Black Cougar Curse by Tess Mackall and Natalie Dae is hot off the press today - check it out.
Deep in the mountain wilderness, Lucia Chavez searches for closure to her father’s death, and the mythical black cougar he sought. Drop-dead sexy Cherokee Indian guide Sam Starr knows more than he’s telling. After he saves Lucia from being swept away in a mudslide, the bath they both need turns steamy indeed. Sam and Lucia are living proof that near-death experiences can bring two people closer together—they can’t keep their hands off each other.
Amidst danger and mystery, Sam and Lucia explore the lust that burns between them. If their desire gets any stronger it could bring down the mountains. Ancient secrets hold the key to their unbridled sexual need. Was their passion written in the stars?
One man. One woman. A curse that binds them—and could tear them apart.
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Sam Starr arched his back and gasped for air. Rain stung his naked skin. He lurched forward then sat while he grew accustomed to his human form. Ages had passed since his first transformation and it never got any easier. Emotions, senses, need, all changed, but somehow lingered from each of them. But this time, something was different. The cougar essence had given reign to its man-spirit, allowing him to shift earlier than usual—because of the woman camped out at the base of the bluff.
Sam had gotten word from the boys at the sporting goods store when he’d stopped in for supplies a few days before that she was looking to hire him as a guide. He’d spotted her campsite two days ago from a distance but hadn’t approached, figuring she’d give up and go back to the city where she belonged. Only she hadn’t, and apparently had decided to move deeper into the forest. A bad move on her part. She’d chosen to make camp at the bottom of an unstable area. With the rains they’d had in the last couple of weeks and tonight’s downpour, she wasn’t safe. It wouldn’t take much more to bring the entire slope down on her.
“Damn it. Why me?” he muttered as he pushed off the muddy ground.
The idea of dealing with a citified woman didn’t appeal to him at all, much less one who seemed intent on finding him when he didn’t want to be found. Pushy. That’s what she was. Just plain damn pushy. Well, she’d find out he could push right back. He lifted the branch in front of him to pass through and scraped his hip on the tree’s trunk.
Remembering his nakedness, he chuckled. Well, she wanted to see me.
As he picked his way through the soaked terrain, he looked back at the hillside. Water ran like a river straight down its center. Sam had been made aware of the impending natural disaster through his cougar self, but the fact that the woman was in danger was something his cougar didn’t know until Sam had transferred the information to the cougar. Miraculously, the cat had yielded to its man-spirit’s dominance.
And that had never happened before.
Yes, they often shared information, but one had never allowed the other to interfere with their time in earthly form, only sensing each other in their minds and certainly never shifting sooner in preference to the other’s needs. Sam thought about that. He had needed to shift. Needed it to get the woman out of harm’s way. Had he asked his cougar to yield? All he remembered was the shift. And right now he didn’t have time to dwell on it. Regardless of how much he despised some prissy woman invading his territory, he couldn’t let her be swept away in a mudslide.
Blinking his eyes against the sheet of rain, he made his way to the campsite. The smell of smoke was strong, almost acrid. Lightning repeatedly clapped and strobed, invading the pitch black, showing him the way. As he drew near, the woman stood and let the blanket she was using for shelter against the rain fall at her feet. Her eyes wide, mouth shaped in a huge O, a soft wail of fright came from her throat.
Sam tamped down the urge to laugh. She looked like she’d seen a ghost. Stopping opposite her, next to the dying campfire, he planted his feet firmly apart, toes digging into the muddy mix of earth, leaves and twigs. He waited to speak, struck by the need to assess her more closely. Her spirit was strong and his cock twitched.
He concentrated, focusing just above her great big eyes. A deep crimson aura emanated from her body. Strong woman. Angry. But the depth of that red was mottled with shades of gray and even black. She was broken. Something dark dwelled within her and distrust burgeoned inside Sam.
“Heard you were looking for me,” he said.
Her lashes batted as if she were surprised he’d spoken. She closed her mouth, swallowed hard and in a trembling voice asked, “Are-are you Sam Starr?”
“But you’re naked.” Her gaze drifted up and down his body.
Sam shifted, her scrutiny doing something to him he hadn’t anticipated. He gritted his teeth, willing his cock to behave. Hell, she looked like a drowned rat more than a woman, not at all pretty as far as he could tell, yet his body responded. That’s what he got for letting his monthly visit to see the Monroe sisters slide this time. He’d been too restless, and that should have been reason enough to go, but he hadn’t been willing to leave his mountains. Something—or someone—had stopped him. And maybe that someone was standing right in front of him.
“My mountains. I dress or not dress the way I like.”
She looked away. Rain soaked her clothes and dripped from long hair that lay plastered to her head. Her thin cotton shirt clung to her, displaying full, rounded breasts. Just the way he liked them. A lot more than a handful. Damn it. Why the hell did he have to be naked? He felt his cock rising.
“I’ve been looking for you for two days,” she said.
“Well, looks like you found me. But we have more important things to deal with right now.” Sam glanced up at the hillside. “You’re camped at the bottom of what is about to be a nice little mudslide.”
A fireball streaked from the sky and landed in a treetop about twenty feet away, the resounding thunder so loud, she jumped from where she stood straight into his arms. A horrendous cracking noise followed. Sam’s cock pressed into her stomach as his arms instinctively wrapped around her and he half dragged, half carried her from the path of the falling tree. In the rush to safety, he slipped and they both landed in the slushy muck. The tree crashed to the ground not a foot away.
Beneath him she squirmed, clawing at his chest. “Get off me!”
