ROMANCE: LION SHIFTER ROMANCE: Luring The Lion (Lion Shapeshifter Paranormal Fantasy Romance) (BBW Lion Shifter Romance)


Copyright 2016 by Diane Greenstone - All rights reserved.

 

 

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Luring The Lion

 

A Lion Shifter Paranormal Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Greenstone

 

Read the author biography

 

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Contents

 

Luring The Lion

Bonus Book 1

Bonus Book 2

Bonus Book 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luring The Lion

Chapter 1

Bethany Wellington was freaking out.

Ten minutes ago she’s slowly started regaining consciousness. At first her memories were hazy and vague, but then it started coming back more clearly. And it shocked her. Now, here she was, trapped in a smelly metal cage on a rickety boat out at sea, with no idea where she was headed. She couldn’t shift out of her lion form until she got where her kidnappers were taking her. She was sure they had no idea she was a shifter, but she was in a cage where a lion was supposed to be, she was worried they’d try to kill her if she changed unexpectedly into human form. The last thing she needed was to have to explain to authorities how she ended up in a cage on a poacher’s boat.

She had good reason to be furious, as she growled her disapproval to all within hearing distance. She worked part time at a local Florida zoo taking care of the big cats. She was the only one who’d been able to get close to them, especially when sick or injured, all thanks to her shifter-abilities. She was more than just a lion shifter; she was a lion-person, someone who cared very, very deeply for animals in general, but especially for the king of the jungle as a species. She’d been shifted with them when a team had come in and stolen three of the big cats from the enclosure, including her. One of them was about to give birth, that’s why she’d been in the enclosure, to at close range supervise in case the fawn-colored female had needed help.

Pacing up and down, she wanted to take a bite out of the closest poacher, but they’d already deemed her the most dangerous of the three cats and were keeping their distance. They talked about her like she didn’t understand them, but she did. Perfectly, and if one of them was stupid enough to get close enough she would have no problem tearing into them to defend herself, or the lions they’d stolen. She’d seen their mocking faces, she could identify them and she intended to go straight to the authorities the first chance she got.

If
she survived this, and got away, that is.

She didn’t think they were planning on killing the lions. If they were simply trying to get skins, there was easier ways to do it than breaking into a zoo. This was a military style operation, and the poachers were well organized. Their weapons were state-of-the-art and they had military precision in their coordination and communication. Whatever or whoever was behind this, knew exactly what they were doing.

“We are almost there. Is the shipment ready to go?” one of them men with an AK-47 asked another. They were dressed in black fatigues with hi-tech goggles, and it was almost impossible to tell them apart.

“Absolutely. Parker is ready for them,” the other man told the first one. “We dock in an hour, and the trucks are waiting. It’s been quiet on the shore, as far as I know we should be good to go. We haven’t heard of any activity from the rebels, or the military.”

“Good, good.” The first man nodded and then turned his back on the lions.

Were they game poachers, rebels, or what? Bethany wondered who the hell they were. She knew they’d tranquilized the lions, including her, but she had no idea how long she’d been out. She’d been awake for the last day or two before that, watching and waiting, biding her time.

Narrowing her eyes on the first man, she decided there was nothing she could do but wait. She was hostile and her instincts had her wanting to rip the throats out of each of the men who were mistreating her lions.

And she didn’t have to wait for long.

Chapter 2

The large steel cages were lifted off the ship by cranes and lined up on the dock, clearly waiting for trucks to take them away. She had no idea what they planned on doing with the lions, but it was apparent that they weren't planning on keeping them together. Bethany was upset, but there was nothing she could do from inside the cage. With no one around, this was her chance to shift and play innocent, and to make it look like someone had inadvertently managed to kidnap an innocent woman along with the lions. Shifting back, she waited, sitting idly in a corner of the cage.

It didn’t take long before one of the poachers found her, and freaked out. Yanking her out of the cage, he started yelling at her in a foreign language that she didn’t understand. She only spoke English, so she just shrugged and kept apologizing to him, trying to act submissive and sorry so that he wouldn’t hurt her. She knew she was taking a risk, but unless she wanted to kill him right this second, her best chance was to pretend to be helpless. Shifting when there were people around was a bad idea. She didn't mind the idea of killing this man, but she didn't want them to shoot her, and while she would heal quicker than a regular lion or human, bullets still hurt. If she got injured, she wouldn't be able to help her lions either, so she had to play this smart.

