To Love a Stray Ch. 06byMygypsy©
Thanks for the many comments, they help me see the story from a different perspective.
A couple of points I will clarify ...
1 The whole Jasper history will be revealed in a later chapter
2 Rosy has had 8 or 9 years of experiences as a stray and under 2 weeks awake in the company of the clan cats.
But don't worry there are a good few more chapters to come so there is a chance for the readers to learn more.
* * * * * * *
I trot along the trail at a leisurely pace, the mid day shadows fall on the grass beneath the trees and I pause to stretch out in the shade for half an hour just to enjoy the view. I turn my head to lick at an itch on my side and spend ten minutes grooming my shinning hide. Sometimes loneliness bothers me and I remember the werecats I had come into contact with nearly six months previously.
Thanks to counselling I had finally sort for my rapes and the passage of time I now realise that at the time I came into contact with them I had been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I still have my demons but now I have strategies to deal with them, that and time for my body to recover after my miscarriage often had me wondering if things could have been different for me and if I would have been able to adapt to living in a clan.
Occasionally I would trespass onto Williamson land and go visit my uncle but I never stayed long for fear Pete would smell me or see me and I would have to face either him or some of Wade's warriors.
I had made more of my scent covering gel and lotion and used it religiously but I was still too wary to chance an encounter with another werecat.
My home was now an old hunting shack long forgotten by humans deep in the forest of a national park. My backyard was several hundreds of acres complete with trees for climbing and a lake for swimming in. Rugged hillside country keeps me in excellent shape and there are plenty of feral goats for hunting if I chose to eat freshly killed meat. The only thing I lack is companionship.
The call of a bird from a tree nearby stirs me from my reflections and I stretch lazily before heading for the small pond where I usually swim after running on all four paws. Further down the stream I know I can catch fish either in a net or by hand for my supper and I think about what I will have to eat later.
I walk the four hundred yards from the pond to my shack naked carrying my discarded clothes in my hand as I climb the steep path nimbly. I pause just off the back porch I have added and look out over the valley below my home, it is peaceful and quiet but at times it seems too much so.
Inside the shack is cool despite the heat of the day and I pull clean clothes from an old dresser to put on. I glance at my new mobile phone and stare at it pensively for a few minutes before turning away with a frown. Lunch is a packet of trail mix and two packets of spicy jerky that I wash down with plenty of water before returning to the small cleared area around the back of the shack with my mobile in hand.
I place a call to Doc Caruthers just to hear a friendly voice but it's the middle of the day and he is busy working unable to talk for more than a few moments.
I stand looking out into the wilderness, my stomach full of butterflies and my heart pounding painfully before I punch in the number and lift the phone to my ear. I swallow nervously as I hear the phone ringing and I am just about to hang up when I hear the click that is the precursor to someone talking.
"Yeah hallo," I remain silent unable to speak for the lump in my throat as my eyes fill with tears.
"Hallo? Any one there?"
"Hey Pete," My voice is kind of choked and comes out very faint.
"Hallo?" There is a note of disbelief in his voice and I hear something brush the phone as if he has covered it with something, "Can you lot shut up? I got a bad connection here!"
"Hey Pete," My voice comes out normal and I hug myself when I hear his sharp exhale of surprise.
"Tawny! Rosy! Are you all right? Where are you? Do you need something?" Pete says with a rush.
"I'm fine. I'm fine I got all I need. I just wanted to hear a friendly voice," I say and my voice trails off.
"You got a friendly voice here," I hear his relieved laughter, "fact is there are several more friendly voices if you want to hear them. Sam, Edwin, Steven and Malcolm are with me, I'm at Wade's at the moment."
"Oh," I say my disappointment apparent even to me.
"How are you ... Rosy? Are you really all right?" Pete asks his voice dropping as he asks seriously. I can hear the concern in his voice and I remember the last few days I had spent at the Williamson compound, I had been constantly upset and nearly irrational most of the time.
"Actually Pete I think I'm on the other side of it, I'll make it through." I tell him softly. I hear the others talking to Pete in the background and smile to myself at the sound of their voices but I'm not ready to talk to them yet, not today.
"They all say hi, do you want to talk to them? I can put you on speaker phone," Pete tells me.
