Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DUAL THREAT by Wendi Zwaduk

DUAL THREAT by Wendi Zwaduk

In a new paranormal romance from Wendi Zwaduk, two tiger shifters meet the girl of their dreams. Now all they have to do is convince her they hold the key to her heart and a life of love. Hampered by the pain of her past, it may take a dual threat for love to rule the day.

Kaia Martin dances to pay the bills. She doesn’t mind baring her body, but her heart? That’s another question. But what happens when two tiger shifters push her out of her comfort zone and into her heart’s desire?

Evan and Ian Davis have been in love with Kaia since the moment they met her. Their tigers know she’s the one for them. They’ve waited long enough for her to see what they’ve always known—she’s their mate. Can these twin tiger shifters prove love really can conquer all?


Chapter 1

“A beer and a real good fuck.”

Ian massaged his temples. He’d stared at the computer screen for far too long and his head ached. A cold beer and a hot woman would help ease his tension right about now. Beer to chill him out and the woman to take his mind off the numbers. He didn’t have either the booze or the girl, but the inventory still stared back at him from his computer screen. Lots of numbers, and each needed a place to go on his spreadsheets. He tallied the camera sales. He’d need to order a couple hundred more micro wireless cameras as well as the infrared home monitoring cameras and at least a thousand yards of cable. The numbers began to blur again, and he closed his eyes. Running the store made paying the bills a breeze, but sometimes he hated looking at surveillance equipment.

A vision formed behind his closed eyelids. The woman, curves where a woman should be curvy, black hair in fat curls dangling down her back, and not a stitch of clothing in sight, danced. The spotlight she moved in front of gave him the perfect outline of her body and a tantalizing hint of her identity. He’d know her anywhere. His mouth watered, and he longed to touch her. He slid down in his seat and thanked the Goddess the desk hid his erection. He cupped the bulge in his pants with both hands and stroked in time with her swaying.

Kaia Martin. His tiger roared from within. The moment he laid eyes on her, he and his animal knew she’d complete him. Whether she’d fit in with him and his brother … they’d figure that out soon enough. Better to tempt her with one tiger than to scare the living fuck out of her with both of them at the same time.

He rested his head on the back of his chair and continued to stroke himself. He needed to see her. The Glass Martini Gentlemen’s Club sucked in so many ways. Too much cigarette smoke, too many drunken men trying to paw the girls, and more than a couple of girls trying too hard to hit on the paying customers. He’d begged his sister, Sonya, not to work there, but being the wild card of the family, she ignored whatever he said. Then he met Kaia. Kaia served as the bright spot in his life.

But Kaia wanted to stay friends. The thought ripped him right out of his fantasy. Seeing her dance helped him temporarily quench his desire for her, but he’d never taken things to the next level. Not with Dade around. His tiger growled, and he opened his eyes. Warm orange light streaked across the buildings from the late-day sun. Thinking about a woman wouldn’t help him get his inventory finished, and it sure as hell wouldn’t get him to the Glass Martini any faster.

He sighed and refocused on his laptop screen. The urge to see his friend outweighed his need to finish the inventory. The moment they’d met came to mind. His sister insisted there was a girl at the club who would hit it off big time with both him and Evan. He scoffed, but went to the Glass Martini anyway with Evan in tow. Three years later, the friendship remained strong. But he wanted to take things further. His tiger wanted his mate.

His phone pinged, signaling an incoming text. Ian closed the laptop lid. Time to call the night a wash and find something better to do. He swiped his thumb across the phone screen to bring up the text. A picture filled the screen. Evan, his twin, grinned next to one of his abstract paintings. The caption underneath read SOLD ANOTHER ONE.

Ian grinned. Talk about being the same but complete opposites. Being identical twins, he and Evan shared the same broad build, same cropped blond hair, same blue eyes. But where Ian excelled at computers and wiring, Evan got off on painting. Ian never understood what Evan saw in the streaked combinations of colors. He claimed each painting meant something. Hell if Ian knew what, but he didn’t care. Evan followed his heart. That’s what mattered and made him a good living. He’d already sold four works at about two thousand dollars each. Not bad for what most people would call a hobby.

Ian pressed the keys to send a return message. Proud of you. Another one this month and you’ll break 10k in sales. Awesome. Need a ride to the Glass Martini? Within seconds the reply message popped onto the screen. You bet.

