Catalina had always been an incredibly intelligent woman. From the time she started school she impressed her teachers and made excellent grades. Because of this she didn’t have many friends and definitely no love interests since most men were intimidated by her. To top it off she hadn’t hit jackpot with looks so she was just a nerdy girl with dreams of forensic anthropology when she graduated at fifteen. Her father knew how much she liked to be alone and even more so how she adored nature so as a reward for doing so well in school and graduating so early he bought miles of land in the mountains and paid to have a cabin built for his daughter. He made sure they found a spot a cabin would fit so they wouldn’t have to take down any of the trees.
Catalina loved nature in it’s entirety so would welcome being surrounded by all that had naturally grown there. When it was done he took her there without telling Catalina where they were going or why. She was annoyed by this but absolutely ecstatic when her father handed her the keys and told her that cabin and the land for miles belonged to her now. It was worth every penny to Aciano to see his little girls face light up with jubilation. She decided to take a break before going to college so she could just enjoy this place.
It’s now four years later. Her only friend in the world being a beautiful orange coat fox that came to her house almost daily. It surprised her how brave he was since he just came right up to her and sat in her lap. Catalina would smile while petting him and telling him stories about her life. She literally told that little fox everything, her fears, joys, wants, dreams. That silent, adorable fox knew her better than anybody else and she honestly considered him a cherished pet.
One morning she woke to what sounded like fighting outside of her home. It scared her since she was in the middle of nowhere. Who would be out here fighting near her home? She hurriedly dressed and bolted outside. She froze in shock when she saw a nude man with long, orange hair fighting with somthing she couldn’t quite pin as anything. The only thing she did know is it looked grotesque. Her brain could barely form a coherent thought as the man slammed the horrible creature into the ground.
She went even deeper into shock when the man shot this intense yellow light from his hands into the creature. It shrieked painfully, tugging at her heart despite how ugly it looked. The creature got away from the man and it was only then that he noticed her. His face went pale. He looked completely terrified that Catalina had seen him. The next expression on his face was worry as he rushed over to her “are you okay Catalina? Did you get hurt? I didn’t see you here” Even his voice depicted how concerned he was over her which didn’t make sense since she didn’t even know this man.
“How do you know my name?” she had to ask. She didn’t know what was concerning her more. What she just saw, the fact he was naked or that he knew her name somehow. His face grew uncomfortable “I guessed, I mean, you look like a Catalina”
“Don’t you lie to me right now! You obviously didn’t guess! How many girls are named Catalina?! I’m not an idiot! Why are you here and what was that thing?” he sighed sadly, fearing loseing the woman he had fallen in love with. The nude man shifted back into the fox she was always talking to and petting. He could have sworn his heart was obliterated when she covered her mouth and her eyes glazed with horror. He shifted back into a man just in time for Catalina to start screaming.
“Oh my god I’ve lost my mind out here! I’m fucking crazy! Jesus let me be asleep!” Her emotional state only increased when she realized the implications of this”You’ve licked me! I’ve told you all my secrets! Damn I’ve told you absolutely everything! Everything to a strange man fox thingy! I’m going to be committed for this….” His lip trembled as he tried to comfort her “you aren’t crazy Catalina. Most animals have human forms. We just don’t show them to humans.” She responded but not really in answer to what he had said. “What was that yellow light thing?”
“I was using the suns power to attack him. Humans could once do the same but they are no longer one with our mother. Humans started using and abusing her so she quit giving them her aid. That creature i was protecting your home from was caused by human toxic waste. Its changing some of the animals into abominations that want nothing more than to destroy mother aswell.” She looked utterly confused and he couldn’t blame her “please don’t be afraid of me Catalina. You are absolutely amazing and I care about you a great deal. It’s why I spend so much time with you”
She felt dizzy and Shade could tell from the look of her she might feint. He reached out for Catalina to keep her steady but she swatted his hands away “You’re naked. You aren’t to touch me atall without pants on” She went back into her cabin in full blush from head to toe as she muttered about waking up at any moment. As she grabbed a pair of sweat pants for him she thought about her uncle who was institutionalized for claiming animals could do this very thing she was seeing now. If this was the real deal he didn’t deserve to be locked away. That would be somthing to handle when she could finally make heads or tails of what was going on. If this proved not to be a hallucination or a dream she would have to help him.
He had been around her for four years so wasn’t shocked to see her come out with mens sweat pants. He had seen her wear them more times than he could count. He tugged them on and she could finally think straight. He was far too handsome to be going around with nothing covering him. “Do you have a name?”
“Just the one you gave me”
“sir fuzzybottom?” He smiled as if to hold back a laugh “I liked Shade”
“Let me guess animals don’t need names to communicate because they are all tied together by Mother Earth and have some weird telepathic link.”
