Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Challenging Courtship

Hi and welcom to your Wednesday fix of Shapeshifter Seductions! This week I have been busy getting my home ready for winter by pulling a/c window units out, putting storm windows in and winterizing the garden. Soon it will be time for snow!

I did not write an actual blog (forgot) so I'm going to post a little something I already had on hand. This is a condensed spinet from a short story I submitted to a call for submissions that didn't make the cut. But I love it, so I'm going to share it here.


Pearlie knew she was different the day she smelled her mother and thought, she smells like a human. What it meant, exactly, Pearlie didn’t know, or at least tried very hard to pretend she didn’t know. She’d always had an affinity for red meat though her hippy mother had raised her vegan. Wild, lonely places called to her soul though she’d been raised in an artist commune in Nederland, Colorado, which isn‘t all that remote despite being on the edge of several national parks. This new scent was different, too- exciting and just a little bit scary.

To be more precise, the scent itself wasn’t scary, but her reaction to it was. Most people smell a really good cologne and think, “That smells nice. I think I‘d like to get to know that person better.” Pearlie smelled a cologne and wondered why people would pay money to smell like rubbing alcohol and chemicals. This scent, though, didn’t smell like cologne or human or even food. Her brain kept saying mate!

She first encountered it at the farmer’s market. The scent had drifted to her on a waft of breeze, tantalizing her like the smell of fresh baking bread. Before she realized what she was doing, Pearlie found herself wandering the stalls, trying to follow it. Had it been something as benign as bread, that instinctive tracking wouldn’t have worried her. Bread was for eating and only made her hungry. This tantalizing aroma made her gut clench with need. It made her body thrum and whisper mate!

She left the market immediately and drove the seventeen miles back to Boulder to do her shopping, never mind that she‘d made this trip specifically to go to that farmer‘s market.

The next time Pearlie caught the scent, she was at the library on campus doing research for her college thesis on prehistoric apes. It was an odd subject for a vegan hippy who loved meat but refused to eat it. Something about it called to her, though, much like meat and wild, lonely places called to her. Much like the mystery scent called to her.

She left the library immediately and went home. She could do her research on-line just as easily.

As the days stretch into weeks, Pearlie caught the scent more and more at places she tended to frequent. She had a sneaking suspicion that whoever the luscious scent belonged to was tracking her by her scent. She was a little embarrassed, though not surprised. Since first catching the mystery scent, she’d noticed that her own scent had changed, just a little, like her body was calling to the mystery male who’d entered her territory.

She was also embarrassed to realize that she no longer needed to actually catch the scent to become aroused. Her concerted efforts to avoid it meant awareness of the male was always in the back of her mind. Simply seeing two people kissing was enough to bring him to the forefront, which ushered in a surge of longing for the mystery male. After watching an episode of her favorite day time drama, Pearlie caught herself actually heading out to the market- where she’d noticed his scent was strongest- to try and catch a whiff again.

Now Pearlie wasn’t watching TV, either.


Max had been passing through a little mountain hamlet several weeks ago when he first caught her scent. Young. Female. Single. That in itself was enough to catch his interest, so he’d called his clan told them he’d be late returning.

That casual interest had ramped up sharply, though, when he caught her scent the next day after leaving his scent all over town. He’d expected her to come find him, if only to confront another in her territory. Not only had she not confronted him, she’d run from him. And she’d been interested. Max was confused. There were so few of their kind left that the chance for a mate wasn’t something to be missed.

Max stopped suddenly as a thought hit him. She didn’t know what she was. Was she a hybrid who’d been made in the heat of passion then abandoned by a father who didn‘t know he‘d breed a human? He nodded to himself. That made sense. She must not know what the mating heat was, that her body had responded to him because they were genetically compatible. To a young female who’d been raised to think she was human, it would be a frightening experience. How best to woo her, then?


Her nose told her that the mystery male had found where she lived. She was tempted to avoid going home, but decided enough was enough. She’d quit going to the library, the market, and even the movies. She couldn’t even watch her soaps, for crying out loud- enough was enough!

Her indignation lasted until she saw the dead- thing- on her doorstep. Pearlie glanced around nervously then edged a bit closer. Yep, it was a dead raccoon and it was cover with his scent. Why on earth had he left a dead animal on her doorstep? She wrinkled her nose, pretending it was disgust making her stomach knot and not desire to eat it.


Max stared is stunned surprise as he watched her dump his offering in the trash with a shovel so she wouldn’t have to touch it. His brother had managed to win his mate with food offerings- it was proof the male would be a good provider. Maybe she didn’t like that kind of food?


Oh, gross! Pearlie thought in disgust, trying to wipe her foot off in the grass. Who left a pile of rotten fruit on her doorstep? Oh. The male. What on Earth had he done that for? Was this some bizarre courting ritual for his people?


Max watch dejectedly as his female wiped her foot off in the grass while muttering “ew, ew, ew.” She was so beautiful to him- smaller and curvier than most of his kind but with the same dark hair and skin most of them had. He wanted her so badly he could taste it but he had a feeling he was screwing things up. This courtship thing was harder than it looked. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed his sister-in-law. Maybe she could help him figure out what he was doing wrong.


“I don’t want to get out of bed,” Pearlie muttered to herself. After the last two times she’d left the house, she was afraid to see what her would-be suitor had left on her doorstep this morning. She sighed and drug herself out of bed. Better to find it herself than have one of her neighbors find it and call the police. She threw on her ratty old bathrobe and trudged to the door, opening it just a crack. His scent slipped through to wrap around her senses. She pretended it was annoyance that made her close her eyes and breath deeply and not her guilty desire to smell him better. She opened the door all the way and looked. Then blinked. Then smiled. Starbucks was good- much better than dead things.
She looked around carefully to see if he was still there then scooped up her booty and shut the door.


Max smile in delight from his hiding place high in a tree across the street from her den. Mara’s advise had seemed odd at first. What female would prefer baked goods and scalded, milky bean juice over fresh meat caught in their honor? But Mara’s advice seemed to be working, so he figured his sister-in-law knew what she was doing.


That's about it for this week. Have great and wonderful rest of the week!



Serena Shay said...

More please!! Great story, Rebecca. I hope you find a home for it so I can read some more! :)

mmm, baked goods and yummy coffee, now that's my kinda wooing!

Rebecca Murray said...

Yes, much better than dead things! I am currently debating between expanding it or trying to find it a different home as-is.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pearlie is in for some BIG surprises. Yes, more please. I think you need to expand it.

Pat C. said...

This didn't make the cut? Why not? It's delightful! I'm wondering now what kind of shifters they are. Stuff left on the doorstep suggests a cat of some kind. Or are you setting us up for something different?

Yeah ... nothing says true romance like a dead raccoon on your doorstep. When you care enough to send the very best ...

Rebecca Murray said...

Sasquatch! Ok, I'll expand it. I kind of like thinking up goofy things for Max to try wooing Pearlie with.

I didn't even get past the prelims, so I don't know why they didn't like it. All I got was the generic "thanks but no thanks" e-mail.