Lara huddled in the darkest corner of the front porch, trying her best to keep her sobs muffled so she would not be discovered. She hugged her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth, as the night breeze dried the tears and blood on her cheeks and set her fresh wounds to stinging. It wasn't the pain she concerned about. Pain she could endure; after all, she'd been surviving for three years of her husband's alcoholic abuse. It was her face she was worried about.
Michael had really messed her up this time, carried away by the argument. Her right eye was almost swollen shut, and the coppery blood on her tongue let her know that her lower lip was more than likely split open. She couldn't go to work like this, looking like a prizefighter had mauled her. It would mean she would have to call in again for the third time in two months, and Lara knew well enough what that would mean. She would lose her job, the job she'd been so proud to get only a few months previous, hoping that the money would pacify her husband and his temper.
She would lose her job, and then Michael would never believe that he was the cause for her dismissal and he would beat her again. Lara had been through the cycle enough to know exactly how it would go, and she felt the curl of fear in her stomach. Her husband was still in the house, judging by the sound of things breaking every now and again. If she was lucky, he'd grow bored of tearing their home apart and make his way down the street to hang with his "gang" at the local bar.
At least then it would mean he wouldn't make his way home until almost five in the morning, and maybe he'd be so drunk by then he would simply pass out and leave her alone. For now, she kept to herself in the darkness. She had just reached her fingers up to wipe at the moist, hot river of her tears when there came a nearby shuffling sound on the wood of her porch. Lara cried out and whirled in that direction, frightened that her husband had found her. Instead, she found herself staring not at Michael's hulking form but instead the yellow eyes of an animal making its way over to her from across the porch. As it drew closer, Lara saw that it was a cat, the largest cat she'd ever seen in her life. Its fur was the same inky shade of black as the night sky itself, making the feline appear little more than a shadow with amber eyes. Given the comparison, she would judge that it stood about as high as a small dog. It stopped its pace a few inches from her, looking up at her with that yellow gaze in invitation. Lara stretched her fingertips slowly towards the cat, and was rewarded for her offering with a low meow.
"Who are you, little fellow?" She murmured, as the animal rubbed against her outstretched hand so that her fingers massaged the soft midnight fur. "You're not one of the neighbors' cats. Are you a stray?"
Stray or no, the cat must have had human contact before, because after a few moments of her petting he found his way up to her lap and plopped down to lay across her legs. The animal was warm, and when he had settled against her body properly he began a low rumbling purr that vibrated his entire body. The tension left Lara's body a little; she concentrated less on the throbbing pain of her eye and more on the way the cat responded to her gentle touch.
The little fellow's body was so warm, and she could feel his heart beneath her hands as she picked him up and cuddled him against her breast. The cat's yellow eyes closed trustingly, and he captured the hand that was stroking his face with his two strong front paws. He washed her hand with a few short licks, and fresh tears flooded her eyes. In only fifteen minutes, the animal had formed an unconditional love for her, something her husband hadn't been able to do in their entire relationship.
"You're going to stay here with me, no matter what Michael says," Lara said with a trembling smile. Staring down at the black bundle against her, his solid weight a pleasurable feeling, she knew instantly what she would name him. "I'm going to call you Angel." And for a long time they lay together in the darkness, until she heard the back door slam shut and knew Michael had left the house. Lara gave it fifteen minutes until she was sure he wasn't just wandering about, then gathered the stray in her arms and took him inside.
It didn't take her long to unearth a can of tuna fish from the pantry, which she put down on the bathroom floor for Angel to eat while she tended to her face. Staring in the mirror made her angry and sad again. Her face was a mangled mess of bruises, the biggest one covering all of her right eye and half of her cheek. Her once-lovely mouth was just as ugly, the lower lip swollen and bearing a bloody line down the center where the skin had split. Blood was matted in her hair, but the worse thing was the look she saw in her own eyes. Fear, loathing of her husband and of her own helplessness, and rage all mingled there in the brown depths.
