Monday, March 10, 2014

Back to Normal? (#23)

So, it's probably no secret that Killian is one of my favorite characters that I've ever created. He's brash, unapologetic, and thoroughly enjoys his mate (along with anyone else's if they permit it). He is also a good and loyal friend. What more can a person ask for, right? Sanity is highly overrated.


Killian returned to the room wearing jeans and an unbuttoned shirt. He carried his shoes and socks in his hand. “You guys are way too uptight. Loosen up. Take a joke, for fuck’s sake.” He plopped into a chair, slipping on his socks. “Now, all joking aside. How are you both? Any injuries other than the ones you started with?”

“I’ll be fine.” Nulli sniffed near Brian and frowned. “What about your arm?”

“The doc is gonna kill me.” He traced a four inch line along his forearm. “The cast cracked when I smacked that guy in the head with it. It’ll need to be replaced. Arm is throbbing like a toothache, but other than that, I’m good.”

“Good. I’ll let that sexy wolf fix you up later unless you want me to just duct tape it shut? No? Your loss. I even have some with moustaches on it. All the rage.” He chuckled and tied his shoes. “Let me give you this update, then I’m going back home to Melody. She’s pretty damned pissed because some teacher asked who she slept with to get her degree. We’re gonna either have his job, his balls on a plaque in her office, or both.”

Brian winced. “Idiot. She was one of the better anthropologists connected to that damn show. Let me guess, the guy can’t believe a pretty woman can make it without help from a man?”

“Ding, ding! Got it in one.” Killian shook his head, a low growl rumbling through his chest. “We’re letting the lawyers deal with this one, though I might pay him a visit when I get back. Just to make sure we understand each other, of course.”

Nulli sat forward and narrowed her eyes. “No. You need to stay away from whoever that is if you plan to let the lawyers take care of things. You males don’t have the best control when it comes to things that upset your mates. It would be too easy for you to go overboard in your quest for understanding.”

“I can’t just let him get away with insulting her like that! I’ll rip off his dick and shove it down his throat. Just to get his attention.”

“And this is why you need to stay the hell away from him, bear.” Nulli stood and paced. “You aren’t letting him get away with it if attorneys are involved. Let them have him fired. That’ll be the most effective, and it keeps you out of the pound, or wherever they’d haul you away to.”

“Dammit, that’s what Melody said. Do you women have some kind of hive-mind or something?”

“No. It’s called common sense. We also think with one head.”

“So do I. Well, one at a time.” He grinned and waggled his brows. “Anyway, fine. You win. I’ll stay away from him. For now. If that bastard says something else about my Melody, I’ll be serving him a dish of pasta and man-balls.”

“Oh, good God, Killian, do you have a medium setting?” Nulli stopped in her tracks and gestured toward him with an outstretched arm. “You aren’t going to get anywhere with all those threats. You’ll scare him, or he’ll sue, have you arrested, and who knows what else. You’re the expert at digging up info. Find out where he got his degree. See how legit his credentials are. I bet he’s afraid she’s higher level, so he’s attacking her to save face. Fight the battle within the law you big beast.”

He waved his hand with a growl. “Already working on that. Plus, I’ve got a script running that’s checking out his computer’s search history, his IM messages, and his emails. Not a bit of it’s legal, but I’m not looking to bust him with that. I just want to know why he’s getting all butt-hurt all of a sudden. She’s been there for a while. The threats make me feel better.”

Nulli moved behind the sofa and placed her hands on Brian’s shoulders. “When my mate is upset, I try to make him feel better. Stop trying to disembowel the guy. Spend some quality time with Melody while this is going on. Or in your case, with Melody and whoever else you pick up along the way. Have some fun. Screw until you pass out. Rinse and repeat.”

“Now that’s some advice I can get behind. Fine. I’ll stop plotting this asswipe’s gory demise. You’re just no fun at all.” Grumbling beneath his breath, he buttoned up his shirt.

“I’m lots of fun, don’t you remember?” Nulli balled her hands into fists. “If you need a real fight to blow off some steam, you know where to find me.” She stalked toward the bear and pulled him up by his collar. Without warning, she wrapped her arms around his waist. “Thank you, Killian. I’m glad you were here.”

