We’re getting ever closer to Halloween, but we still have plenty of tricks and treats still to come! Today’s Halloween hump day excerpt comes from The Cougar’s Bargain by Holley Trent, available November 9.
When Hannah refused to be Sean’s mate, she doomed him to a life trapped in his cougar form. But everything changes when Hannah is attacked and becomes a were-cougar! As the two embark upon a dangerous mission, things heat up. Let’s take a peek inside their burgeoning romance…
Hannah forced her eyelids up, but it took a few more seconds for the dream to dissolve. It was like a bad movie unfolding before her eyes of thieves and kidnappers, heartless and desperate. The strangers wanted what the Cougars had, and they thought the Cougars were stupid. Hannah walked through the dream leaving bloody footprints behind her in the desert and no impostore left living.
Clutching her tight throat, she tried to force down a swallow as her gaze focused and she got her wits back about her.
Hot. Sweaty. Hungry.
Her bleary gaze locked on the television screen and her hands onto hard forearms.
That’s why I’m so hot. She’d apparently fallen asleep cocooned between Sean’s legs and against his chest. His shirt lay draped over the bed’s edge and the damp skin of his chest was practically searing, even through her shirt. That damned cat of his.
His wild energy was much less active than it had been earlier in the day, but it still needed minding. It seemed to be seeking attention, and she couldn’t help but to notice it.
She unhanded him and rolled, cringing at the protrusion between his thighs, and extended a hand to poke him awake. She was hungry, it was late, and she wanted something to eat that was more substantial than cake and frosting.
Waking him seemed like such a waste, though. Like she’d be blemishing fine art. With him asleep, he couldn’t taunt her for staring, and she thought it was high time she gave herself permission to do so. From the time she, Ellery, and Miles had been taken to the ranch, she hadn’t let herself. She wasn’t prone to losing herself to romantic whims, and even if she weren’t picky, she wouldn’t have been the kind of woman who would have fallen fast, anyway.
She’d been too angry to look—to let herself get attached—but she couldn’t avoid that anymore. She’d figured that out the moment at the bar when he’d confirmed that his cock was a hot commodity. That was a new emotion for her, jealousy. She couldn’t pretend she didn’t care if she was jealous.
Extending a hand tentatively, she traced the seam of his parted lips and around the edges.
She’d had enough pressed to her in the past that she knew not all were. Some were narrow and chapped. Others were lush, but unyielding. She wanted to see if he’d yield to her, and before she could stop herself, she pushed up onto her hands and felt his lips with her own.
His gentle gasp made her pull away, but then his hand was there at the back of her head and the other between her shoulder blades. “You don’t have to wait until I’m asleep,” he whispered. “Where’s the aggressive woman I know?”
“I think we’ve already discussed this.”
“You don’t have to be afraid to touch me. I’m not going to tell you no.” He righted himself a bit and settled her more comfortably between his legs.
“That doesn’t mean you won’t say I told you so.”
“No, I’m not going to say that. I say a lot of stupid shit, but I don’t generally shoot myself in the foot because if I like something, I’ll want you to do it again. Kiss me.”
The stubborn, headstrong part of her resisted simply because he told her to. She stared at his beckoning lips and dragged her tongue across her own.
What if one thing leads to another?
Or worse—what if she wanted to, and it was just bad? She didn’t want to carry that disappointment around. It’d be too awkward, and she’d never be able to get away from him. She’d think of sex every time she saw him, and of how wrong it had been—about what a mistake it was.
“I won’t say no to you,” he said.
“Sure, you say that now.”
“I doubt I’ll change my mind.”
“Because you’re my mate.”
She tried to push up onto her knees to back away, but he swept them from beneath her, sending her crashing onto his chest, dropping her lips barely a centimeter from his.
“You are, and I’m yours. Can’t change that. So I suppose the question we have to ask ourselves is what does that mean?”
“It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Oh, it means something. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be on top of me, debating with yourself about what would happen if you gave in. And something will happen. Whether it’s something you like or not, or comfortable with, I can’t say. There won’t be any going back, and no do-overs. If you want to do it, do it. I’m asking you to.”
“To kiss you?”
“Whatever you want, blondie. If it feels nice, I’m not going to stop you.”
“You’re an opportunist.”
“I know exactly what I am. I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. Stop talking yourself out of touching me, if that’s what you want. There are no witnesses here, and say what you’d like about me, you can’t say I have a reputation for kissing and telling.”
He was right. He didn’t. Everything she’d learned about his conquests had been because of their inabilities to keep their mouths shut.
He won’t talk. He says he won’t tease. God…
She closed her eyes and did it. She lowered her lips to his and waited for the snatching of the baton, but that didn’t happen. He kept his lips soft and open for her, and kept his hands and body still. It was her rodeo, and he was safe. He’d been safe all along, and she hadn’t wanted to see it.
She added her tongue to the caress, and received the tiniest wriggle of welcome from his. It made her laugh. “You don’t have to be so passive.”
“I didn’t want you to feel like I was going to devour you.”
“Duly noted, but you could…kiss me back, maybe.” Make it easy for me.
