Striped Passions Series Book 1
Copyright © 2017 by D.B. Shayne
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be distributed to other persons or re-sold. Please purchase an additional copy for each recipient if you would like to share this e-book. This is a work of fiction and any similarity to any person dead or living is coincidental.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“I’m sorry you want me to interview who?” Jasmine leaned forward in the chair, regarding her boss with shock and unease. Annie Johnson’s eyebrows lifted high as she tapped the rubber end of a pencil on the mahogany surface of her office desk.
“Is there a problem Ms. Moore?”
“Well, not really, no, it’s just, well, he’s a tiger shifter,” she replied weakly. Yep, it is truly a Monday morning.
“Jasmine, the city of Durham is renowned for its cultural diversity. You’ve been here almost a year and I have to say I’m quite surprised by your reaction.”
“I know, I know. This is the best city in Carleynes,” Jasmine said, referring to the metropolis of the nation. “And I have no problem with the tigers, wolves and the like Ms. Johnson, it’s just they can be so possessive.”
“That’s common knowledge. Aren’t regular humans, for want of a better word, guilty of the same thing?” Jasmine settled back in the chair and released a long soft sigh, running her hands through her dark brown, shoulder length hair. Her gently rounded face tightened in apprehension. She was deeply curious as to why a seasoned journalist was not selected for the task but was not going to question her boss’ delegation.
“I feel like I’m missing something here. You’ve interviewed lycans, lions and several others.”
“I, it’s just this would be the first time I’m interviewing a tiger shifter.” Ms. Johnson grew increasingly confused at Jasmine’s behaviour which made absolutely no sense to her.
“This is a great assignment Jasmine. We have been after Terrence for months to do a personal interview and he’s turned us down every time-we’re lucky he changed his mind and the story will undoubtedly bolster our image and reputation.” Annie’s eyes brightened as she imagined the front cover of the next edition for Durham Financial Times. Terrence Devereux had only participated in one interview, and that was when he commenced his leadership of Devereux Industries.
“I know Ms. Johnson but shifters can be relentless when they’ve set eyes on a woman they want to be a mate.
“Jasmine, the man is not going to throw you to the floor and have his way with you-at least not without your consent.” Jasmine’s cinnamon skin tightened at the statement. Annie’s mouth pulled into a smile. “I won’t send you to do something that would endanger you Jasmine.”
“I know, I know. I wonder why he changed his mind though.” Jasmine’s hazel eyes narrowed as her thoughts went into overdrive. The assignment would be like a gold nugget on her résumé and undoubtedly garner a glowing recommendation. And most important, cement the position she applied for at Nation Daily Business Journal in the neighbouring country of Whittenbey which hinged entirely on said recommendation. The editor fully supported her decision of not becoming stagnant by latching on to one place for very long periods but broadening her experience and skills wherever the opportunity presented itself.
Jasmine began working at Durham Financial Times, which focused on investments and personal financial advice, as soon as she left college almost ten months ago. She had studied journalism and minored in finance, working for two years to save up money before she could even being studying.
The craziness began a few months after she moved to Durham City when Jasmine had been hotly pursued by a few shifters and she’d given in after turning down countless requests to date her; despite partying countless times with shifters, Jasmine had never dated any of them. Eventually she went out with a lion shifter a few times and things got uncomfortable for her after he seemed to think she belonged to him after they had shared a few steamy kisses. Jasmine broke things off before they spun out of control. That didn’t stop him from showing up at her hang out spots and calling her incessantly. It was too much drama for her twenty-four year old blood, so she’d resigned from any personal involvement with shifters.
“Mr. Devereux has made it clear he would make himself available for however long it takes but I want the story ready in a couple days.”
“Okay.” Jasmine sighed and slowly got to her feet.
“Jasmine, if anyone can get this in the bag it’s you. I am depending on you to get this done, Mr. Devereux has never participated in anything of this nature before so this exclusive is paramount for us, and for you.”
“I’m sorry Annie, of course I’ll do it and don’t get me wrong I am grateful for the opportunity. So, when is the first meeting?” Ms. Johnson grinned at Jasmine and cleared her throat softly.
“Tonight at seven ‘o’ clock.” Jasmine fought the urge to roll her eyes, knowing she had fully entered the realm of classic Monday morning blues syndrome.
“But of course.” Annie handed Jasmine a plum coloured sticky note.
“Here is his address and phone numbers. And one more thing, he wants you to personally deliver a copy of the magazine when the feature is published.”
“I’ll do my best Annie, you can count on me.”
“I know I can my dear.” Jasmine strolled out of the office peering at the purple sticky note the editor gave her. Annie picked up her cell from off the desk when Jasmine was out of sight and made a call. She hesitated when the line was answered.
“Hi, yes, everything is in place as you requested.”
Jasmine walked into the living room of her small, Deacon’s Court apartment and sat on the sofa to quickly scan her notes. She had been very careful in choosing her attire for the interview. She didn’t want to wear anything provocative to stir a tiger’s heat but didn’t want to appear too casual either; she still needed to maintain an air of professionalism. Jasmine had opted for a short-sleeved wine coloured dress which fell to just above her knees; it was close fitting but not tight as not to draw attention to her curves. Small gold studs adorned her ears and a fine golden chain circled her neck. Makeup was minimal, pink lip gloss, no eyeshadow, a little foundation. A pair of black, low-heeled pumps completed her outfit.
After leaving work she had made her way straight home and dived into research on Terrence Devereux to see how much she could discover, in the hopes that the more answers she could come up with on her own, the less time she would have to spend with the tiger shifter. But those efforts were practically fruitless as just about everything she uncovered was business related; the information that would give the interview a heart and soul, was not to be found. It was common knowledge who Terrence Devereux was in regards to his standing in the community and business wise. At twenty-five he was the youngest billionaire in Durham City and had two siblings; Trent and Tyler who held places on the board but were not as involved in the main business operations as Terrence. Trent was frequently seen in many papers and magazines with a lady on his arm and owned a very successful business of selling and renting sports cars and luxury utility vehicles. Tyler lived in the country side and was a bestselling mystery writer, he usually kept himself out of the limelight. Their father, Theodore Devereux had passed away after suffering a stroke over four years ago and Terrence, being the oldest, was thrust promptly into leadership of Devereux Industries. Devereux Industries was founded in Durham by Varick Devereux in the early 1900’s and comprised of numerous enterprises from canneries and meat processing plants to distribution agencies and medical laboratories. The family was well known not only for their burgeoning success but philanthropic commitments. Jasmine possessed great admiration for Terrence especially, who made time to volunteer at animal shelters and serve meals at the Salvation Army. The eldest Devereux brother had studied economics and finance at Cave Hill University.
A special news report appeared on the screen of her fourteen inch television and Jasmine picked up the remote next to her and raised the volume. The news anchor, Selma Huttinton, delivered the latest with enviable fluency.
“…police reported that this is the fifth murder of a shifter in the past week with the victim being killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest and preliminary ballistic tests indicate that the murders were committed with the same weapon. Chief of Police, Ivor Dentin said at a news conference today that they are not labelling the murders as those of a serial killer at this time but a special investigation is underway and is asking civilians not to panic…”
A knock on the front door startled Jasmine out of her thoughts.
“Hey Jaz, it’s me Aleesha.” Jasmine sprang from the sofa and headed for the door. Her friend had difficulty in calling before dropping by. Aleesha, who was slightly shorter than Jasmine, sailed into the apartment when the door was pulled open. Aleesha was dressed in a tight, dark jeans and a sleeveless blue blouse. Her hair, a flaming red, framed her face in a voluminous bob. The bold hair colour was a stark contrast to her milky skin.
“You sounded quite upset when I talked to you a little while ago.” Aleesha walked over to the sofa and dropped onto it.
“And I told you that I was fine.”
“Damned liar,” Aleesha countered.
“Have you been following the story with the string of shifter murders?”
“Off and on-now don’t digress. You may be older and wiser but you can’t fool me Jaz.” Jasmine sighed and walked over to the centre table to gather up her notes which were in a pile next to her black handbag.
“I am fine Aleesha, I am. It’s just this assignment is bringing up bad memories about Calvin.” Aleesha studied her friend with intense green eyes and crossed her arms over her breasts.
“Jaz, you are just going to interview the man not sleep with him. I don’t understand what is going on with you. You have friends who are shifters, good friends I might add. Am I missing something?” Jasmine shook her head vigorously.
“Yes, I know Aleesha. Please, don’t you have places to go, people to see, men to do. Last I heard you were dating that lycan, James, or did you ditch him for that vampire I saw you flirting with at the mall last week?” She sent a sly grin her friend’s way.
“Oh, so we’re going over to nasty town now because I am trying to understand why you’re so worked up over this assignment. If I didn’t know that you two have never met before, I would think you have the hots for him.” Jasmine gave Aleesha a pointed look and stuffed her recorder, notes, pens and other needed items into her handbag. She teased Aleesha frequently about rarely being without a date and her short term relationships but the truth was she was a bit envious. Aleesha wasn’t afraid to take chances, although it seemed that no matter how hard and long she searched, the discovery of real love constantly eluded her.
“Jasmine, Calvin Simmons was a psychopathic idiot. Don’t let the one time you stepped out of your comfort zone ruin your chances of finding happiness.”
“My comfort zone?” Jasmine repeated. “Look Aleesha, just because I prefer men who rate about minus ten on your excitement meter, doesn’t mean they are boring.” Jasmine hooked her hands on her hips, the bag swinging around her wrist by its strap.
“I have never, ever called your men boring. What I meant was, you pick safe men and maybe that’s the problem. You probably desire a little more excitement than you think you do.” Jasmine groaned in frustration.
“And speaking of safe,” Jasmine began on a lighter note, “Serena should also get this speech-she’s dated what, two accountants and a science lecturer?” Aleesha sighed and rolled her eyes.
“You two suck!” Aleesha exclaimed, reflecting on the countless times she had to drag Jasmine and Serena to parties, so their brains and eyes could have a well-deserved break from textbooks.
“Aleesha I know I’m giving you a hard time but I do appreciate your candidness, it’s food for thought, really.” Aleesha got up and approached Jasmine to give her a quick kiss on the cheek.
“It’s alright. And you must know I am the last woman to judge books or men by their cover. I went out with this English professor once, girl, he wore me out and-
“Aleesha for god’s sake, you know sometimes I wish you lived over an hour away like Serena instead of twenty minutes.” Aleesha snorted in laughter.
“That’s why I’m keeping my Bayville address,” Aleesha said wagging a finger in the air. Jasmine spotted a book sticking out of her friends hand bag.
