After Aciano searched for about a few months he found Shades mother still living in a zoo a few states away. According to Shades mother, his father couldn’t handle the captivity and died. He simply couldn’t find the will to live in a cage. Shades mom chose the name Hope because she had spent all that time hoping to see her son again.
Aciano had gone to the zoo himself and bought her from them. He paid for a hotel and discussed everything with her and made sure she was the right one before calling his daughter. The next morning he’d be flying with her to Shades and Catalinas home. The two of them set up a room so she could stay but she was only going to live with them a week.
Hope wanted to be in the woods running free. The only reason she was staying in the house for a week was to get to know her new daughter. Hope was excited her son had found love and was happy. She cried when Aciano told her Catalina was two months pregnant. She couldn’t believe she was getting to go home, see her son again and could expect a grandbaby in seven months.
“I’m nervous, are you nervous?” Shade asked as he paced back and forth.
“Yes, extremely.” Catalina said and he stopped to look at her. She was watching him over the top of her book. She was smiling.
“No you’re not, you’re just saying that to calm me down.”
“True, lay down and I’ll read to you and the baby.”
He hesitated only a moment then crawled in next to her. He rested his head on her chest and she starting reading aloud. The sound of her voice eased some of the tension. He rubbed her stomach, wanting to feel his child kicking and squirming. She wasn’t far enough along yet. He often tried to will his child to grow faster, staring intently at her abdomen until she was laughing. She read until she was yawning almost every sentence and he took the book from her, setting it on the table next to her. He pulled her into his arms and she snuggled close.
“Don’t be nervous okay. Dad says she’s very excited to see you.” She yawned again.
“Sleep love. You and the baby need rest.” He said softly.
She drifted off, her breathing soft and warm against his chest. He rubbed her arm, loving how calm she made him when he was ready to rip his hair out. He closed his eyes, following her into sleep’s sweet embrace. He dreamed of what his mother might be like now. He had missed her so much more than he let on. He couldn’t wait to introduce her to Catalina and their unborn child.
Catalina woke first the next morning. She glanced at her alarm clock. Hope and her father would be on a plane by now. She kissed Shade’s chest and slipped out of bed. She was going to make him an apple pie. He was so stressed and she believed that something he loved would help take his mind off of things. She preheated the oven and made her crust first. She chopped apples, mixing them with sugar, cinnamon, and butter. She scooped it into the pie pan then put the top crust on. She popped it in the oven then set a timer. She peeked in the room. He was still fast asleep.
She had been very lucky so far and experienced almost no nasuea. Catalina hoped she’d stay that lucky until her child was born. Neither her or Shade cared what they were having. They were just excited to have a child. Catalina didn’t understand why Shade was so nervous. It was his mother. Shade was so amazing she knew Hope had to be.
Cataline grabbed her book and sat at the kitchen counter waiting for the oven to go off. The book was starting to get harder and harder to put down. She was so into it she jumped when Shade hugged her from behind. “sorry” He said laughing. “it’s ok. I’m making you pie since you’re so wound up.” He kissed her cheek “thank you, she hasn’t seen me in a long time. I hope she likes the man I’ve grown to be.”
“She’s your mother Shade. My dad said she cried she is so happy to be seeing you again and meeting me. She’s very excited about the baby too.”
“I’ve got to thank your father again for finding her.”
“My father loves you like you are his son by birth. He was happy to find your parents.” The timer went off and she pulled the pie out slicing it. Shade got that look he always did when he ate her pie. Pure satisfaction. Catalina loved to see it. “I think your pies get better. Soon I may start falling out of my chair they taste so good.” He said with his mouth full. “I would say you’re exagerating but your face said it all.” Catalina smiled.
Shade ate two more slices “will you read more to me?”
“Of course.” She started to stand and Shade said “no let me” he grabbed the book and handed it to his wife. She opened it and read to him until it was finished. “That was a good story. We’ll ahve to get you more by that author.”
“I agree.” They looked online for books until Shades ears heard Aciano and Hope coming up the driveway. Shade grabbed Catalinas hand tightly as they walked out the front door to greet them. His mom stepped out and Shade instantly darted to her without a second thought. She happily embraced her son as he lifted her in the air with his tight hug “Oh my son, I’ve missed you so much baby. Is that pretty girl your wife?” Shade nodded and set his mother down so she could meet Catalina. “Oh my look at you. You look like a sweetheart.” She hugged Catalina and Cat hugged her back “it’s so nice to meet you Hope.”
“Why don’t you come inside and get settled. I know it’s been stressful.” Shade said and lead his mother inside.