“Come here, then.”
She pressed her lips to his again, and this time he returned a volley of his own. He worked his fingers through her gathered hair and drew her bottom lip between his teeth.
She felt the primal need to bite back, to return the small pains tit for tat, but she realized she liked it. It was a small way of demanding her attention in the moment, even if he claimed she was the one in charge.
She insinuated herself closer to his chest, crushing her breasts against him, hoping to create some friction that would alleviate the aching fullness.
He moved her face a bit, angling her lips for easier tasting, and keeping his body still as she ground against his thigh, so needy, so aroused, and with just a kiss.
But maybe it’s like he said…
He was her mate, so perhaps it was supposed to be that way. She wasn’t pathetic and desperate. Her body was doing what it should have in response to her partner’s touch, and her inner cougar harbored no thoughts that what they were doing was a bad idea. She thought it was the best idea, and that they do it at that time and in that place.
Maybe I should, she thought as he worked his fingers inside her waistband and grabbed two greedy handfuls of ass.
No one would know. No one would take one whiff and know what they’d done. By the time they got back to New Mexico, the evidence of their comingling would have dispersed.
He yanked her farther up his thigh and reseated her over his erection.
She was embarrassed for her sharp intake of hair—her surprise, as if she’d overlooked that he’d be turned on, too. She was pleased he was because his arousal was expressly for her and her pleasure.
She ground against him, feeling one half appalled with her brazenness and one half liberated. Why not do it?
She pushed her fingers into his hair and gripped it with her fists.
His hold on her ass tightened as if in retaliation, but she didn’t care. She liked it, so she tugged at his thick hair again and bit back the moan from his bruising grip.
“If that’s what you want, just ask for it.” He worked his tongue farther into his mouth, dominating hers and stealing what little breath she had. He thrust it in and out, and she couldn’t help but to think of what he was mimicking as his hips took up a circular grind beneath her.
“I want that.”
“What? This?” He pressed his cock roughly between her legs, leaving no doubt for what the this in question was.
“Yes, that.” And other things she couldn’t articulate. He said he’d give her what she wanted, but how could she possibly know what that was? She’d never trusted anyone enough to give it to her.
“I don’t think you want to go there tonight.”
She was about to push away from him—to scold him for dictating what she was and wasn’t ready for—but for the second time in a day, he flipped her over onto her back before she could spit out the objection.
“But I can think of some other things you might like.” He unfastened her jeans and slowly wriggled them down her thighs. With every few inches, he looked up at her, likely waiting for her to tell him to stop.
She couldn’t. She was wound too tight and aching for his touch, and if he didn’t do it, she would.
“All the way.” Her voice was hoarse and choked, and her skin ached with need, and she felt like he was stalling. He couldn’t have kept her waiting more than a few seconds but she was so tightly strung, the suspense felt like planned torture.
He gave her jeans a hard yank by the cuffs and let them fall to the floor. Climbing onto the bed between her legs, he pressed his hands to her thighs and slid them upward, tickling and arousing her one gentle touch at a time. And his eyes…aside from the occasional glance downward, his eyes were on her face. Her reactions.
Really, she didn’t have much of one. She was still as a statue, with teeth clenched and hands balled into tight fists from anticipation.
“What do you want?” He slipped his thumbs inside the elastic legs of her panties and skimmed them over her tingling flesh toward her sex, and she reached for him.
It was instinctive, reflexive. Her hands around his wrists, urging him on. Don’t make me use words. Don’t make this…more awkward. And she hoped he understood because she didn’t know what to do—what was expected of her.
She hooked her leg around his back and gave him a little nudging bump, toward her, not away.
He knee-walked closer to her thighs and pressed a hand against the thin layer of cloth over her apex when she released his wrists.
He leaned in and claimed her lips once more, rubbing her to further arousal, and cautiously avoiding her most tender part. It was as if he knew just what to do to keep her on the edge, to keep her wanting, and how to wrest control of their play when she’d thought initially she was the one who’d had it all.
We could share, maybe.
She pushed herself up onto her elbows and crushed her chest against his. She wanted to feel more of him, touch him anywhere she could and with what she could as he kissed her senseless.
At that moment, nothing mattered more than where their bodies joined, and his fingers dipping inside her panties to stroke her cleft.
She wanted that and everything that came next. Wanted him to be the one to melt away what was frigid and unyielding about her, because she’d never trusted anyone in the way she did him.
They argued and fought, but she couldn’t dare say he’d ever disrespected her. He may not have been a gentleman by any stretch of the imagination, but he’d never hurt her so much as inconvenienced her.
“Sean,” she pleaded, and his finger tucked into her, and all of hers into his back, and he whipped his head around and stared at the door.
“What? Do you have somewhere better to be?” She couldn’t help the tart tone. She was so used to being disappointed, but she’d hoped Sean would have been different.
He pulled his hand free and sat back on his heels, still staring at the door.
Then the knock came.
The Cougar’s Bargain will be available on November 9. Preorder a copy: Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance. In the meantime, you can find more paranormal romance reads on our Everything Paranormal page.