"No, I just needed ... I'm ok alright. Don't worry about me," I say and hang up. I'm trembling as I gasp for breath and lean against the support pole for the awning but it is from relief not fear and I close my eyes as I concentrate on my breathing to calm myself.
Once I am calm I unplug the cord from my phone and glance at the little machine that sits on a cut off tree trunk, I know there is no way I can be traced using my phone calls.
Supper is fish caught in a fish trap I devised, roasted in a pit of hot coals along with a pot of vegetable stew and some buns left over from my last trip to town. When it gets dark I strip off and change to go roaming the dark hills by myself, I travel through familiar territory for over two hours before returning to my shack and changing back to human form.
I am restless when I pick up my phone and go to sit under the fragrant tree near the tree stump, I sit looking down at the phone in my hands for a long time before plugging in the cord and pressing the button to call the last number dialled.
"Yeah hallo. Hey Malcolm! I had that end slice of roast first! Give it back!" Pete yells angrily and I hold the phone away from my ear.
"There's plenty of other roast there!" Malcolm says and I realise by the tinny sound of his voice that the phone is on loudspeaker.
"Fuck you Malcolm!" Pete says angrily.
"I'd rather you didn't you're not my type," Malcolm says sounding pleased with himself. I guess he got to keep the piece of food in question.
"Hallo? Anyone there?" Pete says into the phone sounding annoyed as he takes the phone off loudspeaker.
"I really need to teach you how to guard your food don't I?" I ask as I lean back against the tree trunk.
"Hey that you Stray?" Malcolm asks. I can hear him clearly even when not on speakerphone - werecat hearing is that good.
"Is that Rosy?" Mitchell asks in the background, his voice strained.
"Yeah it's me Mitchell," I say with a smile that only falters slightly as I hear the change in sound that tells me the phone has been put on speakerphone.
"You okay Rosy? Are you getting enough to eat? Are you looking after yourself?" Mitchell asks with a rush.
"Yes, yes and yes." I answer.
"Everyone's here Rosy, want to say hi?" Pete asks.
"Hallo everyone," I say obediently.
"Hi there Rosy! You still got your spots?" Donovan calls.
"Yeah, can't lick the ruddy things off." I say with a laugh and smile as I hear the others laughing.
"You want to come visit?" Donovan asks, "You can leave when you like."
"Donny! Rosy probably wouldn't feel comfortable here. Remember how hard it was for her," Micah scolds his young brother softly.
"I don't know Donovan. Things are getting better for me but I don't want to push myself too hard," I tell him as I close my eyes, "I just do what I know I can manage."
"I still owe you a couple of kills remember!" Edwin calls.
"I'm more than capable of catching my own food when I want to!" I call back and laugh softly, it feels good to be able to laugh and joke with someone.
"You want one of our numbers so you can call us when Pete's not here?" Edwin asks. I can almost hear everyone holding their breaths as I hesitate to answer.
"I haven't got anything to write it down on and I'd have to go inside for pen and paper," I say after a moment.
"You got yourself a place?" Sam asks.
"Yeah," I say as I get to my feet easily. "Somewhere dry to sleep and leave a few clothes,"
"You working?" Pete asks.
"On the odd occasion I visit Doc Caruthers -- oops -- I'm not supposed to go on Williamson land am I?" I ask as I laugh nervously.
"We're not about to go hunting you and Wade is hoping you'll find somewhere we can look out for you," Micah tells me gently. I sigh as I lean back on the door jam, phone in one hand and pen and paper in the other.
"I'm content where I am at the moment. I don't know if you clan cats would understand. I do what I want when I want and I'm getting plenty of time on four feet," I say tightly.
"I'm glad for you Rosy," Micah says softly, "It sounds like you're doing what your inner cat needs,"
"Yeah well ... yous got some numbers ready?" I ask suddenly uneasy with the way the conversation is heading.
"Whose do you want?" Micah asks.
"Mitchell's, Sam's and Edwin's," I say as I smooth the piece of paper out. I choose them because of the closeness I feel to Mitchell and Sam and the way Edwin seems to understand me. I write the numbers down as Micah gives them to me and then I tuck the paper in my jeans pocket.
"I don't know if I'll use them," I admit quietly.
"You've got them if you want to use them," Edwin answers softly.
"I gotta go ..." I say tightly.
