Leopard's Fury(9)

By: Christine Feehan

Evangeline glanced up, and instantly it was there. That smile she reserved solely for him. He’d seen countless customers come in over the last few months. She always smiled at them, but not like that. That smile was reserved for him alone and that told him she didn’t have a man. No one had come in and tried to steal her out from under him.

She had a fantasy mouth—one he’d dreamt of many times. He’d woken up every one of those times with his fist on his cock and the dream of her mouth tight around him. Her eyes were a true emerald, startling green, rich and warm, and he wanted her looking up at him when he fucked her mouth. He always dreamt of her that way. If she had any idea of the dirty things he wanted to do to her, she’d order him out and lock the door behind him. Yeah, and if any other man ever had the same thoughts about her and he knew it, that man would be dead within the hour.

“Alonzo, I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Even her voice got to him. Low. Sexy. So damned sweet he wanted to take a bite out of her. He stepped up to the counter. Behind him, Timur prowled to the restroom, yanked open the door and looked inside and then moved back to the storefront windows to peer out. Alonzo thought about pulling out a gun and shooting him. He didn’t need Timur acting like his bodyguard, even though that was what he was.

Gorya was worse. His cousin was a ladies’ man. Handsome. Charming. He had that lean, lithe build women seemed to go for. He was everything Alonzo wasn’t. Alonzo was all corded muscle. Ropes of it. Rugged. He always looked like he had a two-day growth on his jaw, no matter how many times he shaved. He was tall, towering over Evangeline and probably intimidating the hell out of her. If he didn’t, he should. He had scars on his face and neck. More on his body. He didn’t smile, nor did he know how to make clever conversation. He was rough-looking by any standard, and next to his cousin, he would come up short every time.

Evangeline’s gaze left his face and moved to Gorya’s. She flashed a smile at him and for a moment Alonzo stiffened, his fingers curling into a tight fist inside his thin leather gloves. He had the fists of a fighter and he’d never lost a fight yet. He hoped like hell Gorya remembered that fact. He hoped he was aware of just what the tattoos covering his body meant as well.

He realized she had given his cousin her low-watt smile. Polite. Sweet, but impersonal. She still reserved the real one for him. His gut, tied up in knots, relaxed a little.

“Good morning. Can I get something for you?” That was directed at Gorya.

Her voice stroked caresses over Alonzo’s skin. Men like Alonzo didn’t have a woman of their own. Not ever. It was far too dangerous. He didn’t live in Evangeline’s world. He stayed in the underbelly, where it was dark and ugly and everyone existing there was dark and ugly as well. He knew the business inside and out, smuggling, gunrunning, prostitutes, gambling, money laundering, the list went on and on. He knew them all. He’d been born into that ugly world—on the other side of the world in Russia, but still the same everywhere. He’d never left it. Never gotten out of it. Not even when he’d come to the States.

Gorya winked at Evangeline. “I had no idea the women were so beautiful in this city or I would have come sooner.”

“Gorya.” It was a warning. No one could mistake it for anything else. Alonzo wasn’t about to have his cousin flirt with his woman. Okay. She wasn’t his. Not yet. She never would be, because along with taking over the Arnotto territory when Antonio Arnotto had been murdered, Alonzo was a shifter with the worst leopard imaginable.

His leopard, an Amur leopard, was a killer. Vicious. Cunning. Fast as hell. Ready to fight at the drop of a hat. Prodding, raking and clawing Alonzo every moment of every day. The cat hated everyone equally. Women were in danger. Alonzo could fuck them but then he had to get them the hell out of his sight because his leopard was so savage after, he was never certain he could control the beast. There were no cozy dates and romantic interludes. He’d never had that. The only place his cat subsided and gave him a respite was here, in this bakery. Even at night, when he slept, his cat wanted to hunt and often challenged him. He’d had to put up metal bars on the windows and steel plating on the doors to ensure his cat remained indoors while he slept. What man could ask a woman to share that kind of life?

Evangeline was a woman a man kept. He wanted her in his bed. He wanted to wake up to her, go to sleep with her. Have those fucking romantic dates with her. He didn’t realize he was scowling at Gorya until his cousin moved nervously away from the counter.