Anna and the Tiger
Godric is a were-tiger out for revenge against the man who sold him into a world of torture. In his quest for vengeance he finds the one woman who can soothe the beast within, but she may never be his.
For years Anna and her brother have lived under the oppression of their witch father. Unable to leave or ask for help, when a Siberian were-tiger moves in across the street, Anna hopes he is the answer to her prayers. She is willing to become the tiger’s mate for a chance at freedom.
Experimented on and tortured, Godric wants revenge against the man who trapped and sold him to an unscrupulous scientist. His plan to return to Moon Rise Park and rescue the man’s children gets turned upside down when he discovers a beautiful adult woman instead.
Taking Anna as his mate would solve both their problems. Except it isn’t that easy. Thanks to the implanted device screwing with his hormones, it’s impossible for him to sense his true mate. To protect the woman he discovers he can’t live without, he is willing to believe his own lie. But the truth could destroy them both.
Anna and the Tiger
Secret Blood Book 6
Godric Petrov stood on his brother’s back porch staring out over soggy farmland. “The Council made its decision?”
He’d waited for five weeks to find out what the fate of the traitorous woman would be. Marta had once been his mother, but he could no longer give the cherished title to the woman who had betrayed him.
Tiberius curled his hands around the railing. “They executed her this morning. She was guilty of all crimes. No compulsions.”
Godric closed his eyes as he waited for some kind of emotion to hit. Without a nightwalker compelling her that meant the despicable actions of his mother had been intentional. Marta had shacked up with the man who killed his father, subjected Tiberius and his mate to unspeakable experiments, and left Godric for dead in a laboratory fire. He wanted to feel something. Anger. Sorrow. Relief. He got nothing, proving how broken he was. “How are you holding up?”
Tiberius let the railing go. “Our mother died eight years ago. That woman got what she deserved.”
“Yeah.” Godric faced his brother. “Do you want to donate the money to charity?” The Petrov family had come to America before the fall of the czars. They had old money, and with their mother deceased, Godric saw no reason to keep the funds hidden.
Tiberius folded his arms over his chest and bowed his head. “I think we should hang onto it.” He met Godric’s gaze. “For now.”
“Great. I’ll get my own place, then. When I get back.” Godric backed toward the sliding door leading into the kitchen.
Tiberius snarled. “You shouldn’t be working the op. You’re not ready for undercover work.”
The wail of an anonymous woman rattled in Godric’s head. Until he figured out how the scream connected to the image he had seen on a WatchMe video, he couldn’t let someone else take his place in the mission.
“I saw Kensington.” He’d seen the shadow of a man in the introduction for some makeup guru. Kensington was the bastard who’d sold Godric back to the scientist who’d experimented on him. The woman probably didn’t even know what kind of a monster lurked in her daily life. “I have to handle this one.”
Tiberius’ jaw tightened. “You should take Ozz with you, at least.”
Godric slid open the door and walked inside. “Let him have his honeymoon with Lily. I can take care of this on my own.” Ozz was a lucky son of a bitch who’d found his mate. Godric and Ozz were technically partners, and Ozz wanted to help Godric sort out the mess inside his head. Lily was as sweet as she was protective. Godric didn’t want to put Ozz in a position that might keep him from returning home to his mate alive.
“You can’t.” Tiberius followed him into the house. “I’ve been where you are. You’re not ready for an op this big. What happens if you freak out when those kids get in your way?”
The intel Godric had on Richard Kensington said he had two young children while living the life of a single father in the supernatural town of Moon Rise Park a couple of hours north of Dark Forest, Pennsylvania.
“You have no idea what my life has been.” He closed his eyes and turned to Tiberius. “And I don’t want you to know. This is something I need to handle on my own.”
“Goddamn it,” Tiberius yelled. “One wrong move from you and the Tribunal will put you on the execution list. I’m the only one they have who is big enough to take you down. Do not put me in that position.”
Godric growled even as his shoulders rounded. “Fine, but I’m not taking Ozz into my hell. He wants out.”
Tiberius nodded once. “The Kensington asshole, he’s a witch, right?”
Tiberius folded his arms over his chest. “Go talk to Nico, and do what he tells you. Got it?”
