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.I looked down at my own shadow black fur.A panther among leopards.The only color was my brilliant dark blue eyes.Our queen called for our attention.She was beautiful.Black ringed spots decorating her snow white coat.Her eyes were a shade darker than mine.She called for our attention one more time.Tonight was her night to pick a king.She had made her way to the top of the pack alone, but she couldn't keep that position alone.She had to choose a mate and king to help secure her position.She could call any of the males to fight to see who is the strongest.They would fight until one drew blood first.It could take all night.The first challengers were chosen.The fight lasted a mere two minutes.The next challenger came forward.One after another, each male called either defeated or was defeated.The wounded were cared for by the females who licked the wounds clean with their tongues and rubbed themselves on the males to give comfort.I stayed to the back, hiding in the shadows.I had no place here.I had no place anywhere, but yet this was my pack and pack always stands together.Oh, they would defend me from outside threats, but anyone in the pack could essentially do what they wanted to me.I stayed hidden to keep myself safe.Minutes blended into hours and soon dawn was approaching, and yet the queen seemed unsatisfied with the performance the males were giving.She seemed bored and uninterested.I slowly made my way closer to the show.I kept to the shadows.I was almost to my only friend when I felt a set of eyes watching me.I stilled instantly willing myself to disappear into the shadows.I heard and smelled her approach before I saw her.She stood before me in all her white and spotted glory.I stayed low to the ground and rolled belly up to show my submission.I didn't want to her to have any reason to be mad at me.The queen growled low and bared her teeth and I offered her my throat.I was hoping she wasn't going to tear it out of me.She slowly bent down and took my throat in her mouth.I stilled and waited, barely breathing.She dug her teeth in gently.Then she licked me.Taking that lick as a sign I rolled over slowly and she stepped back so I could stand up.I wondered quickly what I had done to earn this honor.The queen nudged me to her place of honor up on the flat rock.I walked over to it and she nudged me again so I jumped up and she followed.I settled down only after she did.The Queen wanted me to help choose the next king?! I could not believe what this implied of our queen.Either she trusted my judgment or she was going crazy.I was betting on the former.She was not very powerful as wereleopards go, but she had the know-how to plan out strategy.I watched the performance with her, but I could hear the growls of the other females behind me.Suddenly the queen stood and turned fast letting out the loudest, meanest roar I ever heard from any of my kind.All the females bowed low and then rolled onto their backs to show their queen their bellies in that submissive gesture.After she was satisfied she laid back down on the flat rock.The fights continued, until one wereleopard started to win fight after fight after fight.He was powerful and he had enough control not to keep tearing at the fallen pack members like some of the victors had.There was one who had to be forcibly removed by four females.I purred low sounding out my approval.This leopard had all the makings of a king.Queen Snow Leopard glanced at me and sounded out her approval before the next fight began.All the cats bowed low on their bellies to show that they honored their new king.He was a big male, with deep green/brown eyes.His fur was covered with those ringed spots almost to the point that the orange/yellow color barely showed.I wondered what he looked like in human form.I had been with the pack for a few years and I still didn't know all of the members.The queen stood and leaped to the ground near her new king.She bared her teeth and growled.It was customary for the king and queen to fight before consummating the matehood.I was left on the rock alone and I knew as soon as the show was done the others would be on me fast.I took the opportunity to slip back into the shadows while everyone's attention was not on me.Soon the dawn would come and I'd be back to my other life, one that didn't involve the pack.I wanted to get back to my college.I wanted to get back to my dorm.I wanted to get away from them.I hid until the first light of dawn called my human form from my feline body.The bones broke and reversed into human bones and the fur melted away.The only thing that stayed was my long shadow black hair and my brilliant dark blue eyes.I found my pack with my spare clothes and dressed quickly.I was just getting into my car when a figure walked up to my window.She had short spiky white/blond hair and eyes a shade darker than mine.I stilled instantly.My breath caught in my throat."Your name's Sapphire right?" She asked."Yeah.Yes, my queen," I said and bowed my head."Cassie, call me Cassie in this form," She replied."Cassie," I said with my head still bowed."Sapphire, I want to thank you for helping me choose a king for the pack.Garrett is a great choice for us, for the pack," Cassie said."I'm glad I could help," I said quietly still not looking at her."Sapphire, look at me.Never look away from me in this form.You are not a sub.You are not an omega.You could be an Alpha.You are stronger than you let on.You could be my rival," Cassie said firmly."Cassie I would never.I.I don't want to be an Alpha!" I said.The frustration apparent in my voice.I didn't imply that you would.I just said you could, but not unless you accept what you are.I have been a leopard for over 12 years know what it is like being different.That's why I fought my way to the top.You could be my second, if you wanted," Cassie said softly.A tall man with shoulder length sun-dyed blond hair.His eyes were green with a yellow tint to them.That must be Garrett I thought."I'm sorry Cassie.I've got to go.I've got to get back to school," I said as I turned the engine over in my car.It sputtered to life and Cassie backed up."Think about it!" Cassie called to me as I pulled away.Garrett had his arms wrapped around her from behind.I drove and drove until I had to stop.The tears were blinding me too much.Could I really even entertain the idea of being second in the pack? Was I that strong? I had been turning furry for a little over two years now.I still hadn't come to terms with it.I dealt with it every month like I did my period and when it was done I went back to my routine, studying, reading books and more studying.My major was in English Literature.I had been so sure of what I wanted three years ago when I graduated high school.Now I wasn't sure anymore.After I had been attacked two years ago I lost touch with my friends and family because I didn't want them to know what I had become.I knew I had to stop fighting this.It was done and now I was a freak even among the monsters.I slammed my palms into the steering wheel.I screamed, all the anger pouring out.What did I want out of life now? I was living a lie now, pretending I could go on with my life the way I did before.I screamed again.Why did this happen to me? To me? Miss Goody-two-shoes, who followed all the rules ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and now I was a monster trying to hide in my human skin.Could I accept what I was? Did I want to accept what I was? I took a few deep breaths to try and calm down.I turned around.If anyone could help me she could, and not because it was her job, but because she knew what I was going through.Cassie had accepted what she was and now she was queen of the pack.Did I want to be queen? No, but I wanted to learn how to accept myself.I pulled in the drive, and got out of the car."I knew you'd be back," Cassie said she was sitting on the porch steps [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]