Lion’s Heat

Breeds Book 21

The mating urge cannot be ignored… 

Bad boy Jonas Wyatt knows it is fate that Rachel becomes his mate. He can sense it. He can also sense her reluctance. But she has little power over the mating heat of the Breeds. It is Jonas’s destiny to claim her. And nothing will stop him from having his way.

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Jonas Wyatt, Director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs, and a Lion Breed with secrets that could destroy him, stared at the door through which what was sure to be his greatest weakness had just stepped. He then turned to the mated wife of the Feline Breed leader, the Prima, Merinus Lyons.

She should have been showing her age, Jonas thought critically as he focused on her unlined face, her clear dark brown gaze and the youthful curve of her lips. There wasn’t a single strand of gray in the fall of long, dark brunette hair, nothing to indicate she was nearing forty with two children and a life that would have had any other woman in therapy.

Jonas knew for a fact that she hadn’t aged a day, physically, since the moment she had mated with the Feline Breed Pride leader, Callan Lyons, twelve years before. As far as her body was aware, time hadn’t passed.

She may not have aged physically, but Jonas could attest to the fact that Merinus had definitely grown in strength. Perhaps not in wisdom if this latest stunt was anything to go by, but there was no doubt she had developed a backbone of steel.

Only steel would have her sitting across from him, that victorious little smile tugging at her lips as she arched a brunette brow back at him challengingly.

If she weren’t already mated to his Pride leader, she would have been a woman Jonas would have definitely been interested in. At least, before today.

“She’s pregnant.” The words slipped past his lips in a frozen statement of disapproval. Not for her pregnancy, per se, but that Merinus would consider hiring her to work with him in her current condition. That she would bring a woman with such vulnerability into his life, into any Breed’s life, and expect her to survive it.

“Really?” Merinus’s brows arched as though in shock. “Why Jonas, I must have missed that. Do tell how I could have been so neglectful as to have not noticed.”

He didn’t wince, though he had watched Merinus’s husband mate, Callan, do just that whenever she got that tone, warning him to tread carefully. Jonas knew this woman for the subtly dangerous adversary she could be. She could make his life extremely difficult if she wanted to; she was his superior, at least in the hierarchy of the Pride. Which, on most days, was truly the only thing that mattered.

Jonas liked to tell himself over the years that her power didn’t reach here, to the Bureau, though. Based in D.C., the Bureau of Breed Affairs was his baby, his playground, his hobby and his lover. He’d tried to pretend she would never dare stick her too-curious, too-scheming little nose into the day-to-day running of the political law enforcement machine Jonas had built over the past ten years.

He had been so very wrong. And that knowledge had the power to prick his already testy temper.

Leaning forward, Jonas placed his arms on his desk and stared back at Merinus with cool determination. It wouldn’t do to let her see a weakness.

“She won’t work out, Merinus,” he informed her. “I’ll have her in hysterics in an hour. I don’t want to deal with another overly emotional little girl, especially one so close to giving birth. And what about once she has that child? This is not a damned nursery, nor is it a nine-to-five job.”

He had to force the words past his lips. He forced his tongue to push them from his mouth even as he felt the tiny glands at the side of it itch in impending disaster.

Not just disaster, but mating heat. A catastrophe in the making where his life was concerned.

Already he could feel the rage brewing inside, the knowledge that another man had created life within her. That she had belonged to another. That perhaps, even now, another man shared her bed.

All that stayed the power of his rage was the fact that there had been no other man’s scent on her delicate body. There had been no mating mark, no hint of male possession spoiling the sweet, delicate woman scent of her.
Could he have borne it if there had been?

“She can deal with you.” Merinus rose to her feet as she stared back at him regally despite the ragged jeans and T-shirt that gave her the appearance of a teenaged waif. “What’s more, I’m fairly certain she can do so without a display of hysterics.”

Jonas swore he could feel his hands getting ready to shake to his Prima. A sense of certain panic began to fill him, tightening in his throat and threatening to steal his power to speak.

He’d never been frightened in his life. Hell, he had no idea what true fear was until Merinus turned her back on him and began walking to the door.

“Why?” The question was a subtle, feral growl that had Merinus pausing in offense before turning back to him slowly.