She'd tried to justify Michael's actions up until this night, telling herself that he was right, that maybe she didn't do enough around the house...that maybe she was the lazy slut he always called her before his fists said the rest. But tonight, she saw things a little differently. She saw herself for the first time as a victim, and it was the cat that showed her this. Angel didn't know a thing about her, and really didn't need to know. If she happened not to make the bed before she left for work, the cat wouldn't care. If she got home a little late and dinner was a few minutes behind the normal time, Angel wouldn't mind.
Those things were trivial to a cat, and should be trivial also to a human. The only thing that mattered to Angel was the compassion she showed for him, and the compassion that he could give her in return. Lara fumbled in the medicine cabinet for some peroxide, but that had been used up long ago and the bottle rested empty in the wastebasket of the bathroom. To purify her wounds, Lara made her way to the living room and retrieved the bottle of whiskey that had started her husband's tirade. It was still a quarter full, and she took it back to the bathroom with her.
Pouring some on a cotton pad, Lara dabbed the alcohol on the split lip, hissing in pain as it cleaned the wound. She treated the rest of the small cuts on her face, until they were burning with a fiery sting but purified of all bacteria. The cat had long since stopped eating the tuna, and was watching her movements carefully with his golden eyes.
"Angel," she whispered, sinking to the floor with the whiskey in her hand. "What am I going to do?" She took a sip of the drink, warming her stomach and trying to calm her jittery nerves. "You made me see that this is wrong, but I don't have anywhere to go. The house, the car are all in his name...damn you, Michael..."
Her tears flowed free again, and she nursed the bottle of liquor until it was empty and she was too drowsy to think about her problems anymore. Feeling herself slipping away, she crawled over and curled her body around the cat, needing to feel the reassuring warmth against her. "Angel," Lara whispered, and then let herself go into slumber, resting against the cold tile of the bathroom.
The cat watched her for a long time, long enough to make sure she was fully asleep and would stay that way. Then the animal shrugged his way out from under her limp embrace and moved over to where he had more room. Angel let his feline appearance drop, and what once was black fur shrugged free of his body, become a milky black mist that surrounded his tiny form. Under that black cloud, he assumed his true form, the body elongating and morphing.
Paws became hands and feet, bent haunches rearranged themselves into legs and arms. The muzzle of his face distorted, stretching into a nose and mouth. When the mist cleared, it left him restored to his full form. Angel rose to his feet, a naked human male. He moved over to where Lara lay in a heap on the floor, and pushed the empty bottle away with his foot. Effortlessly he lifted her, one arm under the crook of her legs and another supporting her back, and carried her through the house to her bedroom. He laid her down on the mattress, and she moaned a little in her alcohol-induced slumber when he crawled to lie beside her.
He rubbed his smooth cheek against her limp hands, rolling against her smell the same as he had in his cat form. Lara's mouth was parted in sleep, and Angel moved up to taste her lips, pressing his mouth against hers. Beneath his exploring tongue he could taste the normal sweetness of her kiss, mingled with whiskey and blood from her wound. He'd been watching her for months as a cat, unseen by her or her husband as he took in her situation. He knew Michael beat her often. He also knew her husband usually took what he wanted, never showing any tenderness even in their lovemaking. He'd seen Lara's helpless and fearful face, trying so hard not to cry while the drunken pig rutted on top of her until he was finished.
Angel was pleased to see that even that did not break her spirit...unconscious beneath him, her body was responding to his kiss, her mouth working back against his. He trailed his kisses down the side of her face and jaw, his lips moving down over the slender curve of her neck. He nuzzled there for a long moment, her pulse strong against his mouth and her scent filling his nose. Nipping her slightly, he continued following the lines of her body down to where they disappeared into the worn t-shirt. He gripped the faded fabric in his hands and ripped, the old threads splitting open in a jagged line until the front fell open into two folds.
