Predator's Refuge

By: Rosanna Leo

That hadn’t gone over well. Luckily Soren had a forgiving mate, one who’d become her friend since the odd encounter. It still didn’t mean she didn’t grimace internally every time she spotted Gioia around the resort. Thank God the couple was vacationing in St. Lucia right now, meaning one less thing to cause stress in her already overloaded system.

Marci had spent months sucking back embarrassing pangs of lust in the presence of unmated men. It wasn’t as bad as it used to be, but the ominous purrs of her lynx let her know the animal still sought to appease its hunger. Nevertheless, her job meant the world to her. Determined to remain professional, she ignored the fact her heat-consumed lynx seemed to think every unmated male was a special sexual delivery.

At least her virginity had been ruled out as an issue. Before she’d lost it, her lynx had been insatiable, causing a dreadful ruckus every time one of her male colleagues happened by, to say nothing of the lodge customers.

Luckily, she’d been able to rely on her old pal Killian Moon. The jaguar shifter, one of the other mentors in Ryland’s program, stepped in when he’d witnessed Marci’s agony. She’d asked him to take her virginity, knowing there wouldn’t be any awkwardness afterward. After all, they weren’t interested in each other romantically. She’d just needed to scratch a terrible itch. Okay, it might not have been professional to sleep with a colleague, but Killian was the only one Marci trusted to help her through the transition. They’d been friends for years, since their school days on the mainland.

It helped. A little bit.

She didn’t feel the need to maul passing men in the hallways anymore, but her lynx prowled inside her, still restless. It threatened her regularly. It sought … something different. Sought it everywhere.

Which was why Marci had embarked on a campaign to silence the animal. As much as it hurt to ignore her primal instinct to seek out a mate, she slapped a lid on her bothersome lynx. Every time the animal so much as cracked open its eyes, Marci forced it into a virtual corner of her being. So far, in public, her scheme was working.

But in private…

Now that she hid behind closed doors, the fever set in, rampaging through her like a bloody horseman of the apocalypse. Her lynx reared its lascivious head and let out a cry of sexual frustration.

“Feed me!” it screamed.

She might think she had the animal under control, but during those quiet, vulnerable moments, the beast attacked her again and again, demanding she listen. Demanding she provide the man it so obviously craved.

“I don’t know who you want,” Marci spat in disgust. “Leave me alone!”

The great cat banged against her insides, clamoring for attention and satiation. Swallowing past the thick walls of her throat, Marci dashed into her bedroom and threw the walkie-talkie to the carpeted floor. She collapsed onto her bed. Kicking off her skirt, she ripped a hole in the crotch of her pantyhose and shoved aside the elastic of her panties.

With a frenzied cry, Marci slid her fingers between her sore, swollen lips and rubbed herself to orgasm to the sounds of her lynx moaning. As the animal in her howled, presenting its ass to some invisible partner, Marci bit down on her bottom lip and stifled a primal shout. Even after coming, her orgasm a mere shadow of the one building in her system, she felt no relief. Her lynx wasn’t satisfied and wouldn’t stop crying.

It wanted more. It wanted a man.

Well, it would have to wait. She had a job to do.

Marci sat up and wiped at her clammy face, and then supported her pounding head. She stared at her ripped hose, frowned, and let out a long sigh.

She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep this up.

* * * *

Anton Gaspar disembarked from the Gemini Island ferryboat. Before doing anything else, he touched his fingers to his brow, chest, left and right shoulder in sequence, in the sign of the cross.

Old habits die hard.

Sighing, he tossed his duffel bag over his shoulder, and then clutched the two large suitcases that contained the most essential of his worldly belongings. A few outfits, his fencings foils, some toiletries, and his Bible were all he needed. As the ferry made ready to pull away, he stole a moment and took in the surroundings of his new home and work.

Gemini Island, Ontario, such a long way from Budapest, jarred him in its differences. In this tree-covered place, he could spy no majestic historic buildings nor delicate bridges. No statues to dead royals, ornamented in bird excrement. No fountains and picturesque roads.

Perfect. He breathed long and deep, and the brisk autumn air found a home in his lungs.

He made a few other quick comparisons between the island and the seat of his family’s power. There was no corruption here; he could smell its absence. Unlike home, Gemini Island seemed free from the stench of long-dried blood and betrayal. In this more innocent place, he would not always have to constantly swallow the acid tang of violence as it clung to every wall and every person.

God help him, he’d make sure it stayed that way. He needed to know places like this existed in the world.

He flexed his Siberian tiger muscles and began the walk to the Ursa Lodge, ready to begin. No looking back.