Running into a winged lion shifter was never in Mitch's plans. But Bluebird Valley Preserve has more surprises in store, including wildlife and shifters, most of whom Mitch never knew existed. As a caracal shifter, Mitch is used to oddities. The chaos, he can handle. Calix, the saber-toothed cat, is what knocks him off balance.
Calix is a vet and a physician. Great in theory ... except he can only diagnose, not heal. Still grieving, he vows to protect his heart from another crushing blow. Then, he saves a caracal shifter from the flood waters. When he sees Mitch, he struggles with leaving the past behind and making a future for himself which includes Mitch.
Raging waters and mudslides threaten, leaving the whole preserve at risk. Mitch puts his life on the line to rescue Calix. But, it's Calix's heart Mitch finds the most challenging and worthwhile to win.
Calix quietly entered the cabin, shucked his raincoat, and hung it on the hook on the back of the door. A little concerned that no one greeted him, he followed his nose to one of the bedrooms. Inside, he found two cots pressed up against the single bed. Both empty, however the bed wasn't. Mitch held the center position. Dev snuggled up on his right. Cain, in wolf form, used his left arm for a pillow. The little fennec fox stretched out on Mitch's blanket covered chest, still crashed out asleep.
For a moment, Calix could only take in the sight. Amused and amazed, he simply shook his head.
Mitch, though new to the preserve, seemed to be an instant hit. Social butterfly. At least when it came to some of the regulars.
Having never been one of those people, Calix could only imagine what it must be like. To be surrounded by others. To be someone several others wanted to cuddle with or share a bed with. A small jab of jealousy sparked and pricked on his nerves, leaving a small sting behind.
Instead of standing around gawking, you might actually say something, his inner beast pointed out.
The sooner I get this over with, the better.
"Now this looks cozy."
Mitch opened his eyes, locked on Calix, then started to sit up. The fox draped across his chest, Dev plastered against his side, and Cain using his arm for a pillow prevented him from budging.
A prairie dog stuck his head out from under the covers and barked at Calix.
Calix arched an eyebrow at Rafael. The little guy had a big mouth, especially when it came to Calix.
"Really? Now, you bark? What kind of guard animal are you?" Mitch narrowed his eyes at the prairie dog.
Rafael grumbled, added in a couple more irritated chirps, then fell silent.
"Hi ya, Calix." Zap walked into the room, wearing nothing but a long terry cloth towel wrapped around her body.
Calix blinked. How many people were squished into this damn cabin anyway?
Mitch frowned. "She can't remember me, but she does you?"
Calix shrugged. "I'm an impressionable person." He'd been the one to examine and treat Zap when she'd arrived. As far as things went, they went way back. At least for what passed around the preserve where people tended to land and stay or just visit and be on their way again.
"Changed your mind, yet?" Zap ran a finger down the middle of her chest, stopping at the knot holding the towel in place.
He didn't even have to ask what she meant. If there was ever a horny lady around the place, it was Zap. She flirted with every male around. "No."
"Well, shoot." Zap turned her sights on Mitch.
For some reason, that irritated Calix all the more.
Mitch held up the one arm not pinned down by Cain. "Ain't happening. Told you before."
"Like I can remember that." She rolled her eyes, flipped her hair, and marched out of the room.
"Please tell me I didn't just piss off the tiger that eats people." Mitch extracted his arm from under Cain, cradled the fox, and sat up.
The bedeviled bite laced in the comment added a brief flash of humor in Calix. "Think of it this way. In a few minutes, she will have forgotten all about it. If you're lucky."
"Yippee for me." Mitch rubbed his forehead. "Are you the alarm clock this morning?" He perked up. "Or my replacement?"
Calix snorted. "I'm not a Velcro kind of guy." For a split second, he wondered what it would be like, being the man everyone wanted to hang around with. Just as quickly as the thought appeared, he dismissed it. I'm better off alone. Less annoyance that way.
Mitch stared at him for a long moment, checking him out from head to toe and back again. Calix picked up on the spark of interest in the other man's eyes. If he were totally honest, he'd enjoyed the glint of approval.
Dev snored loudly, mumbled in his sleep, then rolled over.
Needing a distraction, Calix seized inspiration from Dev and tossed out a tidbit of information. "Porcupine shifters love to cuddle."
Mitch blinked. "And you know this how?"
Calix remained mute for a long moment. "Not my first rodeo."