Stripe Tease(7)

By: Milly Taiden

For a second there, she’d almost been home free, and then guilt ate at her. The tiger had saved her. She needed to make sure he was okay. And possibly, figure out if the tiger was the man sitting by the stage, staring at her. She’d been able to make out his features because the glow in his eyes captured her attention…and kept it.

She ran after the animal into the entrance of the park she knew well. It was the only one around for miles. She swatted at cold, sweaty leaves and followed the brightness from the moon and the color swooshes up ahead. The tiger moved fast, but not fast enough. She wondered if he was hurt.

“Come back!” She felt so stupid telling a giant tiger to come back. What she should be doing is getting the hell away from him, but was she? Nope. It appeared she had a death wish.

She finally slowed down when she reached a slope in the park that led to a man-made creek. Vegas wasn’t known for trees and forests, so this was the closest the city got to nature, and it was amazingly taken care of by the local government.

She stopped when she reached the water’s edge. The creek was small. Like a little kid’s pool, but she had no idea if it was deep or not. The animal stared at the water and then glanced up to meet her gaze.

Her heart pounded in her ears, robbing her of the ability to think, much less speak. She recognized his eyes as the guy from the club. She opened her mouth and closed it a few times trying to get words out. Still, she made the effort.

“Who are you?”

The tiger remained quiet. He licked his nose, and though on a puppy that was cute, on this massive animal, it made her all kinds of uncomfortable. His body started to change before her. Bones and muscles pulled and shrunk so fast that if she blinked, she’d have missed it.

The guy was tall, like damn tall and built like a Mack truck. She had never felt so small in front of a man before. And that was to say nothing of the body on him: lean lines and muscles galore. Her blood heated as she stared at his nakedness.

For most of her life, Vanessa had dated guys who treated her nicely but had nothing going for them. Nothing. They were sweet and promised her the world. And never delivered. The previous year, she’d vowed to find a man worthy of her love, one who was the full package. By making that pledge, she stopped herself from dating the usual males. This meant she hadn’t seen a naked man in almost a year, and she’d never seen one this good-looking.

“You can stop staring at me like that,” he said, his voice so sinfully low she got shivers. “I’m not going to do anything bad to you.”

Um, okay. He definitely couldn’t read minds because something bad was the last thing on her mind. Well, not really. She was thinking up a heck of a lot of bad things they could do together. Wow. Who would’ve thought that depriving herself of sex would make her this desperate? She didn’t even know the shifter.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to stare.” She glanced up to his face and struggled to keep her gaze locked to his golden one. “Thanks for your help back there.”

He nodded, a slight lift of his lips showing his humor. “You’re welcome. It looked like you almost had it all under control.”

She shrugged. “I come out of a club every night surrounded by drunk men. There is always the possibility someone will turn stupid with liquor. Though some are really stupid without it.”

“Why did you follow me?” He took a step toward her, his gaze searching hers.

“I wanted to make sure you were okay. I’m sure those guys will tell the police a big-ass tiger attacked them, but who’s gonna believe them? Not like you see tigers roaming the strip.”

“Thank you. I’m fine.” He took another step toward her, his abs contracting with each breath he took. Jesus Christ. There was no way in hell she could stop herself from staring. He was a fucking work of art.

“ sure?” What the heck was she asking?

He nodded. “I’m fine. Do you need me to take you home?” He glanced at her lips and then up to her eyes.

She cleared her throat, her hands shaking from how turned on she suddenly was. “I’m fine.” Was she really? She felt all kinds of hot, and her skin felt tight, like she was dehydrated even though she made sure to drink lots of water all day.