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by Aurora Rose Lynn
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Description: Appearances can be truly deceptive . . . On a rain-soaked day on the Montana Hi-Line, Steve Barrett, the driver of an eighteen-wheeler, witnesses the most incredible sight of his life on the side of the road. A dangerous jaguar has shifted into a beautiful, nearly naked woman. Or has the female morphed into a jaguar? He isn't certain but he's determined to find out, even though the ultimate cost will be a whole lot of passionate sex and the startling discoveries of the secrets he hoped he'd buried in his long, dark past. Raine Nichols is from the planet Seraynia where the leader has warned everyone that the dimension in which they are living is becoming highly unstable. The Seraynians must make the shift into animal form to complete the life-saving journey to Earth, but unknown to the High Council, there have been a few Seraynians who have made the trip for pleasure only. Raine has done so and begins to believe that the emotional intensity involved in shifting, or renversing, has created major problems. She isn't prepared for irrepressible sexual obsession and for falling in love with a handsome man she can never truly have. If only Steve and she knew each other's true identities...
eBook Publisher: Total-e-bound, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: December 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [139 KB]
Reading time: 71-100 min.
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Maybe it was as a result of the full moon hanging prominently over the ink-dark night, but the moment Steve Barrett strode in, he sensed there was something off about the truck stop. The crowded place, usually rocking with loud chatter, and blasting country and western music, was much too quiet, and the waitresses, normally brusque and rushed, were far too obsequious.
He'd been on the road high up in the unaccustomed cab of an eighteen-wheeler the last couple of hours, travelling along the Montana Hi-Line, a six-hundred-and-fifty-mile stretch of road of pure solitude and in the daylight hours, of scenic beauty. Unusually, his lower spine hurt and he needed to stretch his legs. The borrowed truck wasn't handling as well as his own, but he had to get his load to Los Angeles in the next forty-eight hours. If he didn't, he'd lose the contract from the new company with whom he'd bargained long and hard. The CEO, a rather fancy term for a stout man sporting a paunch, had been adamant he'd write out the lading bill himself, and gave Steve ten percent of the final pay up front for hauling the load as long as he asked no questions. With the economic crisis following close on his heels, and threatening his livelihood, Steve hadn't had too many options. He'd agreed but he had a bad feeling in his gut. There'd been an unusual air about the CEO, and the strange way he handled business. But the agreed-upon sum for driving the truck from Detroit to Los Angeles hadn't been one to sneer at either.
Steve seated himself at the counter and surveyed the diner. It was hardly nine p.m., yet the place was quieter than a derelict ghost town in winter. Usually the restaurant was overflowing and the noise level was astronomically high. A graceful waitress strolled up to him. She was pretty, auburn-haired and fresh-faced, a combination he'd learned didn't last long in the truck stops. He hazarded a guess that some trucker would make an unwanted sexual pass at them, and afraid, the women would quit and find new jobs where they wouldn't need to deal with the continual groping.
Her nametag read 'Annie'. She couldn't have been more than nineteen or a flirty twenty, kept glancing over her shoulder at the swinging kitchen doors as if some fiend would shortly appear. Her provocative uniform consisting of an almost see-through white blouse, and an extremely short black skirt, was much too tight across her large breasts and her flat belly. He gritted his teeth. He'd been far too long without rolling in the hay with a pretty woman if he was ogling her for a second longer than was polite. He had to get going. In the unnerving silence, he hadn't heard burgers, bacon sizzling or the usual kitchen sounds. He noticed the absence since the smell usually nauseated him. Abruptly, he just wanted a drink and maybe a light sandwich.
"Annie," Steve said, his voice whisper quiet. If it had been any louder, his words would have echoed across the diner to the other occupants. "Everything all right here?" There was a part of him that didn't want to know, yet another that wanted to assist if there was the need. He hadn't lived for innumerable years without developing that sixth sense of looming trouble.
Her shoulders remained relaxed, and her pretty bow lips turned upwards in the slightest of smiles. "Sure. Everything's great. What can I get for you?" she asked in a voice that reminded him of smooth velvet.
