Mate Marks: Breath
by Kate Hill
From Changeling Press
Ever since her childhood, when she'd come face-to-face with a lizard boy on the beach, Dr. Teena Parker has been trying to prove the existence of a new species between reptile and man. During a wildlife expedition in Australia, Teena discovers Flick, a gorgeous golden shapeshifter who has been injured while protecting his young.
Desire burns between Teena and Flick as they explore each other in every way. Teena now has the proof that these supernatural creatures exist, but should she risk their lives by reporting her discovery? Is her love and lust for Flick more powerful than her quest for credibility in her field?
"Tell me exactly what you saw," Teena pressed, trying to control her excitement. After all these years someone else had finally seen a creature similar to the one she had stumbled upon that day on the beach.
"Teena, maybe you should give him something to calm him down first," Joyce suggested, taking John's arm. The man did appear quite shaken and that made Teena even more certain that he'd seen something unusual. After all, he'd spent his entire life in the Australian wilderness. There was little he hadn't seen.
Joyce placed a hand to John's forehead and said, "He still has a fever. That could explain a hallucination."
"Hallucination?" Teena demanded. "You still don't believe my story?"
"Let's not get into that."
"It wasn't a hallucination!" John snapped. "I'm sick, but not crazy. Not yet." His brow furrowed. "Am I?"
"Just sit down and relax," Teena said, bringing him a canteen of water as Joyce helped him to sit.
He drank deeply, then closed his eyes and sighed.
"Can you tell us again what you saw?" Teena asked softly.
"It was taller than me. Somewhere around six feet. Maybe an inch or two taller and it was covered in gold scales. No hair. Naked. A dick the size of an anaconda."
Joyce cocked an eyebrow. "Now we know he's hallucinating."
Teena cast her friend an annoyed looked and said to the guide, "What about his face? Did he look like a reptile or a human?"
"It had features like a man, but also covered in those gold scales. It had piercing blue eyes. And the look in them... I thought he was going to kill me. Oh, and he had a tail with two big stingers."
"Teena," Joyce said, motioning with her head for them to step outside.
The women left the tent and Joyce whispered, "I think John should be in the hospital. We need to leave right now."
"Hospital? For what? His fever isn't that high. All he has is a virus. He'll be fine in a day or two."
Joyce's brow furrowed. "You really believe he saw a supernatural creature? I thought you were over that fantasy."
"How do you explain what he saw?"
"What about the egg? You said yourself you don't believe it's from any known species."
"That doesn't mean I think it was laid by a human lizard. Teena, you are a medical doctor. Think about what you're saying."
"I am thinking about it. You're closing your eyes to what's right in front of you because it doesn't agree with --"
"Doesn't agree with pure logic?"
Teena stared at Joyce, her teeth clenched. Despite their friendship, she'd always known Joyce doubted her story about the lizard boy.
"Teena, think about it. Between being sick and the discovery of the egg, John had to be hallucinating."
"Then what stole the egg?"
"Possibly another lizard."
"Whatever took it must have left tracks, right? What about a blood trail? He said he shot it."
The women searched the camp and found a trail that disappeared into the ocean. Unfortunately the trail looked as if someone had deliberately brushed away footprints. As Teena guessed, droplets of blood mixed with the sand.
"It's almost as if someone deliberately tried to hide the tracks," Joyce observed.
"Or they were swept away by its tail."
"You're suggesting a lizard has the intelligence to cover its own tracks?" Joyce said, then shrugged. "Why not? If you believe it's part human."
"How do you presume to guess its level of intelligence?"
Joyce looked thoughtful. "If we're dealing with the some unknown species that produced the egg, we don't know how smart it is. Regardless, it was not a lizard man. That is a scientific impossibility. I'll take a sample of this blood. That will at least let us know exactly what stole the egg and prove it was not some supernatural combination of human and reptile."
Almost as if nature itself was against providing answers about this creature, rain began to fall.
"There goes our blood samples and the tracks, such as they are," Joyce muttered. "Imagine rain falling here and now?"
"You know what? We've all been out here a little too long. Let's get packed and go."
Teena agreed. If no one believed her, then she'd search this thing out on her own.