Excerpt for The Lion’s Secret Love - Book Six of The Masters of the Cats Series by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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The Lion’s Secret Love: Book Six of the Masters of the Cats series © 2017 Trinity Blacio

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

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Digital ISBN: : 978-1-62601-374-2

Print ISBN: : 978-1-62601-375-9

First Edition May 2017

Chapter One

Kitty!” River yelled, looking over his shoulder as the syrup dripped down his face. “That was my favorite cap. Come here, Opal.” He pointed to a spot next to him by the front door of her room.

She shook her head. “You’re leaving and not coming back, I know it. I see things. You’re going to leave me. I’ll be alone again. I should have never let you touch me. I fucked up, but it won’t happen anymore. I won’t be here whenever you’re done.”

Her last words echoed in his head as he watched from afar the reception of her friend’s wedding.

He’d helped raise Talhrn, his son of the heart, needing the contact. Not only had he, a cold-blooded creature, warmed over the years with his secret visits to Earth, he now craved the touch of her warm hands on his skin. Their love had his blood boiling to the point where he had to go to the Tomash and ask to be made a permanent a warrior. River, his Earth name, only hoped Opal Vanberth, Kitty to him, would accept him back into her arms and that her true mates would welcome him into their Kith.

After all, he’d disappeared so long ago on her. It was time. Glancing once more at the woman of his heart, he left the planet Earth, going to ask for this privilege. The warriors would need his help if they were to save Earth, and River knew he couldn’t wait to be the brunt of his Opal’s pranks, which he missed so much.

* * *

Opal stared out the window of her London hotel room while sipping her cup of coffee. Christmas music played in the background as her newly adopted daughters reading and ate the Chinese takeout she had ordered for supper in the outer room.

She was in hiding. Rhodes and Zanger were looking for her, but she didn’t care. The pain was still fresh, like it was yesterday when he, River had walked out of her life, giving no reason he had to leave.

His voice alone made her melt; one touch of his hand on her skin and she was liquid. But all of that was gone now. She was done with men, period. Opal glanced down at her stomach and shivered, remembering the attack.

Not only had Maya’s crazy relatives adopted Opal, but she was also family somehow, she just didn’t understand. She couldn’t even remember much about her childhood, only flashbacks, and none of them were pretty.

Sure, Opal always made everyone laugh, but that was only to hold everyone at arm’s length. No one needed to know her pain or her self-doubt.

The wedding had been beautiful even though she could have sworn someone had been watching her—someone aside from the jerks who kept following her.

At the age of 65 in human years, Opal was still considered young, but she felt as if she had lived three lifetimes.

She pulled her hair up into a bun on top of her head, using one of the pins she had made to use in case of an attack.

“Mommy Opal, your food is getting cold,” Dana said, knocking on the door. Opal smiled, remembering when the two girls told her they wanted to call her by that.

“I’ll be right there, baby,” Opal called before taking another sip of her coffee, and sliding on the funny pajamas she’d bought for herself. After all, it was funny pajama night. She laughed as she wiggled her feet in the footies of the pajama pants and headed for the door.

One thing was for sure, she already loved her two little girls. Her panther inside her also had formed a bond with them, recognizing them as her cubs. Opal would make sure their life together was a stable one filled with love.

She opened her bedroom door and groaned at the sight of Zanger and Rhodes. How the hell did they get into the apartment without her knowing? She frowned and looked at the girls. She was going to have to have a serious talk with them.

Both men stood there in their own versions of funny pajamas. She had to admit they were damn handsome even in the outrageous outfits.

“We heard there was a pajama party here and we came bringing a peace offering. Plus, Kirk here heard about your pajama party and demanded we come.” Rhodes held up a gallon of double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream with peanut butter syrup and wiggled it back and forth.

Her one weakness was ice cream. Opal moaned, her cat pushing forward, wanting to mate with the two in front of her. But then her gaze dropped to the little boy who had to be about four who stood behind the two men. She had seen him following her earlier.

“Fine, you can stay, but only for a couple of hours,” Opal grumbled, already tasting the ice cream treat. The little boy’s dark green eyes seemed to draw her in. She knelt in front of him as her cat screamed inside her and clawed to get out. She recognized her own child, but Opal couldn’t remember having a child. How could she?