Pointing his gun at her, the poacher gingerly approached her, grabbed her and yanked her out of the cage by her hair until she was left sitting bedraggled in the dusty yard. Ordering her to get up, he frog-marched her down the road and had her get down on her hands and knees, still pointing his gun at her, finger on the trigger. Bethany wondered if she’d survive the gunshot if she had to try and beat him to it and lost - her healing abilities were pretty impressive when injured, but she’d never been shot in the head or heart before, and she was pretty sure that would be a death sentence. The impulse to make a run or shift and attack him almost overwhelmed her, but she heard a vehicle approaching and she froze, waiting. Maybe they would help her. She didn’t want to shift and kill this man, but she couldn’t just let him kill her either. She also couldn't leave any witnesses. If they captured her, who knew what would happen to her if they knew she could shift into a lion. She couldn't imagine what they would do to a shifter, if they'd treat lions this poorly.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
A male voice asked in English. The man who was holding her captive started yelling at him in another language, and the other responded in a similar tongue. Bethany looked over her shoulder to see who was speaking, and saw a well-built, tanned guy in his thirties wearing Ray-Bans. He had a bow and arrow on his back and his dark green game viewing vehicle was state of the art. He was dressed in expensive looking safari clothing, and his self-assured manner looked like he belonged here.

She watched the two men arguing and finally the man who spoke English earlier on took his wallet out and she watched a wad of cash exchange hands. The poacher glared at her, but threw his rifle on his back and walked away without looking back.

Bethany got up and looked at the handsome newcomer with horror, she realized that she had just been bought and purchased by him.  Furthermore, she had no idea where she was, but she doubted by her surroundings that she was in the USA anymore.

“You speak English?” She asked rhetorically as he looked at her with a curious expression on his face. She didn’t trust him, but he was the only ally she had here She had to rescue her big cats and this man in front of her was her only link to navigating what was going on.

“Yes. I take it you’re not from around here,” he asked her tilting his head. “You’re welcome to come with me, I’m heading back to my safari lodge. You can either stay here or risk being kidnapped again, or you can come with me and I’ll get you fed and cleaned up.”

“Where is ‘here’, exactly?” She asked him as she walked over to his vehicle and he helped her climb in.

“You’re in a game reserve near the Okavango, in Botswana.” The man told her and flashed her a grin.

"I'm in Africa?" She gasped, stunned. As a lion shifter, she should feel right at home in a land that was home to many big cats, but she was from Florida. She was used to beaches and the sea. This had her shocked to her core. Whatever those thugs were up too with the lions they took from the zoo, they did not have good intentions if they brought them all the way here by boat.

"Who are you exactly?" The man asked her, looking over at her curiously as he drove fast through the dirt roads and open fields.

"My name is Bethany. I worked at a zoo in Florida working with the big cats. I was kidnapped along with the lions I was caring for. I need to get them back. What are they going to do with them?" Bethany asked him, concerned. She was so worried about the cats she didn't even bother to ask the man his name.

"Well, they may drug them and use them for sport, or sell them to trophy hunters. There's a lot of things they could do with them. I'll see what I can do to help you track them down but be prepared for it to be too late by the time I find them," he told her giving her a look that said he doubted their ability to find them alive.

"One of my lions is pregnant and due to give birth any day, if they kill her, I will rip those men from limb to limb." Bethany growled so deep and unnatural it startled the man next to her. She'd noticed his hunting gear in the back and his bow and arrows. "Do you also hunt them? Should I be worried about you?"

"I run game watching safaris, we do have hunting parties, but we have licenses for that. We only allow them to hunt what they have permission to take," he told her, and looked a little guilty about it. "It's a self sustaining operation; I'm not doing it for the money. I do it because I like to live here and wildlife is my passion."

"You need a new hobby." Bethany muttered and then finally realized she didn't even know the man's name. "What am I supposed to call you?"

"Matheson Bradford is my name, but most people just call me Matt," he told her and flashed her a grin with his perfect white teeth. He unnerved her a little.

