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I pressed my back against the cold brick wall, my heart thudding hard in my chest, & my head pounding. My cat ears twitched from beneath my hat, listening for threats, nothing. I breathed a sigh of relief, and slid down the wall; I put my arms on my knees and laid my head down on them. That was far to close this time, far to close, and so unexpected. I stood up brushing myself off, looked cautiously around the corner and took off.
I ran as fast as my human form could take me, until I hit the tree line. I started stripping off my cloths, leaving them in a pile, and then I crouched. I bit my lip as the first shoot of pain rocked through me. My back arched, as my spine lengthened, and became more flexible, my ribs started to grow a little outward, then moved. My hair started to shorten and, was reappearing, on my skin, my skin stretched and bones popped and broke as the transformation was finishing.
I laid on the ground, exhausted, my breaths coming out in pants. The most exhilarating part of shifting was our senses, I could see every speck, smell the sun and elements, hear every leaf that touched the ground. I heard a bubbling stream up ahead; I walked slowly, almost lazily in that direction. It was beautiful, clear water ran over pebbles and rocks, a small waterfall filled it up. I bent down and lapped at the water, quenching my thirst.
As I finished I opened my eyes, and looked at my reflection. No matter how many times I’ve seen myself in this form, it always shocked me. The panther in the reflection looked proud and strong, elegant and fierce. My original waist length white hair turned into soft snow white fur, my eyes were still gold, but now had cat pupils. Humans that saw me said I was an albino panther; it was a good cover story.
I was at least six feet long, my tail adding a couple more feet. I sighed mentally, they had found where I lived and tracked me to the market, in public. I guess it isn’t always hard to find me, I wore a hat in public, to hide my ears, and I could never get them to shift back. My cat ears were white and pointed; I’m able to shift everything back other than that.
I twig snapped, and I crouched and started growling in defense. A black cougar watched me from the shadows, slightly crouched in defense. He had dark green eyes, which seemed to flash with dominance. We circled each other slowly, sizing each other up, even though he was twice my size. What he did next surprised me; he lied down on his stomach, in a submissive position. I walked over slowly, my muscles tensed, ready to attach if needed. He didn’t move.
I lowered my head closer to his neck, and bit. A slight growling came from his chest but he didn’t move, so he proved that he was fully submitting. A small amount of his blood trickled down my throat, I didn’t bite deep enough for a lot to come out but, just enough to show who was Alpha. I let go and sat back on my hunches waiting for him to leave. He didn’t, he slowly sat back to his tail twitching.
My eyes narrowed in suspicion, he tilted his head. Then he started walking the way he came, after a few steps he looked back at me as if asking, ‘are you coming?’ I wasn’t sure why but I followed him, I stayed a good distance behind him so I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. I started hearing voices and other noises. Something blurred past us and a growl started to form in my chest, returning to my defensive crouch.
He nuzzled my neck lightly trying to calm me down, my muscles slowly relaxed and I started to follow him again. My jaw almost dropped at what I saw, about ten cabins were in a half circle formation. Almost every cat known walked about; a few humans came out of one of the cabins. A man about six foot eight locked his eyes on us. The cougar walked back into the bushes and a man came out in his place.
You could definitely see the similarities between the cougar and the man. Long black hair fell down to the tape of his neck, his dark green eyes regarded me calmly for a moment. Then he walked over to the man I had labeled as the Alpha of the group. They talked for a few moments, their eyes often darting to me. The both came over and a hiss started to emerge from my mouth.
“Can you please shift back so we can talk?”The man asked softly, calmly. He handed me a black robe, which I gently into my teeth, and went to the same bushes the first man had shifted. My mind was on over-load, so I didn’t feel the pain this time. I tied the robe around my waist and walked out. To say they were shocked was an understatement.
“You still have cat ears.”The first man stated, I nodded stiffly, I didn’t trust them, he nodded back. The Alpha stepped out and held out his hand.
“My name is Andrew; I am Alpha and leader of this clan.” I cautiously shock his hand.
“Clairessa.”I whispered even though I wanted to snap at him, my instincts wouldn’t let me out of respect for Alphas. The other man stepped up his eyes glittered with secrecy.
“Dominic.”I nodded to him; I took a deep breath and turned back to Andrew.
“What is all of this?” I gestured with my hand, around us. He looked shocked again, but for only a sliver of a second. He quickly composed himself.
“Do you not have a Pride?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I was starting to get impatient.
