Seized & Seduced
House of the Cat, Book 3
During a routine stop en route to Viros, Jannike Hondros is kidnapped and incarcerated, her destination a planet she’d hoped to never, ever visit again—Manx Two, the planet where she was accused of murder.
Prince Lynx Leandros of Viros, second-in-line to the House of the Cat, and his bodyguard, Shiloh Tetsu, are caught in the same trap as Jannike. Destined for sale as a breeding pair and a spare, escape seems impossible, and now Jannike informs the feline shifters they’re showing mating signs. Impossible. Neither Lynx nor Shiloh believe her, yet they can’t deny their relationship has turned strangely touchy-feely.
A lucky break sees them fleeing for their lives, but danger lurks over every sand hill in their race for safety. The two men are becoming even closer. Jealousy and yearning stalk Jannike. She can’t fall for either feline and certainly not for both, then nothing matters when she comes face-to-face with her past and death stalks her with its beady eye.
Contains two headstrong men and their female match, enough kitty cats to make a leap and some hot lovin’ in the great outdoors, the indoors and places in between.
Other Books in the House of the Cat series
Read an Excerpt
A shrill cry echoed through the arid valley. Unexpected, it set a shudder rippling the length of her body. Jannike Hondros, second-in-command of the Indefatigable, came to an abrupt halt, her stomach twisting even as she grabbed her blaster from her hip holster and flicked off the safety.
“Tracker lizards.” At her side, Ry Coppersmith, captain of the space ship, confirmed her fears. He edged his petite mate behind him, but Camryn O’Sullivan wasn’t putting up with his overprotectiveness.
She neatly sidestepped him, wincing at a repeat head-splitting shriek, closer this time. “What are tracker lizards, and why are they making that infernal noise?”
“Trackers are the best available means of trailing an object or person. They never fail to capture their target. Never. The cries mean they’re on a scent,” Jannike said, her voice terse as she scanned the far end of the valley. Not a single tree softened the landscape, the sparse grasses, the same beige brown as the rocks and dust. The lizards’ screeches bounced off the rocky walls of the valley again, pulling a wince from Jannike. She’d experienced their tenacity and hadn’t emerged on the winning side.
“Us.” Ry glanced at Jannike and with the ease of long friendship, they came to a decision without
Jannike gave him an imperceptible nod.
“We need to split up,” he said, attention on the horizon.
In the distance, maybe four or five clicks, Jannike caught the swirl of approaching dust. “You need to shift, change your scents.”
“But Mogens said shifting might be dangerous.” Camryn cupped her slim belly in protest.
“We’re gonna have to risk it.” Ry didn’t hesitate. “It’s either that or capture.”
“Capture? What’s going on? This sort of thing doesn’t happen on Earth. Usually,” Camryn added, obviously thinking about her own kidnapping.
“I’ll keep going away from the ship.” A lump the size of a rock closing up Jannike’s throat, making her words gravel-rough. She swallowed, silently cursing both the situation and this god-awful heat from the planet’s sun. The dry temperatures sucked the juice from everything, animal and vegetable. “Go.” It was surprisingly difficult to force out the order.
Camryn still frowned, not understanding. She squinted at her husband, shifted her attention to Jannike. “But—”
“Change. Now,” Ry ordered. “Jannike, if you’re captured, we’ll come for you. We will not give up. That’s a pledge.”
“Same goes.” Secs later, she started running, veering around the pile of rocks and sprinting down the rolling sand hill, away from Ry and Camryn. It had to be the cargo ship they’d seen earlier, but why had they set tracker lizards on them?
A thought sprang into her mind, and she stumbled before regaining her balance. Holy fukk. No, it couldn’t be her. No, that was impossible since Jannike was far from her home planet.
Behind her the baying shrieks of the lizards intensified. Sweat trickled down her forehead, stinging her eyes. She slipped in the shifting sand, arms flailing before she toppled, hitting the ground hard enough to punch the breath from her lungs.
No time to baby ouchies. Had to move. Had to give Ry and Camryn time to get to the ship. Faster. Faster. Her blue tunic clung like a second skin. A skin wet from sweat. The dry rocks in her throat closed her windpipe. She panted, a painful wheeze.
Goddess, she had to keep going.
She twisted, rolling and pushing to her feet. She lurched her first steps, only her fitness and determination propelling her forward.
Concentrate on running. Forget the trackers. Don’t think about the past.
The landscape stretched in front of her—one big, inhospitable sandpit. The planet’s sun beat overhead, frying everything in its path. And still she kept trying to run. One foot in front of the other, leading the trackers farther from the Indy. Faster. The Indy’s crew were her friends, her family. She’d do anything to keep them safe. Faster.
Determination gave her a burst of speed, but a glance over her shoulder told her the trackers had closed the distance margin. Their brown-blue bodies glinted in the bright light, strangely beautiful despite their ferocity. Their baying cries filled her head, lent panic to her adrenaline-fueled flight. She rounded a corner and came to an abrupt halt. A box canyon. The wall of rock stretched into the distance as far as she could see.
