Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #Adult, #Erotic Romance, #Menage, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter
What woman can withstand the advances of two hot men with enough tenderness and testosterone to steal even the most resistant woman’s breath away?
After waiting to meet the man, or men, destined to be hers, Carmen Satriano, tired of waiting for her dream of a home and family to come true, focuses her energies on a new dream—a life she can live on her terms. Tired of living in her uncles’ huge penthouse alone, she accepts a position as a small town music teacher. After coming to terms with the fact that she will always be alone, she meets Malik and Gable, the two men fate finally throws at her feet as her mates. Will the men have to worry whether or not she’s willing to give up her new, hard-won freedom? Still... what lonely female can refuse two hot men with enough tenderness and testosterone to steal even the most resistant woman’s breath away?
Bounty hunters Malik Zorin and Gable Azarov aren’t looking for a new target. In fact, they’re ready to retire and go home to the cascade. After dropping off their latest contract capture, they spot a woman neither of them can resist... and the chase is on—literally. They know they can catch her. After all, finding those who want to disappear is what they do for a living. The only real question is whether they can convince her to accept them as her mates.
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Taming the Tigers
Copyright © 2015 Tianna Xander
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Taming the Tigers
Caspian Cascade 2
For my readers.
Carmen stopped at the edge of town and stared through the cracked windshield at the picture perfect landscape. She gripped the steering wheel with trembling fingers, her knuckles white. This was a big step for her. Never had she made such a life-changing decision without at least one of her uncles’ advice.
The town was beautiful and looked just the way she’d pictured it, right down to the white picket fences and the farms lined up along the outskirts. Cows lowed in the distance and she wondered if she would be able to hear them from the little house they promised to her in the letter.
Glancing down at the thick envelope, she patted the contract they’d sent her with a little smile. She hadn’t taken the time to mail it back to them. Nothing in the letter suggested it was time sensitive. They had only suggested that she notify them before the end of August. Well, here she was. That should be notification enough, shouldn’t it?
She bit her lip. What would her uncles say about her packing up everything she owned and leaving her first chair position at the philharmonic for something as mundane as a teaching job in a small town in California? She rubbed the back of her neck. Had she made the right choice?
Yes. She had. She was certain of it. It was time she found a nice town and put down some roots. She obviously didn’t have mates in Paradise. She’d originally thought two men from Paradise were her mates, but it turned out they weren’t. At least they didn’t act as though she belonged with them, and after three months of their bossing her around like some little girl, she’d had enough and requested new protectors. Over the course of the last year, she’d been through several sets of shifter males and not a one even looked at her cross-eyed.
After convincing her uncles that she needed some time alone, they recalled a set of males to Paradise, giving her a two-week respite before sending out another group of men to drive her crazy. Finally alone, she took the opportunity to run. It was
life. It was time she went out and lived it. Packing up everything that was important to her, she loaded her car and headed cross-country to a new town and a new job.
Still, she didn’t really know a thing about being a music teacher. Apparently, she’d been a shoo-in for the job with her degrees and experience with the philharmonic. She was sure that the fact that her degrees were from one of the most prestigious music schools in the world didn’t hurt either.
Her stomach did that strange little flip it did every time she thought about Oak Lake. What was it about this strange little town that stirred her so deeply? She shook her head, put the car in gear and eased her foot onto the gas. Whatever it was, she hoped she found out soon. The mystery was killing her.
Steering back onto the pavement, Carmen did her best to pay attention to landmarks as she coasted down the mountain road into the beautiful valley that she would soon call home.
Ten minutes later, she pulled to a stop in front of the town hall. Checking her watch, she sighed. It was two o’clock. “Someone should be here.”
Shifting her car into park, she shut off the ignition, dropped her keys in her purse, and unfastened her seatbelt. This was it. Grabbing the envelope containing her contract, she slid out from behind the wheel and stood.
Carmen stretched, her muscles stiff from the long drive from her last hotel. Five in the morning had seemed like such an ungodly hour for someone so used to working nights.
The corner of her mouth kicked up in a grin. Getting up early was something she’d have to get used to again. Opening the back door, she picked up her purse, slung the strap over her shoulder, then shut and locked both of the doors.
Children laughing in the distance reminded her it was summer, even with the unseasonably cool weather. Glancing toward the park, offset from the town hall, she watched two little girls playing on a swing set with no adult in sight.
Parents would get arrested for neglect for allowing that in the city. She smiled. That was one of the reasons she loved small towns. Everyone might know everyone’s business, but they all took responsibility to make sure their children grew up safe and loved. There was no room for petty, tattletale calls to the police and certainly no instances of a truly unattended child.
Turning her attention back to the building, Carmen rested her hand over her churning stomach and started for the stairs. One last glance back to the borrowed car full of her belongings had her pushing forward.
