Enter the Cat Ch. 04byMygypsy©
First, let me say thank you to all those who have sent their well wishes to my mother and our family.
I hope to manage to post chapters of my story but the frequency will depend on the demands that my mother's illness puts on the entire family.
Thanks for all the comments left on both ETC and TLAS. I look forward to future comments.
It's been a long tiring day. The muscles in my upper back and shoulders ache from using a spud bar and shovel to dig holes for the large corner posts on a fence line. I frown as I walk through the quarters towards the bathroom. For the last two months Wade has had me on every hard physical job or demeaning task he could find or invent. For the three weeks prior to that I had been recovering from being whipped.
My only comfort was the fact that in those three weeks of recovery time, Wade had taken care not to have Edwin and his team at the compound or in the quarters. That and the fact I wasn't demoted from my position as chief warrior.
I was surprised when Wade didn't object to Rosy being allowed to 'escape'. But he took exception to my statement that it was my decision to make and that the other warriors present at the time were in no way responsible for my decision.
The entire truth came out when Wade announced I was to be whipped for deciding Rosy would be allowed to escape without asking his opinion or permission. Surprisingly it was Edwin who stepped forward on my behalf stating that all of the warriors were in on the decision. Steven, Sam and Dwayne confirmed it, as did the others when Wade looked their way.
My whipping consisted of twelve lashes, two lashes for each warrior who had been here. I received the first lash because I lied - each warrior was consulted and encouraged to give their opinion before I made the final decision. The second lash was for trying to take full responsibility and cover for each warrior. I was instructed I was not to change form until my body healed, which meant the pain and stiffness would remain much longer than if I shifted.
The day after my flogging Wade visited me in the quarters where I was temporarily laid up. He explained that only an Alpha could assume responsibility for another werecat and protect them from any punishment. As chief warrior I over stepped my bounds and challenged his authority as my Alpha, hence the harsh punishment.
Understanding Wade's reasons for my punishment erased the resentment I felt at the time of punishment and gave me a clearer understanding of his position over this. I can see how I left him with no other recourse but to set such harsh punishment. I challenged his authority. Yes I'd had the best of intentions at the time, but still the fact remained I challenged the authority of my Alpha.
He told me he was aware of the friction between Edwin and me, our subtle struggles for dominance. He didn't want to demote me and reinstate Edwin as chief warrior as
everything was handled much smoother and there were fewer arguments in the ranks while I was in charge.
I am thankful for the support Wade showed me by ensuring Edwin would not be able to challenge me for dominance while I was recovering from the punishment. Knowing he still held my leadership of his warriors in such high respect buoyed my spirits.
Wade's confidence and support mean a lot to me. I want to serve my Alpha and clan to the best of my abilities. Hearing I have his approval and support makes me proud of the quality of work I have performed for them.
I am pulled from my thoughts as I hear Jazzy following me along the sunroom and I glance over my shoulder at her to see a determined look on her face.
"You won't be long in the shower will you Micah," Jazzy asks just before I shut the bathroom door, and I turn around to smile at her. She is dressed in slim legged jeans and a tight t-shirt. I realise suddenly how much she has grown up lately.
"You got something special cooking, kitten," I ask with a fond smile.
"I want to go for a moonlight run and I want my favourite bossy brother there as well," Jazzy says with a wide grin.
"Oh I don't know," I tease her, "I'm pretty tired. Wade has been working me hard lately."
"I made caramel tarts," Jazzy says with a smile. "And I made an extra one just so you can have one all to yourself."
"Not trying to bribe me are you," I ask with a lazy smile as I prop my elbow on the doorpost beside me.
"I might be," Jazzy giggles, "but if you don't want to come I could sneak off with Mitchell all by myself ..." She smiles coyly and there is a mischievous look in her eyes as she goes to turn away.
"Go and let me have my shower you little minx, or you'll have to wait until midnight before I'm ready to change and go for that run." I say with a laugh. I shut the door and turn the shower on, adjusting the water before beginning to undress.
I am washing the last of the soap from my back when I hear the unmistakeable sound of my mobile phone. I pause a moment, then decide that if it is important whoever is calling will ring back. I turn back to my shower and reach for the shampoo before ducking my head beneath the spray. When I do turn the water off and step out of the shower cubicle I dry off and pull clean clothes on before reaching for my mobile where it sits on the chair beside the sink.
