Jungle Blaze by Sarah Mäkelä

Jungle Blaze by Sarah Mäkelä

Jungle Blaze
Amazon Chronicles, Book 3
by Sarah Mäkelä

Changeling Press

eBook BIN: 05927-01901

Eduardo, the second in command of the werepumas, has no interest in the mating going on around him, but his stern attitude is about to change when he finds what he didn’t know he was looking for — Sol.

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Chapter One

Soft moans filtered into her sleep, and Sol Rios blinked open her eyes. Drowsily, she pushed herself into a sitting position and rubbed her hands over her face. Sleep wasn’t her friend anymore. Not since her neighbor, Rubia, had mated with the werepumas’ leader.
The quiet sighs of pleasure gained intensity and became more insistent, more demanding. Her hands balled into fists.
Dampness and warmth gathered between Sol’s legs. She squeezed her thighs together against the cruel sensation.
This was crazy. She had to get away from here. Would it look too suspicious if Sol asked Adara, the Amazon Queen, if she could move her hut? Rubia and Adara were friends. Sol didn’t know if there would be a problem, but she would have to come up with a good reason, instead of just complaining about the… noise.
Once dressed, she stepped out into the night.
Darkness blanketed the village, and only a few torches here and there provided light for her to see. She headed toward the center of the village where the Amazons and werepumas held their feasts. Embers glowed hot in the fire pit. She sat beside it, enjoying the heat and the night sounds of the rainforest.
A few guards — both Amazon and werepuma — were prowling the catwalks, and one of the Amazons noticed her with a wave. She returned the kind gesture then lowered her gaze to the coals. Toasty warmth caressed her skin. She wrapped her arms around her legs, hugging them to her chest, and then rested her chin on her knees.
Movement drew her attention away from the fire pit, and she caught sight of a tall, lithe figure striding from the village’s entrance toward her. Torchlight revealed his face, and she sucked in a breath. The werepumas’ second in command. What was his name again…? Argh, she couldn’t remember.
She was thankful for the darkness; otherwise, she’d have run.
Her gaze followed him as he walked past without even looking at her. She buried her face in her legs, wishing she had what the others had. More of her people were finding their mates, yet no one paid her any attention. Especially not the man she found most attractive. He didn’t even spare her a glance.
At this rate, her womb would become barren before he even made eye contact. She shook her head, shrugging off any pity for herself. Peeking over her shoulder, she saw the pumas’ second in command standing in front of Rubia’s hut. Even from this distance, she saw tension in his posture. Maybe Rubia and the werepuma leader were still rutting like wild animals.
Sol turned away before he felt her gaze on him. Not like that would matter much. She hadn’t seen him look or talk to any of the other women aside from Adara, Rubia, and a few Amazon guards. All occasions were strictly for business.
He didn’t seem to possess much charm or charisma, just a stern, no nonsense attitude, and yet Sol couldn’t help the attraction she felt toward him. What was wrong with her?
Faint footsteps approached her from behind, but maybe he was just leaving the village again. It didn’t mean he’d have any reason to talk with her. Right? The sudden encompassing silence unsettled her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a pair of denim-clad legs. Her gaze slid up those strong legs and over his solid chest until she stared into his dark blue eyes.
A frown curved his lips, and he folded his arms over his chest. “You live in the hut next to Rubia, don’t you?”
Sol froze and looked around as if he could’ve been talking to an invisible person next to her. His irritated sigh drew her attention back to him. “Ye-yes, I do.”
He looked from her to Rubia’s hut again. “Give them a message for me when they manage to tear themselves away from each other.” Displeasure oozed from his tone.
His gaze pinned her in place, and she felt as small as an ant. At least she’d been wrong about something — her hair wasn’t gray nor her womb barren — but this wasn’t quite how she’d imagined him looking at her. In her daydreams, he’d been kind and caring, instead of like this.
Any bit of self-confidence she’d once possessed had leaked away. Her nerves shook with the force of his intimidating stare. “Message?” Her voice squeaked. Heat rose to her cheeks, but she fought back the blush.
The sexy werepuma frowned. “Yes, tell them that I –” Shaking his head, he balled one hand into a fist. “Forget it. I’ll come back tomorrow.” He walked off. Lowering his voice, he murmured, probably not thinking she’d hear, “The message probably wouldn’t reach them if I left it with her. She hardly has any backbone.”
Her heart plummeted into her gut, and she clenched her hands into fists. She barely held back her tears. “You don’t know me,” she said, her words a whisper.
The werepumas’ second stopped, and he turned just his head, looking over his shoulder and giving her a great view of his profile. His lips curled back from his teeth a little. “I have no reason to.” He strode away, leaving her sitting by the fire pit, alone.
Her emotions shuffled through hurt, humiliation, and finally settled with anger. Pulling herself to her feet, she stared after him. She had her reason for wanting to move her home now, and she’d be petitioning Queen Adara first thing tomorrow.
* * *
Eduardo clenched his fists tight. While he was adamant about distancing himself from these women, he disliked how he’d behaved with the young female. His agitation at finding Kyle, his people’s leader, and Rubia, Kyle’s mate, in the throes of passion had shot his nerves all to hell.
Ever since mating, Kyle spent more of his time with Rubia than Eduardo thought was necessary. However, Kyle had shown his ability to look after the Pride. He wouldn’t be questioning his leader… much. Not after what had happened with the Pride’s previous second in command. He grinned.
The feeling of being watched halted him. Turning to where he’d left the woman, he caught her staring at him with fire in her gaze.
Maybe he’d been wrong about her, but that didn’t mean anything. Unlike his leader, Eduardo had no interest in binding himself to an Amazon, or any other woman for that matter. He’d loved someone once, but she’d screwed him over when he needed her the most. Never again would he put himself in a position like that.
Although, now he was cursed to be a werepuma. Maybe it was fate. He wasn’t meant to be happy.
Stalking past the village’s gates and into the forest, he still wasn’t sure why Kyle had chosen him from the other werepumas as his second in command. They could barely stand each other prior to the attack on his mate, but his respect for Kyle had increased. He hadn’t thought Kyle was a good choice as their leader before, since he’d betrayed their previous leader. He had used his friendship with the weretiger to make an alliance with the Amazon women instead of backing the Pride.
Then Eduardo had realized how poor a decision their former leader had made. Kyle had earned his position, proving, if nothing else, that he had the power to rule. Jorge, the power-hungry former second in command, had filled Kyle in on the basics of leading their people. At least Jorge had accomplished one good thing while he was alive.
Eduardo rolled his eyes and stripped off his clothes. For tonight, he’d shapeshift into his puma form and sleep in a tree. He didn’t feel like trekking back to the werepuma camp when he’d need to travel back here in the morning.
He glanced up at the village’s catwalks, spotting an Amazonian guard. He slid behind a tree before she could see him. He wouldn’t shift in anyone’s view. It was his own personal hell to endure. That was how it would stay too.
Anguish radiated through him as he concentrated on reshaping his body. His bones broke, tendons and joints tore, and his skin split open, unleashing a huge, tawny beast.
He huffed when it was over, stretching his feline form, and then leapt into the tree to settle in for the night.

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