“What’s that you’re reading?” Aleesha smiled a mile wide.
“It’s about the history and rituals of shifters and the like. I can’t put it down.” Aleesha pulled out the paperback and held it up for Jasmine to see. “There’s actually a part in here about a centuries old mating ceremony, some of the tiger shifters still perform-it’s like the equivalent of getting married and it’s pretty hot. The woman wears this transparent white gown and the first time they have sex it’s supposed to be like how animals really do it-the woman on all fours and the man-”
“Aleesha King, get out of my apartment,” Jasmine laughed, shooing her out the door which she locked promptly behind her. “You are such a pervert!” Aleesha joined Jasmine in laughter as they walked out of the blue painted apartment building, into the balmy June air and the hustle and bustle of Durham City. Pedestrians hurried by, traffic was heavy and noise, business centres, restaurants and shopping malls sprouted from every conceivable space.
“Hey did you hear from Serena lately?” Jasmine asked, pausing by the side walk.
“Yes, a few days ago. She’s miserable at her new job. Apparently the boss is only giving her the bottom of the barrel assignments and she’s feeling a bit down.”
“I really wish I could do something to help her. How is yours going redhead?”
“Things aren’t that great for me either-the editor is on my ass because my blog audience numbers are going down and she wants new material. If I don’t come up with something soon, my hard work for the past three months will end in epic failure.” A worried expression settled over Jasmine’s features as she considered her friends’ situation. Aleesha was working at a popular tabloid and Serena was posted at a lifestyles magazine. The three young women who were months apart in age, were from Providence and had attended Kensington College, where they had first met. Jasmine and Aleesha had hightailed to Durham to look for employment as soon as they graduated but Serena had moved to Buxton City where she had landed a job.
“Damn sweetie, I’m sorry to hear that.” A worried look settled on Jasmine’s face.
“Something will work out Jaz. Don’t worry about us hun.” Jasmine put an arm around Aleesha and squeezed affectionately. She had yet to tell Aleesha about her plans to leave Durham and head off to Whittenbey, it was going to be a very hard, and sad conversation to have.
“I’ll talk to you later Aleesha,” Jasmine said as they went to their respective cars parked at the side of the street.
“Alright Jaz.” Aleesha called out. They pulled away from the curb in their tiny ancient Toyotas.
As Jasmine navigated the sea of vehicles she was overcome with a small wave of guilt. Aleesha was partially correct in her assessment of her reaction to the situation. She had never met Terrence but she had seen him at a few functions. They had never even made eye contact but Jasmine had developed a monumental crush on him. And that crush intensified each time she saw his picture in a publication or watched him in a news clip, cutting a ribbon at an opening ceremony. So how the hell was she going to manage being in a room with him. Alone?
The elevator doors to Terrence Devereux’s luxurious condominium slid open and Jasmine stepped into the shifter’s marina residence at Port Charleston. The living room was painted in shades of eggshell and plum, and modern furniture outfitted the sprawling space. Terrence appeared promptly before her; the olive-skinned shifter easily topped six feet. Under a white shirt, tiers of pure muscle pressed boldly against the fabric, and powerful thighs were highly visible under a pair of dark slacks. Beautiful, intense grey eyes, made to get lost in, travelled up and down her form. Although she’d seen his unbelievably handsome face before, meeting him face to face was very, very different. A delicious unexpected warmth crept through her as the intoxicating masculinity he exuded overwhelmed her senses. Terrence possessed a mature and commanding aura despite his young age of twenty-five but Jasmine concluded that would be the expected result of being at the helm of an expansive family business from the tender age of twenty-one. She also concluded that her assignment was going to be much, much more difficult than predicted.
“Is there something wrong?” Terrence asked, watching her closely.
“N-no,” Jasmine replied. .
“Please come in.” Terrence waved her inside. As she walked past him he deeply inhaled her scent-it was debilitating and familiar and inflicted sweet torture on him since the first day he saw her at a benefit event five days ago. That scent had changed his life. He wanted to peel her clothes away and indulge in every beautiful inch, confident that the taste of her would be so much sweeter than he dreamed it would. On the glass-topped coffee table was a small platter of finger foods and a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino wine stood next to it with two shining wine glasses at its side.
“Have a seat Ms. Moore.” Jasmine sat stiffly in a large armchair and looked around. A portrait of Theodore Devereux and his father, hung on the east wall and sculptures of wood and stone dotted the floor space. Thatcher Devereux had died five years before his son.
“I had refreshments prepared for you. If you don’t care for wine I can get you some tea or whatever you prefer. Jasmine glanced at the appetizing spread fare. Wine was definitely not on her list of choices, the last thing she needed was liquor stripping away her vulnerable defences.
“Maybe in a little while,” she answered, eyeing the mouth-watering salmon and cream cheese rolls.
“So let’s get to it, what does Ms. Moore want to know about me?” Terrence took a seat, stretched his long toned legs and looked directly at Jasmine. She was a little surprised at his eagerness-or was he anxious to get her out of his dark, thick waves of hair that she swore was daring her to run her fingers through it.
“Well, I wanted to start off by asking about your family roots. Common knowledge is that you are from South America but which part?” Jasmine asked as she pulled her pen and notepad from her bag before she placed it on the ground next to her feet.
“Linden, Berbice.” Jasmine concealed her astonishment at the mention of the quaint town and developed a new threshold of respect for how far the family had come and the great things they had accomplished.
“Are Trent and Tyler your only siblings?”
“I will not comment on that question.” Jasmine tapped her pen thoughtfully against her chin. So maybe, just maybe, there may be other Devereux siblings. But from the obvious person, Theodore Devereux, who was notorious for extra-marital affairs? Or did his wife, Helen, have a child or children from previous relationships. Jasmine looked at Terrence then returned her attention to the scribbles on her note pad.
“What’s a cherished memory you have of your childhood?” Terrence smiled warmly.
“Summer time with my brothers. We always had some little hustle going on to make extra money; Trent renting out everything he could get his hands on, Tyler writing love letters and selling to the boys who wanted to impress girls.” Aleesha looked at Terrence intrigued. It was evident from their summertime endeavours that the Devereux brothers were not coddled and spoiled and were inherently entrepreneurial.
“I sold everything from the pears off the tree in the backyard to marbles.” Aleesha relaxed a fraction as Terrence’s memory filled her with warmth.
“Did you know that the first business started by my great grandfather Varick, was a grocery store?” Jasmine was pleased to have the unknown historical fact, to add to her story.
“No, no I did not know that, thank you. Tell me Mr. Devereux, what’s your favourite food and movie?” Terrence grinned at the question.
“Would you also like to know my allergies?” he joked. Jasmine was pleasantly surprised to discover he possessed a sense of humour.
“I like pizza fries and that movie with the millionaire and the prostitute falling in love.” Jasmine gazed at Terrence, visibly impressed at his fondness for a common savoury treat that could be found at many food vendors on the street and admitting that he actually liked a chick flick. The information was refreshing to hear from the lips of the young billionaire. And it made her heart do little cartwheels in her chest.
“The look on your face tells me you expected to hear something like caviar and a psychological thriller.”
“You are quite right in that assessment Mr. Devereux. Do you play any sports?” Jasmine asked, smiling.
“I love playing polo but cricket is my favourite sport. I used to play often with my grandfather, Thatcher Devereux before he died but I haven’t picked up a bat since his passing.” Terrence looked away briefly as he replied then resumed staring at Jasmine. Jasmine refrained from commenting, it was clear the topic was still a delicate one.
“Can we talk about your mother?” Jasmine ventured.
“No. Nor my father.”
“So tell me, are there any plans on the horizon for new business ventures, can you tell me something that is not already public knowledge?” Jasmine sensed that any further questions surrounding his family were no longer open for discussion.
“As a matter of fact, Devereux Industries plans to open a centre for young, disadvantaged mothers. It will provide them with free training courses and offer programs to prepare them for the world of work. There will also be a day care centre.” Jasmine could not help but be further impressed by the upcoming project. She could feel Terrence’s eyes focused keenly on her and was growing increasingly uncomfortable. And warm, quite warm.
“Am I making you nervous, Ms. Moore?” Terrence’s voice was almost a whisper. He stood up and walked next to the glass-topped coffee table. Jasmine avoided his stare.
“Your voice is telling me otherwise. Since you got here you’ve been sitting in that chair as stiff as a plank of cedar.” Terrence slid his hands into the pockets of his pants and spread his feet slightly apart.
“Do you have a problem with me and who I am, and we both know what I’m talking about.” Jasmine lifted her head to meet Terrence’s gaze. “Don’t lie to me,” he warned.
It’s just I had…” Jasmine turned to look out a window at the lights adorning the sleek yachts and the deep dark ocean rippling gently beneath them. Jasmine, why are you even considering opening up to this man who is practically a stranger?
“You had a bad experience with one of us perhaps?” His perception caught her off guard. Jasmine looked up again.
“Please, if you don’t mind, I want to continue with the questions.”
“But I do mind. I need to know why before we go any further.”
“And so is this interview,” Terrence pointed out. Jasmine put her pen and notepad next to her thigh. She rose from the armchair; sitting was making her feel remarkably tiny. Terrence’s blood rushed through his veins at breakneck speed. Jasmine stirred feelings deep within him he’d never experienced before. He limited his interaction with women to the occasional pleasure of one night stands or business proceedings; and refrained from mixing the two worlds. But Jasmine was not just another woman, she was special. Terrence stepped closer.
“I went out with a lion shifter a few times-a very possessive one. I ended things because I became afraid of him. He phoned me constantly, showed up at places where I frequented. And then he just stopped-I don’t know why but I was very relieved.” Her voice shook slightly as she spoke. Terrence was so near, she could reach out and touch him if she desired. And she did desire to touch him.
“Did you have sex with him?” Jasmine’s eyes widened. She wondered who was really being interviewed and how was it any of his business if she slept with the man.
“No. it went no further than some kisses. I shudder at the thought of what might have happened if I had slept with Calvin Simmons. Look I have a couple more questions and then I’ll wrap things up for tonight.”
“Leaving so soon?”
“Would you mind shifting for me?” Terrence’s eyebrows lifted, the question caught him off guard.
“You could just ask to see me naked Ms. Moore and I will happily oblige.” Jasmine’s lips parted as heat flashed between her thighs. She put her hands on her hips hoping it would help keep her steady. Terrence turned away and started to unbutton his shirt; he tossed it aside and went to stand behind a tall sculpture and removed the remainder of his clothes. Low growling noises floated through the space and shortly after a striped beast emerged. Jasmine pressed her hands against her chest. She had observed people shifting before but Terrence was no ordinary tiger. As he crossed the room, Jasmine watched his powerful body move as if she were in a trance. He stopped a few feet away from her and released a roar that shook her to the core. She was not afraid. Jasmine walked right up to him and stroked his fur with a hand. A sensual charge went through her.
