Dev Tollen is a man with a dark past and an even darker soul. More than that, he's a gay wereleopard. He has never had the Dreaming and never met his true mate. But one night the Dreaming does come and reveals his lover, an African man named Montsho, also an alpha black wereleopard. Montsho will fight their love and their destiny. Dev will do all he can to win his beloved's heart and keep him by his side always.
Then a ghost begs Dev to solve his wereleopard lover's murder. Both men will find that their new-found love tested and their lives in danger. Their idyllic time in paradise is about to be torn asunder when they discover who is the murderer.
I’d always been different. I had a rough life, too. Well, not for the first part of it, when my mother was still alive.
I don’t remember my birth, but then what child does? Not much afterwards, either, not until I was three years old. Mother told me some details, and about my father. It seemed that he wasn’t like her and me. He wasn’t a shapeshifter, but human. He also was an American—she originated from India.
Guess you could say that I am a half-breed—half human, half wereleopard. I took after my mother and was born a leopard, remaining a cub until I turned one year old, and made my first change to my human body, just like most shapeshifters.
The only things I inherited from her were my ink-black hair and amber-yellow eyes (wereleopards have these color eyes). Everything else—my pale skin, height, and muscular shape—came from my father. I even inherited the darkness that lived in his soul, as I would learn later on.
My father wasn’t in my life, ever. Before I’d been born, Mother had killed him. He had been beating her as he always did when he came home drunk, and that last time was the final straw for her. She described with relish the look of horror in his eyes as she revealed what she really was before she killed him. Though she never said it to me, I suspected that—like the black widow spider—she’d feasted on her lover’s remains, too.
We never went back to her country, India. When I asked her why, she would say, “I had my Dreaming the next night after I had just killed your father and saw my wereleopard mate was in India, but he had been killed by hunters.” She gave a sad little smile. “I would have killed myself when the Dreaming let me know, for when one mate perishes, the other does not want to live. But then, I found I was pregnant with you. The last time the human raped me before I killed the bastard, his seed had managed to take root in my womb. You kept me alive, my darling son.”
I could never get her to tell me anything else. The subject remained closed.
We also never hung around other wereleopards in America, or any other kind of shifter, either. We lived in a cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. She allowed me to attend school, but that was it. I was not allowed to have friends over or visit them. It wouldn’t do for the humans in the nearby town to discover the monsters living among them. The kids at school didn’t understand why I didn’t associate with them and they began to call me names. Names like retard, dummy, and when I grew into my preteens, two other names took over: Mommy’s little lover and homo.
Strange as it may seem to others, my mother kept my emotions grounded. My world was just her and me. Daytime was spent in human skin, and nights of hunting beneath the stars in leopard form. Thanks to our hunting (mainly her, I was a lousy hunter when I was younger), deer, rabbit and squirrel meat provided our sustenance. The only time I ate cooked food was noontime at school when I bought my lunch.
One day that all changed. Mother died. She’d been hunting as the leopard when a pack of wild dogs jumped her and ripped her to shreds.
I was sixteen at the time. Afraid to tell authorities that I was alone, even making up some story that my mother had abandoned me or something, I continued to go to school. I kept to myself. My hormones wanted otherwise. I would use my hand at night, hoping that would bring relief.
It didn’t. I decided to get closer to the humans—in particular, one human, Daisy Sumpter. She was a geek who was always reading and got exceptional grades in school. She was also a virgin. I could smell it on her. I decided we would get rid of our virginity together.
It never happened. I got her to go on several dates with me. I supposed she was pleased anyone asked her out, even the bad boy that no one liked. One night I took her to this place where all the kids went to fuck. The odor of sex hung heavy in the air. Heady, my penis grew hard. I began to kiss her, slipped off her top, and fumbled with her breasts. Then it happened. My enthusiasm departed. When she saw my limp dick, she laughed.
Angry, I took the little bitch home. I tried other girls and the same thing occurred. Before long, the homo name stuck to me as the only one everyone called me. Unable to take their taunting and growing afraid of my anger and what I might do, I scrammed one night and left the area.
* * * *
I lived like a wild animal for a couple of years, sticking to my leopard form. Hunted fresh game at night and slept during the day in a large cave I found in the mountains. Without my mother to help me, I didn’t hunt too well. Nine times out of ten, my prey escaped. The easiest things to catch were the occasional rabbit and squirrels. Once, I ran down an elderly deer that hobbled more than bolted. I grew thin.
I thought no one knew a leopard lived in the mountains, or if they heard, thought I was a myth like the mountain lion. My idyllic life ended when I was captured by hunters a year later. I ended up in a circus, performing for countless humans. The other big cats they owned hated me. They knew I wasn’t natural, one of them. After a while, the circus people kept me in my own cage for my own protection. I guess I was too valuable to get rid of. Within two years, beaten down and past caring, I became a shade of myself—an eunuch in all but the literal truth.
