The stories in SHE SHIFTERS are more than just thrilling erotica. Some of them are edgy. Some funny. Some lyrically beautiful. I knew from the very first words of this story that I was going to take a journey to a rainforest with mythical creatures. And I was entranced. ~ Delilah Devlin
Bound with Bronze
My claws dug into the soft earth as I watched her in my clearing. Power radiated down her sleek, human body in tremors subtle as sin. Her hair obscured part of the darkening sarong wrapped around her, but I caught glimpses of the garment’s colors, patterned like wet leaves molding on the ground of the rain forest.
Thick flecks of wood flew as she sent her right hand, shaped into a claw much like mine, scouring across the bark. A bronze bangle, as aged as an ancient promise, enclosed her other hand.
She and I were the same, after a fashion. Mortal men named her hantu raya, as if by proclaiming her greatness they reminded all other spirits and jin in Malaya how they must be subservient. What surprised me was her kind were usually male. She obviously was not.
I padded forth from the shadows. “Stand away,” I challenged, baring my fangs. Men have scurried over themselves from me, for the tiger was the undisputed ruler of the jungle, and thus what better shape for a guardian?
She turned. Dying sunlight reflected eyes an unnatural green, eyes as evasive as the heart of a rain forest.
Her brows furrowed. She, too, recognized what I was. Her kind might be royalty, but I dared her to ignore the threat of a feline poised to lunge, hot glowing eyes and heavy paws capable of rending heads from necks. “I have cause to be here,” she said.
“As do I. You are on sacred land.”
“I was not told a hantu keramat guarded this place. Will you not let me fulfill my task?”
“Do you not care what you desecrate?” I growled, scattering birds from their branches.
She glanced towards the scratched bark. “I know that beneath the roots of this angsana, a great scholar of Islam lies buried. I know this man was a descendant of Iskandar Zulkarnain, he who has conquered the world. I know despite his lineage, the scholar remained humble, gaining favor in the sight of Allah, the All Compassionate. Small of stature, weak of body, he is said to have spent tireless days spreading the faith, using the rivers to brave the jungle, to reach the most forsaken of villages.” She smiled at the startled look on my face, and then the smile became cutting. “I care nothing for these things. I do as my master bids.”
I narrowed my eyes. I recalled the irony of her kind: that although they stood superior over all spirits, the hantu raya served mortal masters. No, she and I were different after all. My kind lived free. “And what bidding is that?”
She let her arm fall, her paw blurring into the smooth fingers and thumb of a human. Her feminine beauty was distracting, and I wondered at the reason for her shape.
“A more recent descendant of this scholar offended my master,” she said. “And thus I am bid to destroy this tree, to dig up the bones and scatter them.”
I sneered. “Then I cannot allow you to do that.”
“As a lesser spirit, you are obligated to yield to me.”
“I yield nothing. I wield power of my own. The boundaries I protect are not yours to violate.”
She frowned, an imperfection that deepened the fullness of her lips. Then she smiled and tilted her head. Hair damp from the rain slid to one bare shoulder. “Brave words. But like you, honored one, I have obligations.” She peered straight into my eyes.
In that instant, I sensed her mind penetrating mine. Her touch was halting at first, like the caress of a new lover. Then I felt her stroke fingers down my spine, heard the whisper of her voice warm against my ear. I jerked when her lips brushed the side of my neck. She’d not taken a single step towards me.
“Leave!” I snarled.
She wrenched her mind from mine, looking startled that I had broken her hold. She laughed, shakily. “Will you not listen to reason?”
“Be gone,” I said with a fearsome growl, the sound thrumming with disgust and threat and contempt. “Or neither of us will leave unscathed.”
Something shifted in her face. For a moment I imagined her eyes betraying a human sadness.
She nodded. “As you wish.”
The “great spirit” faded from sight, into the shadows.
The jungle felt strangely empty. I sank to my haunches to steady the pounding of my heart.
Chris Kouju, a Malaysian writer, usually pens fantasy, science fiction, and an obscene amount of slashfic. Although lesbian erotica is not something she typically writes, she will lay hands on anything. Armed with a master’s in creative writing, she is determined to finish her first novel in gorgeous, chilly Scotland.