Cat and Mouse
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Paranormal/Feline Shifter
Series: Middlemarch Mates 5
Release Date: October 1, 2008
Middlemarch Mates, Book Five
Every woman has sexual needs. Lana Sinclair, feline shapeshifter and widow, is more than ready for a fun night with a likeminded male. Hot lovin’ is compulsory because she’s determined to scratch the itch that’s driving her crazy. This time, career-girl Lana is picking a malleable male who won’t try to corral her into the housewife role.
Fellow shifter Duncan Ross is the perfect candidate. The cowboy follows the rodeo circuit and is only in Middlemarch for the bull riding. One night of mutual seduction, slick, naked bodies and pleasure then he’ll be on his way.
Duncan is astonished when Lana propositions him, but no one could ever call him stupid. He’s always desired Lana and now that she’s ready for sex, he’s all action. It’s time to lasso the woman of his dreams with some sweet lovin’ and charm, a sexy massage and ropes spliced together with addictive pleasure. He’ll seduce her to his way of thinking—a permanent arrangement. This is one go-round Duncan is determined to win.
Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.
A stiff breeze blew up over the hill, bringing a rash of chill bumps to Lana Sinclair’s naked body. She shuddered despite the burning heat of the sun, dark hair flying loose and wild like a halo around her head. The stark wildness of her surroundings, the gray schist and land burnt dry by the hot summer sun, sent an answering emotion skimming across her nerve endings and writhing deep within her soul. It had been so long. So very long. Loneliness crept through her.
She missed Jamie, missed spending time with a male, talking and touching. Making love. Her eyes misted while she thought of her mate, killed in a skiing accident at Coronet Peak almost two years ago. Lord, she’d loved that alpha male even though he’d infuriated her with his attitude at times, especially near the end when they’d been barely speaking. Sometimes she wondered if they would have even stayed together, despite both bearing mating marks. Their words had ventured into vicious during the last fight before Jamie had stormed off to go skiing. Moot point.
It was time to move on with her life, or at least attempt starting to live instead of merely existing. Time to misbehave if she felt like it. Her mating mark had faded and she was free to choose another. Richard Saunders, the lawyer from the building next door showed distinct interest. They’d dated a few times until Richard indicated his desire for a wife. After that she’d kept things light and hadn’t slept with him. He also bore the bossy gene, a warning to steer clear in her book. Lana enjoyed her newfound independence too much to step into the marriage trap, yet her body ached for some good, hard, sweaty sex. Right now she thought she might go crazy if she remained celibate for a day longer. The idea of spending one more lonely night aching for the touch, the taste of a man and his hard, hot body covering hers…
A rude snort emerged and Lana decided to get with today’s program instead of worrying about her future. A hard run would help ease her tension. She needed to take advantage of her Middlemarch visit since working in New Zealand’s adventure capital of Queenstown didn’t offer many opportunities for running in feline form. After a deep breath, Lana pictured a leopard in her mind’s eye. She let the change take her, savoring the bite of pain as black fur rippled across her skin. Bones lengthened and popped, sinew stretched and muscles bulged. Her body reshaped and, finally on all fours, she flicked her long tail and padded across the uneven tussock ground.
Scents bombarded her—the spicy hay tang of sun-crisped grasses and the brine of the nearby salt lake, its water evaporated until winter rain and snow refilled it again. She increased her pace to an easy lope, muscles glorying in the motion. Gradually she sprinted, wind whistling across her fur and flattening her whiskers.
A sudden blur of black across her peripheral vision let her know she wasn’t alone. Lana snarled and slowed to a walk, baring her teeth at the interloper in warning.
A male. She sniffed inelegantly. Go figure. She’d smell different now that her mating mark had vanished. Available. Given the shortage of females, the Middlemarch males would consider her fair game. Unlucky for them, she knew every one of their tricks. Her lover—when she chose him—would be human, someone who had no idea of her shapeshifter status and had no intention of trapping her into marriage.
The large black cat who padded up to her ignored her testy mood. Instead he rubbed against her flanks, his low purr of pleasure and contentment bringing an unwilling feline smirk to her mouth. Lana relaxed and whirled to playfully swat his nose with her right front paw.