“Oh daddy, thank you so much.” Catarina said and jumped into her day’s arms.
“Anything for my Kitty Cat and her fox.” Kissed her forehead and sat her down gently. “How is my grandson?”
“Why would you think it’s a boy?”
“A man always knows.” He winked and she took his arm as they walked inside.
Shade and Hope were sitting together on the couch facing each other. Their foreheads were pressed together and their eyes were closed. Aciano looked at her confused and she shrugged. She had never seen this before. She would ask him later. They both opened their eyes and Shade looked embarrassed. He smiled weakly and Catalina smiled back. “Would you like some pie, Hope? I made it myself.” She asked.
“That would be great if you don’t mind.” Hope replied nervously.
“Not at all. Dad, how about you?”
“Sure baby, a quick bite then I have to go. I was supposed to be speaking at a seminar, but I rescheduled to help you two. I have to be at the college in town in an hour.”
Catalina quickly cut two pieces of pie and too them to their parents. Shade still looked embarrassed and even a little guilty. She sat on the arm of the couch next to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. Hope and Aciano ate quickly, both telling her how good her food was. She took the plates to the sink and then hugged her dad goodbye. He promised to visit again soon.
“If you two don’t mind, I’d like to go on a run. I have missed the woods.” Hope said as Aciano opened the front gate and drove out.
“We don’t mind, please have fun and stay safe.” Shade replied and his mother kissed his cheek before leaving the house.
“Are you ready to tell me about the forehead thing? You’ve been looking guilty and embarrassed.” Catalina said and he took her hand, pulling her down on the couch with him.
“I wasn’t trying to hide anything I promise. I just forgot to tell you. It’s the way we animals greet one who has been gone for a long time. It helps anchor them back to the Mother.”
“Is that what you’re doing when you press your forehead against mine?”
He shook his head. “It’s different between mates. I do it to connect us mind, body, and soul. Haven’t you noticed that our hearts beat at the same rhythm, that our breathing is the same? It lets me feel your energy and you mine.” He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against hers, closing his eyes. “I block everything out and just breathe you into me.”
“I love you so much.” She said and kissed him, her arms slipping around his neck.
“You are my everything Catalina.”
Even though the woods were the same they were different. Many new trees had grown while other things had died. She couldn’t believe she missed so much. The people at the zoo kept her well fed and groomed but she never had happiness. It was only hope to see Shade that kept her from willing herself to die. She thought of how handsome and healthy her son looked. She was glad for it, she knew it was Catalina that made his spirit so happy.
Hope felt Catalina was carrying a boy. It was as if nature told her she was. She looked forward to meeting the small fox one day. Hope started to clear her head as she ran. She really wanted to feel her old home. Everything about these woods was comforting. The air, the trees, the grass. The feel of them all was still the same. She stopped in a nice patch of grass and laid down. She sighed and allowed herself to feel mother.
Hope was very tired. She wasn’t accustomed to being able to run any longer. Her cage wasn’t cramped by any means but she couldn’t just run. Every time she’d get into it at the zoo she’d be stopped by a wall or have so many people watching her she felt uncomfortable. It was such a sad place. She wished humans weren’t so cruel in their capture and showmanship of animals. Hope knew they didn’t understand how sad it made animals though. Humans seemed more than happy to be away from their mother. Very few still had any connection to her. Catalina was different though, she honestly could’ve been an animal with the way her spirit felt when they hugged.
“How long do you think your mom will be gone?” Catalina asked, sitting on the porch and sipping some tea.
“Who knows. She’s been away from here for so long. I’m sure she’ll be back in time for dinner and if not then she’ll come back in the morning.” Shade answered and rested his head on her shoulder, enjoying the warmth of the day. “It smells like rain.” He said softly.
“But there’s not a cloud in the sky.” He tapped his nose and she laughed. “Of course, what was I thinking?”
“That a meteorologist is better at predicting the weather than me.”
“Maybe you should become one. You’d be right on the nose every time.”
He laughed and raised his head, kissing her on the cheek so she turned her face to him and he could get at her lips. “You taste like honey and peppermint. Absolutely delicious.” She blushed and he rubbed noses with her. “I love when you turn all red. You look so adorable.”
“Says the cute, fuzzy, cuddly little fox. You’re the adorable one, I’m sexy.” She said and winked. She finished her tea and took the cup back inside. “We should go on a walk. I feel so energized.”
“It’s probably the baby. You should enjoy it while you can. Come nine months you’ll be exhausted from carrying him.”
“Why does everyone think I’m having a boy? First daddy and now you.”
He smiled and pushed her back against the counter. “It is a boy.”
