They both groaned, and she jumped. He gripped her waist to hold her in place then licked her again. Her scent wafted through his nose, flowing deep, surrounding him and pulling him in.
He couldn’t get enough of her. He wanted more. He wanted everything.
He nuzzled deeper, devouring her, lapping hungrily at her essence. Her limbs shook around his face then clamped tight, holding him in place.
Lazily he tongued her, in no hurry to bring her to completion. He wanted her wild, frantic for him. As desperate for him as he was for her.
Gently he pried her legs apart, careful not to stress her injury. He raised his head to look at her. Her eyes glowed gold. Rich and vibrant. There was a peace about her that lulled him deeper, ensnared him like a fly in a spider’s web.
“Turn over, honey,” he urged as he rotated her onto her uninjured side. His fingers feathered over the wound then he lowered his head to kiss the raw spot.
“Right there,” he said in approval, preventing her from going all the way onto her stomach.
Her pussy was directly in line with his straining dick. Perfect. Again, he reached for a condom, but this time, he wasn’t as hurried. Calmly, he tore it from the wrapper and slowly rolled it over his engorged cock.
His fingers found her moist center and slid inside, testing her readiness. She was slick and hot, quivering around his fingers as he stretched her, pressed inward, gliding against her velvet heat.
She looked beautiful, curled on her side, her hair strewn against the pillow. Wild and exotic, her eyes glowing with need, her face flushed and pink. Her lips parted in a gasp as he carefully pulled his fingers from her pussy.
Soft and swollen, inviting his kiss. He ached to taste her mouth again, to explore those plump lips.
He reached down and grasped his cock, guiding it into the small opening. She convulsed around him, gripped him like a vise, sucked and grasped at his dick as he slid in with agonizing precision.
He breached her carefully, mindful of the different position and the angle of his entry. His palm covered the cheek of her ass, cupped it and caressed the soft, supple flesh. With his other hand, he touched her wound, soothing the hurt.
Deeper he stroked, his chest tightening as she made little sounds of approval. He shouldn’t have feared hurting her. She was more than accepting of his advances.
Her hand rose high in the air, reaching blindly back toward him. He lifted his hand and twined their fingers together, bringing them to rest against her hip.
Back and forth, absent the urgency of earlier, he thrust. Long, easy slides, enjoying the tingle each time his cock dragged across the clutching tissues of her pussy.
He loosened his hold on her hand long enough to raise his other hand. He switched her hand into his other then reached between her thighs, sliding up until his fingers found her clit.
A jolt skittered through her body, and she tightened around his cock. He let out a moan, knowing he wouldn’t last much longer. He fingered her taut nub, lightly at first, then harder, rotating in tight circles.
She moved restlessly, squirming and writhing against him. He squeezed her hand harder, holding on as he sank into her again and again.
“Harder,” she gasped. “Please, Duncan, I need…”
“I know, honey,” he said in a low voice. “I know what you need. Give it to me. Let go.”
He picked up the pace, driving into her with more force. He pinched her clit between his fingers just as he rammed as deep as he could go.
Her body went rigid. Her eyes flew open where a moment before she’d had them tightly closed. Then she screamed. The sound was an electric shock to his system. Blowing over him, igniting every single sensory receptor.
Tension coiled like a snake in his balls, twisting then rising, shooting up his cock, pausing an infinitesimal second before billowing out. He exploded inside her even as he cursed the condom. He wanted to mark her, to come all inside her.
He ground himself against her, his agonized cry matching her scream of pleasure. He started to fall forward but caught himself before he landed against her leg. Moving to the side, he slumped onto the bed, pulling her body into the curve of his.
They both heaved, their harsh breaths echoing through the room. He reached down to yank off the condom then turned back and threw it toward the trash can. Not even looking to see if he’d hit his mark, he turned back to Aliyah and wrapped his arm over her trembling form.
His lips nuzzled her shoulder, and he absorbed her sweet sound of satisfaction.
“I’d like to sleep this way,” she murmured. “You feel so good, Duncan.”
“You just try and move away from me,” he growled.
She laughed lightly and burrowed her ass further into his groin. A deep sigh escaped her, and he felt her go limp against him.
He was dead tired, but he was unable to resist the temptation to run his hand down her curves. He let his hand rest possessively on her hip and then moved it back up to cup her breast. He thumbed her nipple once then tightened his hold.
There was a slight hesitation. “Thank you. That was wonderful.”
He smiled. “You’re more than welcome, sweetheart.”
Aliyah woke with a sense of loss. The bed felt cold. Empty. She reached a hand to rest in the slight indention left when Duncan had gotten up to go to work.
