Monday, November 18, 2013

Who Wants to Marry a Shapeshifter

Whenever Guri wanted to talk to Sanjay, he knew he could find his brother in one of two places. When Sanjay wasn’t in the library, Guri went out to the stables. Sure enough, there was Sanjay, huddled in the corner of a stall and looking despondent. The horse stood beside him and nuzzled his hair.

Guri hurried forward in concern. If Sanjay’s troubles inspired sympathy from dumb herbivores, they must be dire indeed.

The horse politely made room for Guri, who settled onto the straw beside his brother. “And what keeps you inside on this bright sunny day, among all these intriguing odors?” Guri asked.

Sanjay held his head in his hands and wouldn’t look at him. “Father is making those noises again.”

“I’m sure it’s just the curried chicken. He’s of an age now when spices—”

“Not that. Marriage noises. My marriage.”

Guri blanched. “But we’re not first or even second born. Our marriages don’t matter.”

“It seems they do now. Ever since that disaster that was Ravi’s betrothal, Father’s been concerned about making good matches for us.”

“But Tasman is first born. He should be square in Father’s sights.”

“Tasman is dating his personal assistant. He thinks no one is aware.”

“The snow leopard? And Father approves?” Guri shuddered. “She’s scary.”

“And devoted. Father knows she’ll defend Tasman with her life. With Ravi out of the running, I’m next in line. If I don’t find a wife, Father will choose one for me.” Now Sanjay shuddered. “I don’t want an arranged marriage. They never turn out well. Remember that Sumatran tiger he chose for our sister Rakshasi?”

“His death was accidental.”

Sanjay sneered. “Of course it was. He ‘accidentally’ slit his own throat, and then ‘accidentally’ threw himself off a building.” He shook his head in despair. “What if he betroths me to a twelve-year-old? What does one do with a twelve-year-old wife? Take her out for ice cream? Women don’t even become interesting until they’re at least fifteen.”

“We must find you a woman,” Guri decided. “Have you a preference? Must she be a tiger?”

“She can be a herbivore, as long as she’s older than twelve.” He looked up gloomily at the horse. “I would marry Shanti here if it would help me escape Father’s notice.”

“Horses are nice,” Guri agreed. “I enjoyed being one last month.” He patted the mare’s nose. She blew wetly into his palm. “However, I’m sure Father would prefer you choose a wife less likely to be eaten by the family. Though not one who’d try to eat them in turn. I hope you weren’t considering a wolf.”

“I try not to think about wolves. I know there are breeds of native cat, but American girls worry me. They’re bolder than tigers and always in heat.”

“Bolder than you, you mean. So this is why you never go to bars.”

“One does not find a woman of quality in a bar. I would have thought Uncle Rajah’s selections would have taught you that.”

“Uncle Rajah suffered from questionable taste, among many other faults. To find the right woman, one must go to the right bar. I know! The Hancock alpha’s whelp runs a den of iniquity in the woods. They regularly auction off unattached males. Presumably it’s for charity. You’re skinny, but some females prefer that. I’ll see if I can get you in.”

“The wolf is running a slave pen?” Sanjay asked in horror. “The authorities allow this?”

“Not slaves. Women bid on eligible men for the right to date them. You need only stand there and look desirable. I can teach you poses, if you like.”

Sanjay eyed him suspiciously. “You know of all of this how?”

“I’m a trained spy. I observe and report. I’ve observed many bars. Dante runs a quality establishment. The drinks are most excellent and the women quite comely. The prices could be less steep, but one mustn’t quibble. It’s decided, then. We will enter you in the bachelor auction. I will serve as your … what’s the American word?” He wracked his brain, then brightened. “Pimp.”

“I believe you mean coach. You had better mean coach.” Sanjay shook his head. “I don’t know, Guri. I’m not comfortable with the thought of parading myself before a pack of predatory shes.” Panic flared in his eyes. “Will I have to be naked?”

“Not on stage. Whoever buys you will decide afterwards. It’s only a date, Sanjay. You don’t have to marry your purchaser. You may find another. Or several anothers. They have dancers in this bar. Just remain alert. I tried to chat one up and discovered she was a male.” He growled at the memory. It was not an angry sound. “Though quite affectionate.”

“America is corrupting you, brother.”

“Consider it a tactical diversion, then. I tell Father I’m searching for a bride who will give us ties to this country. We will tell him the same about you. We will go to this bar and you will size up the potential mates and Father will be satisfied. Who knows? You may even find a suitable woman. Stranger things have happened. Now let’s go outside and enjoy the fresher smells.” Guri stood, then rubbed at the damp seat of his trousers. “Great Vishnu. What have I been sitting in?”


Rebecca Gillan said...

Oh, how I love Guri and Sanjay! Are you sure they weren't adopted into the Ghan family by accident?

Pat C. said...

Sanjay and Guri are the younger two of Shere Khan's four sons, and so flew under their sire's radar for most of their lives. This is either a good or a bad thing, depending on who you talk to.

I wanted to run a pic of a tiger in a smoking jacket but couldn't find one. I found a nice one of a deer. I should post that.

Savanna Kougar said...

Love this, Pat... this is going to be fun... auctioning off Sanjay at a bachelor charity event. Hmmmm... I wonder who wants to take on a son of Zhere Ghan?

Pat C. said...

Maybe Eula Wembly, the cougar lady from down in the valley. She likes younger men.

Savanna Kougar said...

Does she have enough talbies or other funds to purchase a date with Sanjay?

Savanna Kougar said...

btw, maybe Sanjay should wear a smoking jacket to appear exceptionally urbane when on the auction block.

Pat C. said...

I'm betting the ladies will demand the "merchandise" go shirtless. Truth in advertising and all that.

Rebecca Gillan said...

A tiger print smoking jacket, shirtless underneath it. Oh, yeah baby!

Savanna Kougar said...

I'm with Rebecca! That's the tiger-sex ticket. Ya know, those smoking jackets open real easy to expose Sanjay's shirtless chest.

Serena Shay said...

Oh my, Pat, that was perfect! And I'm sure Sanjay will have no trouble what-so-ever finding a wife at the pleasure club, but yes, shirtless would be the way to go. ;)

Rebecca Gillan said...

And smoking jakets have that way of not quite closing so you get peeks of smoth skin and chest hair just from the guy moving around. It's alomost more sexy than seeing it all. It could tempt a woman into wanting to "buy" Sanjay just so she has the right to see everything that her competitors were teased with but denied. :D

Pat C. said...

Looks like Sanjay will be driving the ladies wild with tantalizing glimpses of his manly tiger chest. But not next week. Due to the holiday, next week will feature turkeys with assault weapons.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yay! Turkeys with assault weapons!