Cat Style (Stray Cats)
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Copyright ©2013 Megan Slayer
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She knew that sound. "Fang! It's Halloween. How in the name of God did you get out? I had you in the bedroom so you wouldn't get loose." She scooped the cat into her arms and flipped the switch to turn off the porch light. "You can be a real poop sometimes." She nudged the door shut with her hip then engaged the lock. As per usual, the cat cuddled in her grasp and purred. She plunked him on the couch. "What am I going to do with you? Huh? I'll get that bell I've threatened to put on you."
Penelope sighed and closed her eyes. She rubbed her temple. As much as she loved the cat, he drove her crazy. "I should take you to the vet and have you fixed," she grumbled. "That would teach you."
"I suppose you could, but what fun is that?"
She opened her eyes. Instead of her black cat lounging on the couch, a dark-haired man with a hint of scruff on his cheeks and not a stitch of clothing on sat in his place.
"You're not Fang." Not her best response, but who in the hell was he? She balled her fists, ready to punch the intruder. "What did you do with my cat and how the hell did you get in?"
"Penn, it's me, Fang. My mother called me Ascher, and I rather like it better." He rose to his feet. "I don't want to hurt you. I'd rather be back in your arms."
Her brain misfired. A nude man, handsome at that, in her house and wanting to be in her arms? And he claimed to be her cat? She wobbled on her feet. The room went blurry, then black. When she opened her eyes, the man was crouching over her.
"Penn? Fuck." His eyebrows crinkled and he smoothed her hair from her face. "I knew I should've told you yesterday but there wasn't time."
"You're a strange man in my house." She scrambled to an upright position. "Get the fuck out." Where in the hell were her purse and her mace?
"You don't know me." She inched away from him. Instead of coming after her, the naked man sat still. "Now get out."
"I do so know you, Penelope." He pinched the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb. "Wait." He grabbed a pillow to cover his crotch, then sat on the floor. "I know. Piss-poor timing to hide my junk. I'm sorry." He sighed. "When you went to Hildegard's to get a kitten, you were handed me. You didn't know you wanted me until you saw the fluff on my ears. You loved that I had those funny tufts of fur."
"No." She shook her head. "No, no." The man knew too much about her cat. What a lunatic! She grabbed her purse and rummaged for the bottle of mace -- all without moving her attention from his face.
"You wondered why I hadn't been nabbed yet."
Shit. Those were just about her words exactly.
"Hildegard said I'd be exactly what you needed. I can be, but you have to believe me and trust me." He finally moved toward her. "Please?"
"I'm supposed to believe a naked man in my house is my cat? Not on your life." And yet, somewhere in her brain his story made sense.
"I'll show you." He closed his eyes. The joints in his body shrunk and popped. Hair sprouted from his shoulders and back. His ears elongated along with his teeth. When he opened his eyes, he'd morphed into a cat -- her cat.
"Oh, my God." She sat rooted to the spot. "How? Why?"
The cat stood and flicked his tail, then climbed onto the couch with her. He closed his eyes, and his form changed again. His limbs grew and the hair evaporated. Muscles defined under his human skin and black hair flopped over his brow. He folded his hands over his crotch, then opened his eyes.
"Holy shit." She wasn't sure what else to say. She knew what she'd seen, but she still didn't believe.
"I'm a black cat shifter. I know -- you figured that out." He snatched the pillow from the floor and covered some of his nudity. "I'm from a litter of four kittens. When you adopted me, my brother Godzilla had already gone. I've got two other brothers. As far as I know, they haven't shifted, but since I can change at will maybe they can, too."
She slumped in her seat. "I don't... I... I never realized..." She couldn't think. "This isn't fair. My best friend was my cat. Now I find out my cat is really a guy. What's next? I'll find out I can change into something, too?"
"I doubt you can shift, but I'm sure you're my mate."