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About the author:
Kat Simons earned her BA in Zoology studying dolphins in Hawaii and her Ph.D. in animal behavior studying deer in Ireland. She takes that background and turns nature on its ear in her paranormal romances. Her Tiger Shifter series follows the struggles of the tiger shapeshifters to survive in the face of extinction and how they handle love, lust and survival. When not writing, Kat loves to read, bake, travel, play with her sons, and go to sporting events with her husband and sons. She also plays entirely too much Sudoku. Currently, Kat lives in New York with her family, her funny little dog, and a library’s worth of books.
What inspired you to write your book?
A friend suggested I write a short story for an anthology a few years back. I came up with the basic idea behind the Tiger Shifter series–a species on the brink of extinction and doing some unique things to try and prevent that. The ideas behind the extinction issues came from some of the issues faced by the Hawaiian Monk Seals of all things–I took that basis and built on it. The short story was actually accepted into the anthology and the editor and my friend both thought I should write more Tiger stories. So I did.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Alexis forced herself to focus on her anger and those stupid fucks stalking through her land. Being distracted now would only get her hurt. A cool autumn breeze brought her the rich smells the surrounding woods, the moist dirt, the sweet, pungent detritus, the earthy mix of beech, maple, and a hint of pine bark, the faint tang of the few small mammals brave enough to frequent her territory…and the sharp bite of male tiger musk.
Her lip curled.
When she sensed them nearing, she let her growl carry into the trees, a warning and a challenge. Two of the five answered with soft chuffing noises. Frowning, she studied the darkness. Five. But she was sure there were six. Where was he now?
She let her senses stretch, trying to find that sixth, but the appearance of the others divided her attention. Three Siberian tigers and two Bengals stepped from the woods, forming a semi-circle around the front of her home. She narrowed her eyes and let their scent-signatures come to her, trying to identify them. Each had a unique combination of feline musk and the complex weave of pheromones that were impossible to put into human words. If pushed, she’d describe them as a kind of individualized spice mixture, but some of the “spices” didn’t actually exist.
She knew two of the invaders.
One Siberian, Nick Jameson, was a fellow Tracker and until this moment she would have considered him a friend of sorts. At the least, a respected colleague. She was more than a little surprised he was a part of all this, as he’d never shown any particular interest in her—not any more interest than he showed any other female.
The second, a Bengal named Dev Gupta, was another story. He’d been pestering her for the last two years. Despite her rebukes, he’d continued hitting on her, once getting so aggressive she’d had to dislocate his shoulder to make her point clear. He hadn’t been nearly as forward since, but she wasn’t shocked to see him.
She studied the other three and thought she might recognize another of the Siberians. He seemed vaguely familiar. She encountered a lot of tigers during the course of her job, especially at the elders’ U.S. compound in West Virginia. As the seat of her people’s government here in the States, the compound saw a steady stream of tigers in and out for audiences with the elders or to deal with political and legal issues. She could have met him there at some point, but she couldn’t put a human face or a name to him.
The remaining two were strangers to her, so she made sure to memorize their unique scent-signatures. She held each of their gazes in turn, letting them see her anger, her irritation, her complete lack of fear. She let another soft growl fill the air.
The woods fell silent. The air went still and cold. Alexis matched the quiet of her surroundings—a dangerous predator waiting for her opponent to blink first.
Finally, Nick stepped forward and shifted. She kept her attention on the group as she waited for him to finish. The process took only a few minutes, which was a sign of a strong male. She made note, filing the fact away for use in the fight she knew was coming.
“Alex,” Nick said when he straightened to his full height.
He was over six feet tall with shaggy brown hair and dark blue eyes. He was muscular, a trained fighter, not a tiger to be taken lightly.
“Nick. You have some explaining to do.” As soon as she said the words, a silly part of her wanted to say the line again with a strong Cuban accent, an imitation of Desi Arnaz’s oft-repeated line in I Love Lucy, but she resisted the impulse. This wasn’t a moment for her odd humor.
“You know why we’re here,” Nick said.
“You know I don’t run.”
“You’ve had your little rebellion, Alex.”
She raised her brows at his condescension but didn’t comment otherwise.
“What makes you exempt from this rule of our people?” he asked. “There aren’t enough females for you to be allowed to forgo mating.”
“I. Never. Run.”
Despite her insistence, her hormones were high, her skin alive with sensation. Tingles of unfocused lust skittered along her nerves, sharper for her anger. The presence of so many ready males made things worse. She wasn’t a slave to her reproductive cycle, but it did make her want in a way that could be hard to control. The call to mate always left her edgy and irritable. Usually, she escaped the need by picking up a human man and taking him to bed for three days. But years of this got old, and all she wanted now was to wallow in her own territory, alone, until the desperation passed.
“No female is allowed to skip the Run,” Nick said, taking two steps closer to her porch. The tigers behind him shifted quietly, low grunts and growls greeting his comment. There was a bristling of fur, a slight adjusting of stance.
Alexis took in their positions and sizes, automatically preparing strategies, both defensive and offensive. The cool air brushed her skin as her senses heightened. She unfolded her arms and let them hang at her sides, loose and ready. Then she held Nick’s gaze as she repeated, very distinctly, “I don’t run.”
The tigers surged forward. Alexis braced for the attack, then sensed the sixth tiger, the one she’d lost track of, coming up on the left from behind her cabin. She cursed, half-turned to face the new threat, and the sixth tiger, a blur of orange, white and black stripes, leapt into the clearing between her and the others.
Facing the others.
Everyone froze. Alexis blinked several times as she took in the fact that this newcomer was standing between her and the males. A moment later, she caught his scent.
Her heartbeat quickened. A combination of panic, shock, and need tightened like a band around her chest. The one man she was susceptible to, the only one she’d ever wanted…What was he doing here? Especially now, when the call to mate rode her so hard she could barely resist the urge to drag him inside. How could she focus, how could she fight the others with Victor such a powerful distraction?