“Yeah, sure.” Godric left his brother standing in the kitchen as he walked through the hall, into the foyer and out the front door. He hated needing his younger brother to watch him. He’d kept himself alive and out of trouble—or mostly out of trouble—for the last eight years. Of course, he was fucked-up, but who wouldn’t be when an unscrupulous scientist cut you open to play with your insides. He shoved the thought aside and headed right for his truck. The sooner he could take out Richard Kensington, the sooner he might be able to keep the mess in his head from spilling out into the rest of his life.
* * * *
He drove straight to Nicodemus Wolcott’s house. Nico’s mate was the push behind the shifter-shelter that was supposed to help Godric pick up the broken pieces of his soul. He parked, walked to the front door, and paused while debating if he should take whatever help Nico would offer, or if he should vanish. Tiberius didn’t need Godric in his life screwing everything to hell.
The door opened before he could make up his mind. Nicodemus was huge for a werewolf. He stood four inches shorter than Godric, but Nico didn’t possess the same sheer mass as he did. There were rumors of a Kodiak shifter hiding somewhere in Nico’s bloodline to account for his size. Godric’s Siberian were-tiger heritage had him as one of the largest types of shifter on record, as well as the most elusive. Siberian were-tigers were as endangered as their wild counterparts.
“Ty called you,” Godric stated.
Nico moved to the side, allowing Godric entrance into the house. “Yeah. He says there’s a witch who needs some shifter justice.”
“Not here.” Godric leaned to the side. Samantha, Nico’s mate, perched on a chair with a laptop.
Nico glanced over his shoulder, and then back at Godric. “This way.”
He led Godric through the pink, feminine home. A tiny old lady had lived here before passing on. Samantha hadn’t redecorated yet. He walked past the doily covered buffet cabinet in the dining room and followed Nico into a dark, wood-paneled den. Nico closed the door and indicated for Godric to sit.
“No thanks. I like to pace.”
Nico let out a wolf huff and then hitched a hip on his desk. “There’s nothing to indicate Richard Kensington is anything other than a single father struggling to raise his kids. Want to tell me why you think he needs to die?”
This was the exact reason Godric didn’t want to do this Tiberius’ way. There was too much red tape when anyone official got in the way, and Godric didn’t want to be a goddamned agent for the Shifter Tribunal anyway. He did not want to make his living by killing tortured bastards. “He sold shifters to Eckhart.”
Nico lifted a brow. “And your proof?”
“I was one of them,” Godric said through his teeth. His memories of exactly what had happened in Moon Rise Park were fuzzy, but he knew Richard—his tiger remembered that asshole. “I thought I could hide for a while in Moon Rise Park, and the bastard sold me back to Eckhart.”
“Okay,” Nico said too calmly.
“Okay? Just okay?” Godric tried deep breaths, but his temper was determined to get the better of him today.
Nico removed a black cord from around his neck with a translucent stone hanging on it. He handed the necklace to Godric. “You’re going to need this.”
Godric stared at the stone resting on his fingers. “What’s this?”
“The Witch Stone. It will prevent Kensington from using magic on you.”
Godric gave Nico a sharp look. “I don’t understand.”
Nico moved to the door. “Follow me.”
Godric clenched his jaw but followed Nico into the kitchen where the group of three men and one woman who made up Tiberius’ usual team sat around the table. Chad Deveraux, a wily, tawny-colored cougar shifter with steel eyes, had his notebook and pens out. Senica, a witch with long, dark hair and pale blue eyes, buffed her nails on a black corset as if she was bored. Dex, another werewolf, with a spiky military cut and a knack for hacking, sat next to the witch. Demetri was the last member of the team and a nightwalker. This man had lived for centuries and his kind were the basis for all the hot vampire fiction out there.
Godric’s lip curled. “What are they doing here?”
“Helping you plan your exit strategy from the Tribunal.” Nico took the Witch Stone out of Godric’s hand and hung the cord around his neck. “You don’t have the right temperament to be an agent. With Eckhart dead, I figured your one last hang-up is this Kensington asshole. I brought in shifters from the Ridge Line pack to help out here while you make use of Ty’s team.”
He wanted to kill Kensington, but he also didn’t. Before his father had been betrayed by Marta, before Godric had to do unspeakable things to keep himself alive, before everything, he’d been a gentle giant. Now he was a killer hunting more blood to drown the demons inside his head. There would always be one more kill he’d need to make before he thought he could be better.
Kensington had kids.
Godric hardened his resolve. He’d take his revenge in blood. His hell was going to end. One way or another.
“Are they done?”