Angel folded them back carefully and looked down at her. Lara had a beautiful body, thankfully unmarred physically by Michael. Her breasts were firm and full, the nipples large and half-erect from exposure. He brought his hands to cup them slowly, lifting them gently and testing their weight against his fingers. Angel lazily traced one finger in a circle over the pink nipple of her left breast, watching the slightly raised bud expand until it was fully engorged. An hour ago, she had cupped his feline body to these soft globes, pressing him so tight he could feel her body trembling and hear the soft thud of her heart. He returned the favor now, bending to suckle lightly at the pink nub. Lara groaned in her sleep.
Her body was starved from years of attention, and as his tongue gently traced where his finger had just played her body came up beneath him, her back arching up to get more of his touch. Angel lavished her with attention, moving between her breasts, working one with his mouth and the other with nimble fingers. When desire urged him further, he spanned ribcage with his hands, loving the way it dipped down into her small waist, and the way her hips flared out again. Her shorts were a little big on her, drooping slightly to expose the upper straps of her underwear.
Angel growled low in his throat, a rumbling purr of approval, and undid the fly of the denim barrier. It was easy to tug the cloth over her limp legs, exposing the underwear beneath. He smiled at her choice of undergarments, a sexy pair of thong underwear. She probably wore them as a reminder of her femininity. The way the satin hugged her upper hips , the black fabric strip barely covering her sex before disappearing between the soft cheeks of her rear flamed his libido to the scalding point.
He forced himself to maintain control, and instead pushed aside the scrap of cloth to look upon her. His yellow eyes drank in the sight of her exposed nether mouth, the prominent mound of her sex capped with a triangle of hair the same shade of brown as the hair on her head. Angel traced the pink flower with his hand, causing her to shudder and raise her hips. He brought his index finger up to his mouth, sucking it to wet it, then brought it down and slid it all the way in her hot slit. She was tight as he worked her with his fingers, only able to expand around three of them. He used his other hand to find the pearl of her clitoris, exposing the semi-aroused kernel and tracing small circles about it, until her juices were sufficient enough for his fingers to move freely within her body. She let out a small whimper when he removed both hands to turn her over.
He propped her on her knees, her lower body pressed flat against the bed, and tugged the thong panties to her knees. Angel was already fully erect, and he gripped her hip with one hand and guided his engorged member with the other. He allowed himself the pleasure of rubbing the length of his thick shaft against the crack of her bottom and the damp lips of her sex, lubricating himself. He pressed the head of his cock against her tight opening, and pushed in slowly. Lara's body engulfed him like a glove, the walls of her pussy opening to receive him.
He withdrew and thrust again, until the roundness of her cheeks was pressed against the muscular planes of his abdomen. Leaning over her, wrapping his body around her, he began to move within her body. Angel claimed her with an even tempo, his hands moving from her breasts to her hips, leaning forward to press his belly against her back so he could feast on her neck with hot licks and kisses. But the way the slick inner walls of her pussy were sliding against him, combined with the feel of her rear slapping against him made him realize that his excitement wouldn't allow him to last as long as he would have liked.
He withdrew and turned her over again, pulling her up like a rag doll to impale her on his lap. Her legs closed Indian-style around his waist, and his hands guided her to resume the tempo they had started. Lara had somewhat come awake, though he was certain she had no idea what was going on save for that she was going to feel true pleasure for the first time in three years. Angel grabbed a fistful of her dark hair, claiming her mouth with his. He reached between them, and with a single finger rubbed the swollen bud of her clit while she rode him, desperately wanting her to reach her pinnacle before he came. He needn't have worried; the combination of his tongue and his cock invading her at the same time was enough to send her starved body soaring.
Her eyes flew open, and she moaned incoherently against his mouth over and over as her slit went into crazy spasms. Angel rode her climax towards his own, feeling her milk his shaft until he knew he was about to push over the edge himself. He laid her back on the bed, her legs still about his waist, and pumped her fiercely until his balls rose and he felt the wave of heat rising through him. He ripped free with a snarl, and the first stream of white jetted out, landing on the curve of one of her breasts. His seed covered her belly before he was finished, falling limply to the side of her, his breath coming in hot gasps.
