Catalina & Shade

Chapter One

Catalina lived alone in a cabin deep in the woods. It was near beautiful mountains. She owned miles and miles of land around her. Her father was very wealthy and knew how much his daughter loved nature. To reward her for doing so well in school and graduating at 15 he payed for people to build her a home out there and he bought her all the land so nobody could move near her.

She’s been there for 4 years now. She had a fox she considered her pet because he was always coming to her door. She’d talk to him for hours and pet him. She loved when the little fox would lick her face. One morning she heard loud noises near her home. She quickly got dressed and ran outside following the noise. She couldn’t believe her eyes when she caught up to the noise.

A man with the prettiest orange hair was fighting what looked like a someone but it was such a horrible looking creature she couldn’t tell. She stood there shocked not knowing what to think until the naked orange haired man slammed him into the ground then started shooting this yellow light at him from his hands.

It got up and took off shrieking. She stood there speechless until he noticed her and came over. A look of fear on his face. “Are you ok Catalina?”

“How do you know my name?” He put a hand on his head “I guessed?”

“No you didn’t freaking guess how do you know my name and why are you here!” He sighed and shifted back into a fox. Her hands clasped onto her head as he shifted back into a man. She started screaming “I’m crazy! I’m fucking crazy or I’m asleep!”

“Please calm down you aren’t crazy. Oh how I wish you hadn’t heard all that and come out here.” Then she realized somthing “O my god you’ve licked me! I’ve told you just about everything in the world about me! I’ve been talking to some weird fox man for 4 years! Oh god I need to be commited like uncle Leo was!”

“Listen you aren’t crazy. All animals have human forms we just don’t show it to humans.” She responded as if he hadn’t said that “What was that yellow light thing”

“I was using the suns power to attack him. Animals are one with our mother. Humans used to be too until they started using and abbusing her. That creature I’m fighting was caused by humans. Toxic waste you’ve created touched him and he’s destorying our mother.”

“I haven’t created anything!”

“Well that was bad wording. You’re an amazing women. It’s why i’ve gone to see you nearly everyday since you’ve lived here. It’s just humans who don’t care about mother earth like you do.”

She shook her head. She felt dizzy and when he tried to help her she slapped his hands away. “Oh no, not until you put on some pants.” She blushed from head to toe and kept her eyes on his face. “Seriously, pants and no shifting or I might faint.” She started toward the cabin, talking under breath about how she would wake up any minute. If he was real then her uncle did not deserve to be in an institution. She shoved the cabin door open and went into her room, coming out with a pair of sweats. “Yes they are for men, they’re more comfortable.” She said at his arched eyebrow. “Just put them on.” He pulled them on and she felt a lot better knowing he wasn’t flashing her anymore. “Do you have a name?” She asked.

“Just the one you gave me.” He said.

“Sir Fuzzybottom?” He cracked a smile. “You mean 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.”

“Something 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 felt a little guilty. It had not been his intention to reveal himself to her. He sat down next to her, but gave her some space. She was in a state of shock. “I’m sorry.” He said.

“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 bioengineering company that has been using it. No one knows about 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 can get my father to look into it. I’m sure he can figure it out.”

“Oh yes from what you’ve told me about him I’m sure he could figure out who’s responsible.” It started to rain outside. “I’m going to make some lunch.” She said as she got up. “Do you want me to leave? I’d miss you so much but I’ll leave and not come back if that’s what you want.” He looked a little sad. She sighed “I’m not sending you out in the rain and you know that from all the times I’ve let you in here.” Her face turned red so he asked “What is it?”

“yo..yo..you’ve seen me naked multiple times…”

“It’s a beautiful sight you shouldn’t be embarrassed. 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. I didn’t ask to have brains. You know how many times I wished I was a dumb, big breasted, bimbo.” She pulled two potatoes out of the pantry and sat them on the counter. “I’m guess you’re hungry.”

“Yes, very much.” He said.

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. “Why would you want to be a big breasted bimbo?” Shade asked, leaning over the breakfast bar as she chopped.

“Everyone wants to be around a bimbo. From my experience they hate the brainy ones. It intimidates them. I’m going to college next year to start earning my degree in forensic anthropology. I’m going to minor in psychology.”

“You’re going to leave me?” He asked in a concerned voice. “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 college. 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.” The food was ready adn they sat at the table. She didn’t realize she meant so much to her little fox. She was still waiting to wake up though. She knew she’d be in her bed in just a moment. They finished eating and she was still there. He touched her face. He eyes darted to him. “Why are you touching me?”

“Sorry, you’re a bit irresistable.” She blushed. He was overwhlemed with sadness hearing she was going to leave him. She was all he thought about. Days he couldn’t come see her made him depressed. He needed her. How could he live only seeing her summers. He knew there was no way he could make her not go though. He could go with her in his human form but who was to say she even wanted that. She was probably only letting him stay there now because it was raining. He loved when it rained. He loved all the nights he got to sleep in bed with her and got to see her beautiful body under those clothes.

“You need to stop looking like you’re going to cry.” he chuckled “I’m sorry”

“want to watch a movie like we do often on rainy days?”

“I’d love that” He walked with her to her bedroom then lifted her in his arms sitting down in the chair they sat in together. “Now you get to sit in my lap” He smiled. He was too handsome to say no to and there was something about his touch that she loved. She turned the TV on and played the movie that was already in the DVD player. She layed her head on his shoulder. He was glad he could hold her now as much as he loved sitting in her lap and she rubbed his back.

“Are you petting me?” He grinned.

“Sorry,” she laughed, “I do it all the time when you’re foxy. I forgot you’re a man now.”

“I could turn back into a fox if you like.”