“How old are you, Kirk?” she asked, holding out her hand to the child who held on to Rhodes and Zanger’s legs. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

“You’re my Mommy. You left me.” The hurt in his little voice had her falling back on her butt as the men knelt and Rhodes handed the ice cream to Dana.

“Kirk, what do you mean she’s your mommy?” Rhodes asked, sounding totally confused as he rubbed the boy’s back.

“They told me Mommy didn’t want me,” he said. “That I was bad, deformed.”

“How old are you, sweetie?” she asked as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Zanger looked at her. “He’s 11 in Earth years, but as a cat, he’s a baby. Is he your boy?” he demanded, almost accusing.

All she could hear was pounding, until she looked over to see her sister Lacey, kneeling next to her and holding on to her. Lacey was furious, Opal could feel Lacey’s cat close to the surface as fur brushed her arm.

Lacey glared at the two men who had come into her rooms. “I don’t care if I’m in the cage for a fucking week. If they ever accuse any of my cats of anything like this, I’ll rip their fucking heads off, Isaac.” Lacey’s told her mate as her fur brushed against her again; both of their cats wanted blood, but for different reasons.

“Stop,” Opal finally managed to get out. All the yelling ceased and they turned their attention to her. “I can’t remember 11 years ago. Years of my life were torn from me after River left. If Kirk and my cat say he’s my son, it’s possible. I was only with one man, one of my mates, River. God, Lacey, what did they do to me?” she cried and buried her face into her sister’s shoulder, crying. “I didn’t know.”

“Opal, look at me, sweetheart,” Zanger said. “I’d like to apologize. Please look at me?” he asked as Lacey growled in her ear. Her sister would be a wonderful mother.

Opal’s head snapped up and she looked around. “Where are my children? My God, I could have endangered my children.” She pulled out of Lacey’s arms, searching for them.

“Calm down, Opal. All three kids are in the bedroom playing that TV game thing,” Maya stated, coming into the room. “And you were protecting all three of them when we came in. Even though you broke down, your cat didn’t. It did scare Kirk a little when you grabbed him and shoved him into Dana’s arms, but the two girls reassured him you were protecting him.”

“What I want to know is how a person can lose a year of her life. This is not good,” Akaos stated, pacing. He turned and looked at her.

Her natural defense mechanisms kicked in and Opal jumped up and backed away, growling at him. Big, strong arms pulled her into a tight hug.

“Easy, Opal, he’s just upset at this new threat,” Rhodes said behind her, calming her cat but making the lady in his arms nervous. “But he better back down now.”

“We have too many in here. Everyone clear out! And Lacey, that means you too. Rhodes, Zanger, I expect a report tomorrow, and don’t leave her alone. If she can’t remember how they got to her, I don’t want her by herself in case something else happens,” Isaac ordered, coming over and staring down at her.

“You know they are your mates. They’ll protect you. But please, for the sake of the other women here, try and remember what happened. If this threat can appear anywhere, we are in big trouble.” Isaac leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “You can do this, Opal. Of all my cats, you are one of the strongest-willed, next to my woman.” He held out his hand, and Lacey placed her hand into his and stepped up next to him.

“Remember, I’ll always be here for you. All of us are,” Lacey said to her and glared at the two men behind her. “Don’t make me rip your faces off. Be good to my sister.”

Opal hated being the center of attention. She watched everyone leave and slid out of Rhodes’ arms, knowing she was only able to because he was allowing her to escape. Opal went to the bedroom door and placed her hand on the doorknob. She shook with fear, knowing she needed to face her son.

Both men came up behind her and placed their hands on her shoulders.

“We’ll do this together. You will never be alone again,” Rhodes told her.

She snorted. “I’ve heard that before from Kirk’s father,” she said, looking over her shoulder at him. “But I have a feeling he’ll be back,” she said, then opened the door to the bedroom, not wanting any more questions right now.

All three of her children turned, staring up at her. Dana hurried to her and hugged her tight, followed by Ana.

“We knew you wouldn’t hurt us. Are you okay?” Dana asked, moving back as Kirk came up to them slowly.

“You really didn’t know, did you?” he asked.

Opal sat on the ground and looked at the boy who looked so much like River it hurt. “No, I didn’t know. If I would have known, I would have found you sooner, I promise. Your father, River, will be very upset you were taken away from me, just as I am. But you’re here now and I won’t allow anything to happen to you again, and neither will your other two daddies.” She indicated Rhodes and Zanger behind her.