“Somthing like that, yes” She sat down on her couch, eyes wide and looking for all the world like she was stuck in a bad dream.Shade knew how hard this had to be for her. She normally kept men at a distance which was why he had never shown her he wasn’t only an animal but a shapeshifter. He still deeply worried for the state of their freindship now that she knew what he was. “I’m sorry” he said as he sat down beside her. “Damn straight you are.” She said angrily. “You know all my private thoughts, all my wants and dreams. That I’ve never been with a man. Everything. God help you, you sneaky bastard.” She threw a pillow at him and he caught it. “What’s worse is you are far too gorgeous. Who can stay mad at that face. Damn you.”
“Well I am wonderful to look at, but I wouldn’t say gorgeous.” She glared at him, but her lips twitched. She didn’t want to smile. She wanted to find a bear and let it eat him. “Where did that thing come from?” She changed the subject. “There is an old nuclear facility that I think is a dumping ground for nuclear waste. There is a bio-engineering company that has been using it. It is tainting everything, making many animals sick and twisting some into horrible abominations like the one you saw today.” She buried her face in her hands and he moved closer, putting his arms around her. “I am truly sorry, I never meant to draw you into this. I couldn’t get it away from your home so I had to fight it right there.”
“I can get my father to look into it. I’m sure he can figure it out.”
“with all you’ve told me about him I have no doubts he will and can” They heard the soft falling of rain outside and she sighed “I’m going to make somthing to eat.”
“Do you want me to leave?” he asked with a heartbroken look. She had every reason to be angry at him and want him out of her life but it would leave his very soul in pieces. She sighed again “I’m not sending you out in the rain. You know that from all the times I’ve let you in here.” She blushed so he asked ‘what?”
“I can’t believe all the times you’ve seen me naked” he frowned “I’m sorry, there’s no excuse. I admired your beauty every time you stripped your clothes in front of me. You are a breath taking woman but I should have looked away. Thank you for all the times you let me stay here out of the rain. I’ve really loved knowing you and spending days with you. I never wanted to ruin it by showing you that I was a man too. I didn’t want you to not want to be around me anymore since men make you nervous.”
“When you show how much better you are than them at everything they tend to get pissed off. You know I’ve had run ins with jealous assholes. It’s sad how many men can’t handle an intelligent woman and try to walk all over her because of their jealousy” She pulled two potatoes out of the pantry and sat them on the counter. “I’m guessing you’re hungry.”
“Yes” Catalina scrubbed the potatoes, poked holes in them and stuck them in the microwave. She hit the potato button twice. She opened the fridge and grabbed the butter, sour cream, and chives. She sat them on the counter and grabbed a knife and cutting board. “I am glad you ended up out here though to get away from them. I really enjoy your company”
“I got accepted to one of those schools I was telling you about” It felt like a whole planet had come crashing down unto his shoulders “You’re going to leave me then?’
“I’ll be back summers but I do need to go to college. I don’t want to live off my fathers money forever I was just waiting until I was 20 to start. Why so sad? Don’t you have other friends besides me?”
“I like being around you best. I wish you were going to be here forever. For some reason I thought you would be. I guess that was me being hopeful and not using my brain.” Catalina was surprised she meant so much to her fox. Just the look on his face showed how sad he was that she wasn’t just going to stay in this cabin forever. Regardless she still wasn’t convinced this was all really happening. She was still waiting to wake up and find her normal fox sleeping in bed with her. She was consumed with thoughts of waking up and how she’d react if this wasn’t real until Shade softly touched her cheek. It surprised her “why are you touching me?”
“sorry, I’ve always wanted to touch you in my human form.” She blushed and he didn’t know if that meant it was ok to touch her or not. Most of what was consuming his was heartbreak knowing she wasn’t going to be around anylonger soon. He felt like an idiot for falling in love with her. All the fox women he knew and he had fallen in love with a human.
With how sad he got when just away from her a day he didn’t know how he was supposed to live on only seeing her during the summer. He would protest but with how passionately she had spoken of a career he knew there was absolutely no talking his love out of it. He could go with her in his human form but who was to say she wanted that? Who was to say they were even really friends any longer. He knew chances were good that as soon as this rain let up he would be kicked out of the door and not allowed back into her life since he had been lieing to her for so long.
Shade had always loved when it rained. He often prayed for rain so he’d get to stay the night in the warmth of her bed. “You need to stop looking like you’re going to cry. We’re still friends Shade”
“want to watch a movie?”
“I’d love that”
“Do you want to choose a movie now that I know you can speak?”
