Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to introduce you to the stories and the authors you will find within the covers of She Shifters. I’m up first! Not only did I get to edit this luscious collection, I wrote a story too. From the title of the book, She Shifters, you get a pretty good idea about the general paranormal theme—supernatural creatures that blend from human form to some creature, but that’s the last pre-conceived notion you should have about this book. I asked authors to surprise me. They proved beyond a doubt that there’s still plenty of fresh twists left.
For my story, I wanted something fun, but also a little eerie. What I got in the end was something that had a Practical Magic feel. Enjoy the snippet. And if you post a comment today, I will give you a free pdf copy of HER SOUL TO KEEP. Be sure to include your email address in your response to this question:
What is it about shapeshifters that intrigues you?
From “Catnip” by Delilah Devlin:
Mallory set “Miss Kitty” on the bookshelf beside her computer. She’d brushed away as much dust as she could before sponging away the grime. She’d reattached the tail with tiny stitches. While she’d worked, she’d admired the craftsmanship of the strange little doll. The fur suit was seamless and molded to the figure. The small face wasn’t hard plastic, but something softer, with the texture of real skin. The lips, with their cat’s cleft at the center, were parted with a row of individually attached teeth beneath them. She’d stroked her thumbnail over the soft lashes surrounding those shining eyes—each lash appeared to be embedded in the lids.
Perhaps there was more to the doll than what she’d originally believed. Promising herself to do a little Internet search in the morning, she turned off the bedroom light and climbed into bed.
Her head no sooner hit the pillow than she heard something drop to the floor. The sound was soft, but solid.
She sighed and reached to turn on the bedside lamp. Glancing in the direction of the sound, she scanned the floor, but found nothing out of place. Only mildly perturbed, Mallory reached for the light, then paused. Her gaze flicked to the bookcase. Her new doll wasn’t on the shelf where she’d placed it.
Dammit. She’d never sleep until it was back where it belonged. She crawled from the bed and searched the floor beneath the shelf. Nothing. She pulled out her desk chair to see if it had somehow tumbled beneath her desk. “Weird,” she said under her breath as she pushed the chair back into place.
A skittering sounded in the closet beside the shelf, and her heart rate accelerated. “What the hell?” The sound was too small to be a hidden intruder. Wary, she approached the closet. The door was open only a crack. Did she have a mouse? The mystery over the doll was forgotten as she worried how she’d trap it. Inching the door open, she reached inside for the string attached to the lamp on the ceiling.
A loud thump came from the back of the closet, and Mallory jumped back. Too freaking big to be a mouse. Fuck! She backed up two steps, then ran for the bedroom door.
Before she’d gone three steps, something pounced on her back, taking her to the carpet. Hands wrapped around her wrists, pinning them to the floor. Mallory bucked, panic making her breaths come in short, shallow sobs.
“Don’t be afraid,” purred a feminine voice from right beside her ear.
The raspy quality of the voice caressed nerves Mallory chose to ignore. “Get off me,” she ground out.
“I think I’ll stay here for a moment. I don’t want you bolting again, because I wouldn’t like to hurt you. You smell good.”
“What the fuck were you doing in my closet? What do you want?”
The body covering her back resettled, curves molding to Mallory’s. “I’m not sure why I’m here. Are you a witch?” The woman’s hips undulated, grinding against Mallory’s ass.
Which made it very hard to think. “Am I a wha—”
A snarl sounded. “Just shut up a second. I can’t think.” A rumbling purr vibrated against her, growing louder as the woman on her back nuzzled her neck.
“What are you doing?” Mallory asked in a very small voice, wondering if she was going to be raped by the woman and why that thought didn’t terrify her more.
“Mmm… I’m doing what I couldn’t when you groomed me.”
“Groomed you?” A sandpaper tongue licked behind her ear. “Jesus! Get off me.”
Pffft. Nails dug into her shoulders, but the woman released her hands and climbed off her.
Mallory rolled to her side, caught a glimpse of her attacker, and screamed. She scrambled backward on her hands and butt, halting when she hit the bed. “You—you…” She pointed, hyperventilating.
The woman who knelt on all fours in front of her was the spitting image of Miss Kitty. Well, mostly. Her body was still Barbie Doll perfect, but the tiger-striped fur was a shorter, shining down, which did nothing to hide the lovely tuft of fur at her mound or the pert, brown nipples of her breasts. Her face was still smooth, still beautiful and round, the eyes a wide, unblinking green. Long brown hair fell down her back, parted by small cat’s ears atop her head. A long striped tail curved around one thigh—the white, tufted end flicking lazily side to side.
Mallory drew deep breaths and shook her head. This wasn’t happening. Beautiful women didn’t visit her bedroom, never mind the fur suit. “All right. I’m asleep. Or high. Maybe that old witch at the garage sale had some LSD in the goo she rubbed on my hand when we shook.”
The cat-woman’s small, triangular nose twitched. “Old witch?”
“Not important right this minute,” Mallory bit out. “I’m being punked, right? Although why me, I don’t know. I’m not a celebrity. I don’t have any friends here.”
Miss Kitty’s head canted, curiosity in her large mirrored eyes. “What are you talking about? And could you please speak more slowly? I’m still having trouble—” Her eyelids slid halfway down, and she sniffed the air delicately. “Your smell—it’s delicious.” Her cat’s lips, with the pretty cleft on the upper bow, lifted. White teeth, the eyeteeth honed to scary sharpness, flashed.
“Are you going to eat me?”
The cat’s eyes blinked. Her lips twitched. “Only if you’re good,” she purred.