“Come sit down, Dana, Ana, Kirk?” She held out her hand and he came to her and sat in her lap. “We are a family now, but I need you to promise that if you are ever scared, you’ll come to me or your fathers behind me.”

All three children nodded.

“Good, now we have ice cream to eat. Who’s ready?” she asked, earning squeals from all of them.

Chapter Two

Wanderer now understood emotions, and right now he was furious. The council had taken eleven Earth years to come up with their verdict, not to mention the consequences he personally had to pay for visiting Earth as a warrior when he hadn’t been one.

He held out his hand. The markings and burns on it were still healing after six months. The council had stripped all of his gifts save for the ability to call the Tomash. He was now a full warrior, ranking close to his own son, Talhrn. He had their speed, build and their ability to shift into whatever form they would need to help them adjust to their surroundings.

Stepping into the elevator, River slid the card that materialized in his hand into the reader. It would let him into the penthouse where his son and his family were now eating a breakfast before going back to America. His family had been back to their home on Earth, over six months. River needed the next couple of days to get his head back into being a living thing with warm blood.

The door opened and Marquis and Todd stood there waiting for him, while Talhrn pushed his woman and children into the room behind him.

“There is no need to hide your family, son. After all, I do believe I’m their grandfather. Is that the right term Earth people use?” River asked.

Everyone stopped and stared at him. Talhrn moved forward. “Dee, stay where you are. How do I know who you are and why this?” Talhrn pointed to his human body.

“When you were small, you always had a thing for puzzles. I don’t know how many I had to make up to keep your mind busy. Then there was the one animal you kept as a pet. What was his name, Terk? Mind you, this was a rodent that my son would feed when his food was prepared.”

Dee laughed and Talhrn shook his head. “Why are you here? Like this?” Talhrn stepped up to him and hugged him. “I’ve always wanted to do that,” he said, stepping back, and River pulled him back for another hug.

“And I always wanted to hold you too, but I wasn’t allowed, and for that I’m sorry. I’ve asked the council to allow me to join you in the battle coming your way.”

“How long will they allow you to be here, to help us?” Talhrn asked as Dee moved to his side.

“I am like you Talhrn for good. There is no going back, and I wouldn’t want to.” He looked over at Talhrn’s kith. “I have a kith now and plan to join them if you will allow me to travel with you back to the United States. That’s what they call it, right? I’m surprised you didn’t follow them after the wedding.”

“Come in, please. Sit. Join us for breakfast. We had some loose ends to tie up here, to make sure the paperwork was done and those homes destroyed.” Dee growled. “Sorry, I just thought of those assholes and what they did to all those children,” she said as she touched his arm. “I’m glad you’re here. Talhrn has spoken about you a number of times. Marcus, get that extra chair out of the other room and tell the children to come in and meet their grandfather.”

For the next 30 minutes, River experienced many conflicting emotions as he gazed out at the city below him while waiting for the children to get ready for their trip.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” his son asked, coming to stand next to him.

“I was here 11 years ago, needing what you have. I found the one I would spend the rest of my life with, but it took the council till now to allow me to come back. I was at the wedding when they reached the decision, but just telling me and dishing out my punishment took them six months.” He glanced down at his arm and knew his back was still healing also.

“Damn, are you okay?” his son asked looking down at the burns.

“I’ll survive. I only hope my kith will accept me, especially her. I’m afraid I hurt her when I left. I really didn’t think the council would make me wait so long.” He glanced at Talhrn. “I now know they only allowed me to return because of the threat coming to Earth. I am their eyes and ears still, even though I won’t have the gifts or power I had before.”

“How bad is this threat? What are we looking at?” Talhrn asked.

“I’ll explain it all when we gather your men. I’ll also have the six’s assignment that must go. I’m not going to lie to you. I have no idea how this is going to come about.”

“Do I need to pull my warriors from other places? Wait, you were here on Earth and you have Kith? Who?” Talhrn asked.

River smiled. “Her name is Opal. She does have a mean streak. I’ve witnessed it firsthand 11 years ago, but then again, she was right. I didn’t get back to her right away.”

River looked at Talhrn. At first, he just stood there shocked, but then he threw his head back laughed so hard that wet things came out of his eyes.

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