“No, anything you want Catalina” he followed her into her bedroom before taking Catalina into his arms and sitting down in the chair they always watched movies in on rainy days. “Now you get to sit in my lap” he said with a hopeful smile that she’d like this. He was too handsome to say no to and there was something about his touch that she loved so she decided to stay in his arms. Catalina turned the TV on and just let the movie play that was already in the DVD player. Holding her was just as amazing as he thought it be. She always kept him in her lap and stroked his fur but it was nice to be the one doing the holding.
Catalina began stroking his arm which caused him to smile “are you petting me?”
“sorry, old habbits”
“It’s alright, do you want me in fox form so you can feel my fur?”
“No, I like you like this. I don’t look crazy when I talk to you” They watched the movie a little longer before she said “I cant get whats happening out of my head. I need to call my dad real quick so he can start looking into things” Catalina pushed off Shades lap and walked to the kitchen to retrieve her cellphone. Shade couldn’t help but admire the soft curves of her luscious bottom. He grew red in the cheeks and looked away before she noticed. Phone in hand she laid on her bed and called Aciano. When he answered she explained how she thought people were doing questionable things on or near her land and that she wanted him to figure out what was going on and put a stop to it. He told her he’d have people look into it right away and he’d get back to her as soon as he knew anything. She got off the phone with an I love you and finally noticed Shade had been staring at her.
“Now that you’re a man that’s creepy.” she said with an almost laughing smile. She continued “When you were a cute little fox I thought it was adorable your eyes followed me wherever I went.”
“Like I said I’ll change back if it makes you more comfortable.”
“Which way do you prefer to be?”
“Like this honestly, but I want you to be comfortable with me. My biggest fear when you saw me was that our friendship was over”
“I’m a little angry and upset because of how much I’ve told you about my life but I’ll get over it. You’ve been such a good friend to me. I’ll miss you too when I’m gone.”
“I could go with you as a man if we bought me some clothes.” he just smiled, not answering him. He studied her face, seeing all the happenings had worn her out. This was a ton to take in in one morning “I know that look. You can nap if you want. I’m sure I’m not welcome to nap with you any longer so I can just watch somthing else.” She turned those gorgeous eyes to him and answered “Honestly you’ve been sleeping with me all this time anyway. Come on if you want to.”
Shade was so overflowed with joy he ran over to the bed. He was still aloud in and better yet he could be in bed with her as a man. That meant he could even hold her as he had longed so much for. They got under the covers and he couldn’t find the nerve to ask her. When he finally asked she was sleeping so it was too late. He sighed and stared at her, his eyes mostly studying her beautiful face. His heart ached with his want for her. So many animals ended up with humans. There were quite a bit that were never in their true form for the sake of their loves. It was somthing he was afraid to bring up though. He had only just gotten the confirmation he wasn’t kicked out of her life.
When she woke up she was a little surprised to see Shade still there. His strikingly handsome face looked so conflicted as he rested. Laying completely still she admired him as he had always done her. He was gorgeous with high cheekbones and almond shaped eyes. They had been a deep amber just like when he was in his fox form. She loved those eyes. They had looked at her with such adoration and love. She brushed strands of his shaggy red hair behind his slightly pointed ears. She had enjoyed his company so much over the years and that wasn’t going to change in the slightest now that she knew the truth about him.
Her stomach growled so she looked over at her nightstand clock. She couldn’t believe how long she had slept, it was actually past dinner time. Catalina carefully got up from the bed so not to wake the still resting Shade. She pulled an apple out of the pantry and took a bite before sitting down in her living room to stare out at the dark woods. The rain was coming down even harder now and she could tell by the chill in her home that it must be absolutely freezing outside. Catalina was glad she allowed Shade to stay even though she was freaked out.
She would feel incredibly guilty right now if he was outside in this. She wondered if that sick, mutated creature was still out there. Her heart broke for it. How could someone do that? She checked her phone to make sure her dad hadn’t called back. She had no missed calls and figured he probably wouldn’t be able to get back to her until tomorrow. He was a very busy man so it meant a lot to her she could call him anytime and he would always answer unless it was in no way possible. He had pissed off clients many times for her since she was the most important thing to him.
Catalina decided to make some pie to share with Shade. It was one of his favorite things to eat. She loved the joy it would cause in him as a fox and knew it would be even more satisfying to see him so happy in human form. She preheated the oven and got everything else done then put the pie in. It was the sweet smell that woke Shade when it was almost done. He knew right away what that was and ran to the kitchen. She laughed when he got in there. “I wanted to do somthing nice for you. I reacted a bit poorly because I was so freaked out and I want to make sure you know I don’t hate you now or anything.” He smiled, He was so glad to hear that. He ran over and lifted her into a hug. Somthing he had longed to do for years.