“You’re magnificent,” she whispered. The tiger regarded her for a moment then returned behind the sculpture. Terrence, in human form, soon appeared with his pants on. He picked up his shirt, threw it onto the sofa and resumed his position of standing inches away from Jasmine who was a little disappointed that the show was over so quickly.
“What was your other question?”
“Ehm-do you plan on having a family?” Jasmine held her breath after posing the question.
“Yes, four children I hope-with you.” Jasmine blinked rapidly in shock and confusion.
“I believe my statement was very clear Ms. Moore.” Terrence reached out and rubbed a thumb on her cheek. “I want you as my mate, for the rest of our lives.” Jasmine laughed nervously.
“What?” Oh god not again, I have to get out of here!
“I know what you’re thinking especially after what you told me about that idiot you dated but I am not him, Jasmine. I would never cause you harm or give you reason to be afraid of me.”
“This is absolutely-”
“Crazy, I know it seems that way to you but from the first time I saw you, felt your presence, caught your scent, I knew we belonged together.” Jasmine knew all too well what Terrence was referring to, it was what Calvin had told her almost verbatim when they first met.
“Mr. Devereux, please.” Jasmine’s words were barely audible. Terrence held her face in both hands.
“Don’t tell me you can’t feel something burning between us?”
“Where did you see me?”
“That’s irrelevant. I want to kiss you Ms. Moore.” Terrence pressed his body against hers and traced her jawline with his fingers. Jasmine’s heart was hammering against her ribcage.
“May I kiss you…Ms. Moore?” Terrence asked in a husky whisper. Jasmine closed her eyes and leaned into Terrence, who was pleased at her wordless reply. His lips brushed against hers, gently. Then he made a string of sensuous nips along her lower lip and caressed the tender spots with the tip of his tongue. A moan bubbled in Jasmine’s throat as her body softened against him. Terrence sipped at Jasmine’s mouth, savouring the delicate strawberry tones of her lip gloss and her quickening, warm breath against his face. She wrapped her arms around his body and he slanted his head, thrusting his tongue between her lips, delving deep, indulging in the wet warmth, pulling her tongue into his mouth to brand it with his. Terrence backed her against a wall and pinned her soft body with his steely form; his hands roamed through her hair then over her body, tracing her curves, kneading the sides of her breasts then dipping lower to grasp her full, rounded hips. Terrence’s mouth left Jasmine’s and migrated to her neck, making tiny bites to the delicate flesh there.
“Terrence,” Jasmine gasped, pushing her hips against his as sweet sensations plagued her body. She was burning, wet and ready. Terrence dragged his mouth away with great reluctance and peered into the depths of her lust-laden eyes.
“Jasmine Moore, if you don’t leave now I will have you naked, under me, and shouting my name in less than thirty seconds. And that’s the last thing I want.” Jasmine stared hard at Terrence.
“I-what?” Terrence moved away and went to retrieve his shirt, pulling it on quickly. Jasmine eyed the rock hard bulge in the front of his pants with shameless hunger. She closed her eyes and took a long deep breath. What the hell are you doing Jasmine? Really? And what did the hell did he mean by that statement? He wanted to kiss her but go no further? Jasmine didn’t know if she should feel flattered or insulted. She became highly annoyed.
“I suggest we meet somewhere else next time Ms. Moore.” Jasmine straightened her dress and grabbed her notepad, pen and bag.
“I agree Mr. Devereux,” Jasmine bit out. Terrence escorted Jasmine to the elevator and pushed a button on the wall. He stopped and cupped Jasmine’s shoulders with his hands when a ding indicated the doors were open and ready for occupancy.
“I apologize for what I said after the kiss, I know it must have you very confused and angry. I do want you Jasmine but when you become my mate, it has to be the right way.” Jasmine glared at Terrence.
“What in heavens are you talking about?”
“You are special to me and-”
“No, don’t, please. Let’s just stick to the business of the interview.”
“If that’s what you want but we are meant for each other Ms. Moore. Stop being afraid and fighting those overpowering feelings and give in-it will be so much easier on you, and make us both very happy. You won’t find happiness hiding behind a wall and playing it safe with your heart.” The last sentence he spoke was reminiscent of what Aleesha had said to her earlier. Am I that closed off? But playing it safe has its merits, great ones.
“Good night,” Jasmine said as she stepped inside.
“Let me walk you out,” Terrence offered, stepping forward. Jasmine held up a hand and he stopped moving.
“No, thanks, I’ll be fine.” They didn’t take their eyes off each other until the heavy rectangles of metal pulled together. Jasmine hurried out of the lobby and into the car park; June 25th would be eternally etched in her memory. She didn’t see the man lurking in the shadows of the ficus trees that surrounded the inner perimeter of the property; he’d slipped onto the compound from the beach side. The man stepped out from the cover of the trees as Jasmine’s car drove away and clenched his hands tightly at his sides. Jasmine’s slightly ruffled hair and the distinct scent of a male tiger surrounding her had not escaped him. So you wanted a man with money and power? Bitch! I’ll teach you a lesson.
The sound of her vibrating cell phone on the pillow next to her head, drew Jasmine out of a light sleep, and hot dream of her and Terrence making love. She reached for the phone and answered the call without checking the caller id.
“Hello,” she murmured. She was sprawled on her back, eyelids still pinned together.
“Did I wake you?” Terrence asked. Jasmine’s eyes popped open.
“I-uh-yes but it’s okay.” She turned onto her side and gazed at the moon through the light curtains hanging from her bedroom window.
“I called to apologize for my behaviour, for coming on so strong. I thought I felt something between us, I don’t want you thinking I go around doing that to women.”
“It’s okay Terrence.”
“No, I should have known better, exercised better judgement especially with what you told me about that man you dated. I was being totally selfish. I’m really sorry Jasmine.”
“Terrence, really it’s alright. And you weren’t wrong.”
“About what?” Jasmine pulled the sheets off her body.
“Thinking you felt something between us.”
“I didn’t even ask you if you had a boyfriend.” Jasmine laughed softly.
“Well for the record, I don’t.”
“How come you’re not at a movie or out with friends at a party somewhere isn’t that what you young people do?” Terrence asked in a light voice. Jasmine smiled.
“Excuse me? You young people? What are you, fifty years old?” Terrence laughed out at her question. “Wow,” Jasmine added.
“Wow, what?” Terrence asked.
“You can laugh.”
“Of course I can.”
“You come across so intense, and serious.”
“This from the woman who nearly snapped her spine from sitting so stiffly during an interview.”
“Touché. But I can laugh too.”
“So, really, how come you’re not out somewhere?”
“I don’t go out much, there’s always so much work to do. I have to stay on top of things you know.”
“You sound like one of those girls that their friends had to drag from the library to go and have fun.”
“You are quite right about that. I usually had my face stuck in a text book.”
“Well, at least you didn’t turn out to be a dull girl.” Laughter sprang from Jasmine’s lips.
“Why thank you so much. Glad to know ambition hasn’t made me boring.”
“I find ambition very attractive in a woman. But you’re the first woman I’ve met that makes it sexy as hell too.” There was a charged pause on the line. Jasmine squeezed her thighs together as the room seemed to grow smaller and warmer. “So tell me something about Jasmine Moore.” Jasmine had to suck air deeply into her lungs before replying.
“Well, I’m from Providence, born and raised there. I’m an only child and my parents are retired.”
“Yes, my mom had me at a late age. Dad worked as a post office clerk and mom was a housekeeper.”
“They must be proud of you.”
“Yes they are,” Jasmine whispered, smiling.
“You refused to talk about your parents at the interview but I just wanted to know…do you have any good memories of them?”
“Yes, there were but not that many. My father worked a lot and was hardly around and the little time he actually was around, was spent arguing with my mother.” There was a heavy pause on the line. “My mother hated the city and we lived at Varick Hall with my father’s parents most of the time. Our mother left us when I was twelve and our grandparents raised us until I was sixteen.”
“What happened then?” Jasmine asked quietly, anxious to know why Helen Devereux left her family.
“Thatcher died of complications from a heart attack; six months later Mirianne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she passed away soon after. So we ended back here in Durham with our father-who always worked ridiculous hours and chased women in his spare time.”
“I’m so sorry Terrence.” Jasmine took a small breath. “What happened to your mother?”
“My brothers and I have not seen our dear sweet mother since she left.”
“Okay,” Jasmine replied, observing a trace of anger in the shifter’s words.
“So, what brought you to Durham, Jasmine?” Terrence asked, eagerly changing the topic of conversation. Jasmine had a thousand questions dangling in her mind and was burning for answers but pushed aside her selfish wants and wallowed in the little flood of happiness she felt from Terrence opening up his heart to her.
“Well, one of my best friends, Aleesha, she’s from Providence too, used to haul me over here for parties, and Durham has the best party spots and party animals-pun intended.” Terrence chuckled at her remark. “It also has the best career opportunities so it was a natural move for us. Serena, also one of my best friends-she wasn’t that adventurous so she moved to Buxton. Life over there is less crazy which suits her.”
“Well I’m happy for Aleesha’s existence.”
“I’m sure you are.”
“So where do you want to meet tomorrow?”
“I’ll let you choose.”
“How about Apesse Polo Club tomorrow evening around six. I will be up to my chin in meetings most of the day.”
“Fancy fancy,” Jasmine teased.
“It is. But I will meet you wherever you want. Cafeteria, public bathroom.” Jasmine nearly fell off the bed laughing.
“Who are you?”
“A man I wish you’ll take a chance on and find out there’s more to him than just money, power, and being a shifter.” Terrence and Jasmine stopped breathing for a few seconds.
“I’m sorry, I’ll see you tomorrow at six.”
“Okay, six ‘o’ clock.”
“Do you want me to pick you up?”
“Don’t trust me, do you?”
“Terrence I couldn’t resist you in your gigantic apartment, if I get into a car with you…”
“I won’t let things get that far-oh we’ll steam up the windows for sure-but it would only go so far.”
“You have some serious restraint Mr. Devereux, an unbelievable level of restraint.”
“There is something I value more over my desire for you Jasmine.” Jasmine’s forehead wrinkled
“Six tomorrow, see you then.”
Terrence was gone. Jasmine tossed the phone across the bed and continued to stare at the moon. I need to get this interview done by tomorrow. Why does this man have such an effect on me? Why can’t I get him out of my mind? And why can’t I stop thinking about his offer to be his mate? I have to end this as quickly as possible, by tomorrow I shall have Terrence Devereux out of my life.