I check for missed calls and give a slight smile as I see Baxter's name come up. I am returning the missed call when I head out for the lounge room and grin when I hear the familiar voice on the other end of the line as he answers his phone.
"Hi Baxter, you called," I say as I head into the kitchen to grab a cold beer from the fridge.
"Yeah I called Micah," Baxter says gruffly. "I got a bit of news you might be interested in. Today when I was on my lunch hour I happened to see a werecat dressed up like a human and walking around town as happy as pie. Well maybe not that happy but she was there large as day."
"What's going on," I ask with a worried frown. "Cat sightings? Livestock kills?"
"No, no nothing like that," Baxter says reassuringly. "Although I am sure this one could be trouble if she wanted to be. Slender blonde with long hair, moves like liquid silk. No werecat would mistake her for anything other than a cat. Obviously in good health but she seemed a mite jumpy. I just gave her her own space."
"You sure about that Baxter," I demand and notice that Steven has gotten to his feet in the lounge room and is not far from the connecting doorway and he divides his attention between the tv and me as I open my beer.
"I double checked with that sketch that was dropped in here a while back. I got a good look at her face from a bit of a distance and there's no mistake - it's that little she-kitt yous had there not too long back," Baxter confirms confidently.
"That's really great news Baxter. Umm you had better let Wade know what you saw," I say as I clench my jaw to stop myself giving a loud celebratory yell over the confirmed sighting of Rosy from a reliable source. "I don't think you'd want him thinking you're not loyal to him, that you thought it was more important that I know she seems to be coping."
"I saw the look in your eye when you were here, boy. Talk to you again," Baxter says before hanging up.
"There trouble," Steven asks as I take a large plate of food from the oven and head for the lounge room carrying the plate and my beer.
"No," I say as I walk past Dwayne where he sits watching Sam and Mitchell playing some combat game on the play station. He glances my way before turning his attention back to the game being played.
"Pause that game for a few moments, you lot," I say loudly.
Sam pauses the game and looks over his shoulder at me with a slight frown. Dwayne and Mitchell look my way as well as Donny and Jazzy who are sitting on the floor near Mitchell.
"Just had a positive sighting of Rosy phoned in," I say evenly. "She was in the town where Baxter Barnes lives. Seemed ok, sort of passed as a human but he didn't go near her," I relay the information to them.
"Rosy was in town, she really seemed ok," Mitchell questions anxiously as he shares a hopeful look with his brother.
"She was when Baxter saw her today," I confirm.
"Why didn't he go say hallo," Jazzy asks.
"Baxter is as large as your brother. Rosy would probably take one look at him, make him for a cat and panic," Steven explains calmly.
"I like her. I want her to come back," Donovan says unhappily.
"We all like her Donny," Dwayne says softly.
"You're not the only one who would like her to come back Donny," Sam tells him quietly.
"Hurry up and eat Micah," Jazzy orders suddenly, "I want to go hunting."
I catch the glance she gives Mitchell and realise that tonight Dwayne and I will be keeping a close watch on our little sister.
I sit in my favourite chair and Jazzy moves to sit beside my legs, leaning against me as she continues to watch the game and cheer Mitchell on.
"Did you have to mention Rosy? Mitchell just started to stop worrying about her all the time this last week or so," Jazzy says a touch wistfully. "I want him to stop worrying and start thinking about me again."
"Miss Jasmine," I say softly as I reach down and squeeze one of her shoulders gently, "you don't stop thinking about someone just because no one mentions their name. If you care about them, they're never far from your mind."
Jazzy turns and looks over her shoulder at me thoughtfully before getting to her feet and taking my nearly empty plate.
"Do you want your caramel tart now or after the run," Jazzy asks.
"Half now, half later. And I can get it, you sit down," I tell her getting to my feet, reclaiming my plate from her and heading for the kitchen. I hear her following me and I am not surprised when she leans against the bench beside me as I help myself to dessert.
"Donna phoned me today," Jazzy says casually. "She asked how you are, if you're seeing anyone else."