The fine hairs on the back of his neck prickled. He sensed she wasn't telling the truth. Everything was not all right. "Are you certain?" he asked, pushing for verbalised information or for confirmation that his bullshit radar was correct and he wasn't over-reacting to what amounted to nothing.
Her light brown eyes darted from him to a place over his shoulder and back to his face again. Uneasiness began to eat away at him. She was far too eye-catching to work in a restaurant that catered to lonely men who were often absent from home for weeks at a time. Maybe he should have just kept going and passed the stop. His stomach rumbled again.
"Sure. Why do you ask?" Her tone was light yet bored. Her gaze flitted from him and over his left shoulder at nothing in particular that he could ascertain. Was she remembering some hot encounter she'd had last night when her lover had slipped her clothes off inch by inch with his teeth, then he'd gone mad from tantalising himself and plunged his cock in her wet sheath?
Steve forced himself to change his mental channel. Sex wasn't a great topic to ponder at the best of times. Gave a man a hard-on and a trucker had few choices to alleviate the itch. "The times I've been this way, this place was hopping and the volume was turned up loud," he said, attempting a touch of humour. "Now, it's awful quiet, and spooky."
"It's quiet in here?" she asked, blinking several times in apparent astonishment.
Steve noticed she held her order pad lightly. Her fingernails were painted a crimson red. Was she looking for a guy? "Um, yeah." Turn the channel in a hurry, buddy. She's far too tempting and somehow familiar, although I'll swear I've never met her. He wondered if she was. Was she hearing something different? But she couldn't. Every patron, although he was eating and drinking, was otherwise stone silent. Surprisingly, there wasn't even the sound of forks and spoons clattering against the plates. It was as if he'd suddenly entered a mausoleum or a dead zone. The silence rang in his ears.
"Well, if you say so. This has been the busiest day since I've worked here," Annie replied cheerfully with a careless shrug. A blush crept across her cheeks.
Steve grimaced. Was she flirting with him? The busiest day in a truck stop had to equate to raucous noise, to loud customers, mostly men who didn't waste a chance in talking to anyone who would listen after they'd spent hours upon hours on the solitary road. Then Steve noticed the floor was absolutely clean and polished, as if the restaurant had just opened for the first time minutes earlier. Even the counter at which he sat was devoid of soiled dishes or used napkins or any of the signs that someone had eaten there.
"So what can I get you?" Annie asked again, as if there were no concern about the diner's state. She puffed her chest out.
She didn't appear to be wearing a bra under her blouse. Perhaps there wasn't anything about which to be concerned, Steve thought. Maybe he was too tired to see straight but somehow the excuse didn't ease his mind. Apprehension threaded through him. He hadn't been tired when he stopped his truck outside.
"Nothing," he said quietly, hoping there was a soda pop dispensing machine outside. He had a few protein bars stowed away in a paper bag in the cab, and those would have to serve until he found a restaurant that was more normal and inviting. The hairs on his arm stood up. Rising, he surveyed the dining patrons. None stared back at him in enquiry. Truckers were a breed to themselves. They messed in other folks' business but didn't like others messing with theirs, but there was something definitely off here. The men hadn't even turned his way to curiously assess him.
Shaking his head with frustration, Steve strolled outside, and took a deep breath of exasperation. Maybe he'd caught the truck stop when the other guys were in a quiet mood, but that had never been the case before. He struggled to remember how long he'd been driving his own truck. Eight years now. He had a clean driver's record, no fines, and loved his job, which was not only a career, but everything else--a wife, a house, his friends, all rolled into one.
He dug some change from his jeans' pocket, found a soda machine, and bought two Pepsis. The aluminium cans were cold against his palm, so he rolled one against his temple. Aw yes, perhaps the never-ending thoughts would slow down now. Maybe it would cool off the churning in his gut. Peevishly, he adjusted himself as he climbed back into his truck, anticipating he wouldn't encounter any more waitresses who were seductive and looking for a piece of action. He hoped the rest of the trip he'd embarked upon would turn out much better.
But he doubted it.