Jasmine grabbed her bag and stepped out the driver’s seat of her hatchback car. She briefly looked up at the sky which was heavy with sunset and filled her lungs with a deep breath of the summer evening air. She closed the door and waited for Aleesha to alight from the passenger side before locking the vehicle. Jasmine was wearing a white sundress, little makeup as she did the night before and her hair was pinned at the nape of her neck. Aleesha wore in snug white pants and a red top with a low cut which offered a teasing view of her cleavage. Jasmine glanced at Aleesha and shook her head.
“Aleesha, you are something else.”
“Hey, you know my rule of always looking delicious in case some starving hunk wants to eat me up.” Jasmine looked skyward then ahead at Apesse Polo Club. When Jasmine informed Terrence that a friend would be accompanying her, he chuckled over the phone making Jasmine wanting to slap him. Then kiss him. “Needing a buffer Ms. Moore?” Terrence had asked. Whenever he spoke her name, it sounded like honey aflame. And that was exactly why she invited Aleesha.
They made their way to the entrance of the exclusive establishment which sported immaculately pruned gardens and decorative walkways. Terrence was backing them, standing outside chatting with another man who was a hair shorter than he was. As they approached, the man’s identity became undeniably clear from his rock star looking hairstyle; sides cut low with sculpted, dark wavy hair crowning his head. It was Trent Devereux. He was as strikingly handsome as his brothers but his posture emanated cockiness and tremendous confidence. “Lord-have-mercy Jasmine,” Aleesha purred as they drew closer.
“Down girl,” Jasmine instructed.
Aleesha’s eyes met and held with Trent’s. She felt as if he was massaging her body just by sweeping it with his gorgeous light grey eyes. Jasmine nudged Aleesha in her side as they reached the siblings.
“Hello,” Jasmine greeted the pair. Terrence turned around and his face warmed instantly when he saw Jasmine, the woman to whom his heart belonged from the first moment he set eyes on her. And she belonged to him. If only I could make her believe that….
He surveyed her up from head to toe. Jasmine found herself paying Terrence equal attention; his black shirt with the first few buttons undone, offered a heart-racing view of his firm, defined chest. Trent cleared his throat, breaking the simmering exchange.
“Jasmine this is my brother Trent, Trent this is Jasmine.” Trent and Jasmine shook hands.
“Pleasure to meet you Ms. Moore.”
“Likewise,” Jasmine responded, her eyebrows forming a peak at the mention of her surname. It was clear to Jasmine that she had been a topic of conversation between Terrence and his brother at some point in time. She wondered what had been said about her. Jasmine turned towards Aleesha.
“Terrence this is my friend Aleesha.” Aleesha and Terrence shook hands as well. Trent was impatient for an introduction. He stepped in front Aleesha, towering over her and took her right hand into his, lifting it to his mouth and brushed her wrist softly with his lips.
“An indescribable pleasure,” he murmured in a deep, warm voice, looking into her eyes.
“Melting,” Aleesha replied, tilting her head to one side, feeling absolutely giddy with pleasure.
“May I buy you a drink, Aleesha?”
“Is that all you’re offering?”
“How does the sun and the moon on the rocks sound?”
“Inviting.” Trent tucked Aleesha’s arm around his and the couple disappeared inside the club. Terrence and Jasmine stared after them. Jasmine sighed.
“She’s going to be pregnant before nightfall.” Terrence laughed, rich and deep. The sound was the sexiest thing Jasmine had heard in a long time. Or maybe ever.
“So much for your buffer Jasmine.” Terrence reached out and touched Jasmine’s cheek. Her breath became trapped in her chest. “Shall we?” Terrence covered the small of her back with a hand and started inside the building. Heat pricked Jasmine’s skin at his touch and she focused on her surroundings in an effort to distract herself from the desire that was hijacking her body.
The furnishings of the club were extravagantly plush and decorated in shades of burgundy, ivory and chocolate. They spotted Trent and Aleesha by the bar chatting and sitting so close to each other they were practically in each other’s laps. Terrence guided Jasmine to a corridor on their left and through a door marked private which opened up into a secluded garden, flanked by golden palms. A small pool was in the centre of the shaded area. Jasmine stood still when she saw the bed on the deck with a champagne coloured, filmy canopy. On top a small table next to it was a bottle of rum and two glasses. Jasmine felt her body grow even hotter and her clothes instantly felt three sizes smaller. Terrence leaned over to whisper in her ear.
“Don’t worry, we won’t be having sex on that bed. I promise.” The only place we will make love is at Varick Hall, my ancestral home where all mating for life begins. It’s where you will become my mate. Become mine. And fulfil my promise. Jasmine was very unconvinced. Terrence gently ushered her towards the bed.
“Take off your shoes and make yourself comfortable.” Jasmine hesitated before walking over to the bed, parting the filmy material surrounding it. She gingerly sat on the mattress and placed her bag on the tiled area below her feet. Bending over, Jasmine pulled off her sandals and tucked them under the bed frame. Terrence watched Jasmine as she opened her bag, pulled out a recorder and swung her legs onto the mattress-beautiful, silky, brown legs that gave him an excruciating erection.
“Would you like a drink?” Terrence offered.
“N-no thank you,” Jasmine replied, she wanted to be in full command of her faculties. Terrence approached the bed, relieved his feet of their shoes and sat next to Jasmine. Jasmine knew her assignment was going to be a challenge but not to such an insane degree. All she wanted to do was screw off the interview, shove Terrence onto his back and kiss him as she had never kissed any man before. Then strip them both naked and ride him as if the world’s end was mere minutes away.
“Huh?” Jasmine blinked quickly a few times.
“Are you daydreaming?”
“I asked you if you’re ready for me.”
“Oh yes I am,” Jasmine breathed. Terrence grinned and ran a finger along her instep.
“Oh…I believe you are…”
“F-for the interview, Mr. Devereux.” The finger was now circling the skin of her ankle. Terrence’s touch was sugared lava and Jasmine released a soft moan.
“Does that mean you want me to stop, Jasmine,” Terrence asked, his eyes searching hers as his finger travelled along the inside of her leg. Jasmine, you are losing control girl, pull this craziness back.
The recording device slipped from her hand.
“Don’t stop Terrence,” Jasmine whispered. “Please, don’t stop.”
Terrence thought he would come right there and then at Jasmine’s impassioned order. He pulled his full frame onto the bed, closed the curtain then covered her body with his, leaving only the silhouettes of their bodies visible. Jasmine was waiting with outstretched arms which wrapped eagerly around Terrence’s neck. She kissed him hard, their tongues met, entwined and engaged in fervent exploration. Terrence rocked his hips against Jasmine, eliciting another moan. She grabbed handfuls of his hair, arched her back and thrust her body against his hardness. Terrence moved his mouth away from Jasmine’s and slowly pulled away to kneel between her thighs, and pushed her dress up to her waist. Terrence battled a powerful, painful urge to rip her panties away and bury himself deep inside her. This woman will be the death of me. He loved every inch of her bewitching body, how she responded to his touch, made him feel as if he would be the only man to ever make her feel the way she was, right there in that moment.
“Open for me Jasmine.” Jasmine’s body hummed and quivered in pleasure at his request. She parted her thighs for Terrence who marvelled at her pouting flesh partially divided by a lacy white thong.
“Wider.” Jasmine promptly obeyed. She was open to Terrence. Vulnerable. On the brink of desperation. She wanted him now, and hard. She wanted to yell his name as she came. Jasmine clutched the sheets impatiently and her hazel eyes pleaded for satisfaction. Terrence moved in closer, hooked a hand under one knee and pushed her leg back against the side of her chest. He pulled the thong aside and a solitary thumb caressed her then parted her wet, throbbing lips. Jasmine whimpered, her eyes fluttered and closed and her hold on the sheets tightened.
“You’re so, so wet…are you hot for me…sweet Jasmine?”
“Yesss,” she hissed. His thumb made small, sensual circles over her most intimate spot. Jasmine sucked in a hard breath and bucked her hips against his hand.
“You like that?”
“I like that.”
“Then, you’ll love this.” Slowly, slowly, Terrence pushed one of his long, big fingers inside her. It glided into her hot, soft, slick depths until it could go no further.
“Yes, I love it!” The finger slid out and glided back in again, joined by two more. Jasmine gave a soft cry, her nails threatening to slice into the sheets; her hips began to rock in a fervid rhythm. Terrence continued, working his hand back and forth, curving his fingers slightly as they went deep inside her, sending tremors through her. He was enthralled at her escalating state of ecstasy. Jasmine panted softly as her movements became frenzied, a blazing orgasm was building, spiralling through her. She bit down hard on her lower lip, her breasts heaving as the climax crashed through and over her, hips lifting high off the bed, a loud moan erupting from her lips as she shuddered and clenched around Terrence’s hand. Terrence’s fly threatened to rip open. His cock twitched uncomfortably in the confines of his pants. Damn I want to bury myself so deep inside her, make her come so hard she can’t hold back like she’s doing now. Terrence’s hand slowly retreated as Jasmine floated back to earth, lowering her hips back onto the mattress. He pulled her panties back in place. Jasmine wore a questioning, disappointed look, her breath coming in small gasps.
“What are you doing?”
“I want you, now,.”
“Can I ask you something Jasmine?”
“Uh, sure.” Jasmine replied, feeling utterly deflated and brought her legs together. She thought Terrence had lost his mind. How could he take me so far and not follow through? What kind of man is capable of such a thing?
“Do you believe someone can fall in love at first sight?” he asked, fixing her dress. Jasmine straightened up and watched him closely.
“No, not really.”
“Do you have feelings for me, besides physical attraction that is?”
“Are you asking me if I have fallen for you-are you trying to say that you have fallen for me?” Jasmine asked incredulously. Terrence pulled the curtains apart and got off the bed. He walked to the table and poured a drink, consuming it in one gulp and turned back to Jasmine.
“I am not trying to say anything,” he said, putting the glass down. “I am telling you that I have fallen for you.” Jasmine slid off the bed and went to join Terrence.
“You are joking, right?”
“I assure you, in no uncertain terms, is this conversation a laughing matter,” Terrence said. He looked at Jasmine, a serious expression enveloped his attractive face. He slipped his hands into the pockets of his pants.
“I will be honest with you Terrence, I do have feelings for you, more than physical. I have had this insane attraction towards you since I first saw you on a business segment of the news. And after our meeting yesterday I can’t stop thinking about you, and I don’t want to.” Jasmine held Terrence’s face in her palms. They regarded each other in silence for a few moments.
