She has a future to decide on.…
Mischief Jones—Missy to her friends—has never taken the easy route in life. She turned down a full ride to a four-year school to attend her local college because it kept her close to Nene, the woman who raised her. A fosterling, she knows better than to share her secrets, and she has choices to make for her uncertain future, but the TA in her history class challenges and fills her with wary interest every time they meet.…
Nature made him a leader.…
Cade Hayes has a mission, and the last thing he expected to find on the tiny college campus was a mongrel—shifters of dubious parentage and mixed blood. But the mountain lion can’t deny the provocative nature of her scent or the allure to stalk her and make her his. He should drive her away; her presence threatens his claim for territory and his pride needs land, but he rapidly discovers he hungers to take this mongrel for a mate.…
In a fight to survive…will a mountain lion tame a liger?
What readers are saying:
Mischief, Mongrels and Mayhem put a new twist on shifter books, following Missy, a college student, who believes she is the only one who turns into a large cat.
First off I have to say I loved the name of our heroine liger shifter Mischief Jones. Missy is strong, smart and has earned the right to be comfortable in her own skin even if she is only 19.
Mischief Jones padded along the outcropping to the edge and sprawled on the sun-warmed rock overlooking Lake Mary. The picturesque setting wasn’t lost on her, but she flexed her claws and lowered her head. Eyes closing to mere slits, she soaked up the heat. No morning classes meant she could afford a nap after her hunt. A murmur of voices drifted toward her—hikers on one of the trails below. Mother and daughter. They were arguing.
Flicking her tail, she listened to their debate. The daughter wanted her mother to butt out of her romantic life. Mom’s disapproval of the boyfriend was the least of her issues—which she seemed intent on detailing as they continued their hike. Home to some of the best hiking trails in the region, the lake area offered an increasing level of difficulty higher up toward Lake Catherine. This late into autumn, the weather turned cool and the air crisp, but—on sunny days like today—perfect for hiking.
Mom wanted her daughter to pursue admission to a different college than her boyfriend, to put her education first. The daughter wasn’t remotely interested in the argument. Though Missy couldn’t see them, she could almost hear the girl rolling her eyes at her mother. Having had a similar argument with Nene ten months before, and every month since, she understood the girl’s feelings.
Still, Missy hadn’t elected to enroll at Wasatch College for a boy. She’d done it because Nene—the best foster mother she’d ever known—lived here. Nene, who knew her secret and protected and loved her anyway. No, she wasn’t going to take advantage of some scholarship offer to Princeton. Too much city and too far away from home.
She was satisfied with attending Wasatch College and prowling the mountains away from hunters, vehicles, and trouble. Soon, snow would blanket their valley. Winter had already begun in the higher elevations.
As the hikers moved farther away, Missy let the sun lull her into a doze. Her internal clock had always been pretty accurate, so when she heard the faint vibration of her cell phone, she knew only an hour had passed. Rousing, she dragged herself off the rock and leapt down. Her backpack and clothes were stowed in a safety crate tucked beneath the rock—out of sight and out of the elements.
After one long stretch, she began the shift. Fifteen minutes later, still panting, she dragged her clothes out of the backpack and dressed. She shoved her feet into the abused and scuffed tennis shoes before fishing her phone out and checking her missed calls.
One from Nene. No message. A minute later the phone buzzed again with a text message.
Breakfast. I have to take a group up later today. Meet me in twenty.
Plenty of time to run down the trail. She texted back an acknowledgment and shoved the phone in her pocket. Backpack over her shoulder, she leapt up onto the rock, scanned the area, and then dropped the fifteen feet to the trail below.
Cats always landed on their feet—whether they ran on two or four. Taking off at a jog, she followed the track downward. Breakfast with Nene and afternoon classes served as an excellent capper to a long night, ending in a satisfying hunt and a morning snooze under the sun.
Her life was perfect.
Three hours later, she sailed into world history class, still riding her good mood. Though the fall semester, she had amassed over a dozen credits into her degree track thanks to summer courses. Choosing a seat near the top in the back, she dropped her book bag, swung her legs up to rest on the writing table, and flipped open the reading. Last week, Professor Burke had spent the first hour of his three-hour class lecturing the reading material. She’d drifted to sleep in a sunbeam slanting from one of the high windows.
Their homework had been to finish reading the first era chapters focusing on the foundations of human history, thirteen billion to two hundred thousand years ago. Human history…. Unfortunately, nothing in the chapters answering, How did we get here, anyway? covered Missy’s personal questions. Not that she’d expected to find a chapter on humans who became large, unspecified cat species not native to the United States. But what the hell, it had been worth a chance.
