Anessa is self-sufficient, bright, reasonably attractive and works at a spell-supply shop. She negotiates with shifters for their saleable goods and sells those same parts to mages on a daily basis. When a fey walks in to purchase some fur, she finds out that touching him will send a shock through her hand.
One year later, he returns with startling information for her. She is a shifter, and he has found a tutor for her to help her find out what she is. It turns out that she is a lioness, and once she is comfortable with her beast, it makes its own demands.
In heat, she has the choice of the pride or the Crossroads, and she decides to take her chances with her own luck amongst strangers. A familiar fey face is more than welcome.
Anessa looked up when she heard the chime on the door. Blinking was her instinctive response.
Next to her boss, Evan Wilkes, was an elf. Her boss was a mage, and there were very few circumstances in which a mage and an elf would be seen in public together.
“Anessa, this is Leroc Alberthswitch. He is looking for some humanely obtained vixen hair.”
She looked down at the powdered mint that she was measuring. “Just a moment.”
Evan smiled. “I can find it.”
She doubted it, but she didn’t want to embarrass him. She finished measuring the mint and sealed the bag. Evan had found the fox hair, and he was about to measure it out.
She beckoned to him, and he handed her the container. She opened it and sniffed. “This is male. The female is on the shelf above it.”
Evan closed the container. “What would I do without you?”
She snorted. “You would label your products and freak people out.”
She looked to Leroc and tried to ignore the healthy golden tone to his skin as well as the breadth of his shoulders. “What are you using the hair for? Elves don’t come in here much.”
He grinned. “I am trying it for fly tying.”
She stared at him for a moment and then burst out into laughter. “Do you want some peacock feather to go with it?”
He raised his eyebrows and smiled. “Whatever you recommend.”
She went through the bottles and vials, extracting one peacock feather and a vulture feather. “There. That combined with the vixen fur should make you an irresistible lure.”
Leroc nodded. “Thank you. What do the feathers do?”
Anessa lifted the peacock feather. “This will attract the eye of the fish and bring them in.”
She lifted the vulture feather. “This will make them take the most repulsive or ridiculous bait as if it was the best meal they had ever eaten.”
He nodded. “You know your product.”
Evan sighed. “She does. She also does most of the negotiating for the items with their previous owners.”
With precision, she wrapped the feathers and the fur so that nothing touched the other species and nodded to Evan. “Can you ring this up? I have to get to the zoo.”
He sighed and flipped through his ledger.
Anessa nodded her head at the elf. “Pleased to meet you, enjoy the feathers.”
She grabbed her pack from under the counter and headed for the front door. He stopped her and reached for her hand. “The pleasure was mine.”
The jolt of colliding power made him release her a moment after making contact. She mumbled goodbye and headed for the door.