Betrothed for years to Malcolm Weaver, Trisha Houlihan has grown tired of archaic panther shifters ways and wants to live on her own terms. A chance meeting with a hot stranger serves to spark her rebellion, but backfires when she discovers she’s fooling around with her intended.
Malcolm isn’t keen on old traditions, either, but there’s something about Trisha that inspires him to make an exception. Trisha is certainly exceptional, unlike other she-panthers, and he is convinced they were meant to be, regardless of the circumstances that brought them together.
Trisha wants to resist, but her growing attraction to Malcolm proves problematic. Can these two find a balance between tradition and passion and create a happily ever after?
Something nagged at Trisha. Normally she loved The Wall and everything about it—the music, the drinks, and the people. She didn’t consider herself a popular club girl, but did enjoy the nodding acquaintances she shared with many regulars. Every weekend people gathered here to dance off the frustrations of work and other anxieties, and Trisha in particular enjoyed this time away from her family and sometimes forgot she was a panther. Here, grinding on the dance floor and mingling in the heat and sweat of bodies, nobody knew she was a pawn in an archaic patriarchy that insisted on making the big life decisions for her.
She should have felt invigorated to have skipped out on the Indian Summer Ball, literally thumbing her nose at the Houlihans and Weavers and anybody else who wanted to box her into the role of demure, second-class citizen. Perhaps knowing that Malcolm hadn’t bothered to show and acknowledge their betrothal caused her irritation. Not that it hurt to think the guy wasn’t interested in marrying her, but she’d wanted the opportunity to protest first.
Now, as Nicki Minaj’s energetic voice faded to allow Katy Perry to take over, Trisha finished her ginger ale and checked the dance floor. Marcy continued to shimmy and shake with her newfound dance partner—a handsome, wiry man who appeared nimble enough to dance around Marcy without moving his feet. Cute, yes, but not really Trisha’s type. Now, the one who’d refreshed her drink…where had he gotten to?
She drifted away from the bar and casually circulated around the ground floor of the club, seeing nobody who matched his description. Maybe he’d gone upstairs to the other dance area, or else the men’s room. Oh, well. A favorite song now blared throughout the club and she didn’t want to waste it. Finding a patch of blinking neon, she stepped onto the floor to dance away her troubles.
Young men and women drifted in and out of her personal space. Whenever the mood suited her, Trisha pushed out her hips and gyrated against the dancer closest to her for a few seconds before shuffling deeper into the throng. Eventually she scooted past Marcy and her new friend, who seemed interested in engaging the dark-skinned young woman in a reenactment of a scene from Dirty Dancing.
Trisha wanted to laugh, but still felt cautious for her friend. They had a hand-gesture code to use when either of them wanted out of a sticky situation. Marcy, however, appeared only too happy to bump and grind, so Trisha danced onward.
Soon she detected a hand on her upper hip, and a body pressed into her back. Her mysterious drink benefactor had found her and edged over her shoulder to smile at her.
“Having fun?” he called over the music.
Trisha nodded. “Thanks again for the drink.”
“Thank me with a dance?” He gently moved her to face him, all the while swaying his hips and standing in place. He didn’t exactly move like Jagger, but Trisha found him attractive. She noticed he also didn’t dress like other men at The Wall, either. In a sea of glam club bunnies and hipsters in hats, this man looked rather suave dressed all in black, save for the skinny gray tie that swung from side to side when he danced. Once they hit a nice groove, she realized she had a fairly good partner in that respect.
Somebody to her side lurched forward, causing a young man at her back to stumble. Trish caught the brunt of his slip and launched into her dance partner’s arms. “Whoa!” he cried, laughing as he draped himself around her.
“You okay? Your shoes slip?”
“No, but thanks.” She looked down and tested her balance on the dance floor.
Her flats proved grippy enough to keep her on the ground without risk of falling. She tried to dislodge herself from his embrace, but the young man had other plans for her.
One large hand cupped her left buttock and squeezed. Trisha didn’t object to the touch, she’d been felt up at the club before, and didn’t think much of a simple ass grab. Friends didn’t even consider that first base anymore. Maybe an intentional walk.
When his hand crept down to play with the hem of her dress, however, she started to feel a bit anxious. Warm, rough fingers scratched and smoothed over her bare rump. Their dancing rhythm slowed immensely, and Trisha wondered who saw her bare ass there in the middle of the crowd.
She felt the softness of her dress shift over her ass again, but it obviously didn’t mean her dance partner had ceased his exploration of her. He held her tightly to his chest, one hand pinned on the small of her back while the other dropped in between them and brushed her thighs. Trisha sighed, her voice quickly absorbed by the loud beat of the music. Her pussy gave an involuntary squeeze, as though anticipating direct contact.
It surprised her to want it so badly. Any other man, any other time might
have attempted this and she would have ripped his arm from its socket. Trisha rarely let her panther strength show in public, but if ever she sensed danger she wasn’t afraid to bare her fangs and put the fear of God into some grabby jerk.
This dark, handsome stranger, however…he seemed different from other guys she’d encountered here. The way he touched her implied he knew what she liked and definitely wanted to give it to her. She couldn’t argue with that, but right here on the dance floor? She wondered exactly how far they could go before somebody noticed, or tried to join in. The sensual energy and heat surrounding them certainly helped her mood.
He leaned close and whispered in her ear. Despite the thumping music vibrating her to the very core, she heard every word clearly.