Jonas snapped his teeth together before a tight grimace contorted his face and he forced himself to turn away from her. She deserved the same respect he would give his Pride leader, and that growl had been the furthest thing from respect that he could come up with.

“Why?” Her tone was lethal now. “Because, Jonas, I’m sick of watching perfectly good secretaries become neurotic head cases because of your complete disregard for civility. I know Rachel. I know her abilities as well as her temperament.” Merinus’s triumphant smirk had his guts twisting in terror now. “And I know Rachel can handle you. If she could handle my brother Kane at the tender age of sixteen and actually keep his finances as well as his schedule in order, then I have no doubt she can put up with your diabolical, manipulating personality and perhaps even manage to lend a measure of respectability to the Bureau before you destroy the last shred of civility that it could possess.” She walked to the door before turning back to him with a mocking look of accomplishment.

“Consider it a favor of sorts. And remember, Rachel is one of my dearest, best friends in the world. Hurt her, Wyatt, and it’s no different from hurting me.”

With that warning firmly in place, she pulled the door open and left the room. The panel closed behind her with a gentle click, sealing Jonas into the cool silence of his office as the murmur of voices could be heard in the other room.

She had just ensured that he couldn’t yell at Rachel, he couldn’t fire her. Merinus couldn’t have forced his hand more with that statement than if she had simply cut it off. She had made it clear he was stuck with his new secretary.

Jonas sat back down slowly. He laid his palms flat on his desk and took a deep, hard breath. He was a Breed. Grown men trembled in fear of him. Hell, his own species trembled in fear of him. He’d made certain of it. He’d worked to instill that fear, that driving wariness that wouldn’t allow for any possible rejection of any demand he made.

It seemed, though, that he hadn’t impressed upon Merinus just how dangerous he could be. That, or she really didn’t give a damn.

He wondered if it was too late to rectify that small detail?

A light knock at the door, a subtle, gentle scent that sliced through his senses and had him stiffening as the door opened.

“Mr. Wyatt, if you’d like to take a moment to discuss your itinerary with me, then I could get started.”

She stood there, the slight mound of her stomach smaller than he would have thought for the stage of her pregnancy. At five months, that little mound should have been larger. Long, long dark red hair was pulled up in a bun at the nape of her neck; delicate glasses were perched on her nose. Deep, deep green eyes stared back at him with chilling intensity.

Well-fitted black pants were paired with a white blouse, which flowed over the mound of her stomach to her hips. Flat, conservative black shoes covered tiny feet.

She was a fairy, he thought. A whimsical creature that no man dared touch for fear of inviting the wrath of some unknown dark force charged with her protection. That dark force being Merinus Lyons, the wicked ogre of his life, as far as he was concerned.

“Mr. Wyatt?” Her tone was even, polite. “Your itinerary, sir.”

His itinerary. Of course she would want that. How else could she effectively destroy his world unless she knew how he moved through it?

“Don’t worry about the itinerary,” he growled, not bothering to hold back the deep-throated rumble. “I’ll take care of that myself. Just . . .” He waved his hand toward the outer office. “Do the filing or something.”

A dark, winged brow lifted slowly.

Then she did the most amazing thing. She closed the door softly, all the while holding his gaze as she moved to the front of the desk.

Jonas watched her as he would a cobra preparing to strike. Hell, she was more dangerous than a cobra.

“Mr. Wyatt, I am not some glorified clerk who you need to patronize,” she said. Sweetly. So f**king sweet her voice dripped with honey while those wild green eyes glittered with a dare. “You will give me your itinerary, and you will do so in time for me to make sense of it, as well as to make any adjustments needed. All appointments will now go through me, as well as all scheduled business trips and meetings. As I understand it, the last finance meeting at Sanctuary was a farce. Pride Leader Lyons and his Prima have ordered me to ensure the next one actually contains some viable numbers that at least come close to the amount used from the Bureau’s accounts. We can do this the easy way.” Her smile was gentle, benign. “Or we can be difficult about it.” That smile turned to ice.

Jonas rose slowly to his feet, his hands remaining planted on the desk. He ensured that he towered over her as he glared down at her.

“Good luck.” He kept it short and sweet, more because she had his tongue tied in so many f**king knots that he could barely think, let alone speak.

