This week’s theme is character in danger so I naturally thought of my upcoming release House of the Cat, which is out on 14 October. This book is a bit of a departure for me in that it is a sci-fi romance, although I managed to fit in my love of feline shifters because the hero is all alpha feline. In this scene, the hero and heroine have Red Mumbers trailing them. Red Mumbers are muscular beings with red skins who specialize in security and protection work.
HOUSE OF THE CAT by Shelley Munro
“Shush,” Ry interrupted. “We’re drawing attention.”
Camryn gasped when a Red Mumber snarled in her direction. To Ry’s relief, she stopped her questions.
Finally they reached the front of the line and paid their currency to the gray-haired administrator who sat behind a bulky desk. The man scrawled on his parchment, his quill scratching loudly.
“Entry fee is one thousand quid.” He peered at them, picking up a quizzing glass to study Camryn. “Is she healthy? The ruler is seeking women for his harem. This woman would be to his taste. Give you two thousand quid for her.”
“No.” Black fury gripped Ry, tightening every muscle in his body. His jaw set hard and he glared at the administrator for his audacity. “She is not for sale.” His tone should have ended the matter, but the administrator smiled with smug confidence.
He lifted his quizzing glass to survey Camryn again. “Five thousand quid. That’s my final offer.”
“My woman is not for sale.” Ry gripped Camryn’s forearm, willing her to remain silent.
“Very well.” The administrator didn’t sound happy, and Ry knew he’d have to guard Camryn well. The administrator’s offer was as good as a price on her head to any being who’d eavesdropped. He stared a challenge at the Red Mumber waiting behind the administrator until the guard shifted his attention to his sandaled feet.
They completed formalities, were told the areas they could hunt for their hell-horse, accepted their entry number and a copy of the rule book before leaving. “We’d better head back to the ship.” Ry didn’t release her arm, dragging her from the manor and down the road in the direction of the spaceport.
“I thought we were going to see the hell-horses.”
“New plan.” Ry stopped abruptly with his back to the nearest building, watching for trouble. Sensing the Earthling’s streak of obstinacy, Ry explained. “A lot of people overheard the administrator make an offer for you, which makes you a liability.” A bigger problem than she was already.
“It wasn’t my fault.” Camryn scowled when she took his meaning. “You mean they’d force me into captivity, to be at a man’s whim because of my looks?”
“Yes.” But not if he had his way. Ry propelled her along the rutted road.
“Don’t walk so fast. I can’t keep up.”
Ry glanced over his shoulder, catching a glimpse of a Red Mumber—the same one who’d stood with the administrator. The back of his neck itched in warning, especially when he caught sight of a second Red Mumber, the muscular beings contrasting with the dingy gray buildings. Damn. “In here.”
He didn’t give Camryn time to object, dragging her into a tavern. He pushed through the mass of bodies, using his elbows to make his way to the bar. A back door. Ry opened the door a crack and saw a Red Mumber approaching via the alley running between the tavern and the building next door.
“Change of plans.” Ry noted a staircase leading to a second floor. “This way.” He resisted her struggle and dragged her up the stairs. The flashy interior gave him pause. A pox on it. A brothel. He halted before realizing he’d run out of alternatives. Ry smiled at the madam, summoning every measure of charm available. “I know this is an unusual request…could we have a room?”
The madam fluttered her ridiculously long lilac lashes and leaned forward to better display her assets, showcased in a tight ruby-red gown. “We cater for all requests here. Take your choice of my ladies. Would you like two to join you? Maybe more?”
The choked sound from Camryn went straight to his cock. Ry’s mouth twisted at the sensual reminder of the woman. Dammit, he’d lied to himself. Another woman wouldn’t work. Another woman wouldn’t soothe the ache echoing through his body. He wanted Camryn.
“Just a room,” he said in a hoarse voice. A mistake. He sensed his error straight away. No alternative. Blast it. “Some privacy. Some of our crewmembers might stop by to ask if you’ve seen us…” He let his voice trail off suggestively for the madam to connect the dots.
“I won’t say a word.” She winked at him, her broad smile indicating a streak of romanticism despite her profession. “My girls know how to keep their lips buttoned. No one will interrupt you.” She handed him a key. “The room at the end of the passage.”
Ry bent to whisper in Camryn’s ear. “Quick.” He propelled her forcibly down the passage, unlocking the door and pushing her inside. With a final glance and a grateful wave at the madam, Ry entered the room. He locked the door and turned to face temptation.
House of the Cat will be released on 14 Oct, 2009 at Ellora’s Cave.
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