Mate Marks: Hunger
by Kate Hill
Coming Soon from Changeling Press
All her life Chante has wondered about two things, her family history and the cat-shaped birthmark on her breast. To avoid the frightening yet sexy man who has been following her, she travels to Jamaica to visit her great aunt and learns more than she ever wanted to know about a strange family curse.
Joshi has always known that he's destined to mate with the human female who bears the mark of the cat on her breast. Still, his bitterness toward humans has prevented him from claiming his rightful mate. With his species near extinction, he has no choice but to take Chante as his own. Seducing this stubborn yet beautiful woman will challenge this shapeshifting cat in more ways than he realizes, especially when their lives depend on his prowess as a warrior.
All his life, Albert Lawrence had been the hunter. Now for the first time he understood how it felt to be the prey. He paused, every muscle tense and his senses straining for any sign of the predator stalking him.
He hadn't seen or heard anything, yet he knew he was being followed. His hand trembled on his rifle. Sweat trickled down his back and his heart pounded.
Oddly, his next thought was about the beauty of these woodlands. In all the years he'd been hunting, he'd never taken the time to appreciate this untamed country. His sole concern had been the challenge. The kill.
Something struck him hard in the back and knocked him face-first to the ground. He grunted from the impact, too stunned to struggle. A powerful, hairy hand clamped around the back of his neck and his attacker pulled the rifle from his grasp.
"Pathetic, greedy human," growled a voice so deep and wild that it sounded as if a great cat had mastered the power of speech. "For too long I have watched your kind hunt beasts, taking more than you could ever eat and stealing their skins. You kill for the mere pleasure of it."
His attacker rolled Albert roughly onto his back. The human stared in horror and fascination at the creature straddling him. Rangy and thickly muscled, it had a manlike shape, but was covered in leopard skin. Thick fangs gleamed against his dark, snarling lips.
"Does life mean anything to you?" growled the beast, his hand tightening around Albert's throat.
"Yes," he choked.
"Your own life maybe." The creature leaned closer, his face inches from Albert's. "What would you give me to spare your pathetic life?"
"Anything," Albert whispered.
The creature's greenish-yellow eyes narrowed, then a faint yet horrible smile curved his lips. "Anything you say. In that case, I will allow you to live, but only so you can repay your debt to my kind. First you will never hunt again."
"I give you my word. No more hunting. Ever."
"And second. . ." The creature sank his fangs deep into Albert's shoulder.
The human screamed, his fists clawing at the cat creature's shoulders and his body thrashing in a futile attempt to push his attacker away.
The beast sat up, licking blood from his lips.
"You said you'd spare my life," Albert panted, pain flaring from his shoulder through his entire body. "What have you done to me? What poison is in your bite?"
"Your life has been spared, human, and once healed, my bite won't harm you. But the second part of our pact has been initiated. From your bloodline a woman will be born who bears the mark of my people. When the time is right, one of my bloodline will come to claim her."
"Wait, you can't ask me to sacrifice one of my children."
"Your people have hunted my kind to near extinction. Our females are few. We have no choice but to interbreed with other species to ensure our survival. This woman of your bloodline will be a mother of my race."
Albert thought he might be sick, both from the pain of the creature's bite and from disgust over the bargain he'd struck. If he was any kind of man he'd tell this monster to kill him here and now, but he hadn't the courage.
His head spun and his vision blurred. The last thing he saw before sinking into blackness was the snarling face of the cat creature.