Good enough for Ian. He opened the laptop long enough to shut the device down and then gathered his papers and phone. He’d work on more inventory shit later. Purplish light highlighted the tree line behind Davis Electronics. He breathed in the scent of barbeque from the Jerky House restaurant down the street. His stomach gurgled and his tiger moaned. When had he eaten last? He couldn’t remember. Damned work anyway.

He climbed into his truck and sped across town. The buildings lining Belden Valley’s main drag loomed in the blue twilight. He knew the streets by heart. Growing up in a mid-sized city offered the comfort of knowing most everyone around, while also being diverse. The neon lights of the Gladstone Gallery reflected off his hood when he pulled into one of the parking spots. The gallery once served as the theater in town. When the strip malls had sprung up on the outskirts of town, the movie theater followed. Thankfully, the Gladstone Group, a hodgepodge of local artists and crafters, worked to save the intricate building.

“Thought maybe you fell asleep at the store.” Evan yanked the truck door open and then plopped onto the seat beside his brother. “Did you like that text?” His grin spread from ear to ear.

“I did and I’m proud of you.” Ian clapped his brother on the shoulder. “You’re making progress. A couple more sales of your work, and I’ll have to get tickets to visit you, you’ll be so famous.” He pulled away from the curb and sped toward the Glass Martini.

“Nah.” Evan raked his fingers through his hair. “Sonya called, then Kaia texted. Seems you and I might want to be at the Glass Martini tonight for more than to just watch the dances.”

Ian’s heart skipped a beat and his tiger perked. “Oh yeah?”

“I don’t know what Kaia’s news is, but she says she’s got some, and according to our sister, it’s really big news.” Evan drummed his fingers on the open window frame of the truck. “You don’t suppose she dumped Dade, do you? My tiger’s been on edge for the last six months.”

“My tiger’s been watching her too.” Ian settled into his seat as they drove past the massive Belden High School and the Greater Federal Bank building. He’d wanted to say something to Evan before, but never found the right time. No more waiting. “It’s hard to watch her, isn’t it? I want to comfort her, but I don’t think it’s time yet.”

He waited a heartbeat for Evan’s response. Their true mate would call to both of them, not just one of them. The tigers would know, but was she the mate they needed?

“Besides the fact Dade is an asshole and I thought she could do better than to even look at him, yeah. My tiger goes ape shit when she’s around. It’s been hard as fuck not to touch her or say something about wanting her. I’m trying to be her friend, but lately I want more. You?”

Relief washed through Ian. He’d never been one to show his feelings, but with Evan things were different. They understood each other beyond even a twin level. “My tiger wants her too.”

He pulled to a stop in the parking lot in front of the Glass Martini and measured his words. “We’ve got a problem.”

“We’re tigers and that scares most women off.” Evan turned in his seat, facing Ian. “Top that off with the both of us wanting her, and yeah, we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell that Kaia will want us.” He folded his arms. “I say let her choose. If she picks you, then cool. I know she’ll be treated with dignity. Really, I hope she chooses the both of us.”

Not exactly what he expected his brother to say. Ian frowned, despite his tiger purring in his chest. “I’m guessing she’ll want you. You talk more, but yeah, I’d like her to pick both of us too.”

“I know.” Evan sighed. “What if she’s ready to tell us something else? Anything is possible.”

“She said he beat the shit out of her, but that’s been almost two months ago. Remember? We intervened and fixed the issue. He hasn’t laid a hand on her since.” Ian’s tiger roared. No one hurt his mate, even if she wasn’t his—yet.

“We’ve got to brace for anything and get the hell out of this truck. She’s waiting.” He nodded to the door where their sister, Sonya, stood. She’d cocked one hip and flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder. Even from a distance, her giddiness rolled off her in waves.

Ian stuck out his hand to his twin. “May the best man win.”

“Yeah,” Evan said with a grin, “both of us.”


Evan followed his older-by-a-few-minutes brother into the club. Their sister bounced over to where they stood awaiting the ticket taker to print their pass for the night.

“You’re late.” Sonya adjusted the straps of her halter top. “Tommy didn’t think you’d even show.”

“We did,” Ian muttered. Go figure, the moment they got into the club proper, his brother chose to clam up.

Evan shook his head. He wanted to believe she shared something special with them. His tiger wanted to believe too. Every time he watched her dance, his animal roared and his erection remained until the wee hours of the morning. Other women didn’t affect him like the raven-haired vixen. He wanted to caress her curves and lick every inch of her delectable pale skin. When she hugged him, he craved her body even more. He’d be her friend forever, but platonic sucked assholes when he really wanted to make love to her.

