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Not Kitten Around
This short story occurs during the events of Tropical Bartender Bear, book 3 of Shifting Sands Resort. The resort is hosting the World Mr. Shifter Male Beauty Pageant and Gizelle has not been human for very long…
“How long have you been there, kitten?”
Gizelle looked up at Travis’ exclamation to find the lynx handyman staring down at her over the back of the couch. “Time is arbitrary,” she said. “The moon sometimes looks like a clock, but it doesn’t tick, so I can’t count how many seconds have passed. And I’m not a kitten, I’m a gazelle.”
Travis’ face was joined by Graham’s, Bastian’s, and Breck’s.
“Have you been listening to our entire conversation?” Breck wanted to know, looking dismayed. They had been speaking very frankly about things that Gizelle only barely grasped.
“You’ve scarred her, Breck,” Bastian chuckled.
“I didn’t say anything all of us weren’t thinking,” Breck said with a shrug. “And she’s not a child.”
Graham wouldn’t say anything. He never did unless it was necessary, which was one of the things that Gizelle liked about him. Words were sometimes hard. Words that meant very different things sounded exactly the same. Homonyms, they were called. Sometimes they were used with both meanings to be a joke that Gizelle didn’t always get.
“There are too many voices outside,” Gizelle said simply.
They all made noises of understanding, even Graham.
“You want to come out and watch the show with us?” Travis offered kindly. “Shove over, Graham, give her some room.”
Gizelle crept out and took a cautious perch on the far arm of the furniture, well away from the others. It felt safer behind the couch than on it, but she couldn’t see the mesmerizing television from there. She toyed with a lock of tangled white hair.
Shifting Sands Resort was as busy as she’d ever seen it, in the few months since she had been released from the shifters zoo that she had no memories of. Usually, it was a lazy, quiet place, with guests who wanted to be lazy and quiet enjoying the sunshine and saltwater. But this week, there were so many people and everything was a frenzy of activity.
It was even on the television right now, all the muscly shifter men in slow motion being judged for their beauty and cleverness. Gizelle hoped that she was never judged for her beauty and cleverness, because she was sure she would never be beautiful, and she was too far behind to be clever…