She shivered and pulled the covers higher but quickly discarded them again when the material scraped over her skin like needles. Her body crawled with the need to shift. The cheetah rolled within her, protesting its captivity.
She got out of bed and paced in an effort to work off the nervous tension. A shower. She’d take a hot shower and hopefully it would soothe the savagery welling within her.
The water scorched her skin when she stepped under the spray a few minutes later. Still, she stood underneath the heat and turned her face up as the water ran over her body.
Duncan. She missed him already, as absurd as it sounded. She didn’t look forward to an entire day without him again. She wasn’t even sure she could maintain her human form until he returned. And when he did, she was going to have to go out and give the cheetah free rein.
She tensed and fought against the images of the cheetah. Control. She could do this. It was imperative that she regain dominance.
Her chest heaving with exertion, she stepped out of the shower and quickly toweled off, wincing as the material abraded her skin. She walked naked into the living room, unable to stand the thought of anything touching her.
Coals glowed in the fireplace, and the charred remains of wood lay at various angles. She hastened to add more logs to the fi
re and watched as the flames licked over the dry wood.
The warmth reached out and wrapped around her body, caressing, soothing.
The cordless phone lay on the coffee table, and she stared at it as she eased onto the couch. Her mouth went dry, and her pulse pounded a little harder. Mama.
She lay her head down on the couch, and a hot tear slipped down her cheek and soaked into the cushion. She missed her family. Missed being with people who she didn’t have to hide her true nature from.
Even as well as Duncan had taken the fact she was a cheetah, she still caught him staring at her when he thought she wasn’t looking. There was a mixture of awe and disbelief in his dark eyes.
She reached out with a shaking hand, slid the phone off the coffee table and drew it against her chest. Her thumb trembled over the on button and finally she pressed.
The dial tone sounded, loud in the silence. She stared for a long moment before punching the first number. The others followed in sequence. By the time she was finished, tears streaked silently down her cheeks.
She put the phone to her ear and listened as it rang. Four. Five. Six times. Her heart sank as it continued to ring. They weren’t home.
The lodge answering machine clicked on and gave the standard greeting in her mother’s cheerful voice.
Aliyah pulled the phone away from her ear and gently pushed the off button. Then she turned her face into the sofa as her tears soaked into the material.
Duncan folded the maps and stuffed them into his glove compartment before getting out of his truck. The helicopter landed fifty yards away, and a state wildlife officer hopped out and hurried in Duncan’s direction.
Duncan met him halfway and shook his hand.
“You ready?” Cal Stevens shouted over the noise.
Duncan nodded and followed him back to the helicopter. They climbed in, and Cal handed him a set of headphones. When Duncan slid them over his ears, Cal’s voice sounded.
“What are we looking at, Duncan?”
Duncan quickly explained his suspicions about the illegal poaching ring as well as his run-in with the hunters and the dead lion.
Cal’s frown deepened with every word. Cal had worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife ever since Duncan had been old enough to hunt. He’d been a good friend of Duncan’s father and had often joined them during hunting season. The poaching ring would piss Cal off, and he’d be damn eager to break it up.
“Let’s see what we can find from the air,” Cal said. “If we can narrow the search area, we’ll have a much easier time of it when we go in on foot.”
Duncan nodded his agreement.
After several hours of sweeping the area surrounding Elk Ridge and the region where Duncan had first run across the hunters, they turned up nothing.
The pilot indicated that they were low on fuel and would have to head back in. Duncan stared down at the terrain in frustration. He’d hoped the air search would turn up something. Instead he’d wasted an entire afternoon with nothing to show for his efforts. He was no closer to finding the hunters now than he had been two days ago.
They landed, and Cal got out and walked with Duncan over to his truck.
“What’s your next move?” Cal asked. “What can I do to help?”
Duncan shook his head grimly. “I’m not sure yet. I’m going to have to get with Nick and my other deputies. Put our heads together and come up with a search plan. Those sons of bitches are out there.”
“You know you can count on me to help. I can get some of my guys together. I know you probably don’t want the feds crawling all over your mountains but whether you call them in to help apprehend your poachers or call them in after you’ve taken them down, one way or another, they’re going to be involved. Those sons of bitches have broken all sorts of federal laws with the shit they’re pulling.”
“Yeah, I know.” Duncan sighed. “I’d rather hold off as long as possible. If we can’t come up with anything by tomorrow, we’ll have to call them in. I don’t want to risk these assholes escaping, or worse, continuing to turn these animals out to hunt.”