On the Prowl
Most girls would throw a fit if their parents tried to set up an arranged marriage for them. It's so outrageously old-fashioned—even for a Tiguri family, members of a fierce race of shapeshifting weretigers. But Saskia isn't getting her claws out just yet. She'll go through with this marriage to help unite two powerful families—and because her husband-to-be Nicolas Preda is the sexiest, hunkiest, and only man she's ever wanted...
Of course, marrying an alpha male like Nic comes with its share of danger. As leader of his Streak and head of a global corporation, Nic and his new fiancée must take their places in the jungles of Manhattan—and the local Others seem to have a strict "no pets" policy. In fact, the Council seems to think the Tiguri are at the root of all their problems, including an attempt on the life of its leader. If Nic hopes to protect his name and his mate, it's hunt or be hunted—and he can't do it alone. But if anyone can bring out the beast in him, it's the sexy, savage tigress he's sworn to love...
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Her feet hurt, but not half as much as her face.
Saskia Arcos stood in front of the elegant marble fireplace, flanked by three imposing male figures, and wished desperately that this quote-unquote happiest moment of her life had included a couple of aspirin. Or maybe a morphine drip.
"We would like to thank all of you for joining us tonight for this wonderful occasion," her father boomed over the low buzz of conversation and curiosity, holding his champagne glass up in front of him like he'd just seized the banner in a well-fought round of Capture the Flag. Though not a large man, her father knew how to command a room. Imposing, after all, had relatively little to do with size, as two out of the three demonstrated clearly. "Joy like this is meant to be shared with friends and community. We are grateful to have each and every one of you with us tonight to bear witness as we join our families and our futures. To the happy couple!"
"The happy couple!"
The toast echoed through the high-ceilinged ballroom, the rumble of hundreds of voices nearly knocking Saskia back into the fire. Her own champagne sloshed in her glass as she swayed precariously. A hard-muscled arm slipped around her waist to steady her.
The quiet murmur drifted down to her, and Saskia looked up reflexively, straight into the gaze she'd been avoiding all evening. Green eyes stared down at her, their expression unreadable in spite of the flecks of molten gold sparkling in their depths. Even in the well-lit ballroom, Nicolas Preda's face gave away none of his feelings. Assuming, of course, that he had any.
"I can only echo Gregor's words and hope that this union proves to be a long and fruitful one." Stefan Preda's deep voice had hoarsened slightly with age, but the steel in it matched the resolve Saskia could see behind his son's calm mask. Neither man was one to trifle with. The son stood a head taller than the father, his shoulders wider and chest broader, but the pattern card shone through in the set of the jaw, the tilt of the head, and the glitter in the deep green eyes.
She suppressed a shiver.
"To Nicolas and Saskia!" Stefan proclaimed.
Once again, the room repeated the words and raised their glasses to the couple in front of them.
"I think that's our cue."
Confused as she was, Saskia knew better than to frown in front of her father's five hundred guests, but she felt her smile freeze when the towering figure beside her shifted. His words penetrated her social fog a split second before warm male lips settled firmly over hers.
Nicolas was kissing her.
The stunning thought took longer than the kiss itself. Before she had time to register the shock, the pressure eased and Nicolas lifted his head, leaving only a shadow of warmth behind. He turned back to face the assembled company with a grin of cocky male satisfaction. The arm he'd used to steady Saskia remained curved possessively around her back. To the guests, she supposed they looked exactly like a young, happy, newly engaged couple ought to look—him, tall and handsome in his custom tailored tuxedo, with his shiny Italian shoes and his playboy good looks; her, petite and delicate, in her apricot and gold gown with topazes dangling from her ears and an enormous diamond glinting on her finger. Tomorrow morning, she had no doubt she would see their photo on page one of the society section. She could picture the caption now: Nicolas Preda (center), CEO of Preda Industries, Inc., and Saskia Arcos, daughter of wealthy European financier Gregor Arcos (l), pose with their fathers, Arcos and Stefan Preda (r), at their engagement party at the Royal Hotel, Preda's newly...
On the Prowl
By: Christine Warren