Hour of the Lion
THE WILD HUNT LEGACY, BOOK 1
First a Marine, then a black ops agent, Victoria Morgan knows the military is where she belongs…until a sniper’s bullet changes her life. Trying to prove she’s not washed up, she rescues a young man from kidnappers. When the dying boy transforms into a cougar—and bites her—she learns of an entire hidden society. He begs her to inform his grandfather of his death and to keep the secret of the shifters’ existence. She can’t refuse, but what if the creatures pose a danger to the country she swore to protect?
As guardian of the shifter territory, Calum McGregor wields the power of life and death over his people. When a pretty human female arrives in their wilderness town, he and his littermate become increasingly concerned. Not only is the little female hiding something, but she is far more appealing than any human should be.
While investigating the shifters, Victoria begins to fall in love with the werecat brothers and the town as well. For the first time in her life, she might have a real home. Her hopes are crushed when a deadly enemy follows her from the city, and the shifters discover she knows their secret. Now nobody is safe—least of all Victoria.
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
"Readers prepare to be swept away by this amazing tale! Author Cherise Sinclair has another winner with Hour of the Lion! 5 Hearts!~ The Romance Studio
Lainey from Coffee Time Romance & Moregives Club Shadowlands 4 Cups and says: "This is generally not a favored genre of mine, but I was so taken with the characters in the club from the beginning that I wanted to finish reading this in one sitting. I can say that those that love BDSM romances should check it out. This is where a one night stand at a club might turn into something."
The Romance Reviews 5 Stars from Michelle R. who says: "There are those books that strike a chord with you. Books that you recommend to everyone you know. Books that you think about in quiet moments. These books change you in some small way. I highly recommend Sinclair’s book to anyone willing to be surprised by the compassion and caring that goes into making a successful Dom/sub relationship work or for anyone just looking to have their toes curl and their blood race."
5 Kisses and a Reviewer’s Choice! from Victoria of Two Lips Reviews who says: "If you’re looking for a fast-paced, intelligent, character driven BDSM story, you need to pick up Cherise Sinclair’s Club Shadowlands. Cherise Sinclair is definitely a new author to watch in the D/s genre."
Ignoring the wood pixie chittering angrily in the oak tree, Sheriff Alec McGregor silently stepped onto the porch, coming up behind the burglar. He tried not to laugh as the criminal squirmed like a paw-pinned mouse.
It’d been a boring week so far. The last excitement was a good four days ago when old Peterson, having indulged in rotgut tequila, tried to demonstrate how to tap-dance on top of Calum’s bar…which he did about once a month.
At least a pinioned burglar had the dubious distinction of being unique.
He rubbed his chin, feeling the rasp of stubble. He’d noticed—being as how he was a guy—what was wiggling was a very fine, nicely rounded ass in tight jeans.
And being a guy, he felt the need to see the front of this dangerous perp who had one leg inside the window and the other outside. He moved silently across the porch and checked out the criminal’s front side to see what else the evening might hold.
Evening is going well. Hair, the rich color of dark walnut, rippled across her shoulders, and her purple T-shirt was tight enough to reveal amazingly lush breasts for such a compact body. Since she was too occupied to notice his arrival, he could study her assets without being considered a macho pig. Abundant. Yes, that would be the word. He’d heard the more-than-a-mouthful is wasted saying, but when it came to breasts, he was a bit of a glutton.
Concentrating on freeing her leg from something, she was oblivious to everything else.
He thought for a minute and decided to speak up. And hey, he needed to see the color of her eyes—for the report and all.
“My jail is empty today,” he remarked sociably. “In case you wondered.”
She froze like a mouse hearing a fox. When huge copper-colored eyes met his, everything inside him came to a halt, like the day he’d been chasing a rabbit and got his leg caught in a steel trap. A hard painful grip, only this time it was his chest being squeezed.