Anna glanced over her shoulder at her brother in annoyance before putting the finishing touches on the cupcakes she had baked for the new neighbor. “Almost. We’re not even sure it’s him.”
Dean flopped his long, gangly body down in a chair at the maple wood kitchen table. He dragged his hand through sable, shaggy locks. His striking blue eyes locked on her. “We cast the spell two weeks ago. He has to be the guy who’s going to help us get out of hell.”
Two weeks of collecting the ingredients needed to perform the spell she’d found in an old grimoire her father accidently left on the coffee table. Another four weeks passed while she waited for the right moon phase without her father at home to stop her. She didn’t think results would happen this quickly, but she prayed her luck had finally changed. She was willing to do more than bake cupcakes for anyone who could help her break the different binding spells trapping her and Dean in this house, in this town, with her abusive father. At twenty-four years old, she did not want to still be living under his roof. They couldn’t utter a word to anyone but each other and bad things happened when she ventured too far away from home.
She pulled down a plastic cupcake container. Her father wanted her to be Martha Stewart when he wasn’t using her to heal dying shifters. This house, and caring for Dean, was her life. She had to be that woman, the one who had the immaculate house, and did all the neat fancy things women wished they had time to do. Anna didn’t have the choice.
Dean stepped in next to her. “The spell worked. You’ll see.”
“Yeah,” Anna said softly. “But what if he’s not the guy who will help us?”
“He is,” Dean insisted. “You’ll see. And he’s pretty big, too.”
Anna wasn’t sure how the man’s size meant anything, other than he was probably a shifter. Which made her nervous. Shifters had a tendency to go missing in this town when they crossed Richard Kensington. “And when he goes missing, that will be our fault.”
Dean crowded her out of the way. “Go put on something sexy. I’ll finish with the cupcakes.”
She ground her teeth together. “You’re too young to say things like that.”
Dean placed two cupcakes into the container. “I’m fourteen. Now go. We have no idea how long that guy’s going to be home, and I really want you to introduce yourself to him today.”
Great. She’d had sex before with a shifter in the hopes the man could help her. Once again, she had to get sexy for a man she didn’t know. She hadn’t been the one to see the man move in across the street last night because she’d been healing another ill-fated shifter. While she didn’t know for sure what happened to them when she was done, she could only guess at what her father was capable of doing. “Can you describe him?”
“Big,” Dean said as he focused on his task. “Now go change. Richard is going to be home in an hour, and you need to be back before he gets here.”
Anna made a face and left Dean to finish with the cupcakes. She walked through the immaculate home. She cleaned and scrubbed and cooked and cleaned some more from the time she woke in the morning until the time she went to bed. Hell, she was a housewife without the benefit of a loving husband, or a husband at all. Not that Richard would let marriage happen either…unless the man was of his choosing. The last date her father arranged for her had turned out to be a dirtbag. She was still surprised Richard allowed her to break things off with Allen.
She shook herself out of her funk and jogged up the stairs to her room. The new guy across the street had to be the one her spell had called to help her break free of Richard. But he couldn’t only rescue her. She and Dean were a package deal, and if that man out there was a shifter, that could only mean one thing.
She was the man’s mate. All the rules of mating to a shifter were embedded in her brain because the high school she graduated from had been one who understood the magical side of life. There had been classes to help students understand the differences between the different types of fae. She didn’t have to mate to the shifter who said she was his mate, but they protected people they considered theirs. If the man was a shifter, then she needed to be his mate. This was her ticket out of hell.
Anna swallowed hard as she opened her closet to get a cute summer dress. She chose one in a soft pink that fitted to her trim, but curvy figure. She stared into the mirror on her vanity and hoped she was pretty enough to tempt whoever and whatever that man out there was. Maybe her unusual blue-green eyes would entice the stranger.
After changing, she spent a few more minutes in front of her vanity to pull her waist-length, honey-brown hair back in a headband and freshened her makeup. When she was ready, she headed back to the kitchen. “You’re sure he’s home?”
Dean handed her the plastic cupcake container. “Yeah. His truck is in the driveway.”
Anna accepted the cupcakes and drew in a deep breath. “Here goes.”
Dean walked with her to the front door and opened it for her. She gave him a tight smile and then hurried down the concrete path, checked for traffic, and crossed the street. She hesitated before heading up the flagstone path to the man’s house. She paused by the door before knocking ever so lightly.
