Strength can be drawn from pain…if the heart can heal faster than...
In a world where humans are below Shifters, a tiger falls for a human...
He needs your heart to survive.
They have opened the door to the apex predator, and now it is hunting them.
The Shadow Series, 1
In a world where humans are below Shifters, a tiger falls for a human girl. To love her is to kill her.
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Rush, a tiger shifter with an abusive Alpha, finds himself wishing for more with Jane, a human girl.
The kind of “more” he wants is the kind everyone warns them against. Jane may be the love of his life, but their love is forbidden. If their secret is discovered by his Alpha, there’ll be more than hearts at stake.
There will be blood.
Thursday arrived, and Rush did not have a partner for class. He checked the sign-up sheet when he walked in. Eighteen students had paired up leaving only him and one other person. The human girl he helped toss out of Pasha’s on Monday.
Rush slowly eased into his desk and watched for her to arrive late. It was only the fourth day, and she had come in late twice, not something he wanted in a partner. He thought about speaking up and asking Mrs. Fruchtbahm if he could work alone, but he didn’t want to explain why. In the past few classes, he had experienced his teacher's “no nonsense” attitude toward just about everything.
The girl slipped into class as the second hand slid over 8:30. He almost smiled; she was trying at least. She plopped into her seat and gave him a friendly smile as she unpacked her books.
He hadn’t spoken to her since the awful apology. The apology, which in his mind, wasn’t enough to merit forgiveness or acceptance on her part.
He battled with himself throughout the entire class, debating how to approach her and if he even should. Malachi would not be pleased to find out he was working with a human. The same human he had almost “helped” the other day, although God willing he would never know that part.
“So, here’s the thing...” The girl whipped around as soon as Mrs. Fruchtbahm wrapped up her lecture. “I don’t have a partner, and I know you don’t have a partner. We’re stuck. It’s not an ideal situation, but what else can we do? I already tried to ask if I could work by myself, but I was quickly, and very rudely I might add, shut down. What do you say, wanna be study partners?”
The girl was out of breath, eyes wide.
“I’m Jane, by the way,” she said, her words tripping over one another.
Malachi is going to kill me. “Okay.”
“We’ll meet at the school library Friday and Saturday early in the morning.” They were the only times he could put aside when he wasn’t already at school or at work.
“Okay,” she agreed blinking in disbelief.
Rush stood and headed for the door.
“Wait, what does early mean to you?” she asked, piling her books into her backpack.
“Seven.” He choked on a laugh as her mouth fell open in horror.
“You can’t be serious.” She rose. She was nearly his height with short black curls like a boy. Although, not at all like any boy he had seen.
“That will give us four hours to study.” He fingered the strap of his bag. Why wasn’t this conversation over? He had expected to keep this short and simple. Something held his feet in place waiting for her to gather her things and follow him.
“Four hours.” Jane sighed. “Right, okay. I will meet you there.”
He nodded once more and forced himself to leave the room. If he stayed with her one more second, he might invite her to join his friends for lunch. Ridiculous.
Where is your head today, Rush?
~ * ~
This cannot end well.
Rush seated McKey in the Arts section. He was planning on setting up camp in the far corner of the History section among the Biographies. Hopefully, no one was itching to learn anything about old stuff that already happened.
“I’m going to be just over there.” He ran a hand over her hair. “Can you stay right here for the next few hours?”
McKey narrowed her eyes at him as he leaned over the desk. He was starting to panic, and she could see and smell it all over him.
“Listen, my study partner is not exactly normal.” He couldn’t tell her. If he did, then Malachi would punish her for knowing and not speaking up. “Never mind, will you be okay?”
She nodded, opening a book and paging through it. Experience had taught him he could study while she sat quietly with a book or sketch pad. She didn’t need outside entertainment or for anyone to hold her hand. He wasn’t worried about her being able to sit still--he was worried she would see Jane and ask questions.
“Okay.” He pushed off the table and found a good spot away from prying eyes and hidden by several walls of bookshelves. He checked his watch. She was late. Of course.
I barely know this person, and already I can expect her to be late.
Twenty minutes later, he heard the library door open. He sighed and sat up straight. Was it her? He sniffed the air, but all he could smell was dust, books and polished wood. The sound of crumpling paper and footsteps tumbled toward him.
“Oh, there you are,” Jane exclaimed, her cheeks flushed and forehead glistening. She was carrying a large brown paper bag along with her school bag.
Twenty minutes late.
“Sorry, I’m late, but I have breakfast and snacks to keep us alert.” She grinned and began unloading the paper bag. Two coffees, breakfast sandwiches and assorted chips and snack cakes.
He raised his eyebrows. He had already had breakfast with McKey earlier, but he wasn’t opposed to eating again. The smell of bacon dissolved his annoyance into appreciation.
“Here.” She shoved half of everything to his side of the table and fell into her chair. Jane was such a strange girl. She was constantly falling into chairs rather than calmly sitting down or bursting into doors instead of opening them with a soft hand.
He took a sip of coffee and watched as she struggled with her books and then to find a pencil.
“Gotcha.” She smiled and held her pencil above an open notebook. “Now, where do we start?”
How was he going to study with someone else? It was far better to study alone in the quiet of his room or sitting with McKey while she sketched. How did he get himself into this mess? Even worse, how would he explain himself to Malachi if asked directly about his study partner? Could he lie? Would he? Lying would only make things worse in the long run.
“Are you not a morning person?” Jane asked, unwrapping the white and yellow paper from her sandwich. “I can be if I want to, but I definitely love sleeping in. Sunrises are okay, but in my opinion sunsets are where it’s at, am I right?”
Man, she was trying so hard.
Rush’s stomach twisted, he spun the coffee cup and stared down at his textbook. They should be studying not socializing. I can’t become friends with her. If we start talking, she’ll think we’re friends and then what happens? Malachi won’t like this.
“We should get to work,” he said in a low voice.
“Oh, right, of course.” Jane looked away.
I hurt her. I caused that pain in her eyes. Why do I feel sick now?
He cleared his throat. “I think we should use our tests from yesterday to help us map out a study guide for next week’s chapters,” he said to break the unease with a safe topic.
Safe. Sure, safe.
Nothing about this is safe.