Panda shifter Rodney is in trouble. His gambling debts are well over what he can ever hope to pay off, and now the sharks are after him. They find him one night and Rodney thinks he’s in for a beating, but instead they trade him to Lady Leo, who owns an exclusive kink club. Kinky Kritters isn’t for the faint of heart, and Rodney is definitely out of his element. He has no idea how to be submissive, and he’s frightened, especially when his hands are tied behind his back, he’s blindfolded, and he’s put up for auction.
Mordechai is a panther who’s been with plenty of shifters, but never a panda. He has money to burn and a curiosity about Rodney that won’t be easily satisfied. One night isn’t going to cut it, though. Not when he’s thinking about Rodney even when he’s not at the club. What started as simple curiosity might be able to lead to far more, if only this cat is willing to take a chance on love with a panda.
Rodney cried out, ending with a whimper as he was slammed up against the brick facade of the office building he worked in. The thick smell of murky water rushed around him, and he felt as though he was drowning in it. The sharks around him just laughed. Struggling against their hold did nothing to break their grip on his arms, and one of them closed his hand around Rodney’s neck. The shark’s fingers were thick, rough, and cold.
“So, where’s the money, panda boy?” the shark growled. Its beady brown eyes were dark and dangerous.
After weeks of managing to avoid the casino enforcers, Rodney’s luck had run out. He gagged at the strong grip on his throat. “I don’t have it.”
“Wrong answer.” The shark’s grip tightened. “You’re more than fifty thousand underwater to us. I haven’t bothered to check and see if you owe money to any of the other casinos in town.” He glanced at the other sharks around him. They all shook their heads.
“You’re the only one,” Rodney managed to choke out. His gambling luck had been so bad in recent years that he’d stopped going to multiple casinos for fear of having several enforcers come for him at the same time.
A toothy grin spread across the shark’s face. “Good. We’re going to sell you off to the highest bidder. You better hope you bring a good price.”
Rodney slumped in the man’s grip. “What?” He’d never heard of anyone being sold off to pay their gambling debts. His heart pounded even harder.
The shark laughed. “You heard me. But don’t worry, it’s not like it’s slavery or anything.”
One of the men holding his arms laughed. “Well, unless he’s into that sort of thing.”
“What sort of thing?” Rodney had a feeling it was going to be something really bad.
“Oh, you’ll see.” The shark with his hand around Rodney’s neck let go as a silver van pulled up to the curb. “Get him inside. Let’s get him delivered so the boss can figure out what a good price for him’s going to be.”
The two men on his arms picked Rodney up and carried him to the van as the back doors opened and revealed another shark, grinning at them over the back of the driver’s seat. It was a dangerous toothy grin, the kind only shark shifters could pull off. Rodney suddenly felt like a seal pup being tossed about by great whites as the two lifted him into the van and climbed in with him.
The doors slammed shut. Not for the first time, Rodney wished he’d stayed in Arkansas and never come to Las Vegas. If he’d never discovered gambling and just been happy being a simple grocery store clerk, his life would’ve been so much better. He understood produce and customer service, and he had a good life. He hadn’t owed anyone money, and he’d had a family he could count on. Now he was being manhandled by sharks and he was about to be sold into something, but he had no idea what. His life was horrible, and just getting worse by the minute. Rubbing his sore throat, he curled in on himself and wished it would just end.
The van stopped after a few blocks and the sharks got out. The two who kept lifting him by his arms picked him up again and dragged him out. They were in an immaculate garage, with several other vehicles around them. Rodney barely registered that they were high-dollar cars and SUVs. The sharks took him through a dark wood door and into a plush hallway. Thick carpet muffled their heavy footfalls.
“Wait here,” ordered the shark who’d tried to strangle him. Without waiting for a reply, the man turned and slipped inside another door.
Rodney slumped against the expensively paneled wall and looked at his shoes. He didn’t care to meet the eyes of the sharks who stood on either side of him. The smell of salt water that permeated the air around them was all the reminder he needed of their continued presence.
If he hadn’t been so scared of what was about to happen to him, Rodney might’ve enjoyed this place. He liked being in expensive buildings. They made him feel important. That was what had attracted him to the casinos in the first place—they were elegant and expensive. When he started gambling, he’d hoped to hit it big quickly so he could go out and get himself a nice house and a hot boyfriend. Unfortunately, with each loss, his dreams of being something more than he was—a poor disowned panda—faded further and further into the distance.
The door the head shark had disappeared into opened, and the man held it ajar. “The deal’s been made. Come on in.” He grinned, showing more teeth than a human could possibly have. A clear indication he spent a little too much time in his shark form.
The two on either side of Rodney gestured toward the door, and Rodney forced himself to straighten and walk in. Walking was much better than being dragged.
The room turned out to be an office. A statuesque woman with long blonde hair sat behind an almost black mahogany desk. She seemed to study Rodney as he walked up to her. She had the gaze of a very dangerous predator. “Please, Mr. Olyrea, have a seat.”
As he drew closer, the heavy, musky scent of cat filled his nose. He shook his head and looked at her closely. He couldn’t tell what kind of big cat she was, but he knew she was more than he wanted to take on. Pandas weren’t very dangerous, particularly when compared to a big cat. Rodney settled into the chair she’d indicated and folded his hands over his less-than-firm middle.
A soft laugh came from the woman. “Mr. Olyrea... may I call you Rodney?”