"I hope you didn't encourage her Jazzy," I say as I look at her. "That would only be cruel. Donna deserves a tom who is in love with her."
"I'm not a little kitt anymore Micah," Jazzy scolds slightly as she glances towards the lounge room.
The distant sound of a vehicle turning into the driveway catches my attention and I leave my plate with dessert on it on the bench as I use the small kitchen door to look out towards the driveway.
"Edwin and his team are back," I call as I come back to claim my food after identifying the vehicle.
"Oh good," Jazzy says with a smile, "Timny and Malcolm will be here too."
"You be careful little girl," I warn her, "those two are a lot older than you."
"Well you better make sure you don't get left behind then," Jazzy laughs teasingly.
"Behave or I'll take you over to the main house and tell Marissa you need to be locked in your room," I say with a laugh before heading back to sit down and enjoy my favourite dessert.
* * * * *
I reverse the ute and trailer into the shed before putting the vehicle into park and turning the engine off. I pull the hand break on before getting out and checking how close I had gotten the double load of lucerne seed and slow release fertiliser to the pallets where they would be stacked.
"Perfect parking," Steven comments as he comes to stand beside me.
"Give me a hand unloading this will you," I ask as I pull on a pair of leather gloves as protection from any fertiliser on the outside of the bags.
"Sure," Steven agrees and moves to the back of the ute to begin unloading the seed while I head for the fertiliser.
"Pete's here," Steven informs me with a grunt as he picks up a bag of seed.
"Yeah," I say tossing a bag into place on several others I have unloaded. "I noticed his car."
"He came for the weekend and to do some hunting," Steven says sounding too casual and I wonder where this conversation is going.
"There a point to this or you just wasting breath," I ask. I'd prefer to get the bags unloaded as quickly as possible. When there is no reply from Steven I stop what I am doing to look at him. He has a wide grin on his face and I frown in annoyance.
"Pete got a phone call just before we went hunting goats for lunch," Steven says with a delighted laugh. "You get three guesses as to who has surfaced again. The first two don't count."
Who would have Steven grinning like a Cheshire Cat?
"Rosy! It was Rosy wasn't it," I demand as my heart starts pounding.
"Yeah and it sounded like she's starting to get herself sorted," Steven says still grinning. "Add the call to Baxter's sighting a month, nearly two back and we did the right thing."
"One confirmed sighting and one phone call in just over five months ..." I trail off what I am saying as the fact that she has voluntarily made contact with another werecat sinks in.
"I wonder how long before she calls again," I muse as I resume unloading the bags.
"What is it with you and Edwin? Both so sure she'll be calling again," Steven mutters as he returns to unloading the seed.
"Why wouldn't she," I ask with a glance his way.
"Well when Pete told her he was here, she didn't sound too happy and when he asked if she wanted to speak to anyone else she cut the call short and hung up," Steven tells me soberly.
"She has been out there for a long time without voluntarily having anything to do with another cat. No, no just listen a moment," I cut Steven off when he goes to speak. "Yes she had contact with your brother during that time, but how much of it was merely blending into the human world back then? Know your neighbour, get on with them -- that kind of thing."
"We have to remember she's been abused by a lot of stray toms," I say after a few moments pause. "She barely knows us and no stray trusts a cat they don't know, at least no stray I've come across. Plus her cat instincts are finely honed. Interacting with us could be going against the survival skills she learnt."
"You got a good point there," Steven concedes, "but we never hurt her."
I shake my head in disbelief and take my gloves off to knock the dust out of them against the side of the trailer for a few moments.
"She has been drugged several times, had her wrist crushed, been forcibly restrained and had no choice but to stay here when she was severely stressed. It hasn't been all fun and games for her," I point out. "I went over and over it in my mind. She also lost Alex, who she identified as hers, and also her kitts. I don't think she could handle losing so much along with everything else happening."
"Damn," Steven swears and kicks at the hard packed floor of the shed.
"Then there's Mitchell, Sam and even Dwayne," I say quietly. "She felt a strong attachment to them, probably still does."
"She did seem quite fond of them, didn't she," Steven muses.
"It is possible she knows nothing of the strong bonds that form between she-kitts and their protectors -- usually brothers and cousins," I point out.
