Oakly’s Christmas Present
By DK Davis
“Oakly, you’ll find someone. Don’t look so down.” Morgan, my twin brother’s soul-mate, patted my shoulder.
Rowan stepped next to her, never leaving her side for long. His arm went possessively around her waist. He punched my arm and grinned, and then led his woman toward the kitchen table.
Watching my brother and Morgan instilled the deep loneliness plaguing my cougar, like a blade stabbing my chest. I needed the forest, an escape from the crowd of family and friends sitting around the table and working on Christmas decorations for the fortress we all called home. The place, for all its space, gave me a fit of claustrophobia.
I snuck out the front door. Brisk air and tufts of falling snow threw my cougar into an adrenaline rush to run. The animal scratched against the inside of my skin. I jogged down the porch steps and into the trees, dropping my clothes next to a giant oak and shifting into my animal.
Four large paws carried me for miles away from home. I crossed a couple of dirt roads and continued through the thick forest, cutting footprints through the snow. The wind picked up, and gray clouds blanketed the rising moon. The cougar’s night vision kicked in, and I stopped to sate my thirst at a babbling brook.
When I raised my head, a force hit my senses so hard it knocked me on my butt. I shook my head to get a bearing of what drew my complete focus. Then a shriek, followed by a snarl somewhere near, across the stream. I launched over the water at full speed.
Snapping jaws, growls, and yips sounded close. I scented wolves.
A cat screamed and snarled in a way to scare off a predator or to defend itself. Another scent filled my olfactory, female cat, not a cougar. I bounded through the dense shrub sounding like an army and blew through the other side with the effect of distraction.
A bobcat surrounded by three wolves. She stood her ground, but red colored the snow around her. All wolves stared my way.
I roared my deepest snarl and charged, the only thought snapping through my mind, save her.
Two of the wolves sprang toward me, leaving one for the she-cat. I caught one by the throat, shook the hell out of him and tossed him against a tree trunk. The other had jumped on my back and snapped his jaws over the back of my neck. Its claws caught my shoulders and my back haunches.
I ran straight at a downed tree, flipping into it, so the wolf caught the sharp branch. The teeth piercing the sides of my neck released and I pulled away from its claws. It fell to the ground, the branch protruding from its back, and then it crawled away.
The she-cat held her own, snarling and clawing, but the wolf clenched his jaws on a front leg. Bones snapped, and the she-cat went into a biting frenzy across the dog-faced snout. I pounced on the wolf’s back, sinking my claws around its neck. The she-cat dropped from its mouth, and I forced the wolf away, and then gave chase until the distance satisfied me.
When I got back to the Bobcat, she lay on her side, panting and looking like a bloody mess. Her head lifted as I stepped closer. I crouched beside her and licked at the wounds. She lapped at the gouges on my neck. After a bit, we both settled together and slept.
* * *
Someone shook me awake. As I opened my eyes and yawned, the morning sun created a glistening coat of mini prisms across the snow.
“What the hell are you doing way out here? You’re miles from our territory.” Rowan eyed me. “It looks like a bloody war zone. You’re covered in blood and a significant amount of another cat’s scent, brother. A shifter. Care to explain?”
I glanced next to me. An imprint of the she-cat’s smaller body had colored the snow dark red. She’d vanished. I jumped onto my four-paws. Sniffing the air, I noticed the smaller-sized paw prints leading the opposite direction of home.
“Come on. Everyone is worried about you. A lot of them are out looking for you.” He huffed. “You didn’t let anyone know you went for a run.”
Everything inside me said to follow the she-cat shifter, but I knew she would come back here as I would.
Rowan pulled a cell phone from his pocket. “Dad, I found him. Let everyone know. It’s going to take us a while to get home.” Then he paused, listening. I heard him explaining where we were and to use the tracking app to find his phone. It sounded like someone would be driving a vehicle to a close location.
My attention faded in and out from his conversation as my head filled with thoughts of the female Bobcat.
“I will come back to see you tonight like you want to do,” a female voice flicked inside my head like a loud whisper.
I instantly shifted into human form. “Hey, tell me why you and Morgan can mind-communicate.”
“Good grief. Your junk’s gonna freeze. I didn’t bring any clothes for you.” Rowan grinned and pointed.
Yea, parts of me wanted to hide from the cold, but most of my body remained hot-blooded. “I gotta know about you and Morgan.”
“Fine, but we gotta jog. Dad’s going to pick us up on a dirt road a few miles away.” Rowan picked up the pace. “Morgan and I exchanged blood, and because she’s my soul-mate, we can mind-communicate. I understand that only happens with a soul-mate.”
“Does your soul-mate need to be the same kind of shifter?” My mind reeled with the thought.
* * *
“You’re not leaving the fortress tonight. Tomorrow’s Christmas and your mother will have my hide if I allow you to go for a run like you did yesterday.” Dad’s eyes narrowed, but his focus wandered. “Unless you drove the truck to the spot where I picked you up. Then I’d know you’d get back here before morning.” His intense gaze landed on me. “The only reason I’m considering this is from the questions you asked Rowan. And you can thank him that he talked about it to me.”
Dad handed me his keys. I ran out the front door before he changed his mind.
Darkness had already settled over the tree line as I parked along a small clearing off the edge of the dirt road.
As I climbed out of the truck, her presence melded into mine and shivered through my body. “Where are you?”
Her scent drew me farther into the forest, and then I saw her. Beautiful long platinum-blond hair drifted down her shoulders. Smoldering blue eyes met mine. She lifted away from the large oak tree she’d leaned against and ambled toward me in a sleek feline two-legged prowl.