As she stood there, he closed the laptop he used, slid it into a protective case along with the slim external drive that contained the files he needed.

Rachel watched silently as he snapped the case closed, gripped the handle and strode from the office.

She felt as though she should be taking a deep, much-needed breath as the tension that filled the room slowly eased away. But with his departure was a strange sort of emptiness as well. As though the life had been sucked from the office. It was now no more than a shell.

Her lips quirked at the thought before she shook it off and strode back to her own office. Merinus had given her a new lease on life with this job–if she could stick it out.

She laid her hand on her stomach. She had to stick it out, she didn’t have a choice. Jonas might be the scariest man she had ever met, probably the most dangerous. With those quicksilver eyes and that hard, corded body that screamed sexy and lethal, he was by far the most fascinating man she had ever met.

Short black hair was just long enough that it lay against his scalp, giving the hard, sculpted planes of his face a savage, diabolical appearance. And those eyes.

Quicksilver. Mercury. Eyes that saw into a person’s soul.

Eyes that seared.

Eyes that had nearly mesmerized her.

If she wasn’t very, very careful, Jonas Wyatt would end up owning her soul, as it appeared he owned everyone else’s.

And that just wouldn’t do. She had a feeling Jonas might be a little bit spoiled. Which meant she was going to have to definitely break the habit.

Striding to the desk, she took her seat and called Merinus.

“He’s on the run,” she reported.

She could almost hear the smile that curled Merinus’s lips. “That’s okay. I know where he’s running to. Pack a bag and bring your laptop. It’s time to show Jonas the power of the Breed cabinet. And I can think of no better time than now.”

Rachel wondered if Jonas would ever look back and realize that Merinus was trying to save him, rather than piss him off. According to the Prima of the Feline Breeds, Jonas Wyatt was on a path of self-destruction where the Bureau was concerned.

“Do you think discussing this with him would do any good, Merinus?” Rachel asked, her tone wary now. Jonas didn’t seem like a good man to piss off.

“Callan and Dash have talked to him until they’re blue in the face.” Merinus sighed. “He can fight with them; that instinctive code of honor he has nearly dictates that he does. If he doesn’t stop stirring suspicion where the Bureau is concerned, he’ll be voted out of it. That’s something I don’t want to see happen. No, Rachel, we’re the only ones that can get through to Jonas now.”

“We are?” Rachel rather doubted that.

“You are,” Merinus amended. “Just treat him like you treated Kane. Trust me, he won’t know how to combat it. Jonas has always been the one doing the bulldozing. To my knowledge, no one has ever used the same tactics on him that he uses on others. Let’s see what happens when they do.”

“He takes a chunk out of their ass?” Rachel asked, a vision of those lethal canines flashing before her eyes.

To which Merinus’s laugh was soft, and suspiciously knowing.

“Now Rachel, do you really think he would bite you?”

“Only if I get close enough,” she murmured.

“Then don’t get close enough,” Merinus advised her with a heavy hint of amusement. “Be very careful, Rachel, not to get close enough.”


“Did I ask you to set up a meeting with Senator Racert?”

Jonas Wyatt stepped out of his office, coldly indignant to face the icy composure of his secretary’s porcelain face and frozen ocean green eyes.

There was a heartbeat of time when his entire system froze, his control shattered and the animal that lurked just beneath the skin jumped free. A single moment out of time when every cell in his body clamored to claim his mate.
Just as quickly he reined the animal back, jerked at the ragged edges of his control and fought the hunger tearing through his system.

As always, the battle was nearly lost in the face of Rachel’s perfect, mannequin-like composure. He had had more than one fantasy regarding breaking that composure.

Unfortunately, each time he thought about giving in to those fantasies he came smack up against the ripe appearance of motherhood. She was with child, but it didn’t stop him from wanting her, needing her. It didn’t stop him from doing everything he could do to make her life easier, to make her job easier, to give her the man he was inside–at least as much as possible.

He was gentle with her while he was harsh with others. He made a place for her in his life while he held others at bay. And still, she seemed as cool, as unemotional, as she had the day she began working with him.