If he knew it would be ok to kiss her he would have in that moment but instead he just set her down. She took the pie out and cut some for him. He devoured it just like in his fox form. She smiled then asked curiously “Does it hurt when you change from fox to man?”
“Nope, it’s a weird sensation but it doesn’t hurt. I can be a fox whenever you want me to be.”
“If my dad decides to come you may want to be a fox at first. He’s protective and I don’t want to explain a man here.” He smiled “alright.” He then got excited and asked “are you going to let me stay with you? I hate leaving your house and being away from you.”
“I think the company will be nice. I hated you leaving too but I didn’t want to trap you. I thought you were a wild animal after all.”
“Well I am but being with you is heaven.” Catalina deeply blushed. A man had never payed her so many compliments. Especially not one as attractive as Shade. “This house is mine so even when I’m gone for school you can stay in it.” He hung his head when just a few seconds ago he was beaming with joy eating. “Please quit reminding me you’ll be going to school. I’ve spent four years with you. It’ll be hard to watch you go.” She looked at him confused. He actually looked like he was fighting back tears.
“Another piece?” She offered, not knowing what else she should do.
“Yes please.” She cut him another piece and grabbed a fork. He looked a bit confused and she laughed.
“Learn to use it. You’ve seen me do it plenty. Besides if someone comes over and you’re here like this you don’t want to eat like a fox or a one year old.”
“I guess.” He picked up the fork and held it like she did when she ate.
“There you go, easy as pie.” She winked and cut herself a slice. She really loved being able to look at a human face when she was talking to him. It was a nice change of pace. He looked so content just eating pie, like it was the best thing he had ever done. Shade noticed she was staring and grinned. “Do you think that thing is still alive?” she asked so it wouldn’t feel awkward since he caught her staring. “Maybe, but hopefully not. I know that sounds cold, but it’s a mercy to kill something like that. They are wrong in the head. They would attack humans and animals alike, killing them and devouring them.” He answered sadly
“So there’s really nothing you can do to change them back?”
“No, sorry. Mother can only fight so much, can only fix so much. Once something is that corrupted by the sickness it can never be helped.”
“Never let that happen to you. I could never kill you and it would break my heart if someone else did. Promise me.” It was a terrifying thought.
“I promise.” He grabbed her hand and brushed his thumb over her knuckles. He smiled sweetly “I like really being able to touch you.” She smiled and looked away. “Can I hold you like you used to hold me when we slept together? I’ve always really wanted to but like I said, I didn’t want to freak you out with my human form.” She wasn’t sure what to say. Her face grew red with the thought. It made his smile grow wider. “sure” Before she knew it she was in his arms and he carried her back to the bedroom. Shade laid down with Catalina wearing a huge grin while he held her tightly.
She loved how his skin felt. She loved it just as much as she loved the feel of his fur when he was a fox. It was sweet how happy he seemed to be holding her. “You know I always thought I imagined that adoration in your eyes Shade but it seems you really do adore me”
“More than you could know” he said in a soft voice. She looked up at him, her eyes met his. He was getting the urge to kiss her again. He kept telling himself she may kick him out if he did it so he did his best not to. She noticed the conflict in his face “what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, don’t worry about it my love. I meant! Um! Catalina..”
“No you didn’t mean that. It’s the second time you’ve tried to lie to me today mr I guessed. You love me?” His heart started racing. What had he done now? “I’ll just be honest. I love so much Catalina. In fact I’ve been wanting to kiss you so badly but I haven’t let myself because I don’t want to scare you away. I’ll be your pet forever if that’s what you want. I’m sure you don’t want me as a man” He was stopped with her kissing him. It was the most incredible feeling he had ever felt. That amazing moment was soon broken by a loud crash. Something had broken a window and he could guess what it was.
“What was that?” She asked, her eyes wide.
“Stay here.” He ordered softly. He rushed into the living room as the creature was trying to get through the living room window. He slammed into it, driving it back out into the rain. He went with it, rolling and coming up onto his feet. He called to Mother Earth, swirling the wind into a small cyclone to push the creature back. It looked like once it had been a deer. It lashed at him with long tentacles and he jumped back, shifting into a large male fox. He latched onto a tentacle, pulling as hard as he could. It raised him up in the air and flung him into a tree. He was back on his feet and rushing it.