Duncan Ross. The male was younger than her by two years and here to ride in the Middlemarch rodeo. Lana stilled, a thought blooming. Duncan would make the perfect lover despite not being human. They could spend the weekend together, she could satisfy the sexual itch gripping her, and come Monday, Duncan would travel to the next rodeo and his eight seconds of fame while she returned to her life. The more she pushed and pulled at the idea the better she liked it. They knew each other well since Duncan and Jamie had been cousins. Lana trusted him, knew Duncan never bragged about the women in his life. Her reputation would remain safe.
Duncan barked at her, snagging her attention, and nudged her in the shoulder for good measure. He retreated and sprang at her, obviously wanting to play and wrestle. Ha! He’d have to catch her first. Grinning, she dodged his charge, whirled around and galloped away, darting in and out of the schist outcrops. Her agility and smaller size would give her an advantage. She heard the thump of his paws when he charged after her, his low growl, and her pulse sped, blood thrumming through her veins. This would be fun. She loved the thrill of the chase.
Duncan grinned inside as Lana Sinclair darted away with a sexy flick of her tail. A challenge. Hot damn. He’d come to Middlemarch with an express purpose in mind. He wanted Lana. He’d always wanted Lana. Unfortunately Jamie had caught and marked her first. He’d loved his cousin as much as he’d desired Lana so he’d stood aside, putting all his passion into rodeo instead. But now…now it was time to make his move. Lana didn’t stand a chance. She might think of this as a game between friends, but he knew better. The sight of her pretty feline form sparked throbbing need. He ruthlessly quashed the lust spreading through his body, knowing an overt show of sexual desire would scare her away. No, he needed patience. Tender wooing. He’d only have one chance at Lana and knew if he misjudged he’d never have another.
He could not fuck this up.
Duncan raced after her, drawing her musky scent and the underlying vanilla spice deep into his lungs. The feline smirk she aimed over her shoulder brought a rumbling growl deep in his throat. He charged, intent on one thing. The thrill of the chase. She’d think he wanted to play. This was playtime all right, specifically for adults. If he had his way there’d be sex in the equation. Lots of sex. He caught the flick of her tail before she darted behind a pile of gray, weather-beaten rocks and slowed. Given the direction of the wind she probably wouldn’t smell him tracking her, and he could take her by surprise. The heat in his body increased, pooling in his loins and making his cock swell. Oh yeah. He wanted Lana all right, and if he fucked up this courtship he’d never forgive himself.
Duncan stalked her, placing each paw carefully so he didn’t give prior warning. Her scent intensified and he knew he had her. Once in position, he sprang around the schist, bowling her over until they rolled and tangled in a blur of black fur. He seized the loose skin at the scruff of her neck with his teeth and growled, the sound becoming louder with underlying amusement when she tried to fight free. After struggling for a bit longer she stilled and her submission almost killed him. All the blood left his head and sank to his cock. He swallowed at scenting the musk of arousal, knowing Lana would smell it too. And wonder. He didn’t want her wondering. No. He needed to surreptitiously court her, let her get used to the idea of them as a couple then strike. Wham! He’d reel her in before she knew what hit her and they’d be lovers. Partners. Mates.
The prickle of heat from her body and the faint shimmer of light told him she intended to shift back to human. His heart slammed against his ribs and he froze, unsure of how to proceed. Weird. His friends would have ribbed him if they’d witnessed his panic and uncertainty. Yeah, he’d seen her naked before, yet somehow this time seemed different. He’d kept his gaze above her neck, sticking to the social niceties of a group running together.
“Are you going to change?”
Unbidden, his eyes studied her, taking in the small details—her full breasts topped with pink nipples, the narrow waist flaring to curvy hips and lower to study her thighs and sex. Hell. His breath hissed out slowly. She shaved or waxed, leaving delicately smooth skin. His tongue curled inside his mouth as he imagined it rasping across the creamy skin, delving into folds and plunging deep to taste her juices.