"Rosy!" Mitchell calls and I know he's trying to make this contact last as long as he can.
"I wish you were here so we could go hunting together Mitchell," I say softly and hang up. I throw my phone at the tree and curse as it shatters into pieces. I hurriedly pull off my clothes and take a deep breath and exhale slowly, I feel the first pains of my shift and give myself over without fighting it. Under half a minute later I yawn and stretch before setting off at a full run testing the air even as I go looking for something to eat to fuel my two quick shifts.
Morning finds me stretched out on my bed naked and exhausted but with a belly full of freshly killed birds. I don't bother about getting up and going for my usual early morning swim, I have no need to follow a routine because only I am here. The longing for company wakes me mid afternoon and I sit up irritably, I hesitate a moment then sniff myself carefully to test for any unusual underlying smell to my faint body odour, finding none I get to my feet and grab a towel before heading for the pond.
A good scrubbing removes all smell and I fold my towel and place it on a rock in the sun so I can sit on it enjoying the warmth of the sun on my bare skin. I glance down at my body noting I have regained my normal weight, I run my hands down over my breasts noticing they now have darker nipples. Curiously I reach between my thighs and explore my body with my fingertips, I brush them over my inner folds and gasp startled as pleasure radiates from where I have touched. I trace the opening to my passage and find with surprise that there is slick moisture there, I touch it with my fingers and lift them to my nose but all I smell is a honey-like arousal no hints of a scent similar to cinnamon.
I shift into cat form and head out to hunt, I head for where I know there are plenty of rabbits and soon make a good meal out of several of them before heading back to the pond to shift and swim once again.
Two days later I find myself in one of the small towns within easy distance of my home buying a new mobile phone, I have kept the sim card from my destroyed phone and immediately feel much better once the new phone is in working order. I save the numbers from the scrap of paper onto my phone but don't ring them, just having them and knowing I can ring them if I want to is enough.
"Well Hallo," I spin around at the deep masculine voice and eye the big burly stranger eyeing me, I strain to catch his scent but the wind is blowing away from me.
"I knew another cat had taken up residence around these parts but I didn't expect it to be someone like you." He grins. "My name's Baxter Barnes,"
I watch him warily but he seems to be happy to keep his distance and I am not interested in letting him get close, he is too big and strong by far.
"What no name? That's okay - I'm fine with that. Well I'll just mosey on and let you go about your business. I work up at the Feed Shed where the farmers get their seed so if you ever need anything just pop by and someone'll be able to tell you where I am," Baxter says in a friendly voice.
I watch as he walks off towards the business he named, my curiosity is stirred but I am not about to hang around and leave myself in a vulnerable position. I buy fresh food that I hastily shove into my backpack before heading out of town on one of the less frequented roads, it's not the best road for heading home on but I can cut across country to head in the right direction.
The early predawn light sees me safely at home thanks to an old farmer who offered me a ride practically to the foot of the hills I live in, he let me out not far from several small cabins where some retirees live and drove off none the wiser that I wasn't visiting one of them like he had assumed. Rainy weather sets in for the week and I only leave my shack for hunting and my daily swim, well rested and well fed I laze about until sunny weather resumes. Reassured I am not about to come into heat I pack enough clothes for a week and shut the shack up securely behind me before heading down towards the foothills. It's time for visiting.
* * * * *
I really should have rung to make sure Pete'd be home, I think as I shuffle my feet. It's well after dark as I stand in the shadows of Pete's veranda waiting for him to return to his house from where ever he went, I can only hope he isn't away overnight or for several days. I finally give in and lower myself to sit down while I wait, the night is crisp and clear and I can smell familiar scents as the breeze wafts across the fields. I turn my head and watch as headlights slow on the highway and turn to enter the driveway, I get to my feet and unconsciously back into the deeper shadows as I watch the vehicle approach. I narrow my eyes and turn my head slightly so the headlights don't dazzle me as the car stops then I hear the car door open and the crunch of gravel as Pete gets out.
"You'd better have one hell of a good reason for trespassing on Williamson Clan Territory!" Pete snarls as he steps in front of the headlights. I can see he is carrying a big heavy metal bar and I realise he can't identify me where I stand.
"I must admit I was hoping for a friendlier greeting," I say as I step out where he can see me and remove the cap that holds my hair up out of sight.
