Winter Heat

Chapter 1

I’m sitting next to an exotic male dancer! Liz Song whispered into her cell phone. It was a lie. She sat between an elderly man in his seventies wearing teal argyle socks and an exhausted mother of four. The O’Hare airport waiting area was overstuffed with people delayed because of the terrible winter storm booming overhead. Liz was currently killing time her own way by lying to her best friend. He wants me to take him along on my fantasy ski weekend.

Is he blonde? Sarah asked.

Bleached, Liz answered, unable even in her lies to have a full fantasy.

Then you’re better off dumping him. You deserve only the 100% real thing.

Liz laughed, but her voice must have sounded strained because her best friend abruptly turned serious. Are you really all right? Was the funeral awful?

I’m fine, Liz answered, wondering if it was a lie. I’m about to go on a free ski weekend. What could be better? She kept the melancholy out of her voice. First her mother’s best friend Marta had died from a stroke, then her Aunt Ting Wuwho was supposed to be joining her on this fabulous free ski weekendbecame ill and had to cancel. That left Liz sitting in O’Hare feeling lost and alone, hence the elaborate fantasy of exotic male dancers willing to run away with her.

Are you wearing the dress she sent? Sarah asked.

Liz grimaced as she shifted in the tight silk. I don’t know why I specifically had to wear this thing while I’m flying.

Because you look fabulous in it? Sarah shot back. Exotic male dancers don’t just hit on anybody, you know.

Liz smiled and tried not to tug at the ornate hair comb of a tigress and dragon at play. I don’t think Auntie Ting meant for me to wear this in an airport waiting area. Do you know what trouble I had getting this through security? Another lie. In truth, the jade comb was stone and so hadn’t even raised eyebrows.

She said your energy connected to earth, wind, and whatever today.

My qi was in full blossom, Liz corrected. It means I’m extra sexual today and…

And guys are going to flock to you like horn-dogs! Sarah shot back with glee.

Liz grimaced at the image. Yeah! she said with false enthusiasm. She didn’t add the extra instruction from her aunt. Even Sarah didn’t know what Liz was supposed todo with whatever man picked up her today.

Well, whatever, Sarah continued. It’s your own fault that you didn’t fly out a day early to take full advantage of the outfit at a fancy resort.

I had to teach this morning.

The kindergartners would have survived without you.

Actually, she confessed into the phone, I feel very strange in this outfit. It makes me feel

Beautiful? Sexy? Exciting?

Deceitful, she answered.

Go on with your bad girl self! Sarah squealed.

Liz rolled her eyes. It’s just so different from my usual jumper with big pockets. It’s like I’m a real adult again, but I haven’t a clue what do.

It’s like riding a bike, Liz. Just give it a shot.

Liz twisted awkwardly in her seat. Did she tell? Did she confess that she was toying with more than a return to sensual adulthood. That she was, in fact, exploring something a great deal bigger? A total career, total personality change from boring kindergarten teacher to a sexual goddess the likes of which few men or women understood?

Um, Sarah, have you ever heard of tigresses?

You mean like female tigers?

I mean like the Asian sexual goddesses who live on a remote island of Hong Kong.

Squee! Sarah laughed. Is this some book you’re reading?

Liz swallowed and looked out toward the blustering snow. Um, yeah, she lied. The truth was that these women were real, and her aunt was one of them. The very same aunt who had sent her the outfit, comb, and strict instructions to get down with the first man who intrigued her today. Well, you see, there’s this girlwoman actuallyand she wants to make a big change in her life. She wants to become

A sex goddess! Oooh, this is you, Liz. All the way, you just have to do it!

Yeah, but can you imagine doing it for real? I mean sex with a stranger, seduction as an art form? She still couldn’t believe that her aunt was a modern day geisha. But it’s more than just sex. It’s Tantrism and I don’t know

You’re over thinking Liz. Funerals always do that to me, too. Just do it, Liz. All of it.

And right there was the crux of it. Could she throw over everything she’d ever thought and believed she was in order to become so much more? Maybe. For a weekend at least. All righty, then, she said, her courage growing along with her words. As of this moment, I’m leaving crayons and dinosaurs behind. I’m a tigress! Or a cub. Novices were called cubs.

