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"Fast paced...well worth the read." -Joyfully Reviewed. Full Review
"The second installment builds well upon the first and the story arc kept me enthralled. I can hardly wait for the next installment." -Three-and-a-Half Kisses, Two Lips Reviews. Full Review
Serengeti Storm Copyright © 2010 Vivi Andrews All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The icy wind shifted direction, swirling around her and teasing her nose with the familiar scents of the ranch. Earth and hay and that subtle, sexy musk of male lion… That scent…
Shana spun to face the wind, crouching defensively and snarling as she scanned the horizon. Her heart drummed wildly as a dark figure slowly straightened out of the tall grass along the side of the drive, no longer bothering to hide now that she’d scented him.
She’d meant his name to sound like a biting epithet, but it caught in her throat, emerging on a hoarse whisper instead.
Why did it have to be him patrolling the land tonight?
Her memory had betrayed her. He looked even more edible than she remembered. Dammit.
Caleb Minor stalked toward her through the grass with a deliberate, feline grace belied by his extreme size. He was massive. Six-and-a-half feet tall with broad, heavily muscled shoulders. He could have easily looked like a gorilla, but the rest of his big body balanced the impressive strength so obviously on display in those shoulders. He was built like a Mack truck, but a very sexy, proportional Mack truck.
In spite of the cold of the night, he wore only a paper-thin, long-sleeved shirt that hugged the contours of his chest and a pair of khaki drawstring pants. The clothing was designed to be quickly discarded should he need to shift and fight. Shana dragged her thoughts away from other reasons he might need to get naked.
His hair was shaggier than when she’d last seen him, but still as dark and thick as a mane. It looked black in the night, but she knew when the sun hit it, or when he shifted into his lion form, streaks of red and brown would thread through the black, drawing the eye and making her fingers itch to bury themselves there.
He stopped in front of her, too close for human comfort, but still oddly distant for lions who traded touch so casually. She’d straightened slowly from her partial crouch as he approached and now met his gaze with a mocking arch of one eyebrow.
“Well, if it isn’t little Shana. Back to cause more trouble, princess?”
Since that was exactly what she was back to do, Shana ignored the question as rhetorical. “Well, if it isn’t big-assed Caleb. Still the Alpha’s loyal lapdog?”
He bared his teeth on a hiss—no lion tolerated being called a dog. “At least I didn’t run off in a pout because things didn’t go my way.”
Shana bared her own teeth. “I do not pout, Fido. And you have no idea why I left.”
He snorted. “Oh, I have a pretty good idea. My baby sister married the man you were trying to wrestle to the altar and you ran off to lick your wounds. Stop me any time this starts to sound familiar.”
“Marriage.” She spat the word. “Such a ridiculously human word. Is your pint-sized sister too squeamish to claim Landon as her mate?”
Caleb folded his thick arms across his chest. “Actually, it was his idea. The Alpha’s trying to humanize us. Didn’t you hear his plan? Oh, no, that’s right. You were too busy running away.”
The look he shot her was icy with condescension. Scathing and contemptuous.
No man looked at her like that. Shana was a goddess. She was what all men desired but could never deserve, not some pathetic creature to be pitied.
She refused to explain herself to him. Goddesses did not explain.
“Get my bags, Alpo. It’s cold. I don’t want to spend all night listening to you embarrass yourself with your ludicrous theories.”
“You think I give a shit what you want?”
She ground her molars. Men did not swear at goddesses. Even rough-edged men like Caleb Minor. It was time to remind him that she was not a creature to be pitied. She wasn’t that lost little girl anymore, begging him to save her.
Hell, she could use that reminder herself.
Shana drew herself up to her full height. She would have towered over an average female, and most men, but she still had to tip her head back to meet Caleb’s chilling gaze. She tossed her long, flame-red hair and arched her back, thrusting out her breasts and seeing his gaze flicker down for just a fraction of a second before locking again on her eyes. Caleb was all about discipline, but he was far from immune to her. She wet her lips and lowered her lashes, searing him with a sultry, melting look.
“You used to care what I wanted,” she reminded him throatily, drenching the words in sex. “You used to beg to be allowed to please me.” She traced one finger over the tightly flexed muscle of his forearm. “Don’t you remember how good I can make it, lover?”
“You’re a praying mantis,” he growled. “I don’t have that suicidal urge anymore.”
She stroked down his stomach to brush her fingers across the rock-hard ridge growing beneath those drawstring pants. He may not be suicidal, but he definitely had the urge. “Oh, honey…” she purred, “…you know I’m always very careful with my teeth. I would never bite the head off.”
His fingers closed vise-tight around her wrist, jerking it away before she could press against his erection like she wanted. “Still the slut, I see.”
Shana flinched in spite of herself. Why did it always hurt when he said it? It was just a word. She’d been called worse and the words just bounced off, but that word, in Caleb’s gravel-deep voice, and she wanted to run to her Momma and cry like a baby. As if her Momma wouldn’t say exactly the same thing. And worse.
But she was going to change that. Claim her rightful place. The place of respect she deserved. Prove to her mother and Caleb and all of them that she was more than the camp slut.
“Still an asshole, I see,” she mimicked acidly, jerking her wrist out of his hold, or trying to. For a heartbeat, Caleb held on, his strong fingers tightening fractionally around the fine bones of her wrist, as if to prove he didn’t have to let her go if he didn’t feel like it.
An unexpected jolt of heat shot down to pool at the base of her spine. She wanted to squirm with it, wallow in his possession and his strength, but she held herself regally still. It had been a long time since she’d been in the presence of a man she couldn’t physically best—ever since she’d walked away from the ranch seven months ago, in fact—and she’d forgotten how much she loved the challenge of it.
As if he sensed her mounting excitement—the bastard could probably smell it—Caleb released her suddenly. He leaned away from her to put more distance between them and rubbed his hand on his pants as if she’d left her cooties on him.
In spite of his all-too-apparent disgust, his voice was still a little rougher than normal when he growled, “What are you doing here? Crawling home with your tail between your legs?”
Shana’s lip curled in a silent snarl. Goddesses didn’t crawl. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” She let her nails shift into claws and stroked over his arm with the vicious tips. “You’d just love to see me on my knees, wouldn’t you, Cale?”
“I’d love to see your ass…” he drawled, “…walking away from this ranch, never to return.”
“Aw, honey, you don’t mean that,” she purred. “You’d miss this ass too much.”
She patted the body part in question and his eyes tracked the movement of her hand hungrily. Oh, yeah, Caleb Minor would miss her, all right.