We return to unloading the ute and trailer, finishing just before dark. I head towards the quarters and Steven follows. Once we are out of the shadows he races past with a laugh.
I sprint after him, slowly catching up despite his head start; he only just reaches the door ahead of me and is laughing as he runs inside.
"You're getting slow these days partner," Steven yells back at me.
The chase woke my natural instinct to hunt and I follow him through the hallway quickly. He takes one glance back over his shoulder at me and dodges into the lounge room away from several others as he turns to face me.
I take him down with a flying tackle and I hear him grunt as he hits the floor heavily. I growl as I try to get a hold on him but he twists and turns trying to escape me. I become aware of Donny yelling encouragement as we wrestle on the lounge room floor. Finally I pin him face down and twist one of his arms up behind his back hard enough to make him stop struggling but not hard enough to make him admit defeat.
I release him and stand up cautiously; I glance around and see everyone watching us. Sam grins as he steps forward and I bare my teeth in a savage smile as I silently accept the challenge. We circle each other warily and then I launch my attack. We grapple silently for a few seconds before we both back off and circle again.
He takes me down onto the floor with a cheap shot that knocks both feet from beneath me; I remind myself that Sam is an experienced fighter. He is not above using dirty moves if that is what he needs to do to take down a larger opponent. I roll towards him catching him off guard but he still manages to avoid being pinned.
I grit my teeth as I try to force him from his feet and he locks both arms around one of my forearms. He resists a few moments before using my momentum to try to flip over my shoulder and gain a grip on me from behind. I am expecting his move and counter, only just managing to avoid a hold that would have given him a heavy advantage.
After a few minutes we back away to catch our breaths and Sam steps forward with a grin as he offers his hand. I shake his hand as I return the good-natured grin and slap him on the shoulder. We move out of the way and I am not surprised when Mitchell steps towards Dwayne with a serious face.
I am surprised when Dwayne laughs off the first shove but when Mitchell doesn't back away I realise this is more than sparring for fun; Mitchell clearly intends to prove a point. Mitchell is quick as he moves tossing Dwayne before he can regain his feet after each throw.
I grimace as Dwayne snarls and goes after Mitchell. He tackles the younger tom and when he goes to pin him, Mitchell somehow manages to reverse it. There is silence as Dwayne is pinned and Mitchell holds him down breathing heavily. After a minute or so he lets him go and moves away cautiously.
There is silence as Dwayne gets to his feet. He faces Mitchell for a moment then launches an attack that takes them both to the floor. I glance at Sam and he glances my way. I motion towards several mattresses scattered around the floor and Sam nods. The mattresses are moved out of the way and we all stand around watching the action.
The deep pile shag carpet offers some padding but the solid thuds of the throws can be heard clearly. There are several startled remarks when Mitchell pins Dwayne and Dwayne is unable to break free. Mitchell holds long enough to enforce the point before letting go and stepping away.
I watch, ready to intervene as Dwayne gets to his feet. He is watching Mitchell with clenched jaws but steps forward extending his hand. Mitchell eyes him cautiously before accepting the handshake.
When the handshake ends Dwayne steps away and gives his hand a shake before placing it in his armpit with a grimace. Mitchell is clenching and unclenching his hand. Steven steps towards Mitchell and I am relieved when Mitchell quickly drops his eyes submissively. Mitchell moving up over both Timny and Dwayne in rank in one change is enough.
The atmosphere is slightly tense making me loathe to leave the room but I look to my second-in-command and Sam makes his way to my side.
"You wanted me," Sam asks quietly.
"I want to go clean up," I tell him. "Keep an eye on things here would you." I glance from Steven to Sam and back again, both give a nod and I head for the shower.
The atmosphere is still tense when I return to that end of the quarters and I make my way over to Dwayne.
"Everything ok," I ask quietly.
"Yeah, I'll survive," Dwayne says dismissively and I give a faint nod as I fold my arms across my chest and remain beside him silently for a few minutes. I can guess it smarts to lose rank to a younger, immature tom but Dwayne is still my older brother and one of my best warriors.
"We need another warrior," Dwayne says casually.
"You want another partner," I ask as I glance at him.