PrimalDesign

Primal Design

Danica Avet

 

Book two in the Cajun Heat series.

 

Fashion designer and bear shifter Kitty Chambers thought
fifteen years was enough time to get over her first love, Monk Badeaux, but
when she sees the sexy cougar again, her mating instincts return and it’s all
she can do to keep her paws off him. Despite her wariness, Monk unearths a part
of her sexuality she’d never known existed, using it ruthlessly to win her
back. Monk is hazardous to her well-being and her heart, but Kitty isn’t sure
she stands a chance against all this heat.

If you love something, set it free. Monk Badeaux did that
and suffered the consequences. When Kitty comes home, he falls head over heels
in love with the independent, no-panty-wearing woman his childhood sweetheart
has become. And she hates him. Luck is on his side when he discovers his mate
has a streak of exhibitionism he’s more than happy to exploit if it’ll bring
them closer. Alleys, school gyms, cars…no location is sacred when a cougar is
out to win his mate.

Primal Design

Danica Avet

Acknowledgments

 

I have to thank my fabulous critique partner, Avril Ashton,
for being the voice of reason when I hit the brick wall in this story. Thank
you, chica! I also need to thank Tim Gunn. He’ll probably never know who I am,
but he’s helped me get through more spots than I can name. When things get bad,
I repeat his catch phrase “make it work” and I’m able to keep working. I’m
sending a huge thank-you to my family for being so supportive and for loving me
even though I’m sometimes crabby and frequently lost in daydreams. And finally,
thank you to the wonderful people at Ellora’s Cave for making my dreams come
true.

 

Chapter One

Fifteen years ago

 

Kitty Chambers walked with an obvious spring to her step.
She couldn’t help herself. Love and happiness bubbled in her veins like
champagne. The slight tenderness between her legs was easily ignored. She had a
mate, had marked him the night before just as he’d marked her. They were going
to get married once they graduated.

Life couldn’t be more perfect.

She practically skipped through Pointe-Aux-Chat High School,
ready to see Monk this morning although she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stop
herself from blushing. The things they’d done together in the back of his car!
It was enough to make her feel a little faint, but she didn’t regret a single
second of it. She’d saved herself for the love of her life and he’d been worth
every minute of the slight pain and embarrassment from the way her slick sex
clung to him.

I love you, Kitty-Cat
, he’d whispered as he came to
rest in her.
I’m going to marry you.
Then he’d bit her shoulder. She
shivered as the mark on her skin tingled with renewed arousal. If that was what
sex with your mate was like, she couldn’t wait until they did it every single
night for the rest of their lives.

Kitty was so lost in her daydreams she nearly walked
straight into a couple of shifters who played on the football team with Monk.
They were both wolves and cute in their own way, but she’d never spared a
single glance for anyone but her boyfriend.

“Sorry,” she said with a bright smile as she moved to go
around them.

But they stepped to the side, blocking her way. The taller
one, Brady if she remembered his name right, smiled at her, a dark, strange
look on his face. “Well, hey there, Kitty-Cat,” he said in a weird tone of
voice.

She frowned. Kitty-Cat was Monk’s nickname for her. Ironic
really since he was the cougar shifter and she was a grizzly, but she didn’t
mind because it was cute coming from him. The same couldn’t be said when Brady
called her that. It made her skin crawl.

“Hey,” she mumbled, because if there was one thing Kitty had
learned in her seventeen years, it was that confrontation was not her forte. “I
have to go.”

The other wolf, Greg, put his hand on her shoulder. “Wait a
minute, we just wanted to talk for a second.”

She froze when he touched her, shocked that he dared. Most
shifters refused to come within twenty feet of a grizzly, even an overweight,
shy grizzly like herself. Yet he was touching her, his thumb rubbing in circles
that made her stomach tighten into knots.

“Don’t touch me.” She frowned at him.

Brady smiled, moving closer, bringing the scent of his wolf.
Her bear let out a subvocal growl because it couldn’t abide another male coming
so close to her. Only her mate had the privilege of entering her private space.

He held his hands up with a grin. “It’s okay, Kitty-Cat,
we’re not gonna hurt you or anything. We heard you were pretty wild in the sack
and thought we were just the wolves to tame you.”

Forget knots, she was going to throw up. She looked back and
forth between the two wolves, waiting for them to laugh and tell her they were
joking. But beneath their charming smiles she saw sexual interest and hunger.
It was a look she’d seen on Monk’s face several times, usually when they were
making out and he decided they’d gone too far. No one else ever looked at her
like that and she was glad because it made her feel dirty.