Brian growled as his friend returned his mate’s embrace. To his credit, the bear’s hands remained on her back without slipping to any other part of her body. Killian whispered something in her ear that he couldn’t catch, but Nulli’s nod assured him it wasn’t a lewd suggestion. He was glad to see them getting along, especially considering his own past with the man, but he was equally glad to see the bear step away from his mate.

“Now, unless you want the cat to claw my new shirt into shreds, you should probably go cuddle up with him.” Killian patted her shoulder. “Let me grab my laptop, and I’ll show you what I’ve done with PSI Tech. Then, I’m going home and leaving you two alone for a while.”

Brian stood and wrapped his arm around Nulli’s waist. Holding his hand out to his friend, he added his own thanks to hers. “Don’t know how to thank you for what you’ve done for us. Let me know if you need anything. Well, anything involving keeping our clothes on, that is.”

“No fun at all.” Killian laughed and shook his hand. “You’re welcome. Both of you. I’d do it again if I had to, but hopefully I won’t. I think we’ve got ’em against the ropes. This bunch won’t be bothering you again, nor will anyone associated with them.” He pulled his laptop from his bag and set it on the coffee table.

“What do you mean?” They all returned to their seats as the computer went through it’s boot cycle. The bear’s wallpaper was a nude picture of Melody laying on their bed with a few blankets strategically draped to keep the photo from being pornographic. Brian just shook his head.

“She’s gorgeous, ain’t she? Best pair of boobs I’ve ever seen, and damn what an ass! I love that woman.” He stared for a lingering moment then pulled up several documents and screenshots. “Ok. Here’s what I found in Flagston’s machine so far and what I did with it. We made copies of everything so it can be analyzed in depth, but at first glance, it looks like this attack was a one-woman show. A way to grab a couple of shifters to make her some money without being tied to anyone else and give them a cut or the credit.”

“Yeah, you said you thought that. Good to see it’s confirmed at least on the surface.”

“To be certain, we altered all of her records to show you both as human. That way, if someone does stumble across some of her stuff, it’ll read that her initial claims were inaccurate, and she had to abandon her plans because of it. I’ll do a thorough trace and make sure she didn’t send any emails out about you, or the others on her list, once I get home.”

“There were others?” Brian growled at the idea of more shifters suffering because of her.

“There are always others. These people are never content. You two were her main focus because of Nulli’s recent change. If she’d been a guy, she’d have had a permanent boner thinking about testing a newly turned human. Fucking bitch. Makes me want to bring her back to life so I could kill her.”

Nulli stiffened and hugged herself. “Tests.” She stared at the broken patio door and spoke in a flat tone. “I wish I knew how she even found me in the first place. I don’t want to think about what she had in mind.”

Brian tightened his arm around her waist and pulled her against his side. He nuzzled her curls, then kissed her temple. “Maybe it’ll be in her stuff, kitten. Killian kicks ass with computers. If she put it on her machine, he’ll find it.”

“Yup, even if she’s deleted it. Nothing is ever truly gone from a hard drive if you know how to find it. I plan on taking that sucker apart and seeing what all her secrets were, from her favorite porn site to what she tweeted last.”

His mate turned her gaze to the bear but kept her rigid posture. “If you find anything, or if someone at the gym told her about me, or even if you learn she shared the info with someone else, please tell us. I want this to be over, but I won’t feel like we’re home free until I know for sure that there aren’t any loose ends.”

“If there are loose ends on this computer, I’ll find them. I’ve already rummaged through her bank account, including the two set up in another name. Andrea Flagston is also Alice Farrington and Andrew Ficklemeyer. She does not make an attractive man.” Killian brought up a picture of an effeminate male with a crew cut and stubble on her chin. “I’m still trying to figure out her legal name. It may be none of these.”

“It does make you wonder if her interest in Terry was as much due to his time with the tv program as with his credentials as a scientist. Maybe she needed a new make up artist, because… dayum.” Brian shook his head, tugging Nulli onto his lap so he could nuzzle her curls.

“Told you it wasn’t pretty. Now, most of this looks like a bunch of random numbers and letters, but the general idea is that she wasn’t going to hand either of you over to her employer. She planned to keep you for herself. She wanted to use you as proof of the existence of shifters. Show you off. Make the knowledge public that we exist, then offer her specially trained mercenaries as specialists in personal security. Basically, create the fear, then provide protection. At a price, of course.”