“That remains to be seen. Men don’t know everything.”
“That’s true, but in this instance I have a feeling we will be right. Now, lets go on that walk. I’ll get your shoes.” He kissed her nose and went into their room. He grabbed her hiking shoes. They had the best traction and he didn’t want her falling. He was already becoming paranoid of anything happening to his child. Catalina seemed so carefree and reassured him that even if she had a big belly that a minor fall would not hurt the baby. She told him the amniotic fluid acted as a shock absorber. She had also talked about how his mother was a fox and had carried him to term while living in the wild, having to hunt for every meal and evade bigger predators. He knew she was right, but this was his baby and he wasn’t going to let anything happen to him.
“here you go” Catalina smiled ‘thank you but I doubt I need hiking shoes for a walk”
“wear them please.” She laughed “ok” He smiled widely “thanks, I just want you and our baby to be safe. I can’t have you slipping.”
“I barely even show yet”
“I know, there’s no harmÂ in being as safe as possible with my mate and son.”
“Since you know the gender somehow what names are you thinking of?”
“There’s too many to choose from. You named me, you can name our son too.”
“No, I want us both to decide. Just pick a couple you like then we’ll talk about them.”
“Can it wait?”
“We have until he or she is born. I’ll think of girl names too just incase you don’t know everything.”
“You’ll be wasting your time” he said grabbing her hand. “I love you so much”
“I love you more”
“Don’t get that going Shade.” Shade laughed “well I could easily love you more since I’ve loved you longer.”
“I can’t help I thought you were just a fox for so long mr sneaky. Watching me change clothes and sleeping with me.” Shade laughed then added “cuddling with you on rainy days was the best. It was nice of you to let me stay in your home.”
“You really have no shame about then huh?”
“I wasn’t trying to be a liar, like i said when you first found out. You didn’t like men so I knew if I came to you this way I’d just upset you. I loved you so much even then. Just being your pet was enough for me.” Catalina stopped him and gave him a hug “You’re wonderful, you know that?”
“sure do” he winked. It was such a nice day for now. Catalina was having a hard time believeing it would rain but Shade was always right. “You’re still doubting me.” Shade said looking at Catalina “It just looks so clear but no I’m not really doubting you. You haven’t been wrong once.” They walked along the normal way they took. Shade eying the ground most the time to make sure there were no snakes or anything else on the ground that could hurt his wife.
“You’re missing everything staring at the boring ground Shade. What’s a snake going to do? Bite straight through my shoe?”
“Can’t be too safe.”
“I think that’s going to be your very annoying motto through this pregnancy.”
“But you love me so you’ll humor me?” Catalina smiled “of course, just dont go too crazy.”
They came to the river and she hopped quickly across on some rocks sticking out of the water. His heart nearly stopped and he stood there for a moment hoping he didn’t have a heart attack. He crossed over and took her hand. She really had no fear at all that anything could happen to their son. “The water’s not that deep, the most I would have got if I had fallen was soaked.” She said, reading his expression perfectly.
“Or hit your head.” He couldn’t believe how nervous he was.
“I know how to fall. You should know that by now. You’ve seen me fall out of trees, off rocks trying to get to out of reach blackberries, and even off my roof when I was trying to fix my Christmas lights.”
“And every time I almost shifted into this form so I could make sure you were okay.”
“You did make sure I was okay. I remember you licking my cuts and bruises. I never broke anything.”
He opened his mouth to tell her it didn’t matter and the sky suddenly opened up and rain starting pouring down on them. She laughed and raised her hands, tipping her head back to catch water in her mouth. She spun in circles and then lay in the grass, letting the cool water wet her skin and soak her clothes. She reminded him of the little woodland fairies in her stories and how they loved to play and bathe in the rain. She was such a part of this place her heart was connected very strongly with Mother. He lifted her into his arms and kissed her. She smiled against his lips and it sent a wave of joy and excitement through him.
“Lets get you home and into something dry. I don’t want you getting too cold.” He said and she threw her head back and laughed. “What’s so funny?”
“You are. It makes me happy that you would do anything for me even when I don’t ask you to. I love you so much.” She kissed him. “Come on Sir Galahad, get me home.”
Shade ran fast but carefully home with her. When they arrived they went straight for the bathroom to take off their wet clothes and get in the warm shower. Shade washed his wife lovingly, he still admired her body. She was only getting more beautiful with each passing year. He was so happy to be having a baby with her. He couldn’t wait to play with his son outside. He hoped he’d be able to turn into a fox. Even if his son couldn’t he’d still be very happy.
When they were clean they got out and put some clothes on. They didn’t know when Shades mother would return. “what’re we having for dinner Catalina?”