Nowhere to go.
Slowly, chest rising and falling in uneven gasps, she turned to face the four snapping trackers. Their bulging eyes blinked, their wicked teeth white against the brown blue of their skin. Their stubby tails shifted lazily from side to side, strong muscles in their haunches poised to spring should she attempt evasion. She edged along the rock wall, and they advanced with her. She’d heard their bite was nasty and some people were allergic to their saliva.
But she refused to go without a fight. She reached for a handhold on the rock wall, dug in her fingertips, attempted to lever her body upward.
“Ho, my beauties. What have you caught me today?” The mountain of a man rode up on a cyberbeest—a combination of machine and cheetahbeest by the look of the tawny coat and spots. The cyberbeest snorted, pawing at the ground, restive under the firm restraint. The large rider wore a tight, light gray suit shaped to his body. The man was all muscle with no fat. With his left hand, he controlled the cyberbeest while his right rested on a coiled whip.
Jannike glanced left, speared a look right. A tracker bite or the nip of Mountain Man’s whip. Both would hurt.
“You won’t escape,” Mountain Man said with almost a kind smile. But the smile didn’t reach his wintry-blue eyes and she knew, deep in her gut, he wouldn’t hesitate to act in order to capture her.
Fukk, her past had come back to bite her in the bum. There was no other explanation. “Why are you chasing me?”
“Why did you run?” the man countered.
Jannike gritted her teeth, not relaxing a bit. She sidled to the left and one of the trackers snarled, the snap of its teeth returning her to the spot she’d vacated.
The man cocked his head, gaze wandering her body in lazy insolence. “Yes, I think you’ll suit our purposes. The boss will pay handsomely for you.”
“What purposes?” Jannike tried to ignore the faint stirrings of fear. They’d need to drag her kicking and screaming the entire way. Besides the more trouble she caused, the more time the Indy crew would have to escape.
The man smiled again, calm and sympathetic, but underpinning the friendliness was amusement and cunning. Determination. The perfect attitude to increase her unease. “You’re female. You’re strong and appear healthy. And even better, you’re fetching to the eye. Yes, you’re perfect for our needs.”
She still had her weapons. One hand slid behind her back and her fingers closed on the hilt of her knife.
The creak of wheels and the roar of an engine fighting to gain purchase on the sand grabbed the man’s attention. He glanced over his shoulder, and Jannike threw her blade with a precise flick of her wrist.
He let out a grunt, turned back to her and beamed, despite the weapon protruding from his chest. “Ah, the transport has arrived. It was fortuitous we noticed you out for a walk this morning.”
The man was part machine, the same as his mount. “And I’ll just be moving along,” Jannike said, her hand slipping downward to grab the dagger in her right boot.
“I don’t think so.” His good humor never faltered. “You’re going to walk into the transport so we can ship out.” He clicked his fingers, and the trackers closed in, teeth snapping at her heels.
Jannike edged along the wall of rock. A second snap didn’t miss, the tracker nipping her calf. She cried out and clutched her leg. Damn, he’d taken a mouthful of her black trews along with skin. Blood smeared her fingers.
“Come along,” the man said in a brisk manner. He jumped off his mount to grasp her arm, the knife still jutting from his chest. “I’ll take the rest of your weapons.” Big hands frisked her efficiently. “I don’t have all cycle. Damn hot out here. Quicker we return to the ship, the sooner the medic can inspect your leg. Use this cloth to stop the flow of lifeforce.”
When she balked, he gave her a hard shove, and she stumbled onto the sandy floor, the pad of fabric he’d offered her striking the back of her head. Secs later, the doors of the transport locked, the high barred window letting in heat and minimal light. The vehicle lurched into motion, a bump-and-shudder across the hostile terrain.
Frustrated with her capture, Jannike slammed her hand against the wall. Outside, the trackers snarled and started baying. The ghostly howls made the hair at the back of her neck stand to attention. With a low curse, she rubbed the sudden chill from her arms and lurched to her feet. Her breath hissed out in a sharp exhalation.
Damn, that hurt. She probed the wound, wincing at the red blood that coated her fingers. She wrapped the cloth Mountain Man had given her around her calf, gritting her teeth at the dart of pain. The seepage was sluggish, but the wound throbbed, the jabs of sensation relentless pinpricks in her flesh. A harsh laugh rippled up her throat. She just had to be one of those who were allergic.
The transport hit a rut, jogging her back to commonsense. She needed to see where they were going, had to watch the ’scape and note the landmarks. Goddess, she hoped Ry and Camryn were safe. They’d be back at the ship by now. A pained groan escaped when the vehicle hit yet another rut. Her friends would come for her. All she had to do was survive whatever Mountain Man threw in her direction.