You go girl!

I’m a wild woman. And now I’m going to strut my stuff with that dancer!

Go! Go! Go!

Bye! She clicked her cell phone off and stood up to go strut her way…to the bathroom, then maybe the bookstore. Yeah, she thought dryly, she was in for a wild, happening weekend.

# # #

Matt Walker blinked as the tigress wandered through the bookstore. It couldn’t possibly be true. Why would the practitioner of an ancient Chinese Tantric cult be here, wending her way through an O’Hare gift shop?

Then again, why not? Though tigresses lived on a remote island of Hong Kong, they had to get men somewhere, didn’t they? And a tigress could be caught in the middle of a winter storm just like anybody else. He just never expected to see one face to face. They were notoriously reclusive. Apparently, their beauty and their sexual skills made them a target for every horny man and woman on the planet.

He wandered deeper into the bookshop giving a casual wave to the clerk. There were hundreds of TSA agents working in O’Hare, but he was higher up on the food chain that most. And he was certainly the only high level manager who frequented the bookstore, so he was well known here. Meanwhile, his gaze followed the sensuous Chinese woman as she strolled idly through the narrow aisle.

She fit the legend, all right: long silky black hair, flawless Asian skin, and a silk chong san that hugged every curve. She didn’t move like a walking seduction, and the huge purse she carried didn’t fit the image, but she was still beautiful. There was an expressive innocence in the way she smiled while scanning the children’s section, an unstudied serenity that surrounded her as she knelt down to pick up spilled picture books.

It was all an act, of course. According to legend, these women studied sexual personas like a compulsive gambler studied the racing stats. Her innocence was designed to snare men like him who were drawn to mom and apple pie womenall wrapped in an exotic Chinese package too beautiful to ignore.

He curled his lip, uninterested in a mirage, no matter how beautiful. He was about to turn away when she stood up and he caught a flash of the comb in her hair. He narrowed his eyes. It wasn’t possible. She couldn’t really be advertising here, could she? But there it was: a tigress and a dragon locked in carved copulation, the definitive sign of a tigress on the prowl. Or was it the other way around? He couldn’t remember. It didn’t matter; just showing the comb meant something. He studied the woman’s face. She didn’t look like a seductress, like a woman looking for a man to milk, and yet…

He caught her eye. It was a brief look; a casual exchange of glances from strangers. And at that moment, he saw a flash of flirtation, a whisper of daring, and something else. Longing? He stared harder, but then she turned away. She didn’t move fast, but she was definitely walking away.

He followed her without thought. Excuse me, miss, he said.

She turned and looked at him slowly, her dark eyes revealed by micro-millimeters through exotically slanted eyes.

I’m Matt Walker, TSA agent. He flashed his badge out of habit. She didn’t even look at it. I’d like a word with you, if I may.

Is there a problem? She looked vaguely flustered. Even knowing that it was an act, his groin thickened. The way her skin took on the slightest rose tone and her lips parted was tailor made to stir a man’s lust.

He kept his tone professional as he ushered her out of the bookstore. This way, please. He wasn’t sure what he intended. He just wanted to talk to the woman. A real live tigress in Illinois? What were the odds? The opportunity to learn about her religion and culture might never come again.

For example, how could a cult of sexually promiscuous women survive in the repressive Chinese society? Not only survive, but thrive for centuries! And did they really believe that taking a man’s sexual emissions were akin to taking their yang energytheir male power? If she mixed it with her female yin, would it lead to immortality?

His questions were endless, and yet as he watched her walk beside him, his thoughts were far from academic. His hands itched to stroke the soft silk that shaped her breast. The span of her hips was slender, and yet wide enough to cradle a man. And how exactly had she managed to turn his thoughts down that route with just a single sidelong glance?