Catalina grabbed her shotgun out of the closet. Her father had insisted on her having it and she was glad he had. She put a round in the chamber and ran outside. Rain poured down around her in sheets, soaking her. She almost screamed when she saw the partially burned creature fighting Shade. It slapped at him and he jumped to the side, still moving forward. He jumped at its face, but was slapped away. She aimed and fired at the creature. Buck shot tore into its flesh and it turned on her, she ejected the first shell and fired again. It was hit square in the face and hit the ground, skidding to a halt. She made sure it was dead by firing another round into it. Shade came around the side of the house in human form, gripping his side. She ran to him and helped him inside.
“Damn thing was tougher than I thought.” He said as she kicked the door shut behind them.
“I need to check your ribs.” She sat the shotgun on the bar and had him lift his left arm a little bit. She ran her fingers over his ribs like she was playing a piano. He winced when she found the sore one and traced the whole thing. “I don’t think it’s broken, but you’re going to have on hell of a bruise. My dad should call in the morning and we can figure out what’s going on.”
Just as Catalina noticed Shade was naked again he noticed how cold and wet she was. “You should probably take your clothes off. You seem so cold and you normally sleep naked anyway. We could sleep naked together.” She had slept with him many times as a fox but this was totally different for her. Her only response was a blush tinting her cheeks again. “when you kissed me earlier did that mean you love me too?” He asked hopeful. Catalina nervously responded “yes”
“So can I come with you when you’re at college? I need you by my side. Please let me come.”
“I’d love that. I’ll let you meet my father. Knowing him he’ll be coming tomorrow to see for himself. I hope he likes you.”
“I hope so too. Do you want to go to sleep for the night so we’ll be ready if he gets here early?”
“We probably should. Let me blow dry my hair first ok?” He nodded and followed her as she went to the bathroom. She took off her wet clothes and started to blow dry her hair. She glanced at him. He was looking at her like she was the prettiest thing he had ever seen. His eyes were lit up and he seemed happy. “Come here, lets get your hair dry too.” He sat down and she dried it. “You ready for bed now?” he nodded with that same blissful expression.
When they got in bed together and she put her head on his chest “Does this hurt?”
“Not atall.” It did a little but he didn’t want her to move. He put a hand on her head and one on her back. In the morning Catalina woke up to her phone ringing. It was her father calling to say he was on his way and would be there in an hour. She didn’t want to shake Shade so she kissed him to wake him up. When she pulled back he said “I hope you always wake me up like that.” She smiled “We have to get ready, my dads on his way.” She had to dig through her clothes to find him something to wear. She had a pair of guy jeans a t-shirt she used paint in. She would wear them over her actual clothes she had needed something loose. She then got herself dressed and pulled her hair up in a ponytail.
When Acianos jeep pulled up she ran out to greet him. With a tight embrace Catalina said “Dad, somthing terrible happened last night”
“Who’s that?” Aviano asked, Shade had caught his immediate attention.
“That’s my boyfriend, Shade.”
“Shade? Were his parents hippies?”
“Daddy be good.” She tried not to laugh.
“When did you get a boyfriend anyway?” He kept glancing at Shade.
“Like four months ago.” He arched one dark eyebrow and she rolled her eyes. “Dad, please. We’ll talk about it later.” She motioned for Shade to come over.
He could tell by the eyes that this was Catalina’s father. They both had the most intense green eyes. He had dark hair and was tall with broad shoulders. He was obviously if Latin descent. He remembered Catalina saying he was from Spain. He shook her father’s hand. “Nice to finally meet you sir.” He said with a smile.
“Nice to meet you. Regretfully my daughters told me nothing about you. I hope you’re treating her with the respect she deserves.”
“Take me to what you were talking about sweetheart.” They walked until they were at this site that looked horrible. Everything was dead and there was green slime everywhere. “My companies already talking to the one you say is responsible and getting it straightened. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”
“It was really Shade who told me about it.” They walked back to the house after her dad took some pictures. He saw the broken window. “What happened? Were you hurt kitty cat?”
“No, Shade fought off the man and protected me.”
“Glad to hear it. You better keep her safe out here. I hate the thought of her so far from civilization but it’s what makes her happy and I live to make my little girl happy. I’m glad you’ve got yourself your first boyfriend.” Her dad picked up the phone to call sombody to repair her window. “Have you had breakfast yet Catalina?”
“well lets eat then. I’ll cook” Catalina got excited. She loved her dads cooking. The only thing that concerned her is how well Shade would eat. He barely had any practice using silverware. When the food was ready she and Shade set the table then relaxed with Aciano to enjoy the meal he had prepared. Shade liked Catalinas cooking much better but ate happily anyway. “How old are you Shade?” The thing was Shade didn’t even know how old he was. Since he knew Catalina was 19 he said “20 sir”
“You don’t have to call me sir. Call me Aciano.”
