Enter the Cat Ch. 03


"I told yous it was a she-kitt at the service station several months back when we chased that stray out of the bar," Malcolm says as he moves to where the kitchen opens off the lounge room. Edwin moves up beside him and leads the way into the lounge room.

I stand there silently as Rosy moves behind me glancing around me to speak defensively. As she stands her ground it becomes clear we have chased her on numerous occasions. She is fearful and tense but stands her ground with amazing courage until Steven asks me if he should get Wade. Her fear changes to panic, then flight mode, but I manage to wrap her in both my arms and force her to the lounge. She fights with surprising strength but soon stops struggling and I force her to sit down, while I sit beside her trying to calm her and stop her from running from us.

I ask questions about her movements and behaviour on clan territory and I am surprised when she begins answering my questions. I hear the ring of truth in her words and realise that although she associated with the executed stray she didn't seem to share his resentful and belligerent manner.

It soon becomes evident she fears Edwin and his team because of them chasing her. The more she talks the more certain I am they came closest to catching her. Maybe even closer than the stray, Jasper, had despite his boast.

Her near capture several months earlier had been a trick of fate when she chanced stopping for food. She clearly had not planned to cause mischief, just feed herself and maybe snatch a little rest before continuing on her way.

The more I hear, the more certain I am she is in no way a troublemaker. She simply had not known the protocol to cross clan territory.

It isn't until I growl a warning at Malcolm that a remark from Rosy makes me realise she is expecting to be attacked during any argument as she is the smallest and weakest present. Resigned to her fear of me, I move away and head to the kitchen to dish up a meal for her as well as myself.

I hear her moving around and when I turn to return to the lounge room I am pleased to see she had not fled to the bedroom as I had expected. She is instantly all attention on the food and is quick to sit on the lounge for me to hand her a plate. I make myself comfortable near her and I am almost amused at the way she seems to dismiss me as a threat and inches slightly closer when Timny talks to her.

It is almost painful to see the way she instantly guards her food. I am not the only one to notice this as the other warriors exchange discreet glances with me. Timny offers her a piece of crackling and it is saddening to see her stuff it quickly into her mouth, her entire demeanour exposing that she expects it to be snatched back from her.

When the meal is finished I catch Rosy licking her hand like a child and send her to wash it before I head for the kitchen to pile the dirty pans in a heap to wash later. I am surprised when I hear her return to the lounge room and keep a discreet watch as Edwin turns on the charm and moves close to her.

I have to swallow my anger as Edwin pushes to get her to let him touch her and place his hand on her stomach. She is scared but submits to his touch and I move closer to offer comfort and support with my presence. I praise her acceptance of the attention from the others but I also subtlety warn them not to pressure her. I also spare Edwin a glare to let him know I am watching his interaction with Rosy much more closely after his remark in the stone shed.

When the subject of her having to change to cat form and back before retiring for the night comes up Rosy panics and flees the room hiding herself away once more. Frustration stirs again; just as she seems to begin learning we aren't out to hurt her, the mention of changing sparks her fear of male werecats.

I am shaken to realise it is not a fear of us but more a fear of being vulnerable around us. While basically she knows she can trust us, she hasn't had enough time to be where she does trust us.

Slowly and gently I try speaking with her, going over the new revelations from today. I take my time and refuse to react when she clearly expects punishment. As she responds slowly and hesitantly I realise she wants to learn, wants to trust. I offer her a compromise that will hopefully encourage her to change.

I wait in the lounge room impatient to see if she will manage to control her fear enough to change to cat form. I know if she can manage it she will make real progress. Once in cat form strays are a lot less fearful of other cats. Hopefully her instincts will take over and enable her to begin to be able to tell we don't wish to hurt her.

I am taken back by the beauty of her cat when she appears in the lounge room door way. She moves on three legs; her injured paw held high off the ground but she is all sinuous grace as she moves into the room. There is no wild panic as she looks at us taking in the fact that Edwin, Steven and Pete are in cat form. This is extremely encouraging; we are getting through to her subconscious.