“I thought I could make us Tilapia and a bowl of mixed fruit since that’s what your mother likes best. I’ve already bought the stuff.”
“You’re so thoughtful” Shade hugged her “thanks for trying to make my mom comfortable. I hope she comes to dinner since you planned something for her.”
“It’ll be fine, I’ve planned all our meals while shes in our house for her.” Shade kissed Catalina. One of the many reasons why I’m madly in love with you.”
“I’m going to get the fruit bowl mixed and ready.”
“Is there any way I can help?”
“Chop things please while I start dumping different berries in the bowl.” Shade was very fast at chopping things now that Catalina was pregnant. He didn’t want her cutting her fingers so he did all the cutting. Sometimes she’d be able to do it without him noticing but if Shade knew she had to chop up something he’d do it. It didn’t take them very long to get the fruit bowl ready. Catalina put plastic wrap over the top and placed it in the fridge. “I wont start cooking the fish for another hour. I want to give her time to get back.”
Hope rolled in the grass, enjoying the water soaking her fur. She breathed in the clean air, so happy to be home. She would never allow herself to be captured again. She hoped to stay on Catalina’s land that way no one could get to her. She found a nice place under a tree and sat, watching the world. She listened to the rain, the beautiful tapping sound it made. She was sad she would never get to listen to it with her husband again, but Mother had taken him home to peace and happiness. She knew she had to be getting back. Shade and Catalina were probably getting hungry and she didn’t want them having to wait for her.
Shade listened to Catalina singing to herself in the kitchen as she got a glass of water. She had a very beautiful voice, at least to him. Everything about her was perfect. He found himself on his feet and walking over to her. He took the glass from her and sat it on the counter, turning her so she faced him and kissing her. Her arms went around his neck and he held her tightly to him.
“I love you so much.” He whispered.
“I love you too. What’s all the loving for? Did you kill a bird and leave it on my front porch?” She said with a smile.
“I’m not a cat. I don’t do the whole dead gifts thing.” He said with a laugh. “I’m just so happy to have you here with me like this. So happy that you were willing to accept me even when it must have scared you. I love your strength and integrity. Sometimes my feelings for you overwhelm me. You are so perfect.”
“I feel the same about you and always will. That will never change.” Shade heard footsteps and cocked his head to listen. Bare feet, it had to be his mother. The door opened and Hope stepped in, smiling brightly. Her clothes were soaked and he figured she must have left them out in the open before she shifted.
“Why don’t you go take a shower mom. Catalina should have something you can wear. Left knob hot, right knob cold and center knob turns on the shower.”
“Okay thank you.” She replied and headed into the bathroom.
“You have to let me go so I can get her some pajamas.” Catalina said.
“Sorry, I’m just enjoying being so close.” He moved back and she went to their room to get Hope some clothes.
She dug out her most comfortable pajamas and took them into the bathroom. “Yell if you need anything.”
“I will” Catalina went back in the kitchen and started to prepare the tilapia. Shade turned on the oven then stuck the fish in when she had them ready. He stole a kiss quickly making Catalina smile. The fish wasn’t going to take long so Catalina and Shade went ahead and set the table. Hope got done in the shower almost just as the fish were ready. Catalina hoped Shades mother liked the food. When Hopes plate was cleared she got her confirmation “That was absolutely delicious, I’m glad my son is fed so well.”
“I’m happy you liked it.”
“Would it be rude of me if I went to sleep? Traveling was so hard.”
“Traveling is hard for your son too. It wouldn’t be rude in the slightest if you went to bed. Shade got up and hugged his mom then showed her to the room they had made for her. Shade came back to the table and offered his hand to Catalina. She took it as he guided her to the bedroom. Shade started taking off her clothes and Catalina giggled. “Your moms here.”
“I’ll be fast and you be quiet” Shade smiled “I just want to be one with you.” He now had her on the bed. He was quick but enjoyed every second of being inside of her. When they were done he pulled her into his lap and touched her head to his. He sighed contently when he finally laid her down and put his arm around her. “do you need a drink or anything Catalina?”
“water please” He kissed her “one second.” He whispered then got up to get her some. Catalina drank quickly and decided to go to sleep aswell. She wanted to be up when Hope was. Catalina didn’t want her to feel awkward in a strange house by herself. Shade wasn’t very tired but laying with Catalina made him happy so he just held her and did his best to help her fall asleep.
