To Love a Stray Ch. 17byMygypsy©
I glance towards the doorway as Wade walks into the room followed by Micah, Sam and Mitchell. All of them have sober expressions on their faces. The sounds of joking and laughter that usually fill the quarters soon fade away, leaving only the faint sounds of the toms moving expectantly.
"We just got some important news," Micah says, "I'll let Wade tell everyone since he took the call."
"Everyone take a seat," Wade says levelly and all obey even Marissa.
Micah, Mitchell and Sam move to stand among other toms and I glance their way with uneasy curiosity.
"That was Stephan Willoughby ... Steven, Mikkarl, straight out ... Celeste and Andy are still alive and should recover." Wade says firmly.
"What's happened?" Steven demands getting to his feet and I glance his way slightly alarmed. Micah has him by the upper arm either restraining him or steadying him I can't tell which. I glance at Mikkarl and see Mitchell by his side as Mikkarl leans forward with a strained look on his face.
"As you know Andy is visiting your parents for a few days with Celeste turning eighteen. There was a car accident, the car Andy and Celeste were in blew a tyre and went off the road rolling several times. Lucky for them Conner and Kell were right behind them and were able to get them out of the car." Wade explains.
"How bad are they hurt?" Steven breaks in urgently.
"Both have broken bones, bruising and Celeste has some deep lacerations and a concussion but she should totally recover. Andy might have a limp or limited use of one leg but he is alive ..." Wade stresses and stops to take a deep breath. "Kell was turning the engine in the rolled car off when it went up in flames ..."
"No," Kirby yells and I look his way uneasily but Sam and Malcolm have a hold on him and are trying to calm him down.
"Conner?" Timny asks worriedly.
"He managed to pull Kell out of the car. Both are burnt ... Kell real bad, Conner all up one arm and shoulder and across that side of his face." Wade tells us calmly. "Stephan wants you back home at least for a while Steven, and Mikkarl too for a few weeks. Kirby, Timny, Callum if you want to go see your brothers by all means go."
"This is only temporary, until Andy is back on his feet or Dad gets someone to replace him." Steven states as he gets to his feet and heads for the bedroom. Mikkarl follows Steven from the room and I glance at Timny and Callum who are getting to their feet along with Kirby with Malcolm at his side.
"I'll just be a few days if Conner isn't too bad," Timny says glancing between Micah, Wade and Mitchell.
"Me too," Callum adds.
"We all agreed you can take as long as you need," Wade tells them as he pats each of them on the shoulder before turning to Kirby. "You stay as long as your brother needs you."
"Thanks," Kirby says and glances between Micah and Mitchell before he hurries for the door.
Silence fills the lounge room and I look down at the muffin on my plate, I am no longer hungry and I glance around the room noting most of the others haven't finished their breakfasts either.
"I'm making sandwiches they can take with them so they have something to eat, they won't stop for food." I say scrambling to my feet.
"I'll help," Donovan says getting to his feet along with me.
"I'll do some thermoses of coffee," Justin announces as he too stands and follows us into the kitchen. I begin buttering slices of bread while Donovan pulls an assortment of cold meats from the fridge along with cheese, pickles and tomatoes. We soon have a large range of sandwiches made and in plastic bags while Justin adds boiling water to instant coffee in thermoses. I grab several heavy plastic mugs and sit them by the thermoses with containers of sugar and powdered milk.
"You rippers," Steven says as he comes into the kitchen and puts an old esky on the table to pack the food and drinks in.
"You take care of yourself Rosy, make sure you eat well so you're nice and round and cuddly when we dance after the wedding, you hear." Steven orders firmly before dropping a kiss on my cheek.
"You'll be back for the wedding?" I ask in surprise.
"Can't let my best mate get married without me," Steven says then gives a bit of a laugh. "Besides, I want to be there in case you come to your senses and marry me instead."
"You driving?" I ask rolling my eyes and ignoring his teasing remark.
"Yeah, Mikkarl and I will take turns. I don't think the others would do more then some low flying," Steven says with a crooked grin.
"Well you be careful," I tell him as I throw my arms around his neck in a hug, he gives me a gentle squeeze and pats my back before stepping back from me.
Mikkarl and Timny are finishing up packing the sandwiches in an esky while Callum grabs several large packets of chips from the pantry. I watch as Steven turns and leads the way out of the quarters with Mikkarl just behind him. Timny, Callum and Kirby fall into step behind them and the five toms file from the building heading for the shed where all of the vehicles are generally kept. Donovan puts a hand on my shoulder and I glance towards him, he is watching the others leave and I wonder at the closed expression on his face.