A minute went by and no one came to the door. A familiar presence flooded her senses, empowering her. Anna shook off the odd sensation before she tried again, only harder this time.
“Can I help you?” said a deep, gravelly masculine voice from behind her.
Anna turned around and nearly dropped the cupcakes. The man was gigantic. He easily dwarfed her five-and-half-foot frame. He had to be near seven feet in height, and his shoulders…hot damn, those shoulders were as massive as a Mac Truck. And his chest and his abs…Anna’s mouth dropped open. Holy hell, the man was a god. Dark auburn hair with black highlights fell to his shoulders. White touched each of his temples. Whiskey-golden eyes she’d seen in a dream stared at her. There was no other way to describe the sheer power and beauty of him. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. Sure, it was a hot day, but damn, didn’t he understand she would turn into a slobbering idiot just looking at him? An odd sense of déjà vu struck. If she had to bet money, she’d say she’d met this man before, but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember when or where.
She thrust the container at him. “I made you these. Welcome to the neighborhood.” She scurried down the sidewalk to get home as quickly as possible.
“Hey, wait.” His voice melted bone and sounded so oddly familiar.
She froze midstride and then turned, offering a smile. “I have to go before I decide to climb you.”
A friendly smile turned the corners of his sinful mouth. “I’m Godric. You are?”
“Anna.” She winced as she tried to remember the rest of her name. The man made her dumb. “Kensington. I’m Anna Kensington.”
His relaxed expression hardened and he scowled. “I see. Thanks for the food.”
She bit her lip, and then opened her mouth. He had to be a shifter. It was the only reason she could think of why he’d hate her after hearing her surname.
“No problem. You can keep the container.” She fisted her hands. No matter how hard she tried to tell someone her father was an abusive tyrant, the words never came out.
“I’ll return it.” His hard expression softened. “Where do you live?”
“Across the street,” she said too quickly.
Godric glanced at the house and then his stance relaxed. “Is that your brother peeking at us out of the window?”
Anna let out a slow breath. “Yeah. His name is Dean. He’s only fourteen, but thinks he’s going on forty. His biggest dream is to be a demon hunter like Dean Winchester on Supernatural.”
Godric chuckled and that easiness about him returned. “What about you? How old are you?”
Her brow furrowed. What an odd question from a man she’d just met. “Twenty-four. I’m an aspiring housewife.” The last part came out bitterly.
His jaw set. “Anna, are you in trouble?”
She opened her mouth to say yes, she was and he needed to save her and Dean, but she got stabbing pains in her forehead. She pressed her fingers against her temples to help relieve some of the pain. She was going to get this out if it killed her.
“I-I—damn it.” She let the thought go of telling someone she needed help getting out of hell and the pain went away. “I’m sorry.” She turned and bolted for home. She didn’t stop running until the front door was closed and locked behind her. She turned and peeked out the window. Godric stood at the edge of the pathway leading to the house. His body seemed tense and his nose worked as if he was scenting. He shook his head and turned before walking back to his yard.
A white shirt hung out of his back pocket. He turned to glare at her house one more time before he vanished inside.
Anna slumped against the door.
“Well?” came Dean’s expectant tone from the kitchen door. “Is he going to help us?”
“I wasn’t able to tell him,” she whispered. Just one person. If she could tell one person, the High Council would be called and there would be an investigation. This would all end in seconds if she could figure out how to break the Hush spell her father cast on her and Dean.
Dean came forward and put a hand on her shoulder. “He’s here now. We’ll figure it out. The guy has to have at least a month lease on that house.”
Anna gave a halfhearted smile. “I think he’d help, if I could tell him.”
Dean nudged her arm. “That’s most of the battle right there.”
Anna moved away from the door. “Yeah. Go get your homework. I’ll help you with it while I make dinner.” She peeked out the window one more time to see Godric looking at her from the picture window of his house. He inclined his head when their gazes met.
* * * *
Twenty-four? Anna was twenty-four-fucking-years-old. Godric paced the foyer. Dex was supposed to have given him accurate information. He should be dealing with a couple of kids, not some magma-hot witch he wanted to rub his…He shook the thought out of his head. He did not need any thought of sex in his head when it came to Richard Kensington’s daughter. But her eyes…and her voice…she was a remembered dream. Soft skin. Passion…
He stalked into the kitchen. After dropping the cupcake container on the counter, he popped open the lid. He sampled the frosting as he dialed Dex. “She’s a sexy as hell adult,” he snapped into the phone the second Dex answered.