Hope tossed and turned, unable to fall asleep. Being in a house was strange to her. She was so tired from running through the woods, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t find sleep. She sat up, sighing in exasperation. She got out of bed and moved quietly into the living room. She didn’t see her son or Catalina. She listened, catching the sound of soft breathing coming from their room. She was far to wild to be inside. It almost had her panicking and pulling out her hair being confined. She didn’t want seem ungrateful to them. Catalina had had Aciano find her even though they had never met before and she easily accepted animals as something more than just beasts. She finally stepped out onto the porch and sat down on the swing, enjoying the rain.
Shade heard his mother moving through the house. He could smell her fear. He wondered what was wrong, if he or Catalin had done something to scare her. He was so at home here and he wanted his mom to feel the same. He looked down at Catalina, know she wanted to be awake to get to know his mother, but she needed her rest. She was growing a baby and deserved all the comfort she could get. He brushed her hair off her face and kissed her softly on the cheek so as not to wake her.
“I love you so much baby.” He said softly and slid her slowly off his chest. He grabbed his jeans and pulled them on then went out onto the porch with his mom. “Are you okay?” He asked as he sat down next to her.
“Of course I am. I’m just watching the rain.” Hope answered with a nervous smile.
“You know you can tell me anything right?”
“I know, I just wanted to be out here and enjoy the fresh air.”
“Would you like some tea?”
“If you don’t mind making me some.”
He hugged her and then went back inside. He knew something was wrong, but he wasn’t going to force her to talk. He knew being back home was a lot like culture shock. He hoped she would be able to adapt to life here again. He heated some water in the microwave and put a bag of lemon tea and a spoonful of honey in the cup. He stirred it until the honey was dissolved and took it out to his mother. She thanked him and he went back inside to cuddle with Catalina for just a little longer.
He walked up to the bed thinking of how adorable his wife looked. Shade put his arms around Catalina and let his mind become peaceful. He embraced her spirit letting it consume his own. Shade loved now being able to feel his unborn childs spirit when he did this. He was certain his child would be a boy. Shade lost track of time and spent much longer than he had intended laying with Catalina. Shade got up and walked to the porch to see if his mother was still sitting out there.
She wasn’t and he checked in her room. She wasn’t there either. He wondered if maybe she was feeling confined in there home. He didn’t see why she wouldn’t say somthing if that was the case though. Shade hoped he’d be able to coax the problem out of his mother later. It was now nearing the time when Catalina would be waking up. He felt starving but didn’t want to eat without his wife.Â
Shade decided it would be a perfect time to go for a run. He took his clothes off then shifted. Everything was wet outside since the rain had only stopped a little while ago. It felt good against his fur. Especially now that he had access to a human shower to clean himself off after he was done enjoying it. He sometimes felt bad that Catalina couldn’t shift like he could. He was sure she’d love it if she was able to. It was something he thought about from time to time the past seven years he spent with her. A smile flitted across Shades face at the realization they had been together that long. It didn’t feel like it in the slightest. HIs life was filled with so much happiness being married to Catalina. Days felt like mere minuets.
It was to quiet, that’s what woke her. Catalina sat up and pushed her hair out of her face. She got out of bed and searched the house. She was alone. Her stomach growled and she decided on an easy breakfast, a big bowl of fruit loops. She sat down on the couch and switched on the TV. There was a documentary on about the Pacific Crest Trail. It was a hiking trail that went from Mexico to Canada and took six months to travel. She wondered if Shade would like to do something like that. She was only two months pregnant. She almost laughed at the image in her head of her eight months pregnant hiking up mountains. It would be quite a sight.
Shade stretched and then walked at a leisurely pace back home. He was glad he had a home to go to. He never had to worry about being alone. He found his clothes and pulled them on, not knowing if his mother had returned. He walked happily into the house and Catalina smiled at him. “You woke up before I got back.” He said a little sadly.
“I guess I got used to hearing your snoring. It was to quiet.” She said, looking up at him innocently as she took a bite of cereal.
“I don’t snore.”
“Sure you do.”
He sat down next to her and she held up a spoon full of cereal for him. He ate it and then kissed her cheek. “What’re you watching?”
“It’s about the PCT, we should go. It’s a six month long hike through…” He held up a hand to silence her.
“Six months? You’ll be eight months pregnant by the time we reach the end. No way.”
She frowned. “Well I don’t want to spend six months away from our child.”
He sighed, hating the sad look in her eyes she tried to hide from him. He wanted to give her everything. “We could always wait until he’s big enough to understand. I mean this is saying you have to go through the Mojave and over snowy mountains and all kinds of things. At eight months pregnant your balance would be way off.”
“You’re right of course. I guess I’ve just been sort of restless. I spend most of my time in here so you don’t worry. I want to go somewhere.”
