Home > Tarian Alpha (New Tarian Pride #1)(11)

Tarian Alpha (New Tarian Pride #1)(11)
Author: T.S. Joyce

She lifted up on her toes suddenly and pressed her lips against his. It happened fast. Just a little smack, and she lowered back down, just as shocked as Ronin looked.

“Why did you do that?” Ronin looked so stunned. Powerful legs splayed, eyes fierce, hair mussed, a foreground for the snowy winter woods. He took up so much more space than a man should. He was everywhere.

“I…I’m sorry.”

He shook his head slowly. “Don’t ever apologize unless you do something wrong.”

“But I thought—”

Ronin closed the two feet of space between them and gripped the back of her neck as his lips crashed onto hers. She should’ve felt trapped, but she didn’t. Instead, she felt enveloped, warm, and steady. The slight pressure of his mouth on hers erased the rest of the world. In this moment, only she and Ronin existed. There was no fear, no problems to solve, nothing. There was just the taste and the feel of his body. Getting lost in him, she slid her hands up his stomach, over the mounds of his abs, to his stone-hard chest. Every part of his body was tense except for his lips. Those moved against hers smoothly. Up, up she slid her hands, memorizing his body through the material of his sweater. Ronin grabbed her hand suddenly and dragged it to the hem of his pants, under his shirt, and then pressed her palm against his stomach. He moaned against her lips as she drew a small circle with her thumb on his warm skin, right over his belt buckle.

As she ghosted her fingertips right along the edge of his underwear, Ronin dragged her closer. She parted her lips for him. God, it had been so long since she’d kissed anyone. But this wasn’t nerve-racking. It wasn’t something she’d had time to overthink, and he was in such control, she was just along for the ride. He slanted his head to the other side and pressed his tongue into her mouth. Oh, the taste of him. Her head was swimming with happiness. She’d never been more turned on so quickly. Carefully, she pushed her fingertips into his jeans and felt the head of his swollen cock. There was a bead of moisture at the tip, and she felt like she was losing her mind with lust. Maybe her lioness was going into heat or something. Or maybe Ronin was just that sexy. So enthralling and all-encompassing that her body couldn’t resist him.

His fingers dug into her hip, and his thumb stroked her cheek as he kissed her. When she brushed the head of his dick again, he groaned and rocked his hips toward her. Ronin scooped her up suddenly and sat on the merry-go-round, settling her on his lap. He cupped her cheeks and slowed the kiss. His tongue went shallow into her mouth as if he was tasting her. His affections turned to fingertips in her hair and then knuckles dragging down the arm of her jacket. His lips stayed on her, breaking only to change angles. She got to know the exact way he liked to make-out because he took his time. He didn’t rush, didn’t push, but slowed them down instead. He dropped them right in the moment and allowed them to stay there instead of seeing how far they could go.

Emerald was falling so hard for this man. For his heart, his mind, and his body as well.

It shouldn’t happen like this—falling. She should’ve toed the cliff for a while and watched to find the safest place to jump. She should’ve observed and found the deepest waters below. She should’ve done this safely.

But she didn’t.

Instead, she’d come barreling for the cliff and leapt, not checking if there were rocks below or waves. Not checking how far or short the drop was.

Was this how it was supposed to happen?

A heart recognizing a heart as its own?

A body recognizing a body as its own?

It was terrifying and exciting all at once.

Afraid he was cold because he was currently sitting on top of his jacket, she unzipped hers and wrapped the sides around him as best as she could, smashing her chest onto his.

Ronin smiled against her lips and grabbed her ass under her jacket. His kisses became little sexy smacks until he finally rested his forehead against hers and sighed. “We need to go back to the house.”

“Noooooo,” she murmured. “Five more minutes.”

Ronin laughed and hugged her tight. “As much as I would love to spend the next seven to ten days here with you, I have a meeting to call.” He looked up at the sky. “We have about an hour before I need to leave to meet with Cassius.”

Oh, she hadn’t missed it. He’d said only that he needed to leave. Not both of them. Emerald narrowed her eyes at him. “What are you planning?”

“Nothing at all,” he said smoothly. Too smoothly.

“Also, did you just look at the sun to gauge the time? Like Crocodile Dundee?”

“I learned a lot in my time with the tigers.”

Utterly impressed, she muttered, “That’s the sexiest thing ever. Any time in the next hour you want to make out some more, just do that again.”

Ronin snorted. “I set my alarm on my phone. It’s been vibrating in my pocket for the last ten minutes. I just didn’t want to stop kissing you.”