“Wait. I thought she was a scientist?”

“She is, but she’s an opportunist first. From what I gather in the initial read-through, she hoped to put you on display, create a panic, establish her security firm, then turn you over to her employers. For a fee. It’s all about the money for her. For the moment, though, that’s all I know. Like I said, I’ll take her computer home, open it up, tickle all the fiddly bits until it tells me what I want to know. I’ll shoot you an email or call you as soon as I know more.”

“Ok, sure, thanks.” Brian dropped a kiss onto Nulli’s head, feeling the tension in her back and shoulders. He ran his fingers along her arm and purred softly as he nuzzled her curls. “Just one more thing before you go. The officer said the Wardens were taking Flagston’s computer.”

Killian chuckled as he slid the laptop into his bag. “I wondered if you’d notice that. Yeah, he did. What? You didn’t think they let bears into the Wardens?”

Nulli’s eyes threatened to bulge out of her head. “You’re a Warden?”

“Since I got out of university. I mainly deal with the computers unless they need a smokin’ hot bear to woo the ladies.” He winked, shouldering his bag. “I’ve done my training for the field, but I don’t like the politics it entails. Too many uptight shifters and not enough fun between the sheets. Prefer to stay at home and tinker with my computers. Especially now that I have Melody. She’s enough to keep any man home. Which is where I’m going now. Those massive tits are calling my name.”

He waved and closed the door behind him, leaving a speechless Brian and shocked Nulli in his wake.


Birds took to the air as the pair of bobcats ran through the thick woods. Their paws pounded the dirt and grass. They jumped over fallen logs and ducked under low-hanging branches. Brian chased a squirrel into a tree, giving the chattering creature a fangy grin as it scolded him from a high branch. Nulli nipped his flank before darting away. The chase resumed.

Hours later, they collapsed near the bed of wildflowers in the clearing that held so many memories for them. His tongue lolled out as he panted. She batted at his tail. Both purred. It had been far too long since they’d run together. He was the first to shift, returning to his human form to pet his mate’s glorious fur.

“Now that was fun.” Nulli licked his cheek with her rough tongue and purred. “Glad to know you feel the same, sweetheart. I think we both needed this. Now I see why the bear lives in the middle of nowhere. Easier to run whenever you want.”

She sneezed.

“I know it’s not possible. Still a nice thought.” He scratched behind her ear, chuckling as she leaned into his hand. “Got a bit more info from Dr. Roberts. She said the repairmen are almost finished replacing the door. The window is fixed. As soon as they’re done, the cleaners will scrub the place from top to bottom and back again. The insurance company should cover new carpeting throughout which will actually make the cleaning job cheaper. All in all, good news.”

Nulli stretched her paws, showing off her claws in the faint light. When she rolled onto her back, he scratched along her ribs. Her purrs rose in volume.

“You are a beautiful, silly kitty, and I love you. One more run or time to return home?”

She rolled to her feet and shook the leaves and dirt from her fur. When she yawned, her tongue curled and her back arched. He rubbed her from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. She butted against his hand then turned towards the path leading home. He shifted and followed.

The walk back was leisurely. He enjoyed the damp, moist earth on his paws, the wind lightly ruffling his fur. But most of all, he enjoyed having his mate by his side. He rubbed against her with a purr, then shifted in time to hold the door open for her. She sauntered in, still in cat form, and hopped onto the couch. Rolling onto her back, she stretched and shifted.

The growl started before he’d even left the door. His mate’s golden eyes raked over his body until he swore he felt their touch. She raised up onto one elbow and crooked a finger. The smile that teased her lips was positively evil. Damn, he loved this woman!

“Here kitty, kitty.”

“Naughty mate, tempting me like that.” He crawled over the arm of the couch, kissing her inner thigh. “Whatever could you want?”

She smirked when he approached and reached out, pushing her fingers through his hair. “You’ve still got the forest in here.” She laughed and picked out a few leaves before reaching for her ring on the coffee table. “That’s better.” She slipped the ring onto her finger and stared down at it with a smile.