“So there’s no one else you’d rather be with?”
“No I am not interested in anyone else.”
“So what’s stopping you from becoming my mate?”
“This is too fast Terrence, we barely know each other.”
“People date for a long time and it still ends in a breakup.”
“True but doesn’t time improve the chances of a relationship being long term?”
“What about belief, what about taking risks, isn’t that how it all starts out?” Jasmine sighed and caressed Terrence’s cheek bones with her thumbs. “You are destined to be mine Jasmine Moore, I feel it to my very bones. And don’t tell me you don’t believe that even if for a fleeting moment.
“I admit I feel drawn to you like I have never, ever felt with anyone before. It’s like I can’t resist you no matter how I try. It’s so hard.”
“It’s hard because you’re handling it wrong,” Terrence explained, freeing his hands to grasp Jasmine’s hips.
“Just give in to me, to fate, and it will all be so easy, so sweet, and unforgettable.” Terrence kissed her passionately, running his hands up and down her back.
“Say yes to me, to us,” he breathed against her lips.
“I want to.”
“Terrence I have plans of starting a new job in another country, plans to build my career which is very important to me.”
“If you be mine, you can have your own publishing company, I will take care of you and love you, always.”
“Please at least think about it Jasmine, promise me.”
“I will, I will.” Jasmine replied. “But what if I say no?”
“Terrence I’m serious what if-”
“Then I have to find someone else to settle for and be miserable.”
“That’s the last thing I want for you.”
“You have until Thursday, midnight, though it would be nice to have an answer before.”
“What? Why the rush-why are you in such a hurry?” Terrence desperately wanted to share with Jasmine why there was such a sense of urgency but he believed the explanation may come off too irrational.
“I’m ready for a life of more than just business acquisitions and meetings, I need a partner, I want to start a family.”
Jasmine nodded and let her hands fall to his shoulders then onto his chest, playing with the buttons of his shirt.
“I’m sure you can understand that I can’t possibly finish this interview today. My mind has ran away at least a thousand miles.” Terrence kissed the side of her mouth.
“And that’s all my fault. Where should we meet tomorrow?”
“Waterfront Bistro, say around ten?”
“I can’t wait. And maybe, just maybe, you might have an answer to my proposal.”
“We’ll see,” Jasmine said. Waterfront happened to be her favourite spot to eat and unwind; she dined there at least three times a week, mostly for breakfast or dinner. She moved away from Terrence and headed back towards the bed to fish her shoes from under it and slipped them on. After picking up her recorder and popping it into her bag, Jasmine gave Terrence a lingering look then walked away. Her mind and heart were in turmoil.
Terrence couldn’t speak for Jasmine but he knew that there would not be much sleep for him as he awaited an answer that would change his life greatly, whether or not it was in his favour.
Jasmine hurried out of the club. Night was settling in. She took out her cell phone and dialled Aleesha’s number. There was no ringing on the other end, it went directly to voicemail. Jasmine thought she had a pretty good idea what her friend was up to or rather, who she was under. She made her way to her car and was about to unlock the driver’s side when she was thrown against the vehicle. Jasmine found herself looking into the angry eyes of a very familiar face.
“What the hell!”
“So this is what you really want Jasmine, high living? A plain old construction worker not good enough for you?” His voice reached a higher pitch with every word, his face distorted with malice.
“You damned well know that’s not why I broke up with you. Get the hell away from me Calvin!” Jasmine screamed. Calvin grabbed her by the throat. Jasmine’s heart was pounding so hard in her chest she feared it was going to split her ribs apart. She dropped her handbag, keys and cell phone and began to struggle against his hold, her hands clawing at his arm but the fingers around her neck clenched harder. It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to breathe. She tried kicking at his shins but the actions only seemed to enrage him further. His eyes were menacing slits.
“Don’t lie to me bitch!”
“Hey, get away from her!” A shout came across the car park. A parking attendant ran towards them and Calvin released Jasmine’s neck.
“This isn’t over Jasmine Moore. The next time I see you will be the last time we meet.” Jasmine felt nauseated as blood seemed to drain from every artery of her body.
Calvin fled, weaving quickly between the luxury cars and disappearing into the darkness of the cool night.
“Miss are you okay?” Jasmine was gasping and massaging her neck.
“Yes, I’ll be fine. My god I don’t know what would have happened if you didn’t see us.” The attendant’s face was tight with concern. He spotted her dropped items, stooped to pick them up and handed them to her.
“Thank you, thank you so much.”
“Let me take you inside, we need to call the police.”
“No, no I’m fine.”
“Did you see who attacked you?” Jasmine did not want to tell the man who probably saved her life a bold-faced lie.
“Please, I’ll be okay, really.” The attendant gave her a doubtful look. He walked away reluctantly, glancing back occasionally. Jasmine tried to steady her breathing. She was certain Calvin was going to crush her throat with his bare hands. The rage in his eyes was terrifying. How could he still be so angry? She couldn’t fathom it. Jasmine was a trembling wreck when she unlocked the car and got inside. She tossed her handbag onto the passenger seat and tried calling Aleesha again to no avail.
“Dammit,” Jasmine muttered. She tucked the phone into a section between the front seats and started the car. Jasmine sped out of the car park and broke every speed limit on the way to the offices of Durham Financial Times; desperately hoping that working on the feature of Terrence would aid in suppressing the images of the attack that kept branding her brain like a horror movie. A movie she prayed didn’t end with her wearing a grave stone.
“Mr. Devereux, may I speak with you a moment please?” The attendant approached the tiger shifter as he was crossing the lobby. Kevin had finished his shift an hour earlier but was anxiously waiting for Mr. Devereux to come out from a club meeting. Terrence was carrying a small briefcase in one hand and his cell phone in the other.
“Kevin, what’s going on,” Terrence asked noticing the worried look on the man’s face.
“Sir, the lady that came to see you earlier, I saw a man attacking her in the carpark.”
“I heard a scream and I rushed out to see what was happening, it looked like he was choking her sir,”
“Where is she?”
“She left, sir.”
“What do you mean she left?”
“I offered to call for help but she refused.”
“The man, did you see him, did you get a good look at his face?”
“No, by the time I reached her he was gone. But I did hear her call out his name, it was Calvin I believe.” Terrence teemed with rage when the name dropped from the attendant’s lips. Kevin took a small step back.
“D-do you want me to get security to review the footage Mr. Devereux?” Terrence’s face was as hard as stone.
“No, show me where they were.” Terrence walked stiffly out to the brightly lit carpark with Kevin in the lead.
“Here sir,” Patrick said when they reached where Jasmine’s car was parked. Terrence slowly and deeply inhaled. He immediately picked up the lion shifter’s scent, and Jasmine’s. The remnants of her fear and the lion’s fury, still lingered. Kevin looked at Terrence with restless eyes.
“Thank you for telling me Kevin. I will take care of this.” Terrence Devereux hastily made his way to his car.
I don’t know much about you Calvin but I do know you will never hurt Jasmine again. Ever.
H er bedroom was in complete darkness as she sat on the bed cross-legged and weary to the bone. When Jasmine left Apesse Polo Club she’d headed directly to Fontabelle Street where Durham Financial Times was housed and pounded her laptop for about two and half hours. She’d desperately needed a distraction from her ordeal with Calvin. And in her attempts to be distracted, she found herself giving serious consideration to a life with Terrence, briefly suspending recall of her frightening experience earlier that night. She barely knew Terrence but the pull between them was incredible- he seemed to occupy every possible space in her life, invading her thoughts, dreams, she swore even when she breathed the air was filled with his spirit. The truth was, she believed every word when he promised he would love her, take care of her always, the fact that it was happening to her made it seem like a fairy tale. Jasmine had popped into the bookstore around the corner earlier that day and picked up the book Aleesha had recommended. She immersed herself in the words between the book’s covers, imagining how her world would take shape if she became Terrence’s mate. The mating ceremony was of particular interest, it gave her a nervous thrill. But passion could not be the only glue to a union and building her career on her own was essential to her. Jasmine got off the bed and paced the room for a short while, already knowing her answer to Terrence’s proposal. Jasmine went into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of fruit juice from the fridge, entered the living room, dropped onto the sofa and switched the television on to the news. She uncapped the beverage and took a few swallows and nearly choked when she saw the headlines. A picture of Calvin popped up on the screen.
“Oh my god,” Jasmine whispered, sitting forward. The news anchor reported that Calvin Simmons’ body was found in a wooded area an hour ago. Initial reports indicated that his throat was slashed and there was speculation that his wounds appeared to be inflicted by a wild animal. Jasmine felt a measure of sadness for Calvin, even though he put her through a scary experience. For a wild, brief moment Jasmine wondered if Terrence was the guilty party but he had no motive because she hadn’t divulged Calvin’s identity to the attendant at the polo club. Then Jasmine’s mind went crazy wondering if the attendant who helped her would think she murdered Calvin for what he did to her. Then she received another shock.
“Mr. Simmons was arrested and charged for assault in the country of Vuemont in December and was sentenced to six months in a Vuemont Correctional facility…”
Jasmine’s eyes grew large as the reason for Calvin’s hiatus in his harassment of her became evident. She stood and set the juice on the coffee table, and paced the room until she felt dizzy and her feet began to ache and throb. She eventually returned to her bedroom and dropped onto the bed, landing on her back, and stared at the roof in a daze until she fell asleep from exhaustion.
As Jasmine walked through the open door of Annie Johnson’s office, the weariness she was feeling down to her bone marrow became amplified. She’d barely slept and just wanted to crash out for a week uninterrupted. The editor’s face was a lighthouse at Jasmine’s appearance and she rose from her chair. She waved her hands dramatically.
“It’s in the bag for you Ms. Moore. I read the draft you emailed me last night and I don’t’ have to wait to see the rest to know you will have the glowing recommendation you rightly deserve.” Jasmine somehow managed a smile that she didn’t think would be physically possible given the night she’d had.
“Thank you so much Ms. Johnson, this means so much to me.”
“You have a great future ahead of you and I’m not just saying that Jasmine. I believe it-I know it.” Anne extended a hand which Jasmine shook woodenly.
“I’m glad you feel that way and thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to work here.” Annie examined Jasmine’s facial expression.
“I thought you would be jumping up and down Jasmine Moore, what’s wrong with you. Is something troubling you?” You have some weighty bags under those brown eyes of yours.
“I’ll be fine,” Jasmine said.
“I must say, Terrence didn’t go wrong choosing you.” Anne’s face went still as the words left her lips.
“Excuse me?” Jasmine asked in surprise. She could tell by the editor’s demeanour that the words she just uttered were not meant to be spoken, at least not to her.