He took the bowl from her and sat it on the coffee table then wrapped her in a tight hug. He had not realized how his overprotectiveness was making her feel. He knew she wasn’t made of glass, but he couldn’t help it. She was carrying his pup. “I’m sorry love. How about we go to Ireland? We can explore castles. You were talking about going last week.” He pulled back to look at her, happy when her eyes brightened up.
“We can go next month after we’re sure your mom is comfortable.”
“Sounds good, is my mother back?”
“She seemed sad this morning.”
“Do you think I did anything wrong?”
“Of course not, she’ll tell us when she’s ready.”
“Do you think I could do anything to make her enjoy herself more?” Shade pulled Catalina into a kiss. “You’re such an amazing woman, no I don’t think you could.” Shade rubbed his nose against his wifes. “Don’t worry, whatever it is I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with you in the slightest. She just wants to be out most likely. She’s been caged for so long.”
“What if she’s in our home because she feels like we will think she doesn’t love us if she doesn’t?”
“I could ask her and assure her we understand if she wants to go ahead and start living outside.”
“You should really do that. I hope she isn’t in here for us. I want her to be happy. I can never thank her enough for giving me you.” Catalina ran her hand through Shades hair and he smiled. “I’ll talk to her as soon as she returns.”
“Good” Shade leaned over and licked Catalinas ear. She giggled, “don’t be bad. Your mom will be back any moment.”
“I’ll hear her and can stop if I need to.” He whispered while he slid his hands up Catalinas legs. Shade lifted her up and carried her to their room. He made love to her slowly and sweetly. Shade always tried to make her feel his love with his every lick, touch and kiss. He kept a close listen for his mother while Catalina tried to contain her moans of pleasure. He wanted to enjoy foreplay a little longer but decided to be safe he needed to finish. He held both Catalinas hands in his and slid himself in and out of her. The look on her face giving him greater pleasure than anything.
Shade held Catalina until his mother came home. He got up “I’ll talk to her” he kissed his wifes cheek and greeted his mom with a hug “Hey, have fun?”
“I hope you don’t mind me running off like that.”
‘You’re not a prisoner you can go when you want. I was wondering if maybe you felt you had to stay in our home to make us happy. If it is I promise we know you love us. I mean you do like Cat right?”
“Very much, you picked a wonderful mate….I just….I miss the woods and I feel trapped in the house at night.”
“So you’d rather start living in the woods now rather than waiting six more days?”
“I would, but if I do I can come see you two whenever I want?”
“Of course you can mom. I hope you do. I missed you so much. I’m so glad Catalinas dad found you for us. She had him start looking as soon as I told her what happened.”
“I can imagine so, she seems so nice and loving. Her spirit even feels like an animals even though shes human. Your baby has a wonderful spirit in him aswell. Does she truly understand? I don’t want to hurt her after how she’s brought so much happiness in your life and then paid to set me free from that zoo.”
“I really do” Catalina said entering the room. Hope came and hugged her “I love you, I’m so happy my son chose such a good mate. I’ll stay with you guys today and then go to my old home in the woods when night falls.”
“That sounds perfect to me”
Shade made them lunch around noon, insisting on it even when Catalina tried to push him out of the kitchen. He was as immovable as stone and since she didn’t have any kind of heavy machinery she figured she should just let him cook. He steamed some carrots, baked drumsticks, and cooked rice. It smelled so good she almost got up from talking to Hope to peek in on him.
“I don’t know if Shade told you about the time he accidentally jumped in the river.” Hope said with a smile.
“No he hasn’t, the embarrassing stuff seems to have been gleaned over.” Catalina replied.
“We were out hunting and he saw this little bird, a finch or a sparrow. He thought that he could catch this fast little bird. He was still really young. Anyway, he took off after this little bird and it took off. He jumped in the air and I mean really high up, missed the bird and fell head first into the river.” They started laughing and she was almost unable to finish the story. “He comes up screaming for his dad who had to jump in the very slow moving water and drag him out.”
“Hey, are you two talking about me?” Shade said as he set the table.
“You know we are, don’t act like you didn’t hear every word.” Catalina teased.
“I can’t help it. I have big fox ears.”
She giggled and he shook his head as he smiled. He dished out food and they sat down at the table and ate. Catalina closed her eyes and licked the butter off her lips. He cleared his throat and she opened her eyes, smiling at him knowingly. She liked to do things like that when they had company because she knew he couldn’t do anything about it. She was a real tease when she wanted to be. He tossed a carrot at her and she tossed one back. He caught it in his mouth and she narrowed her eyes at him. He grinned and a smile flitted across her lips.