He nipped at her hip, the tip of one pert breast, then her lips. “I’m being one with nature, didn’t you know? And yes, having that on your finger is much better than not.” He reached for her hand and kissed above the ring, then kissed her palm. “It’d be even better with a wedding band to match it.”

“I agree, but we haven’t even picked a date yet.”

“We could elope to Vegas. Have a drive-through wedding with Elvis as our preacher.” He grinned at her expression. “Or not.”

“Do I look like I want an Elvis impersonator? Me? The woman who listens to classical music and gym songs?” She chuckled and shook her head. “I don’t mind a Justice of the Peace, but your mom and my parents would kill us both.”

“Just think, sweetheart, we could have our wedding photo in front of a Velvet Elvis! Your friends would all be amazed and jealous. Or just amazed that I got you that drunk. Not sure which.” He darted in for a kiss as his body shook with suppressed laughter.

“You’ve lost your mind. You’ve met some of my friends. Do you really think they’d fall for that?” She watched him closely, her own lips spreading into a wide smile. “Don’t joke about this, Brian. I almost thought you were serious.”

“About Elvis? Not on your life. About getting married, and soon? Absolutely.” He brushed his fingers across her cheek, traced her lips, then back to thread through her hair. Leaning in, he offered her a soft kiss, as brief and fleeting as a butterfly’s wing. “I know it’s soon, but I want us to start planning things. Let’s pick a date, your dress, our honeymoon. If you want a big wedding, don’t be afraid to say so. I want to make you happy. You’ve already given me everything I’ve ever wanted.”

“Silly kitty.” She brushed her fingers over his cheek. “You don’t marry someone just to make them happy.”

“Ok, so maybe that sounded better in my head. It’s been known to happen.” He chuckled and stole another kiss. “I meant, don’t choose a judge if you’d rather have a priest. I’m happy with whichever you prefer. But can it be soon? That ring looks lonely.”

“Does it?” She lifted her hand and turned it at different angles. “Hmm. And all this time you haven’t been wearing a ring at all. How do you think that makes my ring feel?”

“Ill tempered and sulky?” He murmured against her neck as he scraped his teeth along the fading bite marks. “Sad and down-trodden?” He kissed his way to her breast to nip at her nipple. “Positively heartbroken?” He sucked the tip and purred.

Nulli’s low moan and soft purrs were music to his ears. She parted her lips, but instead of speaking, she hissed out a slow breath.

He nipped and licked his way to her other breast. “That’s what I thought. What a tragedy, indeed.” Scraping his rough tongue over her nipple, he slid his arm beneath her back when she arched into him. He held her flush against his body as he lapped and suckled at her breast. His purrs rose to overpower hers when she scraped her claws along his back.

He dragged his lips across her satiny skin, warming it with his hot breath.  He traced each rib with his tongue. He nipped the curve of her waist, the gentle arc of her hip. He nuzzled into her soft curls and inhaled her scent. It called to his soul in a way nothing else ever had or ever would again. With a growl, he lapped at her enticing nectar. Her claws dug into his shoulders to hold him there.

The feel of the sharp points in his skin heightened his already sensitized skin. He wanted more. Needed more, and his mate offered it to him with a firm grip in his hair and the rocking of her hips against his mouth.

Yet again he found it difficult to hold back. Pleasuring her was one of the most enjoyable parts of their relationship, but she made it so damn hard to focus.

Nipping at her soft skin, he pulled her hand from his shoulder and placed it on her damp curls. “I want to watch you, mate.”

Her eyes seemed to glow as the scent of her arousal intensified. She sat up a little and spread her legs a little wider. “I learned a new trick, kitty.” Her fingers slid through her folds and the muscles in her legs twitched. “Watch.”

A loud purr moved through her creating vibrations he felt through the sofa. She stroked herself slowly before circling her clit. Her head fell back, her fangs dropped, and she writhed on the couch. When her legs came together, he pulled them apart, unwilling to lose sight of the spectacle in front of him for even a moment.

“Damn, kitten. That is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.” He swallowed around the lump in his throat as his eyes remained glued to his mate’s fingers. Rising to his knees, he spread his legs to hold hers open. His fingers wrapped around his aching cock, and he stroked it in time with her mesmerizing fingers. “Show me more. Show me your new trick.”