"Everything okay?" I ask Donovan as we head back inside when the vehicle is gone from sight.
"You really should have a shower before you go visit Jazzy," Donovan tells me seriously and I suddenly wonder where the spoilt but charming teenager I had come to adore has gone.
"Sure," I mutter and head for the bathroom.
It is not until I am in the shower that I remember Sam talking to me about taking me to see my Unca Dunka – Donald Caruthers who is a vet. I realise he may have some information I can check through to see if I can get any tips to help me gain weight, then I remember five of the warriors have just left, and Jazzy is coming into heat. I sigh and turn off the shower knowing my likelihood of visiting my uncle is probaly now non-existent.
"I'm going over to the house to see Jazzy," I call to Donovan, Justin and Malcolm who are in the lounge room.
"See you when you get back Stray," Malcolm calls bringing a smile to my face.
I walk to the main house slowing with apprehension when I open the yard gate and walk up the footpath, I can't help but remember the last time I walked these same steps. The gun I had hated wielding, the choking fear I would be shut in a cage and the mind numbing terror that I was already too late to be able to help Jazzy.
I raise my hand to knock on the door and freeze as I slowly turn my head to look at the shady spot at the end of the house enclosed by green leafy hedges. I immediately spy the motionless figure leaning back casually in one of the patio chairs, a laptop across his thighs.
"Marissa is in with Jazzy, just go on in." Wade tells me levelly. I inhale sharply in surprise but manage a slight nod before all but bolting into the house. I walk through the house guided by memory and halt outside the solid oak doors that seal the secure room from the rest of the house. I open the door and step inside trying not to remember my own seclusion here months ago.
"Rosy! You came! Mum told me you and Micah are getting married," Jazzy gushes with excitement as she jumps up out of the armchair and rushes over to hug me.
"Of course I came to visit," I tell her with a grin. "And yes Micah and I are getting married. Three weekends from now so it gives you and me a little bit of time to do stuff for the wedding once you're out of here,"
"I'll leave you two to chat together," Marissa says as she gets to her feet. I watch as she leaves the room but I can't control the shudder that goes through me when she locks the oak door behind her.
"You okay?" Jazzy asks with a worried frown.
"Yeah," I give a shrug and head for one of the chairs, my legs feel weak and shaky.
"You sure? Cause you've gone all pale," Jazzy tells me in concern.
"Last time I was here wasn't so pleasant for me," I mutter as I look down at my feet.
"I should have realised! Do you want to go back to the quarters?" Jazzy asks and I can hear the disappointment in her voice.
"I'm okay for now I think," I say with an uneasy smile.
Jazzy pulls the other chair close and sits in it, she watches me for a moment then gives a nod.
"Doc said I'm well enough to invite someone into the cage if I want," She tells me with a wicked little smile.
"Don't tell me you're going to corrupt my brother," I tell her with a laugh.
"Me corrupt him? Mitchell has had me thinking naughty thoughts from when I was nine." Jazzy says with a laugh.
"You've liked him that long?" I ask curiously.
"Yeah, I went on my first run as a cat and while everyone else treated me like a sick little kid he treated me like I was normal." Jazzy recalls with a faraway look on her face. "Don't get me wrong I've had crushes on other toms but with Mitchell it was different and he stayed there at the back of my mind even when I liked others."
"Which other toms, if you don't mind me asking?" I say with a direct glance and Jazzy gives a self-conscious laugh.
"Loci Francis, but he never gave me the time of day after I refused to let him mount me first chance he got. And there was Leon, Malcolm and Chris's brother. We kissed a few times, he wanted to go further but I wasn't interested. I was only mucking around with him trying to get Mitchell to take notice. You remember Robby Inness? He got really friendly a couple of times I stayed in the quarters until Micah told him to keep away from me ... there are a couple of others I had crushes on but I never let them know," Jazzy tells me with a shrug.
"So what finally caught Mitchell's attention?" I ask.
"You tell me when you first decided you liked Micah," Jazzy counters with a grin.
"At my house, near Pete Willoughby's place. I had worked all night helping my Uncle with some cattle mauled by strays and came home exhausted. Pete, Micah and Steven dropped by and stayed for a while. On the way out when I wouldn't have been able to hear if I'd been human Steven made some guy comment about my looks and Micah hit him." I laugh softly as I remember. "That's when I knew liked him more than just thinking he had a hot body."
