Book 4 of Taken by the Panther
All panther shifter Chay Bane had wanted was to save Tara Morland from the beast that threatened to take over her mind and body. But the deal that he was forced to take had catastrophic consequences, locking Chay and Tara in another plane while the Earth is threatened with invasion by an ancient and relentless enemy.
Can he cross space and time to save not only Tara but the world itself?
Great Balls of Fire! I am so in love with this series! Black’s imagination is astounding and is absolutely off the charts! She has once again amazed me with her exceptional talent and writing ability. She continues to build this story into a wonderful heated crescendo with a fast paced storyline and a cast of fascinating, intriguing and engaging characters. The story is original, powerful and compelling. The dialog is smart, edgy, eloquent, and flows beautifully.
All I can say is that V.M. Black blew my mind, gave me an escape and has me wanting an automatic sign up for the books so they will be auto delivered, because this author can deliver!
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Tara! Panthers, Unicorns, and Dragons oh my! It’s an amazing story and described in such detail you could be there. And of course [Black] doesn’t disappoint with another crazy ending! I LOVE this series…
And Tara stared at the unfamiliar stars through the faint glimmer of the ward and was glad that he was there, with her, and she with him.
“Why did you stay with me when I couldn’t come back?” Tara asked into the safety of the darkness.
Next to her, Chay grew very still. “What do you mean?”
“I mean…you hardly knew me. And it’s not like you’ve never been around people you couldn’t save before. Being in the military and all,” she added lamely, not wanting to admit to how much of his confessions she remembered.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess it was a lot of things. That you were a panther shifter. That you’d been dosed, made a victim. That you are absolutely gorgeous doesn’t hurt either.” His voice was light, joking, as he squeezed her slightly against his body. “When I heard your story, how you’d shifted, I don’t know, even then…I told my team I had to get you. Even though the government tried to keep you locked up, hushed up. I knew I had to save you before I even saw your picture, maybe because of all the people I couldn’t save before or maybe just because my brain was in a place that day where that’s what I latched onto.”
“That’s not much to build on,” Tara said softly.
“Isn’t it? I had to read Romeo and Juliet for high school, you know. Not that I went to school, of course. I had tutors. And that whole thing started with a guy with a crush trying to see some other girl entirely. That’s even more random.”
“It’s fiction, though,” Tara said.
“Is it?” Chay asked. “I mean, of course those things never happened, but if that kind of meeting seems so outrageous, do you really think we’d still be talking about it four hundred years later? It might not be true in the sense that it happened, but maybe it’s one of those things that are truer than reality.”
“Or maybe high school teachers have been in a rut for a few hundred years, and habits are hard to break,” she returned even as she snuggled against his shoulder. “And anyhow, I don’t like that comparison. In Romeo and Juliet, everybody dies.”
“We won’t die,” Chay said, quietly but firmly. “I won’t let us.”
Tara just shook her head. Those words, against the enormity of the night and the many things that were out there—they seemed so small, so weak.
And yet she couldn’t doubt the determination behind them, a determination that had carried them both so far already.
Chay continued, “And then after I met you.…” He trailed off. “I felt like I was meeting someone I’d known my whole life. I snooped on you, you know. To try to find out what had happened to you. Your email. Your social media accounts. And all those pictures I’d never seen before somehow already seemed familiar to me. Like there was a hole inside of me that I didn’t even know was there until you showed up. And then I kind of said to myself, ‘Oh. That’s where it’s been. It was you all along.’”
“I don’t believe in soul mates,” Tara said.
“Is that what I said it was?” Chay asked. “I don’t know. Soul mates. That sounds too much like destiny. I think soul mates require angels and trumpets. Or maybe at least one cherub, flapping around.”
Tara giggled. “Didn’t you wonder how I felt, though? If what you were doing…I mean, if there was any possibility of it being returned?”
“No,” he said flatly. “What I did, I did because I had to. If you had woken up, thanked me, and walked away, it still would have been worth it.”
“What if I hadn’t ever…woken up at all?”
“I still couldn’t have stopped myself any more than I can stop myself from breathing.”
They fell into silence for a long time until Tara finally let out a long sigh.
“I have to tell you something,” she said. “I wasn’t going to. I mean, I knew that I should, but I didn’t want to. Kept putting it off.”
“Hmm,” Chay said lightly. “You’re actually a Samoan transsexual bigamist?”
“No, amazingly, that is not the right guess,” Tara said. “Anyway, I have to tell you that I remember now what you told me. Or what you told the panther. While I was gone. It remembered somehow—I don’t know how because it didn’t understand what you said, and neither did I, then. But when I came back, the memories were waiting for me, and I…stepped into them.”
She paused, and he said nothing in the silence, so she continued. “Anyway, I know there are a lot of things that you said that maybe you don’t want me to know now, stuff that you wouldn’t have said if you knew I was coming back. And I should have told you right away. But I didn’t want to because…I didn’t want to lose you. With all those things in my head that you’d said, I just couldn’t lose you. Because I knew who you were then. And you’re too special to risk. Even if it meant hiding things from you.”
She ran out of words and lay in his arms in complete silence for a moment. Finally, lamely, she finished. “I’m sorry, Chay. Please don’t hate me now.”
His arms tightened around her, and he shifted his body so that they were face to face. “Bae girl, I could never hate you. You have nothing in the world to be sorry for.”