Nulli continued teasing herself, releasing all the sounds that drove him wild. She pushed her fingers inside and arched her back. Her purrs grew even louder, her nipples hardened, and then something unexpected happened. Her body started to change, sprouting fur on her ears and forearms. She didn’t shift into her bobcat. This was different. He’d never seen her like this. Purrs turned into growls before she changed back.

The transformation was brief, but he’d seen his mate’s hybrid form for the first time.

Growling, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand to his mouth. As he sank his cock inside her, he sucked her essence from her fingers. The combined sensations of smooth, hot flesh and succulent taste drove him to the edge. He gripped her hip as he lapped the last of her juices from her skin.

“Delicious.” He pinned her wrist to the cushion and captured the other. His first thrust was long and slow, enjoying the slide of their bodies. Her warmth engulfed him. Her muscles caressed him. Her purrs shot pleasure along each of his nerves.

On his second thrust, he added his purrs to hers. The vibrations rumbled from his chest to the fingers that twined with hers. They traveled through his cock, drawing a growling moan from Nulli’s lips. They stimulated her clit each time their bodies met.

Her legs wrapped around his waist. Her eyes flashed golden as her heels dug into his back. He thrust again. Harder. Faster. Again! Growls blended with purrs. His claws dug into the cushions. Hers dug into his hands. His hips moved in a blur. His fangs dropped.

“Mine!” His fangs sank into her skin as pleasure raced through his body. His hips jerked, claiming his female with his mark, his scent, his seed. A sharp pain in his shoulder was followed by exquisite ecstasy as Nulli claimed him in return. He freed his fangs from her skin, tilted his head back, and roared.

They cuddled together on the sofa. Her back pressed against his chest. His nose buried in her glorious curls. He stroked along her hip and thigh, enjoying the contrast of his pale skin to hers. Kissing her ear, he sighed in absolute contentment.

“So, how soon is too soon to get married, Nulli?”

She shrugged her shoulders before settling into his body a little more. “I don’t know. How soon did you want it to be?”

“Yesterday? Tomorrow? Can you give me a few minutes to get dressed and kidnap a priest or judge?” He nipped her ear and chuckled softly. “I’d have married you not long after we met, but things generally don’t move that quickly for humans. I don’t want you to feel rushed, but I would like to set a date.”

Her small laugh bounced through his body and he smiled as he felt it. “You make it sound like a game show. Next round is the lightning quarter. Can he get her down the aisle before she realizes it’s all a game?” Her announcer voice left him shaking his head and holding her closer.

“Not a game, sweetheart. I really would marry you today if I could. Did you want something big, like in a church with a dress and a ton of attendants and all that? Something smaller?” He kissed her shoulder. “What is your ideal wedding day, Nulli, and I’ll do my damnedest to make it happen.”

She turned in his arms and met his gaze. “You’re really serious about this.” She offered a small smile and closed her eyes. “You’ve got to be the only man in the world who’s excited about a wedding. Well, aside from guys marrying into money. Or porn.”

He brushed his lips over hers. “Yeah. I’m really serious. We’re mated, which for shifters is pretty much like being married without all the legal hoops. But I want to do this right. You deserve a wedding, whether it’s a huge deal with a zillion guests or a small thing with just family. I do reserve the right to spank you if you turn into Bridezilla, though.”

“Spank me?” She lifted an eyebrow. “Don’t make me buy a new collar that’s three sizes too small.”

He laughed and kissed the tip of her nose. “Then don’t turn into Bridezilla. I’ll fill your socks with catnip or something. It’ll drive you bonkers. Trust me.”

“Do it and I’ll order one of those horse-sized dildos I’ve seen online.”

“Okay, okay.” He winced. “Catnip it is. Seriously though. I’d like to start thinking of a date. Any date after noon today is good for me.”

“It won’t be noon today.” She rolled her eyes and pinched one of his nipples. “You know, I love you, but you’re making this sound so much like a transaction.” She increased the pressure. “I want to be your wife, Brian. I don’t want to get married because I feel like I owe you.”

He rested his forehead on hers with a groan. “I’m sorry. I’m bungling this badly. Nulli. I love you. I have loved you since your scent teased my nose, your laughter filled my ears, and your smile filled my heart. I was over the moon when you agreed to our mating. I’d like to honor your human heritage and your parents by marrying you in the human fashion. No pressure, no joking, no crazy time limits. Just you and me and our guests to share in our happiness.” He kissed her gently. “That’s what I’ve been trying to say.”