“Actually, Senator Racert asked for the meeting,” Rachel answered with icy disdain. “You’ve put him off for over six weeks now, and he does control the Bureau’s governmental purse strings as well as carry significant weight in the Breed Appropriations Committee.”

“Their governmental purse strings couldn’t concern me less.” He leaned against the doorframe as he crossed his arms over his chest and attempted to glare at her.

It was damned hard to glare at one’s mate, especially when the child she sheltered so protectively was listening, and reacting so closely to every word he said.

He could sense that. The girl child she carried paused whenever she heard his voice, just as she would pause when she heard her mother’s. No others. She flat out didn’t give a damn if anyone else spoke. Hell, he couldn’t even curse anymore. And that had been damned hard to do anything about. But he ensured that the child stayed calm. If the child was calm, then that meant the mother was calm. Keeping her settled during her pregnancy to ensure the child’s continued good health and, therefore, the mother’s happiness, was all that mattered to him.

“Senator Racert’s voice is important to the Breed community as a whole.” Rachel rose from her chair, still graceful and exquisitely beautiful as she moved across the room to the file cabinet.

He followed. He couldn’t help himself. The damned file cabinet was taller than she was.

He reached it before she did, pulled the top drawer free, then plucked the file out of her fingers and inserted it in its proper place.

He was more than aware of the look of narrow-eyed suspicion she shot him as he pushed the drawer closed before following her back to her desk.

“Cancel the appointment with Racert,” he demanded as she retook her seat.

There was an edge of suspicion in her gaze as she looked up at him.

“Stop hovering over me.” Ice dripped from her voice, as though his presence did nothing to affect her.

He may have believed it if the child, a perfect barometer for the mother’s feelings, didn’t choose that moment to let out a silent whimper of distress. Her mother was clearly upset, off balance, perhaps even frightened. Because whatever emotion her mother was feeling, so then was the child feeling.

Jonas backed up with three deliberate steps, waiting tensely for the child to regain the calm he wanted the mother to feel.

It happened slowly. One step at a time. Rachel turned back to the computer and that impossible itinerary she was working on.

“Racert is double-crossing us,” he finally told her, careful to keep his voice quiet. “He’s after information.”
“Which you give so rarely and with such perfect manners,” she mocked him.

He grunted at the comment. He would tell her anything she wanted to know; she only had to ask. Racert, however, was another thing entirely.

“Cancel the meeting,” he ordered her again.

“No.” There was pure stubborn refusal in her voice.

His lips thinned.

“Fine, I’ll leave the office.” He stalked back to the doorway.

“Go ahead.” He heard the shrug in her voice. “I’ll handle the meeting myself. I believe the meeting involves the latest projected budget, which you haven’t yet turned in. I’m certain I can handle that.”

Jonas assured himself he wasn’t paling at the very thought of Miss-Financial-Tight-Ass creating his budget.
A growl slipped free before he could hold it back.

Rachel’s brow arched as disdain filled her expression. But from the child, he felt something far different, something he was certain he should at least protest.

Amusement. The baby was amused, which meant her mother was much more amused.

“Are you laughing at me?” He paced back to her desk, flattened his hands on the dark wood and leaned forward. Close enough that he could smell her unique scent. Close enough that the hunger ripping through his guts sharpened to a dagger’s stroke. “Be careful, little girl,” he warned her softly, holding her gaze, watching the wild green become darker, wilder. “Or you may well get far more than you’re bargaining for.”

The amusement drifted away and something far darker took its place.

Jonas eased back. He forced himself from the suddenly reckless anticipation that poured from the woman, despite the composed features, the iron will and stubborn determination. Slowly, he straightened, turned and forced himself back to his own office.

There was desire there, in the sweet scent of her, in the tension that tightened between them each time he went near her. There was hunger. The scent of it was like a soft summer rainfall. It was fresh, tinged with the scent of the earth itself, and a sweet moisture that he knew could become addictive as hell.

The woman was everything he could have wanted in a mate. She was the dream he’d never allowed himself to wish for. Because it was the greatest danger he could bring to his life, and the future of the Breeds.

This was a temptation he knew he could never allow himself to weaken to. It was a promise he had made to himself. It was a vow. And this small woman was shredding his determination one look, one word, one breath at a time.

His mate would never know mating heat.