Authors: Kat Simons
Tags: #Tiger Shifters series Book 5
Can he win her heart in time to save her life…?
When adrenaline junkie and adventurer Rose Callaghan meets the man of her dreams and learns she’s carrying his child, she assumes she’ll be living her happily-ever-after. Until he accuses her of cheating on him and leaves. Four years later, she’s managing as a single parent, but her daughter is experiencing episodes of extreme pain and no one can tell her why or how to stop them. Rose swears she’ll do anything to help her daughter. She just doesn’t expect that “anything” to include facing her ex again. When he shows up out of nowhere offering answers, she takes him in. But his answers are the stuff of myth and make Rose start to doubt everything she’s ever known.
The first born son of a fanatical tiger shifter, Vlad Dubrovsky is prepared to abandon his family and his people to be with the human woman he loves. But when he finds out Rose is pregnant—something that’s impossible between a human and a tiger shifter—he returns to the tiger community heartbroken, convinced she’s betrayed him. Four years later, Vlad still wants Rose, and learning it
possible for them to have had a child together forces him to rethink everything he’s ever believed. But the only way to ensure Rose and her daughter are safe is to bring them into the tiger shifters’ world. A world full of powerful, deadly enemies who are just as fanatical as Vlad’s family, and just as intent on killing tiger-human hybrids. To protect the two people he loves most in the world, Vlad must convince Rose to trust him again…knowing his most difficult fight might just be for her heart.
TO TEMPT A TIGER
Copyright © 2015 by Katrina Tipton
Edited by Practical Proofing
Edited by Hot Tree Editing
Cover by The Killion Group
Published by T&D Publishing
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
To Tempt A Tiger
Tiger Shifters 5
To my boys who brought out my own maternal fierceness
Rose Callaghan hugged her daughter, rocking her as another wave of pain wracked her little body. Panic and torment twisted in her gut, emotions she’d almost gotten used to over the last year. “I’m here, baby. It’ll be okay.”
“I know, I know. We’ll fix it. We’ll find a way.”
The doorbell rang. Rose ignored it. Whoever it was could come back later. She rubbed the sweat-soaked hair from her daughter’s brow, wondering if she should take her to the emergency room again. It never helped. Nothing helped. The doctors never uncovered the problem. No test had produced an explanation. No specialist had found an answer. No one knew why her daughter went through these episodes of extreme pain.
All her prayers to God, Mary, and all the saints she could remember from mass didn’t seem to be working either. But she had to do something.
Rose was desperate—she just didn’t know where else to turn.
The doorbell rang again, followed by insistent knocking.
She growled then said, “Baby, I need to go get that. I’ll be right back.”
Zoe nodded, but as soon as Rose released her, she curled up into a ball on her bed, rocking as another wave of pain visibly shivered over her skin.
Rose ran to the front door, grumbling kid-safe curses, ready to take the hide off whoever was there. Why couldn’t they take the hint and just go away?
The doorbell rang again, and Rose hissed a not-kid-friendly curse. She threw open the door, her mouth open to yell at whoever it was—until she saw the man on her front step. She froze, her brain momentarily too stunned to work.
Vladimir Dubrovsky. The love of her life. The man she’d planned to marry.
The man who’d accused her of cheating on him and left her when he found out she was pregnant.
Rose blinked as the reality of Vlad being on her doorstep sank in. He looked the same—dark hair, dark eyes, sharp, sexy features, the perfect mouth, and a body designed to make a woman’s mouth water.
“Hello, Rose,” he said. “I realize this is a little…unexpected.”
His voice was still that deep rich octave that had always made her shiver. She released a loud huff.
“Unexpected?” She wanted to laugh. She grabbed his arm and jerked him inside. “Thank God. Get in here.”
His wide-eyed shock might have given her some satisfaction, if she wasn’t so worried.
“Your daughter is sick,” she said, dragging him into her living room. “The doctors can’t tell me what’s wrong. She’s in pain right now. What did you pass on to her? This isn’t anything from my side—we’ve run tests and done the research. You need to tell me everything about your family medical history.”
Vlad stood in her living room staring at her, his head angled down slightly, his brow furrowed. He looked at her like she was speaking a foreign language.
Her patience didn’t stretch that far. “Damn it, Vlad, snap out of it. I need your help. What the hell is wrong with our daughter? While we’re standing here wasting time, she’s hurting, and I have to stop it. If you have any information that will help, you need to tell me. Now.”
“This isn’t the reception I was expecting.”
“I don’t have time for that right now. Can you help or not? If not, get out.”
He shook his head like a dog shaking off water and straightened. “May I see her?”
She hesitated. This man had abandoned them. She hadn’t seen or heard from him in four years. She wasn’t sure she wanted him around her daughter—even if he was Zoe’s father.
But if he could help with Zoe’s pain…
The familiar panic and desperation churned in her stomach and tightened her muscles. “Do you know what’s wrong with her?” she asked.
“I might. Is the pain cyclical? Does it comes and go? Does she complain her muscles and bones feel like they’re stretching and aching? Has she ever said her body feels like it’s coming apart?”