“Oh.” Emerald giggled. “I’m really gullible around you.”

“It’s pretty damn cute.” His lips were all curved up in a smile as he stared at her with those bright blue eyes. “You’re really pretty.” He said it fast and then gave this hotboy chuckle at himself and shook his head, cleared his throat. In a softer voice, he told her, “You’re hard to look away from, but it’s more than you just being beautiful, Em. You’re so different from everyone else.”

“What do you mean?” she asked softly, touching his beard.

“You’re submissive, but strong. Loyal. Brave.”

“No one has ever mistaken me for brave before.”

“Then no one really knew you. Your dad’s in danger so you’re doing what it takes to save him. You had two options. Run, like he asked you to, or go right into a terrifying situation that will swallow up your whole life, just to make sure he’s safe. I don’t care what anyone else would call that. I see it how it is. You’re brave, Em. And funny, beautiful, and resilient. And even if your lioness tries to be invisible, I hope someday I get the chance to see her.”

And because she had nothing to lose, she asked, “Do you want to see her now?”

It was the biggest risk of all. Letting this dominant Tarian Alpha see her biggest shame. But why not? He’d passed every test she hadn’t even realized she’d been giving him.

Sure, he was dangerous, but deep down to her soul, she knew he was only dangerous to the ones who hurt his people. And just as deep down, where she would never admit it out loud because she knew her reality, she wished she could be one of his people, too.

“You would Change for me?” he asked softly.

“It’s the only chance we have,” she said, trying so hard to keep the sadness from her voice. That was the rule. Stay in the moment.

Slowly, she dismounted his lap and unzipped her jacket. Heat was already creeping up her neck, and she couldn’t meet his gaze. She shrugged out of her jacket and kicked off her snow boots before carefully tucking her socks into them. The snow was freezing against her bare feet.

Okay, now for the big stuff. When she glanced up at Ronin, he was watching her with fiery gold eyes. When she hesitated at the hem of her sweater, he stood and turned around, giving her privacy. She kind of wished she could’ve made it sexy and stripped down for him without going all shy. Nudity was second nature to most shifters, but not to her.

She folded her clothes and stood there with her bare skin getting whipped by the wind. “I don’t Change around people.”

“Why not?”

“Because of how my animal is. I was rogue with my parents for so long I didn’t really get caught in the situation too often. Not since I was a cub.” The last sentence shook because she was shivering, from cold and from nerves. “Okay, here I go.”

She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. Usually, it took a long time because the lion was shy, but today was different. She’d been watching Ronin, fully aware, fully awake, and she was right there under her skin, waiting for permission to take over. The pain was blinding, but it was over so fast, it left her breathless on all fours, stunned that she wasn’t writhing on the ground, waiting for every bone to break and every muscle to take on a new shape. It was a second, maybe two, and then she was this. She was the lioness. The Invisible.

Daring a look at Ronin, to Emerald’s mortification, he was facing her now. Had he seen the Change? She didn’t know. All she knew was the look on his face made her heart pound harder. She wished she had more control, but this body was the property of the lioness. She crouched slowly to her belly and exposed her neck. Like always.

Ronin knelt beside her and dragged his eyes down her long body, then back up to her face, which she’d smushed into the snow to be as small as possible around him. She felt his power so much more in this body. It vibrated through every cell and made the air she breathed heavy. It felt as if a truck was sitting on her chest.

Ronin ran his hand down her shoulder to her ribs. Felt good, so why was she scared?

Ronin, Ronin, powerful Ronin. With those bright gold eyes and golden hair falling forward. His slight smile, nearly hidden in his beard, the one he used to hide the scars on his neck from the world. Storm clouds above him made his skin look even paler, eyes look even brighter. He pulled off a leather necklace and his shirt. He stood smoothly and unbuckled his belt. Her ears perked at the jingle of the metal. What was he doing? He took out his chain wallet and unhooked it from his belt, then shoved his jeans down his legs. And before it even registered with her what he intended to do, Ronin Changed.

He. Changed.

Shit shit shit shit! As the massive lion slammed down to the snow on all fours, Emerald scrambled off. He had her pinned before she’d made it to the swing set. A snarl rattled his throat, and now she was going to die. She hissed. Ronin was huge, with a thick brown mane, fiery eyes, and black scars on his face. One of his ears had a huge notch ripped out of it. His paws on either side of her were the size of her whole head. How could a lion be this big? He settled his nose against her neck and inhaled deeply. She was so frozen, so terrified, she might as well have been the snow. Invisible. Please don’t hurt me. Hiss.

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