When I decided to participate in the Cat Shifters PAX, Purrrrfect Tales. I decided it would be fun if one of the characters had no idea he was a shifter at all. Then I decided the second character’s job would be to find unwitting shifters and inform them of their, uh, shifterhood. On top of that, what if the unknowing shifter was actually shifter royalty?
It turned out to be great fun to write and I hope you enjoy it.
Tiger-shifter Grio has one job, locating dormant tiger-shifters and introducing them to the world of Saffron Tigers. When he finds Professor Phoenix Lamoure, he soon discovers that Headquarters got a couple of key points wrong—Phoenix isn’t actually a professor, but he is Saffron Tiger royalty, a member of the lost royal line.
Phoenix didn’t have things easy growing up. His mother spent most of her life in a mental institution, and he spent his formative years in foster care. When a stranger approaches and tries to unearth his family history, Phoenix becomes wary. And when the stranger actually kidnaps him, all bets are off!
Can Phoenix ever believe what Grio has to tell him? Or will he be forever convinced that he’s as crazy as his mother?
There’s an excerpt over on the purchase page, but here’s a different one:
“Did she tell you that you were special?” Grio asked.
“She was my mom.” Phoenix kept walking.
Grio matched Phoenix’s pace easily. “Did she tell you that you had royal blood?”
Phoenix stopped, stared at him. “Go away. Go away and leave me alone.”
“I can’t. This is too important.” He willed the man to listen to him, to take the chance.
“I’m not interested in drama. I just… I’ve got a good position here.”
“This isn’t drama. It’s about destiny. It’s about the survival of a species.” Most of the tiger’s he’d informed in the past were intrigued at this point, or at least interested enough to want to hear him out.
“I’m going for a coffee, excuse me.” Phoenix’s back was stiff, his whole body shouting mistrust and worry.
Fuck it. They were approaching his SUV. Grio put his hand in his pocket, unlocking the doors with the fob. Then, as they passed the car, he opened the door and bundled Phoenix right in, locking the door with his fob immediately.
The SUV was soundproofed, so he didn’t hear a thing as he walked around to the driver’s side. Windows were tinted, too, so passersby weren’t going to realize he’d essentially just kidnapped Phoenix. Heh. Not essentially—he had kidnapped the man.
After unlocking just the driver’s door, he slipped into the SUV. Phoenix jumped at him, attacking him immediately, screaming. He had height and weight on the man, though, and he grabbed Phoenix’s hands, holding them tightly.
“I’m sorry, but I need your attention.” He stayed calm, talked softly.
“Let me go!”
“I can’t do that.” He looked into the beautiful golden eyes, calling to the tiger inside Phoenix. The beast inside the man would recognize his beast as kin, as an ally. If it wasn’t buried too deep.
The golden eyes flared, a fire starting deep inside. Grio growled softly, deep in his throat.
“Let me out.”
“I can’t.” He let go of Phoenix’s hands, reached over and put the man’s seat belt on, all the while holding the golden gaze. “I’m not going to hurt you, but you need to hear what I have to say.”
Look at that heat, that flame. Fascinating. Phoenix’s eyes were amazing.
And glaring at him.
Phoenix crossed his arms, still glowering. “Just say it.”
“There isn’t really enough room in here to do this.” He started up the engine. There was a safe house just outside of town—they had them spread out over the whole country—somewhere with room to run, somewhere with meat, soundproofed walls.
Checking his mirrors and over his shoulder and focusing on the road, Grio merged in with the traffic.
As soon as his attention was elsewhere, Phoenix unfastened his belt, trying the door.
“It’s locked. Please put your belt back on in case I have to stop suddenly.”
“Let me out!” The roar was impressive, wild.
It sent a shiver down his spine. He wanted to fucking bow down to the man. Once Phoenix shifted, he would have to—this man was his prince, there was no doubt of that now. Grio could feel it in his gut.
“Sit,” he snapped. “Sit and shut up.” He was not going to lose it here in the car and kill them both. He was trained better than that.
He followed the road out of town, speed increasing as the traffic became much thinner. Phoenix was panting, breathing hard, and readying himself to attack.
“Not while I’m driving,” he warned the man.
“I want out. I won’t call the police.”
“When we get there.” He was not leaving the prince of the Saffron Tigers on the side of the road.
He couldn’t wait to let his bosses know about this. It was the biggest find in two generations.
“We’re almost there.” He turned off the highway, turning again shortly after that onto a dirt road that took them into the woods.
“You’re like a fucking axe murderer, right?”
“I swear I’m not. I don’t want to hurt you. At all.”
Though he could see why Phoenix might be concerned. He’d kidnapped the man and now he was taking Phoenix to an isolated house off the beaten track in the middle of the woods. Yeah, he’d be nervous, too. This was why he’d tried to get Phoenix alone on the man’s own turf.
Still, the whole thing with the royal bloodline had thrown him off, totally.
smut fixes everything
Royal Line by Sean Michael is now available at Amber Allure.
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