Her brain could only concentrate on their presence, not
their words. The buzzing in her ears made it hard to hear what they were
saying, but it sounded as though Monk had bragged about what they’d done. She
shook her head. That was impossible. He loved her, had told her several times
over the last two weeks as their relationship grew hotter and stronger. And
he’d bitten her to mark her as his own. He wouldn’t say something so ugly about
his own mate.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said and
stepped back. She’d just go around the hall to get to the courtyard where she
met Monk every morning. Kitty allowed her bear to rise momentarily, letting the
wolves see the grizzly in her eyes in a clear warning. “Leave me alone.”

She started back the way she’d come, but the wolves followed
closely, not touching her or saying anything, but they didn’t need to, did
they? The stares and whispers of the other students talked for them. She’d
missed it the first time because she’d been floating along in a bubble of
happiness. Nothing could touch her there, not ugly stares or words.

But now she heard everything.

No worse than a whore just like her ancestors. She comes
from a long line of prostitutes, you know.

And all this time she acted like butter wouldn’t melt in
her mouth.

If I had known all it took to get in Kitty Chambers’
pants was the promise of marriage, I’d have proposed last year.

A nasty laugh.
Yeah, although she probably wouldn’t have
given Monk such a good ride if you had. I heard him say she was tighter than a
fucking fist, man.

Dude, that’s Brady and Greg, think they’re gonna do her
together?

She blocked out the words, her heart turning to ash in her
chest. She continued walking, but she could barely feel her limbs move. The
girls she’d befriended over the years turned their backs on her, ignoring her
even as they whispered to each other. The boys, who’d never looked at her twice
because of her awkward height and shy personality, suddenly eyed her as if she
were a side of meat.

It was like walking a gantlet, the derision, contempt and
ugly lust beating at her with every step she took, but she didn’t walk any
faster and she didn’t curl her shoulders against it. Kitty Chambers was a lady
despite what everyone thought. She wouldn’t make a scene because there had to
be an explanation for this. Maybe Monk had confided in one of his best friends
and they’d embellished the story. There was no way her mate would have
purposely told anyone about what they’d done. They were getting married and her
idiotic peers would eat their words. She was so going to tell Monk who talked
ugly about her. She might not have the balls to do something about this, but he
would. Satisfied that justice would be served, Kitty continued on her way to
the courtyard.

And stopped dead in her tracks before she’d stepped outside.

Monk sat on their bench, the one they always met at to hold
hands and talk before classes. His sandy-brown hair, a little longer than
fashion dictated, caught the early-morning sunlight. It was all she could
really see of him other than his long legs and big hands because he had a girl
straddling his lap.

Kitty felt as if someone had punched her in the chest. The
wolves behind her were saying something, but she couldn’t hear them through the
wild buzzing in her ears. The hands that had caressed her so gently the night
before cupped the ass of a girl Kitty recognized as Callie Hebert. Callie was a
raven shifter, a popular girl who never made any secret of her contempt for
Kitty. And she was sitting on Monk’s lap as if she belonged there, her hands in
his hair.

There was no mistaking the sight before her as anything
other than a very heavy make-out session. In the middle of the school courtyard
with others looking on with interest.

She watched someone sitting near Monk and Callie say something,
ending their kiss. Callie looked over her shoulder in Kitty’s direction, a smug
smile on her thin, pretty face. But Kitty only had eyes for the cougar who
stared at her as if he’d never seen her before. Gone was the love, the heated
passion of the male she’d so stupidly given herself to. In the place of the
friend she’d grown up and fallen in love with was a stranger with cold green
eyes.

Callie said something and Monk shrugged, but he didn’t try
to hide what he was doing. Then, with barely another look in her direction, he
lifted one of his hands to Callie’s thick black hair and turned her toward him
for another kiss with lots of tongue. It was carnal and hot and it made Kitty
feel as though she’d been dunked in a vat of ice.

Her bear threatened to tear through her skin, to charge the
couple on the bench, to destroy every human and shifter staring at the tableau
as if it belonged on television. They all waited for her to rage. She could
smell the twisted excitement of a crowd who expected to be entertained.

But Kitty refused to become further fodder for gossip. Monk
had ruined her reputation. She didn’t know why he’d set his sights on her, on
the girl who’d been his friend since they were five, and she no longer cared.

She turned on her heel, her head held proudly, and her
shoulders back. The two wolves who’d followed her through the halls took a wary
step away from her. Maybe she wasn’t as good at hiding her rage as she thought,
but at this point it didn’t matter.