In here, please, he said, ushering her into the most secluded place he knew: an interrogation chamber in a currently unused area of Terminal 4. Thankfully, it wasn’t far from the bookstore. The room was stark with only two chairs and a table, the walls an intimidating scuffed white. Even worse, he shielded the window so that it was just him and her. If he meant to seduce her, this was the least-romantic place in the world. If he meant to relax her, to talk to her as a friend so that he could learn about her history and beliefs, this was the exact wrong approach. So what exactly was he doing? It wasn’t like him to act so illogically.

He gestured her to a seat, his attitude bordering on cold. And as her eyes widened in shock at their location, he abruptly realized what he was doing. He was going to interrogate her. Why? Because despite her appearance, he really couldn’t believe that a Hong Kong tigress was on the prowl in O’Hare.

It wasn’t something she had doneexactly. It was more a gut feel that went all the way to his bones. She was not a tigress. She was not a sex goddess, if such a thing existed, and yet every thought in his mind turned to lust. Something was very wrong here, and that made it his job as head of TSA security in this terminal to find out exactly what.

He started by pretending kindness. Please, take a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Tea, maybe?

Am I in some kind of trouble? Her voice wavered with anxiety as she delicately settled in the chair. Her purse clunked to the ground.

His groin tightened. He couldn’t stop staring at the way her silk skirt outlined her bottom while the side slit split open right up her thigh. He swallowed, feeling unsettled by his own reactions. So he slipped into what he was most familiar with: suspicion and interrogation. He smiled with false reassurance. If you give me your flight information, I’ll make sure you don’t miss boarding.

She frowned. My flight’s been delayed by the storm. Why am I here, officer?

The tigress showed her claws. He smiled. That’s a beautiful comb in your hair, he said slowly. Rather provocative, don’t you think?

He watched her eyes widen and her hand liftedpresumably to touch the combbut then she froze, her gaze slipping around the room. You’re not really a TSA agent, are you?

Yes, ma’am, I am.

You’re not dressed in any uniform.

He pulled out his badge and set it on the table, even tapped on his full title. Then as she picked it up, he strolled behind her, looking at her from all sides. Up close, her comb appeared every bit the real thing. On sudden impulse, he reached out and plucked it out of her hair. She gasped in surprise as her black hair tumbled down her back.


He stepped around her other side, holding up the comb directly in front of her eyes. I know about tigresses, he said, his voice dropping low into his throat. I know what this means. He twisted the comb in just the right way. If this comb was a fake, he’d break it in half and he would owe this woman a huge apology and a new jade comb. But if he was right…

With a barely audible click, the tigress and the dragon slipped apart, separating neatly into two pieces. It was the real thing, but she couldn’t be a real tigress, could she? The very idea still felt too off, especially as she stared at the comb with every appearance of shock.

How did you know? she whispered.

He smiled slowly. Like I said, I know about tigresses. He held the tigress half out to her. I know that this comb in your hair means you’re on the prowl for a green dragonan untrained man. And that any man who captures your comb will…um…get the benefit of your expertise. He arched his brow in challenge.

She took the tigress from his hand, but he didn’t release it. Instead, he held it still as her tiny hand fluttered against his. Was she nervous? Or just playing nervous? Her expression seemed mixed halfway between wonder and fear.

Then she abruptly smiled. You’re a real blonde, aren’t you?

He blinked, thrown by the non-sequitur. One hundred percent, he answered as he released her half of the comb to her. Looking to expand your yang store with a blonde? I had heard that tigresses like to experience all types of male energy in all types of ways.

She arched a brow in challenge. You’re the expert on tigresses. You tell me.

He leaned forward far enough to smell her hair. He scented an exotic mix of lavender and spice that went straight to his groin. He ignored it, his gaze searching her face, watching closely for clues. I think you’re a liar, he said coldly.

She flinched, but to her credit, she didn’t run. Instead, she lifted her chin. I was in a bookstore minding my own business. You’re the TSA agent who dragged me in here, broke my comb

It’s not broken

And now you’re calling me names. I think you’re the fraud. Or worse. And with that, she pushed out of her chair and headed for the door.

He paced her, moving fast enough to stop just beside the door. She still had free access to the exit, but she’d have to walk by him to get out. You’re right, of course, he said casually as she paused. I’m not on duty right now, so technically, I have no authority to bring you in here like this. But I am TSA and in charge of this little branch of O’Hare. And I am very interested in you.