I watch as the three toms introduce their cat form to her. I leave them be until Steven starts to get very friendly grooming her shoulders and moving his body closer. I find myself calling Rosy to me. It is not just my inner cat protesting his over friendliness - it is all of me.

The feel of her coat under my hand as she settles herself on the lounge near me is heavenly and I stroke her gently wanting her to become accustomed to my touch. I ignore Edwin's not so subtle hint that my touch infers more than simple contact, and I am rewarded with a soft purr when my fingers find the itchy spot behind her ears.

Donovan's sudden arrival causes concern but there is no vicious or predatory gleam in Rosy's striking violet eyes, only curiosity. She even seems to welcome his attentions

as he scratches behind her ears and then down her spine going over all the hard to reach places. It isn't until Donovan mentions the executed stray that Rosy reacts and then her fear sends her from the room.

I try to remain calm as I explain to Donovan what he just did, but anger for what I know Rosy has endured colours my voice as I give Donovan a stern warning before telling Steven to change back to human form and come to the main house with me.

It is the early hours of the morning when I relax in one of the lounge chairs before going to bed. It has been a long and tiring day between dealing with the stray and coping with Rosy. It is hard going but I feel we are slowly making progress with her. Two steps forward then one step back; although it felt like all the backwards steps had come at once today and the forward steps seemed too few and too far apart.

I am also beginning to understand the way she thinks and what has caused her to think this way. It will be easier to help her with her fears, as I have come to understand they're not as ridiculous as I had once thought. Her world, although nearly the same one as clan cats lived in, had been presented to her from the warped and twisted mind of a troublemaking stray.

As I settle in bed for a few hours sleep I smile as I remember the soft, silky feel of her coat beneath my hand. A few more occasions like that and she should start gaining enough self-confidence to begin interacting with us without always being afraid of us.

A moment's unease makes me frown; I am sure I have forgotten something. Unable to place what it is I roll onto my side and close my eyes as I imagine what it will feel like to be able to hold Rosy in my arms, what it will feel like when she lets me kiss her once again. The image of her in cat form refuses to leave my mind and keeps my body aroused making me remember kissing her and holding her when she was leaving after the meal at Pete's.

* * * * * *

I stand beside Donna silently as she lays flowers on Alex's grave. She kneels beside the recently dug soil as she stares down at the blossoms. Slowly she gets to her feet and allows me to lead her away from the grave and to a blanket spread out in the dappled shade beneath one of the orange trees in the orchard.

"I'm sorry I didn't make it here for Alex's funeral Micah," Donna says gently as I seat myself on the blanket beside her. "And I'm sorry that the stray she-kitt your clan has rescued lost her unborn kitt. It wouldn't have been able to replace him but the kitt would have been something good coming to the clan."

I nod silently. The loss of my brother is still too raw just five days after his funeral for me to be able to talk about him comfortably with anyone who hadn't lived with the irrepressible clown that had been Alex. As for Rosy, it seemed incredibly wrong to talk with Donna about her.

"We'll make a good marriage Micah. We both get on with the other's family," Donna says earnestly. "I'm healthy and will be only too happy to give you a daughter no matter how many sons we have first."

She turns to look into my face and hesitates a moment before putting both hands on my face and pressing her lips to mine. She runs her small hands down over my shoulders as she wriggles closer on my lap. Her tongue slips between my lips and she moans as she presses herself against my chest. She pulls at the front fastenings of my shirt and I feel the first stirrings of desire.

The soft little sounds she makes stir my inner cat and I take control of the kiss as I feast hungrily on her lips. The way her body rubs against mine quickly has me hard and I wrap both arms around her before twisting and taking both our bodies down onto the blanket. Her hands move restlessly over my chest and I am surprised at her boldness as one hand skims down the front of my jeans to cup me through the material.

"I want you Micah," Donna whispers. The sound of her voice breaks the hold lust has on my body and I run a hand through my hair distractedly. She pulls away from me slightly only to lean back and look around cautiously before rolling away from me and reaching beneath her skirt to quickly discard her underwear.

I return her kisses when she presses against my body once again. She takes hold of one of my hands and I am not surprised when she guides it beneath the skirt of her dress to the mound of curls between her legs.

