Tiger Page 2

A fist hit her arm, material tore and something dug painfully into her ass cheek. One of her shoes slid off when bodies rolled a little over it. Rough denim scraped the underside of her foot and most of the weight over her felt as if it centered on her lungs. She couldn’t breathe.

Pure panic gripped her when no amount of struggling moved anyone on top of her. She clawed at the wood floor, not caring how dirty it was anymore and she twisted her face. Her eyes opened. She spotted the leg of a table inches from her outstretched arm and managed to curl her fingers around the wood.

Zandy tried to pull her body but her strength waned. Spots appeared in front of her eyes. Her face felt really hot and knew she was suffocating. She blinked, focused on just her hand and her arm shook from straining muscles. Wood scraped the floor. The table moved a tiny bit, instead of her. More spots flashed and she knew in that moment that she was about to die.

Fuck. Her head slumped until her cheek rested on the cold floor. Her lungs burned but no air entered her open mouth. A memory of her mother flashed through her mind—her twenty-first birthday when she’d received the lecture about the dangers of going to bars and how nice, God-fearing girls avoided them. Her mother was all about avoiding sin.

Zandy fought the blackness that threatened to take her, unwilling to let go of life. She could just imagine the police informing her parents of how she’d died, pictured how disappointed they’d be in her once again. They’d turn her death into a lesson about drinking for everyone in the family. They might even go as far as sharing with the entire church how she’d died on a bar floor.

An animalistic roar rose above the sounds of the brawl. Zandy had heard stories of people near death hearing singing angels but nobody had ever whispered about scary noises. In that moment she knew she was going to hell. She admitted she’d probably earned a little eternal damnation for some of the things she’d done in her thirty-one years of life but it still sucked.

Life slipped away from her and she had no choice but to accept her fate as everything just faded to black.

Tiger fumed. The NSO had offered the local sheriff any support that he may need but no one had expected the older human to take them quite so literally. Reservation had received an emergency call from Sheriff Greg Cooper asking them for immediate assistance to break up a bar fight. He and his deputies couldn’t handle the disturbance alone.

He glanced with annoyance at the Species males he’d quickly assembled. “Don’t hurt the stupid, drunken humans. Just break it up and clear out the building.”

None of his Species males wanted to be there. They would have preferred to still be on guard duty. Dealing with humans never boded well. Species were feared or looked down on by full humans. Their altered human and animal hybrid genetics made them different, stronger, and most people couldn’t accept them. Being asked to police residents of the nearby town spelled disaster to Tiger’s way of thinking but he just followed orders. Justice had reached out to their neighbors, offered help to promote goodwill and they were stuck breaking up a brawl.

The two humans nearest him saw Tiger when he gripped their shoulders to pull them apart. One glance his way and they fled out the door, more afraid of him than whatever anger had made them punch each other in the first place. He moved to the next fighting group, shouldered his way between them and tore off his face shield to make sure they could see his features.

“Stop,” he snarled, not hesitant to use fear as a way to empty the bar.

A female scream sounded from the back of the room and Tiger’s head jerked in that direction. The female sounded terrified. His gaze fixed on a redheaded female cowering on top of a table in the far corner but she suddenly fell to the floor and out of sight.

Tiger glanced at his men who were working to herd the humans outside but it wasn’t fast enough to reach the woman quickly. He kept looking toward where she had disappeared. He was taller than the humans and had a better view but he didn’t see her head reappear.

What is a small human female doing in the middle of a fight? He had no answer but figured she had no common sense. Human females were fragile and nonaggressive. Tiger’s instincts screamed that she was in danger. He decided to wade in to get her and shoved his way in that direction.

“Get out,” he snarled at the humans, grabbing them without care and pushing them apart. The small female still wasn’t visible but he saw males dropping in that area. He watched another face disappear in the sea of heads and had a horrible feeling that the woman was somewhere in that tangled mass of falling bodies.

A drunk human spun and threw a fist at Tiger’s face but his reflexes were better. He jerked his head to the side. The fist missed him by an inch and his large palm closed over the hand before it could draw back to take another swing. His temper boiled over and he applied a little too much strength. The male he gripped screamed as bones broke and Tiger roared at the drunk before releasing him.

The drunk yanked his injured hand to his chest, began to sob as if he were a female and stumbled toward the bar exit. Tiger moved on, his gaze searching for a small redheaded female as he tossed bodies out of his way.

His enhanced hearing picked up a soft feminine whimper seconds later over the cursing, the sound of flesh hitting flesh, the heavy breathing of the people around him and of furniture being broken. He zoned in on that area, plowed into the bodies and tossed them behind him. The female was in serious trouble and he didn’t give a damn if he damaged a few humans in the process of finding her.

Tiger halted where he’d last seen the redheaded female and found a group of males sprawled on the floor. They were throwing punches with elbows and fists. One man kept tossing his head back into the stomach of a man under him who pulled his hair. Tiger quickly scanned the pile and spotted a dainty arm sticking out from under it all. It was a thin, pale one and distinctly female. Her hand was palm down next to the leg of a table, light-pink polish on her fingernails. She didn’t move.

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