TIGER TIGER, by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
Chicagoland Shifters, Book 2
Veterinary trauma surgeon and animal empath Sasha Soskoff has found everything he ever wanted with his new partners Neal, Steve and Carlos. Life feels as safe and secure as it can be among a group of ex-Marine tiger shifters. Until a homeless man is found, gruesomely mauled and murdered, near Neal’s BDSM club.
When it’s determined a rogue tiger did the deed, the jaguars’ accusing eyes turn toward Sasha’s lovers. The precarious balance of peace tips dangerously toward war.
Neal knows damned well none of his tigers committed the crime. Someone must be in Chicago without his knowledge or permission, and they’d better find him fast before uncertainty and conflict rip the tight-knit band apart from the inside.
As Sasha struggles to heal the stress fractures forming among his tiger family, he begins to wonder if his dreams of a home, and love, were too good to be true. And it’s precisely that moment the killer strikes at the heart of the tiger clan—Sasha himself.
Sasha sat across from Kiril on the spacious booth bench. The bear alpha sat in a chair, his back to the room. Either he trusted his bodyguards or wanted to show everyone his contempt for possible danger. The huge bear shifter who first waved at him sat down and crowded Sasha into the wall. Sasha shot him a sideways glare before meeting Kiril’s gaze.
“I can suggest a nutritious diet for your tribe, your Plemya.”
A smile twitched the narrow lips before Kiril hid it. The large shifter next to him growled under his breath, a soft but threatening sound. Sasha ignored him and reached for a slice of thick black bread and chewed, savoring the taste. Gods, he missed real Russian cooking.
Kiril considered him. Sasha waited while the bear shifter sucked on his incisor, making tiny wet sounds. “You asked for this meeting. Why? It cannot make your tiger happy.”
“You let me worry about keeping my men happy.” Sasha stressed the plural. “I was curious why you wanted me to leave Chicago.”
The bears glanced at each other and the big one shifted his weight in the booth while Kiril frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I got a wonderful job offer from a Justin Polk. Too nice, unless someone raved about me.”
“I cannot compliment the healer that hastened my recovery? Because of you, I was fully healed in five days.”
Sasha cocked his head. “You stayed at the Factory for a week.”
Kiril smirked and he shrugged. “I owed my alpha a full report, especially as it was my last.”
“I’m surprised he knew about me. Doesn’t the New York Plemya already have a doctor?”
The bear snorted. “Three, as well as their own clinic with a full medical staff. But they have questions concerning your treatment of me.”
“In what way?” Sasha sat back as the waiter placed a heaping plate in front of him. The aroma of the pirogi fought with his roiling stomach. “I healed you up right, you even admitted it.” Dammit. He forced his breathing to relax. Wasting a meal because of drama did not factor into his plans for the day.
Kiril waved a hand. “Not bad questions, just curious ones, I promise.”
“In that case, they can ask. I don’t mind.” He couldn’t keep the edge out of his voice and the bear next to him moved in his seat again as though he wanted to speak, but didn’t quite dare.
“Perhaps I will invite them later.” Kiril swept his hand in a circle as though including all of Chicago. “I can show my territory to my former alpha and you can speak with his doctors.” Kiril shrugged. “But come, enjoy your meal. It is rare to find someone here that appreciates my native cuisine.”
Sasha didn’t want to point out the owner of the restaurant wasn’t ethnically Russian, because he loved the aromas of the dish in front of him. If she could cook half as well as it smelled, he didn’t care if Kiril wanted to claim her as his sister. The pirogi had a delicate filling of some kind of cheese and spice and melted on his tongue. The sauce had sour cream in it as well as garlic and butter. His body relaxed as he ate another bite and he closed his eyes to allow his mouth to concentrate.
The bodyguard next to him commented on the food and Russia and before Sasha knew it, he slipped into speaking Russian. It turned out the huge bear that crowded him came from the same region as Sasha’s grandparents.
Sasha spent a moment daydreaming of visiting his family’s homeland. “That would be wonderful to see.”
Kiril smiled, showing pointed incisors. “I can make it possible. I still have many connections in the old country.”
Sasha sat back and took a sip of tea, considering. The bears didn’t offer favors for free. There had to be a price to pay. “And what would be the catch?”
The shifter shrugged. “It would be easy to arrange for a member of my Plemya.”
Sasha almost choked. “You want me to leave the tigers and join your tribe?”
For more, check out TIGER TIGER from Samhain Publishing, available July 23rd. Enjoy!