"That was when no one knew you were a cat isn't it?" Jazzy asks.
"Yeah," I admit.
"I remember Steven giving Micah heaps because he liked a 'human' female," Jazzy laughs. "Steven said something about Micah kissing you, did he?"
"Yeah, after supper at Pete's, Micah walked me to my car and kissed me like he wanted to eat me starting with my mouth." I take a deep breath and shake my head as my body tightens with memories. "My inner cat just about went crazy ... about to come into heat and him so male ...it totally scared the shit out of me."
"So which of the toms have you kissed other than Micah?" Jazzy asks.
"Chris, we played around a bit. Conner Stephan and Kell Lancaster, the two of them and me played around quite a bit when I was away at that Alpha meeting." I say.
"Who else?" Jazzy asks curiously.
"That's all the cats I've let near me," I admit to her. "So who are the other toms you had crushes on?"
"Don't laugh at me," Jazzy tells me defensively. "And you got to tell me if you ever considered any toms the first time you were on heat here or if there were any you liked last time,"
"Nothing either of us says leaves this room," I tell her. "And you tell me how you caught Mitchell's attention."
"I had 'crushes' or probaly more correctly, I lusted after Timny and Malcolm. I watched them a few times when they shifted. Pretended I'd found it hard to shift," Jazzy laughs as she blushes slightly. "As for how I caught Mitchell's attention ... a group of us went to the swimming hole, Sam, Mitchell, Malcolm, Timny and Chris were there ... we were swimming and mucking around, Malcolm was picking me up and tossing me in the air while we were in the water and when Mitchell went to try it I type of rubbed myself against him ... he went all wide eyed and got the message real quick and easy. He was kissing me and had his hand between my legs while we were sunbaking afterwards. The others had decided to go hunting,"
"How long ago was that?" I want to know.
"About two and a half years ago," Jazzy admits. "So you ever consider any of the toms when you were in here?"
"Considered yeah, trusted them enough to even consider inviting them in, no. Micah, Edwin, Steven and even Malcolm and Chris were thought about that first time but I was petrified of them, felt sure they'd only want to hurt me." I say and shrug as I look at my hands clasped over my stomach. I stroke my belly for several moments before continuing. "Last time I had meant to get Sam and Mitchell to invite Conner and Kell to the compound while I was in here but I had already decided I wanted to invite Micah in here if he was at home, otherwise my next choice would have been Steven." I admit.
"What about Edwin?" Jazzy asks. "Weren't you going to ask he be here when you were on heat?"
"No, Edwin manipulated that for himself." I tell her.
"Did you really mean it when you told Donovan you were going to kill the baby?" Jazzy demands and I look at her with shock and surprise. "Would you have been really able to do it like you reckoned?"
I take a deep breath as I cradle my stomach in my arms until I finally force myself to look at Jazzy. Suddenly I want to explain to her, make her understand exactly what a she-kitt would have faced.
"Vaygar Darnel said if the baby was a girl she would be kept for breeding. He wasn't the type of werecat to wait until a she-kitt was old enough to be mature or even interested in toms, as soon as she was big enough for a tom to..." Tears fill my eyes and I swallow hard. "He didn't want a she-kitt, he wanted a womb he could control. Even if it was a bit young ... he once said to me 'a field has to be well ploughed before it can be used to grow a seed in'."
"I'm glad clan warriors executed him," Jazzy declares.
We sit in silence for several minutes before Jazzy clears her throat and moves to kneel in front of me, I move my arms and lean back as she strokes my stomach.
"I let your father touch my belly this morning! Micah held me and I was able to let Wade put his hand on my belly," I tell her with sudden excitement.
"Everyone is scared you will try to kill the baby if anyone tries to touch you too much," Jazzy says quietly.
"But no one here will do all the horrible things the Darnels would have," I say upset.
"Don't get upset Rosy! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you," Jazzy says getting to her feet hurriedly and moving away from me uneasily. I take several deep breaths trying to calm down, it takes me several minutes but I manage it and give Jazzy a nod when I am in control of myself again.
"Would you be Maid of Honour at my wedding?" I ask quietly.
"Yes," Jazzy squeals in excitement as she jumps up and down clapping her hands. "I'd love to be!"