"I appreciate you saving me, Matt, but I really need to try to save my lions and get  hold of the zoo back home. Do you have a phone at your safari lodge?" Bethany asked him. She was nervous about her pregnant lion, and knew that the longer they took to rescue them, the less the odds were that none of her lions would be alive. She was sure her kidnappers will not give up.

"You want me to go up against bad guys for you, to rescue a lion?" Matt looked over at her curiously. He had had training to fight poachers, and he had the money and resources to help her, but he wanted to know what was in it for him. He need a solid reason to put himself at risk for her.

"I'll do it myself if you don't help me... but the satisfaction of doing the right thing?" Bethany turned to look at him. "Are you a person who doesn't value the life of living creatures, or are you someone who can see the wrongness in this?"

"As a hunter, I do kill animals." He told her quietly, watching her reaction.

"And I eat animals, I understand this on a logical aspect, but these lions have never been wild. These were basically pets in a zoo, they won't survive in the wild, and being caged and shot to amuse trophy hunters is a horrible way for them to die," Bethany told him angrily. "They deserve better."

They drove on in silence, only slowing down for a group of impala and a family of warthogs that lazily crossed the road ahead of them. Further into the bush she could see the heads of several giraffes sticking out high among the thorn trees.

"Why do you care so much?" he asked her as he pulled up to the gate and pressed a code on the keypad to open it. Further ahead she could see what looked like spacious  luxury thatched-roof bungalows surrounded by lush gardens. She was sure that the high, electrified fence was meant to keep out more than elephants and lions, and felt relieved. Besides, the smiling guard that let them into the lodge complex would no doubt be keeping an eye out for any unwanted guests. Matt was a smart man and it came down to keeping his business reputation safe.

The lodge was a seven star establishment that clearly catered for affluent visitors who wanted to do their game viewing in style. The main lodge building was a three story affair, with balconies on the upper two floors, and a wide beamed porch the wrapped the whole building. The large bungalows with their private pools overlooked a watering hole where a lone elephant was busy showing the dust off its back. There was a large sparkling pool off the other side of the open-air dining room where waiters were preparing the dinner tables. Bethany could see a waterfall cascading into the pool. In her current condition, she just wanted to dive into the cool, crisp water and wash all the grime off of her.

"I care because someone needs to," she said as they pulled into the lodge and he parked out front of a smart-looking log-cabin looking building with a wrap around covered porch that had a breath-taking view over the green bushveld.

"I have a feeling there's more to the story than that. I warn you now Bethany, I might help you, but you have to tell me whatever secret you are keeping to earn my help," Matt told her as looked her squarely in the eyes, and then up and down. She was an attractive-looking, amber-haired girl with curves in all the right places, looking slightly forlorn, dirty and her clothes all torn. He had a feeling when she was all cleaned up she'd be quite beautiful; but he could tell she was hiding something. There was more to her than just being a zookeeper who wanted to save a few kidnapped lions.

He liked a challenge. The woman in front of him would definitely be a challenge.

"You find my lions, and I'll show you the truth." Bethany responded, raising a brow. She was willing to barter her being a shifter for the safety of her lions. Besides, if he didn't intend to keep her secret, she could always eat him. He looked quite delicious, anyway.

"Show me the truth? That sounds intriguing." His gaze dropped to her chest and lingered for a moment, eyeing the expanse of smooth skin that was showing through her torn shirt where her full bust was peeking out at him. "I'll ask around and hopefully find some answers by tomorrow. Let's get you cleaned up and in some fresh clothes. We have a local doctor I can call to come examine you."

"I don't need a doctor. Some pants and a new t-shirt are fine. A shower would be welcome. After that, I need to find my lions before they are in any further danger," she told him with a worried expression.

Matt nodded, but he had a feeling that the lions were probably already forfeit. Poachers rarely kept them alive long enough to be rescued. That wasn't how these gangs operate. If any of the animals were alive, it would take armed guards, and most probably money to get them out. He didn't want to break her heart by telling her that rescuing a lion they'd stolen wasn't likely to have a happy ending unless she had a lot of money standing by to pay their captors for their release - if they weren't dead by the time they found who had them.

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