“Come let’s go somewhere private.” He said turning and going to the cabin he had emerged from earlier. Dominic didn’t follow us; I walked a good couple feet behind him to the cabin. I followed him to a room in the back; he closed the door behind us. He sat on a red leather loveseat; I took the black leather chair across from him. Something flashed in his eyes, but was quickly masked. Hurt? I shook it off, and we sat in silence for a while, then I asked,
“How are you guys here?”He leaned back into the leather, seeming deep in thought for a moment. Then reached into his shirt pulling out a necklace, it was a head of a black Egyptian cat.
“Do you know the Egyptian cat Goddess Bastet?”I nodded. “Well, after she was cast out as the guardian of the Lower Egypt, she morphed into a mortal temporally. She lived with them for three hundred years; she eventually fell in love with one. He knew her true form and still loved her. Bastet soon found out she was pregnant, and the cat blood in her system passed down to her litter. But the kittens had human brains and eyes; she kept her discovery to her and their father. She continued to breed for years. She knew her partner would die soon so she gave him immortality. We are her most successful litter and her last breed for this generation. Everyone here was raised together, Bastet chose me as the Alpha. But I wonder how you do not have a clan.” I couldn’t speak for a moment. I was created by a goddess!
“You said Prides . . . are there others?” I asked.
“We assume there are but not officially sure.”He said shrugging.
“Oh um I raised myself after being abandoned by my ‘parents’. A group of hunters, I call them Seekers, have been trying to hunt me down. They’re not human. They tracked me down, destroyed my home, and tried to kill me at the market today.” He didn’t say anything and when I looked at him his eyes were blank, and his body so tense you could use it for a poker.
“You may stay here.” He said after he had slightly calmed down, I was shocked but very touched by the offer.
“Um . . . thank you.” He nodded getting up.
“We’re having a meeting to discuss your arrival.” I followed him slowly, we finally stopped at a large circle of people, and every eye was on me. I stood next to him in the middle of the circle. Then I noticed everyone had turned their attention to a cat. It was as black as night with green eyes and a simple jade collar, with a jewel at the end of it. I had the urge to practically worship it. It was making me tired trying to fight it.
Then she shifted into a beautiful woman, long black silk hair fell to her hips, bright green eyes with slits, and black ears pointed from her hair. She wore a long robe of black and gold silk.
“Hello my children.” Her voice sounded like a purr and I almost joined in. “We are all here today to welcome your newest sister Clairessa.” She gestured to me with her hand, people gasped and murmured. A small girl of about age eight raised her little hand, Bastet smiled lovingly at her. “Yes little one?”
“She looks like you mistress.” People nodded in agreement, Bastet laughed gently.
“Yes. But that is because she has more cat blood than human. Come here Clairessa.” I walked up to her slowly, my head down, I was unworthy of her presence. “Tell me, what are your instincts telling you to do right now?” I licked my lips, my mouth suddenly dry.
“To purr.” I whispered, she nodded smiling.
“Then why don’t you?” I didn’t answer her; she stroked my hair like a mother would, a scared child. “You must always follow your instincts.” And with that the soft rumbling sound erupted from my chest. She returned it. “See even in human form her instincts are right under the surface. Clairessa is my newest and last child for a few generations. You will carry on my children.” Mummers and whispers came from the others. “Before I leave I’d like to honor your Alpha’s new mate, Clairessa.” Then she was gone.
I turned slowly to Andrew the others quickly left.
“Did you know?” I whispered, he ducked his head, his long silver hair covering his face. The he looked at me, his navy blue eyes captivating me.
“Yes I could feel it.” I couldn’t speak for a moment, my mind once again on over-load. He waited patiently for me to process all the information. Then I took a deep breath to speak.
“I think I felt it to, but I ignored it. Was that why it hurt you when I didn’t sit down next to you?” A faint pink spot flushed on his cheek-bones, we stayed quiet for a few moments. I noticed the sky getting dark, a cold wind brushed against us and I shuddered. He noticed immediately, he grabbed my hand and lead me to the cabin. He lit the fire place, I sat on the rug in front of it, and he silently sat next to me.
“How many live here?”
“Only I live here currently. New-comers stay until they find their Mate. Now you live here . . . if you want.” I smiled he sounded so shy.
“Sure.” He beamed to himself, I yawned. “Um, where am I sleeping?” He got up, and led me to a room next to his. I almost gasped when I saw it. There were two black leather chairs, and a white leather couch around a glass table. The bed was a four poster, red cherry wood bed, and two dressers from the same set. A large circle window was in line with the moon, so the light casted a beautiful glow to everything. A coffee brow carpet that felt like Heaven to my feet, and looked brand new.
“This is mine?” I whispered awe struck, he nodded.