“Sometimes you say the most unbelievable things, kitty.” Tiny wrinkles settled in the corners of her eyes as her eyes glazed. “We can have a traditional ceremony. I don’t even what to think about mixing ceremonies to represent my backgrounds. Unless you want to dress in traditional Native American attire?”

“Might be interesting, but I think I’ll pass. I’m not sure I’d do the outfit justice and don’t want to offend your family by, essentially, playing dress-up. A suit and tie is good, or a tux if you want it at night. I think I own one. It might even still fit.”

“You? In a tux? Why haven’t I seen this before?” A mischievous grin played across her lips before she chuckled. “I really want to hear about this.”

“The tux?” He shook his head. Propping his chin onto his hand, he smoothed the other along her side. “There’s no grand story there, unfortunately, though I could make one up if you’d like?” When she frowned, he chuckled. “Very well. Short and sweet version - I lived in a small town without a rental shop, so I bought one for a friend’s wedding. The end.”

“You’re the worst storyteller ever!”

“I fear it’s one of my many failings, along with a penchant for goldfish crackers and teasing you silly.”

“Brian, you like living on the edge, don’t you?” She reach up and gave his ear a pinch. “As for the wedding, how about we make a few calls and see what’s available? I wouldn’t mind having an outdoor ceremony. What do you think?”

“I think you’d be beautiful beneath a flower arch with the wind ruffling your curls. Will you wear white, my beautiful mate?” He trailed his fingers up and over the tip of her breast, circling the nipple, then down towards her hip. “I bet Killian would let us have it at his place. It’s as huge as he is, land and house. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.”

“Hmm. Well, give him a call and see what he says. I’ll look at a few other places just in case. As for the dress, do you want me to wear white? I can, I hadn’t really thought about it.” She looked just past his face, as if she homed in on a sound he couldn’t hear.

“I’ll call him later.” He rested his hand on her hip, his thumb brushing her smooth skin. “I think you look better in blues - royal, navy, or even purple - though I’d get a kick out of seeing you walk down the aisle in that slit-to-there number you wore the night we got attacked.” He waggled his brows with a grin.

“You’d get a kick all right.” She continued to stare, though she smiled at his words.

“Am I rushing you again, sweetheart? You look… I don’t know, distracted.”

“We’re actually going to do this.” She finally met his eyes. “What if I’m awful at this? What if-- I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

He kissed her then, a slow teasing with his lips and tongue. “You’ll be great, Nulli. We might as well be married now. We live together, sharing a house, chores, and bills. We cook and clean, laugh and love, fight and make up. A piece of paper won’t change that.” Fangs glinted in the light as he grinned. “Only kids would really change things. The pitter-patter of little furry paws.”

“But you don’t want kids, remember? You want goldfish.” She rolled her eyes and traced his lips with her index finger. “That piece of paper will change things. It will change what we mean legally. It will change my name.” She paused and looked up at him, her eyes flashing amber. “I know that I love you, and that I want to be your wife. It’s all hitting me at once, you know. I’m actually going to do this. I never really thought about what that meant. What it really meant. It’s special.”

“A goldfish could never have your eyes or your smile.” He captured her hand and planted a kiss on each finger. “Yes, the paper will change things legally, but it won’t change how special you already are to me. You’re my mate, my beloved Nulli. The woman who simply gets me even if you want to smack me when you do. If you want to keep your name, you can. I’d like to see you as Mrs. Arcady, but you’ll still be my wife even if you remain Ms. Ora.”

“Yeah. I get you. I get you lots and lots of gifts.” She winked and nuzzled into his chest. “I always planned to take your name, Brian. As for the goldfish, I can picture you training it to smile. Anything to avoid the dreaded labor. Right?” She laughed into him, and breathed deep. “We don’t have to talk about that right now though. Unless you want to.”

“The most beautiful and precious gift you could ever give to me, my mate, would be a daughter that looks like you.” He gathered her close to his chest and purred. “Yes, I’ll probably go mental while you’re pregnant and have to be given a sedative while you’re in labor, but to hold our baby and know he or she is a part of us, a part of our love? Damn, kitten. I’ll be the happiest cat alive and so damn proud I’ll probably pop.”