"Micah," The sound of her breathless whimper breaks through the haze of lust and I begin to ease her away from me.

"Do you want to play around in my honey pot before putting a condom on and squirting inside me?" Donna offers against my lips, a hint of desperation in her voice.

"I don't think we should go that far Donna," I tell her, not sure exactly how to put what I have suddenly realised I need to tell her. I sit up and push my hair back off my face nervously as I try to work out a gentle way to put the blunt truth.

"Micah?" Donna's soft voice cuts into the silence between us and I hear the rustle of material as she rearranges her skirt.

"Yeah Donna," I question quietly with a glance her way.

She smiles a tight, painful smile before looking away quickly. "Timny told me that ... that the she-kitt sleeps with you. I need to know Micah, is there anything between the two of you?" her voice is rushed and breathless, filled with anxiety.

"Nothing has happened between us Donna," I say quietly, "Rosy is in a very bad place at present."

Just Donna mentioning Rosy makes what I know I must tell Donna all the more pressing. Had Donna intended to try to push any errant thoughts of Rosy from my mind with our coupling?

"I saw her in the lounge room of the quarters when Timny took me inside to wait for you to come over from your parents' house," Donna tells me quietly. "She's very pretty, all that long blonde hair and huge eyes."

I remain silent; did she want a response from me? What had her brother told her? I can't help but wonder as I take a quick glance her way.

"Why are yous torturing her Micah?" Donna asks and I turn to face her angrily. There are tears in her eyes and her bottom lip and chin are trembling. "She's so sad it hurt me to see her. And all she did was sit on the lounge staring out the big window; she wasn't in the room Micah. Not in her head, her body was there but I don't think her soul was and her mind was definitely out on that mountain she was staring at."

The words come from her in a rush, and in my heart I know what Donna is saying is true. We are only trying to help Rosy but all we were managing to do was torture her. With that admitted to myself I realise there is someone else I am torturing: Donna.

"I'm sorry Donna," I say gently and turn my head to look at her.

I watch as she shakes her head, tears filling her pretty brown eyes. She covers her mouth with one hand and looks away from me.

"I don't believe things between you and I will ever come to anything," I say apologetically, "Things have ..."

"Stop it!" Donna cries sharply and takes a deep breath, "you told me nothing has happened between you and her. You still feel the same way about me don't you?"

I hear the desperation in her voice and can't stop myself reaching out to take hold of her hand. "I still respect you and regard you highly. I would never have accepted your second invitation if I hadn't," I tell her gently.

"I'm not beautiful like her," Donna says unhappily. "And I doubt that with that tall slender body she will ever have to worry about keeping off the extra pounds that try to creep on once the babies start coming!"

"Looks are only skin deep. The real beauty goes down deep into the soul," I say gently and reach out to pull Donna into my arms. I don't like seeing her so upset, and knowing I am the cause of it doesn't sit comfortably.

"You're beautiful Donna," I tell her gently. "Don't ever doubt that. I still admire and respect you greatly but you deserve more than that. You deserve someone who thinks you are his entire world. And he thinks of you when he's not with you, wants to be with you when you are apart." I rub my cheek against the side of her head feeling the slight growth of stubble catch on strands of her hair.

"You deserve someone, who when he closes his eyes, he sees your face. He thinks of only you and doesn't think about others. You are a very dear friend Donna and I love you but I know now that I am not in love with you, and there is a big difference in that."

"We don't get to choose who we fall in love with, it chooses us. One day you'll meet some tom or really see a tom for the first time – see past his appearance and you ... " I find myself trailing off what I was saying and I take a deep breath before continuing.

"When you look into his eyes, you'll see his cat as well as the person. You'll notice his heart beats in time with yours." I try to give voice to the thoughts in my head.

"Stop it! Just leave me alone," Donna cries as she gets to her feet. She spots her knickers on the grass beside the blanket, snatches them up and heads towards the quarters and house at a run.