“I told you the ages could be off,” Dex replied. “Does that change the plan?”
Godric ate one full cupcake while he thought about the answer. Everything had changed. He could get the Witch Council to place two children in his protection, but with Anna as an adult, they would let her choose what she wanted. As Dean’s next of kin, she’d be able to decide for him as well. He needed to make sure she wanted him as her protector until this whole mess with Kensington and Jenson Pharmaceuticals—the company responsible for the experiments on shifters—was cleaned up.
He had planned it so carefully. Those kids were supposed to be his ticket out of the Tribunal. He couldn’t work ops if he were responsible for the lives of minors. Taking Richard’s children from him was the best revenge Godric could extract, and pulled those children out of hell at the same time. It left him with one other card to play and he hoped like hell Anna was damaged enough to fall for it. “Don’t worry about it. I can handle the changes on my end.” He plucked another cupcake from the container. They were damn good. “I think Kensington might have her under some kind of spell. I asked if she was in trouble, and it seemed as if she wanted to tell me, but then she got all weird and ran away.”
“Okay,” Dex said. “I’ll have Senica work on what it could be. How you holding up?”
Godric snorted. “Peachy.”
Dex let out a long sigh. “Is there anything else you need?”
Godric put the top back on the cupcake container. “Yeah, give me accurate information about her schedule. She and I need to have a lot of chance meetings in public.”
He disconnected the call and stalked into the living room. The house was full of empty boxes. He wasn’t supposed to stay here. For as much as he didn’t need the Tribunal, he did need his brother. He dragged a hand through his hair. Fuck. He would have to give the appearance a well-adjusted man lived here. The last time he could have been considered anything close to stable was eight years ago.
He dropped onto a bag chair and opened Chad’s laptop. He needed one of everything. He’d never cared his father left him a millionaire before—and that was after Tiberius got his half of the Petrov fortune—but now it was going to make this farce of a life happen for him.
After ordering every conceivable piece of furniture and appliance he thought a house might need with next day shipping, he closed Chad’s laptop and headed outside. His front yard was going to be the best one in the neighborhood. He went to the garage and retrieved the mower. Neither Anna, nor her brother, would be harmed by their bastard father again, but to prevent it, he needed to keep an eye on their place. His cover was a man obsessed with lawn care.
No sooner was he in the front yard than another woman showed up carrying baked goods. Her breasts nearly fell out of her top. She offered a dish of brownies. “You’re a big fella. Are you some kind of shifter?”
Godric took the pan and glanced at the house across the street. “Yeah.”
“I’m Lauran Hayes. I live two doors down. What brought you to Moon Rise Park?”
He flicked a glance at the woman, but his attention turned back to Anna’s house. “Work.”
“You don’t talk very much, do you?” The woman put out her hand. “You got a name?”
“No,” he said curtly. “I’m not interested, but thanks for the food.”
The woman narrowed her gaze as she let her hand drop to her side. “You’re not going to get far with the Kensington girl.”
Godric cocked his head. “Why do you say that?”
Lauran turned her gaze to the house. “Her father is real protective of her. The girl’s had a few boyfriends. All but the last one went missing, even the one she secretly dated a couple months ago. All those men have been shifters.”
He suppressed the urge to growl. “Do you think she’s responsible for their disappearances?”
Lauran laughed. “Anna? No. That girl couldn’t fight her way out of a paper bag if it was wet. Richard, on the other hand, he’s gone a little dark since his wife committed suicide a year after Dean was born. I wouldn’t put it past him to do something regrettable if he thought he was protecting Anna. She’s such a timid little thing.”
Godric offered Lauran an easy grin. “I don’t scare easily, and dating a shifter isn’t the same as mating to one.”
Lauran’s eyes widened a bit and then her gaze dragged over him from toe to head before she shrugged. “Have fun mating, just be careful. You’re too pretty to look at for something bad to happen to you.” She tipped her head toward her house. “Bring the pan back when you’re finished with it.” She paused. “And you might want to start marking down which container belongs to which house. You’re gonna get a lot of curious women welcoming you today.”
Godric glanced down the street. Sure enough, there was another woman in a skimpy outfit walking toward his rented house. Goddamn it. He was going to have to put on his shirt to keep them from pawing at him. He didn’t want to have to spend the afternoon warding off overly curious females wanting to have sex with the new shifter in town.
The magic is in their DNA.
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