What the hell was she doing? Stunned, he watched her pluck at one nipple until it stiffened and darkened to a deep rose.
“Duncan, I want you to make love to me. I…I need sex.” A faint tide of pink rushed through her cheeks and crawled down her neck to color her chest. “I don’t want…just for the weekend,” she ended on a rush.
The jolt of lust that speared him made his chest heave while he attempted to breathe through his arousal, tamp it down to acceptable levels. Didn’t work. Duncan gave up trying to hide his painful erection and shifted smoothly.
“You want what?” She had to tell him again before he’d begin to believe. Surely winning Lana couldn’t be this easy?
“I want a lover for the weekend.” She captured the plump cushion of her lower lip between her teeth and worried it while avoiding his gaze.
Consternation, fury, jealousy—the whole gambit screwed with his temper. “Do you do this often?” He found himself moving closer, curling his fingers around her biceps until they bit into her tender flesh.
Her gaze flew up to meet his. “No! Of course not. I haven’t been with anyone since Jamie.”
Duncan relaxed at her impassioned words. No other man. Good. That was good. It had been difficult leaving after Jamie’s funeral, knowing Lana needed time and he ran the risk of another man capturing her interest. Friends and family had kept him in the loop where Lana was concerned, not that he’d been upfront about his interest. A month ago gut instinct had told him it was time to return to New Zealand so he’d come home. Just in time, so it seemed. He stared down at her and detected a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose. He’d never noticed them before. Her jade green eyes tilted up at the corners giving her a faintly exotic look…and her mouth. He’d had some serious hard-ons fantasizing about her sexy lower lip, about biting it and laving the nip better, seeing those lips wrapped around his cock.
“Why?” Why him? He wanted to think it was because of his hard abs and charisma, his sex appeal, except his ego wasn’t that big. Women didn’t normally bowl up to him with a proposition before they’d received the romance, not unless they belonged to the buckle-bunny brigade and wanted to boast about their cowboy conquests.
“Because I don’t want to mislead a man into thinking I want something permanent. All I want is no-strings sex.” Her chin lifted in faint challenge. “That’s all.”
Duncan frowned, not sure how to react. Part of him simmered with anger at her for going around offering herself. That part wanted to wring her neck. But he also felt flattered and more turned-on than he should be given the circumstances.
Lana turned away, flashing her rounded ass at him. He caught a hint of feminine pique before she showed him her back. A slow smile curled across his lips as he stared at the long, slender legs and curvy hips. Yeah, he’d take her up on her offer and play a cat and mouse game. Her offer simply made things easy for him, but if she thought he’d walk away after a weekend, the woman had rocks in her head. He wanted to retire from the rodeo circuit, settle down and breed bucking bulls. No, Lana belonged to him—she just didn’t know it yet.
“The fifth book in the Middlemarch Mates series, Cat and Mouse delivers a story that is sure to get your libido humming and leave you deeply satisfied. Yummy…Duncan is one cat I would love to pet…..With a fast pace, plenty of shapeshifter passion and two characters who are well-versed in fighting for what they want in life, Cat and Mouse is a read that I highly recommend.”
~ Just Erotic Romance Reviews.
“Each book in this series keeps getting better and better. Well done, Ms. Munro, for keeping her reader’s attention with just the right amount of passion interspersed with a good storyline.”
~ 5 ribbons, Romance Junkies.
“CAT AND MOUSE is everything you want in a shape shifter story. Shelley Munro gives us strong, independent Lana, and helpful, understanding alpha male, Duncan. The story has adventure, sex, humor, more sex, and romance. CAT AND MOUSE is one you don’t want to miss.”
~ Romance Readers Connection.
“The only way it could be better is if I could move to Middlemarch myself and be there all the time.”
~ Night Owl Romance, Reviewer’s Top Pick.
“Set amongst the stunning setting of Middlemarch Cat and Mouse is a journey of sensual and
~ Veiled Secrets.
“Cat and Mouse was easy to get into and impossible not to like. A sexy story built around the fun of “the chase,” I enjoyed the give and take between the two characters.”
~ The Romance Studio.