Friday, October 10, 2008

Excerpt: Shifting Priorities: Mating Ritual by Anne Kane

Shifting Priorities: Mating Ritual
by Anne Kane

Cover art by Karen Fox
ISBN (13): 978-1-60521-066-7
Genre(s): Futuristic, Paranormal, Sci-Fi
Theme(s): Shapeshifters, Legends
Series: Shifting Priorities
Length: Novella

When Jexx finds out the man she’s just had fantastic sex with is one of the legendary Imperial Were-Panthers, she’s impressed and flattered. But when she finds out he’s decided to claim her as his mate, she’s less than thrilled. She’s not in the market for a bossy male to order her around. When the spaceship the two of them are returning to Earth on suffers from technical problems, the two of them need to work together to overcome the problem and get home before the life support starts to falter.


Grunting as he slammed into the post, the larger man turned and fixed Tome with a malevolent glare. A cold smile tilted his mouth and he wiped a thin trickle of blood off his chin with his shirtsleeve. His gaze flickered to his partner for a second and then returned to Tome. He circled to the right, forcing Tome to turn away from the second man in order to keep facing him. They’d obviously worked as a team before.
“Don’t worry. If you can handle the whale, I’ll take care of the guppy.” Jexx didn’t want Tome worrying about her when he should be concentrating on his opponent. She’d been in lots of scrapes and she knew how to defend herself against a lone assailant.
She watched the big man circle around Tome. Slower this time, sizing up his foe.
Tome crouched low, his strange amber eyes darkening as he focused on the man. Jexx gave a wistful thought to her blaster, left onboard ship per standard landing procedures. Hindsight. The feel of a nice solid blaster in her hand would have been worth running the risk of detection by random scans.
His opponent feinted with a beefy right hook, and Tome blocked it with his forearm, jabbing in to sink a quick fist into the man’s belly. His attacker staggered back out of reach, the evil grin still plastered on his face.
“I’m going to enjoy your little green-eyed pet.” The man licked his lips and flicked a quick glance at Jexx. “I like it when they fight back.”
Tome danced in and aimed a roundhouse kick at the man’s head. “I don’t think you’d like her fighting style. She’d enjoy slitting your throat.” His foot glanced off his opponent’s shoulder as the man slid sideways.
Jexx pivoted to meet the smaller man as he rushed her from behind, the noise of his clumsy feet warning her of his intentions. She angled sideways and extended her arm, letting his momentum carry him straight into an uppercut to the throat.
His eyes widened in shock. He gasped. Struggled to drag oxygen into his lungs. His eyes clouded, grew dull. He dropped to the ground at Jexx’s feet with a meaty thud. She hadn’t even worked up a sweat on that one.
She looked at Tome’s back and saw him tense. She realized he didn’t know which one of them had fallen. He should have more faith in me .But she took pity on him. “That wasn’t much of a challenge. You need a hand?”
He relaxed at the sound of her voice. “No, I’m good.”
She watched the two men circle, each looking for an opening. Tome feinted with his left. His opponent took the bait and lunged forward. Tome instantly extended his claws and slashed bloody furrows down the unprotected arm.
The man didn’t pause, his left fist still driving straight for Tome’s face. Tome pivoted and let the blow glance off the side of his head. The brute danced out of range, that disgusting leer still plastered on his face.
“I think he must be the ugliest male I’ve ever seen.” Jexx backed away and lounged against the wall, giving the two men plenty of room.
The man in question glanced over at the sound of her voice. Tome took advantage of his momentary distraction. He swept in low and extended his left leg to sweep the man’s legs out from under him.
The annoying grin vanished and a look of utter disbelief replaced it as the brute tumbled backward, unable to break his fall. His head hit the rocky ground with an audible crack and the massive body went limp.
Tome bent over the still form to check his pulse. “He’ll live. Good. I’d hate to spend the next eon answering questions from security.”
Straightening, he stalked over to Jexx and roughly pulled her into his embrace. When she tilted her head to look up at him, he brought his mouth down on hers with savage intensity. Her lips parted under his onslaught and he thrust his tongue inside, exploring every corner.
She stiffened in his arms, hesitating for a split second before surrendering, her tongue mating with his in an erotic duel.
He dropped his hand dropped to her ass, and dragged her hard against him to feel the outline of his massive erection through the skintight body suit. He lifted his head and scowled. “What the hell were you thinking, running to the out-ports when you know I ordered them closed to females traveling alone?”
Jexx shrugged. “I thought you were overreacting.” She raised her head to look him in the eyes. “I’m capable of looking after myself.”
Tome raised an eyebrow. “And if I hadn’t shown up, exactly what were you planning on doing with Ugly and his sidekick?” He jerked his head at the pair lying unconscious on the ground.
Jexx looked down at them and a tiny grin curled the corner of her mouth. “I might have been able to play them off against each other. Asteroid jockeys aren’t the brightest bunch in the universe.”
Tome snorted and shook his head. The amber streaks swirling within the changing golds and browns of his slanted eyes betrayed his arousal. “Well, lucky for you our little interlude on the station left me wanting more, so I decided to track you down.” He ran his hands down her back and cupped her ass, tracing the rounded shape of it through the thin layers of her spacer-suit. “I’d ask ‘your ship or mine,’ but it’s going to be mine.”
“Really?” She wrinkled her brow and stared up at him, perplexed. “Why?”
He smiled and reached out to pin her hands between their bodies. “Because your ship was impounded on orders from the stationmaster.” He paused for a moment. “It’s being towed back planet-side as we speak.”

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