The sound of her breath whuffing out, like she’d been pounced on, cleared his mind. Cop—I’m a cop. And she was a burglar. No pouncing on this little prey allowed…and wasn’t that a damned shame?
“Oh, hell,” the lady perp said, obviously having recovered fast. She now looked more pissed-off than concerned, and that just wasn’t right. “Listen, I’m really just—”
He leaned his hip against the porch railing and crossed his arms. “It’s called breaking and entering,” he offered helpfully.
Her mouth dropped open. “No way. Hey, I talked to the realtor this morning and—.”
“Um-hmm. It’s good you’ve done your homework. Shows a certain pride in your work.”
The sparks in those big eyes almost did him in. “I am not a burglar, dammit. I’m here to rent this place. Amanda Golden is supposed to meet me.”
He studied her for a minute. She had the realtor’s name right—’course it was there plain as could be on the rental sign.
A wisp of scent drifted past him. Blood. Fresh. “You’re bleeding.”
She blinked at the change of subject, and he noticed with pleasure how her thick lashes feathered down against skin tanned almost as dark as her brown eyes.
Herne help him, but she really was lovely—and he shouldn’t let that pretty face suck him in. She probably wrapped every male she met around her ringless, delicate finger.
Besides, she was human. Some shifters enjoyed sampling human females, but he’d never understood the attraction.
He pointed to where a nail had snagged more than her clothing, and blood darkened the leg of her jeans. “Looks like the previous renter overlooked a few nails from last season’s Christmas lights. Let me get you down from there before I start on some serious interrogation.”
Her eyes narrowed, then she leaned forward. Reaching out, she obviously intended to steady herself on his forearms, but the opportunity was too good to ignore. With a smooth move, he dropped low enough that her hands settled on his shoulders instead, and he grasped her around the waist. His fingers curled around surprisingly hard abdominal muscles—the female must work out regularly—and he lifted her up.
She gasped as he swung her onto the porch. Her grip tightened on his shoulders, lean hands, not soft, yet they felt very, very good on his body. Her hands would probably clutch his shoulders—just like that—as he slid inside her, filled her.
He shook his head. Where the hell had that image come from?
Her eyes were huge, and she smelled of pain and fear. He released her immediately. She was frightened. And he could tell it was more than just worry about being arrested. No, she was scared of him. The idea was insulting.
“Um. Thank you.” Her voice was husky.
“My pleasure.” After all, honesty was the best policy, and he’d enjoyed the hell out of getting his hands on her. Was looking forward to enjoying more, but…she was scared of him?
On the street, a white Taurus pulled up behind the Jeep. Amanda Golden slid out, briefcase in hand, hurried up the sidewalk, and onto the porch. “Hello, Alec. Ms. Waverly? I’m sorry I’m late. I got hung up at the title company.”
“That’s all right. I’ve been kept entertained,” his ex-burglar said dryly.
“Well, damn, guess I have to let you go.” And she would have decorated his jail cell so nicely too.
She shot him a nasty look, her appealingly full lips tightly compressed.
When she started to move, Alec tucked a finger under her belt to halt her. “Let’s make sure you aren’t hurt too bad,” he said. “Nails can be nasty.”
As he leaned forward, he realized the faint scent of blood wasn’t just from the nail; it came from multiple places. She had dark red-brown spots on the back of her T-shirt. The gasp when he’d lifted her from the windowsill—had that been from surprise or pain?
He studied her closer. Meticulously applied makeup covered a bruise on the side of her face. There was maybe a lumpy dressing on her shoulder under the T-shirt, and something more than a bra wrapped around her sides.
Now, all that damage might be from a car accident. But that wouldn’t explain why she was scared of him, the most likable fellow on this planet. So. He could be wrong—frequently was—but he picked the most logical explanation.
Someone had beat the hell out of her.
“Where else are you hurt?”
Why would the big sheriff ask that? Vic wondered, feeling a chill. She’d covered the blood and bruises adequately. Had her description and injuries been on an APB?
