisting in the edge of the one beneath her.

  Spasms were rippling through the tender inner flesh as her womb clenched with the need for release. Then another finger joined the first, a pinching, heated pressure as he worked both inside her. Her hips jerked up, slick moisture spilling to meet his fingers as his tongue flickered over and around her tormented clit.

  She couldn’t stand it. He was killing her. The pleasure was so extreme, so intense it was overwhelming.

  The sensations tearing through her came in rolling, blistering waves, building steadily, racing through her with each thrust of his fingers as they pushed steadily deeper inside her; she wasn’t certain she’d survive it.

  The last wave exploded in an orgasm that powered through her senses with such force she tried to scream his name. It tore through her body as she thrashed against it, crying out at the pure pleasure.

  Violent tremors jerked through her body, the devastating release unlike any she’d had before. And still, it wasn’t enough. She needed more, burned for more.

  “Look at me, Chelsea.” The demand didn’t make sense at first. “Look at me. Now.”

  She forced her eyes open, staring up into the brilliance of his gaze as he knelt before her, the thick, heavy stalk of his cock gripped in one hand.

  “What have you done to me?” she gasped, her breathing shallow, her pussy rippling with the demand to be taken. “What have you done, Cullen?”

  “What have you done to me?” he groaned.

  Coming over her, he tucked the wide crest of his erection between the swollen folds, a heavy grimace of pleasure tightening his expression. His eyes were brighter, his face sweat dampened. A single bead of perspiration trailed down his hard jaw, drawing her gaze for a second.

  Just a second.

  Her eyes jerked back to his as he began working his cock inside her, stretching her, burning her. Her head tossed, her hands jerking to his arms, desperately needing something to hold on to as brutal, fiery pleasure began pouring through her.

  Her knees bent, lifting to grip his hips as her nails bit into his biceps, her eyes staring up at him in dazed, agonizing pleasure.

  “Don’t—” A groan whispered past her lips. “Oh God, don’t play with—” A sob shuddered through her. “Don’t play with me— Take me now . . . Now . . .”

  His hands clenched at her hips then, a snarl pulling at his lips as he drew back, his muscles bunching just
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