“This would be so sweet if I wasn’t picturing you installing turrets on the lawn.”

“Damn straight. Ain’t no boy coming within a hundred miles of our daughter. They’re all a bunch of hormone driven animals. Trust me, I know. I am one.”

“Oh, I know you are, and I love it! I can imagine a little Brian running around, destroying everything in his path. Wait. You didn’t mark your territory when you were little, did you?” She tilted her head back and regarded him with a serious expression.

He hesitated for half a second. The corners of his lips quivered as he pondered the ramifications of answering one way versus the other. “Just the shoes. I had a thing for them.”

“Really? I don’t know what that even means.” She shook her head and went quiet for a few moments. “First things first, venues, yeah? If you want to get this show on the road, that’s where we have to start.”

He nibbled her lip until she opened for another sweet kiss, then murmured against their warmth. “I was joking. Shifters are just kids until puberty. They even test as human, which has really helped to hide us as technology has advanced. Once puberty hits, though, it’s all fur and claws and attitude.”

“You’re a mean kitty. I was picturing puddles in all my shoes.”

His shoulders shook with the effort to hold in his laughter. “My mom would have skinned us alive if we’d peed in her shoes. It’s bad enough teaching them not to turn furry when they get scared or pissed off.”

Nulli stared at him for a long while, a wide smile spreading her lips. “You’re going to be the best dad ever.”

“Not me. I’ll be the dad feeding them cake for breakfast and defending it to the last by saying it has bread and eggs in it. They’ll end up covered in so many layers of dirt, we’ll need an earth mover to find our kids beneath it all.” He brushed the backs of his fingers along her cheek. “And I’d defend them with my last, dying breath if need be. Read to them at night. Fight off the monster under the bed. And spoil them rotten. Damn, kitten. I never knew how much I wanted a family until I met you.”

“God, Brian, you know just what to say to make a woman ovulate.” She initiated the next kiss, draping a leg over his hip. “I can’t wait to see you dressed like a ninja to fight the boogie man. I’ll be sure to reward you for your hard work too.”

“Mmm, now that sounds intriguing.” He rolled so she lay on his chest. Her curls fanned out and tickled his nose as he nibbled along her shoulder. “Do tell me more.”

“Well…” She drew out the word like a warm lullaby. “If daddy is going to play dress up, mommy will have to dress up too, and then down.”

He ran his hands down her back to cup her ass. “I approve this plan. Dressing down, especially, though you have come up with some sinfully delectable bits of cloth. I think more research is needed to make a positive conclusion, don’t you agree?”

“Maybe.” She pressed her palms into his chest and sat up a little. “But I think I know one of your favorites.” And just like that, she started to change, only she didn’t morph all the way. “Well?”

“You are a gorgeous hybrid. Soft fur, little tufts on your ears, and those golden eyes.” He nuzzled along her neck and nipped at her mating bite. “Such a beautiful kitten. My very own catgirl.”

Nulli purred sending vibrations through his entire body. “Don’t you forget it either.” When she tried to stand, he held her tighter. “Now, now, kitty. I’m going to take a shower. Hurry up and call the bear so you can join me.”

“Can’t I join you and call the bear later? If I call him now, he’ll think  I want phone sex or something.” His claws kneaded her skin as his purrs joined hers.

“We’ll be in bed later. Or I’ll be restraining you, chasing you through a field, playing in those flowers, or feeding each other. Do you really think you’ll interrupt that?”

Groaning, he arched his hips in entreaty. “Can I vote for D - All of the Above, right here, right now?”

“You can vote, and I can change back, tease you mercilessly, and then stop and wait for you to make the call. I’d enjoy sitting here, so close, breathing over you, almost touching you, but not quite. It could be fun. Or, you can make the call, I can play with you in the shower afterward, and then finish you off in bed, or on the floor like last night.”

“Yes.” He growled and pulled her down for a kiss. “Give me ten seconds, mate. This will be the fastest damn phone call in history.”

“I’ll hold you to that.” She pushed away and stalked toward the bathroom, shifting back to her human form as she went. The sound of the shower made his heart race, but he took a breath and reached for the phone.

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