Title: Cinderella's Guardian
Author: Khloe Wren
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
After watching his older brother win the heart of his mate, Conner White can’t wait for his turn. When he finally has his first dream of his mate, he is both relieved that he knows who she is and worried as he hasn’t been able to get near her since he caught a glimpse of her at his brother’s wedding weeks earlier.
Tina Anderson is beyond miserable. Her mother abandoned her after a life altering injury that left the vibrant gymnast in a wheelchair. Her father has been forced to leave her to go work off shore. She’s been left in the care of a harsh bitter woman who is only after her father and will do whatever she deems necessary to take her place in his life. No matter the cost.
Conner and Tina’s road to happiness is filled with twists, turns and pot holes, but are they strong enough to pull each other through it all?
Conner spun around in the darkness. He could sense something—someone—but couldn't see anything in the pitch black. A flash of white caught his eye and he twisted toward it. It flashed again... Hair. Long, straight, white-blond hair. He rubbed his eyes hoping to clear his vision. Another flash had him turning around in the darkness. Green. Emerald green eyes stared at him. So much sorrow in them, Connor's knees buckled under the intensity. As he hit the ground, he saw a glimpse of wheel spokes pass him. Then it returned to peaceful darkness, leaving him alone. The presence that had been was now gone, but Conner couldn't quite catch up with what had happened.
Conner came awake with a jolt. Bolting to sit up in bed, he wiped the sweat off his face. He squeezed his eyes closed as he tried to breathe through the tightness in his chest. With his eyes closed, Conner saw the vision from his dream again. Tina. The young woman he'd seen two weeks ago at the hairdressers before Dominic and Adele's wedding, she was his mate! Little wonder she sent his instincts nuts. Conner's desire to shield her had scared him. As a snow leopard shifter, he was by nature programed to defend the innocent but he'd never felt that strong of a protective instinct about anyone—not even Kelly when they went to rescue her and Adele from that sadistic bastard, Cole.
Conner swung his legs over the edge of his bed and scrubbed his face in his hands. What should he do now? He'd already gone back to the hairdressers a few times trying to catch her attention, to talk to her and see if he could help her in any way. He wasn't sure what he could do for her, but he'd felt it vital to try to reach the young woman. But that bitch at the salon kept her hidden out in the back room, never allowing Conner anywhere near her. He'd not even managed to see Tina since that morning. His mind tripped back to when Dominic started dreaming of Adele. He'd felt pain from Adele as she grieved her mother's death. His Dad had explained to them about the mating bond...of course! Dream bonding, Conner could join her in her dreams. His Dad had explained that as mates, you could pull the other into your dream or push yourself into theirs. It was how Dominic had first seen his Adele.
Conner eyed the clock, three in the morning. Great, he could try now. She should be asleep. He rolled back onto his mattress and did as his father had told him and Dominic all those months ago. He focused on Tina, remembered everything he could about her as he drifted back to sleep.
Conner found himself in the stand of a massive gymnasium. Large signs stating "Olympic Trials" were hung high on the walls and the floor had every set up imaginable on it, from rings to beams to areas covered in blue mats. He scanned the room for Tina. He couldn't see any wheelchairs, but he would guess she'd dream of being out of it. A loud speaker crackled before calling Tina Anderson up to the uneven bars. Conner made his way down the stand and onto the floor as he watched her approach the bars. She was stunning. All smooth muscle as she gracefully bowed to the judges. Her costume was skin tight, giving Conner a good look at every curve of her body. She was a petite woman, with small breasts and a slight flare out from her waist to her hips. To Conner, she was perfection. The right size for him to wrap up and protect. Her beautiful hair was pulled back into a tight bun allowing him a good view of her slender sexy neck.
Mesmerized, Connor watched her spin around the bars, every movement exact. Flawless. He saw an expression of panic cross her face as a hand slipped. Out of reflex Conner raced to her, using his supernatural speed to get there in time. As her second hand slipped free, Conner used every ounce of his strength to kick out a side of the lower bar causing it to crash out of the way. Moments later, he held Tina safely in his arms. Even in a muted dream, his whole body shuddered as it came into contact with hers. She gasped as she gripped him tightly around the neck, pressing her hot sweaty body against his.
People around them were going crazy, he moved off the mat with Tina. He listened as people ran around with stretchers and gathered near where, had he not caught her, Tina would have been.
"What happened? When I wasn't here?"
"I fall, crash into the lower bar, shattering my femur and cracking my pelvis. It's why I'm stuck in a chair now. This is my real life nightmare. It never goes away. I relive it while I sleep, and suffer the aftereffects while I'm awake."
Unsure what to say, Conner simply held her closer to him, lowering his head to nuzzle against the top of hers.
"Funny that I'm dreaming of you rescuing me."
"Why is it funny?"
"Because, I only saw you the once. Well, I've seen glimpses of you since. When Robyn sent you away those times, I'd peak out around the curtain to watch you. But I only had that one up close encounter with you two weeks ago today."
She began stroking his chest through his t-shirt, before the shirt vanished and she began exploring his naked skin. A grin tugged at his lips, Tina was a little hellcat in her dreams.
"Now, here you are. On the night before my birthday, rescuing me. If only you were there when it really happened."
Burying her face into his neck she began to cry, hard enough her whole body shook. Conner had always been a little awkward around emotional women. Normally, he'd do whatever he could to get away, but with Tina it was different. He wanted to soothe her, make her feel better.
"I'm here now, and if I could, I'd turn back time to be there when this happened. So I could rescue you for real."
"Oh, how I wish you were real, Conner."
He had to bite his tongue to stop himself from saying too much. He would love to tell her exactly how real he was, but that wouldn't help. Probably quite the opposite.
"How about we get out of here?"
She raised her head from his chest with a watery grin. "I know just the place."