“hey mom, I found this amazingly beautiful spot a few miles away. Want to see it?”
“That sounds fun”
“Lets go” Catalina said happily. They all got ready and walked out into the warm sunny day. Shade held Catalinas hand as they went so he could make sure she didn’t fall.Hope chuckled at her son and how he would worriedly check where his wife was walking. “She’s barely pregnant Shade, calm yourself”
“I hope it doesnt get any worse.”
“It will, his father was the same way. Worry warts” The two woman laughed “I can’t help that I love you and our baby so much” Catalina smiled “I know, you’re cute.”
“You’re a good man just as your father Shade. Let her have fun though.” Shade nodded but kept his wifes hand. Everything was beautiful and there were many butterflies out. The walk there was almost as beautiful as the area itself. Hope was just happy to be in the nature. Catalina sighed when they were almost there “are you tired” he said lifting her before she could even answer. Catalina guffawed at her husband. “a little but I like walking.” Shade set her down. “sorry, please tell me if I need to carry you.”
“I promise I will” They finally made it and Hopes eyes widened. ‘This is gorgeous my son.” Her eyes seemed to study every flower and curve of the land, every plant and bug she saw. She shifted and began to run happily. Shade looked at Catalina to ask if she cared if he ran with her. Catalina nodded as her husband took off his clothes and shifted chasing after his mother. Catalina sat and watched happily as the two adorable foxes played together.
She longed to run with them, to roll in the grass and feel it against this I fur. She wanted to be able to hear everything, to smell every scent the world had to offer, to feel the heartbeat and blood of the earth moving beneath her feet. Sometimes it made her sad to think she would never get to do those things with her child. It was an experience n Shade would have. She sighed and rested her hand on her stomach. She would love their child no matter what, she would love Shade no matter what. They were everything to her. The foxes disappeared farther into the woods and she lay back in the grass, staring up at the blue sky.
Shade followed his mother to the river where they sat and enjoyed the gentle flowing sound. He suddenly felt very upset. The feeling came unbidden and did not belong to him. It reverberated up from the earth and into his heart and soul. Mother had brought him a message from his wife. She was sad, crying on the inside where no one would be able to see it. He sighed and looked at his mother who had a concerned look on her face. She felt it too. He needed to get back to her, to hold her and find out why she was so upset. He ran back through the woods, leaving his mother there. He knew she understood, would want him to comfort Catalina. He shifted back as he came upon her laying in the grass. He crawled up her and rested his head on her stomach. He could hear his son’s heartbeat, that very small thumping sound that usually you usually only heard on an ultrasound.
“Tell me what’s wrong my love.” He said and lifted her shirt to kiss her stomach.
“It’m just a little sad.” She replied as she ran her fingers through his bright red hair. She hoped her child had his hair. She loved the color and how soft it was.
“Have I done something to upset you?”
“You could never upset me. I just wish I could be more like you and your mother. I want to be able to run through the forest with you, chase birds and accidentally jump in rivers. I have this feeling deep down that our child, our son will be able to do the same thing and I will be alone.”
“You’ll never be alone, we’ll always be here for you.”
“You know what I mean by alone. I love you and this baby more than anything, but it makes me sad that I’ll never be able to bond with you in that way.”
“I seem to remember us bonding just fine.” He raised his head and smiled. She was still staring at the sky. “Look at me Catalina.” She looked down at him. “I love you no matter what and so will our son. You are the most beautiful and brightest woman I know. Our son will love you no matter what. I want you to be able to shift like I can. You have the most unusual aura, you feel like an animal even though you’re not.”
“Maybe I have a little in me or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.” She said softly.
“Please be happy. I just want you happy.” She smiled down at him.
“I am happy, I promise.”
He continued to lay with her “go back to your mother Shade, she’s leaving us tonight.”
“But I don’t want you to feel sad. Your happiness is everything to me.”
“I’ll be ok, Please go.” He kissed Catalina pouring all his love into it. The look on his face when he pulled back told her he was afraid to leave her. “I’m fine, have fun with your mom.” He shifted and licked her cheek then took off to find his mother. She felt so loved by Shade. The happiness she got from his concern for her kept her smiling until the two of them returned a few hours later. “Enjoy yourselves?”
“Very much, I’m sorry you can’t run with us.”
“It’s ok, It’s nothing we can change so I’m fine.” Shade and Hope hugged Catalina at the same time. The three just stood there enjoying eachothers embrace. Hope let go first “Lets have some dinner.” Shade carried Catalina all the way home. His eyes never leaving her face unless his mother spoke. He knew everything around their home so well he didn’t need to look where he was going. “I’m making dinner, you two relax” Shades voice telling Catalina he was not moving on the subject. “but you made lunch”
“Yep, and I’m making dinner.” Hope laughed “come dear, he’s made up his mind.” They sat together on the couch again. “did you enjoy yourself?”
