Monday, September 19, 2011
Vacation in Yosemite Week
(This week at Shapeshifter Seductions we're doing our take on the photo up there, generously provided by Larry Alexander, history buff and author of Shadows in the Jungle and other WWII nonfiction. He likes to send me dirty jokes and pics like this. Larry, this week is for you. I'm forwarding this post to your wife.)
Look What the Cat Dragged In
Felicia awoke with a pounding headache, in a strange tree on a mountainside she didn't recognize. "Hairballs," she muttered. "What the hell did I do last night?"
She tried to get up and nearly slipped off the branch. The rough bark bit into her naked skin. Felicia swore with more imagination. Where the scat had she stashed her clothes?
Extending her claws for a better grip on the branch – her head made it feel like the whole tree was swaying – Felicia steeled herself and looked below. No clothes. Just great. A rumpled black-and-silver fur coat lay in a heap at the foot of the tree. Okay, better than nothing.
The fur coat stirred and yawned. An enormous black-and-silver wolf got up and shook himself. Would you look at those cat-damn teeth. Instinct got the better of her, and she loosed a hiss before she could stop herself.
The wolf looked up, surprised. He spotted her and wagged his tail. Rising up on his hind legs, he shifted into a hunky, blackhaired man. Felicia groaned. Man? Better make that puppy. He couldn't have been older than 23, unless she were very lucky.
“Hey, babe.” The wolf-shifter grinned up at her. “You ready to go another round?"
Another? Oh scat. Felicia rubbed at the cannons going off inside her skull. “Give me a minute.”
“Sure thing, babe.” The wolf scratched his hairy crotch. His big, youthful, healthy, hairy crotch. Definitely to her taste, even on a wolf. That explained the “round” last night. Or “rounds.” Where was memory when you really needed it?
Felicia leaped from the branch and landed on all fours beside the wolf. He looked even younger up close. Are you even old enough to shave? she wondered. “I don’t suppose you know where my clothes are.”
“Back at the jeep, I guess. That’s where we left ‘em.”
A jeep. Transportation. Finally, the morning had a plus. She slipped a peek at his crotch again. Fine, then. Two plusses. “Okay. Where’s the jeep?”
“Um, in the parking lot?”
Getting there. “Where’s the parking lot? I mean, where are we? Big picture.”
“Oh, okay. We’re in Yosemite National Park. My pack rules the river valley and half the mountain.” He looked around nervously. “This half, I hope. I don’t know how far we ran last night. Oh scat. If we’re in Bigfoot’s territory he’ll have my ass and your tail.”
“Yosemite?” Not Talbot’s Peak. Not anywhere close to Montana. “How the hell did I end up in Yosemite?”
“You tell me. You’re the one who showed up at the bar last night.”
The bar. Right. Finally, memory decided to tease her with a few ill-chosen hints. She’d left Talbot’s Peak in search of male companionship. Between all the wolves and the recent tiger invasion, the cougar population had made itself scarce. Even the bobcats had left town. Wolves were okay in a pinch, but a steady diet of them wasn’t part of Felicia’s life plan. So she’d packed up her jeep and headed west, in search of new mountains and, hopefully, whatever lions might roam them.
Instead she ended up at some dive of a shifter bar and yet another wolf bed-buddy. Fan-scattin’-tastic.
“Look,” she said, “Hoover – ”
“Harper. Right. My memory’s a little fuzzy.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet. You were really knocking ’em back last night. I never saw anybody down so many Rocket Launchers without, y’know, upchucking. Not even Bigfoot can chug a Rocket Launcher. Babe, you were so awesome.”
Accessing memory. Rocket Launcher. Straight-up Irish whiskey, beer chaser, catnip garnish. That explained the head-pounding. “Who was buying?”
“You were. You had a table by yourself and said, ‘Just keep ’em coming.’ So we did. I was supposed to take you home because we were closing. My cousin owns the place, so I get to hang there. I, um, may have joined you for a couple of drinks.”
“I’ll bet. And afterwards we drove out here and … ”
“And decided to work off the alcohol.” His pleased expression vanished in a puff of panic. “I didn’t take advantage of you. Swear to Lycaon.”
“Relax, pup – I mean, Harper. It’s cool.” Her memory might be a little fractured, but she had no doubts who must have initiated last night’s post-bar activity. Felicia had climbed too far up the tree to be picky any more, drunk or sober. This Harper seemed like a nice pup, and he was definitely easy on the eyes. Where were you when I was 16, she thought. Or 25. Or 30. Or 35. No need to ask where he’d been last night.
Now the time had come to face the dawn. “I need clothes,” she decided, “and some really strong coffee. Can you get us back to the parking lot? I’m a bit turned around.”
“Sure, no prob. Uh, Felicia? You don’t feel pregnant, do you?”
Felicia laughed. “Don’t worry, sport. I don’t think our species can mix. Tell you what: you get us to my jeep and I’ll buy us breakfast. Agreed?”
Food always set a wolf’s tail to wagging. Harper brightened at once. “You bet. I think we came this way.”
Suddenly a chorus of howls broke out from just over the rise. Felicia tensed. She knew the sound of a hunting pack when she heard it. The tone of this one said, “Whoopie, we just found a cat to chase.”
Harper went white. “Bigfoot. We must be on his turf.”
“Would running help?”