Shifters are known to embrace their feral side, and it would take a very impressive female to tame his.
From NY Times & USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Michelle M. Pillow, a shapeshifter fantasy/sci fi romance.
Cat-shifter Prince Rafe knows that technically he’s supposed to be traveling to Earth to find a bride, but he doesn’t see the need to rush things. While his dragon-shifter neighbors appear all too eager to claim their mates and settle down, he’s all for putting that final moment off and enjoying his little trips through the portal. Yeah, yeah, eventually he’ll have to marry and set a good example for his people because on his planet females are rare, and they need to have children and blah blah blah. But honestly, cat-shifters are known to embrace their feral side, and it would take a very impressive female to tame his.Then he sees Jenna Kearney and all bets are off.
Kansas City, Kansas
“Hello, faes, want to take a ride on my spaceship?” Rafe shot the Earth women a playful smile and wagged his brows. They giggled just as he knew they would. Even on his home planet of Qurilixen he had a way with the ladies—well, what very few single ladies were left on his planet, and the alien travelers who visited. What could he say? Charm was a gift. Half the time it didn’t even matter what he said to them, as long as he dipped his voice and smiled.
“I don’t care if he is crazy, look at him,” one of the women whispered. She had no way of knowing his shifter hearing could pick up her hushed words.
Rafe was technically supposed to be looking for a bride while on Earth being as humans were reproductively compatible. It was the whole reason the shifter princes were allowed to leave their home world. Rafe was part of the catshifting Var royal family who ruled half the planet—the fun half. The other half was ruled by the dragonshifting Draig. As much as he liked his dragon neighbors, they were a little reserved and obsessed with planning the future. Since the portal to Earth was on their land, they were only willing to open it if the princes looked for life mates.
All the dragons ever talked about was mating and continuing the family lines…kind of like Rafe’s older brother, Prince Ivar. For a cat, Ivar seemed to be missing the wild gene.
Rafe grinned. He was wild enough for both of them. His trips to Earth were solely for adventure. The culture captivated him. The plentiful sea of women fascinated him, especially since his planet lacked that particular resource—females. Men they had plenty of.
He didn’t stop to talk to the flirtatious women as he went to the diner’s counter. If he forgot to acquire cheeseburgers for the Draig princess, he’d never hear the end of it. Princess Eve was the first and only human to be brought through the portal and the only demand she ever made was for Earth food. She’d married dragonshifter Prince Kyran. The union was a good one. It proved portal travel for brides worked and allowed the three remaining Qurilixian princes to continue their explorations offworld.
Rafe knew why their parents wanted them to mate so badly. Scholars estimated that the shifters would die out within a generation if women weren’t brought to the planet. No matter how many babies a woman had, the vast majority came out male. Scientists tried, but no one could explain it. People were healthy, lived longer lives—much longer than they had on Earth—and for the most part thrived. They just didn’t conceive girl babies.
The downside of Kyran finding love after one attempt through the portal was that their royal parents were starting to get a little suspicious when no one else brought back a bride. Rafe liked Princess Eve well enough. She was what the Earth people called a spitfire. And, thanks to her help, he and his fellow shifters were able to blend successfully in to the modern human world. None of this meant Rafe was ready to find his own princess.
Since shifters had originated on Earth centuries ago, they still spoke a dialect of one of the Earth languages, but so much had changed since they’d left, and many things had to be learned. What little the elders remembered about escaping to Qurilixen was outdated and filled with stories of shifter persecution and bloody war. For this reason, they hid their shifting abilities while traveling. Not counting a couple bar brawls when Rafe had tried to seduce a claimed woman—not that he could detect a mark or finger shackle on her to back up the man’s claim—Rafe hadn’t seen much by the way of Earth battle.
Night pushed its way past the broken streetlight to darken the diner windows. The waitress behind the counter came forward with her notepad to take his order. He leaned forward on his hands. “I’m wondering if you have a smile for me, sweetheart.”
Startled, the woman blinked rapidly and then started to laugh. She swiped her pen at him before saying, “What can I get for you?”
“A dozen cheeseburgers and do you have something called cream pie?”
“Chocolate, banana, coconut—”
“A slice of each. To leave.” Rafe turned as the bell on the door dinged to signify someone entered.
“I think you mean to go,” the waitress said.
