Cats And Dogs:A Shifter NovellaBy: Georgette St. Clair
Belle Simmons lived for the beginning of summer, although not for the usual reasons. Oh, she loved the sunshine and the ripening berries on bushes, the melting of snow and the budding of flowers, and the chance to shift into panther form and race naked through the woods with the sun warming her fur.
But what she really yearned for was a glimpse of Axel McManus, in all his glory. Axel, the handsomest werewolf in Montana, came to visit his grandparents in Big Timber Falls every summer. And when he did, he frequently came into the general store owned by Belle’s aunt and uncle.
Of course there was no chance the two of them would actually get together. Axel was a handsome, popular wolf, the son of a wealthy and successful Alpha, and rumor had it that his father wanted him to take over his Northern Montana pack in the near future. Belle was a shy, quiet panther whose parents had died when she was a cub, and she was stuck behind the counter of the Big Timber Falls Mercantile.
And everybody knows…cats and dogs don’t mix. In fact, the local panther shifters and werewolf pack were increasingly on edge with each other, mostly out of stupid territorial pride.
Still…she could look, and dream.
“There he is,” Agnes Hamilton, her best friend and co-worker, said, nudging her.
“Yep. I see that,” Belle had a feather duster in her hand, and she was standing on the porch, slowly and carefully dusting the windows. She was concentrating on her job very hard.
That was because she could see Axel’s reflection in the window.
His people were descended from a tribe of Native American shapeshifters, and his coppery skin and thick, silky black hair reflected that. He was tall and broad shouldered and narrow hipped. He was wearing faded denim jeans and a tank top that revealed his smooth, tan skin and the curve of his biceps.
Axel was across the street, leaning on his pickup truck, talking to his cousins, Lucas and Nicholas Redburn. They were handsome enough, but for some reason, they’d never had the effect on her that Axel did. Every time she saw Axel, her heart raced and she tingled all over.
As Belle watched, Axel turned around and reached into the back of the pickup truck, bending over as he did so.
“Oh my God. His ass is magnificent,” Agnes said admiringly. Axel straightened up, holding three sodas. He handed two of them to his cousins, and opened up the third, taking a healthy swallow.
“It sure is.” Dust, dust, dust. Belle very slowly ran her duster over the same spot she’d just dusted. “It’s a thing of beauty.”
Agnes pretended to stare into the window that Belle was dusting so she could watch Axel too. “His ass could have been sculpted by Michaelangelo.”
“It’s like two perfectly rounded halves of a cantaloupe, covered in denim,” Belle nodded. “It’s the ass to end all asses.”
She glanced at her own reflection. She was small and slim, with straight golden brown hair and brown eyes. Nothing special. She didn’t have big poufy blonde hair or huge boobs or a badonkadonk butt, which seemed to be what the local boys liked.
“I mean, how do you even get an ass like that?” Agnes wondered. “Do you think – Oh, God. Incoming.”
Axel was walking straight towards the store now, and his cousins were leaning on the pickup truck, watching him with smiles on their faces.
“What do I do?” Belle gasped. “Should I run inside? What?”
“Uh, jeez, I don’t know – just keep dusting. Move on to another window, though; you’ve been dusting this one for like five minutes now.”
Cheeks reddening, Belle quickly moved on to an adjacent window, as Axel’s footsteps pounded up the creaking wooden front steps.
Oh, God, he was right behind her. And - he knew her name. Belle frantically tried to remember if she’d ever introduced herself to him. Usually, Axel just came in to the store and made polite conversation with her while she rang up his purchases.
She spun around to face him. He was so tall, she had to tilt her head back to look up at him. The planes of his face were sharp and beautiful, and his thick black brows framed eyes of a warm, rich brown color.