She has a future to decide on.… Mischief Jones—Missy to her friends—has never taken the easy route in life. She turned down a full ride to a four-year school to attend her local college because it kept her close to Nene, the woman who raised her. A fosterling, she knows better than to share her secrets, and she has choices to make for her uncertain future, but the TA in her history class challenges and fills her with wary interest every time they meet.… Nature made him a leader.… Cade Hayes has a mission, and the last thing he expected to find on the tiny college campus was a mongrel—shifters of dubious parentage and mixed blood. But the mountain lion can’t deny the provocative nature of her scent or the allure to stalk her and make her his. He should drive her away; her presence threatens his claim for territory and his pride needs land, but he rapidly discovers he hungers to take this mongrel for a mate.… In a fight to survive…will a mountain lion tame a liger?
The female had bolted the moment class ended. Cade had been at Wasatch College for less than a week. He’d graduated from the University of New Mexico with a master’s degree the previous spring, and he’d shopped his next job with extreme care. Wasatch College sat in a picturesque valley in the Wasatch Mountain Range—open, beautiful, and perfect. Unclaimed territory.
Except for this feline in Burke’s sophomore world history class. He wanted to know who she was and what the hell she was doing there. The wise young kitty had fled, but she hadn’t been so fast as to clear the area before he exited the building. Orange spice and pine tickled his nostrils. He’d not scented her well enough to know if it was her, but when he scanned the area and settled his gaze on the trees—he couldn’t miss the rustle of the leaves.
Leaves rustling without a breeze? Not likely.
Intrigued, and determined, he slid through the hedges and strode across the green grass to stand in the shade of the tree. Above him, crouched on a branch, his quarry regarded him with honey-brown eyes and an expression of hostile curiosity.
“Come down, kitty,” he said in a low voice she should most certainly be able to hear.
The way her nose scrunched told him he hadn’t been wrong. Her mouth compressed into a thin line, and mutiny darkened her eyes. Pretty kitty or not, he would not tolerate disobedience. No pride or pack claimed this area—so the open land was subject to his claim.
He was Alpha.
“Now.” He let his cat shine through his eyes. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”
Scowling, she continued her resistance and shifted from her crouch to sit on the branch, legs dangling in defiance. On closer inspection, her dusky skin was sun-drenched golden brown, her exotic features more Indian than Caucasian—and not Native American, but India Indian. Maybe a foreign transplant? An exchange student?
If so, they could work this out. His pride could provide her with protection until she left his territory. Extending her an offer of shelter would also solidify his claim. The stubborn kitten, however, continued her standoff, refusing to come down.
Shifting sideways, he scanned the area. Most of the students had cleared out. This lecture hall wasn’t situated near the library, dorms, or cafeteria. Scenting no one close and finding no one after a quick visual scan, he scaled the tree in two short leaps and landed on the branch nearest his prey.
Eyes wide, she stared at him, her muscles coiled. He caught her arm before she could leap away, and she raked claws down his biceps before he caught her other wrist. “Be nice, kitty. I haven’t tried to attack you.”
Even if she could make the argument he’d cornered her in the tree, he had invited her down first.
“Let me go.” Low, husky—like sex—her voice stroked his cock to stiffness.
“Promise not to run away?” Despite the sting of her claws and the coppery hint of blood she’d drawn, he didn’t want her any farther than she was at the moment. Her eyes went feline, deep gold and slitted.
“I don’t have to promise you anything.”
“Bad kitty.” He grinned. He hadn’t woken this morning planning a battle of wills, but this little kitten was no threat. Fear underscored her anger, and the same fear had her hackles up and claws out.
“Rude.” Another blink, and her eyes were human again.
“Effective,” he argued, and nodded to where he still shackled her wrists. “Promise to behave?”
Huffing out a sigh, she nodded. “I won’t claw your face off, but that’s all I’m promising.”
“Reasonable,” he said, without releasing her. “Add your name to sweeten the deal, and I’ll let go.”
Her eyebrows rose, and her nostrils flared. She wore her outrage beautifully. Amused at her unflinching defiance, he gave her time to think about his offer.
“Fine,” she growled. “My name is Missy. Now. Let. Me. Go.”
A deal was a deal. He released her wrists and dropped to the ground even as she did because he’d expected her to flee. “You could give a guy a complex, trying to run away like you are.”