Students filtered in by ones, twos, and sometimes threes. Gradually, the classroom filled. She’d counted more than a hundred students the previous week, but there were seats for twice the number in the lecture hall. Reading, she’d turned the page a half-dozen times when she glanced up to find the professor still hadn’t arrived.
Restlessness invaded the room, and more than one student glanced at the clock on the wall. Eight minutes past the hour. Another two minutes and they could exit without fear of an absence.
At the nine-minute mark, the door opened and the collective groaning sigh had her curving her lips in amusement. So close and yet….
Masculine scent, large and dangerous, curled around her, and she straightened. A man stood in the doorway, his back to the class. Longish, deep-brown hair brushed his shoulders. Despite the casual style, his shirt couldn’t hide the rippling bulge of muscle in his arms, and the cotton strained over his back. His jeans were well-worn blue denim, the fabric snug across his ass.
More than she noticed. A healthy dose of lust perfumed the air, but she experienced a far more visceral reaction—one of territorial invasion. Her claws sliced out on her right hand, and she covered the physical reaction with the other. It had been years since she’d shifted where anyone might see. Her control had been perfected and refined over a harsh winter after she turned fourteen and, if not for Nene…. No, she cut off the train of thought.
The man in the doorway turned and entered the class. No hesitation marked his movements as he strode to the front and the lectern. Fisting her hand, she concentrated on retracting her claws. Thankfully, her vision didn’t waver, which meant her eyes hadn’t gone cat.
As good looking as he’d been from the back, he was downright delicious from the front. A hard jaw and the harsh angles of his cheekbones gave him a rough, dangerous appearance, and his eyes…. As if sensing her scrutiny, he turned his attention toward her, and she swore a sizzle and pop of electricity zinged her like static in winter.
She dipped her gaze to the book and pretended an interest she no longer felt, but the weight of his gaze stayed on her for several long heartbeats.
The moment passed, and she let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
“Good afternoon.” Deep, accentless, and panty-wetting smooth, his voice rolled over her. “I’m Cade Hayes and I’m Professor Burke’s teaching assistant, or TA. I’ll be handling this class. So, let’s get started.” Command filled every syllable, and the restless class settled, their attention riveted on Cade.
God, even his name was sexy. She couldn’t stop staring, though she tried to turn her attention to the book in her lap.
“This unit sets the stage for the beginnings of the human story.” Feline amusement softened his mouth, and her heart did a drop beat against her ribcage.
Cade Hayes was a feline.
Raising her chin, Missy stared, and his gaze collided with hers. Fighting the urge to retreat, she studied him.
“Homo sapiens—or at least those we refer to as the anatomically modern human—emerged in Africa around seven million to two hundred thousand years ago as one of the more dominant evolutionary lines of primates.” The others in the class seemed to fade away. Cade focused on her as he recounted the tale of humanity. “It was during this period humans acquired distinctive features, notably large brains relative to body mass, relatively small teeth and chewing muscles, and the ability to walk upright, make tools, and adapt to contrasting environments. The biological underpinnings of other human characteristics also evolved, in particular the capacity for complex problem solving, symbolic thought, and language….”
Lost in the lyrical recitation of humanity’s “story,” Missy didn’t notice the passing of time. Suddenly, the three hours were up, and he was telling them to begin work on an assignment for the following week.
The students rose and flooded down the steps. Several surrounded him, but she shoved her book into the backpack and slung it over the shoulder. She made it down the steps and out the door before giving in to the temptation to talk to Mr. Cade Hayes. The hairs on her nape stood—and she spared a glance behind her.
Cade stood in the doorway and stared in her direction. Picking up the pace, she didn’t quite run, but she made it out the main doors and down the stone steps. Thankfully, landscaping on the campus meant tall hedges, heavy, fat trees, and lots of ground cover. She rushed through the six-foot hedges, ignoring the brambles scratching her bare arms. Across the empty green to the first tree and cleared a second branch by the time Cade hit the top of the steps.
Freezing, she crouched and scanned the area. His nostrils flared and humanity surged out, breaking to pass him like water around a boulder. Why she wanted to run from the first feline she’d ever met, she couldn’t quite understand—but every instinct she possessed said avoid him, and she trusted her gut.
He turned, his gaze passed over her tree, and a smile curved his lips. She wanted to swear because he left the steps and walked in her direction.
Son of a bitch…now what?