She arched a brow at him, her expression cool. This close to her, he could see the rapid beat of the pulse in her throat. She wasn’t as sanguine as she appeared. Because you know I’m a tigress, she mocked. Or maybe because you can’t get a date any other way.

How did you get the comb? He held up the dragon half of the piece. Did you steal it? She could be a high-class thief. That would explain why things felt off with her.

I didn’t steal it! It was given to me! Her hand shot out, faster than he thought possible. She almost grabbed it from him, but he was faster.

Of course it was, he mocked. Oh wait, I thought tigresses didn’t give their tokens away. Certainly not this kind. He tapped the cool jade against his lips. It’s too provocative.

It’s a comb! she huffed.

It’s a signal, he answered. You would know that if you were a real tigress. He leaned in tighter to her, letting her heat and her scent wash over him. It burned in his blood and stiffened his dick. Wouldn’t it be great if she was a tigress? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience the ultimate in anonymous sexual delight just once in his life? But that was lust talking, not his logical, dispassionate brain that told him he wasn’t that lucky.

Please give me my comb back. You have no right to keep it or to interrogate me this way. Her voice remained strong, but the timber had dropped, becoming more husky. Could she be getting turned on?

You can leave at any time. The door’s open, and I have no legal way to hold you.

Give me back my comb.

According to tigress rules, I have staked my claim. You have to give me something to get it back.

She arched a single brow. Real tigresses do not come that cheaply.

He doubted she meant the double entendre, but his lust certainly heard it. And his imagination lost no time in working out all sorts of ideas on how to make her come. He shook his head, his brain starting to fuzz out from lust. Maybe I just want information. How did you get the comb?

It was a gift from my aunt.

Quite a gift.

I’m her favorite niece, she returned. And when he arched a brow at her, she simply shrugged. The movement was stiff, but in that outfit, he didn’t focus on her anxiety. He watched every shift and wiggle of her beautiful breasts.

He forced his gaze back to her face. Where did your aunt get the comb?

She lifted her chin. I didn’t ask. She just told me to wear it today.

A signal then, but not for sex. An exchange of some kind? It happened all the time, especially in O’Hare, the busiest airport in the world. Who was supposed to meet you? What were you supposed to give them?

She blushed: a real rosy blush and turned her golden skin passionate red. And with that blush came the certain knowledge that he was right. He repressed a sigh. She was nothing more than a common mule.

Who? he pressed. Who were you supposed to meet?

She swallowed, and her eyes grew heavy lidded. A man, she whispered.

Progress. He leaned in closer. She had backed up against the door, one hand still clutching the doorknob, but her own body position prevented her from opening it. Were you supposed to tell the man something?

She shook her head, her eyes huge and her lips moist.

Were you supposed to give him something?

Again, she shook her head.

Then what?

I’m supposed to let him kiss me. On the wrist. She held up her left arm weakly.

He stared at her. She’d gone red from the tips of her ears all the way to the line of her collar, and probably beyond. He took hold of her arm and inspected it, lifting her delicate wrist to the light. All he saw was creamy skin, the thin tracery of veins, and of course the rosy blush that probably heated every inch of her body.

Is it laced with drugs?

She stiffened. I don’t even wear perfume!

He lifted her wrist, excruciatingly aware of his vulnerable position. As he leaned down to sniff, he exposed the back of his neck and his side to any number of body blows. But she didn’t move, and her one hand was still trapped behind her on the doorknob. If she were going to fight him, she wasn’t in the right position to do much more than whimper.

He inhaled. She was right about no perfume. He couldn’t detect anything more than her own musky scent, but that was intoxicating enough. Damn, he was hard as a rock now, but lord, she smelled like a hot woman from an exotic tropical island. It didn’t matter that it was way below freezing outside. Right here, next to her skin, she made a steamy Asian paradise.

He couldn’t stop himself; he had to take the taste. He pressed his lips to the pulse point of her wrist. He heard her gasp and felt her tremble against his lips. It was too much for his self control. Despite the risks, he had to taste her.