"Tawny? Rosy? Whatever the hell you want to be called, is that you? Who's with you?" Pete demands as he glances around uneasily.
"Yeah it's me and whatever name you're comfortable with will do. No one's with me I'm by myself," I say watching his silhouette closely not sure of my welcome. Pete disappears behind the headlights and then the car and lights are turned off, I can hear the engine ticking as it begins to cool in the night air.
"You don't smell like you," Pete comments as he walks towards me warily.
"I been hiding my scent but I'm letting it come back at the moment, it takes two or three days and the layers build as it returns. And my hormones are back to normal," the last I say with a quick glance away from him, the memory of the babies I lost is still painful.
"Yeah, Sam said it smelt like you were going crazy at the end. Every time anyone tried to interact with you your smell went off the deep end," Pete tells me quietly.
"Yeah well it wasn't any fun from my end either, I'm just glad they let me go when I ran. I was ready to kill myself if they caught me," I admit.
"Shit! Tawny ..." Pete stops and I realise he doesn't know what he can safely say.
"No this isn't a goodbye visit Pete, it's an I want to live visit." I tell him quietly and hear his sigh of relief. "I've gotten some counselling for what I went through as a kid and with the different strays, and I've spent a heck of a lot of time as a cat just enjoying being a cat."
"One hell of a host I am! Do you want to come in? You hungry? Of course your hungry, I'll cook us up a feed." Pete says as he moves to his front door.
"How about you shower and I cook? You smell like the widow Lindy Jones," I say with a grin smelling the fresh sex on him.
"Sorry about that," Pete says and I laugh.
"It doesn't bother me, there's a difference between what I can smell on you and ... go have that shower smelly boy," I say with a grin as I follow him into his house and drop my backpack by the door.
"Everything is still in the same places," Pete tells me as he heads for his bathroom. I work quickly in the kitchen to start vegetables cooking and steaks marinading before putting more meat out to defrost in the bottom of the fridge. I keep an ear on what Pete is doing while I work but the sound of running water drowns out any sounds.
"How's it going?" Pete asks as he walks into the kitchen wearing only a pair of jeans with his hair still damp from the shower.
"Vegies are moments from being cooked and the steaks are ready to cook anytime." I say as I lean back against the counter and eye him from head to foot openly. "So who did you talk to? Wade or one of the warriors?"
Pete sends me a startled look and blushes slightly but holds my gaze, "Wade and Doc, they're both glad to hear you've ventured here and Doc is pleased about the counselling and the fact your feeling much better. Wade'll let the warriors know you've made contact and that you're doing better,"
"Let's get this meat cooked so we can eat hey?" I say turning to the stove.
"Sure, so how long you thinking of visiting?" Pete asks.
"Probably only a few hours, over night at the most. " I say with a shrug. "So don't get any ideas about inviting them here." I warn with a glance over my shoulder at him.
"Wade's already given the order that I can't tell them you're here," Pete says evenly but I get the idea it doesn't sit well with him.
"Hmmm, cooked meat for a change," I say to change the subject.
"You have been hunting a lot?" Pete asks.
"Yeah! Once I stopped fighting my cat I found out what fun I can have," I say with a smile as I glance his way.
"You don't say," Pete grins and I laugh happily. The steaks sizzle as I put them in the hot grill and I lick my lips as the aroma starts to rise.
"How about I take over cooking the meat before you drool all over it?" Pete asks.
"Fine by me," I say and move away to look out the back door at the paved area. We are both silent as we sit down to eat, I enjoy the tender steak savouring each mouthful between scoops of creamy mashed potato. We head out to the back area to enjoy our coffee after the meal and I sigh in pleasure after a deep swallow of the fragrant brew.
"I miss my brewed coffee," I say.
"Don't you have a coffee machine?" Pete asks.
"Try no electricity," I laugh and take a deep breath, "There's something I been meaning to ask you," I say and glance his way nervously.
"I'm listening," Pete says with a slight nod.
"Can I have a hug? I've always wanted a hug from you," I tell him levelly.
Pete puts his coffee mug aside and takes the few steps to reach me. He takes my cup and puts it on the bench seat before wrapping his arms around me gently and cuddling me close. I am engulfed by his scent and close my eyes as I feel all the tension drain from my body.