“I made it when I became Alpha, nobody has been in here but me.” I chocked on my words for a moment, and then I could manage out,
“No problem.” I smiled at him, gave him a quick hug then walked in. “Goodnight Clairessa.”
“Goodnight.” I closed the door, and fell on the bed heavily, not bothering with the covers.
Someone knocked softly on the door; I sleepily got up and opened it. I was met with a shy smiling Andrew.
“I made breakfast, were about to go on our runs.” I nodded, then smelt something that made my mouth water, he laughed. I followed him to the kitchen and automatically started filling my plate. Three huge chocolate chip pancakes, with whip cream and strawberries, bacon, fruit slices, and coffee. He wasn’t surprised, he had just as much if not more. We ate in silence; I used the time to think. I somehow knew to be the Alpha’s official Mate; I’d have to vow it. He suddenly got up.
“We’ve got to go.” I nodded, combed my fingers through my hair and followed him. I shifted behind some trees and looked for him, a silver cougar padded up to me slowly. My head touched his chest as he stood in front of me; a low purr came from him. Then he took off, I followed him easily, keeping pace. We were soon joined by others; they did this every other week.
Some started playing, bumping heads together, and nipping and lightly pawing at each other. Something bumped against me, I looked at Andrew, and he had a slight gleam in his eyes. We spent the rest of the run playing. Suddenly we were alone, I looked around for the others, and they weren’t there.
‘Andrew?’ I thought to him, ‘Where are the others?’
‘I asked them to give us some privacy. We need to discuss some things.’ I nodded my head, and lay down beside him.
‘Well, for you to become my official Mate I need you to vow it. You have to be absolutely sure though. And if you don’t want a relationship its fine, I’m meant to be anything you want, friend, brother, lover, anything. It’s up to you.’
‘So no pressure.’ I thought to myself more than him, I made my decision. ‘I Clairessa Fierce Bast, vow my complete self, body, soul, heart, and mind to be the Mate of Alpha Andrew War Criss. Bastet please bless this.’ What I felt when I said that knocked the breath out of me. Suddenly cords connected me to him, he was everywhere and everything, inside my mind, the sun, every breath I took, everything. I was in his too; we could see every thought, secret, and memory we’ve ever had. After it seemed to calm down, I was breathing heavily and was dizzy.
‘Are you ok?’ He asked in my head, I nodded.
‘Ya just really dizzy that’s all.’ Suddenly he tackled me, causing me to freeze with shock. A bullet whisked through the air.
‘They’re here.’ He nodded understanding who I meant from my memories. His growl echoed though the forest as he crouched over me. Then they appeared five of them. Their black eyes locked on us, a hissing noise erupted from each of them as they launched at us. I watched helplessly as Andrew fought them, I was slowly able to move. Then I attacked the one closest to me, biting into their neck. I never like killing but if I had to I would. A pain shot through me back, and I dropped.
‘No!’ I heard a spin chilling yowl then fell into unconsciousness.
“Clairessa? Please answer me, please!” A voice pounded in my ears. I opened my eyes to meet a dark blue pair. “Thank Goddess.” He murmured, and then pulled me into a hug, careful not to touch the sore spot on my back. “Are you ok?” He asked, concern leaking from his voice, I nodded.
“A little sore but fine. Are you ok?” He shook his head smiling softly.
“You were shot and you’re worried about me! I’m fine, you scared me though.” He brushed some hair from my face, a grim look on his face. I lifted my hand to comfort him but froze when I looked at my arm. A navy blue tattoo from my wrist, up my arm, and to my heart shown boldly. He noticed my surprise and showed me his which was identical to mine.
“Are they. . .” My voice trailed off, he nodded, the tattoo subject forgotten.
“Yes. They’re dead.” I sighed with relief, and laid back down.
“Aren’t you curious?” He asked confused, I grinned.
“Curiosity killed the cat.” He rolled his eyes.
“Real mature, but aren’t you curios about the Mark?” Oh.
“My instincts tell me it’s to let everyone else know who I belong to.” A possessive rumble echoed through his chest and I laughed. We were in silence for a few moments. “How long was I out?”
“A couple of days.” He muttered, “I was afraid you were dead.”
“I’m sorry.” He grabbed my hand and squeezed it. After a few more moments of silence I noticed him looking at me. “What?” He hesitated.
“I want to try something.” Huh? The he lent forward carefully and kissed me. I was shocked for a few moments then dismissed the shock. He pulled away smiling, I raised an eyebrow smiling back. “That’s defiantly something I’m going to try more often.” He said grinning; I laughed and punched his arm.