“Terrence Devereux specifically requested me for the interview?”
“Yes, yes he did Jasmine. He said he would only consent to the interview if you were the one conducting it.” Jasmine stared at Anne.
“I’m sorry for not telling you but he asked me not to disclose that information. I’m sure you understand.” Annie Johnson’s face sported a sheepish grin which became replaced by a slight frown when she noticed Jasmine tense body posture. She wondered why the spilled secret would cause Jasmine to react so strongly; if anything, she believed Jasmine would have been immensely flattered.
“Are you sure everything is okay, am I missing something here Jasmine?”
“I have to go. Look I’m not upset with you for keeping that information from me, believe me when I tell you, it’s not you,” Jasmine assured her boss.
“I’m meeting Terrence in a little while and I don’t want to be late. I’ll send you the final notes as soon as we’re done.” Jasmine hurried out of the office leaving the editor concerned and anxious, especially at the fact that Jasmine referred to Mr. Devereux by his Christian name. When she reached her station, Jasmine snatched her bag off the desk. She turned around abruptly and almost knocked over a woman with dark brown hair pulled into a tight knot at the nape of her neck. She was holding a black leather case in her right hand.
“I’m so sorry,” Jasmine apologized, assessing the woman’s dark pants and jacket with white shirt; and secretly envying her flawless skin which was the colour of milk chocolate.
“Are you Jasmine Moore?” The question was issued from lips pulled into a tight line.
“Yes I am, can I help you?”
“Maybe. I’m agent Dana Teslyk with the Department of Paranormal Crimes and I’d like to ask you a few questions about the murder of Calvin Simmons.” Jasmine’s heart jammed up against her ribs.
“Am I a suspect?” Ms. Teslyk’s expression remained unchanged.
“Everyone linked to him is, until I catch the murderer.” The agent surveyed the hive of activity of Durham Financial Times’ sprawling office.
“Is there somewhere I can speak to you in private?”
“Uhm, yes, follow me.” Jasmine headed for a recently vacated office at the end of the corridor. She opened the door and entered the room on shaky legs. Agent Teslyk closed the door behind them and the charged hum of people’s chatter, ringing phones and tapping on keyboards diminished significantly. She pulled out a file from the black case and spread it on the desk. Jasmine looked down and saw three photos stapled onto a plain sheet of paper. One was a clear head shot of Calvin Simmons.
“You know this man?” Teslyk asked tapping the picture of Mr. Simmons with a finger.
“Y-yes. We went out a few times,” Jasmine confirmed.
“He’s your ex-boyfriend?”
“No, it didn’t get that far. He was too possessive so I broke it off.”
“Where were you last night between the hours of eight and ten?”
“Here, at work.” The agent woman looked Jasmine straight in the eye.
“Alright, I will verify that with your boss and colleagues. So, assuming you were here at work, were you angry enough at Mr. Simmons to have someone kill him for you?” Jasmine’s eyes widened.
“Of course not. And when I ended things with him I was a bit scared of him but not mad.”
“Fear makes people do unusual things.”
“I did not kill him,” Jasmine reiterated in a high pitched tone. Teslyk picked up the other photo and handed it to Jasmine who took it from the woman’s hands as if it were a bomb about to go off.
“Does this person look familiar to you?” Jasmine perused the print. A tall man stood at the corner of what looked like a souvenir shop, turned to a side, talking on a cell phone. He was wearing a long dark coat and pants. It was very difficult to discern the man’s features because he was standing sideways, the phone was against his ear and the upturned collar of his jacket helped masked the side of his face. One could tell that he had white hair, possibly curly. A street sign marked Tudor Avenue stood a few feet away. Jasmine shook her head and handed the picture back. Tudor Avenue was less than a mile away from Calvin’s neighbourhood.
“Is that a no?”
“No, he does not look familiar,” Jasmine stated with a hint of annoyance. Teslyk fished another picture from the folder.
“This is a zoomed picture of a tattoo on the man’s wrist. Have you seen it before?” Jasmine pulled it from the agent’s hands, sighing. The tattoo, a tiger’s head with two crossed swords, was quite visible as the jacket cuff had shifted downward from holding the cell phone. Jasmine pointed to the mystery man.
“Do you suspect he may be the killer?” Teslyk’s cell phone began to go off and she pulled it from her pants pocket after the second ring. Jasmine weighed her lack of response.
“Agent Teslyk here,” she said walking off to a corner of the room and speaking in hushed tones. Jasmine sighed impatiently and looked at the folder. There was a print out of several security camera stills next to the pictures of the unknown man and Calvin. Her eyes narrowed as she thought she saw a familiar face. Jasmine gave Teslyk a cautious glance before edging closer to the desk. And she wished she hadn’t. The still also featured the street sign Tudor Avenue but the familiar person was several yards away on the opposite side of the street getting out of a car. Jasmine’s heart raced and her stomach felt uneasy; she backed away from the desk. Teslyk was walking back towards her.
“Do you have any more questions for me?” Jasmine asked sharply.
“No, we’re done here. Thank you for your time,” she answered brusquely. Jasmine released a long breath as the woman exited the office. Her head started to pound with a million questions but she quickly came to a conclusion about what happened to Calvin. It seemed agent Teslyk was oblivious to the fact that the killer may be staring her right in the face.
J asmine marched towards Waterfront Bistro, her posture rigid with anger. Waterfront Bistro was nestled by a careenage in the heart of Durham City. Jasmine was on a wrap up mission, just a few more questions for Terrence Devereux and then leave. No lingering and no small talk. She had only to see him once more and that was to personally deliver the print copy of the journal as per the agreement for him doing the interview. She chose a spot on the sidewalk at the corner of the building. The table sported a brightly coloured umbrella and a potted fern was tucked near the wall. Jasmine sat and deposited her bag on the chair next to her. Usually, the sight of the fishing boats and pleasure craft traversing the deep blue waters nearby provided a calming effect- but not today. She was pleased that the waiter who appeared at her side, was one with whom she was quite familiar and shared endless little chats with.
“Ms. Moore, always a pleasure to see you.” Jasmine managed a faint smile.
“For the hundredth time, Alan, please call me Jasmine.” Alan smiled down at her.
“Alan, I’d like-”
“An espresso, because you’re having a rough day,” the waiter finished.
“You always seem to know my mood and what I want. How do you do that?” The waiter smiled. He was a tall, quite hunky, attractive man with a mop of black hair and he wore glasses.
“I pay attention to my customer’s needs. You always order espresso when things are a bit rocky otherwise you order cappuccino. A latte means a hectic schedule is imminent. ”
“You’re so good at paying attention to detail, it’s almost scary.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment. I’ll be right back miss-Jasmine.” Alan headed back inside. Jasmine watched the waiter as he walked away. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it but she always felt Alan was more than he appeared to be. He seemed to be constantly tuned into what was going on around him, he always walked with his shoulders straight and the way he spoke implied a level of education not in keeping with waiting tables.
Alan appeared a few minutes with her espresso and quickly moved onto dispatching other patrons. Jasmine did not have to wait long for Terrence to appear; a limousine pulled up across the street and Terrence unfolded his powerful frame from the sleek black vehicle. He was wearing a grey suit with a purple shirt and dark tie. Many eyes swung his way but Terrence was solely focused on Jasmine as he crossed the street and approached the table. He slid smoothly into the chair opposite her. Jasmine had been on his mind the entire night, he’d barely slept.
“I would say good morning but I don’t think that is necessarily true,” he began, observing her body language and scathing expression. He paid particular attention to her neck which had a few dark marks around it. He was expecting to find her at least a bit shaken after her ordeal but Jasmine appeared livid. All he wanted to do in that moment was hold her against him, offer comfort and kiss her softly, assure her that she was safe in his arms, safe with him, period. Terrence recalled the first time he saw her a week ago, sitting outside the same bistro, having breakfast. He was heading to a meeting in a building across the street. Terrence was captivated not only by her physical beauty but the strong, inner one she exuded. After the meeting he’d made it his business to find out who she was and what she did; ordering several back issues of the Durham Financial Times and reading every article he could uncover that she had written. Her beauty was but a pleasant complement to her intellect and talent.
“Jasmine, what’s wrong?” He badly wanted to ask her how she was doing after what occurred the night before but that question would undoubtedly lead to exposure of what he did to Calvin. Something very troubling that apparently involved him was going on but he couldn’t possibly summon even the thinnest of theories as to what it was.
“Hi Mr. Devereux,” Jasmine greeted stiffly.
“Hmm, formalities, a sure indication of me being in the proverbial dog house.” Jasmine reached into her bag and pulled out the recorder and set it down in the centre of the table.
“I hope that is something hot to drink that you have there,” Terrence said, leaning back in the chair.
“Something hot, you know, to melt those icicles you are sending my way. It feels like winter at this table.” Jasmine sent him an appropriate frosty glare. She wanted to rake him over the coals for how he manipulated a situation so he could get close to her but did not want to create any problems for her boss. It was killing her though, not being able to vent.
“Let’s finish the interview shall we?” Jasmine pressed the little red button. She opened her mouth to speak but the questions she had prepared struggled to leave her lips. She punched the button again and gave Terrence a hard stare.
“Terrence I’m going to ask you something and I want─no need you to be honest with me.” Terrence sat forward, propped his elbows on the table and linked his hands under his chin, eager to know what was troubling Jasmine.
“Calvin Simmons was killed last night, his throat was torn open, did he die at your hands Terrence?” Jasmine’s eyes started to burn.
Terrence fell back in the chair and straightened his tie that was already perfectly positioned. He became tense and there was a flicker of yellow in his eyes.
“Jasmine, look, I slashed his throat a-” Jasmine shot to her feet and Terrence followed suit, going around the table to stand next to her. Jasmine grabbed the recorder, yanked her bag off the chair and backed away. Tears sprang into her eyes.
“I do not want to hear another word, Terrence Devereux. I will pretend for the rest of my life that I did not hear what you just said.” Terrence reached for Jasmine and she nearly stumbled as she backed further away.
“Don’t touch me,” Jasmine hissed through her teeth.
“Jasmine would you please listen to me?” Terrence pleaded as he pulled his hands back. His eyes were brimming with pain. Patrons sent them curious stares. Alan magically appeared at Jasmine’s side. “Is everything alright here Jasmine,” he asked, giving Terrence an ominous look.
“Yes, everything is fine,” Terrence rasped. Alan turned to Jasmine for assurance.
“I’m okay Alan.” The waiter hesitantly left them alone. Jasmine turned around and practically ran from the bistro. She glanced behind her to see if Terrence was following and was relieved to see he wasn’t.