He extended his tongue and traced a long circle over her skin. She released a high keen of distress, and his gaze leaped to her face. Her eyes were closed. Her tongue slipped out to wet her plump lips. She wasn’t frightened. She was aroused.

But just to make sure, he did it again. Instead of a simple stroke, he swirled lazy, erotic circles all over her flesh. Her breath hitched, her nipples tightened into hard points, and if he wasn’t mistaken, her knees were going out from beneath her. All of her weight now rested against the door.

You were supposed to let some mana strangerdo this to you? He couldn’t prevent the hard, possessive edge to his voice. The idea that she would go weak in the knees for anyone else prodded the neanderthal side of his nature.

The blouse of her chong san had short cap sleeves which meant he had full access to the whole of her arm. He didn’t waste time examining the questionable ethics of what he was doing. He simply stroked his lips across the creamy silk of her skin, riding ever higher on the inside of her arm.

She was still trembling, and her breath came in light pants. He wondered if he could make her come just from touching her arm. Just above her elbow, he decided to experiment. He nipped the skin right there, and she cried out. He soothed it with his tongue and she moaned. Lord, how he wanted to spread her right there and jam himself to the hilt.

Why, he asked her creamy flesh. Why would you let someone do this to you?

She shook her head. A promise to my aunt, she gasped. So I could be a tigress.

He lifted his head. So she did know about tigresses. You’re in training? That would explain a lot. A neophyte tigress would feel off: not quite settled in her sexuality, not really sure of her intentions. Could it be true? Could she really be a tigress in training? What’s your name?

Ling Min, she said as she obviously tried to gain control of herself. She told me to be bold. To take what I want. She leaned forward and cupped his groin, using her thumb to stroke his length. It was obviously an untutored move, but his dick didn’t care. It took all his will power just to remain still and not press into her hand. But if she kept it up…

He grabbed her wrist and twisted away. I’m not that easy, he said, his voice coming out half words, half growl. He wanted it to be that easy. How he wanted it!

He stepped closer to her, leaning in to smell her hair, her neck. And when a smell wasn’t enough, he began to taste. Tigresses take from men, they steal the male emissions and grow stronger.

My aunt says that life eternal can be found in just one drop from a man.

He had no doubt about which drop she referred to, and his body nearly lurched from the thought. But what about your drops? he whispered. Then he quoted from the ancient text he’d studied in college. If a tigress were to gift a man with her essence, then that man would taste paradise.

She looked down at him, her eyes stormy, but her expression fierce. Is that what you want? she whispered. To taste paradise?

Oh yeah, he murmured. Then he fitted word to action and skimmed straight down her body. His hands flowed over her breasts, pausing only briefly to flick her hard nipples. Then he outlined the flare of her hips, and slipped his fingers between the slits on the side of her skirt. She was wearing panty hose, but that was hardly a challenge. He easily rucked up her skirt, hooked his thumbs around the waistband, and with a quick movement, pulled the nylon and her cotton thong straight down past her knees.

Her scent was strong here and the last of his restraint melted away. Any woman this responsive had to be a tigress. A real live tigress, here in O’Hare! And lucky him, he had to background to know just what to do.

He widened his hands and slid them up between her naked thighs. She didn’t fight him as he moved higher and higher until one thumb slid between her slick folds. Obviously her body wanted this; was more than ready, in fact. He slid his thumb deep inside then drew it out slowly, keeping his knuckle high enough to roll over her clit.

She moaned softly, and her eyelids fluttered closed. He did it again and her hips began to move, her body undulating slightly against the wall. He dropped to his knees before her, pressing his lips to her hips, his tongue to her curls. But before he completely submerged himself in her, he had to know the truth. You’re a tigress right?

Yes, she murmured.

This is what you want?

Oh yes.

It was all he needed to hear. Gripping her thighs, he spread her wider. How he wanted to drop his pants and dive in. But not yet, not this moment. Instead, he lifted her higher against he wall and let his tongue explore. Within moments, he discovered that the ancient text was right: he was indeed tasting paradise.


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