“You don’t have to do that I love looking at you like this. It seems so normal and I don’t look crazy when I talk to you. My dad always tells me talking to animals is insane. Poor uncle Leo. I should visit him and tell him I don’t think he’s crazy.”

“Did he see things like me?” He asked.

“Yes, all the time and everyone said he had lost it. He’s in a mental institute. I think I’ll bail him out. I love him dearly.” She yawned. It had been a weird and stressful day so far. “I have to call my dad.” She got off his lap and crawled across her bed to get her cell phone. Shade couldn’t help but stare at her bottom. She looked back at him and he looked away, his cheeks growing red. “I would say something to embarrass you further, but I feel there’s no need.”

She laughed and called her father laying down on the bed. He answered and 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 after their I love yous. Shade had been staring at her the whole time.

“Now that you’re a man that’s creepy.” She smiled “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. I really hope you wont quit talking to me now.”

“I’ll keep talking to you. I’m a little angry and upset becauseof 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 come with you as a man if we bought me some clothes.” He said in a teasing way even though he ment it. She laughed, It was a sweet sound he loved to hear. He wished she would’ve said somthing though. Instead she just laid there looking at the ceiling getting sleepy. “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.”

“Honestly you’ve been sleeping with me all this time anyway. Come on if you want to.” he was overflowing with joy as he ran to the bed. He could be there in his human form so he could maybe hold her if she let him. They got under the covers and he couldn’t find the nerve to ask her. When he finally asked she was alseep. He sighed and stared at her. His eyes going over her beautiful face. He had wanted to be with her badly. Lots of animals ended up with humans. There were animals who never were their true form. They just stayed as people for the ones they loved.

When she woke up she was a little surprised to see Shade still there. His arm was thrown over her stomach. He had been too worried too touch her so she decided it probably happened in his sleep. She just looked at him. 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. He had been the only one not to call her crazy. Of course at the time she had thought she was talking to an animal that didn’t understand English. Her belly growled and she realized it was way past dinner time. She needed something to eat. She manged to move his arm without waking him and crawl off the bed.

She pulled an apple out of the pantry and took a bite. She sat down in her living room and stared out the window at the dark wood. It was still pouring rain and was probably freezing. She was glad she had not had the heart to kick him out, no matter how mad she was. He didn’t deserve to sleep in the rain. 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. No matter how busy he was he’d always try to answer when she called. Even if it ment pissing off clients. His daughter was most important. She started baking a pie for Shade. Whenever she made pie she’d always leave out a slice or two and he’d devour it.

She shared meals with him frequently. She preheated the oven and got everything else done then put the pie in. When it was almost done Shade woke up because of the sweet smell. 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. He had to stop himself from kissing her.

She took the pie out and cut some for him.He devoured it just like in his fox form. “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 “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” he winked “but being with you is heaven. It’s definitly not you trapping me.” She blushed again. A man had never payed her so many compliments. Especially not one that attractive. “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 4 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.

“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. He noticed she was staring and grinned. She blushed and tried to find something else in the room to look at. There was nothing so she stared out the kitchen window. “Do you think that thing is still alive?” She asked as she finished eating a rinsed her plate off.

“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 and handed her his plate.

“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 up at her “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 got really red thinking about him holding her. It made him smile. She finally answered “sure” Before she knew it she was in his arms and he carried her back to the bedroom.

He layed down with her with a huge grin while he pressed her against him. She put one of her hands on his chest. 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. Suddenly there was a loud crash. Something had broken a window and he could guess what it was.

Chapter Two

“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.” Then she noticed he was naked again. All he noticed is that she was shivering from being drenched in rain. “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 totaly different for her. To top it off he loved her. She couldn’t deny she loved him too. “when you kissed me earlier did that mean you love me too?” He asked hopeful.

She nervously said 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 dryed it. “You ready for bed now?” He wanted to pick her up but knew it would hurt badly.

They laid 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. They slept soundly through the night. 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. They fit him perfectly. She then got herself dressed and pulled her hair up in a ponytail. She waited nervously for her father to arrive. When his jeep pulled up she ran out to greet him. She hugged him, very happy to see him. “Daddy something terrible is happening.” She said.

“Who’s that?” He asked, looking over the top of her head. She turned and saw Shade standing in the doorway.

“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.”

“I am”

“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 companys is already talking to this one 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 happend? 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 my Catalina?”

“No sir”

“well lets eat then. I’ll cook” Catalina got excited. She loved her dads cooking. She hoped Shade would eat with silverware. He set the table and they all ate happily. 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 daddy, 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 pompus. 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.

Her father got a call and walked outside. 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.” Catalinas dad came back in. “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. After a few hours they checked out and she payed a bunch of money to make sure they came the next day. She was concerned her father hadn’t called 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.

It was beautiful out. The sun was shining bristly overhead and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Catalina lay down in the grass and. She loved this place. 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 really afraid 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?”

Culvera Corp. “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?!”

Chapter Three

“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 daddy 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. She drove as fast as she could. She could 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. He planted 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. He pulled off his clothes and shifted into the red, bushy tailed fox.

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. She 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! You still have a long night of torture ahead of you. His eyes darted to his daughter and the man turned around. “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.” 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 her and carried her away from the beast who had been trying to rape her. “Everything’s okay now, I promise.” He kissed her and carried 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?” He asked her father and he said he could. He handed Shade the gun who sat down next to Catalina and wrapped one arm around her shoulders.

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.” They got back and told everything to the police and got Aviano medical attention. The city got a team together to clean up the hazardous material in the woods. Shade was so happy 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 he was out of sight Shade and Catalina went back into her house. Shade had carried her inside then he sat on the couch holding her. “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 was now her boyfriend.

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.” She looked at him confused but agreed. She rode on his back out there. He set her down, he looked so handsome in his new clothes. He 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”

~The End~

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