Jory came out of Marissa’s coffee shop, turned the corner on to Main Street, and stopped dead in his tracks. He blinked, looked again, and tried to swallow. Great, television cameras, hordes of people, and paparazzi blocked his path. Who the hell had let the cat, sorry Momma, out of the bag?
Jory cursed quietly in every Welsh foxy wolfish curse he knew. A lad needed his more colorful words for moments like these. Praise be to his grandparents for teaching him his mother tongues. Blended were-animal families weren’t the norm. No, they stood out when full moons came. Then there was Talbot’s Peak. Folks got along regardless of their animal, preference, and oh yeah, their shifting abilities. Poor Gill down at Rattigan’s. He still needed assistance conquering his latest obsession, Louie’s pack of werewolf biker cousins.
Jory looked down at his extra tall mint mocha sweet tea. Just past scalding with the whip cream topping cooling each sip as he enjoyed- – -fuck with enjoying, he needed gulps to get his bravado going. Who’d ousted his idea? As he moved down the sidewalk, he downed half his drink.
Every business touted one of them. Sizes varied in shape, and posting. Jory walked past the dress making shop, Tammie stood in the window hanging a large quilt. She gave him a weak smile and waved. The black circles under her eyes spoke volumes. How many of the blasted things had she made? He wanted to hug her for encouraging him. Her quick wit and sewing talent had produced a beautiful wonderful gift, the quilt that adorned his bed. Her nimble fingers stitched a set of matching pillow shams and the best part of her gift a replica of his artwork in a flag to hang on his front porch. Now who had taken this to the next level?
“Hey Jory!” rang out over the growing din of people clamoring about as he reached the middle of Main Street. Dante Hancock walked toward him. Several people armed with cameras and microphones swarmed with him. Jory rolled his eyes heavenward and gulped the last of his drink. Crushing the cup in his hand, he whispered the one foxy wolf prayer he knew. Wolfish gods and fox goddesses, grant me your wisdom and strength to get through this with harm to none unless they are stupid enough to provoke it.
“Hi Dante,” Jory forced out, managing to keep his angst out of his tone. “What can I do for you?”
Dante gripped his hand as if he wanted Jory to pick up on something. Jory slightly shook his head. He knew the quiet universal signals most wolf packs used to communicate. Dante even spoke some fox. This combination handshake and eye roll didn’t make sense unless he was using one of Jory’s fave combination words. Their literal translation came out as help me with this dumb assed xenophobe.
Dante tugged at his arm. Jory hesitated. Dante didn’t swing that way. What did he want? Jory shot a quick glance around the group surrounding them. Kitty stood at the outer edge nodding and smiling. Okay, she knew what was going on. Great, everyone knew but him? Dante closed in on his personal space. Jory stepped closer. Maybe Dante had something to tell him in the whispered tones wolves used when they talked quietly.
No such luck. Dante enveloped him in a huge hug. Jory gulped and stammered. “Dan-dan-te what are you doing?”
“You came up with this idea. You explain it.” Dante’s grin reminded Jory why he hung with his fox cousins more than his wolf ones. Talk about the wolf minding the herd. Lord, what had he walked knee deep into?
“Gentlepeople, this is the founder of our celebration. Welcome to Talbot Peak’s National Shifting Day celebration.” Dante moved behind Jory putting him in the spotlight.
Jory licked his lips and spoke. “We of Talbot’s Peak want to embrace our differences and uniqueness. Many of us are combos, combinations of different species and humans, or mixtures that get past our separateness to come together as a community, families, and folks wanting to be accepted.”
Cameras clicked, nods came from the denizens of people at the edge of the crowd. Microphones shoved in his face stayed put. Jory inhaled, tossed back his head and howled. “Happy National Shifting Day everyone!”
Happy Week Gang!
Keep cool and safe! Share a book or two with your spice and loves. I know I am!