Evan’s tiger knew exactly who he wanted the moment he saw her too. The animal sniffed her scent, and the pheromones in her body called to him. Clawing, biting him from within, the animal craved this person. Like Evan could deny his animal? But being part human, he needed to bide his time. His tiger insisted on snatching her from the bar, but he’d play it safe and give her room to return the feelings. He’d be lost without his mate, but he’d survive—maybe. Heartbreak killed more than its fair share of tiger-shifters, and sent a great many more to insanity while waiting for their true mate.

Evan swatted his brother on the shoulder. “She’s doing the circle tonight. Let’s take a window each.”

Ian nodded and opened the first door to the circle. Evan opened the door to the left. The circle, a stage ringed with windows so each patron could watch without touching, gave the dancer safety and the patron privacy. The stench of cigarette smoke wafted around him. His boots clunked on the tile floor.

Evan wrinkled his nose and then brushed his boot over the vinyl seat. Nothing liquid gleamed on the brown surface, so he sat and propped his feet on the shelf. Others used the room to jack off while the girls danced. Not him. He drank in every detail of Kaia and imprinted them on his permanent memory. If he’d never have her in his arms, he’d hold her in his dreams.

The girl in the circle, a thin, shorter girl with red hair bounced around a chair. Her breasts jiggled with every step, and her tiny nipples puckered. Evan sighed. The woman defined conventional beauty, but she didn’t elicit a thing below his belt. His tiger ignored her. Damn it.

He waited until the redhead finished her dance. A blonde strutted onto the stage next. Not Kaia. He knocked on the wall to Ian’s stall and then stepped into the hallway. Another dancer, one with cropped black hair, slipped between Evan and the wall. She glanced at him, winked, and then pursed her lips.

He nodded and offered a slight smile. Again, nothing happened below the belt. Well, hell. His brother stepped out of his stall and cleared his throat.

The girl’s eyes widened. “Twins. One flavor I’ve never tried.”

“Ian! Evan!” Kaia bounded toward him, the tassels on her corset top swinging with each step. “Sonya said you were here.” She clasped Evan’s left hand and Ian’s right hand. “Come here.”

With both of them in tow, she dragged them to the dressing room hallway and then stopped. The glitter on her cheeks shone under the light, and the blue in her eyes deepened. Evan loved seeing her in the thick stage makeup, and fresh-faced even more. Who was he kidding? He loved her, plain and simple.

“So.” She let go of their hands and then fluttered her fingers. “I broke things off with Dade.”

Her words hung thick in the air with the cigarette smoke. Lights from the disco ball flashed on the deep purple walls and highlighted her wide eyes. Evan swore he heard her talk. He knew the meaning of the words she’d used, but damn it, nothing made sense. He’d longed for her to say she’d split from Dade. Did he hear her right, or was this another figment of his imagination?

“Ian? Evan?” Her shoulders drooped, and she stuck out her bottom lip. “I thought you’d be excited.”

Ian spoke first. “As long as you’re happy, sweetheart, we’re happy.”

“He stole my credit cards and tried to use them at the gas station. Then when I called him on what he’d done, he tried to slap me, but I ducked. Sonya went with me to file the restraining order this morning.”

“Great news.” Evan threw his arms around her. At least now he could touch her without fear her lousy ex would harm her. His tiger perked up and paced. A new scent mingled in the air around them. The scent of his mate, a sweet, flowery smell, like rolling in a spring meadow.

Unlike their feral counterparts, tiger-shifters didn’t hiss or growl to capture their mate. Evan petted her hair. He’d work like hell to gain her trust. Shifters walked alongside the humans and lived together in peace, but unlike the humans, shifter sex wasn’t talked about. Humans tended to shy away from thinking they could mate with shifters. He didn’t care. She belonged to him, and if they were lucky, she’d accept both of them. He could only hope.

Evan hazarded a glance at his brother. Ian leaned on the wall, and his eyes flickered between green and yellow. His tiger knew too.

“I’m not getting involved with anyone for a while. No way. I’ve even got an apartment here in Belden over by the bank building.” Kaia remained in Evan’s arms. “But I’m glad I’ve got you two on my side. You’re the best friends a girl could have.”

Best friends. But for how long?


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