“Okay, Aciano. Sorry Catalina hasn’t said anything about me. She says you can be very overprotective and I don’t blame you. She’s very beautiful and intelligent.” He said and reached over, grabbing her hand.
“That she is and has a temper. She gets that from her mother Rose. That woman would be jumping with joy if she knew you were dating someone. You have no idea how hard she tried get this one a boyfriend. My little Cat punched one in the mouth when he tried to kiss her. Not without my permission she said.”
“Daddy, shush.” She said and blushed.
“Did you punch this one too?” He asked.
“I know how to duck.” Shade winked and Aciano laughed.
“I like this one. So do you two plan on going to college together?”
“Yes dad.” Catalina said irritated.
“How about marriage and kids?”
“So Dad, what do you think about all of this toxic waste business?” He laughed “ok I’ll lay off. I can’t believe that’s happening. I’m mad it’s so near this house I made you. It’s a danger to your health and the man my people are talking to is apparently pompous. Hopefully this will all get worked out without too much trouble. I had them tell him if he doesn’t straighten up I have no fears about going to the press about it.” Catalina got up and hugged her father. “Thanks dad.” When she sat back down Shade quickly grabbed her hand again. They kept talking until Acianos phone went off. “sorry, be right back you two.”
When he was gone Catalina said “I’m so sorry about my dad, especially the whole marriage and kids thing. I’m glad he allowed me to change the subject. I think you should run while you can.” He smiled “I like him and I’d marry you in a heartbeat so it didn’t make me uncomfortable.” She turned red again. Shade leaned over and kissed her cheek. “You’re so cute when you’re embarrassed.” It wasn’t very long before Aciano came back in saying “I’m going over to that company and having a talk with him myself. I’ll be back here tonight unless you want me to get a hotel.” “Of course I want you here.” Her father hugged her and then Shade. “I’ll call in a few hours and tell you how things went and what I know.” He wrote down the adress before he walked out.
“That went much better than expected.” Shade was relieved. He really wanted her dad to like him. “What do you want to do until your dad gets back?”
“I’m not sure, I’ll be so anxious to see what he says.”
“Why don’t we go to the meadow?”
“Sure, I haven’t been there in awhile. First though lets order you some more clothes off the internet. You really need more to wear than just that.” He smiled and followed her to her computer. They shopped until Shade had more than enough clothes and then Catalina paid for overnight shipping. On such a large order it was ridiculously expensive but she knew her father wouldn’t care and her boyfriend really needed clothes. She was concerned her father hadn’t called yet but somtimes that happened when he got busy. “Ok lets go to the meadow and if my dad hasn’t called at dinner time we’ll see what’s up.” They grabbed two apples to eat on their way there.
Outside The sun was shining bristly overhead and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Catalina lay down in the grass and fell in love with this place all over again. Shade sat down next to her, his eyes closed as he enjoyed the fresh air. She wondered what he was thinking, what he was feeling. “What’s on your mind?” She asked and he looked down at her with a smile.
“I’m feeling the heartbeat of the earth, the flowing of her blood.” He answered.
“I wish I could do that, I would love it.”
“You can, come sit in front of me.” She sat and shifted around so she sat cross legged in front of him. “Close your eyes.” He said softly. She closed her eyes and she felt his hands frame her face. “Breathe slowly, deeply and relax.” He grabbed her hand and placed it on his chest. “Slow your heart and fell the vibrations beneath you. All humans could do this once. Block out everything but the earth beneath you.”
She did as she was told, focusing on the ground beneath her, blocking out the noises of nature and just living in a ball of silence for a moment. She felt a gentle thrumming vibrate up through her body. It wrapped itself around her so she was completely in tune with the whole world. Her eyes flew open and she gasped. “How amazing. She’s really alive.” She whispered. Her heart was thundering in her chest, her cheeks were flushed. She threw herself at him so he was pitched back into the grass. Her lips found his excitedly. “Thank you so much.” She rubbed her nose against his.
“You’re welcome. You can do a lot more than you know if you allow yourself to become one with her.” He put his arms around her staring into her eyes. She saw so much love as he looked at her. “I’m glad you were fighting with that thing so near my home. You’d still just be my little friend if you hadn’t”
“Me too. I was actually on my way to see you when I saw it coming twords your house. I was terrified it was coming to hurt you.”
“Were you really never going to show me this side of you?”
“Nope, it’s not normally done and it was too risky to me. You could’ve sent me away. Atleast as a fox I could spend a little time with you each day. It got harder as time passed. I love you so much and it really hurt sometimes.” he rubbed her face. “You’re too sweet Shade.”
“You make it easy to be sweet. All I have to tell you is how I really feel and what I think.”
“will it be a problem for you to be human with me?”