She walked down the hall to her locker, acting as though the
stares didn’t bother her. Dialing in her combination and opening the locker,
she was confronted with a picture of her and Monk they’d taken a couple of
weeks before. She’d been sitting on his lap, her arm around his neck, her
cheeks flushed with love and happiness.

That was the day she’d decided to give up her dreams of
becoming a fashion designer because Monk was needed in Maison Rouge. He was his
father’s only son, the only family Walter Badeaux had left. Kitty had respected
that and loved him even more for being loyal to his only parent. She’d let go
of her dreams for him that day because leaving Monk wasn’t an option in her
mind.

Heart still bleeding from the betrayal of giving her love
and body to Monk, Kitty wanted to rip the picture up to vent her anger, but
again, that would mean she was giving the crowd what they expected. Instead of
crumpling it up and stomping on it a few million times, she idly tugged the
picture loose from the tape it was adhered with and let it drift to the ground.
She didn’t need the books she pulled out of her locker, but she put them in her
backpack anyway, hoping she seemed casual and completely unfazed by the events
of the morning.

“Kitty?”

The soft voice caused the first tears to form in her eyes,
but she forced them away. Daisy Picou, her black bear cousin and best friend,
sounded as though she’d been crying. Kitty could understand. She, Daisy and
Monk had been friends since they were young. If she’d heard half of the rumors
floating around the school this morning, she had to be torn between her
loyalties. Kitty didn’t want that because a pissed-off Daisy meant bloodshed.

Trying to avoid her cousin ending up in another brawl, Kitty
forced her voice to sound lighthearted and airy. She turned around with a
bright smile. “Hey, Daisy, I was wondering if you wanted to go to New Orleans
this weekend. I want to look at some fabric for the dress I’m making for
graduation.”

Daisy’s brown eyes were wide with the betrayal. It made
Kitty’s heart hurt to look at her, but if she gave in to emotion now, she knew
she’d raze the school to the ground. Monk wasn’t worth life in prison. He
wasn’t worth wasting another second of her time thinking about. She pushed the
memories away and fought to ignore the burning of the mate mark on her
shoulder.

The humans and shifters gossiping about her right now didn’t
matter. Most of them would stay in Maison Rouge, marry, have babies and die
here. Not Kitty Chambers. She’d almost given up her dreams for a worthless
male. She wasn’t going to fall into that same trap. She had a future to think
about and Monk Badeaux did not factor into a single minute of it.

* * * * *

Monk prowled through the halls, the stink of Callie’s
arousal all over him. His cougar slashed at him, demanding he go find the
grizzly he’d taken as a mate, but Monk couldn’t, wouldn’t do that to her.

God, the expression on her face when she’d seen him with
Callie would haunt him for the rest of his fucking life. She’d looked as if
someone had sucker punched her, which he supposed he had. But he’d done what he
had to in order to protect her from a fate worse than a broken heart.

He looked down at his hands, at the veins pumping tainted
blood through his body. He wasn’t worthy of touching a sweet girl like Kitty
Chambers. She was too good for him. Monk only wished he would’ve known before
he’d taken their relationship that final step. There was no taking it back now
though. He’d marked her. The skin on the side of his neck tingled where she’d
marked him. His cougar accepted Kitty as its mate and it wanted her. It didn’t
care that marrying her would lead to death.

“Hey, Monk, you’re the motherfuckin’ man!” one of the guys
said in the locker room when he arrived for gym.

Not caring what they had to say, he went to his locker.

Several guys were hanging around talking. They stopped when
he showed up. They were mostly shifters, but there were a couple of humans
who’d shown they were able to take the punishment of playing shifter football.

He stripped out of his clothes, keeping his neck hidden
beneath his hair.

“Hey, uh, Monk, sooo,” Brady said in opening.

Monk glanced over. “What?”

The wolf looked nervous, but Greg nudged him in the side. He
cleared his throat. “Uh, just wondered, you know, if it’s true Kitty’s on the
market again. ’Cause, uh, if you wanted to just keep her on the side or
something while you’re with Callie, that’s cool.”

He barely kept from slashing the fucker’s throat with his
claws. The cougar wanted to kill each of the bastards hovering around him,
waiting to hear his declaration. They wanted to touch his mate. He could read
it in their eyes. Adrenaline pumped through his system, the hairs on the back
of his neck rising in challenge.

But Monk held back the rage. He couldn’t be with Kitty, he
couldn’t give her the future she deserved, the one with a loving mate who’d
become a protective father for their young. That would never be him. Ever.

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