He murdered Calvin! I can’t believe this! He is no different than the others and I should have followed my mind instead of my heart. Dammit Terrence! You killed Calvin because he roughed me up? What he did to me was messed up but he didn’t deserve to die for it. This wasn’t a gallant gesture Mr. Devereux-this was cold and cruel murder!
Jasmine’s hands were trembling as she tried to open the door of her car and it took several attempts before she was successful. She got in, slammed the door and threw her handbag onto the backseat. Then she gripped the steering wheel and wept. She hated Terrence Devereux for making her fall in love with him. Then ripping her heart out.
Driving just under the speed limit, Jasmine headed through the suburban area of Ashford, located in the parish of Weston, under a heavily star-studded sky. She was completing the job she was assigned by delivering a copy of the new issue of Durham Financial Times to Terrence Devereux in person. If she had decided to push the task off on someone else, although it would have been the easier choice, it would have raised a red flag miles wide with her boss. When Jasmine had phoned Terrence to let him know she was on her way to drop off the magazine, he informed her he was not in the city. He was spending a few days at Varick Hall, the family estate. The directions Terrence supplied her were easy to follow but the journey itself was strenuous. Jasmine had been dying to talk to about what was going on in her life but she still had not been able to reach Aleesha, who had sent her a strange message the night before about ‘sorting through some issues but she was alright and will call contact her in a few days’. Jasmine’s car stereo was tuned to a news station as she was anxiously awaiting an update on Calvin’s murder. When the crime segment commenced, she pulled off the road to listen.
“The Durham Police Department has issued an update on the murder of Calvin Simmons. An autopsy report revealed that the cause of death was from a gunshot wound to the chest. Slash injuries to the deceased’s throat were inflicted post-mortem. The police have apprehended and charged Barry Kviche who confessed to the murder. Mr. Kviche is the brother of Zola Kviche. Mr. Simmons assaulted Ms. Kviche last December and was sentenced to six months in prison. Ballistics from a firearm found in Mr. Kviche’s possession matches the five recent unsolved murders of paranormal beings…” Jasmine turned off the radio. Oh my god Terrence did not kill Calvin? I did not even give him a chance to explain himself! She had accused Terrence Devereux of murder. But he had admitted to slashing his throat so what the hell happened that night? Jasmine put the car back into drive and pulled back onto the highway, trying extremely hard to concentrate on the road as her mind overflowed with questions desperate for answers. An enormous house partially surrounded by towering casuarinas soon came into view and Jasmine slowed her car to turn into the winding driveway. Varick Hall was magnificent. The property was easily several acres in size. The driveway was illuminated with ground lights on both sides. The gardens looked as if they were plucked straight out of a magazine-or perhaps a fairy tale. Jasmine parked the car, switched off the engine and took up a large brown envelope off the passenger seat. She was very tempted to leave the engine running but decided against it. She did not intend to stay any longer than it took to place the package in Terrence’s hands, and make an apology. Plus, she had to make an appearance at a party at the office to celebrate a co-workers birthday. She approached the front door and knocked firmly on it. Jasmine was a little surprised at the lack of a doorbell for such a huge home.
“Mr. Devereux?” she called out.
“Come in,” Terrence returned. Jasmine opened the door and closed it behind her when she stepped inside. The interior of the sprawling mansion was even more breath-taking than the polo club with its fancy furnishings and exquisite paintings adorning the walls. Terrence was standing by a bar area to the right of the foyer. Jasmine watched him pour a glass of rum. Her eyes could not resist admiring the gorgeous man who was watching her with tortured eyes. He was wearing a white shirt with every button on it, undone. His broad, muscular chest was in full view. Blue jeans that hung low on his hips in the absence of a belt completed his attire. Jasmine managed to drag her eyes from his body upward to his face.
“Hi.” Terrence stared at her with piercing eyes, roaming over her snug-fitting, strapless blue dress that ended several inches above her knees. Jasmine walked over to him with a purposeful stride. She tried to give him the envelope but he refused to take it. He leaned against the bar and took a huge swallow of his drink, nearly emptying the glass. He set the glass down on the counter and folded his arms across his chest.
“Did you hear the news?”
“Yes, yes I did.”
“Isn’t there something you want to say to me?” His tone was pained and harsh. Jasmine took a deep breath and tossed the package onto a nearby chair. She felt her throat tighten as her mind raced with what she was going to say.
“I am sorry for wrongfully accusing you of killing Calvin.”
“Apology accepted, reluctantly.” Jasmine shook her head slowly.
“I’m not done,” she told Terrence with her hands clenched at her sides.
“You didn’t kill Calvin but you could have. You went after him with the intentions of hurting him.” Terrence straightened up and closed the tension-filled space. He held her shoulders firmly and Jasmine kept her eyes fastened on his chest that was mere inches away from her mouth.
“Look at me dammit,” Terrence commanded. Jasmine slowly raised her head and when their gazes connected, the anguish, doubt and passion that pulsed between them was palpable.
“I did not, did not go after Calvin to kill him although I wanted to and it would have been so easy. I was going to put a beating on his creepy ass but I was not going to end his life. Kevin, one of the attendants at the polo club told me what happened and heard you shout out Calvin’s name, that’s how I know about what he did to you and I followed his scent. But when I tracked him down he was already dead. I still lashed out at him in anyway because I was mad as hell that he hurt you. I need you to believe that Jasmine.” Jasmine sighed softly.
“Were you ever going to tell me what happened?”
“I wanted to but I kept picturing the end result I am living right now.” Jasmine knew in her heart that she believed him and it tore her up inside because that fact revealed how deeply she felt about the man standing before her. But her heart hesitated at the thought of them taking things any further, so much had occurred since they first met a couple days ago. She had to walk away. But could she ? And if she stayed could she trust him- trust him to keep tight reins on his temper and the beast within? Jasmine tried to convince herself it was for the best if she ended it all, right there and then.
“I believe you Terrence.” Terrence’s shoulders relaxed at her statement and his hands fell away from her shoulders. He took a step back, curious to know what her answer was going to be when they met at Waterfront Bistro but decided that even if she was going to say yes to being his, it no longer mattered, it seemed they’d already gone to the point of no return.
“Thank you,” he replied softly. Jasmine nodded and issued him a crooked smile. Her chest felt as if it was being torn mercilessly to shreds.
“I’m leaving now, Terrence.” The words nearly suffocated Jasmine as they fell from her lips. Terrence turned away without a word and headed back to the bar. Jasmine was walking towards the door when something caught her eye. She stopped abruptly. Draped over a chair was a white dress made of a soft transparent fabric. Jasmine reached over and picked it up. The soft material seemed to caress the skin of her hands as she touched its folds. It was a simple but beautiful, sleeveless sheath; seeing it and knowing what it symbolized hit her like a tank armed with spikes. She turned and looked at Terrence who was downing another glass of liquor.
“Is this for me?”
“Two things are wrong with that question. Tense and relevance,” Terrence stated in an irritated tone before he finished off the drink. He banged the glass onto the marble surface and sent a hard look Jasmine’s way.
“It was for you. And I don’t see why that matters now.”
“This is a dress for a mating ceremony, isn’t it?” Terrence ran a hand through his dark hair. The subject was physically painful to discuss.
“Please, this conversation is pointless,” Terrence groaned. Jasmine walked back across the room with the gown in hand. She stopped so close to Terrence their bodies touched. Jasmine lifted her eyes to his. The musky scent of him laced with rum was intoxicating.
“Jasmine, I got that for you in high hopes you would agree to become my mate,” Terrence couldn’t help himself, his fingers wandered over her face.
“So it is for me?” The words floated into Terrence’s head and stuck, and amplified. A flicker of hope formed in his heart.
“Were you hopeful or cocky?” Jasmine asked frowning. Terrence felt the flicker die a quick death. Terrence held his tongue and waited for her imminent departure. He had been tortured enough for one night. Jasmine walked away for the second time, pausing long enough to set the dress back onto the chair and made her way to the door. She engaged the lock. Terrence felt a surge of heat pump heavily through his body. Jasmine turned around, and with her eyes fixed on Terrence, she pulled her dress over her head and dropped it on the floor. Her bra and panties followed in quick succession, ending up in a lacy pool at her feet. And there Jasmine stood, naked, gorgeous.
She picked up the dress for a second time and made her way towards Terrence; his eyes devoured her full, firm breasts, the sweet flare of her hips and shapely legs. Jasmine slipped the gown over her body. Terrence was rooted to the floor. He was hard, and ready, and damned ecstatic.
“You know about the ceremony?” Jasmine nodded.
“I picked up a book that was recommended by a friend.” Terrence held her smiling face in his hands.
“You were going to say yes?” Jasmine’s smile broadened.
“Yes, Terrence, and can you please tell me why you were in such a hurry for this to happen?” All Terrence wanted in that moment was to mate not talk but he owed Jasmine an explanation.
“On his deathbed, my grandfather confessed to me about many affairs he’d had, that there was no headboard broad enough to put all the notches. He was ashamed of what he’d done, especially after seeing my father following in his footsteps in that regard. So, I made a promise to him that by my twenty-sixth birthday I would be with my true mate, consummate the union in the traditional mating ritual and stay loyal to her and my family until the great spirits call me home.” Terrence’s brothers had also made a vow to do the same when love came knocking.
“Is tomorrow,” Terrence whispered.
“I see. I can also see why you wouldn’t want to tell me about a self-imposed ultimatum on when to find true love. It seems a little cra-”
“Crazy, I know, putting that kind of pressure on myself.” Terrence finished.
“But your promise is coming to light. I am so in love with you Terrence Devereux.”
“I love you Jasmine Moore.” Terrence scorched her mouth with hungry kisses, dipping his tongue into the satiny depths of her mouth. He pulled her against him and squeezed her so tightly she could barely breathe. He ended the kiss abruptly, looking deep into her blazing eyes.
“Are you ready Jasmine?”
“I’m ready Terrence.”
Jasmine and Terrence walked hand in hand out to the lush gardens at the rear of the house.
“Varick Hall is amazing,” Jasmine exclaimed.
“My great-grandfather Varick built this house for his mate Eloise.”
“Was she human?” Jasmine asked curiously. Terrence smiled at her question.
“From my mother back to my great-grandmother were human.”
Jasmine looked around in awe as Terrence led her to a small clearing ahead. In the centre of it stood a large block of stone with the head of a tiger etched into the front of its grey surface. Spread on the ground before it was a large, square, woven mat of scarlet and burnt orange shades. There was an intricate design of a tiger’s head in the middle and the words, passionis sanguinem potestatem encircled it. It had been gifted to Terrence on his sixteenth birthday by his grandfather, Thatcher Devereux. At each corner of the mat was a bamboo torch.