My breath left me and then came back in a gasping gulp, leaving me dizzy and drunk on her scent. My legs finally mobilized, and I strode to her, wrapping my arms around her.
She slid her hands around the back of my neck. Her fingers twined into my hair. I leaned down, and she lifted on her toes, lips uniting in a crash of cracking whips and stormy lightning. My whole body blazed in fire for this meek little woman, but then, nothing about her seemed timid.
Her tongue ran across my lips, sending a tremor through me. She giggled. Her hands pushed my chest, and we broke apart.
“My name’s Sky. I believe you’re my Christmas present for life.” Her smile radiated through my chest, stealing my voice.
“I believe you’re my life Christmas present also,” my mind-communication responded.
“Let’s go meet my parents, and then we’ll meet yours. We have a lot to talk about.” Sky reached for my hand, and when our fingers wove together, my cougar agreed we’d both found our most significant other.
I drew her back to me and sealed our moment with a kiss. Sky’s tender lips sent my cougar into purr-mode, something I’d never experienced before tonight. Then, Sky’s bobcat answered with a contented purr. “Merry Christmas,” our mind-communication whispered as one.
Secret: Of Amber Eyes
Genre: YA Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Date of Publication: November 2018 Release
Amazon Print 978-0-2286-0623-9
Number of pages: 197
Word Count: 58,500
Cover Artist: Michelle Lee
Tagline: Instinct draws Morgan and Rowan together, a human and a shifter, until a wildcard wildcat threatens Morgan’s life, changing her forever.
Morgan Redding, a seventeen-year-old high school graduate, gets sent to her aunt and uncle’s wildlife rescue and preserve, a therapeutic place for not only nature.
Rowan Marcus, an eighteen-year-old cougar shifter, helps at the wildlife refuge. He’s part of a secret society of shifters guarding the preserve lands.
Instinct draws Morgan and Rowan together.
Then one wildcard wildcat within the shifter community kills for the needy, but the killing escalates and threatens Morgan’s life, changing her forever…
Each Secrets book has a different story star and a different secret. Each book is a stand-alone.
Add it to Your Goodreads List
Excerpt: Morgan’s point of view – 571 words
Uncle Charlie and Aunt Becka appeared to want me around. I twisted around toward the car. Mom had piled my bags on the ground near the porch steps. She stood next to the open driver’s side door, no smile, displaying all the signs of being in a hurry to leave. Her cell phone rang inside the car.
“Gotta’ run honey,” she said over the glass sunroof of the Cadillac. “Our flight leaves in four hours, and I still have a few things left to pack.”
I immobilized as Mom dove into the car to retrieve her phone. She tapped the screen and started the car.
I didn’t wave as she shifted into gear and drove off with her cell phone stuck to her ear.
She never even glanced my way.
From my peripheral, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Becka looked at each other. They weren’t smiling anymore. Mom had never said a word to either of them. She didn’t say goodbye to me, either, unless I counted the trail of dust marking her exit.
Good riddance. Oh, and have a happy life with Jack.
My stomach fluttered, and the inside of my throat tightened like it might collapse in on itself. A load of moisture gathered, blurring my vision. Some trickled alongside my nose. I’m not crying. Extra baggage doesn’t cry; instead, I go to prison.
My body relaxed as if a heavy weight shifted and slipped off. Why not make the best of this crappy situation? I was on the back burner, but not being dumped down the garbage disposal. I wiped away the water littering my face and picked up my two duffle bags. Aunt Becka scooped up my backpack; her thick long blond braid slid over her shoulder.
“This way, dear. You’ve come at a good time with the weather. We’ve got a warm streak going. It isn’t normally nice warm temperatures until much later in the summer.” Aunt Becka led the way into the house. She wore faded denim shorts with a baggy sky-blue T-shirt, short white socks, and high-top hiking boots. She and Uncle Charlie were sun-browned and looked the same age as Mom. The muscles in Aunt Becka’s calves stood out as she climbed the circular stairway.
She continued, “It’s still pretty cool in the mornings and later in the evenings, which makes for great sleeping weather.”
At the top of the stairs, I walked across the open loft to the wall-sized window, dropping my bags mid-way.
Two bright red barns stood off to one side. I recognized the green T-shirt and dark blue baseball cap Uncle Charlie wore. He pushed a wheel-barrow into one of the barns. Another guy walked behind with a huge bag of something balanced on his shoulder. The muscles in his arm bulged. He stopped in mid-step and swung around to look upward, at the window, and then at me.
My stomach suddenly churned into warm pudding as our gazes collided. Rowan’s eyes glowed, amber, a trick of the sun I was sure. My breath sucked in.
Aunt Becka stepped beside me and glanced out. “Oh, that’s Rowan Marcus. He’s here pretty much every day helping with chores and with the other kids that aid us at the refuge.”
Rowan swung around and followed Uncle Charlie into the barn. A tremor slid through me, and then I exhaled, realizing I’d completely stopped my lungs from working. What the heck? Amber eyes?
About the Author:
DK Davis writes YA and NA sci-fi, supernatural, and paranormal romance that includes diverse and mature subject matter.
When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, she’s hiking, RV’ing, fishing, spending time with grandchildren or her favorite muse (her husband) in Southwest Michigan.
She also writes mainstream supernatural, suspense-thriller romance as S. Peters-Davis.
DK Davis - BWL Publishing Inc. Author Page: