Romance: Undercover Panther: BBW Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance (BBW, Paranormal, Werebear Romance) (Shapeshifter Romance Series by Ashley Hunter) (3 page)

BOOK: Romance: Undercover Panther: BBW Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance (BBW, Paranormal, Werebear Romance) (Shapeshifter Romance Series by Ashley Hunter)
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Chapter 5

 

It was a weird name, but it made sense as a covert code name.

Shadow.

It sounded weird in her head, as well. She spent the day in her room, bored out of her mind, and pangs of fear hit her at odd moments.

She didn’t know his end game or if she was still completely out of danger or not. She tried to open the door, out of habit than anything else, but it was closed every time.

She continued pacing in the room. True to his word, he opened the door at half past noon. She opened the door immediately and confronted him right then and there.

“I need a definite answer,” she said. She had thought this through in her head, had this conversation with herself. She was ready.

“Answer to what?” Shadow said.

“For how long, will I be here?”

“I told you,” he said, exasperatedly and going down the stairs.

“When I get the package; when I find out the truth.”

“So, that’s it? That’s all I am supposed to do. Wait for meals all my day. Doing nothing. I will kill myself.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” he said.

“Be thankful that I have not tied you up to the bed.”

She opened her mouth and closed it.

“Doesn’t change the fact that you kidnapped me.”

He kept walking.

“The food is getting colder.”

She stood on top of the stairs as he sat on the table, her fists clenched and face reddened. She had expected an answer but she got nothing. Her frustration had turned into indignation and she was determined not to give in to this prison.

 

 

 

Chapter 6: One Week Later

 

Angie was walking a few steps ahead of Shadow in the woods. It was her time to take a walk. It had been a week since she was taken to this cabin in the woods and a sort of laconic predictably had settled into the days.

She was getting restless but at least she was sure that Shadow was not some deranged person who would hurt her just for the sake of it. In these last few days, Angie had come to know the man inside the hard exterior that he carried along with him.

He was a man with a stoic sense of duty who truly believed in what he did. But on some days he seemed less sure of his mission. She had met him at a critical juncture in his life.

“You know, you can walk with me,” Angie turned around and said to Shadow who was several feet behind her.

He didn’t say anything but picked up his pace to walk with her. There was silence for a few moments.

“Is this your place?” Angie said when she was sure that Shadow was not going to be the one to initiate the conversation.

“Yes,” he said briefly.

“And?”

“And what?” he said.

“How did you get this place? Did you just find it here one day and decided to keep it? Does it belong to your family?”

Angie regretted as soon as she said the word family and saw a certain darkness come over Shadow.

He always seemed to move the conversation away from that topic.

“It was given to me,” he said.

Again silence fell between them. They walked a few paces and Angie picked up a leaf or two from the neighboring tree.

“Any luck with your package?” Angie asked him.

“Bob is hiding. He hasn’t come to the bar in a week.”

This worried Angie. If he was indeed innocent, he would have gone to the police or something, caused a ruckus, but he seemed to have gone into hiding, like a guilty person.

“What about me, then?” she asked.

“You will stay here until I decide the next course of action,” he said, not meeting her eyes.

They walked a few more minutes and darkness was starting to cover the sky. Dark clouds started appearing as well, and it looked as if it might rain later tonight.

“Let’s go back,” Shadow said and Angie sighed and reluctantly started walking back to the cabin.

“So, how did you come to work at that bar?” Shadow asked him.

Angie was surprised. It was the first real question that he had asked her about her and not about the damn package.

“It’s a long story,” she said.

“You got anywhere else to be?” he said and something like a smile crossed his face.

Angie could not believe that this strict, disciplined, rule following military man was making a joke.

“Isn’t it a special day,” she said, amused.

“What?”

“Nothing,” she said, laughing internally.

“Well, after I finished college, I had this great notion that I would write a novel that would change the world and my life. I would be the proverbial ‘boy wonder’ of contemporary fiction. I had some money from my family, and settled in the city, in an apartment with nothing but my laptop and my thoughts. I thought I would write like Hemingway, hard and brutal, my solitude would speed up the process.”

Angie had not talked to anyone about this in a long time. As a matter of fact, the only person she had ever talked to about her life and hopes and dreams was her college roommate and best friend, even though they had only met three times after graduating.

When she was speaking, she felt a certain weight getting released from her mind. It felt good to admit to all this, to the life she thought she would have and the one she actually got.

The life she thought would make her happy and fuel her passions, instead stalling her hopes and reality biting her.

“What went wrong?” Shadow asked, as a cloud thundered up above them.

“As you know, I am working as a bartender in a shitty neighborhood and trying to write my novel in between. I lost my apartment because I spent all my time trying to write the book that I didn’t have energy or inclination to get a real job. The first time I realized that I was living in a fool’s paradise, it was the worst day of my life. I didn’t think it would hurt that much.”

“We rarely understand the things that cause us the most pain,” Shadow said quietly.

Angie realized that somewhere inside this man was someone who had been hurt very badly in his life but was unwilling to talk about it.

His outer shell had grown so hard that he didn’t feel the pinching of pins anymore, the external stimuli that tried to creep inside and shatter his fragile made up reality inside his own mind. It was a scary place to live in, but it seemed to be working for him.

Drops of water fell from the sky as if the heavens were crying. Angie looked up and smiled. She loved rain. She opened her arms as if to embrace the deluge coming from the sky.

The clouds thundered, and raindrops started falling with increasing speed. Angie started revolving on the same spot, going in circles and circles, laughing. She had not felt this free or happy in the seven days she had spent here.

Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the outsides, and maybe it was her telling this stranger her life story and feeling unburdened, but her heart was jubilant. She was laughing.

“Stop it, you will get ill,” Shadow said as he removed his jacket and put it over Angie’s head.

“Oh come on,” she said, getting out from the cover.

“Enjoy this.”

She jumped into a small puddle that had formed in the ground due to a slight depression and the water splashed out.

“You’re getting all wet, go inside!” shouted Shadow to the oblivious Angie.

When he realized that she had no intention of voluntarily coming back to the house, he grabbed her arm.

“This isn’t a picnic,” he said harshly.

“You don’t say,” Angie said and sadly decided to return.

They entered the house and immediately the wet clothes of Angie sent a shiver down her body. Shadow was working on the fireplace, trying to light the firewood. Angie felt she could not stand those clothes anymore; she would seriously get sick if she did.

She went to her room and removed her shirt. Her wet hair splashed water all over the room. She removed her pants and was just about to grab some dry clothes when she realized a presence close by.

Instinctively, she turned to the door and to her panic, realized that, in her haste, she had forgotten to close it. Shadow was standing in the doorway, with a strange look on his face. He looked mesmerized and uncomfortable at the same time. His face was beet red.

Angie suddenly became aware of her own lack of clothing, not to mention the extra curves of her body.

She was standing here, in front of a hot stranger, in nothing but her bra and panties.
Why couldn’t I have worn a matching pair?!

“I-I brought you dry towels,” Shadow said and looked at the floor.

He looked such a different person right now, someone with real emotions, and someone who got embarrassed looking at a practically naked woman. Angie quickly grabbed the towel from him and covered herself.

Shadow closed the door before Angie could say thank you and left.

When he left, Angie put her face in both her hands and after a moment, burst out laughing.

Well, she came close to being naked with a guy. That oughta count for something.

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

Shadow was standing at the bottom of the stairs, mortified. The fact that he had seen Angie half naked didn’t bother him as much as what effect it had on him. When he had first placed his eyes on her, he couldn’t take them off.
She was perfect.

The smooth milky white skin, his fingers ached to trace a path on that flesh. He mentally shook himself. He didn’t have time for this. He was on a strict mission, something that stood to endanger everything in his life and here he was, looking for romance.

He couldn’t lie to himself that he had learnt that Angie was not involved in all this, but somehow he could not bring himself to part with her. He had not counted on getting used to her presence so much.

Her laughter made his heart flutter, even though he tried his best not to show how he felt for her. It was dangerous for her, not so much for him.

He heard a noise from upstairs and turned around and saw that Angie had changed into dry clothes and was standing on top of the stairs. She looked ravishing, he thought.

Her hair wet and shiny, her eyes sparkling. She came down and he kept staring at her like a freshman stares at their crush.

“I wanted to be closer to the fire,” Angie said, a little red from the embarrassing moment that happened a few minutes ago.

“Sure,” Shadow said.

She moved to the rug beside the fireplace and Shadow sat down on the couch, a little distance away from the warmth of the fire.

“Come here,” Angie said when she saw that he was sitting far away.

“You can’t even feel the fire from that distance. And besides, I don’t bite.”

Shadow smiled in spite of himself and joined her on the rug. This closeness was making him nervous. Their bodies were practically too close to be of no consequence.

“So you like rain?” Shadow said, trying his best to reduce the awkwardness they were feeling.

The rain. You are talking about the fucking rain.

“Yeah, how’d you know?” Angie said.

This was what he loved about her. Her wit, her sass, her bravado even in the face of her kidnapper.

“I first fell in love with rains when I saw a rainbow when I was six,” Angie said.

“It was the most beautiful thing in the world. When I got older and I learnt the scientific reasoning behind the rainbow, even then it could not take away the majesty of the sight. Do you remember seeing the rainbow for the first time?”

Shadow shook his head.

“I remember it perfectly,” Angie said and a look came over her face as if she was seeing it again, like a projection from a time gone by a long time ago, but still left its mark, a permanent impression.

“You’re lucky,” Shadow said and it was impossible for him not to sound a little envious of her.

“I don’t know normal. Never have.”

Angie looked at him. He was staring into the fire, which was reflecting in his eyes. It made Angie shudder.

She took his face in her hand and brought his eyes to her. He looked surprised at her tender touch.

“What?” he said.

Without replying Angie leaned in and kissed him. The sky roared at that exact moment but Angie was oblivious to it. The storm inside her was the one she cared about at the moment.

She delved into the kiss with all her heart. Their lips were glued together, eyes closed, lost in the moment. The kiss was just a meeting of lips at first, but then Angie opened her mouth and deepened the kiss. Shadow followed suit.

Their lips broke apart after a few seconds, but to Angie, it felt like an eternity. The kiss was everything she had thought of, and yes she had thought of it a lot.

Shadow seemed confused at first but then Angie had realized that what her gut told her was the truth: there was something in Shadow’s heart as well that pulled him to her. When she had seen him looking at her with that dazed look on his face, she had decided it was time to do something.

It was now or never.
Carpe diem.

“I don’t think we should be doing this,” Shadow said, his voice coming in gasps as if the kiss had left him breathless, which it had, in point of fact.

“Why?” Angie said and then kissed him again, this time more passionately, a kiss that demanded more and more.

“Angie, no,” Shadow said, breaking away from her.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

“This. This is wrong,” he said.

“I can’t. We can’t.”

“Are you married?” Angie said, thinking for the first time that she had not considered this possibility.

All her life, she had seen that the good ones were always taken and someone as
good
as Shadow would definitely be. So it surprised her when he gave a humorless chuckle, a smirk of derision.

“Marriage is something I don’t even think about,” he said.

“Then what’s wrong?” Angie said, wanting him to explain to her.

“Why can’t we do this? You feel something about me. I see the way you look at me. And I can’t lie and say that I don’t feel anything for you because I do. Oh, I do so much.”

Angie was breathing heavily, as if arguing with Shadow was causing her physical exertion.

“Angie,” he said.

“It’s complicated. You won’t understand.”

“Try me,” she said.

Shadow stood up from the rug and Angie was disappointed that she no longer had his proximity, the warmth from his body, his eyes to stare into and get lost.

“Your life will be ruined if we take this any further,” Shadow said.

“That is a line that boys use when they want to break up with a girlfriend. We only kissed. You don’t need to bring in the big guns just yet.”

“This is not a joke,” he said.

“I am telling the truth. Your life will not be yours anymore if this goes any further.”

“What is ‘this’. ‘This’ is nothing. We are just two adults who feel for each other and what is wrong with that?”

“It is not as simple as you think,” he said.

“Then make it simple,” she said and folded her arms.

She would get to the bottom of this mystery, now and here.

“You will not believe me even if I tell you,” Shadow said, not meeting her eyes, which seemed to be looking anywhere but at her.

“I believed that you worked for a covert army unit that does illegal things and nobody has ever heard of it,” she said.

“I think I will believe anything else that you tell me.”

“Not this,” he said, quietly.

Silence fell in between them, during which Angie hoped that he would get over whatever was holding him from telling her the truth and get it over with. Shadow, for his part, was just prolonging the inevitable.

As soon as she had kissed him, he knew that he would end up telling her the whole story, even though all his instincts told him not to.

Angie got up from the rug and walked over to shadow. She took both of his hands in hers.

Something like an electric current shot across his whole body, finally landing in his heart, at her touch. She brought her lips to his once again and kissed him briefly.

“Trust me,” she said.

Shadow brought her hands to his lips and kissed them. Then he extricated himself from her and moved a few feet away.

“When I said that you would not believe me when I told you,” he said, with his back turned.

“I meant that I would have to show you. The story is unbelievable when told. You have to see it to believe it.”

“What?” Angie said, befuddled.

“I don’t understand.”

“You will,” he said.

“Stand back.”

“Why stand…”

Angie’s jaw hit the floor. Shadow’s limbs were changing form, as was his whole body. His clothes had ripped open and were lying on the floor. Angie put a hand on her mouth to stop herself from screaming.

Where, just a moment ago, stood Shadow, tall and brooding, now stood a panther, on all fours; a big black panther. He was looking at Angie, teeth bared, eyes red.

Angie recoiled back towards the fire but the panther stayed in its place.

“This can’t be,” she said, more to herself than to him.

“What is this? This is a dream.”

She didn’t know why she had not woken up from the dream she was having or why she had not fainted if it was reality. All she knew was that this did not make any sense. This was the stuff of fairy tales and young adult books. People don’t change into animals in real life.

She was just thinking what to do next, because it seemed as if she had been rooted to the spot, when the panther started changing into human form. In a matter of seconds, standing before her was Shadow, naked as the day he was born.

Realizing his state of undress, Shadow at once gathered the torn piece of cloth and tied it around his waist. If Angie was startled before, she was mesmerized now.
This is a fine specimen.

She chided herself that this was not the time or the place to think about such things; what was important was that this man just changed into a panther right in front of her, and changed back into human form.

This was the pressing matter. She could not think straight. She had a thousand questions. She opened her mouth and closed it, not knowing which question to put first.

“So you now know,” Shadow said and left her there.

Angie stood at that very spot for a solid five minutes, just thinking, when she found herself finally going into her room.

BOOK: Romance: Undercover Panther: BBW Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance (BBW, Paranormal, Werebear Romance) (Shapeshifter Romance Series by Ashley Hunter)
8.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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