I love shifters and cats make for heroines with attitude. Meet Arara, the heroine of Heartfire, a shifter with the ability to take the form of a dragon or a mountain cat. The hero of Heartfire may be a vampire and one of the best bounty hunters in the universe, but he’s met his match.
Heartfire is book 3 of Vazan Vampires, a box set including Sinful Urges and Hunting Evil.
The universe is vast, but finding a dragon on the auction block isn’t a usual occurrence for hunter Daecon Kreass. Arara is a magnificent dragon shifter and a stunning woman, but she’s also Zyafayan aristocracy. No matter how much she stirs his blood Daecon must keep her at arms length and deliver her to her royal family.
“Are you well enough to shift?”
“Yes.” It felt good to speak, but her voice sounded raspy.
“Your voice,” he said. “It’s softer than I expected.”
“I can roar when necessary.”
“What’s your name?”
He cleared his throat. “Wart gave me a security permit allowing me to take one unspecified animal off-planet. I fear a dragon would draw unwanted attention and my ship is too small to comfortably accommodate your size. I was thinking you might be able to shift into something smaller like a dog.”
“I saw several of those black and white Siderian canines for sale in the market. The ones with the long, bushy tails.”
Arara refused to shift into a slobbering, tail-wagging dog.
Closing her eyes, she summoned her strength and shifted into a familiar form. As her form began to change, her cells heated. Muscles quivered and transformed. Wings retracted, reforming into legs. Scales altered and hair sprang forth, creating a rich, golden coat of fur. Feet shrank to paws and talons to claws.
Arara swished her new tail and looked at Daecon from the eyes of a Zyafayan mountain cat.
Hands fisted on the cage bars, he stared at her, eyes wide with astonishment, but he didn’t speak.
“I don’t like dogs,” she said, rising on all fours to stretch. “Ohhhhh. That feels good.”
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Arara licked her muzzle. “Open the cage.”
Daecon unlatched the locks and Arara stepped out of the cage that had been her prison for an untold number of hours. Days? Now that she was more alert, Arara let her gaze slide over Daecon. She’d experienced his compassion, and now she sensed his strength. The set of his shoulders and fluid movement of his honed body demonstrated confidence that fit with his profession. Arara had heard of Vazan Shield, a private corporation that specialized in security personnel, mercenaries for hire and bounty hunters. Despite his profession, she knew she was in good hands. “I’m thirsty.”
Daecon led her to a fountain. After drinking her fill, Arara raised her head and sniffed the air. The hot wind carried the stench of the animal market. “This is a bad place.”
“We should leave as quickly as possible.” He dug into a side pocket on his dark brown pants and removed a leash. Arara snarled as he looped the chain over her head. The restraint brought back the abject fear she’d experienced during her capture.
Daecon stroked her head, rubbing her between the ears. “Easy now. I apologize, Arara and I promise I’ll remove it the moment we board my ship. I can’t take you through the terminal without one. Just stick close to my side and act docile. The authorities won’t question a trained pet.”
Arara growled softly, but walked beside him, her head even with his hip.
“No growling, snarling or roaring, understood?”
“Understood,” she said.