Bound to the Tiger [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Kate Hill
eBook Category: Romance/Fantasy
eBook Description: Part English and part Indian, Zane is a rare white weretiger who has earned a position of respect in his clan. Now his leader has called upon him for a special task. Zane is to act as a goodwill ambassador between his weretiger clan and a group of supernatural female assassins, The Wakened Veils. He is to work closely with one of their best warriors, the lovely but headstrong vampiress, Kesi. Since escaping the clutches of her cruel father and violent husband, Kesi has vowed to never again submit to a man. For fifteen hundred years she has sought revenge against the hated male sex and convinced herself she has no need for romantic love. When she meets the handsome, blue-eyed weretiger, Zane, she is overwhelmed by desire but knows a permanent relationship between them can never be. She will do everything in her power to keep from loving Zane, even if it means destroying him along with her heart. Rating: Sensual/Spicy. Contains violence, adult situations, graphic language, and explicit sexual content.
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2008
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67 Reader Ratings:
Low to the ground, the white tiger stole through the jungle. Muscles rippled beneath the great cat's pelt, now matted with dirt and blood. A low growl rumbled in his chest, and he tried to focus his bleary eyes on the path leading to his clan's meeting place. Ignoring the pain of dozens of tooth and claw marks, he concentrated on reaching his brothers. Hopefully no more enemies would attack for he was nearly spent and doubted he would survive another fight, not that he wouldn't willingly die in battle serving his clan leader and his goddess.
For days Zane and his brothers had been fighting a rival clan, one that disregarded the weretigers' ancient creed. Created by the mother goddess, they had once been her most trusted protectors and part of a single clan loyal to her. Long ago the clan divided. Some remained true to the goddess while others used their supernatural powers for evil.
Zane's clan, headed by the black weretiger Sanjay, still followed the goddess and respected her ways. They had recently gone to war with a rival clan who had been moving in on their territory and slaying humans, an act forbidden by the goddess' creed.
Nearly stumbling over a fallen tree, Zane grunted in pain. His mangled hind leg buckled, and he sat for a moment, panting, his senses straining as he caught the scent of another tiger approaching. White weretigers were extremely rare and few survived long during times of war since their color made them easy targets. Zane could scarcely believe he'd survived as long as he had. It seemed like every enemy cat in the area had attacked him over the past few days. Sanjay had not demanded he stalk the front lines but suggested he remain closer to the clan's meeting place. Zane would have none of it. No matter what the color of his pelt, his skin or his eyes, he was as much a weretiger as any of his brothers.
The other tiger's scent grew stronger and relief washed over Zane when he recognized it as belonging to a member of his clan.
Raj approached and gently butted Zane with his head. Like the other members of the clan, except for Sanjay, Raj had a tan and black pelt. With a series of almost inaudible grunts and purrs, he told Zane that he would escort him to the meeting place where he could get medical attention. During battle it wasn't unusual for a clan member to act as protector to an injured brother, so Zane willingly accepted Raj's assistance.
To the injured weretiger it seemed like forever before they reached the meeting place. Nearly unconscious from blood loss and pain, he managed to drag himself into one of the tents before lapsing into blackness.
Zane dreamed of the London home where he'd been born, the only child of a merchant and his wife. His mother had aristocratic blood, yet she had rarely associated with her relatives. In the late nineteenth century, her great grandfather, an English military man, had been stationed in India. His family, including his young daughter, Elizabeth, had gone to live with him. It was there that Elizabeth became fascinated by stories of men who stalked the jungles as tigers. When a handsome demon stole into her bed chamber, she willingly surrendered her innocence for a pleasure few mortals knew--the mating with a weretiger. Soon after she found herself abandoned by her supernatural lover but carrying his child. When she'd nearly given up hope of ever seeing her lover again, a man called Sanjay appeared with tragic news. Her weretiger had been killed in a battle with another of his kind. Sanjay told her that should she have a boy child, there was a chance he would inherit his father's shapeshifting gift. If that happened, she should contact Sanjay and he would take the boy into his clan and teach him the ways of the weretiger.