I hear rapid footsteps approaching the door, the key turning in the lock then the door swings open and Marissa looks in guardedly.
"Rosy asked me to be Maid of Honour," Jazzy tells her excitedly.
"How lovely! Would you two girls like some cold lemonade and snacks?" Marissa asks.
"That would be wonderful," I say with a smile. Marissa leaves and Jazzy turns to look at my stomach longingly.
"Dad ordered Doc to make sure I had the injection but I want to have a baby too." Jazzy says wistfully.
"Oh Jazzy, I'm so sorry you have to wait but it is the best thing really. I'm finding it really hard at the moment being so thin and weak. I'm tired all the time and not just tired but exhausted like I been running and running from werecats and I can't run anymore." I tell her softly. Jazzy is watching me intently and I smile sadly at her.
"I was enjoying being pregnant so much before when I was healthy but now ... I still enjoy it, when I'm awake to." I give a self-conscious little laugh and a shrug. "If I have my way next time I'll be fat and healthy all the way through the pregnancy."
"You're willing to let Micah get you pregnant? Wow, that is great! Maybe we can work it out so we can have babies around the same time." Jazzy gushes.
"You got to be pregnant by yourself for at least a few months so you can enjoy the toms hanging around just to put their hands on your belly." I say with a laugh but I sober quickly as I remember they no longer do that with me. I look up to find Jazzy watching me, she gives a shrug and moves to kneel in front of me and I uncover my stomach eagerly. Jazzy rests her cheek against my stomach and I feel the baby move to press against the slight pressure.
"He's trying to get closer to you," I say with a soft laugh as Wynn moves slightly.
"Of course he is! He loves his Aunty Jazzy," Jazzy exclaims with a smile.
"Yep, who doesn't love their crazy old cat woman aunty?" I laugh happily.
"What did you call me?" Jazzy shrieks with laughter and tries to tickle me but I twist and turn as I giggle. One of her hands accidentally brushes my breast and she stills as she looks up at me, I narrow my eyes and shake my head in denial.
"Don't," I warn her.
"Nothing wrong with playing around with another she-kitt," Jazzy purrs softly at me. "Some of us do it whenever we get together at meetings. Besides, Justin told me you once had a girlfriend, "
"I am not interested," I say between gritted teeth. "You're like a sister to me. You're supposed to be marrying my brother. Besides both Micah and Mitchell would get really mad at us,"
Jazzy gets up to sit in the other chair, she hooks her legs over the side and leans back over the arm of the chair letting her long hair fall down behind her looking like a little girl.
"I'm gonna ask Momma to invite Mitchell in here tomorrow or the next day," She says sulkily.
"I guess I'll have to wait until you get back to the quarters to let you put your hand on my belly again then." I say as I straighten my clothes.
"Micah won't like it you know. He'll stop me if he catches us. He gave everyone orders not to bother you." Jazzy tells me uneasily.
"Well he'll be bothering me if he stops you," I say and look towards the door as I hear a faint sound, a few moments later Marissa opens the door and walks in carrying a tray with a plate of sandwiches, cakes and a bottle of lemonade with condensation starting on the outside.
"Have you got any of those spice cakes there?" Jazzy demands as she sits up to watch her mother.
"Yes and the orange cake with ginger icing," Marissa says as she puts the tray on the small table in front of the chairs.
"Good! I'm starving," Jazzy exclaims and grabs several pieces of cake. Marissa looks at me and gives a rueful smile.
"Looks like my daughter turns feral," Marissa says as Jazzy growls as she glances at us as she eats. I give Jazzy a no-nonsense look I have perfected on the toms and frown at her.
"You be nice to your mother Jazzy, or she just might leave you go without food for a day." I warn her. Jazzy looks at me silently for a moment then looks at her mother.
"Thanks Momma," Jazzy says dutifully. I help myself to a sandwich and chew hungrily.
"Are you eating four or five times a day yet?" Marissa asks.
"No just the three times with everyone else," I tell her.
"I found it more comfortable to eat lots of small meals when I got to about your stage of pregnancy, especially with Micah, he was so large. The baby squashes your stomach making it hard to eat much at once." Marissa says helpfully.
"I'm hungry all the time it seems like but nothing seems to be what I want to eat." I say.
"I mainly ate what we hunted right up until about a week before I had Justin and Donovan, people food didn't appeal." Marissa admits.
"Micah did say he would take me hunting today," I say with a smile.