Lara had fallen back into her clouded slumber, and Angel took great care to undress her fully and clean her with the tattered remains of her shirt. He covered her with a sheet to keep her from getting cold and kissed her sweat-dotted forehead gently. For the first time since he had started watching her, she slept with a smile on her sweet mouth, and he got to his feet. He borrowed some of her husband's clothing so that on the streets he would not be indecent, and then took one more last look at her sleeping figure. It was time to go, to set things right. With luck, someday he'd be holding Lara in his arms again, but for now, there was business to take care of.
It was noon before Lara came out of her sleep, blinking her eyes around the sunlit room in confusion. Her face was a little sore, and she brought her hand up to touch the puffiness of the black eye. She remembered Michael beating her, she remembered hiding on the porch...and the cat.
"Angel?" She called, sitting up and glancing about. Lara felt odd. She didn't remember coming to bed, only remembered drinking the rest of Michael's whiskey in the bathroom. Somehow she must have either stumbled in and undressed herself. Her body felt relaxed for once, as if she'd truly gotten a good night's rest. Lara called out the cat's name again, and swung her feet of bed. She wondered if Michael was in the house, then realized that if he had been, he would have been flopped on the bed snoring away beside her. She slipped into a robe that hung at the foot of her bed and padded softly around the house, looking for the cat. The animal was nowhere to be found, as if he'd disappeared. Lara frowned, and was on the verge of doing a second sweep of the house when the doorbell sounded. A young policeman was standing on the steps to her home, hat removed.
"Lara Knight?" He asked, and she nodded. "May I come in?" He asked, and she stepped aside to let him in. She felt a moment's panic when she remembered the way her face looked, and cringed. If Michael thought she'd called the cops...she had to find out what was going on. Leading the policeman to the living room, she asked him to have a seat and tell her why he was here. "Ma'am, I'm afraid I'm here about your husband."
"Michael?" She asked, confused. "What about him? Has he been...in trouble with the law, officer?"
"Mrs. Knight, I don't know how to break this to you gently. Your husband committed suicide last night. His body was found this morning in the river. Apparently he got drunk and jumped from the bridge, and drowned." Lara's hand flew up, covering her open mouth. She realized with a start that that was her husband. She should be in shock, upset. Instead, she felt a strange inner calm and relief. Free. She was free. She stared at the policeman and could say nothing, saw his gaze going over her eye and her lip.
"Ma'am," he said, and she could see the softness on his face as he viewed her. "Did he do this to you?" Lara looked the young man in the eyes, and felt overwhelmed with emotion. There was something about the man, something familiar. He had the most unique eyes she'd ever seen, the color of light amber. Yellow eyes, just like the cat that escaped. Yellow eyes like the man she'd dreamed of last night, making love to her in a way no one had ever done before.
"Yes," she admitted. "Michael did this to me."
"Would you like us to make arrangements for the body?"
"Please," she whispered. "I will have a lot to...to take care of."
"It's not easy for you, I know." He fished in the pocket of his uniform, pulled out a business card and scrawled a phone number on the back of it. "If you need any help, or need to talk to someone, please give me a call. I'll be happy to give you a hand." He stood, and looked at her one last time with those golden eyes. "I am sorry about your husband, Mrs. Knight." He replaced his hat, and headed for the door, leaving the card with the number on her table. She picked it up as he went to leave, searching the front for his name.
The type bore the title of "Officer Silvanni", not a familiar name, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she'd met the officer before. "Mr. Silvanni?" She called out, stopping him before he left. He turned, and his handsome face sent a sensation through her chest she couldn't explain. "Mr. Silvanni, you've been very kind. I'm sorry, but I don't think I caught your first name..."
"Call me Angel," he said with a grin, and he left, leaving his words to echo over her soul.