“Very much dear but we don’t need to talk about it. I would hate for you to get sad again. It breaks my sons heart and my own. You’re such a sweet girl. Too sweet to be sad.”
“I told you two I’ll be fine, no sense being upset about something I can’t change.”
“would you mind if I ran with my son on Sundays?”
“I think that woudl be a great idea, when the baby gets old enough he can join you.”
“You’ve accepted your baby is a he?”
“Shades never wrong” Catalina laughed. Hope retorted “He’s a man so is wrong often.” Shade laughed from the kitchen. He was happy his mother liked Catalina. He had really hoped she would. It wouldn’t have changed his feelings for her if she didn’t love his wife but it was nice she did. Dinner was soon ready and he set the table again. “come on” He called. They both sat down beside eachother. Shade took another hug from his wife.
When dinner was over Shade hugged his mother tightly. “I’ll be over every Sunday, somtimes more. I just really want to be free in my home again”
“I know mom, be safe. You are always welcome inside.”
“I know my sweet boy. You take care of your wife and son.”
“You know I will” Hope rubbed her sons cheek “How you’ve grown. You are so much like your father.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Hope shifted and ran into the darkness. Shade took his wifes hand and lead her into their bedroom to hold her. He wrapped himself around Catalina tightly and sighed with relief. “How’re you feeling my love?”
“Happy to be cuddling with you.”
“I wish this baby would hurry and get here.”
“Just be patient. He’s coming as fast as he can.”
He listened to Catalina fall asleep, her even breathing so soft. He cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb over her skin. He felt so sad for her. He hated how upset she had been at the thought of not shifting. He didn’t see it as anything special, but then again he had grown up with the ability. He pressed his forehead against her temple and let her aura wash over him. He could still feel a lingering sadness along with the wildness that reminded him of an animal.
“Maybe I can find a way for you to shift. Maybe Mother knows.” He whispered. “I just want you to be happy.”
He slipped put of bed and went outside. He sat down in the grass and dug his fingers into the earth. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to feel the life force of the earth. He cleared his mind of all intruding thoughts. He asked his question and waited. He felt warmth moving up his arms and into his chest. He asked again and saw images of a fox with dark fur running through the woods. It stopped and shifted into a woman who looked a lot like Aciano. She had long black hair that hung to her thighs and green eyes. He heard the echo of the word ancestor.
“But can she shift?” He asked.
When it came down to it, it was about how strong the animal blood was. Since he didn’t know how far back her animal ancestry went he didn’t know if she had the ability to shift or not. He listened to the earth and received more flashes. One was of the woman and a human man with dark hair and dark eyes. They had with them a little girl with the same eyes as Aciano. He wondered of this was his mother, Catalina’s grandmother. The green eyes seemed like a dominant trait in their family and maybe a marker for the animal side of them. Aciano had not known about animals being able to shift into humans until recently. Shade guessed his mother and grandmother had kept it a secret. He thanked Mother Earth and allowed himself to come back to the world around him. He went quietly back inside and climbed in bed with Catalina. He wrapped his arm around her waist and snuggled close.
Shade excitedly woke the next morning wanting his wife to get up too. If she wasn’t pregnant he would’ve woken her. He wanted to go outside with Catalina and have her try. He hoped it wouldn’t result in her having a broken heart. He would plead with mother to help her shift so she would be happy. If she couldn’t Shade decided he would only ever shift for his mother. He didn’t want Catalina to feel sad every time he was a fox.
He paced around their home until he heard her in the kitchen. He ran in “what’s up?”
“Come outside with me please.” Catalina smiled and followed him. He sat down in the grass with her. “I want you to relax and feel mother.” Catalina was very confused but humored him. He waited until she was fully relaxing and said ” Try and change into a fox, I talked to mother last night and I think you can. Please try hard.” Catalina felt sad, why would she be able to shift? She sighed and thought about shifting trying to will herself into a fox while Shade was almost in tears pleading with mother to help her.
Suddenly she felt a strange feeling she had never experienced and realized she had shifted. Shade lit up with joy and shifted too pushing his head against hers. Catalina ran with Shade close beside. Shade could feel her absolute bliss and excitedness. He was happy he talked to mother for her. He’d do anything to make Catalina happy. He hoped there would never be a thing in their future that made her sad he couldn’t fix.
~ The End ~