It was bad enough that she would have to explain to her uncles why she felt the need to take one of their precious babies out of state. How she would explain the cracked windshield, she didn’t know.
There was no way she would tell them that she’d gotten lost in a bad neighborhood and had had to fight her way out of it. As a shifter, she could take care of herself amidst human men. However, her uncles wouldn’t take a second to remind her that there were rogue shifters everywhere and she could very well have found herself held captive—or worse.
Turning back to the door, she pushed it open and stared at the interior of the town hall. It was as though she’d stepped back in time. Old wooden benches sat against the wall, an antique desk sat in the corner complete with an old phone that could have been from the nineteen-twenties.
Black and white photos mounted on the wall depicted the town’s first founders, the town picnics from years past and other functions. Carmen couldn’t have dreamed up a town more perfect to suit her needs.
“Can I help you?” A little old woman stepped from one of the doorways beyond the desk. She patted her head, no doubt feeling for strands of hair with enough nerve to escape the tight bun on the back of her head.
“Yes.” Carmen moved toward the desk and held up the envelope holding her contract. “I’m here for the music teaching position. I received this contract in the mail and instead of replying by post, I thought I would just deliver my acceptance in person.”
“Oh, dear.” The woman’s eyes widened and she covered her mouth as though she shouldn’t have said anything.
“What do you mean,
” The nervous churning in the pit of her stomach intensified. Bile rose at the back of her throat as she thought of the position she’d left in Philadelphia. They couldn’t have hired someone else in her place.
Carmen crossed her arms, crumpling the envelope containing the contract. “Don’t look at me like that and tell me,
as though something is horribly wrong. I’ve quit my job in Philly to accept this position.” She waved the envelope in the air. “According to the letter you people sent to me, I was the only person considered to replace a retiring teacher and if I refused, the teacher would stay on until another choice had been made.” She rested her hands on her hips and tapped her foot. “Well... I’m here.”
“I’ll... I’ll just go and get the superintendent. I’ll just explain things badly.” The woman scurried from the room.
“Explain what?” Carmen muttered as she watched the woman disappear down the hallway.
A few minutes later, a tall fifty-something gentleman wearing a suit and a frown stood staring down at her. “Miss Satriano?”
“Yes,” she replied, giving a curt nod. “I am she.” She frowned up at the man. “Please tell me that I didn’t quit my job, and drove across the country, just to have you tell me that you’ve hired someone else.” Tears filled her eyes at the thought that she’d quit her job for nothing.
“Of course we haven’t.” Her relief was short-lived when he added, “In fact, the school board has decided to do away with the position all-together. If you had replied to the letter we sent, perhaps we wouldn’t have come to that decision.” He raised a brow, his expression unreadable. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have time as well as budget constraints to deal with.” He turned to leave.
“Now you wait just a minute.” Carmen grasped his arm. “You sent me this contract. Isn’t it binding?”
“It would have been, had you replied by the deadline.” He nodded toward the envelope. “Check your letter, Miss Satriano. Perhaps the next time you get such an offer, you’ll read the letter all the way through before pulling up stakes and moving.” Once again, he turned to leave. “Good day.”
Carmen swallowed thickly. What would she do, where would she go?
I can’t go back home!
The last thing she wanted to do was to go back to her uncles’ penthouse and live under their thumbs. They meant well, she knew that. She just didn’t want to be a burden on them anymore.
“How much longer do you think we should stay away from home?” Malik glanced at his best friend for a moment before turning his gaze back to the road.
“Hell, I’d go home now, if it meant we’d find our mate there.” Gable rubbed the palms of his hands on his jeans—a nervous habit he’d picked up a year ago in Philadelphia. If Malik didn’t know better, he would swear the other man had met their mate. Whatever it was Gable had, it was very similar to some of the symptoms of a prolonged case of the Caspian mating heat.
“There’s no reason we couldn’t go to Paradise, though.” Like the cascade, it was a town filled with shifters. “Maybe we should think about checking it out.”
“Why not? It’s not as though we have contracts or anything.” They’d dropped off their last contract capture in Los Angeles the day before and headed north.
Their final bounty was all tied up, thanks to the LA police department. The last criminal they’d captured belonged in the Los Angeles jail, at least until his trial in three days.
Apparently, the US Marshals involved didn’t want to take any chances with transferring the mob boss who had skipped bail and attempted to run to Mexico. Especially since the asshole had taken to threatening to kill everyone involved with his capture and incarceration while awaiting trial.
His threats to kill Malik and Gable fell on deaf ears. As shifters, they were hard to wound and even more difficult to kill. The only way the fugitive could scare them would be to threaten someone they loved. Since neither of them had anyone, the man’s intimidation tactics didn’t work.
“Do you smell that?” Gable inhaled deeply and shivered. “I haven’t smelled anything so delicious since Philadelphia.” He glanced at Malik. “What do you think it is?”