Cat Groove (Stray Cats)
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Copyright ©2014 Megan Slayer
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"Damn it, Roman, get back here. I'm not very in love with you right now." Jessa tossed the towel onto the floor, then raced after her black cat. "Whoever said he was calm should've had to bathe him." With him speeding ahead of her, she sprinted down the hallway.
"Come back here." Her hair flew in her eyes and her chest hurt from the scratches inflicted moments earlier when she'd first introduced him to the water.
Roman backed himself into a corner and hissed, his gold eyes blazing.
"Don't make me have to tackle you." Jessa crouched and took her best offensive stance. She counted to three, then lunged. An earth-shattering screech echoed in the room, but she managed to grab him. She looked down into her curled arms. The cat struggled, but couldn't free himself.
"You are a brat -- cute, but a brat." She kept him tight in her grasp and marched back to the bathroom. "If you weren't one gigantic flea, this wouldn't be necessary."
Upon entering the bathroom, she kicked the door shut. "Now try and get away." She glanced around for where the cat shampoo had landed. "This won't take long."
The cat scampered from her arms and skidded on the rug. He collided with the bathroom door. When he fell back, instead of a black cat, a man -- a naked man -- lay sprawled in his place.
Jessa dropped the towel she'd picked up and sat down hard on the edge of the tub. "What the hell just happened?" She knew what she'd seen... her cat had morphed into a man.
The guy shook his head, his dark hair ruffling with each shake, then glanced over his shoulder. "Now do you see why I don't need a flea bath?"
"I don't understand what I'm seeing." Jessa balled her fists. What the hell was she supposed to do? Locked in a bathroom with a strange man. "What's going on here?"
"I've got a knot on my head from the door." The guy turned around and rested against the wooden door. "Remind me not to run full blast away from you." He rubbed his forehead. "But I'm kind of glad this happened. I was tired of being a cat."
Jessa sagged in her seat. Tired of being a cat? Nothing made sense. She wobbled. Her balance shifted. "Oh!" She plopped backwards into the bathtub. Suds surged into the air and her clothes stuck to her body from the water.
"Let me help you." The man stood over her. He offered his hand. His eyes glittered. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have scared you."
Jessa scrambled out of the tub. She shoved the man out of the way and wrestled with the door handle. She needed out of there. The door didn't budge. No matter how hard she yanked, nothing happened.
"Jess, wait." His voice calmed her a bit, but she wasn't falling for false security.
"I'll call John." She whipped around and grabbed the tube of toothpaste. "I'll clobber you with this."
"Jess." The man stepped backwards, giving her space. "You wouldn't have smacked me when I was the cat. Why would you now?" He crinkled his nose. "And why would you get John? He's an asshole."
"You're stalking me!" She wrestled with the door handle again. This time the knob budged and she opened the door. She'd call her boyfriend, John. He'd do something. Jessa raced through the apartment, then stopped at the front door. What a turkey! She'd had her cell phone in her back pocket the whole time. "Damn it." She dialed John's number.
The man from the bathroom stood in the hallway. He'd wrapped the towel around his nakedness. In the natural light from the living room, she noticed the dips and valleys of his body. She would have to end up with a good-looking stalker. Black hair sprinkled across his chest -- enough to notice, but not enough to be gross. The muscles in his torso flexed as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. His dark hair had been slicked back off his forehead and a bit of scruff darkened his cheeks.
"Jessa," a voice said.
She watched his mouth. The man hadn't spoken. Then who was talking to her?
"You must've called your boyfriend." The guy stood in the hallway, arms folded. "Better answer him before he comes over here and flips out."
She lifted the phone to her ear. "John?"
"Jessa, you called me. What's wrong? Who is that in the background?" John demanded.
"I --" Jessa stopped. She couldn't tell John about the cat. He hated Roman, and he'd never believe the feline had shifted into a man. "I missed you." She squeezed her eyes shut tight. "Thought I'd call you out of the blue to tell you." She hated lying to him, but she needed help.
"I've got a schedule. I can't take calls like this until after five." John snorted. "I'll be over once I'm done with my workout. Whatever the problem is, it can wait." The call disconnected as he hung up.
Jessa slid down the front door. She never should've invested her faith in John. The man did what he wanted and expected everyone else to fall into line behind. She stared at the man in her hallway. Nothing made sense. The whole world had gone topsy-turvy.
"I don't understand," she murmured.
The man inched closer to her and then crouched in front of her. "I can explain a lot of this. I really can. I don't want to hurt you and I'm not a stalker. Give me a chance."
"How? I don't know who you are."
"I'm Roman." He sat down before her and arranged the towel to cover his manhood. "You're never going to believe me, but I'm a shifter."