He rolled from her and scrambled to get up. “No problem, lady. Let’s just get the hell out of here before that hill comes down on top of us.”
He grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet. She pulled away, stumbling toward her small tent, which had collapsed from the weight of the rain. Sam cussed to the high heavens. He was in the middle of one of the worst storms he’d ever seen on the mountain and stuck with some crazy city woman intent on getting herself killed.
Sam’s chest tightened, warning him of danger. His bare feet splattered mud and water as he rushed to catch up to her. He’d carry her out if he had to, but they had to go now! Damn it. Just as he reached her, she turned and shoved a large canvas duffel bag into his chest.
“Take this!” she screamed over the howling wind and horrendous thunder.
“Hell, no!” He threw the bag on the ground. “We’ve got at least two miles to walk in this storm.”
“Those are my clothes, for God’s sake. I can’t leave them!” She bent over, grabbed the bag from the ground and slammed it into his chest again. “The bag goes or I stay.”
Yeah, definitely a crazy woman. “Then stay. I’ll drop by in the morning and say a few words over the burial ground.” Sam started to walk away.
“Wait! You’d just leave me like that?”
“Well, if God didn’t give you sense enough to come in out of the rain, there’s not a lot I can do about it.” He took a few steps more.
“All right. How about you at least carry it to higher ground so I can come back for it tomorrow. The rest I’ll handle myself.”
Unbelievable. She planned on him being her pack mule. “The rest?”
“My camera equipment. I need it. I can handle that, but not the big bag too. Please, it’s not that heavy. The camera equipment weighs a heck of a lot more.”
Right now he’d be willing to crawl all the way back to his cabin just to get the hell out of there. He quickly strode to the bag and hoisted it over his head, wincing as the strap scraped his skin. She nodded and gathered three more bags, hanging one around her neck and placing the other two medium-sized totes on each shoulder. They headed across the clearing and through the dense trees, skirting the hillside. From behind them a low rumbling sound erupted.
Sam glanced back to see uprooted trees sliding toward them. “Run!”
With no time to waste, he weaved in and out of the thick stand of trees, taking them deeper into the woods. Their only chance was to get far enough into the forest to use the stout tree trunks as protection. Hopefully the forest debris and wall of trees would slow down the mud and give them some lead time. He heard her cry out and stopped.
Glancing behind him, Sam saw that she had fallen. He ran to her as the roaring flood of mud and everything it had swept up in its path raced toward them. One of the bags had slipped from her shoulder and landed on the ground.
She looked up at him as he neared and said, “I twisted my ankle.”
Lightning spat all around them, revealing a solid wall of mud only seconds away. He’d have to carry her out. With one hand at her waist, he tried levering her across his shoulder, but the other two bags got in the way. Without a word, he ripped away the one now dangling from her upper arm as she whipped the smaller one from around her neck and held onto it. He tossed her across his shoulder and took off at breakneck speed.
Time and space spread out before him as his cougar force seized control and guided his steps. Swift and surefooted, Sam maneuvered the darkest woodland where even the illumination of lightning failed to penetrate the thickness of the treetops. Adrenaline pumped through his veins, fueling the wild dash. Hanging from his shoulder, the woman wrapped her arms around his lower chest and held steady. Rumbling, crashing, the slide continued to roll toward them. If he could get across the ravine, they would be safe.
A keen whine slurred from his throat as his leg muscles cramped then stretched. Closer to the ravine, his strides lengthened and in preparation for the jump, his toes dug into the ground. Seconds ticked along with his heartbeat. One…two…three…he leapt, the sound of air rushing past him tunneling through his ears. The break in the forest gave way to the lightning once more. Beneath them, the jaws of the thirty-foot deep chasm gaped wide. The woman screamed, her fingers scratching at his skin.
Less than a moment later, his feet landed firmly on the other side and he fell to the ground. She spilled from his grip and tumbled to his side. His lungs burned as if they were going to burst and his heart beat so fast he thought surely he would die. Struggling for air, he looked toward the ravine. The wall of mud poured into the opening.
The woman next to him cupped his upper arm and rested against him. Several minutes passed and they continued to sit in the rain and watch the mud fill in the ravine. Finally finding the strength to stand, Sam pushed up from the soaked ground.
She looked up at him, shaking her head. “What the hell just happened?”
Sam swiped a thick strand of long hair from his face and answered, “We lived to see another sunrise.”
Natalie Dae writes erotic romance; sometimes paranormal, sometimes fantasy, and sometimes everything else! She lives in a quiet village in England with her husband, children, and three cats. In her spare time she reads, reads, reads. Oh, and cleans house–a terrible obsession.
Natalie is a multi-published author in several genres under other pen names.
Tess is a sassy Southern belle who loves to flirt and tease. It was no big surprise to her friends when she began writing erotic romance and erotica. There’s nothing she likes better than weaving a sexy plot that entangles her hero and heroine and forces them to look love square in the eye.
With a background in journalism, she began her career with a local newspaper, and then moved on to politics. Having a flair for marketing, she worked on various political campaigns across the South and honed her skills as a speech writer. After several years, she left the political arena and returned to her beloved hometown to raise her family and live her dream of writing.
Next on her list of dreams is to start life anew in a small coastal town. She hears the call of the ocean and can imagine sitting on the beach listening to the waves, and to all those sexy characters who keep talking in her head. Life is about change and the need to keep it fresh. There is nothing more exciting than a little reinvention from time to time—new locales to explore and motivation for the muse. Her three children have been her greatest joy, and when she passes from this life to the next, she wants a diamond created from her ashes for each of them because “love lives on”.