I sigh deeply as I glance around. The blanket is rumpled and has pieces of dead grass scattered on it hinting at the passion we almost shared minutes earlier. I get to my feet resigned to the argument between us and pick up the blanket to shake the grass from it. I fold it roughly before tucking it under one arm and following Donna at a leisurely pace.

I find her at one of the work sheds where Timny, Malcolm, Chris and Edwin are servicing one of the tractors and cleaning the planting combine. Donna is standing close to Timny and ignores me as I pause in the doorway to check on how the work is going. Edwin makes a point of noiselessly acting as if he is sniffing before looking between Donna and I with a huge grin, clearly enjoying the signs of trouble between us.

Chris, who is always kind and thoughtful towards she-kitts, is quietly explaining the work he and Timny are doing while Malcolm flexes his muscles as he checks all the attaching bolts are securely fastened.

"Wade is talking about taking Marissa and Jazzy to visit Stephan and Abby for a while," Edwin says when I go to turn away.

I hesitate as I look his way but he is intent on a bolt that is resisting Malcolm's attempts to undo it, and he doesn't meet my eyes leaving me in no doubt this is a message that was meant to be delivered earlier. Uneasy glances from both Timny and Chris confirm this and I leave the shed as my anger burns at Edwin for his continuous sly manipulations.

I find Wade in his private den at his work desk going over some papers; he glances up as I enter the room but goes straight back to what he is doing.

"I asked for you to come and see me nearly an hour ago," Wade says when he puts the papers aside and glares at me.

"I was breaking up with Donna, and only just got the message," I say levelly. I might as well come straight out with it - he would hear of it soon enough. If not from

Donna's father then probaly Edwin would make sure to let it slip at the most inopportune moment possible since he was clearly bent on stirring trouble for me with Wade.

"Do you think this clan needs the stress of you walking away from a highly suitable match so soon after Alex's death?" Wade asks coldly. "Not that I didn't expect it when I heard how you have wilfully disobeyed my orders and almost single-handedly taken over the responsibility of mentoring and caring for Rosy."

"If you had seen the progress she was making then you..." I tell him only to cut off when he pushes his chair back from the desk and stands up abruptly making the chair rock before settling on four legs once again.

"What? I saw how she threatened me over Alex's injuries," Wade demands angrily. "If Rosy continues to do things that make me believe she is a threat to anyone here or she fails to progress in adapting to clan life because you saw fit to interfere and go against my orders ..."

I watch as Wade stops to take a deep breath in an attempt to control his anger.

"Head warrior or not," Wade bites out tersely, "if anything goes wrong with Rosy I will have you whipped! She is a she-kitt in very fragile health and must be protected at all costs!"

I remain silent as I meet Wade's glare. I disobeyed his orders with the best of intentions, but when all is said and done the fact still remains that I have disobeyed him.

"I will be taking Marissa and Jazzy to the Willoughby compound for a few days. Your mother is taking Alex's death very hard and Jazzy is fretting over Mitchell's injuries. They both need some time away from here to recover," Wade says tightly.

"Can I suggest you take Donny along as well?" I ask calmly, "He and Alex were very close."

"Might as well take Justin along as well. Maybe he will be lucky enough to end up becoming an alpha some day. Celeste Willoughby should be reaching an age where she is looking at young toms," Wade announces.

I remain silent even though I know this is a not so subtle reference to Donna and myself.

"Timny and Chris will accompany us," Wade announces after a few moments thought. "I am sure Timny will want to visit his parents and offer his support to his sister in the next few days or weeks. I am sure Stephan will have a couple of warriors who can escort us home if Timny is still away when Marissa is ready to return."

"Yes Sir," I acknowledge evenly.

"Go and tell them to get ready; I want to leave within the hour." Wade orders and turns away without any further comment.

I am left to walk from the room, Wade's anger with me still thick in the air between us. I pass Marissa in the kitchen where she stands at the sink looking out the window above it; she turns her head to glance at me. Her eyes are red-rimmed and blood shot in her pale face.

"Micah?" Marissa questions softly.

I hesitate a moment before walking over to her and engulfing her in a warm hug. She feels small and surprisingly fragile in my arms as I hold her, not in the least like the robust and strong person she was.

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