“Yes! The doctors have tried a bunch of stuff and none of it works.”
“None of it would. May I see her?” he asked again.
This time Rose didn’t hesitate. “Come on.”
If he could help with Zoe’s pain, she might just be able to forgive him for breaking her heart. Maybe. She’d certainly stop wishing the torments of hell on him.
At the entrance to Zoe’s bedroom, she spun to face him. The move brought them up close, and for an instant, her breath caught. He still smelled like the most delicious thing ever—spice and musk and male.
She pushed the thought aside and pointed a finger at him. “Don’t scare her or hurt her. If you do anything that pisses me off, you’re out of here. I’m too scared and worried about her to put up with nonsense. Also, no cursing.” She turned and walked into her daughter’s brightly decorated white and yellow room.
“Zoe. Someone’s here to see you.”
“No doctors.” Zoe’s frown was set, stubbornness in every cute, chubby little line of her face. Then her body jerked and she moaned.
Rose forgot about Vlad as she hurried to her daughter. “Baby, I’m here. I’m here. It’s going to be okay. I promise.” She pulled Zoe into her arms.
“Mommy, it hurts.”
“I know, baby. We’ll fix it.” Rose hated that she said this every single time and hadn’t been able to fulfill the promise. The words were like ash in her mouth.
“Zoe.” Vlad’s tone was soothing and soft.
Rose blinked. She’d almost forgotten him in those seconds of hearing Zoe’s pain in her voice.
“My name is Vlad. I’m not a doctor, but I might be able to help you. Can I sit next to you?”
She glanced up at Rose, pain pinching the skin around her beautiful dark eyes—eyes that had always reminded Rose of Vlad’s. Rose nodded her approval.
Zoe looked at him. “You got a funny name.”
He smiled, then very gently sat next to her on the bed. “When the pain comes, does it feel like your skin is stretching?”
“Do you…see any images in your mind when the pain hits? Does anything pop up in your imagination?”
He straightened and sucked in a sharp breath.
“What?” Rose asked. “What is it? Why are tigers significant?”
He ignored her questions and focused on Zoe. “I’m going to talk you through breathing and things to think about that should help ease the pain. Okay?”
Rose glared. Positive thinking wasn’t going to help her baby.
“I want you to take a long, slow breath,” Vlad coached.
“I know. But this will help. I promise. One long deep breath, and imagine the way your arms feel when you feel good.”
Zoe nodded as she tried to take a deep, stuttering breath.
“That’s it. Good girl. Now close your eyes and concentrate on how your whole body feels when you feel good. How your two legs feel. What the shoes on your feet feel like. What it feels like to wiggle your toes against the inside of your shoes. Got it?” He looked up at Rose. “What’s her favorite toy or game? Something that involves physical sensation.”
Rose snatched up Zoe’s special blanket and handed it to him.
“I want you to imagine feeling your blanket against your fingers,” he continued, speaking to Zoe. “Do you remember what if feels like? Concentrate on the soft material against your skin.”
“She sucks on the corner,” Rose added.
Vlad nodded. “Remember what the corner feels like against your lips, on your tongue. How the blanket feels when it touches your cheek.”
As he talked in slow, rhythmic, soothing tones, Zoe’s breathing evened out and the tight lines around her eyes and mouth eased. Her little body relaxed and her shoulders slumped.
“Feeling better now?” Vlad asked.
She opened her eyes and smiled. “Better. I tired.”
“You rest, baby,” Rose said. Vlad stood and Rose tucked Zoe into her bed, making sure she had her favorite blanket in hand. “I’ll be in the living room if you need me.”
She nodded, then looked up at Vlad, her dark eyes narrowing toward sleep. “Thanks for stopping the pain.”
Rose felt tears pricking her eyes and sniffed them back. She didn’t like Zoe seeing her upset, not so soon after an episode. She motioned to Vlad, and they left Zoe to sleep.
In the living room, Rose stood for a long moment just staring at the pale carpet and breathing deeply. She felt so drained she wanted to sleep, too. And cry. She desperately needed to cry.
But she refused to do it in front of Vlad.
“Why are you here?” She kept her back to him until she was sure the tears pricking at her eyes wouldn’t fall.
“I’m not sure how to start.”
She finally faced him. “Let me start then…by saying thank you for helping Zoe. If you can tell me how to do that, I’d appreciate it. Then you can leave.”
Vlad scowled. “I can’t leave you.”
“You did before.”
“That’s not what I meant. It’s… This is a complicated story.”
“I’m too tired for stories, Vlad.” She crossed her arms and braced her legs to stave off the emotional exhaustion weighing on her. She wouldn’t let him see her pain, only her anger. Even if he had just helped with her daughter.
“I was expecting a different reaction to my being here,” he said.
He shrugged. “I thought you might slap me.”
“Maybe if Zoe hadn’t been in the middle of an episode, I would have.”
The corner of his mouth lifted, and Rose’s heart thumped hard. Damn him, how did he do that to her with just a smile? She hated him. It didn’t make sense that she could feel anything else for him, especially not this longing.
“Don’t get cocky,” she told him. “I still might slap you if you don’t get to the point and then get out.”