Dammit, he’d already given her one scare. For a nasty moment, she’d thought Swane had hired him until it became obvious he was just a small-town cop having himself a good time.
“Don’t be silly,” she said, deliberately misunderstanding. “A little nail scrape doesn’t warrant all this concern.”
Nudging his arm away, she shook hands with the realtor. “Ms. Golden, nice to meet you.”
“Just call me Amanda.” Tall, blonde, wearing silky black pants with matching jacket, she was the epitome of a refined style that Vic had never mastered. After giving Vic’s hand a firm shake, the realtor frowned at the cop. “Is there a problem?”
“You got here just in time,” Vic said. “Your policeman was about to arrest me and haul me away.”
Amanda’s snicker wasn’t at all businesslike. “Ah, yes. If his jail’s not overflowing with criminals, Alec feels he’s not doing his job.” She leaned forward and whispered loudly, “Of course, it’s only a two-cell jailhouse.”
Vic smiled and glanced over her shoulder to see how the sheriff took being taunted. With one hip propped on the railing and a lazy grin on his tanned face, he didn’t look too upset.
When his focus shifted from Amanda to Vic, his gaze intensified, as if he were trying to see inside her. She felt a quiver low in her belly, but from worry or attraction—she wasn’t sure. Probably worry.
Towering six feet five or so with appallingly broad shoulders that narrowed to a trim waist, the man moved like a trained fighter. Not all spit and polish like a soldier though. His golden-brown hair brushed the collar of his khaki-uniform, and he’d rolled his sleeves up, revealing corded wrists and muscular forearms. She remembered how easily he’d lifted her, how those big hands had wrapped around her. He was damned powerful, despite the easy-going manner.
Yeah, the quiver was definitely from worry.
But then he smiled at the realtor, and a dimple appeared at one corner of his mouth. The laugh lines around his eyes emphasized a thin blue-tinted scar that angled across his left cheekbone as if someone had marked him with a pen. His voice was deep and smooth and slow as warm honey, and she felt her muscles relax. “You have a mean streak, Amanda,” he was saying. “I’ll have to warn Jonah.”
“He wouldn’t believe you,” the realtor said as she worked on unlocking the front door.
The sheriff turned, letting that should-be-a-registered-weapon grin loose on Vic, and her temperature rose. “So,” he said, “Ms. Waverly, will you be staying in Cold Creek?”
He was gorgeous, and he looked at her as if she was something tasty. “Um…” she said and his smile increased a fraction, just enough that she realized what an idiot she was. You’re losing it, Sergeant. She scowled at him. “A while.”
And the sooner she left this damn town, the better.
The breeze whipped his shaggy hair “Well, while you’re here—” he started.
“I need to get my stuff,” she interrupted. Anything to escape. Odd how the scare from the sheriff’s appearance had wiped out her need to pee.
To her annoyance, he followed her down the steps. “You’re going to enjoy Cold Creek,” he said. Before she could dodge, he slung an arm around her shoulders, and she felt his fingers trace the thick gauze dressing covering the cat-bite.
“Thank you, but I can manage,” she said, smoothly enough despite the way her heart was pounding. Then she looked up.
Dark green eyes the color of the mountain forests narrowed, and he studied her like she was a puzzle to be solved. A quiver ran up her spine as she realized the laidback manner and slow voice camouflaged a razor-sharp intelligence. Knives tended to come at a person in two ways: dark and hidden, or out in the open, all bright and shiny. A bright and shiny blade could still leave you bleeding on the sands.
She pulled away. “I’ll be fine.”
“Well then, I’ll take myself off so you can get settled in.” He waved at Amanda Golden and smiled at Vic, but this time the smile didn’t touch his eyes. “I’m sure we’ll run into each other again, Ms. Waverly. Cold Creek’s a small town.”
Cordial, polite. And Vic heard the threat underneath.