“Oh no not atall. The only reason it’s not done is to protect animals. If humans found out they’d test more on us and bother us more. We just have to make sure humans don’t find out. I trust you not to go spreading it around.”
“Of course I wont” They spent a few hours just talking and enjoying the day when Catalina noticed it was getting late and there was still no word form her father “I’m worried Shade, we need to go to where he went and see what’s going on.” They went back to her house, grabbed the address and got into her car. She went over the speed limit the whole way. She called him when she reached the building and no answer. That wasn’t like her dad atall so she jumped out. Shade followed close as she approached the entrance.
She banged on the front door even though the place looked like it had not been in use in years. She grabbed the handle and pulled. It was locked.
She huffed and started around the side. There had to be a way in. She found a boarded up window that had been broken. She grabbed the sill and lifted herself up and kicked the wood. It gave a little so she kicked it again, putting all her strength into it. The wood fell inward and she pulled herself inside. Shade followed, his nose wrinkling in disgust.
“I can feel the taint here. This place is destroying the land.” He said and grabbed her hand.
“We have to find my dad.” She walked through the dimly lit interior, watching her footing when she came to part s of the floor that were caving in. She went through every room. There were scattered papers and old uniforms and it smelled musty. She saw a small dark spot on the floor and stooped down to look at it.
“That’s blood, fresh.” Shade said and she squeezed his hand in fear.
“Why would they call him to an abandoned building?” She asked.
“To set a trap. He was probably ambushed here, maybe hit over the head with something. Head wounds tend to bleed a lot. If you look close you can see drag marks in the dust. They took him out of here and locked the doors. They probably weren’t counting on him telling you where he was going.”
“We have to find out who owns this property. You said they were dumping stuff here. Did you see any names on the trucks?”
“I’ve seen that building in town! We’ve got to go.” She went to run out and but Shade didn’t move. “You should go home and I’ll go, they’re probably dangerous.” She gave him an annoyed look “That’s not happening now come on.” He knew her well enough to know she wouldn’t agree so he went with her. It was worth a try. She drove there quickly and jumped out of the car fast. She ran inside and asked the lady where the owners office was and if he was in today. “Yes mam he is but he doesn’t see people without an appointment. Currently he’s in his office home where he is never to be disturbed. It’s his home here at work.” She ran off “Guards!.” The clerk yelled.
She just ran holding Shades hand until they found his office and burst in. There was another door she was sure lead to his little home here. Shade knocked it down and they ran in. There was only one man in there
“The clerk said the owner of the company was in here!”
“Well I’m not him and you shouldn’t be in here! He’s off taking care of personal matters.” She pulled a small gun out of her pocket. Shade was busy keeping the guards away from her. “Where is he with my father?!”
“He told me he had was going out on his boat for a few hours. He keeps it at the lake about two miles from here. Please don’t shoot.” The man said, hands up.
“If you warn him I’m coming, I will come back for you. Understand?” She snapped and he nodded. She pocketed the gun and Shade shoved the guards away. They looked thoroughly confused and she guessed they had not seen her weapon. She smiled at them and ran out of the building and to her car.
“Do you know where we’re going?” Shade asked.
“Yes, I’ve been trying to get my dad to buy that lake for me. He used to take me fishing there. I wanted to preserve it.” She fish tailed out of the parking lot and onto the road. Catalina could actually taste her fear, feel it in every muscle as she gripped the steering wheel. Shade had never moved so fast in his life. He wanted to tell her to slow down, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She skidded to a halt when the lake came into sight. Shade had to plant one hand flat on the dashboard to keep himself from pitching forward. She pulled off the road and got out. He followed, keeping low as they moved through the tall grass. There was a boat in the middle of the lake. It floated there, anchored. There was no one above deck as far as he could see. He heard and smelled someone getting close and he pulled her down into the tall grass, his hand clamping over her mouth to keep her from yelling out a protest. A man with an AK walked by. “I’ll distract him and you get to your father. It looks like you’ll have to swim so be quick but quiet.” He kissed her cheek before stripping so he wouldn’t ruin her clothes in the shift.
He went out of the grass so the man could see him. Shade started walking away so the man would follow. She then quietly went over to the water and jumped in swimming under the water as long as possible. When she reached the boat she climbed on. Catalina took off her shoes to walk without sound. She could hear muffled screaming below and she ran to it not caring about what the danger could be. She saw her dad tied to a chair. He was bloody and being badly beaten. “How dare you try to interfere!” she heard one of the men scream just before Acianos eyes found Catalina.