One night, tired of what I had become and wanting only to escape, I shifted into my two-legged humanoid shape. Taking a hairpin I had found in the straw of my cage, I used it to pick the lock and fled. The pale light from the full moon splashed an unearthly glow to the area as I walked naked between the circus tents, trucks, cages filled with real animals, and the carny area of rides and games. I stuck to the shadows to avoid as much the humans as possible. I thought I had almost succeeded when I ran into Johnny Tripp, one of the clowns. He had just gotten out of his clown makeup and was as drunk as hell, lolling on the stoop of his RV. Clutching a bottle of cheap whiskey and swigging from it, he paused and peered toward the shadows where I hid. I remained motionless between his RV and the trailer next to it. Apparently, though, he wasn’t drunk enough that didn’t catch movement when I shifted from one foot to another.
Shivering from both the cold and now fear, I breathed in the stink of his dirty body. I ducked down behind a bush nearby, but most of its leaves had been stripped and the plant didn’t afford me much cover. I watched as he crashed my way.
“Who’s there?” he called out. “Come on, I know someone’s hiding behind that bush. I can see gleam of your pale skin.”
I rose to my feet and knew I looked pathetic, barely covered by the dark velvet of the night. My hands tightened into fists.
“Here I am.” My voice barely croaked above a whisper.
I was scared shitless. Who knew what would happen to me. Unlike my kind, I’d been a worthless shifter, unable to hunt well and defend myself much. A ping reached my ears and, looking down, I saw the shine from my claws as they sprouted from my fingertips. They cut into my palms and droplets of blood dripped to the dirt.
Johnny stumbled forward, the whiskey from his bottle sloshing and splashing onto the ground. Its fumes reeked. Nasty and cheap, it offended my senses.
Johnny grabbed me and yanked me toward him. His arms circled around me, and he held me tight against his form. I felt something growing hard against my hip. Worse, my cock began to lengthen and harden. My claws retracted as my arousal deepened.
“You smell sweet, naked man,” said Johnny, and then he kissed me.
His kiss deepened and his tongue found its way into my mouth. The tip traveled along the inside, teasing me with an erotic feather touch. I moaned and answered that kiss, my own tongue meshing with his. My organ grew harder. He slipped a hand down and touched me.
Johnny drew back and laughed. “Mmmmm, you’re a big one, aren’t you? When I have a man, I get first pick. My cock gets first hole.”
Suddenly things changed. He shoved me around and to the ground on my hands and knees. I heard the rustle of clothing, but didn’t dare to look back. Instead, I grew even more excited by the sounds. I could smell his arousal, too. Sweet, it tantalized my nostrils.
Deep into the erotic need, precum wet the head of my cock.
He dropped to his knees directly behind my ass, spread the crack with his work-roughened hands, and I felt something hard probing at the entrance there. It started to worm its way inside. It burned—hurting—then things grew better as I adjusted to it, even though I was dry.
He penetrated me like a man fucked a woman. Even though he hadn’t prepared me or lubricated me, it made me so excited that the change began. I glowed with my beast magic. Johnny apparently never noticed as he kept pounding away.
My human face was the first to go. Like putty, the skin over my skull moved and warped. Then the skull began to reshape itself, too, softening. Whiskers sprouted out of my cheeks. My gums receded and my teeth lengthened and sharpened. They became fangs, and made my small human mouth uncomfortable. To accommodate them, my mouth jutted outwards into a snout with a maw to match. Fingernails and toenails morphed into claws and hands and feet into paws. It wasn’t long before a happily fucking Johnny was pushing his cock into the asshole of a leopard, just under the swishing tail. When my tail brushed against his face, he stopped. I looked back at him and saw him looking down with a frown, as he tried to think with his alcohol-soaked brain. Then the moonlight glittered across my flesh of spots and I knew it also revealed my face. A look of shock, then terror, sketched in his eyes.
Screaming, he pulled out and leaped to his feet, his pants pooling at his feet. He couldn’t run and stumbled. Frightened, angry even, I whipped around and knocked him down. As I lay on him, I stared into his fear-fogged eyes.
“Oh, God, what the hell are you?” he cried. “How can a man become a leopard? I can’t stand you…you monster!”
His fear wafted into my nostrils and my own anger grew hotter. He had raped me and he called me a monster? Suddenly, the years of abuse broke me. With a snarl, I tore out his throat. Blood splashed my face. I rose off his body and knew he was dead. Knowing what that meant, I summoned my beast magic to rid me of the man’s blood and I spirited myself out of the area.
No longer a shapeshifter—now I was a monster for real.