A young woman pregnant and unmarried in that day and age often found herself in a hopeless predicament. Elizabeth's father had a great deal of affection for her and, against the judgment of his wife, agreed to care for her and the child. Elizabeth gave birth to a girl, and she assumed that since no female weretigers existed, the supernatural bloodline was no longer a concern. The family moved back to London where Elizabeth was shunned by her peers and lived the remainder of her life as a recluse. Her daughter, Rose, was a beautiful girl with her father's ink black hair and her mother's blue eyes. A local merchant fell in love with her and asked for her hand. Eager to move away from a house where she was often the brunt of her mother and grandmother's resentment, she accepted the merchant's proposal.
Shortly after, she gave birth to Zane. From an early age Zane sensed he was different from other children. Not simply because of his culturally diverse background, but there was something inside him, something wild, that he couldn't quite understand. He felt trapped in the city and would dream of jungles he had never seen yet somehow knew intimately.
At the age of five he shifted shape for the first time. Within the space of a breath and without conscious thought, his bones became flexible, twisting and reshaping. A coarse brown and white pelt sprouted from his smooth human skin and his senses sharpened, each noise almost painful, every light practically blinding him.
Though Rose had heard stories of the weretiger from her mother, she had never truly believed them. She thought her mother was making up fanciful tales to ease the pain of a lover abandoning her with a child. Now she had no choice but to confide in her mother about Zane's supernatural constitution.
That was how he first came into contact with Sanjay and the weretiger clan. Upon receiving Elizabeth's letter regarding her grandson, Sanjay himself traveled to England to claim a child that belonged more to the clan than he ever would to his parents.
Rose and her husband, confused and horrified by the child they'd spawned, willingly sent Zane back to India in the care of Sanjay. Other than a yearly visit to England in the company of a weretiger brother, Zane remained with Sanjay who raised him alongside his own son and heir, Rahul.
With his blue eyes and white pelt, Zane stood out among his kind. It seemed no matter what world he lived in he could never truly fit in, and he desperately wanted to belong to the weretiger clan. He trained as a warrior and hunter and grew into a strong, courageous man. Still the white pelt made him an easy target among his enemies. Sanjay tried to persuade him to leave the fighting to others, but Zane refused. As a weretiger he would express his love and loyalty to Sanjay, his leader and the only real father he had ever known, through blood service, like the rest of the clan. * * * *
"Zane. Wake up. Zane."
Moaning softly, Zane tried to focus on the familiar voice. He felt a hand rest lightly on his shoulder and opened his eyes and found Sanjay seated beside him.
The clan leader's onyx eyes stared into his, and a slight smile curved his lips. "How do you feel?"
Zane's brow furrowed, and he shifted position. At some point he had changed back to his human form, though the memory was fuzzy. Every muscle in his body ached, and he stung in places from various tooth and claw marks.
"Fine," he replied, sounding weaker than he'd wanted to.
"I'm sure that's not true," Sanjay said.
"It's over. We've driven off the rival clan. Rahul killed the leader."
Rahul. Sanjay's son and one of Zane's closest friends.
"You fought well for the clan," Sanjay continued, holding Zane's gaze. "For over two centuries you have defied the odds, a white weretiger hunting and fighting for his clan and managing to survive. You have done your service as a warrior. Now I order you to step down from our battles here."
Panic clogged Zane's chest. Why was his leader shaming him like this? Had he not been loyal?
"If I can't serve you and the goddess, I would rather be dead," Zane told him.
"Who said you won't be serving us?" Sanjay asked. "I have another task for you, an important task. It will require your skills as a warrior and a diplomat."
Zane's brow furrowed. This piqued his interest. "What sort of task, Sir?"
"Before I tell you more, you must swear secrecy, for if you agree to this task you will be entrusted with an unprecedented alliance with a group of formidable warriors. Warriors we greatly wish as friends rather than enemies. Do you swear?"
"I have pledged my life to you and the goddess. Whatever you ask of me I shall do. If you require my pledge of secrecy, then you have it."
Sanjay nodded. "Good. Rest now. In a few days when you've completely regenerated and regained your strength, we will talk more."
"It is my command."
Frustrated yet knowing that once Sanjay made up his mind no one would change it, Zane nodded and settled more comfortably onto the cot where he lay. He closed his eyes and sighed, wondering what task lay ahead and what formidable warriors he would be sent to meet.