It was somthing he wished he hadn’t done with the bastards turned around to look at her. “Who the hell are you?!” She pulled out her gun pointing it at the man. “I’m his daughter and you better let him go right now.” He laughed at her and whistled. She felt somthing hard hit the back of her head. Shade could feel somthing went wrong. He changed back catching the man off guard stealing his gun and knocking him out so he could go after her.
When she woke up she was bound and gagged on the floor. She glared up at the man that stood over her. He was wearing a blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He had blood on his hands and shirt. “Just let her go.” Her father said. “You can have me, she has nothing to do with this.”
“Oh I disagree. She’s seen too much.” He kicked her in the stomach. “You should have minded your own business bitch” He squatted down and ran his fingers over her face. She jerked away and he gripped her hair. “Such a pretty little thing. What would you do for me to spare your father?” She just glared at him. “Such a temper. That can be corrected. You see women are like horses. They can be easily broken of any behavior if you beat them enough.” He pulled her to her feet and forced her into the bedroom, throwing her on the bed. She wished her arms were not tied behind her back. She managed to flip over and kick at him. He grabbed her ankle and pulled her towards him then back handed her across the face. She saw stars, but she kept fighting, kicking and screaming.
“Excuse me.” Shade’s voice said and the man turned around. “Would you mind stepping away from her before I end your life. Don’t bother calling for your man. He’s unconscious and a little tied up.” It took everything he had not to pull the trigger. The man just stood there, eyes full of rage. Shade reached over and undid the rope that bound Aciano. He handed her father the gun and told the man to move out of the way. “If he tries anything, kill him.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Aciano said and spit some blood onto the floor. Shade pulled Catalina to her feet and untied her arms. She ripped the gag off of her face and wrapped her arms around his neck, crying. He lifted Catalina and carried her away from the beast who had been trying to rape her. “Everything’s okay now, I promise.” Shade comforted before carrying her above. He sat her down and went below to help Aciano search and tie up the man before dragging him up and throwing him down next to his buddy. “Can you get us back to shore?” Shade asked her father “yes”. Aciano handed Shade the gun. He accepted it with a nod and went to sit with Catalina.
She grabbed his hand and leaned her head on his shoulder. “I’m so glad I have you Shade.” He kissed her head. “I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner.”
“You came as fast as you could. We’d be a lot worse off if it weren’t for you” As they arrived back they quickly got in contact with the police to tell them everything before they took Aciano to the hospital. Under Axianos request the city got a team together to clean up the hazardous material in the woods. Shade was elated something was being done about it and more of his friends and family didn’t have to be hurt. Before her father left Shade hugged him “Thank you for getting this all taken care of. I’m glad Catalina has sucha wonderful father. I guess all the stories she’s told me about you are true.” He smiled.
“I’m glad she speaks so highly of me. I hope to hear more about you. The two of you need to come visit me next month. I’m sure Catalinas mother would love to meet you aswell. Thank you for your bravery today and for saving the both of us.”
When Acinaos car was out of sight Shade and Catalina went back into her cabin. He held her tightly in his arms as he said “I hope nothing like that happens again.”
“I’m sure it wont. You know well how simple and boring my life has been.”
“I should probably tell you more about mine. I know everything about you. I know how you like your tea, your favorite ways to sleep, the music you like, the people you do and dont like. I’ve done my best to remember every detail about everything you’ve told me over the years. What would you like to know about me?” She spent the rest of the evening asking him questions and listening intently to his answers. Life was so perfect in that moment. She was honestly glad her little fox turned out to be a man and an already incredible boyfriend.
They grew tired much too early from everything they went through so the two reluctantly went to bed. Shade pulled Catalina into a protective hold before allowing himself rest. Not another soul was coming anywhere near her. The next morning she woke up and Shade was gone. She ran around the house looking for him then ran outside and looked around. When she got back he was standing in the doorway. She ran to him jumping in his arms. “What’s wrong?”
“I just couldn’t find you and it scared me.”
“I’m sorry I was hoping I could get back before you got up. I left before the sun was even rising. Will you come with me to the meadow again?”
“sure let me get ready.”
“No, you’re beautiful the way you are. Please come now.” Shade got down so Catalina could climb on his back. She looked at him confused but agreed to go. When they arrived he gently set her down. Shade cleared his throat “I wasted years I probably could’ve been with you being afraid. I don’t want to waste any more time Catalina.” He pulled a small box out of his pocket. “Your dad gave me some money while he was still here and said it was for when I was ready to marry you. I’m ready right now. I know we’ve only just gotten together but I need to be with you forever. I need to wake up every morning to your beautiful face. I need to see that sweet smile every day. Please do me the honor of marrying me Catalina.” She started crying and said yes multiple times. He kissed her then put the ring on her finger. He lifted her in his arms saying “Lets go have some breakfast”