Rafe absently nodded as he studied the new woman who entered. His accent made it easier to cover his English mistakes. He was about to answer when the woman pushed a hood off her head. Red hair spilled over her shoulders. The sides were clipped back to reveal small ears. A strong force hit him and he couldn’t move.
“Evening Jenna,” the waitress called.
“Hi Barb,” the redhead answered. She turned, pretty green eyes looking past him to the waitress. “Usual please.”
“Hey, spaceman,” one of the women he’d flirted with earlier called. “Come sit with us.”
“Joe’s already started it for you, hon,” Barb answered Jenna. “Be up in a minute.”
“Thanks. I didn’t have a chance to eat today.” Jenna crossed the diner, pulling the strap of her messenger bag off her chest and over her head before shrugging out of her jacket.
“You mean you forgot to eat today. Again.” Barb poured a coffee next to him and slid it toward the woman. “Sit down before you pass out.”
Jenna came toward the counter. Rafe inhaled, detecting the scent of flowers in her hair. He stared at her. The sound of her voice mesmerized him. Jenna reached for the coffee and finally glanced up. He held his breath to hear what she would say to him.
Jenna arched a brow. “Your alien groupies are waiting for you, spaceman.”
Rafe let loose his breath. “You know I am not from Earth?”
The woman stiffened, eyeing him as if he suddenly resembled the back end of a yorkin beast. She brushed past him and took a booth as far from the counter as she could get. Setting her bag on the table, she began rifling through papers and did not look at him again.
Rafe ignored the noisy women and they soon lost interest in his joining them. He sat at the counter to wait for his order and watched the redhead. She didn’t look up, and he couldn’t look away.
Jenna did not look like the Earth women he normally met. In clubs he could see at least sixty percent of a woman’s body. Jenna appeared more reserved. Loose slacks and a blue striped button down shirt covered very lush curves. This woman hadn’t reacted to his charming smile either. He found himself intrigued.
“Burgers be up soon. Here’s the pie.” Barb put a bag on the counter in front of him. “You’re barking up the wrong tree there, lover boy.”
“I do not bark,” Rafe said.
“Whatever you say.” Barb left.
Rafe lifted the bag of pie slices and made his move toward the table. At his presence, she mumbled, “Thanks. Just leave it on the table.”
“You wish to eat my cream?” Rafe asked.
The woman gave a little jump of surprise and looked up at him. Her mouth opened but no sound came out as she looked from his face to his hips and back up again.
“I have very good cream,” Rafe said, hoping to see her smile at him. “I would enjoy it if you ate—”
“I-I…” Jenna held up her hand. “Are you…unwell? I mean, do you need…mental help?”
Rafe didn’t understand her question. He smiled at her, waiting for the dip of her eyes and the tiny giggle females on this planet made. She had such a pretty voice and an even prettier face. “I am Rafe and I do not require assistance at this moment.”
Rafe slid into the booth across from her and reached into his bag to lift a white container. “I have chocolate, banana—”
“Oh, pie, you have cream pie,” Jenna said, seeming to relax. “No. I don’t eat pie.”
“Ah, you eat parchment,” he pushed at the pages on the table. They were filled with numbers and charts. Finally, she gave a small smile. The look caused his heart to quicken and his stomach to tighten.
“I don’t know what your game is, sitting down here, talking to me.” Jenna gathered her papers and shoved them into her bag.
He glanced out the window, knowing he had to go just as soon as he had Princess Eve’s food. Eve liked burgers to the point she threatened him if he came home empty-handed—well, not a real threat, but an almost real threat. “I have cheeseburgers. Would you like to eat that?”
“Do you have a food fetish? Is that what this is?” She shook her head. “I’m honestly not in the mood. I’m behind on paperwork for a thankless boss who is threatening layoffs because of the economy. The hot water in my shower is broken and my landlord is a deadbeat. And I lost my cat to old age. So, please, I don’t need crazy right now. Just go be an alien with your girlfriends over there.”
Rafe glanced over his shoulder. “Those girls are not my friends. You said you had not eaten today.” Then seeing Barb placing his bag on the counter, he knew he didn’t have much time. He hesitated. Something about Jenna made him want to stay.
“Barb, can I take mine to go, please?” Jenna asked loudly.
“Sure thing, hon.” Barb disappeared into the back.
“Looks like your order is ready. You should pick it up now.” Jenna gave a pointed look at the counter.
Rafe slowly stood and nodded. “As you so decree, m’lady.”
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