Leopard's Fury(4)

By: Christine Feehan


“You bitch,” Robert bit out. “You aren’ gettin’ away with this.”

“What are you talkin’ about? I’m not tryin’ to get away with anythin’.”

“You told Saria I wasn’t in the rain forest. You couldn’t just let it go.”

She frowned, shaking her head. “I haven’t spoken to Saria in months. I’ve been too busy.” She should have. Her friend would be worried about her.

Robert stalked her across the room, and she couldn’t help herself. In spite of her determination not to give ground, she did, backing up almost to the door.

“Fuckin’ liar. Tryin’ to get me in trouble. I was goin’ to let it go. The last thing I want is a woman who can’t shift, but now you’re goin’ to pay for tryin’ to get Drake and the others to come lookin’ for me. This is the way it’s goin’ to be. I’ve been stayin’ in a room in town but now I’m goin’ to be stayin’ with you. Hand over the keys to your house. And I need money. I know you got it, and you can give it to me.”

“You’re out of your mind if you think I’m goin’ to let you move in with me. I earned any money I have and it goes to payin’ bills.”

He backhanded her. Hard. Her cheek felt as if it had exploded. Her eyes teared up and she found herself on the floor. He was strong, incredibly strong, and his leopard was close. She could see it in his eyes, those yellowish-green eyes glowing with menace at her.

Deep inside her, wildness woke a feral, dark creature; furious, raging even. The skin raised along her arms and legs, an itch heralding the arrival of her other.

No, Bebe, she said sharply. He can’t know about you. She’d take a beating before she’d ever expose her best friend to such an abomination of a shifter.

Robert came at her again, deliberately using the stalking motion of the leopard. When she tried to get up off the floor, he hit her again, striking the same side of her face. The pain made her feel sick to her stomach.

She heard the bell over the door as if in the distance, and then, blinking to clear the tears from her eyes, she saw Robert doubling over, grunting, his breath a sob. Her Iceman was standing over him, his big, gloved fist hitting hard, over and over. She heard ribs crack. Heard them. A short uppercut to the chin staggered Robert and he went to his knees. The Iceman caught him around the waist and half walked, half dragged him out the door.

Evangeline tried to pull herself up by using the wall, all the while staring out the window. There was a black town car with darkened windows parked in front of her bakery. A man in a suit held the door open while the Iceman thrust Robert inside and then climbed in after him. It wasn’t more than thirty seconds at most before he emerged, looking exactly the same.

Through the open door of the car she caught a glimpse of Robert slumped on the seat, his neck at an odd angle. She shivered as her Iceman spoke briefly to the driver and then slammed the door. He waited until the car drove off, spoke briefly into his phone and then returned to the shop.

He hadn’t changed expression. Not once. Not when he’d been beating the crap out of Robert and not when he’d gotten out of the car. She was almost certain Robert was dead. Her Iceman hadn’t bothered to call his leopard to fight Robert’s. She knew that would have been a sign of respect and clearly the Iceman didn’t feel any at all for Robert.

“Are you all right?” He crouched beside her.

Up close he smelled as good as he looked. A little wild. But like a cool forest, one covered in snow in the winter. His eyes were even more beautiful than she’d first thought. So cold they made her shiver. So blue she thought she could drown.

“Evangeline.” She needed him to know her name. “I’m Evangeline.”

“I know.” He touched her cheek with gentle fingers. He wore gloves, so it wasn’t skin-to-skin contact, but it didn’t matter, her body still reacted with heat.

How could he know her name? It wasn’t like it was on the bakery anywhere. Just an E. She’d used calligraphy and the letter came out elegant, just what she was going for in her shop. Small Sweet Shoppe. She’d loved that for some odd reason and she still did.

“This is where you tell me your name.”

He wrapped his arm around her waist and lifted her to her feet, retaining his hold so that she didn’t fall. That something wild in her unfurled. Stretched. Reached toward her Iceman until her skin felt tight, itched like crazy and then receded.

Don’t you dare, she cautioned.

She had the impression of amusement and then she was alone again.