Nicia was at the fundamental lion compound and rescued from a life as guard beast for her family.
Her mother’s family takes her in and helps her recover from the years of abuse.
Once she is recovered, she decides that it is time to seek out a mate, provided she could change her mind and come home if needed. With that agreement in place, she heads to the Crossroads.
Braxton has been watching for a mate, and while several women came close, it was the sombre lioness asking for directions that caught his attention. He wanted to make her smile, and when that became his primary pleasure, he knew he was in deep.
Nicia smelled the lions approaching before she saw them. She crept around in the shadows in the front of the house, watching them approach.
A huge male walked toward the house, and Nicia cocked her head. It wasn’t a male she had met before. She waited until he was firmly in her territory, and then, she ran for him.
He was surprised by her attack, and she knocked him to his back. He flailed and got to his feet, returning the attack with a roar. She ducked under him and jumped, but her chain pulled her tight.
She lashed her tail and fought back to her feet. She sucked in air as hard as she could, but the male came up behind her and pinned her to the ground with his jaws on the back of her neck like a mother with a cub.
He had to hold her around the wide cuff of leather and chain that bound her throat. Other feet rushed by her, feline and human alike. She heard shouting from inside the house, and the family was pulled out one by one, lined up on the lawn.
Nicia thrashed in the grip of the other lion and wished she could give sound to her frustration.
When everyone was out of the house, the lion let her go. He shifted to his human form and stroked her head. “Come on, lass, into your human shape.”
She shook her head and the chain rattled.
He unbuckled the collar and knelt next to her. He was old for a human, in his sixties at least.
Nicia flexed her paws and shifted a little at a time. When she finished, she was kneeling on the ground, her long brown hair around her and hiding her from the gazes of those around her.
The man next to her inhaled deeply. “What is your name, lass?”
She hesitated. Her voice was horrible to hear, or so she had been told. She licked her lips and slowly spoke. “Nicia Wells.”
He blinked. “Nicia?”
He extended his hand. “I am your grandfather. Anderson Mooring.”
Nicia was suddenly overcome with sorrow. “Mom is dead.”
He blinked away tears. “I know. She made it out to a hospital, but she was too badly mauled to tell us where she had been. I only found out she had had a child about a year ago. I have been looking for you ever since.”
Nicia let tears flow. “You were with her when she died?”
“Thank you. She should not have died alone.” She took his hand, and he pulled her to her in a hug.
“I knew it was you the moment you knocked me on my butt. Nancy had the same spirit.”
“I know. She never stopped fighting.” Nicia looked up at him and smiled through her tears.
“Would you like to come home with me?”
She nodded. There had never been a home for her here. It had always been a life of pain and loss. Time to try something new.