Terrence had left everything as it was, even when Jasmine had walked out on him at the café. He’d made preparations from the first night they met, in hopes his utmost dream would be fulfilled.
“Passion, blood, power,” Jasmine murmured softly, translating the Latin words. Terrence smiled, impressed.
“Yes, it’s our ancestral motto. This mat actually belonged to my grandparents.” Terrence’s brothers owned similar mats that were custom made and gifted to them by Theodore Devereux on reaching their sixteenth birthday.
Terrence followed Jasmine’s fascinated gaze around the vast property that was only used a few times during the year for Christmas gatherings and a handful of parties. The mating ritual could happen anywhere but Terrence wanted his to be at Varick Hall-he believed it fitting for the fulfilment of his promise. Terrence left Jasmine’s side, pulled a lighter from the pocket of his pants and proceeded to light the torches. Jasmine watched as each one burst into orange flames that danced in the soft breeze. Terrence tossed the lighter aside and stood at the edge of the mat. He held out a hand to Jasmine, who took it without hesitation. He held her and kissed her tenderly.
“Do you know what’s really going to happen tonight?” Jasmine slid her hands into Terrence’s hair and moulded her body to his. She covered his chest with kisses, the hair softly grazing her lips.
“You’re going to make love to me.” Jasmine paused to tease a nipple with her teeth. Terrence grabbed her ass and pinned her against his hardness. “Then I’m going to get down on my hands and knees…” her voice trailed off as she flicked the nipple with her tongue.
“And I am going give you the sweetest ride of your life,” Terrence groaned against her ear. Jasmine thought she was going to ignite-she was getting hotter and wetter by the second. She looked up at Terrence.
“And after that you’re going to mark me as your own.”
“It will hurt, a little,” Terrence told her, referring to the final act of the ceremony. He stepped away from Jasmine, allowing just enough space for him to lift the dress from her body. Then he quickly stripped naked. Jasmine stared in awe at his thick, hard cock and her lips ached to kiss it, tease it. Terrence’s hands roamed her flesh restlessly, playing with her breasts and taut nipples. Then he swept her into his arms and set her down on the mat. He planted fevered kisses on her breasts, closed his lips over their erect peaks and sucked on them firmly, sending shivers of pleasure through Jasmine. His hands explored the soft skin of her belly and thighs.
“Terrence-please-now-now,” Jasmine pleaded, writhing on the mat. She pushed his hands away, sat up and turned to back Terrence, planting her palms flat and spreading her thighs apart. The sight of her perfectly rounded ass and the glistening flesh between her thighs sent Terrence over the edge. He came up behind her and held one firm cheek in his hand. Terrence flexed his hips and with a single thrust, buried his cock deep inside Jasmine. She cried out at the bittersweet intrusion. Terrence thought he was in the most divine place on earth as he felt her tighten around him. He grabbed her hips, pulled out slightly and drove into her again. And again. His strokes were hot and hard as he pounded into her warm depths, rocking her body to the core. Jasmine panted loudly, her fingers digging into the mat as the thrusts came faster, went deeper. Shockwaves of pain-tinged ecstasy swept through her. Terrence made soft growls, his nails pierced Jasmine’s flesh as his grip on her body tightened.
“Jasmine!” They said in unison. Terrence tipped his head back and a heavy, guttural groan roared past his lips as he hauled Jasmine against him one final time and spilled his seed deep within her. He was frozen for several moments while he caught his breath.
“Just one more thing sweet Jasmine,” Terrence whispered. She remained in position. Terrence slowly pulled away from Jasmine and began to shift. His human form swiftly transformed, fur fanned across his body, bone and flesh changed shape into a formidable, striped creature. The tiger, gently swiped Jasmine’s lower back with a paw, scoring her skin, leaving a trio of red stripes that symbolized she was finally his, forever. She winced slightly then exhaled. Terrence lifted his head and a roar dominated the air. He walked next to Jasmine and she collapsed onto the mat, rolling onto her side. Terrence assumed his human shape then joined his mate, pulling her into a tight embrace.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you’ll give me the sweetest ride of my life,” Jasmine said against Terrence’s neck.
“I wasn’t too rough on you, was I?” Terrence caressed Jasmine’s back and kissed her forehead.
“I’ve been wearing big girl panties for quite a while-well not that I’m wearing any panties now.” Terrence laughed softly.
“That’s good to hear because I am ready to take you again.” Terrence pushed himself up, parted Jasmine’s thighs and was inside her within a heartbeat. Grasping the backs of her thighs he pressed her legs backward and began to flex his hips, stroking her velvety heat with forceful thrusts. Jasmine’s hands roamed the grassy spread beneath her fingers for purchase, finding it by planting her hands against the stone, bracing her body against Terrence’s unrestrained passion. Loud moans escaped her lips as Terrence gave her all he had. And more. He came in an explosive silence, his head thrown back with lips parted as he struggled to find air. When Terrence finally found enough oxygen to move, he moved away from Jasmine and reached over to grab his pants from off the grass. Jasmine was taking long, ragged breaths, willing her body to relax
“I have something for you.” The tiger shifter pulled a blue velvet box from one of the pockets and opened it, presenting a golden ring to Jasmine. On the shoulders of the ring, were several tiny diamonds, glittering like stardust; in the centre was a brilliant, light brown chocolate diamond. Jasmine’s lips parted as she viewed the exquisite piece.
“Terrence,” Jasmine gasped as she sat up.
“I know you have changed some important things in your life to be with me. We didn’t have a traditional union so I bought you this.” Terrence took out the ring and set the box aside. He slid the shimmering circle onto her finger and kissed it. “I chose this type of diamond because it reminded me of your beautiful brown eyes.”
“Terrence, I love you so much,” Jasmine whispered, touching his cheek.
“I love you Jasmine Moore and I can’t wait to start a family with you,” Terrence replied. Jasmine cocked an eyebrow at him.
“We’ve barely made it official and you want me barefoot and pregnant.” Terrence touched a finger to her nose.
“No, sweetheart, I have a little change in the bank so you’ll probably be wearing Valentino on those pretty feet of yours.” They burst into soft laughter. “Jasmine, you’ve made me the happiest man and shifter in Durham.” Jasmine entwined her feet with his. “We can get married if you want to Jasmine, if you want a traditional ceremony it would be no pr-”
“Terrence I am happy and content. And I never thought I could be so filled with joy being with someone I’ve only known for such a short time.”
“I told you before, time doesn’t matter when it comes to love.”
“Consider me a true believer.”
“I consider you mine.”
“Now and always Terrence. Now and always.” Jasmine and Terrence leaned into each other, embracing, as their lips drifted together for a heated kiss.
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Hungry Fur Stripes
Striped Passions Book 2
Aleesha emptied her glass and was about to get up and head to the bar for another shot when she received unexpected company. Trent Devereux appeared and pulled a chair next to her, turned it backwards and dropped his devilishly sexy body onto it, his eyes lazily roamed her body from head to painted toes. He was so close she could feel his warm breath tickle her face. Aleesha had to exercise great effort in restraining her tongue from falling out of her mouth at the sight of the irresistibly attractive man next to her. He was tall, muscular and oozed sex, hot- as-lava sex. Trent Devereux possessed strong features that were tempered by soft, grey eyes and a mouth that appeared to have been created solely for kissing. He sported tattoos that ran from his right shoulder down to his forearm, a combination of symbols and Latin words. A dark grey sleeveless shirt covered most of his chest but a small area of skin, covered in fine black hair was visible, compliments of several buttons that were undone.
“Sweet, sassy, a body made for riding hard and drinks vodka. I think I’m in love,” Trent drawled.
“Hi Trent,” Aleesha replied, admiring his hair style for the umpteenth time since they met; a thick shock of hair on the top of his head with the sides cut very low.
“Aleesha King, the heartbreaker,” he said, giving her a panty-melting smile.
“Really Trent, you, heartbroken?” Aleesha asked incredulously, giving a small snort.
“You implying it’s not possible?” Trent asked with a mock expression of hurt.
“I’m not implying,” Aleesha replied raising a brow. Trent’s face sobered and he cocked his head to one side, studying her. A question had been eating him up inside from the day they met at Apesse Club.
“What was up with the disappearing act you pulled on me?”
“Why, did you miss me?”
“Let me take you out tomorrow and maybe you’ll find out how much.” Aleesha contemplated the offer and the man making it. She had not been able to scrub Trent Devereux from her mind since the day they met and she silently cursed Jasmine daily for being the one to cause them to cross paths. She reminisced about the two of them having drinks by the bar and how easily the conversation flowed, it was as if they were old friends, she felt comfortable yet excited. And the more they talked and laughed she found herself deeply drawn to him in a way that made her inexplicably yearn for more. And not just sexually. She hungered for all of Trent Devereux and it made her panic. Aleesha had made up a flimsy tale about forgetting about a meeting and had dashed off with a hurried goodbye. But the look Trent gave her as she delivered the lie conveyed his disbelief in her excuse.
“A date? You, Trent Devereux, actually go out on dates?”
“What kind of man do you think I am?” Aleesha gave him a huge grin.
“Hmm, you have me pegged for a fuck-em-and-leave em type of guy huh?”
“If the condom fits, yeah.” Trent smiled at her jab and then they both broke into laughter.
“I guarantee you’ll have a good time Ms. King, I know you’ve never been out with a man like me before.” Trent leaned over and flicked her earlobe with his tongue. “You’ve never fucked a man like me before either,” his heated breath and dirty as hell, cocky comment melted her like butter frosting in a heat wave. Her fingers clenched the shot glass in her hand and she swallowed down a moan…
He’s right, I’ve never been out with a man like him before…could that be my way out? But that would require a great measure of deception…
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Hi I’m D.B.! During the day I am a receptionist. At night, I escape with my laptop into a land of shifters and other supernatural beings, seeking to claim their one true, human mate.
You won’t find shrinking violets, or roses, in my books. Be prepared to meet sassy, passionate women and hot, furry men who love strong, in-and out of the bedroom. If you like a taste of spice and honey with your shifter romance reads then try one of my stories today.
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It was undeniable. Jasmine and Terrence burn hotter than hell’s flames for each other. The hunky tiger aches to sink his claws…and other things into the beautiful, sexy journalist but a shifter Jasmine dated pulled a crazy act on her-now she’s done with furry men. Terrence is determined to make Jasmine his mate and he needs more than just her body hungry for him. He has a momentous pledge to honour and time is running out… **A sexy, insta-love tiger shifter romance.** Hot Fur Stripes is a standalone novella with a happy ending and no cliffhangers or cheating.